A.3 What types of anarchism are there?

Anarchists, while all sharing a few key ideas, can be grouped into broad categories, depending on the economic arrangements that they consider to be most suitable to human freedom. However, all types of anarchists share a basic approach. To quote Rudolf Rocker:

"In common with the founders of Socialism, Anarchists demand the abolition of all economic monopolies and the common ownership of the soil and all other means of production, the use of which must be available to all without distinction; for personal and social freedom is conceivable only on the basis of equal economic advantages for everybody. Within the Socialist movement itself the Anarchists represent the viewpoint that the war against capitalism must be at the same time a war against all institutions of political power, for in history economic exploitation has always gone hand in hand with political and social oppression. The exploitation of man by man and the domination of man over man are inseparable, and each is the condition of the other." [Anarcho-Syndicalism, pp. 17-18]

It is within this general context that anarchists disagree. The main differences are between "individualist" and "social" anarchists, although the economic arrangements each desire are not mutually exclusive. Of the two, social anarchists (communist-anarchists, anarcho-syndicalists and so on) have always been the vast majority, with individualist anarchism being restricted mostly to the United States. In this section we indicate the differences between these main trends within the anarchist movement. As will soon become clear, while social and individualist anarchists both oppose the state and capitalism, they disagree on the nature of a free society (and how to get there). In a nutshell, social anarchists prefer communal solutions to social problems and a communal vision of the good society (i.e. a society that protects and encourages individual freedom). Individualist anarchists, as their name suggests, prefer individual solutions and have a more individualistic vision of the good society. However, we must not let these difference cloud what both schools have in common, namely a desire to maximise individual freedom and end state and capitalist domination and exploitation.

In addition to this major disagreement, anarchists also disagree over such issues as syndicalism, pacifism, "lifestylism," animal rights and a whole host of other ideas, but these, while important, are only different aspects of anarchism. Beyond a few key ideas, the anarchist movement (like life itself) is in a constant state of change, discussion and thought -- as would be expected in a movement that values freedom so highly.

To put our cards on the table, the writers of this FAQ place themselves firmly in the "social" strand of anarchism. This does not mean that we ignore the many important ideas associated with individualist anarchism, only that we think social anarchism is more appropriate for modern society, that it creates a stronger base for individual freedom, and that it more closely reflects the sort of society we would like to live in.

A.3.1 What are the differences between individualist and social anarchists?

While there is a tendency for individuals in both camps to claim that the proposals of the other camp would lead to the creation of some kind of state, the differences between individualists and social anarchists are not very great. Both are anti-state, anti-authority and anti-capitalist. The major differences are twofold.

The first is in regard to the means of action in the here and now (and so the manner in which anarchy will come about). Individualists generally prefer education and the creation of alternative institutions, such as mutual banks, unions, communes, etc. They usually support strikes and other non-violent forms of social protest (such as rent strikes, the non-payment of taxes and so on). Such activity, they argue, will ensure that present society will gradually develop out of government into an anarchist one. They are primarily evolutionists, not revolutionists, and dislike social anarchists' use of direct action to create revolutionary situations. They consider revolution as being in contradiction to anarchist principles as it involves the expropriation of capitalist property and, therefore, authoritarian means. Rather they seek to return to society the wealth taken out of society by property by means of an new, alternative, system of economics (based around mutual banks and co-operatives). In this way a general "social liquidation" would be rendered easy, with anarchism coming about by reform and not by expropriation.

Most social anarchists recognise the need for education and to create alternatives (such as libertarian unions), but most disagree that this is enough in itself. They do not think capitalism can be reformed piece by piece into anarchy, although they do not ignore the importance of reforms by social struggle that increase libertarian tendencies within capitalism. Nor do they think revolution is in contradiction with anarchist principles as it is not authoritarian to destroy authority (be it state or capitalist). Thus the expropriation of the capitalist class and the destruction of the state by social revolution is a libertarian, not authoritarian, act by its very nature as it is directed against those who govern and exploit the vast majority. In short, social anarchists are usually evolutionists and revolutionists, trying to strengthen libertarian tendencies within capitalism while trying to abolish that system by social revolution. However, as some social anarchists are purely evolutionists too, this difference is not the most important one dividing social anarchists from individualists.

The second major difference concerns the form of anarchist economy proposed. Individualists prefer a market-based system of distribution to the social anarchists need-based system. Both agree that the current system of capitalist property rights must be abolished and that use rights must replace property rights in the means of life (i.e. the abolition of rent, interest and profits -- "usury," to use the individualist anarchists' preferred term for this unholy trinity). In effect, both schools follow Proudhon's classic work What is Property? and argue that possession must replace property in a free society (see section B.3 for a discussion of anarchist viewpoints on property).

However, within this use-rights framework, the two schools of anarchism propose different systems. The social anarchist generally argues for communal (or social) ownership and use. This would involve social ownership of the means of production and distribution, with personal possessions remaining for things you use, but not what was used to create them ("your watch is your own, but the watch factory belongs to the people." [Alexander Berkman, The ABC of Anarchism, p. 68]). "Actual use," argues Berkman, "will be considered the only title -- not to ownership but to possession. The organisation of the coal miners, for example, will be in charge of the coal mines, not as owners but as the operating agency . . . Collective possession, co-operatively managed in the interests of the community, will take the place of personal ownership privately conducted for profit." [Op. Cit., p. 69] This system would be based on workers' self-management of their work and (for most social anarchists) the free sharing of the product of that labour (i.e. an economic system without money). Some social anarchists, like mutualists, are against such a system of libertarian (or free) communism, but, in general, the vast majority of social anarchists look forward to the end of money and, therefore, of buying and selling.

In contrast, the individualist anarchist denies that this system of use-rights should include the product of the workers labour. Instead of social ownership, individualist anarchists propose a more market based system in which workers would possess their own means of production and exchange the product of their labour freely with other workers. They argue that capitalism is not, in fact, a truly free market. Rather, by means of the state, capitalists have placed fetters on the market to create and protect their economic and social power (market discipline for the working class, state aid for the ruling class in other words). These state created monopolies (of money, land, tariffs and patents) and state enforcement of capitalist property rights are the source of economic inequality and exploitation. With the abolition of government, real free competition would result and ensure the end of capitalism and capitalist exploitation (see Benjamin Tucker's essay State Socialism and Anarchism for an excellent summary of this argument).

The Individualist anarchists argue that the means of production (bar land) are the product of individual labour and so they accept that people should be able to sell the means of production they use, if they so desire. However, they reject capitalist property rights and instead favour an "occupancy and use" system. If the means of production, say land, is not in use, it reverts back to common ownership and is available to others for use. They think this system, called mutualism, will result in workers control of production and the end of capitalist exploitation and usury.

This second difference is the most important. The individualist fears being forced to join a community and thus losing his or her freedom (including the freedom to exchange freely with others). Max Stirner puts this position well when he argues that "Communism, by the abolition of all personal property, only presses me back still more into dependence on another, to wit, on the generality or collectivity . . . [which is] a condition hindering my free movement, a sovereign power over me. Communism rightly revolts against the pressure that I experience from individual proprietors; but still more horrible is the might that it puts in the hands of the collectivity." [The Ego and Its Own, p. 257] Proudhon also argued against communism, stating that the community becomes the proprietor under communism and so capitalism and communism are based on property and so authority (see the section "Characteristics of communism and of property" in What is Property?). Thus the Individualist anarchist argues that social ownership places the individual's freedom in danger as any form of communism subjects the individual to society or the commune. They fear that as well as dictating individual morality, socialisation would effectively eliminate workers' control as "society" would tell workers what to produce and take the product of their labour. In effect, they argue that communism (or social ownership in general) would be similar to capitalism, with the exploitation and authority of the boss replaced with that of "society."

Needless to say, social anarchists disagree. They argue that Stirner's and Proudhon's comments are totally correct -- but only about authoritarian communism. As Kropotkin argued, "before and in 1848, the theory [of communism] was put forward in such a shape as to fully account for Proudhon's distrust as to its effect upon liberty. The old idea of Communism was the idea of monastic communities under the severe rule of elders or of men of science for directing priests. The last vestiges of liberty and of individual energy would be destroyed, if humanity ever had to go through such a communism." [Act for Yourselves, p. 98] Kropotkin always argued that communist-anarchism was a new development and given that it dates from the 1870s, Proudhon's and Stirner's remarks cannot be considered as being directed against it as they could not be familiar with it.

