Difference Between Communism Socialism And Anarchism And Other Essays

Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production[10] as well as the political theories and movements associated with them.[11] Social ownership may refer to forms of public, collective or cooperative ownership, or to citizen ownership of equity.[12] There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them,[13] though social ownership is the common element shared by its various forms.[5][14][15]Socialist economic systems can be further divided into non-market and market forms.[16] The word socialism thus refers to a broad range of theoretical and historical socioeconomic systems and has also been used by many political movements throughout history to describe themselves and their goals, generating numerous types of socialism. Different self-described socialists have used the term "socialism" to refer to different things, such as an economic system, a type of society, a philosophical outlook, a collection of moral values and ideals, or even a certain kind of human character. Some definitions of socialism are very vague[17] while others are so specific that they only include a small minority of the things that have been described as socialism in the past. There have been numerous political movements which called themselves "socialist" under some definition of the term—some of these interpretations are mutually exclusive and all of them have generated debates over the true meaning of socialism.

Early interpretations[edit]

The word "socialism" was coined in the 1830s and it was first used to refer to philosophical or moral beliefs rather than any specific political views. For example, Alexandre Vinet, who claimed to have been the first person to use the term, defined socialism simply as "the opposite of individualism".[18]Robert Owen also viewed socialism as a matter of ethics, though he used it with a slightly more specific meaning to refer to the view that human society can and should be improved for the benefit of all. In a similar vein, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon claimed that socialism is "every aspiration towards the amelioration of society".[19]

In the first half of the 19th century, many writers who described themselves as socialists—and who would be later called utopian socialists—wrote down descriptions of what they believed to be the ideal human society. Some of them also created small communities that put their ideals into practice. A constant feature of these ideal societies was social and economic equality. Because the people who proposed the creation of such societies called themselves socialists, the word "socialism" came to refer not only to a certain moral doctrine, but also to a type of egalitarian society based on such a doctrine.

Other early advocates of socialism took a more scientific approach by favouring social leveling to create a meritocratic society based upon freedom for individual talent to prosper,[20] such as Count Henri de Saint-Simon, who was fascinated by the enormous potential of science and technology and believed a socialist society would eliminate the disorderly aspects of capitalism.[21] He advocated the creation of a society in which each person was ranked according to his or her capacities and rewarded according to his or her work.[20] The key focus of this early socialism was on administrative efficiency and industrialism and a belief that science was the key to progress.[22] Simon's ideas provided a foundation for scientific economic planning and technocratic administration of society.

Other early socialist thinkers, such as Thomas Hodgkin and Charles Hall, based their ideas on David Ricardo's economic theories. They reasoned that the equilibrium value of commodities approximated to prices charged by the producer when those commodities were in elastic supply and that these producer prices corresponded to the embodied labor—the cost of the labor (essentially the wages paid) that was required to produce the commodities. The Ricardian socialists viewed profit, interest and rent as deductions from this exchange-value.[23] These ideas embodied early conceptions of market socialism.

After the advent of Karl Marx's theory of capitalism and scientific socialism, socialism came to refer to ownership and administration of the means of production by the working class, either through the state apparatus or through independent cooperatives. In Marxist theory, socialism refers to a specific stage of social and economic development that will displace capitalism, characterized by coordinated production, public or cooperative ownership of capital, diminishing class conflict and inequalities that spawn from such and the end of wage-labor with a method of compensation based on the principle of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution".[24]

Differences between various schools[edit]

Although they share a common root (as elaborated upon in the above sections), schools of socialism are divided on many issues and sometimes there is a split within a school. The following is a brief overview of the major issues which have generated or are generating significant controversy amongst socialists in general.


Some branches of socialism arose largely as a philosophical construct (e.g. utopian socialism)—others in the heat of a revolution (e.g. early Marxism, Leninism). A few arose merely as the product of a ruling party (e.g. Stalinism), other as a product or various worker movements (e.g. anarcho-syndicalism) or a party or other group contending for political power in a democratic society (e.g. social democracy).

Some are in favour of a socialist revolution (e.g. Marxism–Leninism, Trotskyism, Maoism, revolutionary Marxism, social anarchism), whilst others tend to support reform instead (e.g. fabianism, individualist anarchism). Others believe both are possible (e.g. syndicalism, various forms of Marxism). The first utopian socialists even failed to address the question of how a socialist society would be achieved, upholding the belief that technology was a necessity for a socialist society and that they themselves had no comprehension of the technology of the future.[citation needed]

Socialists are also divided on which rights and liberties are desirable, such as the "bourgeois liberties" (such as those guaranteed by the U.S. First Amendment or the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union). Some hold that they are to be preserved (or even enhanced) in a socialist society (e.g. social anarchy, left communism), whilst others believe them to be undesirable (e.g. Marxism–Leninism–Maoism). Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels even held different opinions at different times and some schools are divided on this issue (e.g. different strains of Trotskyism).

All socialists criticize the current system in some way. Some criticisms center on the ownership of the means of production (e.g. Marxism), whereas others tend to focus on the nature of mass and equitable distribution (e.g. most forms of utopian socialism). Most are opposed to unchecked industrialism as well as capitalism (e.g. green left) and believe that under socialism the environment must be protected. Utopian socialists like Robert Owen and Saint-Simon argued, though not from exactly the same perspective, that the injustice and widespread poverty of the societies they lived in were a problem of distribution of the goods created. On the other hands, Marxian socialists determined that the root of the injustice is based not in the function of distribution of goods already created, but rather in the fact that the ownership of the means of production is in the hands of the upper class. Marxian Socialists also maintain in contrast to the utopian socialists that the root of injustice is not in how goods (commodities) are distributed, but for whose economic benefit are they produced and sold.


Most forms and derivatives of Marxism and anarchism advocated total or near-total socialization of the economy. Less radical schools (e.g. Bernsteinism, reformism, reformist Marxism) proposed a mixed market economy instead. Mixed economies can in turn range anywhere from those developed by the social democratic governments that have periodically governed Northern and Western European countries, to the inclusion of small cooperatives in the planned economy of Yugoslavia under Josip Broz Tito. A related issue is whether it is better to reform capitalism to create a fairer society (e.g. most social democrats) or to totally overthrow the capitalist system (all Marxists).

Some schools advocate centralized state control of the socialized sectors of the economy (e.g. Leninism), whilst others argue for control of those sectors by workers' councils (e.g. syndicalism, left and council communism, Marxism, anarcho-communism). This question is usually referred to by socialists in terms of "ownership of the means of production". None of the social democratic parties of Europe advocate total state ownership of the means of production in their contemporary demands and popular press.

Another issue socialists are divided on is what legal and political apparatus the workers would maintain and further develop the socialization of the means of production. Some advocate that the power of the workers' councils should itself constitute the basis of a socialist state (coupled with direct democracy and the widespread use of referendums), but others hold that socialism entails the existence of a legislative body administered by people who would be elected in a representative democracy.

