Self Certified

Anarchism in Interesting Times

On my use of the terms ‘Communism’ and ‘anarchist communism’

anarchist_commmunist_poster_by_redclassprideThe word communism is often met with derision by people who misunderstand it’s true meaning. “What about Russia?” Not communist mate. “Communism has failed bro”, Communism has never existed on a mass scale, pal. “Ah, see you failed to take account of human nature?”, haven’t heard that one before.”You want to take my iphone off me”. Nah, you’re gonna need your smart phone for this.

The communism I believe in, has never been tried on a mass scale in peace time. The closest thing to it was in anarchist Catalonia during the Spanish civil war in the 1930’s and that was going quite well until it was smashed by fascists on one side and Stalinists on the other. A more modern example would be the Zapatista communities in Chiapas, Mexico. Though personally I’d like less subsistence farming and more vertical farming, aquaponics and other modern methods of urban agriculture. But each to their own eh?

My kind of communism is usually affixed with the adjectives ‘anarchist’ or ‘libertarian’ and I’m happy with either of those two labels, but I often use the word on its own, because as far as I’m concerned, you can’t have communism (full communism for those who know your memes) without the libertarian element. Marx and Engels recognised this.  Even Lenin, in his pamphlet The State and Revolution wrote “So long as the state exists there is no freedom. When there is freedom, there will be no state.” However, Marxism, particularly the variety pioneered by Lenin, gave us the abomination that was the USSR, even if that was not what was intended by the founders of that ideology. Marx would scarcely have recognised Soviet Russia as something based on his ideas, even though the authoritarian side of his ideology contributed to what it became.

I would argue, as would all libertarian communists, (Be they Anarchists, Council Communists or Autonomists – the latter two being types of Marxism that are closer to anarchism than to authoritarian Marxism), that the concept of a socialist or communist state is an oxymoron; As the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin wrote, “In the republic the State, which is supposed to be the people, legally organised, stifles and will continue to stifle the real people. But the people will feel no better if the stick with which they are being beaten is labeled “the people’s stick.””

So communism, as I use the term means that society produces goods and services to meet the needs of those who make up society and that we strive to reduce to as close to zero as possible the hours of necessary human labour required to do that. We would also dispense with monetary exchange and implement Marx’s maxim, “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”, or as Pyotr Kropotkin, the foremost theorist of Anarchist Communism wrote in The Conquest of Bread “All is for all! If the man and the woman bear their fair share of work, they have a right to their fair share of all that is produced by all, and that share is enough to secure them well-being. No more of such vague formulas as “The right to work,” or “To each the whole result of his labour.” What we proclaim is The Right to Well-Being: Well-Being for All!” All things would be held in common. There are various theories on how this would work, I call mine The Invisible Hand of Communism. 

As for how society would be organised, these suggestions are taken straight out of one of my recent posts:

  1. Autonomy – The individual should have control over their own body (who they sleep with, use of birth control, abortion, drugs etc), the community should manage it’s own affairs without outside interference so far as the decision does not affect another community.
  2.  Participatory democracy – Everyone affected by a decision should play their part in making that decision, with full access to all the facts. Local assemblies should be based on face to face democracy.
  3. Confederalism – Communities come together to form confederated regions with delegates mandated by each one to make decisions that are more regional, or even global in nature. No one a decision effects should go without their say in the matter.
  4. Solidarity – Mutual support among groups in society. Putting racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and sexism and all other oppression in the dustbin of history.
  5. Education – To promote the values of a free society, education should from the earliest age foster critical thinking, ethical behavior, ecological awareness and decision making capacity, along with the ability to make a meaningful contribution to society. Every child should be able to see the realisation of their ambitions as a realistic possibility; be that as a footballer, a dancer, an engineer, a writer, a farmer, a chemist or anything else.
  6. A communal economy – Call it socialism, call it communism, call it anarchism or communalism – take the world’s resources and wealth out of the hands of a tiny minority, produce goods for human need not private greed, live by the maxim – “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.”
  7. Social-Ecology – A society that stops trying to dominate nature, that exists in harmony with the natural world, whose economic activity not only strives to meet the needs of humanity, but also to repair the damage to our world done by capitalism.

The last point, Social Ecology comes from the work of anarchist turned communalist, Murray Bookchin, who was one of the first to see the erosion of the power of the working class by advances in industrial automation and the need to take an ecological approach to building an egalitarian post-capitalist society.

If you want to see more of this sort of thing or my opinions on technology, dogs, anarchism, football and random nonsense, follow me on twitter.

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This entry was posted on November 24, 2016 by in Anarchism, Communism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .
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