Rather than subject the individual to the community, social anarchists argue that communal ownership would provide the necessary framework to protect individual liberty in all aspects of life by abolishing the power of the property owner, in whatever form it takes. In addition, rather than abolish all individual "property," communist anarchism acknowledges the importance of individual possessions and individual space. Thus we find Kropotkin arguing against forms of communism that "desire to manage the community after the model of a family . . . [to live] all in the same house and . . . thus forced to continuously meet the same 'brethren and sisters' . . . [it is] a fundamental error to impose on all the 'great family' instead of trying, on the contrary, to guarantee as much freedom and home life to each individual." [Small Communal Experiments and Why They Fail, pp. 8-9] The aim of anarchist-communism is, to again quote Kropotkin, to place "the product reaped or manufactured at the disposal of all, leaving to each the liberty to consume them as he pleases in his own home." [The Place of Anarchism in the Evolution of Socialist Thought, p. 7] This ensures individual expression of tastes and desires and so individuality -- both in consumption and in production, as social anarchists are firm supporters of workers' self-management.

Thus, for social anarchists, the Individualist Anarchist opposition to communism is only valid for state or authoritarian communism and ignores the fundamental nature of communist-anarchism. Communist anarchists do not replace individuality with community but rather use community to defend individuality. Rather than have "society" control the individual, as the Individualist Anarchist fears, social anarchism is based on importance of individuality and individual expression:

"Anarchist Communism maintains that most valuable of all conquests -- individual liberty -- and moreover extends it and gives it a solid basis -- economic liberty -- without which political liberty is delusive; it does not ask the individual who has rejected god, the universal tyrant, god the king, and god the parliament, to give unto himself a god more terrible than any of the proceeding -- god the Community, or to abdicate upon its alter his [or her] independence, his [or her] will, his [or her] tastes, and to renew the vow of asceticism which he formally made before the crucified god. It says to him, on the contrary, 'No society is free so long as the individual is not so! . . .'" [Op. Cit., pp. 14-15]

In addition, social anarchists have always recognised the need for voluntary collectivisation. If people desire to work by themselves, this is not seen as a problem (see Kropotkin's The Conquest of Bread, p. 61 and Act for Yourselves, pp. 104-5 as well as Malatesta's Life and Ideas, p. 99 and p. 103). In addition, for social anarchists an association exists solely for the benefit of the individuals that compose it; it is the means by which people co-operate to meet their common needs. Therefore, all anarchists emphasise the importance of free agreement as the basis of an anarchist society. Thus all anarchists agree with Bakunin:

"In a free community, collectivism can only come about through the pressure of circumstances, not by imposition from above but by a free spontaneous movement from below." [Bakunin on Anarchism, p. 200]

If individualists desire to work for themselves and exchange goods with others, social anarchists have no objection. Hence our comments that the two forms of anarchism are not mutually exclusive. Social anarchists support the right of individual's not to join a commune while Individualist Anarchists support the rights of individuals to pool their possessions as they see fit, including communistic associations. However, if, in the name of freedom, an individual wished to claim property rights so as to exploit the labour of others, social anarchists would quickly resist this attempt to recreate statism in the name of "liberty." Anarchists do not respect the "freedom" to be a ruler! In the words of Luigi Galleani:

"No less sophistical is the tendency of those who, under the comfortable cloak of anarchist individualism, would welcome the idea of domination . . . But the heralds of domination presume to practice individualism in the name of their ego, over the obedient, resigned, or inert ego of others." [The End of Anarchism?, p. 40]

Moreover, for social anarchists, the idea that the means of production can be sold implies that private property could be reintroduced in an anarchist society. In a free market, some succeed and others fail. If the "unsuccessful" competitors are forced into unemployment they may have to sell their labour to the "successful" in order to survive. This would create authoritarian social relationships and the domination of the few over the many via "free contracts." The enforcement of such contracts (and others like them), in all likelihood, "opens . . . the way for reconstituting under the heading of 'defence' all the functions of the State." [Peter Kropotkin, Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets, p. 297]

Benjamin Tucker, the anarchist most influenced by liberalism and free market ideas, also faced the problems associated with all schools of abstract individualism -- in particular, the acceptance of authoritarian social relations as an expression of "liberty." This is due to the similarity of property to the state. Tucker argued that the state was marked by two things, aggression and "the assumption of authority over a given area and all within it, exercised generally for the double purpose of more complete oppression of its subjects and extension of its boundaries." [Instead of a Book, p. 22] However, the boss and landlord also has authority over a given area (the property in question) and all within it (workers and tenants). The former control the actions of the latter just as the state rules the citizen or subject. In other words, individual ownership produces the same social relationships as that created by the state, as it comes from the same source (monopoly of power over a given area and those who use it).

Social anarchists argue that the Individualist Anarchists acceptance of individual ownership and their individualistic conception of individual freedom can lead to the denial of individual freedom by the creation of social relationships which are essentially authoritarian/statist in nature. "The individualists," argued Malatesta, "give the greatest importance to an abstract concept of freedom and fail to take into account, or dwell on the fact that real, concrete freedom is the outcome of solidarity and voluntary co-operation." [The Anarchist Revolution, p. 16] Thus wage labour, for example, places the worker in the same relationship to the boss as citizenship places the citizen to the state, namely of one of domination and subjection. Similarly with the tenant and the landlord.

Such a social relationship cannot help but produce the other aspects of the state. As Albert Meltzer points out, this can have nothing but statist implications, because "the school of Benjamin Tucker -- by virtue of their individualism -- accepted the need for police to break strikes so as to guarantee the employer's 'freedom.' All this school of so-called Individualists accept . . . the necessity of the police force, hence for government, and the prime definition of anarchism is no government." [Anarchism: Arguments For and Against, p. 8] It is partly for this reason social anarchists support social ownership as the best means of protecting individual liberty.

Accepting individual ownership this problem can only be "got round" by accepting, along with Proudhon (the source of Tucker's economic ideas), the need for co-operatives to run workplaces that require more than one worker. This naturally complements their support for "occupancy and use" for land, which would effectively abolish landlords. Only when the people who use a resource own it can individual ownership not result in hierarchical authority (i.e. statism/capitalism). This solution, as we argue in section G, is the one Individualist Anarchists do seem to accept. For example, we find Joseph Labadie writing to his son urging him to get away from wage earning and "the dominion of others." [quoted by Carlotta Abderson, All American Anarchist, p. 222] As Wm. Gary Kline correctly points out, the US Individualist anarchists "expected a society of largely self-employed workmen with no significant disparity of wealth between any of them." [The Individualist Anarchists, p. 104] It is this vision of a self-employed society that ensures that their ideas are truly anarchist.

Moreover, while the individualists attack "usury," they usually ignore the problem of capital accumulation, which results in natural barriers of entry into markets and so recreates usury in new forms (see section C.4 "Why does the market become dominated by big business?"). Hence a "free market" in banks, as advocated by Tucker and other Individualist Anarchists, could result in a few big banks dominating, with a direct economic interest in supporting capitalist rather than co-operative investment (as they would ensure higher returns than co-operatives). The only real solution to this problem would be to ensure community ownership and management of banks, as originally desired by Proudhon.

It is this recognition of the developments within the capitalist economy which make social anarchists reject individualist anarchism in favour of communalising, and so decentralising, production by freely associated and co-operative labour. (For more discussion on the ideas of the Individualist anarchists, see section G - "Is individualist anarchism capitalistic?")

A.3.2 Are there different types of social anarchism?

Yes. Social anarchism has four major trends -- mutualism, collectivism, communism and syndicalism. The differences are not great and simply involve differences in strategy. The one major difference that does exist is between mutualism and the other kinds of social anarchism. Mutualism is based around a form of market socialism -- workers' co-operatives exchanging the product of their labour via a system of community banks. This mutual bank network would be "formed by the whole community, not for the especial advantage of any individual or class, but for the benefit of all . . . [with] no interest . . . exacted on loans, except enough to cover risks and expenses." [Charles A. Dana, Proudhon and his "Bank of the People", pp. 44-45] Such a system would end capitalist exploitation and oppression for by "introducing mutualism into exchange and credit we introduce it everywhere, and labour will assume a new aspect and become truly democratic." [Op. Cit., p. 45]