Different ideologies support different governments. For example, in the era of the Soviet Union Western socialists were bitterly divided as to whether the Soviet Union was basically socialist, moving toward socialism, or inherently un-socialist and in fact inimical to true socialism. Similarly, today the government of the People's Republic of China claims to be socialist and refers to its own approach as "Socialism with Chinese characteristics", but most other socialists consider China to be essentially capitalist. The Chinese leadership concurs with most of the usual critiques against a command economy and many of their actions to manage what they call a socialist economy have been determined by this opinion.

Socialist planned economy[edit]

This form of socialism combines public ownership and management of the means of production with centralized state planning and can refer to a broad range of economic systems from the centralized Soviet-style command economy to participatory planning via workplace democracy. In a centrally-planned economy decisions regarding the quantity of goods and services to be produced as well as the allocation of output (distribution of goods and services) are planned in advanced by a planning agency. This type of economic system was often combined with a one-party political system and is thus associated with the Communist states of the 20th century.

State-directed economy[edit]

A state-directed economy is a system where either the state or worker cooperatives own the means of production, but economic activity is directed to some degree by a government agency or planning ministry through mechanisms such as indicative planning or dirigisme. This differs from a centralized planned economy (or a command economy) in that micro-economic decision making, such as quantity to be produced and output requirements, is left to managers and workers in state enterprises or cooperative enterprises rather than being mandated by a comprehensive economic plan from a centralized planning board. However, the state will plan long-term strategic investment and some aspect of production. It is possible for a state-directed economy to have elements of both a market and planned economy. For example, production and investment decisions may be semi-planned by the state, but distribution of output may be determined by the market mechanism.

State-directed socialism can also refer to technocratic socialism—economic systems that rely on technocratic management and technocratic planning mechanisms, along with public ownership of the means of production. A forerunner of this concept was Henri de Saint-Simon, who understood the state would undergo a transformation in a socialist system and change its role from one of "political administration of men, to the administration of things".

Elements of state-directed socialist economies include: dirigisme, technocracy, economic planning and state socialism.

De-centralized planned economy[edit]

A de-centralized planned economy is one where ownership of enterprises is accomplished through various forms of worker cooperatives, autogestion and planning of production and distribution is done from the bottom-up by local worker councils in a democratic manner. This form of socialist economy is related to the political philosophies of libertarian socialism, syndicalism and various forms of communal utopian socialism.

Examples of de-centralized democratic planning include: participatory economics, industrial democracy, classic Soviet democracy, syndicalism, council communism and individualist anarchism.[25]

Market socialism[edit]

Main article: Market socialism

Market socialism refers to various economic systems that involve either public ownership and management or worker cooperative ownership over the means of production, or a combination of both, and the market mechanism for allocating economic output, deciding what to produce and in what quantity. In state-oriented forms of market socialism where state enterprises attempt to maximize profit, the profits can fund government programs and services eliminating or greatly diminishing the need for various forms of taxation that exist in capitalist systems.

Some forms of market socialism are based on neoclassical economic theory, with the aim of attaining pareto efficiency by setting price to equal marginal cost in public enterprises. This form of socialism was promoted by Oskar Lange, Abba Lerner and Fredrick Taylor. Other forms of market socialism are based on classical economics, such as those advocated by Thomas Hodgskin, who viewed interest accumulation, rent and profit as deductions from exchange-value, so that eliminating the capitalist element from the economy would lead to a free market and socialism. The term market socialism has also been applied to planned economic systems that try to organize themselves partially along market-lines while retaining centralized state ownership of capital.

Other types of market socialist systems, such as Mutualism, are related to the political philosophy of libertarian socialism.

Examples of market socialism include: economic democracy, the Lange model, the New Economic Mechanism, Ricardian socialism, liberal socialism and mutualism.

Socialist market economy[edit]

A socialist market economy refers to the economic systems adopted by the People's Republic of China and Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Although there is dispute as to whether or not these models actually constitute state capitalism, the decisive means of production remain under state-ownership. State enterprises are organized into corporations (corporatization) and operate like private capitalist enterprises. A substantial private sector exists alongside the state sector of the economy, but plays a secondary role usually relegated to the service sector and production of consumer goods.

Examples of socialist market economies include: socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics and socialist-oriented market economy.

Socialist ideologies[edit]

Utopian socialism[edit]

Main article: Utopian socialism

Utopian socialism is a term used to define the first currents of modern socialist thought as exemplified by the work of Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier and Robert Owen, which inspired Karl Marx and other early socialists.[26] However, visions of imaginary ideal societies, which competed with revolutionary social democratic movements, were viewed as not being grounded in the material conditions of society and as "reactionary".[27] Although it is technically possible for any set of ideas or any person living at any time in history to be a utopian socialist, the term is most often applied to those socialists who lived in the first quarter of the 19th century who were ascribed the label "utopian" by later socialists as a negative term, in order to imply naivete and dismiss their ideas as fanciful or unrealistic.[22] Forms of socialism which existed in traditional societies are referred to as primitive communism by Marxists.

Religious sects whose members live communally, such as the Hutterites, for example, are not usually called "utopian socialists", although their way of living is a prime example. They have been categorized as religious socialists by some. Likewise, modern intentional communities based on socialist ideas could also be categorized as "utopian socialist".

Marxist communism[edit]

Main articles: Communism and Marxism

Marxist communism refers to classless, stateless social organization based upon common ownership of the means of production and to a variety of movements acting in the name of this goal which are influenced by the thought of Karl Marx. In general, the classless forms of social organisation are not capitalised, while movements associated with official Communist parties and Communist states usually are. In the classic Marxist definition (pure communism), a communist economy refers to a system that has achieved a superabundance of goods and services due to an increase in technological capability and advances in the productive forces and therefore has transcended socialism (see post-scarcity economy). This is a hypothetical stage of social and economic development with few speculative details known about it.

The actual goal of communism has never been attained in practice from a Marxist position, though anarchist societies have provided a glimpse of what a communist world would look like. The real idea behind it is to abolish all leadership, and govern with a commune. That is, the people themselves make all decisions, and everyone contributing to the wellbeing of the commune. In practice, most governments that have claimed to be communist have been totalitariandictatorships.

The modern political marxist communist movement was created when the social democratic parties of Europe split between their rightist and leftist tendencies during World War I. The leftists, led internationally by Vladimir Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, to distinguish their brand of socialism from the "reformist" social democrats, were called "communists". However, after Luxemburg's and Liebknecht's murders the term communist became generally associated solely with the parties and organisations following Lenin, along with their various derivations, such as Stalinism or Maoism.

There is a considerable variety of views among self-identified communists. However, Marxism and Leninism, schools of communism associated with Karl Marx and of Vladimir Lenin respectively, have the distinction of having been a major force in world politics since the early 20th century. Class struggle plays a central role in Marxism. This theory views the formation of communism as the culmination of the class struggle between the capitalist class, the owners of most of the capital and the working class. Marx held that society could not be transformed from the capitalist mode of production to the communist mode of production all at once, but required a transitional state which Marx described as the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.

Some forms of the communist society that Marx envisioned, as emerging from capitalism, have been claimed to be achieved for limited periods during certain historical moments and under certain circumstances. For example, the Paris Commune in fact let Marx reinforce and implement his theories by adapting them to a real experience he could draw from. Another similar case, though disputed by anarcho-syndicalism or even anarchism, was the Spanish Revolution of 1936 (often missed or unmentioned by official historiography), during which much of Spain's economy in most of Republican areas, some of which enjoyed a practical absence of state, was put under workers' direct collective control.