The social anarchist version of mutualism differs from the individualist form by having the mutual banks owned by the local community (or commune) instead of being independent co-operatives. This would ensure that they provided investment funds to co-operatives rather than to capitalistic enterprises. Another difference is that some social anarchist mutualists support the creation of what Proudhon termed an "agro-industrial federation" to complement the federation of libertarian communities (called communes by Proudhon). This is a "confederation . . . intended to provide reciprocal security in commerce and industry" and large scale developments such as roads, railways and so on. The purpose of "specific federal arrangements is to protect the citizens of the federated states [sic!] from capitalist and financial feudalism, both within them and from the outside." This is because "political right requires to be buttressed by economic right." Thus the agro-industrial federation would be required to ensure the anarchist nature of society from the destabilising effects of market exchanges (which can generate increasing inequalities in wealth and so power). Such a system would be a practical example of solidarity, as "industries are sisters; they are parts of the same body; one cannot suffer without the others sharing in its suffering. They should therefore federate, not to be absorbed and confused together, but in order to guarantee mutually the conditions of common prosperity . . . Making such an agreement will not detract from their liberty; it will simply gives their liberty more security and force." [The Principle of Federation, p. 70, p. 67 and p. 72]

The other forms of social anarchism do not share the mutualists support for markets, even non-capitalist ones. Instead they think that freedom is best served by communalising production and sharing information and products freely between co-operatives. In other words, the other forms of social anarchism are based upon common (or social) ownership by federations of producers' associations and communes rather than mutualism's system of individual co-operatives. In Bakunin's words, the "future social organisation must be made solely from the bottom upwards, by the free association or federation of workers, firstly in their unions, then in the communes, regions, nations and finally in a great federation, international and universal" and "the land, the instruments of work and all other capital may become the collective property of the whole of society and be utilised only by the workers, in other words by the agricultural and industrial associations." [Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings, p. 206 and p. 174] Only by extending the principle of co-operation beyond individual workplaces can individual liberty be maximised and protected (see section I.1.3 for why most anarchists are opposed to markets). In this they share some ground with Proudhon, as can be seen. The industrial confederations would "guarantee the mutual use of the tools of production which are the property of each of these groups and which will by a reciprocal contract become the collective property of the whole . . . federation. In this way, the federation of groups will be able to . . . regulate the rate of production to meet the fluctuating needs of society." [James Guillaume, Bakunin on Anarchism, p. 376]

These anarchists share the mutualists support for workers' self-management of production within co-operatives but see confederations of these associations as being the focal point for expressing mutual aid, not a market. Workplace autonomy and self-management would be the basis of any federation, for "the workers in the various factories have not the slightest intention of handing over their hard-won control of the tools of production to a superior power calling itself the 'corporation.'" [Op. Cit., p. 364] In addition to this industry-wide federation, there would also be cross-industry and community confederations to look after tasks which are not within the exclusive jurisdiction or capacity of any particular industrial federation or are of a social nature. Again, this has similarities to Proudhon's mutualist ideas.

Social anarchists share a firm commitment to common ownership of the means of production (excluding those used purely by individuals) and reject the individualist idea that these can be "sold off" by those who use them. The reason, as noted earlier, is because if this could be done, capitalism and statism could regain a foothold in the free society. In addition, other social anarchists do not agree with the mutualist idea that capitalism can be reformed into libertarian socialism by introducing mutual banking. For them capitalism can only be replaced by a free society by social revolution.

The major difference between collectivists and communists is over the question of "money" after a revolution. Anarcho-communists consider the abolition of money to be essential, while anarcho-collectivists consider the end of private ownership of the means of production to be the key. As Kropotkin noted, collectivist anarchism "express[es] a state of things in which all necessaries for production are owned in common by the labour groups and the free communes, while the ways of retribution of labour, communist or otherwise, would be settled by each group for itself." [Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets, p. 295] Thus, while communism and collectivism both organise production in common via producers' associations, they differ in how the goods produced will be distributed. Communism is based on free consumption of all while collectivism is more likely to be based on the distribution of goods according to the labour contributed. However, most anarcho-collectivists think that, over time, as productivity increases and the sense of community becomes stronger, money will disappear. Both agree that, in the end, society would be run along the lines suggested by the communist maxim: "From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs." They just disagree on how quickly this will come about.

For anarcho-communists, they think that "communism -- at least partial -- has more chances of being established that collectivism" after a revolution. [Op. Cit., p. 298] They think that moves towards communism are essential as collectivism "begins by abolishing private ownership of the means of production and immediately reverses itself by returning to the system of remuneration according to work performed which means the re-introduction of inequality." [Alexander Berkman, The ABC of Anarchism, p. 80] The quicker the move to communism, the less chances of new inequalities developing. Needless to say, these positions are not that different and, in practice, the necessities of a social revolution and the level of political awareness of those introducing anarchism will determine which system will be applied in each area.

Syndicalism is the other major form of social anarchism. Anarcho-syndicalists, like other syndicalists, want to create an industrial union movement based on anarchist ideas. Therefore they advocate decentralised, federated unions that use direct action to get reforms under capitalism until they are strong enough to overthrow it. In many ways anarcho-syndicalism can be considered as a new version of collectivist-anarchism, which also stressed the importance of anarchists working within the labour movement and creating unions which prefigure the future free society.

Thus, even under capitalism, anarcho-syndicalists seek to create "free associations of free producers." They think that these associations would serve as "a practical school of anarchism" and they take very seriously Bakunin's remark that the workers' organisations must create "not only the ideas but also the facts of the future itself" in the pre-revolutionary period.

Anarcho-syndicalists, like all social anarchists, "are convinced that a Socialist economic order cannot be created by the decrees and statutes of a government, but only by the solidaric collaboration of the workers with hand and brain in each special branch of production; that is, through the taking over of the management of all plants by the producers themselves under such form that the separate groups, plants, and branches of industry are independent members of the general economic organism and systematically carry on production and the distribution of the products in the interest of the community on the basis of free mutual agreements." [Rudolf Rocker, Anarcho-syndicalism, p. 55]

The difference between syndicalists and other revolutionary social anarchists is slight and purely revolves around the question of anarcho-syndicalist unions. Collectivist anarchists agree that building libertarian unions is important and that work within the labour movement is essential in order to ensure "the development and organisation . . . of the social (and, by consequence, anti-political) power of the working masses." [Bakunin, Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings, p. 197] Communist anarchists usually also acknowledge the importance of working in the labour movement but they generally think that syndicalistic organisations will be created by workers in struggle, and so consider encouraging the "spirit of revolt" as more important than creating syndicalist unions and hoping workers will join them. They also do not place as great an emphasis on the workplace, considering struggles within it to be equal in importance to other struggles against hierarchy and domination outside the workplace (most anarcho-syndicalists would agree with this, however, and often it is just a question of emphasis). A few communist-anarchists reject the labour movement as hopelessly reformist in nature and so refuse to work within it, but these are a small minority.

Both communist and collectivist anarchists recognise the need for anarchists to unite together in purely anarchist organisations. They think it is essential that anarchists work together as anarchists to clarify and spread their ideas to others. Syndicalists often deny the importance of anarchist groups and federations, arguing that revolutionary industrial and community unions are enough in themselves. Syndicalists think that the anarchist and union movements can be fused into one, but most other anarchists disagree. Non-syndicalists point out the reformist nature of unionism and urge that to keep syndicalist unions revolutionary, anarchists must work within them as part of an anarchist group or federation. Most non-syndicalists consider the fusion of anarchism and unionism a source of potential confusion that would result in the two movements failing to do their respective work correctly.

In practice, few anarcho-syndicalists totally reject the need for an anarchist federation, while few anarchists are totally anti-syndicalist. For example, Bakunin inspired both anarcho-communist and anarcho-syndicalist ideas, and anarcho-communists like Kropotkin, Malatesta, Berkman and Goldman were all sympathetic to anarcho-syndicalist movements and ideas.

For further reading on the various types of social anarchism, we would recommend the following: mutualism is usually associated with the works of Proudhon, collectivism with Bakunin's, communism with Kropotkin's, Malatesta's, Goldman's and Berkman's. Syndicalism is somewhat different, as it was far more the product of workers' in struggle than the work of a "famous" name (although this does not stop academics calling George Sorel the father of syndicalism, even though he wrote about a syndicalist movement that already existed. The idea that working class people can develop their own ideas, by themselves, is usually lost on them). However, Rudolf Rocker is often considered a leading anarcho-syndicalist theorist and the work's of Fernand Pelloutier and Emile Pouget are essential reading to understand anarcho-syndicalism. For an excellent overview of the development of social anarchism and key works by its leading lights, Daniel Guerin's excellent anthology No Gods No Masters cannot be bettered.

A.3.3 What kinds of green anarchism are there?

An emphasis on anarchist ideas as a solution to the ecological crisis is a common thread in most forms of anarchism today. The trend goes back to Peter Kropotkin who argued that an anarchist society would be based on a confederation of communities that would integrate manual and brain work as well as decentralising and integrating industry and agriculture (see his classic work Fields, Factories, and Workshops). This idea of an economy in which "small is beautiful" (to use the title of E.F. Schumacher's Green classic) was proposed nearly 70 years before it was taken up by what was to become the green movement. In addition, in Mutual Aid Kropotkin documented how co-operation within species and between them and their environment is usually of more benefit to them than competition. Kropotkin's work, combined with that of William Morris, the Reclus brothers (both of whom, like Kropotkin, were world-renowned geographers), and many others laid the foundations for the current anarchist interest in ecological issues.

However, while there are many themes of an ecological nature within classical anarchism, it is only relatively recently that the similarities between ecological thought and anarchism has come to the fore (essentially from the publication of Murray Bookchin's classic essay "Ecology and Revolutionary Thought" in 1965). Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to state that it is the ideas and work of Murray Bookchin that has placed ecology and ecological issues at the heart of anarchism and anarchist ideals and analysis into many aspects of the green movement.

Before discussing the types of green anarchism (also called eco-anarchism) it would be worthwhile to explain exactly what anarchism and ecology have in common. To quote Murray Bookchin, "both the ecologist and the anarchist place a strong emphasis on spontaneity" and "to both the ecologist and the anarchist, an ever-increasing unity is achieved by growing differentiation. An expanding whole is created by the diversification and enrichment of its parts." Moreover, "[j]ust as the ecologist seeks to expand the range of an eco-system and promote free interplay between species, so the anarchist seeks to expand the range of social experiments and remove all fetters to its development." [Post-Scarcity Anarchism, p. 72, p. 78]

Thus the anarchist concern with free development, decentralisation, diversity and spontaneity is reflected in ecological ideas and concerns. Hierarchy, centralisation, the state and concentrations of wealth reduce diversity and the free development of individuals and their communities by their very nature, and so weakens the social eco-system as well as the actual eco-systems human societies are part of. As Bookchin argues, "the reconstructive message of ecology. . . [is that] we must conserve and promote variety" but within modern capitalist society "[a]ll that is spontaneous, creative and individuated is circumscribed by the standardised, the regulated and the massified." [Op. Cit., p. 76, p. 65] So, in many ways, anarchism can be considered the application of ecological ideas to society, as anarchism aims to empower individuals and communities, decentralise political, social and economic power so ensuring that individuals and social life develops freely and so becomes increasingly diverse in nature.

So what kinds of green anarchism is there? The eco-anarchist thread within anarchism has two main focal points, Social Ecology and "primitivist" anarchism. In addition, some anarchists are influenced by Deep Ecology, although not many. Undoubtedly Social Ecology is the most influential current. Social Ecology is associated with the ideas and works of Murray Bookchin, who has been writing on ecological matters since the 1950's and, from the 1960s, has combined these issues with revolutionary social anarchism. His works include Post-Scarcity Anarchism, Toward an Ecological Society, The Ecology of Freedom and a host of others.

Social Ecology locates the roots of the ecological crisis firmly in relations of domination between people. The domination of nature is seen as a product of domination within society, but this domination only reaches crisis proportions under capitalism. In the words of Murray Bookchin:

"The notion that man must dominate nature emerges directly from the domination of man by man. . . But it was not until organic community relations. . . dissolved into market relationships that the planet itself was reduced to a resource for exploitation. This centuries-long tendency finds its most exacerbating development in modern capitalism. Owing to its inherently competitive nature, bourgeois society not only pits humans against each other, it also pits the mass of humanity against the nature world. Just as men are converted into commodities, so every aspect of nature is converted into a commodity, a resource to be manufactured and merchandised wantonly." [Op. Cit., p. 63]

"The plundering of the human spirit by the market place is paralleled by the plundering of the earth by capital." [Ibid., p. 65]

Therefore social ecologists consider it essential to attack hierarchy and capitalism, not civilisation as such as the root cause of ecological problems. This is one of the key areas in which they disagree with "Primitivist" Anarchist ideas, who tend to be far more critical of all aspects of modern life, with some going so far as calling for "the end of civilisation" including, apparently, all forms of technology and large scale organisation.

At its most extreme, "Primitivist" anarchists argue in favour of a return to "Hunter-Gatherer" forms of human society, opposing technology as being hierarchical by its very nature. The British based "Green Anarchist" magazine is a vocal supporter of this idea.

However, very few anarchists go this far. Indeed, most anarchists actually argue that such "Primitivism" is not anarchist at all, as the return to a "Hunter-Gatherer" society would result in mass starvation in almost all countries as the social infrastructure collapses. Due to the inherent unattractiveness of such "Primitivist" ideas for most people, it could never come about by libertarian means (i.e. by the free choice of individuals who create it by their own acts) and so cannot be anarchist as very few people would actually voluntarily embrace such a situation. This leads to "Green Anarchist" developing a form of eco-vanguardism in order, to use Rousseau's expression, to "force people to be free" (as can be seen from articles published in it in 1998 celebrating terrorist acts). In addition, such a position of "turning back the clock" is deeply flawed, for while aboriginal societies are generally very anarchistic, certain of these societies did develop into statist, propertarian ones implying that such "primitive anarchist" systems are not the answer.

However, few eco-anarchists take such an extreme position. Most "Primitivist" anarchists rather than being anti-technology and anti-civilisation as such instead (to use David Watson's expression) believe it is a case of the "affirmation of aboriginal lifeways" and of taking a far more critical approach to issues such as technology, rationality and progress than that associated with Social Ecology. These eco-anarchists reject "a dogmatic primitivism which claims we can return in some linear way to our primordial roots" just as much as the idea of "progress," "superseding both Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment" ideas and traditions. For these eco-anarchists, Primitivism "reflects not only a glimpse at life before the rise of the state, but also a legitimate response to real conditions of life under civilisation" and so we should respect and learn from "palaeolithic and neolithic wisdom traditions" (such as those associated with Native American tribes and other aboriginal peoples). While we "cannot, and would not want to abandon secular modes of thinking and experiencing the world. . . we cannot reduce the experience of life, and the fundamental, inescapable questions why we live, and how we live, to secular terms. . . Moreover, the boundary between the spiritual and the secular is not so clear. A dialectical understanding that we are our history would affirm an inspirited reason that honours not only atheistic Spanish revolutionaries who died for el ideal, but also religious pacifist prisoners of conscience, Lakota ghost dancers, taoist hermits and executed sufi mystics." [David Watson, Beyond Bookchin: Preface for a future social ecology, p. 240, p. 103, p. 240, pp. 66-67]

Such "Primitivist" anarchism is associated with a range of magazines, mostly US -based, like Fifth Estate. For example, on the question of technology, such eco-anarchists argue that "[w]hile market capitalism was a spark that set the fire, and remains at the centre of the complex, it is only part of something larger: the forced adaptation of organic human societies to an economic-instrumental civilisation and its mass technics, which are not only hierarchical and external but increasingly 'cellular' and internal. It makes no sense to layer the various elements of this process in a mechanistic hierarchy of first cause and secondary effects." [David Watson, Op. Cit., pp. 127-8]

For this reason "Primitivist" anarchists are more critical of all aspects of technology, including calls by social ecologists for the use of appropriate technology essential in order to liberate humanity and the planet. As Watson argues:

"To speak of technological society is in fact to refer to the technics generated within capitalism, which in turn generate new forms of capital. The notion of a distinct realm of social relations that determine this technology is not only ahistorical and undialectical, it reflects a kind of simplistic base/superstructure schema." [Ibid., p. 124]

Thus it is not a case of who uses technology which determines its effects, rather the effects of technology are determined to a large degree by the society that creates it. In other words, technology is selected which tends to re-enforce hierarchical power as it is those in power who generally select which technology is introduced within society (saying that, oppressed people have this excellent habit of turning technology against the powerful and technological change and social struggle are inter-related -- see
section D.10). Thus even the use of appropriate technology involves more than selecting from the range of available technology at hand, as these technologies have certain effects regardless of who uses them. Rather it is a question of critically evaluating all aspects of technology and modifying and rejecting it as required to maximise individual freedom, empowerment and happiness. Few Social Ecologists would disagree with this approach, though, and differences are usually a question of emphasis rather than a deep political point.

Finally, "Primitivist" anarchists, like most other anarchists, are deeply critical of Social Ecology's support for running candidates in municipal elections. While Social Ecologists see this as a means of creating popular self-managing assemblies and creating a counter power to the state, few anarchists agree. Rather they see it as inherently reformist as well as being hopelessly naive about the possibilities of using elections to bring about social change (see section J.5.14 for a fuller discussion of this). Instead they propose direct action as the means to forward anarchist and ecological ideas, rejecting electioneering as a dead-end which ends up watering down radical ideas and corrupting the people involved (see section J.2 -- What is Direct Action?).