In addition to this, the term communism (as well as socialism) is often used to refer to those political and economic systems and states dominated by a political, bureaucratic class, typically attached to one singleCommunist party that follow Marxist-Leninist doctrines and often claim to represent the dictatorship of the proletariat in a non-democratic fashion, described by critics as in a totalitarian and bureaucratic. These systems are also often called Stalinism, state capitalism, state communism or state socialism.

With the Soviet Union's creation after the end of Russian Civil War that followed to initial success of Red October Revolution in Russia, other socialist parties in other countries and the Bolshevik party itself became Communist parties, owing allegiance of varying degrees to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (see Communist International). After World War II, regimes calling themselves Communist took power in Eastern Europe. In 1949, the Communists in China, supported by Soviet Union and led by Mao Zedong, came to power and established the People's Republic of China. Among the other countries in the Third World that adopted a bureaucratic Communist state as form of government at some point were Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Angola and Mozambique. By the early 1980s, almost one third of the world's population lived under Communist states.

Communism carries a strong social stigma in the United States due to a history of anti-communism in the United States. Since the early 1970s, the term "Eurocommunism" was used to refer to the policies of Communist parties in western Europe, which sought to break with the tradition of uncritical and unconditional support of the Soviet Union. Such parties were politically active and electorally significant in France and Italy. With the collapse of the statalized one-party systems and Marxist–Leninist governments, in eastern Europe from the late 1980s and the breakup of the Soviet Union on December 8, 1991, Marxist-Leninist State communism's influence has decreased dramatically in Europe, but around a quarter of the world's population still lives under such a kind of "Communist states".


Main article: Marxism–Leninism

Vladimir Lenin never used the term Leninism, nor did he refer to his views as Marxism–Leninism. However, his ideas diverged from classical Marxist theory on several important points (see the articles on Marxism and Leninism for more information). Bolshevik communists saw these differences as advancements of Marxism made by Lenin. After Lenin's death, his ideology and contributions to Marxist theory were termed "Marxism–Leninism", or sometimes only "Leninism". Marxism–Leninism soon became the official name for the ideology of the Comintern and of Communist parties around the world.


Main article: Stalinism

Stalinism was the theory and practice of communism practiced by Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union from 1928–1953. Officially it adhered to Marxism–Leninism, but whether Stalin's practices actually followed the principles of Marx and Lenin is a subject of debate and criticism. In contrast to Marx and Lenin, Stalin made few new theoretical contributions. Stalin's main contributions to communist theory were Socialism in One Country and the theory of Aggravation of class struggle under socialism, a theoretical base supporting the repression of political opponents as necessary. Stalinism took an aggressive stance on class conflict, utilizing state violence in an attempt to forcibly purge society of the bourgeoisie.[28] The groundwork for the Soviet policy concerning nationalities was laid out in Stalin's 1913 work Marxism and the National Question.[29]

Stalinist policies in the Soviet Union included rapid industrialization, Five-Year Plans, socialism in one country, a centralized state, collectivization of agriculture and subordination of interests of other communist parties to those of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.[30] Rapid industrialization was designed to accelerate the development towards communism, stressing that industrialization was needed because the country was economically backward in comparison with other countries, and was needed in order to face the challenges posed by internal and external enemies.[31] Rapid industrialization was accompanied with mass collective farming and rapid urbanization.[32] Rapid urbanization converted many small villages into industrial cities.[32]


Main article: Maoism

A key concept that distinguishes Maoism from other left-wing ideologies is the belief that the class struggle continues throughout the entire socialist period, as a result of the fundamental antagonistic contradiction between capitalism and communism. Even when the proletariat has seized state power through a socialist revolution, the potential remains for a bourgeoisie to restore capitalism. Indeed, Mao famously stated that "the bourgeoisie [in a socialist country] is right inside the Communist Party itself", implying that corrupt Party officials would subvert socialism if not prevented.

Unlike the earlier forms of Marxism-Leninism in which the urban proletariat was seen as the main source of revolution, and the countryside was largely ignored, Mao focused on the peasantry as a revolutionary force which, he said, could be mobilized by a Communist Party with their knowledge and leadership.

Unlike most other political ideologies, including other socialist and Marxist ones, Maoism contains an integral military doctrine and explicitly connects its political ideology with military strategy. In Maoist thought, "political power comes from the barrel of the gun" (one of Mao's quotes), and the peasantry can be mobilized to undertake a "people's war" of armed struggle involving guerrilla warfare.

Since the death of Mao and the reforms of Deng, most of the parties explicitly defining themselves as "Maoist" have disappeared, but various communist groups around the world, particularly armed ones like the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the CPI (Maoist) and CPI (ML) of India and the New People's Army of the Philippines, continue to advance Maoist ideas and get press attention for them. These groups generally have the idea that Mao's ideas were betrayed before they could be fully or properly implemented.


Trotskyism is the theory of Marxism as advocated by Leon Trotsky. Trotsky considered himself a Bolshevik–Leninist, arguing for the establishment of a vanguard party. He considered himself an advocate of orthodox Marxism. His politics differed greatly from those of Stalin or Mao, most importantly in declaring the need for an international "permanent revolution" and arguing that democracy is essential to both socialism and communism. Numerous groups around the world continue to describe themselves as Trotskyist and see themselves as standing in this tradition, although they have diverse interpretations of the conclusions to be drawn from this.

Council and left communism[edit]

Council communism is a current of libertarian Marxism that emerged from the November Revolution in the 1920s, characterized by its opposition to state capitalism/state socialism as well as its advocacy of workers' councils as the basis for workers' democracy. Originally affiliated with the Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD), council communism continues today as a theoretical and activist position within the greater libertarian socialism movement.

Chief among the tenets of council communism is its opposition to the party vanguardism[33][34] and democratic centralism[35] of Leninist ideologies and its contention that democratic workers' councils arising in the factories and municipalities are the natural form of working class organization and authority. Council communism also stands in contrast to social democracy through its formal rejection of both the reformism and parliamentarism[36]

The historical origins of left communism can be traced to the period before the First World War, but it only came into focus after 1918. All left communists were supportive of the October Revolution in Russia, but retained a critical view of its development. However, some would in later years come to reject the idea that the revolution had a proletarian or socialist nature, asserting that it had simply carried out the tasks of the bourgeois revolution by creating a state capitalist system.


Main article: Autonomism

Autonomism refers to a set of left-wing political and social movements and theories close to the socialist movement. As an identifiable theoretical system it first emerged in Italy in the 1960s from workerist (operaismo) communism. Later, post-Marxist and anarchist tendencies became significant after influence from the Situationists, the failure of Italian far-left movements in the 1970s, and the emergence of a number of important theorists including Antonio Negri, who had contributed to the 1969 founding of Potere Operaio, Mario Tronti, Paolo Virno, etc.