For more on "Primitivist" Anarchism see John Zerzan's Future Primitive and the excellent Elements of Refusal as well as David Watson's Beyond Bookchin and Against the Mega-Machine.

Lastly, there is "deep ecology," which, because of its bio-centric nature, many anarchists reject as anti-human. There are few anarchists who think that people, as people, are the cause of the ecological crisis, which many deep ecologists seem to suggest. Murray Bookchin, for example, has been particularly outspoken in his criticism of deep ecology and the anti-human ideas that are often associated with it (see Which Way for the Ecology Movement?, for example). David Watson has also argued against Deep Ecology (see his How Deep is Deep Ecology? written under the name George Bradford). Most anarchists would argue that it is not people but the current system which is the problem, and that only people can change it. In the words of Murray Bookchin:

"[Deep Ecology's problems] stem from an authoritarian streak in a crude biologism that uses 'natural law' to conceal an ever-diminishing sense of humanity and papers over a profound ignorance of social reality by ignoring the fact it is capitalism we are talking about, not an abstraction called 'Humanity' and 'Society.'" [The Philosophy of Social Ecology, p. 160]

To submerge ecological critique and analysis into a simplistic protest against the human race ignores the real causes and dynamics of ecological destruction and, therefore, ensures an end to this destruction cannot be found. Simply put, it is hardly "people" who are to blame when the vast majority have no real say in the decisions that affect their lives, communities, industries and eco-systems. Rather, it is an economic and social system that places profits and power above people and planet. By focusing on "Humanity" (and so failing to distinguish between rich and poor, men and women, whites and people of colour, exploiters and exploited, oppressors and oppressed) the system we live under is effectively ignored, and so are the institutional causes of ecological problems.

Faced with a constant anarchist critique of certain of their spokes-persons ideas, many Deep Ecologists have turned away from the anti-human ideas associated with their movement. Deep ecology, particularly the organisation Earth First! (EF!), has changed considerably over time, and EF! now has a close working relationship with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a syndicalist union. While deep ecology is not a thread of eco-anarchism, it shares many ideas and is becoming more accepted by anarchists as EF! rejects its few misanthropic ideas and starts to see that hierarchy, not the human race, is the problem (for a discussion between Murray Bookchin and leading Earth Firster! Dave Foreman see the book Defending the Earth).

A.3.4 Is anarchism pacifistic?

A pacifist strand has long existed in anarchism, with Leo Tolstoy being one of its major figures. This strand is usually called "anarcho-pacifism" (the term "non-violent anarchist" is sometimes used, but this term is unfortunate because it implies the rest of the movement are "violent," which is not the case!). The union of anarchism and pacifism is not surprising given the fundamental ideals and arguments of anarchism. After all, violence, or the threat of violence or harm, is a key means by which individual freedom is destroyed. As Peter Marshall points out, "[g]iven the anarchist's respect for the sovereignty of the individual, in the long run it is non-violence and not violence which is implied by anarchist values." [Demanding the Impossible, p.637] Malatesta is even more explicit when he wrote that the "main plank of anarchism is the removal of violence from human relations" and that anarchists "are opposed to violence." [Life and Ideas, p. 53]

However, although many anarchists reject violence and proclaim pacifism, the movement, in general, is not essentially pacifistic (in the sense of opposed all forms of violence at all times). Rather, it is anti-militarist, being against the organised violence of the state but recognising that there are important differences between the violence of the oppressor and the violence of the oppressed. This explains why the anarchist movement has always placed a lot of time and energy in opposing the military machine and capitalist wars while, at the same time, supporting and organising armed resistance against oppression (as in the case of the Makhnovist army during the Russian Revolution which resisted both Red and White armies and the militias the anarchists organised to resist the fascists during the Spanish Revolution -- see sections A.5.4 and A.5.6, respectively).

On the question of non-violence, as a rough rule of thumb, the movement divides along Individualist and Social lines. Most Individualist anarchists support purely non-violent tactics of social change, as do the Mutualists. However, Individualist anarchism is not pacifist as such, as many support the idea of violence in self-defence against aggression. Most social anarchists, on the other hand, do support the use of revolutionary violence, holding that physical force will be required to overthrow entrenched power and to resist state and capitalist aggression (although it was an anarcho-syndicalist, Bart de Ligt, who wrote the pacifist classic, The Conquest of Violence). As Malatesta put it, violence, while being "in itself an evil," is "justifiable only when it is necessary to defend oneself and others from violence" and that a "slave is always in a state of legitimate defence and consequently, his violence against the boss, against the oppressor, is always morally justifiable." [Op. Cit., p. 55, pp. 53-54] Moreover, they stress that, to use the words of Bakunin, since social oppression "stems far less from individuals than from the organisation of things and from social positions" anarchists aim to "ruthlessly destroy positions and things" rather than people, since the aim of an anarchist revolution is to see the end of privileged classes "not as individuals, but as classes." [quoted by Richard B. Saltman, The Social and Political Thought of Michael Bakunin p. 121, p. 124 and p. 122]

Indeed, the question of violence is relatively unimportant to most anarchists, as they do not glorify it and think that it should be kept to a minimum during any social struggle or revolution. All anarchists would agree with the Dutch pacifist anarcho-syndicalist Bart de Ligt when he argued that "the violence and warfare which are characteristic conditions of the capitalist world do not go with the libertarian of the individual, which is the historic mission of the exploited classes. The greater the violence, the weaker the revolution, even where violence has deliberately been put at the service of the revolution." [The Conquest of Violence, p. 75]

Similarly, all anarchists would agree with de Ligt on, to use the name of one of his book's chapters, "the absurdity of bourgeois pacifism." For de Ligt, and all anarchists, violence is inherent in the capitalist system and any attempt to make capitalism pacifistic is doomed to failure. This is because, on the one hand, war is often just economic competition carried out by other means. Nations often go to war when they face an economic crisis, what they cannot gain in economic struggle they attempt to get by conflict. On the other hand, "violence is indispensable in modern society. . . [because] without it the ruling class would be completely unable to maintain its privileged position with regard to the exploited masses in each country. The army is used first and foremost to hold down the workers. . . when they become discontented." [Bart de Ligt, Op. Cit., p. 62] As long as the state and capitalism exist, violence is inevitable and so, for anarcho-pacifists, the consistent pacifist must be an anarchist just as the consistent anarchist must be a pacifist.

For those anarchists who are non-pacifists, violence is seen as an unavoidable and unfortunate result of oppression and exploitation as well as the only means by which the privileged classes will renounce their power and wealth. Those in authority rarely give up their power and so must be forced. Hence the need for "transitional" violence "to put an end to the far greater, and permanent, violence which keeps the majority of mankind in servitude." [Malatesta, Op. Cit., p. 55] To concentrate on the issue of violence versus non-violence is to ignore the real issue, namely how do we change society for the better. As Alexander Berkman pointed out, those anarchists who are pacifists confuse the issue, like those who think "it's the same as if rolling up your sleeves for work should be considered the work itself." To the contrary, "[t]he fighting part of revolution is merely rolling up your sleeves. The real, actual task is ahead." [ABC of Anarchism, p. 40] And, indeed, most social struggle and revolutions start relatively peaceful (via strikes, occupations and so on) and only degenerate into violence when those in power try to maintain their position (a classic example of this is in Italy, in 1920, when the occupation of factories by their workers was followed by fascist terror -- see section A.5.5).

As noted above, all anarchists are anti-militarists and oppose both the military machine (and so the "defence" industry) as well as statist/capitalist wars (although a few anarchists, like Rudolf Rocker and Sam Dolgoff, supported the anti-fascist capitalist side during the second world war as the lesser evil). The anti-war machine message of anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists was propagated long before the start of the first world war, with syndicalists and anarchists in Britain and North America reprinting a French CGT leaflet urging soldiers not to follow orders and repress their striking fellow workers. Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman where both arrested and deported from America for organising a "No-Conscription League" in 1917 while many anarchists in Europe where jailed for refusing to join the armed forces in the first and second world wars. The anarcho-syndicalist influenced IWW was crushed by a ruthless wave of government repression due to the threat its organising and anti-war message presented to the powerful elites who favoured war. More recently, anarchists, (including people like Noam Chomsky and Paul Goodman) have been active in the peace movement as well as contributing to the resistance to conscription where it still exists. Anarchists took an active part in opposing such wars as the Vietnam War, the Falklands war as well as the Gulf war (including, in Italy, helping to organise strikes in protest against it). And it was during this last conflict when many anarchists raised the slogan "No war but the class war" which nicely sums up the anarchist opposition to war -- namely an evil consequence of any class system, in which the oppressed classes of different countries kill each other for the power and profits of their rulers. Rather than take part in this organised slaughter, anarchists urge working people to fit for their own interests rather than those of their masters:

"More than ever we must avoid compromise; deepen the chasm between capitalists and wage slaves, between rulers and ruled; preach expropriation of private property and the destruction of states such as the only means of guaranteeing fraternity between peoples and Justice and Liberty for all; and we must prepare to accomplish these things." [Malatesta, Op. Cit., p. 251]

(We must note here that Malatesta's words were written in part against Peter Kropotkin who, for reasons best known to himself, rejected everything he had argued for decades and supported the allies in the First World War as a lesser evil against German authoritarianism and Imperialism. Of course, as Malatesta pointed out, "all Governments and all capitalist classes" do "misdeeds . . . against the workers and rebels of their own countries." [Op. Cit., p. 246])

Thus, the attraction of pacifism to anarchists is clear. Violence is authoritarian and coercive, and so its use does contradict anarchist principles. That is way anarchists would agree with Malatesta when he argues that "[w]e are on principle opposed to violence and for this reason wish that the social struggle should be conducted as humanely as possible." [Op. Cit., p. 57] Most, if not all, anarchists who are not strict pacifists agree with pacifist-anarchists when they argue that violence can often be counterproductive, alienating people and giving the state an excuse to repress both the anarchist movement and popular movements for social change. All anarchists support non-violent direct action and civil disobedience, which often provide better roads to radical change.

So, to sum up, anarchists who are pure pacifists are rare. Most accept the use of violence as a necessary evil and advocate minimising its use. All agree that a revolution which institutionalises violence will just recreate the state in a new form. They argue, however, that it is not authoritarian to destroy authority or to use violence to resist violence. Therefore, although most anarchists are not pacifists, most reject violence except in self-defence and even then kept to the minimum.

A.3.5 What is Anarcha-Feminism?

Although opposition to the state and all forms of authority had a strong voice among the early feminists of the 19th century, the more recent feminist movement which began in the 1960's was founded upon anarchist practice. This is where the term anarcha-feminism came from, referring to women anarchists who act within the larger feminist and anarchist movements to remind them of their principles.

Anarchism and feminism have always been closely linked. Many outstanding feminists have also been anarchists, including the pioneering Mary Wollstonecraft (author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman), the Communard Louise Michel, Voltairine de Cleyre and the tireless champion of women's freedom, Emma Goldman (see her famous essays "The Traffic in Women", "Woman Suffrage", "The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation", "Marriage and Love" and "Victims of Morality", for example). Freedom, the world's oldest anarchist newspaper, was founded by Charlotte Wilson in 1886. In addition, all the major anarchist thinkers (bar Proudhon) were supporters of women's equality. The "Free Women" movement in Spain during the Spanish revolution is a classic example of women anarchists organising themselves to defend their basic freedoms and create a society based on women's freedom and equality (see Free Women of Spain by Martha Ackelsberg for more details on this important organisation).

Anarchism and feminism have shared much common history and a concern about individual freedom, equality and dignity for members of the female sex (although, as we will explain in more depth below, anarchists have always been very critical of mainstream/liberal feminism as not going far enough). Therefore, it is unsurprising that the new wave of feminism of the sixties expressed itself in an anarchistic manner and drew much inspiration from anarchist figures such as Emma Goldman. Cathy Levine points out that, during this time, "independent groups of women began functioning without the structure, leaders, and other factotums of the male left, creating, independently and simultaneously, organisations similar to those of anarchists of many decades and regions. No accident, either." [quoted by Clifford Harper, Anarchy: A Graphic Guide, p. 182]

It is no accident because, as feminist scholars have noted, women were among the first victims of hierarchical society, which is thought to have begun with the rise of patriarchy and ideologies of domination during the late Neolithic era. Marilyn French argues (in Beyond Power) that the first major social stratification of the human race occurred when men began dominating women, with women becoming in effect a "lower" and "inferior" social class.

Peggy Kornegger has drawn attention to the strong connections between feminism and anarchism, both in theory and practice. "The radical feminist perspective is almost pure anarchism," she writes. "The basic theory postulates the nuclear family as the basis of all authoritarian systems. The lesson the child learns, from father to teacher to boss to god, is to obey the great anonymous voice of Authority. To graduate from childhood to adulthood is to become a full-fledged automaton, incapable of questioning or even of thinking clearly." [Ibid.] Similarly, the Zero Collective argues that Anarcha-feminism "consists in recognising the anarchism of feminism and consciously developing it." [The Raven, no. 21, p. 6]

Anarcha-feminists point out that authoritarian traits and values, for example, domination, exploitation, aggressiveness, competitiveness, desensitisation etc., are highly valued in hierarchical civilisations and are traditionally referred to as "masculine." In contrast, non-authoritarian traits and values such as co-operation, sharing, compassion, sensitivity, warmth, etc., are traditionally regarded as "feminine" and are devalued. Feminist scholars have traced this phenomenon back to the growth of patriarchal societies during the early Bronze Age and their conquest of co-operatively based "organic" societies in which "feminine" traits and values were prevalent and respected. Following these conquests, however, such values came to be regarded as "inferior," especially for a man, since men were in charge of domination and exploitation under patriarchy. (See e.g. Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade; Elise Boulding, The Underside of History). Hence anarcha-feminists have referred to the creation of a non-authoritarian, anarchist society based on co-operation, sharing, mutual aid, etc. as the "feminisation of society."

Anarcha-feminists have noted that "feminising" society cannot be achieved without both self-management and decentralisation. This is because the patriarchal-authoritarian values and traditions they wish to overthrow are embodied and reproduced in hierarchies. Thus feminism implies decentralisation, which in turn implies self-management. Many feminists have recognised this, as reflected in their experiments with collective forms of feminist organisations that eliminate hierarchical structure and competitive forms of decision making. Some feminists have even argued that directly democratic organisations are specifically female political forms [see e.g. Nancy Hartsock "Feminist Theory and the Development of Revolutionary Strategy," in Zeila Eisenstein, ed., Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism, pp. 56-77]. Like all anarchists, anarcha-feminists recognise that self-liberation is the key to women's equality and thus, freedom. Thus Emma Goldman:

"Her development, her freedom, her independence, must come from and through herself. First, by asserting herself as a personality, and not as a sex commodity. Second, by refusing the right of anyone over her body; by refusing to bear children, unless she wants them, by refusing to be a servant to God, the State, society, the husband, the family, etc., by making her life simpler, but deeper and richer. That is, by trying to learn the meaning and substance of life in all its complexities; by freeing herself from the fear of public opinion and public condemnation." [Anarchism and Other Essays, p. 211]

Anarcha-feminism tries to keep feminism from becoming influenced and dominated by authoritarian ideologies or either the right or left. It proposes direct action and self-help instead of the mass reformist campaigns favoured by the "official" feminist movement, with its creation of hierarchical and centralist organisations and its illusion that having more women bosses, politicians, and soldiers is a move towards "equality." Anarcha-feminists would point out that the so-called "management science" which women have to learn in order to become mangers in capitalist companies is essentially a set of techniques for controlling and exploiting wage workers in corporate hierarchies, whereas "feminising" society requires the elimination of capitalist wage-slavery and managerial domination altogether. Anarcha-feminists realise that learning how to become an effective exploiter or oppressor is not the path to equality (as one member of the Mujures Libres put it, "[w]e did not want to substitute a feminist hierarchy for a masculine one" [quoted by Martha A. Ackelsberg, Free Women of Spain. p.2] -- also see section B.1.4 for a further discussion on patriarchy and hierarchy).

Hence anarchism's traditional hostility to liberal (or mainstream) feminism, while supporting women's liberation and equality. Federica Montseny (a leading figure in the Spanish Anarchist movement) argued that such feminism advocated equality for women, but did not challenge existing institutions. She argued that (mainstream) feminism's "only ambition is to give to women of a particular class the opportunity to participate more fully in the existing system of privilege" and if these institutions "are unjust when men take advantage of them, they will still be unjust if women take advantage of them." [quoted by Martha A. Ackelsberg, Op. Cit., pp. 90-91, p. 91]

So, in the historic anarchist movement, as Martha Ackelsberg notes, liberal/mainstream feminism was considered as being "too narrowly focused as a strategy for women's emancipation; sexual struggle could not be separated from class struggle or from the anarchist project as a whole." [Op. Cit., p. 91] Anarcha-feminism continues this tradition by arguing that all forms of hierarchy are wrong, not just patriarchy, and that feminism is in conflict with its own ideals if it desires simply to allow women to have the same chance of being a boss as a man does.