Unlike other forms of Marxism, autonomist Marxism emphasises the ability of the working class to force changes to the organization of the capitalist system independent of the state, trade unions or political parties. Autonomists are less concerned with party political organization than other Marxists, focusing instead on self-organized action outside of traditional organizational structures. Autonomist Marxism is thus a "bottom up" theory: it draws attention to activities that autonomists see as everyday working class resistance to capitalism, for example absenteeism, slow working, and socialization in the workplace.

Through translations made available by Danilo Montaldi and others, the Italian autonomists drew upon previous activist research in the United States by the Johnson-Forest Tendency and in France by the group Socialisme ou Barbarie.

It influenced the German and Dutch Autonomen, the worldwide Social Centre movement, and today is influential in Italy, France, and to a lesser extent the English-speaking countries. Those who describe themselves as autonomists now vary from Marxists to post-structuralists and anarchists. The Autonomist Marxist and Autonomen movements provided inspiration to some on the revolutionary left in English speaking countries, particularly among anarchists, many of whom have adopted autonomist tactics. Some English-speaking anarchists even describe themselves as Autonomists.

The Italian operaismo movement also influenced Marxist academics such as Harry Cleaver, John Holloway, Steve Wright, and Nick Dyer-Witheford.


Main article: Anarchism

Anarchism is a political philosophy that advocates stateless societies based on non-hierarchicalfree associations.[37][38][39][40][41] Anarchism holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, or harmful.[42][43] While anti-statism is central, some argue[44] that anarchism entails opposing authority or hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations, including, but not limited to, the state system.[37][45][46][47][48][49][50]Anarchism as a social movement has regularly endured fluctuations in popularity. Its classical period, which scholars demarcate as from 1860 to 1939, is associated with the working-class movements of the 19th century and the Spanish Civil War-era struggles against fascism.[51]

In 1864 the International Workingmen's Association (sometimes called the "First International") united diverse revolutionary currents including French followers of Proudhon,[53] The anti-authoritarian sections of the First International were the precursors of the anarcho-syndicalists, seeking to "replace the privilege and authority of the State" with the "free and spontaneous organization of labor."[54]

In 1907, the International Anarchist Congress of Amsterdam gathered delegates from 14 different countries, among which important figures of the anarchist movement, including Errico Malatesta, Pierre Monatte, Luigi Fabbri, Benoît Broutchoux, Emma Goldman, Rudolf Rocker, and Christiaan Cornelissen. Various themes were treated during the Congress, in particular concerning the organisation of the anarchist movement, popular education issues, the general strike or antimilitarism. A central debate concerned the relation between anarchism and syndicalism (or trade unionism). The Spanish Workers Federation in 1881 was the first major anarcho-syndicalist movement; anarchist trade union federations were of special importance in Spain. The most successful was the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (National Confederation of Labour: CNT), founded in 1910. Before the 1940s, the CNT was the major force in Spanish working class politics, attracting 1.58 million members at one point and playing a major role in the Spanish Civil War.[55] The CNT was affiliated with the International Workers Association, a federation of anarcho-syndicalist trade unions founded in 1922, with delegates representing two million workers from 15 countries in Europe and Latin America.

Some anarchists, such as Johann Most

"Libertarian Communism" redirects here. For the journal, see Libertarian Communism (journal).

Anarcho-communism (also known as anarchist communism,[1]free communism, libertarian communism[2][3][4][5][6] and communist anarchism)[7][8] is a theory of anarchism which advocates the abolition of the state, capitalism, wage labour and private property (while retaining respect for personal property)[9] in favor of common ownership of the means of production,[10][11]direct democracy and a horizontal network of workers' councils with production and consumption based on the guiding principle: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs".[12][13]

Some forms of anarchist communism, such as insurrectionary anarchism, are strongly influenced by egoism and radical individualism, believing anarcho-communism is the best social system for the realization of individual freedom.[14][15][16][17] Some anarcho-communists view anarcho-communism as a way of reconciling the opposition between the individual and society.[18][19][20][21][22]

Anarcho-communism developed out of radicalsocialist currents after the French Revolution,[23][24] but was first formulated as such in the Italian section of the First International.[25] The theoretical work of Peter Kropotkin took importance later as it expanded and developed pro-organizationalist and insurrectionary anti-organizationalist sections.[26] To date, the best-known examples of an anarchist communist society (i.e. established around the ideas as they exist today and achieving worldwide attention and knowledge in the historical canon) are the anarchist territories during the Spanish Revolution[27] and the Free Territory during the Russian Revolution. Through the efforts and influence of the Spanish anarchists during the Spanish Revolution within the Spanish Civil War, starting in 1936 anarchist communism existed in most of Aragon, parts of the Levante and Andalusia as well as in the stronghold of anarchist Catalonia before being crushed by the combined forces of the regime that won the war, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Spanish Communist Party repression (backed by the Soviet Union) as well as economic and armaments blockades from the capitalist countries and the Spanish Republic itself.[28] During the Russian Revolution, anarchists such as Nestor Makhno worked to create and defend – through the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine – anarchist communism in the Free Territory of the Ukraine from 1919 before being conquered by the Bolsheviks in 1921.

An important difference between anarchist communism and Marxist communism is who the product of the worker's labor belongs to as both of the ideologies believe that the product of labor does not belong to the capitalist due to it being produced by the worker and not the employer. However, there are slight differences between the opinions taken by Peter Kropotkin and Karl Marx, with Marx stating that product of the worker's labor belongs to the worker due to it being produced by the worker. In his book The Conquest of Bread, Kropotkin believes that the product of the worker's labor belongs to the community and argues that this should be the case due to the worker needing more than just what he produces and what the worker needs should be equally counted as a means of production.[29][30]


Early developments[edit]

Anarchist communist currents appeared during the English Civil War and the French Revolution of the 17th and 18th centuries, respectively. Gerrard Winstanley, who was part of the radical Diggers movement in England, wrote in his 1649 pamphlet, The New Law of Righteousness, that there "shall be no buying or selling, no fairs nor markets, but the whole earth shall be a common treasury for every man," and "there shall be none Lord over others, but every one shall be a Lord of himself".[23] During the French Revolution, Sylvain Maréchal, in his Manifesto of the Equals (1796), demanded "the communal enjoyment of the fruits of the earth" and looked forward to the disappearance of "the revolting distinction of rich and poor, of great and small, of masters and valets, of governors and governed".[23]

Joseph Déjacque and the Revolutions of 1848[edit]

Main article: Joseph Déjacque

An early anarchist communist was Joseph Déjacque, the first person to describe himself as "libertarian".[31] Unlike Proudhon, he argued that, "it is not the product of his or her labor that the worker has a right to, but to the satisfaction of his or her needs, whatever may be their nature".[23][32] According to the anarchist historian Max Nettlau, the first use of the term libertarian communism was in November 1880, when a French anarchist congress employed it to more clearly identify its doctrines.[33] The French anarchist journalist Sébastien Faure, later founder and editor of the four-volume Anarchist Encyclopedia, started the weekly paper Le Libertaire (The Libertarian) in 1895.[34]