Anarcha-feminists, therefore, like all anarchists oppose capitalism as a denial of liberty. The ideal that an "equal opportunity" capitalism would free women ignores the fact that any such system would still see working class women oppressed by bosses (be they male or female). For anarcha-feminists, the struggle for women's liberation cannot be separated from the struggle against hierarchy as such. As L. Susan Brown puts it:

"Anarchist-feminism, as an expression of the anarchist sensibility applied to feminist concerns, takes the individual as its starting point and, in opposition to relations of domination and subordination, argues for non-instrumental economic forms that preserver individual existential freedom, for both men and women." [The Politics of Individualism, p. 144]

Anarcha-feminists have much to contribute to our understanding of the origins of the ecological crisis in the authoritarian values of hierarchical civilisation. For example, a number of feminist scholars have argued that the domination of nature has paralleled the domination of women, who have been identified with nature throughout history (See, for example, Carline Merchant, The Death of Nature, 1980). Both women and nature are victims of the obsession with control that characterises the authoritarian personality. For this reason, a growing number of both radical ecologists and feminists are recognising that hierarchies must be dismantled in order to achieve their respective goals.

In addition, anarcha-feminism reminds us of the importance of treating women equally with men while, at the same time, respecting women's differences from men. In other words, that recognising and respecting diversity includes women as well as men. Too often many male anarchists assume that, because they are (in theory) opposed to sexism, they are not sexist in practice. Such an assumption is false. Anarcha-feminism brings the question of consistency between theory and practice to the front of social activism and reminds us all that we must fight not only external constraints but also internal ones.

A.3.6 What is Cultural Anarchism?

For our purposes, we will define cultural anarchism as the promotion of anti-authoritarian values through those aspects of society traditionally regarded as belonging to the sphere of "culture" rather than "economics" or "politics" -- for example, through art, music, drama, literature, education, child-rearing practices, sexual morality, technology, and so forth.

Cultural expressions are anarchistic to the extent that they deliberately attack, weaken, or subvert the tendency of most traditional cultural forms to promote authoritarian values and attitudes, particularly domination and exploitation. Thus a novel that portrays the evils of militarism can be considered as cultural anarchism if it goes beyond the simple "war-is-hell" model and allows the reader to see how militarism is connected with authoritarian institutions (e.g. capitalism and statism) or methods of authoritarian conditioning (e.g. upbringing in the traditional patriarchal family). Or, as John Clark expresses it, cultural anarchism "implies the development of arts, media, and other symbolic forms that expose various aspects of the system of domination and contrast them with a system of values based on freedom and community." [The Anarchist Moment: Reflections on Culture, Nature and Power]

Cultural anarchism is important -- indeed essential -- because authoritarian values are embedded in a total system of domination with many aspects besides the political and economic. Hence those values cannot be eradicated even by a combined economic and political revolution if there it is not also accompanied by profound psychological changes in the majority of the population. For mass acquiescence in the current system is rooted in the psychic structure of human beings (their "character structure," to use Wilhelm Reich's expression), which is produced by many forms of conditioning and socialisation that have developed with patriarchal-authoritarian civilisation during the past five or six thousand years.

In other words, even if capitalism and the state were overthrown tomorrow, people would soon create new forms of authority in their place. For authority -- a strong leader, a chain of command, someone to give orders and relieve one of the responsibility of thinking for oneself -- are what the submissive/authoritarian personality feels most comfortable with. Unfortunately, the majority of human beings fear real freedom, and indeed, do not know what to do with it -- as is shown by a long string of failed revolutions and freedom movements in which the revolutionary ideals of freedom, democracy, and equality were betrayed and a new hierarchy and ruling class were quickly created. These failures are generally attributed to the machinations of reactionary politicians and capitalists, and to the perfidy of revolutionary leaders; but reactionary politicians only attract followers because they find a favourable soil for the growth of their authoritarian ideals in the character structure of ordinary people.

Hence the prerequisite of an anarchist revolution is a period of consciousness-raising in which people gradually become aware of submissive/authoritarian traits within themselves, see how those traits are reproduced by conditioning, and understand how they can be mitigated or eliminated through new forms of culture, particularly new child-rearing and educational methods. We will explore this issue more fully in section B.1.5 (What is the mass-psychological basis for authoritarian civilisation?), J.6 (What methods of child rearing do anarchists advocate?), and J.5.13 (What are Modern Schools?)

Cultural anarchist ideas are shared by almost all schools of anarchist thought and consciousness-raising is considered an essential part of any anarchist movement. For anarchists, its important to "build the new world in the shell of the old" in all aspects of our lives and creating an anarchist culture is part of that activity. Few anarchists, however, consider consciousness-raising as enough in itself and so combine cultural anarchist activities with organising, using direct action and building libertarian alternatives in capitalist society. The anarchists movement is one that combines practical self-activity with cultural work, with both activities feeding into and supporting the other.

A.3.7 Are there religious anarchists?

Yes, there are. While most anarchists have opposed religion and the idea of God as deeply anti-human and a justification for earthly authority and slavery, a few believers in religion have taken their ideas to anarchist conclusions. Like all anarchists, these religious anarchists have combined an opposition to the state with a critical position with regards to private property and inequality. In other words, anarchism is not necessarily atheistic. Indeed, according to Jacques Ellul, "biblical thought leads directly to anarchism, and that this is the only 'political anti-political' position in accord with Christian thinkers." [quoted by Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible, p. 75]

There are many different types of anarchism inspired by religious ideas. As Peter Marshall notes, the "first clear expression of an anarchist sensibility may be traced back to the Taoists in ancient China from about the sixth century BC" and "Buddhism, particularly in its Zen form, . . . has . . . a strong libertarian spirit." [Op. Cit., p. 53, p. 65] Some combine their anarchist ideas with Pagan and Spiritualist influences. However, religious anarchism usually takes the form of Christian Anarchism, which we will concentrate on here.

Christian Anarchists take seriously Jesus' words to his followers that "kings and governors have domination over men; let there be none like that among you." Similarly, Paul's dictum that there "is no authority except God" is taken to its obvious conclusion with the denial of state authority within society. Thus, for a true Christian, the state is usurping God's authority and it is up to each individual to govern themselves and discover that (to use the title of Tolstoy's famous book) The Kingdom of God is within you.

Similarly, the voluntary poverty of Jesus, his comments on the corrupting effects of wealth and the Biblical claim that the world was created for humanity to be enjoyed in common have all been taken as the basis of a socialistic critique of private property and capitalism. Indeed, the early Christian church (which could be considered as a liberation movement of slaves, although one that was later co-opted into a state religion) was based upon communistic sharing of material goods, a theme which has continually appeared within radical Christian movements (indeed, the Bible would have been used to express radical libertarian aspirations of the oppressed, which, in later times, would have taken the form of anarchist or Marxist terminology). Thus clergyman's John Ball's egalitarian comments during the Peasant Revolt in 1381 in England:

"When Adam delved and Eve span,
Who was then a gentleman?"

The history of Christian anarchism includes the Heresy of the Free Spirit in the Middle Ages, numerous Peasant revolts and the Anabaptists in the 16th century. The libertarian tradition within Christianity surfaced again in the 18th century in the writings of William Blake and the American Adam Ballou reached anarchist conclusions in his Practical Christian Socialism in 1854. However, Christian anarchism became a clearly defined thread of the anarchist movement with the work of the famous Russian author Leo Tolstoy.

Tolstoy took the message of the Bible seriously and came to consider that a true Christian must oppose the state. From his reading of the Bible, Tolstoy drew anarchist conclusions:

"ruling means using force, and using force means doing to him whom force is used, what he does not like and what he who uses force would certainly not like done to himself. Consequently ruling means doing to others what we would not they should do unto us, that is, doing wrong." [The Kingdom of God is Within You, p. 242]

Thus a true Christian must refrain from governing others. From this anti-statist position he naturally argued in favour of a society self-organised from below:

"Why think that non-official people could not arrange their life for themselves, as well as Government people can arrange it nor for themselves but for others?" [The Anarchist Reader, p. 306]

Tolstoy urged non-violent action against oppression, seeing a spiritual transformation of individuals as the key to creating an anarchist society. As Max Nettlau argues, the "great truth stressed by Tolstoy is that the recognition of the power of the good, of goodness, of solidarity - and of all that is called love - lies within ourselves, and that it can and must be awakened, developed and exercised in our own behaviour." [A Short History of Anarchism, pp. 251-2]

Like all anarchists, Tolstoy was critical of private property and capitalism. Like Henry George (whose ideas, like those of Proudhon, had a strong impact on him) he opposed private property in land, arguing that "were it not for the defence of landed property, and its consequent rise in price, people would not be crowded into such narrow spaces, but would scatter over the free land of which there is still so much in the world." Moreover, "in this struggle [for landed property] it is not those who work in the land, but always those who take part in government violence, who have the advantage." [Op. Cit., p. 307] Thus Tolstoy recognised that property rights in anything beyond use require state violence to protect them (possession is "always protected by custom, public opinion, by feelings of justice and reciprocity, and they do not need to be protected by violence." [Ibid.]). Indeed, he argues that:

"Tens of thousands of acres of forest lands belonging to one proprietor -- while thousands of people close by have no fuel -- need protection by violence. So, too, do factories and works where several generations of workmen have been defrauded and are still being defrauded. Yet more do the hundreds of thousands of bushels of grain, belonging to one owner, who has held them back to sell at triple price in time of famine." [Ibid.]