Déjacque "rejected Blanquism, which was based on a division between the 'disciples of the great people's Architect' and 'the people, or vulgar herd,' and was equally opposed to all the variants of social republicanism, to the dictatorship of one man and to 'the dictatorship of the little prodigies of the proletariat.' With regard to the last of these, he wrote that: 'a dictatorial committee composed of workers is certainly the most conceited and incompetent, and hence the most anti-revolutionary, thing that can be found [...] (It is better to have doubtful enemies in power than dubious friends)'. He saw 'anarchic initiative,' 'reasoned will' and 'the autonomy of each' as the conditions for the social revolution of the proletariat, the first expression of which had been the barricades of June 1848 (see Revolutions of 1848). In Déjacque's view, a government resulting from an insurrection remains a reactionary fetter on the free initiative of the proletariat. Or rather, such free initiative can only arise and develop by the masses ridding themselves of the 'authoritarian prejudices' by means of which the state reproduces itself in its primary function of representation and delegation. Déjacque wrote that: 'By government I understand all delegation, all power outside the people,' for which must be substituted, in a process whereby politics is transcended, the 'people in direct possession of their sovereignty,' or the 'organised commune.' For Déjacque, the communist anarchist utopia would fulfil the function of inciting each proletarian to explore his or her own human potentialities, in addition to correcting the ignorance of the proletarians concerning 'social science.'"[26]

The International Workingmen's Association (1864–1876)[edit]

Main article: First International

The collectivist anarchists advocated remuneration for the type and amount of labor adhering to the principle "to each according to deeds";[35] but held out the possibility of a post-revolutionary transition to a communist system of distribution according to need. As Mikhail Bakunin's associate, James Guillaume, put it in his essay, Ideas on Social Organization (1876): "When [...] production comes to outstrip consumption ... everyone will draw what he needs from the abundant social reserve of commodities, without fear of depletion; and the moral sentiment which will be more highly developed among free and equal workers will prevent, or greatly reduce, abuse and waste."[36]

Anarchist communism as a coherent, modern economic-political philosophy was first formulated in the Italian section of the First International by Carlo Cafiero, Emilio Covelli, Errico Malatesta, Andrea Costa and other ex Mazzinian Republicans.[25] The collectivist anarchists sought to collectivize ownership of the means of production while retaining payment proportional to the amount and kind of labor of each individual, but the anarcho-communists sought to extend the concept of collective ownership to the products of labor as well. While both groups argued against capitalism, the anarchist communists departed from Proudhon and Bakunin, who maintained that individuals have a right to the product of their individual labor and to be remunerated for their particular contribution to production. But, Errico Malatesta stated that "instead of running the risk of making a confusion in trying to distinguish what you and I each do, let us all work and put everything in common. In this way each will give to society all that his strength permits until enough is produced for every one; and each will take all that he needs, limiting his needs only in those things of which there is not yet plenty for every one."[37]

Cafiero explains in Anarchy and Communism (1880) that private property in the product of labor will lead to unequal accumulation of capital and, therefore, the reappearance of social classes and their antagonisms, and thus the resurrection of the state: "If we preserve the individual appropriation of the products of labour, we would be forced to preserve money, leaving more or less accumulation of wealth according to more or less merit rather than need of individuals."[23] At the Florence Conference of the Italian Federation of the International in 1876, held in a forest outside Florence due to police activity, they declared the principles of anarcho-communism, beginning with:

The Italian Federation considers the collective property of the products of labour as the necessary complement to the collectivist programme, the aid of all for the satisfaction of the needs of each being the only rule of production and consumption which corresponds to the principle of solidarity. The federal congress at Florence has eloquently demonstrated the opinion of the Italian International on this point...

The above report was made in an article by Malatesta and Cafiero in the (Swiss) Jura Federation's bulletin later that year.

Peter Kropotkin[edit]

Main article: Peter Kropotkin

Peter Kropotkin (1842–1921), often seen as the most important theorist of anarchist communism, outlined his economic ideas in The Conquest of Bread and Fields, Factories and Workshops. Kropotkin felt that cooperation is more beneficial than competition, arguing in his major scientific work Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution that this was well-illustrated in nature. He advocated the abolition of private property (while retaining respect for personal property) through the "expropriation of the whole of social wealth" by the people themselves,[38] and for the economy to be co-ordinated through a horizontal network of voluntary associations[39] where goods are distributed according to the physical needs of the individual, rather than according to labor.[40] He further argued that these "needs," as society progressed, would not merely be physical needs but "[a]s soon as his material wants are satisfied, other needs, of an artistic character, will thrust themselves forward the more ardently. Aims of life vary with each and every individual; and the more society is civilized, the more will individuality be developed, and the more will desires be varied."[41] He maintained that in anarcho-communism "houses, fields, and factories will no longer be private property, and that they will belong to the commune or the nation and money, wages, and trade would be abolished".[42]

Individuals and groups would use and control whatever resources they needed, as the aim of anarchist communism was 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".[43] He supported the expropriation of private property into the commons or public goods (while retaining respect for personal property), to ensure that everyone would have access to what they needed without being forced to sell their labour to get it.

We do not want to rob any one of his coat, but we wish to give to the workers all those things the lack of which makes them fall an easy prey to the exploiter, and we will do our utmost that none shall lack aught, that not a single man shall be forced to sell the strength of his right arm to obtain a bare subsistence for himself and his babes. This is what we mean when we talk of Expropriation...

— Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread[44]

He said that a "peasant who is in possession of just the amount of land he can cultivate", and "a family inhabiting a house which affords them just enough space [...] considered necessary for that number of people" and the artisan "working with their own tools or handloom" would not be interfered with,[45] arguing that "[t]he landlord owes his riches to the poverty of the peasants, and the wealth of the capitalist comes from the same source".[45]

In summation, Kropotkin described an anarchist communist economy as functioning like this:

Imagine a society, comprising a few million inhabitants, engaged in agriculture and a great variety of industries—Paris, for example, with the Department of Seine-et-Oise. Suppose that in this society all children learn to work with their hands as well as with their brains. Admit that all adults... bind themselves to work 5 hours a day from the age of twenty or twenty-two to forty-five or fifty, and that they follow occupations they have chosen in any one branch of human work considered necessary. Such a society could in return guarantee well-being to all its members; that is to say, a more substantial well-being than that enjoyed to-day by the middle classes. And, moreover, each worker belonging to this society would have at his disposal at least 5 hours a day which he could devote to science, art, and individual needs which do not come under the category of necessities, but will probably do so later on, when man's productivity will have augmented, and those objects will no longer appear luxurious or inaccessible.

— Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread[46]

Organizationalism vs. insurrectionarism and expansion[edit]

Main article: Insurrectionary anarchism

In 1876, at the Berne conference of the International Working Men's Association, the Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta argued that the revolution "consists more of deeds than words", and that action was the most effective form of propaganda. In the bulletin of the Jura Federation he declared "the Italian federation believes that the insurrectional fact, destined to affirm socialist principles by deed, is the most efficacious means of propaganda".[47]

As anarcho-communism emerged in the mid-19th century it had an intense debate with Bakuninistcollectivism and as such within the anarchist movement over participation in syndicalism and the workers movement as well as on other issues.[26] So "In the theory of the revolution" of anarcho-communism as elaborated by Peter Kropotkin and others "it is the risen people who are the real agent and not the working class organised in the enterprise (the cells of the capitalist mode of production) and seeking to assert itself as labour power, as a more 'rational' industrial body or social brain (manager) than the employers".[26]

So "between 1880 and 1890"[26] with the "perspective of an immanent revolution",[26] who was "opposed to the official workers' movement, which was then in the process of formation (general Social Democratisation). They were opposed not only to political (statist) struggles but also to strikes which put forward wage or other claims, or which were organised by trade unions."[26] But "While they were not opposed to strikes as such, they were opposed to trade unions and the struggle for the eight-hour day. This anti-reformist tendency was accompanied by an anti-organisational tendency, and its partisans declared themselves in favour of agitation amongst the unemployed for the expropriation of foodstuffs and other articles, for the expropriatory strike and, in some cases, for 'individual recuperation' or acts of terrorism."[26]

Even after Peter Kropotkin and others overcame their initial reservations and decided to enter labor unions,[26] there remained "the anti-syndicalist anarchist-communists, who in France were grouped around Sebastien Faure's Le Libertaire. From 1905 onwards, the Russian counterparts of these anti-syndicalist anarchist-communists become partisans of economic terrorism and illegal 'expropriations'."[26]Illegalism as a practice emerged and within it "[t]he acts of the anarchist bombers and assassins ("propaganda by the deed") and the anarchist burglars ("individual reappropriation") expressed their desperation and their personal, violent rejection of an intolerable society. Moreover, they were clearly meant to be exemplary, invitations to revolt."[48]

Proponents and activists of these tactics among others included Johann Most, Luigi Galleani, Victor Serge, Giuseppe Ciancabilla, and Severino Di Giovanni. The Italian Giuseppe Ciancabilla (1872–1904) wrote in "Against organization" that "we don't want tactical programs, and consequently we don't want organization. Having established the aim, the goal to which we hold, we leave every anarchist free to choose from the means that his sense, his education, his temperament, his fighting spirit suggest to him as best. We don't form fixed programs and we don't form small or great parties. But we come together spontaneously, and not with permanent criteria, according to momentary affinities for a specific purpose, and we constantly change these groups as soon as the purpose for which we had associated ceases to be, and other aims and needs arise and develop in us and push us to seek new collaborators, people who think as we do in the specific circumstance."[49]

By the 1880s, anarcho-communism was already present in the United States as can be seen in the publication of the journal Freedom: A Revolutionary Anarchist-Communist Monthly by Lucy Parsons and Lizzy Holmes.[50] Lucy Parsons debated in her time in the US with fellow anarcho-communist Emma Goldman over issues of free love and feminism.[50] Another anarcho-communist journal later appeared in the US called The Firebrand. Most anarchist publications in the US were in Yiddish, German, or Russian, but Free Society was published in English, permitting the dissemination of anarchist communist thought to English-speaking populations in the US.[51] Around that time these American anarcho-communist sectors entered in debate with the individualist anarchist group around Benjamin Tucker.[52] In February 1888 Berkman left for the United States from his native Russia.[53] Soon after his arrival in New York City, Berkman became an anarchist through his involvement with groups that had formed to campaign to free the men convicted of the 1886 Haymarket bombing.[54] He, as well as Emma Goldman, soon came under the influence of Johann Most, the best-known anarchist in the United States, and an advocate of propaganda of the deed—attentat, or violence carried out to encourage the masses to revolt.[55][56] Berkman became a typesetter for Most's newspaper Freiheit.[54]

According to anarchist historian Max Nettlau, the first use of the term "libertarian communism" was in November 1880, when a French anarchist congress employed it to more clearly identify its doctrines.[57] The French anarchist journalist Sébastien Faure started the weekly paper Le Libertaire (The Libertarian) in 1895.[58]

Revolution, platformism and synthesism[edit]

Main articles: Anarchism in Russia, Free Territory, Platformism, and Synthesis anarchism

In Ukraine the anarcho-communist guerrilla leader Nestor Makhno led an independent anarchist army in Ukraine during the Russian Civil War. A commander of the peasant Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine, also known as the Anarchist Black Army, Makhno led a guerrilla campaign opposing both the Bolshevik "Reds" and monarchist "Whites". The revolutionary autonomous movement of which he was a part made various tactical military pacts while fighting various forces of reaction and organizing the Free Territory of Ukraine, an anarchist society, committed to resisting state authority, whether capitalist or Bolshevik.[59][60] After successfully repelling Austro-Hungarian, White, and Ukrainian Nationalist forces, the Makhnovists militia forces and anarchist communist territories in the Ukraine were eventually crushed by Bolshevik military forces.

In the Mexican Revolution the Mexican Liberal Party was established and during the early 1910s it led a series of military offensives leading to the conquest and occupation of certain towns and districts in Baja California with the leadership of anarcho-communist Ricardo Flores Magón.[61] Kropotkin's The Conquest of Bread, which Flores Magón considered a kind of anarchist bible, served as basis for the short-lived revolutionary communes in Baja California during the "Magónista" Revolt of 1911[61] During the Mexican Revolution Emiliano Zapata and his army and allies, including Pancho Villa, fought for agrarian reform in Mexico. Specifically, they wanted to establish communalland rights for Mexico's indigenous population, which had mostly lost its land to the wealthy elite of European descent. Zapata was partly influenced by Ricardo Flores Magón. The influence of Flores Magón on Zapata can be seen in the Zapatistas' Plan de Ayala, but even more noticeably in their slogan (this slogan was never used by Zapata) "Tierra y libertad" or "land and liberty", the title and maxim of Flores Magón's most famous work. Zapata's introduction to anarchism came via a local schoolteacher, Otilio Montaño Sánchez – later a general in Zapata's army, executed on May 17, 1917 – who exposed Zapata to the works of Peter Kropotkin and Flores Magón at the same time as Zapata was observing and beginning to participate in the struggles of the peasants for the land.

A group of exiled Russian anarchists attempted to address and explain the anarchist movement's failures during the Russian Revolution. They wrote the Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists which was written in 1926 by Dielo Truda ("Workers' Cause"). The pamphlet is an analysis of the basic anarchist beliefs, a vision of an anarchist society, and recommendations as to how an anarchist organization should be structured. The four main principles by which an anarchist organization should operate, according to the Platform, are ideological unity, tactical unity, collective action, and federalism. The platform argues that "We have vital need of an organization which, having attracted most of the participants in the anarchist movement, would establish a common tactical and political line for anarchism and thereby serve as a guide for the whole movement".