Tolstoy argued that capitalism morally and physically ruined individuals and that capitalists were "slave-drivers." He considered it impossible for a true Christian to be a capitalist, for a "manufacturer is a man whose income consists of value squeezed out of the workers, and whose whole occupation is based on forced, unnatural labour" and therefore, "he must first give up ruining human lives for his own profit." [The Kingdom Of God is Within You, p. 338, p. 339] Unsurprisingly, Tolstoy argued that co-operatives were the "only social activity which a moral, self-respecting person who doesn't want to be a party of violence can take part in." [quoted by Peter Marshall, Op. Cit., p. 378]

From his opposition to violence, Tolstoy rejects both state and private property and urged pacifist tactics to end violence within society and create a just society. In Nettlau's words, he "asserted . . . resistance to evil; and to one of the ways of resistance - by active force - he added another way: resistance through disobedience, the passive force." [Op. Cit., p. 251] In his ideas of a free society, Tolstoy was clearly influenced by rural Russian life and the works of Peter Kropotkin (such as Fields, Factories and Workshops), P-J Proudhon and the non-anarchist Henry George.

Tolstoy's ideas had a strong influence on Gandhi, who inspired his fellow country people to use non-violent resistance to kick Britain out of India. Moreover, Gandhi's vision of a free India as a federation of peasant communes is similar to Tolstoy's anarchist vision of a free society (although we must stress that Gandhi was not an anarchist). The Catholic Worker Group in the United States was also heavily influenced by Tolstoy (and Proudhon), as was Dorothy Day a staunch Christian pacifist and anarchist who founded the paper the Catholic Worker in 1933. The influence of Tolstoy and religious anarchism in general can also be found in Liberation Theology movements in Latin and South America who combine Christian ideas with social activism amongst the working class and peasantry (although we should note that Liberation Theology is more generally inspired by state socialist ideas rather than anarchist ones).

In countries where Churches hold de facto political power, such as in Ireland, in parts of South America, in nineteenth and early twentith century Spain and so forth, typically anarchists are strongly anti-religious because the Church has the power to suppress dissent and class struggle. So, while most anarchists are atheists (and so agree with Bakunin that if God existed it would be necessary, for human freedom and dignity, to abolish it) there is a minority tradition within anarchism which draws anarchist conclusions from religion. In addition, most social anarchists consider Tolstoyian pacifism as dogmatic and extreme, seeing the need (sometimes) for violence to resist greater evils. However, most anarchists would agree with Tolstoyians on the need for individual transformation of values as a key aspect of creating an anarchist society and on the importance of non-violence as a general tactic (although, we must stress, that few anarchists totally reject the use of violence in self-defence, when no other option is available).

A.3.8 What is "anarchism without adjectives"?

In the words of historian George Richard Esenwein, "anarchism without adjectives" in its broadest sense "referred to an unhyphenated form of anarchism, that is, a doctrine without any qualifying labels such as communist, collectivist, mutualist, or individualist. For others, . . . [it] was simply understood as an attitude that tolerated the coexistence of different anarchist schools." [Anarchist Ideology and the Working Class Movement in Spain, 1868-1898, p. 135]

The originator of the expression was Cuban born Fernando Tarrida del Marmol who used it in November, 1889, in Barcelona. He directed his comments towards the communist and collectivist anarchists in Spain who at the time were having an intense debate over the merits of their two theories. "Anarchism without adjectives" was an attempt to show greater tolerance between anarchist tendencies and to be clear that anarchists should not impose a preconceived economic plan on anyone -- even in theory. Thus the economic preferences of anarchists should be of "secondary importance" to abolishing capitalism and the state, with free experimentation the one rule of a free society.

Thus the theoretical perspective known as "anarquismo sin adjetives" ("anarchism without adjectives") was one of the by-products of a intense debate within the movement itself. The roots of the argument can be found in the development of Communist Anarchism after Bakunin's death in 1876. While not entirely dissimilar to Collectivist Anarchism (as can be seen from James Guillaume's famous work "On Building the New Social Order" within Bakunin on Anarchism, the collectivists did see their economic system evolving into free communism), Communist Anarchists developed, deepened and enriched Bakunin's work just as Bakunin had developed, deepened and enriched Proudhon's. Communist Anarchism was associated with such anarchists as Elisee Reclus, Carlo Cafiero, Errico Malatesta and (most famously) Peter Kropotkin.

Quickly Communist-Anarchist ideas replaced Collectivist Anarchism as the main anarchist tendency in Europe, except in Spain. Here the major issue was not the question of communism (although for Ricardo Mella this played a part) but a question of the modification of strategy and tactics implied by Communist Anarchism. At this time (the 1880s), the Communist Anarchists stressed local (pure) cells of anarchist militants, generally opposed trade unionism (although Kropotkin was not one of these as he saw the importance of militant workers organisations) as well as being somewhat anti-organisation as well. Unsurprisingly, such a change in strategy and tactics came in for a lot of discussion from the Spanish Collectivists who strongly supported working class organisation and struggle.

This conflict soon spread outside of Spain and the discussion found its way into the pages of La Revolte in Paris. This provoked many anarchists to agree with Malatesta's argument that "[i]t is not right for us, to say the least, to fall into strife over mere hypotheses." [quoted by Max Nettlau, A Short History of Anarchism, pp. 198-9] Over time, most anarchists agreed (to use Nettlau's words) that "we cannot foresee the economic development of the future" [Op. Cit., p. 201] and so started to stress what they had in common (opposition to capitalism and the state) rather than the different visions of how a free society would operate. As time progressed, most Communist-Anarchists saw that ignoring the labour movement ensured that their ideas did not reach the working class while most Collectivist-Anarchists stressed their commitment to communist ideals and their arrival sooner, rather than later, after a revolution.

Similarly, in the United States there was also an intense debate at the same time between Individualist and Communist anarchists. There Benjamin Tucker was arguing that Communist-Anarchists were not anarchists while John Most was saying similar things about Tucker's ideas. Just as people like Mella and Tarrida put forward the idea of tolerance between anarchist groups, so anarchists like Voltairine de Cleyre "came to label herself simply 'Anarchist,' and called like Malatesta for an 'Anarchism without Adjectives,' since in the absence of government many different experiments would probably be tried in various localities in order to determine the most appropriate form." [Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible, p. 393]

These debates had a lasting impact on the anarchist movement, with such noted anarchists as de Cleyre, Malatesta, Nettlau and Reclus adopting the tolerant perspective embodied in the expression "anarchism without adjectives" (see Nettlau's A Short History of Anarchism, pages 195 to 201 for an excellent summary of this). It is also, we add, the dominant position within the anarchist movement today with most anarchists recognising the right of other tendencies to the name "anarchist" while, obviously, having their own preferences for specific types of anarchist theory and their own arguments why other types are flawed. However, we must stress that the different forms of anarchism (communism, syndicalism, religious etc) are not mutually exclusive and you do not have to support one and hate the others. This tolerance is reflected in the expression "anarchism without adjectives."

One last point, some "anarcho"-capitalists have attempted to use the tolerance associated with "anarchism without adjectives" to argue that their ideology should be accepted as part of the anarchist movement. Afterall, they argue, anarchism is just about getting rid of the state, economics is of secondary importance. However, such a use of "anarchism without adjectives" is bogus as it was commonly agreed at the time that the types of economics that were being discussed were anti-capitalist (i.e. socialistic). In other words, it was agreed that capitalism had to be abolished along with the state and once this was the case free experimentation would develop. In other words, the struggle against the state was just one part of a wider struggle to end oppression and exploitation and could not be isolated from these wider aims. As "anarcho"-capitalists do not seek the abolition of capitalism along with the state they are not anarchists and so "anarchism without adjectives" does not apply to the so-called "anarchist" capitalists (see section F on why "anarcho"-capitalism is not anarchist).