The Platform attracted strong criticism from many sectors on the anarchist movement of the time including some of the most influential anarchists such as Voline, Errico Malatesta, Luigi Fabbri, Camillo Berneri, Max Nettlau, Alexander Berkman,[62]Emma Goldman and Gregori Maximoff.[63] Malatesta, after initially opposing the Platform, later came to agreement with the Platform confirming that the original difference of opinion was due to linguistic confusion: "I find myself more or less in agreement with their way of conceiving the anarchist organisation (being very far from the authoritarian spirit which the "Platform" seemed to reveal) and I confirm my belief that behind the linguistic differences really lie identical positions."[64]

Two texts were made by the anarchist communists Sébastien Faure and Volin as responses to the Platform, each proposing different models, are the basis for what became known as the organisation of synthesis, or simply "synthesism".[65]Voline published in 1924 a paper calling for "the anarchist synthesis" and was also the author of the article in Sébastien Faure's Encyclopedie Anarchiste on the same topic.[66] The main purpose behind the synthesis was that the anarchist movement in most countries was divided into three main tendencies: communist anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, and individualist anarchism[66] and so such an organization could contain anarchists of this 3 tendencies very well. Faure in his text "Anarchist synthesis" has the view that "these currents were not contradictory but complementary, each having a role within anarchism: anarcho-syndicalism as the strength of the mass organisations and the best way for the practice of anarchism; libertarian communism as a proposed future society based on the distribution of the fruits of labour according to the needs of each one; anarcho-individualism as a negation of oppression and affirming the individual right to development of the individual, seeking to please them in every way.[65] The Dielo Truda platform in Spain also met with strong criticism. Miguel Jimenez, a founding member of the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI), summarized this as follows: too much influence in it of marxism, it erroneously divided and reduced anarchists between individualist anarchists and anarcho-communist sections, and it wanted to unify the anarchist movement along the lines of the anarcho-communists. He saw anarchism as more complex than that, that anarchist tendencies are not mutually exclusive as the platformists saw it and that both individualist and communist views could accommodate anarchosyndicalism.[67] Sébastian Faure had strong contacts in Spain and so his proposal had more impact in Spanish anarchists than the Dielo Truda platform even though individualist anarchist influence in Spain was less strong than it was in France. The main goal there was conciling anarcho-communism with anarcho-syndicalism.[68]

Gruppo Comunista Anarchico di Firenze held that the during early twentieth century, the terms libertarian communism and anarchist communism became synonymous within the international anarchist movement as a result of the close connection they had in Spain (see Anarchism in Spain) (with libertarian communism becoming the prevalent term).[69]

The Spanish Revolution[edit]

Main article: Spanish Revolution of 1936

The most extensive application of anarcho-communist ideas (i.e., established around the ideas as they exist today and achieving worldwide attention and knowledge in the historical canon), happened in the anarchist territories during the Spanish Revolution[28] In Spain, the national anarcho-syndicalist trade union Confederación Nacional del Trabajo initially refused to join a popular front electoral alliance, and abstention by CNT supporters led to a right wing election victory. In 1936, the CNT changed its policy and anarchist votes helped bring the popular front back to power. Months later, the former ruling class responded with an attempted coup causing the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939).[70] In response to the army rebellion, an anarchist-inspired movement of peasants and workers, supported by armed militias, took control of Barcelona and of large areas of rural Spain where they collectivised the land.[71][72] But even before the fascist victory in 1939, the anarchists were losing ground in a bitter struggle with the Stalinists, who controlled the distribution of military aid to the Republican cause from the Soviet Union. The events known as the Spanish Revolution was a workers' social revolution that began during the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and resulted in the widespread implementation of anarchist and more broadly libertarian socialist organizational principles throughout various portions of the country for two to three years, primarily Catalonia, Aragon, Andalusia, and parts of the Levante. Much of Spain's economy was put under worker control; in anarchist strongholds like Catalonia, the figure was as high as 75%, but lower in areas with heavy Communist Party of Spain influence, as the Soviet-allied party actively resisted attempts at collectivization enactment. Factories were run through worker committees, agrarian areas became collectivised and run as libertariancommunes. Anarchist historian Sam Dolgoff estimated that about eight million people participated directly or at least indirectly in the Spanish Revolution,[73] which he claimed "came closer to realizing the ideal of the free stateless society on a vast scale than any other revolution in history".[74] Stalinist-led troops suppressed the collectives and persecuted both dissident Marxists and anarchists.[75]

Post-war years[edit]

Anarcho-communism entered into internal debates once again over the issue of organization in the post-World War II era. Founded in October 1935 the Anarcho-Communist Federation of Argentina (FACA, Federación Anarco-Comunista Argentina) in 1955 renamed itself as the Argentine Libertarian Federation. The Fédération Anarchiste (FA) was founded in Paris on December 2, 1945, and elected the platformist anarcho-communist George Fontenis as its first secretary the next year. It was composed of a majority of activists from the former FA (which supported Voline's Synthesis) and some members of the former Union Anarchiste, which supported the CNT-FAI support to the Republican government during the Spanish Civil War, as well as some young Resistants. On 1950 a clandestin group formed within the FA called Organisation Pensée Bataille (OPB) led by George Fontenis.[76] The Manifesto of Libertarian Communism was written in 1953 by Georges Fontenis for the Federation Communiste Libertaire of France. It is one of the key texts of the anarchist-communist current known as platformism.[77] The OPB pushed for a move which saw the FA change its name into the Fédération Communiste Libertaire (FCL) after the 1953 Congress in Paris, while an article in Le Libertaire indicated the end of the cooperation with the French Surrealist Group led by André Breton. The new decision making process was founded on unanimity: each person has a right of veto on the orientations of the federation. The FCL published the same year the Manifeste du communisme libertaire. Several groups quit the FCL in December 1955, disagreeing with the decision to present "revolutionary candidates" to the legislative elections. On August 15–20, 1954, the Ve intercontinental plenum of the CNT took place. A group called Entente anarchiste appeared which was formed of militants who didn´t like the new ideological orientation that the OPB was giving the FCL seeing it was authoritarian and almost marxist.[78] The FCL lasted until 1956 just after it participated in state legislative elections with 10 candidates. This move alienated some members of the FCL and thus produced the end of the organization.[76] A group of militants who didn't agree with the FA turning into FCL reorganized a new Federation Anarchiste which was established on December, 1953.[76] This included those who formed L'Entente anarchiste who joined the new FA and then dissolved L'Entente. The new base principles of the FA were written by the individualist anarchist Charles-Auguste Bontemps and the non-platformist anarcho-communist Maurice Joyeux which established an organization with a plurality of tendencies and autonomy of groups organized around synthesist principles.[76] According to historian Cédric Guérin, "the unconditional rejection of Marxism became from that moment onwards an identity element of the new Federation Anarchiste" and this was motivated in a big part after the previous conflict with George Fontenis and his OPB.[76]

In Italy the Italian Anarchist Federation was founded in 1945 in Carrara. It adopted an "Associative Pact" and the "Anarchist Program" of Errico Malatesta. It decided to publish the weekly Umanità Nova retaking the name of the journal published by Errico Malatesta. Inside the FAI, the Anarchist Groups of Proletarian Action (GAAP) was founded, led by Pier Carlo Masini, which "proposed a Libertarian Party with an anarchist theory and practice adapted to the new economic, political and social reality of post-war Italy, with an internationalist outlook and effective presence in the workplaces [...] The GAAP allied themselves with the similar development within the French Anarchist movement" as led by George Fontenis.[79] Another tendency which didn´t identify either with the more classical FAI or with the GAAP started to emerge as local groups. These groups emphasized direct action, informal affinity groups and expropriation for financing anarchist activity.[80] From within these groups the influential insurrectionary anarchistAlfredo Maria Bonanno will emerge influenced by the practice of the Spanish exiled anarchist José Lluis Facerías.[80] In the early seventies a platformist tendency emerged within the Italian Anarchist Federation which argued for more strategic coherence and social insertion in the workers movement while rejecting the syntesist "Associative Pact" of Malatesta which the FAI adhered to. These groups started organizing themselves outside the FAI in organizations such as O.R.A. from Liguria which organized a Congress attended by 250 delegates of grupos from 60 locations. This movement was influential in the autonomia movements of the seventies. They published Fronte Libertario della lotta di classe in Bologna and Comunismo libertario from Modena.[81] The Federation of Anarchist Communists (Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici), or FdCA, was established in 1985 in Italy from the fusion of the Organizzazione Rivoluzionaria Anarchica (Revolutionary Anarchist Organisation) and the Unione dei Comunisti Anarchici della Toscana (Tuscan Union of Anarchist Communists).

The International of Anarchist Federations (IAF/IFA) was founded during an international anarchist conference in Carrara in 1968 by the three existing European anarchist federations of France (Fédération Anarchiste), Italy (Federazione Anarchica Italiana) and Spain (Federación Anarquista Ibérica) as well as the Bulgarian federation in French exile. These organizations were also inspired on synthesist principles.[66]

Contemporary times[edit]

Libertarian Communism was a socialistjournal founded in 1974 and produced in part by members of the Socialist Party of Great Britain.[82] The synthesistItalian Anarchist Federation and the platformistFederation of Anarchist Communists continue existing today in Italy but insurrectionary anarchism continues to be relevant as the recent establishment of the Informal Anarchist Federation shows. In the seventies in France the Fédération Anarchiste evolved into a joining of the principles of both synthesis anarchism and platformism[76] but later the platformist organizations Libertarian Communist Organization (France) in 1976 and Alternative libertaire in 1991 appeared with this last one existing until today alongside the synthesist Fédération Anarchiste. In recent times platformist organisations founded the now-defunct International Libertarian Solidarity network and its successor, the Anarkismo network; which is run collaboratively by roughly 30 platformist organisations around the world. On the other hand, contemporary insurrectionary anarchism inherits the views and tactics of anti-organizational anarcho-communism[26][83] and "illegalism".[84][85] The Informal Anarchist Federation (not to be confused with the synthesistItalian Anarchist Federation also FAI) is an Italian insurrectionary anarchist organization.[86] It has been described by Italian intelligence sources as a "horizontal" structure of various anarchist terrorist groups, united in their beliefs in revolutionary armed action. In 2003, the group claimed responsibility for a bomb campaign targeting several European Union institutions.[87][88] Currently alongside the previously mentioned federations, the International of Anarchist Federations includes the Argentine Libertarian Federation, the Anarchist Federation of Belarus, the Federation of Anarchists in Bulgaria, the Czech-Slovak Anarchist Federation, the Federation of German speaking Anarchists in Germany and Switzerland, and the Anarchist Federation in the United Kingdom and Ireland.[89]

Economic theory[edit]

The abolition of wage labor is central to anarchist communism. With distribution of wealth being based on self-determined needs, people would be free to engage in whatever activities they found most fulfilling and would no longer have to engage in work for which they have neither the temperament nor the aptitude.[22]

Anarchist communists argue that there is no valid way of measuring the value of any one person's economic contributions because all wealth is a collective product of current and preceding generations.[90] For instance, one could not measure the value of a factory worker's daily production without taking into account how transportation, food, water, shelter, relaxation, machine efficiency, emotional mood etc. contributed to their production. To truly give numerical economic value to anything, an overwhelming amount of externalities and contributing factors would need to be taken into account – especially current or past labor contributing to the ability to utilize future labor. As Kropotkin put it: "No distinction can be drawn between the work of each man. Measuring the work by its results leads us to absurdity; dividing and measuring them by hours spent on the work also leads us to absurdity. One thing remains: put the needs above the works, and first of all recognize the right to live, and later on, to the comforts of life, for all those who take their share in production.."[91]

Communist anarchism shares many traits with collectivist anarchism, but the two are distinct. Collectivist anarchism believes in collective ownership while communist anarchism negates the entire concept of ownership in favor of the concept of usage.[92] Crucially, the abstract relationship of "landlord" and "tenant" would no longer exist, as such titles are held to occur under conditional legal coercion and are not absolutely necessary to occupy buildings or spaces (intellectual property rights would also cease, since they are a form of private property). In addition to believing rent and other fees are exploitative, anarcho-communists feel these are arbitrary pressures inducing people to carry out unrelated functions. For example, they question why one should have to work for 'X hours' a day to merely live somewhere. So instead of working conditionally for the sake of the wage earned, they believe in working directly for the objective at hand.[22]

Philosophical debates[edit]


Anarchist communists reject the claim that wage labor is necessary because people are lazy and selfish by "human nature". They often point out that even the so-called "idle rich" sometimes find useful things to do despite having all their needs satisfied by the labour of others. Anarcho-communists generally do not agree with the belief in a pre-set "human nature", arguing that human culture and behavior is very largely determined by socialization and the mode of production. Many anarchist communists, like Peter Kropotkin, also believe that human evolutionary tendency is for humans to cooperate with each other for mutual benefit and survival instead of existing as lone competitors.[93]

While anarchist communists such as Peter Kropotkin and Murray Bookchin believed that the members of such a society would voluntarily perform all necessary labour because they would recognize the benefits of communal enterprise and mutual aid,[94] other anarchist communists such as Nestor Makhno and Ricardo Flores Magón argue that all those able to work in an anarchist communist society should be obligated to do so, excepting groups like children, the elderly, the sick, or the infirm.[95][96][97][98] Kropotkin did not think laziness or sabotage would be a major problem in an authentically anarchist-communist society, but he did agree that a freely associated anarchist commune could, and probably should, deliberately disassociate from those not fulfilling their communal agreement to do their share of work.[99]

Freedom, work and leisure[edit]

Anarchist communists support communism as a means for ensuring the greatest freedom and well-being for everyone, rather than only the wealthy and powerful. In this sense, anarchist communism is a profoundly egalitarian philosophy.

Anarchist communism as an anarchist philosophy is against hierarchy in all its forms.[100] Anarchist communists do not think that anyone has the right to be anyone else's master, or 'boss' as this is a concept of capitalism and the state and implies authority over the individual. Some contemporary anarchist communists and advocates of post-left anarchy, such as Bob Black, reject the concept of work altogether in favor of turning necessary subsistence tasks into voluntary free play.[22][101]

Peter Kropotkin said that the main authoritarian mistakes in communist experiments of the past were their being based on "religious enthusiasm"[102] and the desire to live "as a family"[103] where the individual had to "submit to the dictates of a punctilious morality".[104] For him anarcho-communism should be based on the right of free association and disassociation for individuals and groups and on significantly lowering the amount of hours each individual dedicates to necessary labor.[105] He says that "to recognise a variety of occupations as the basis of all progress and to organise in such a way that man may be absolutely free during his leisure time, whilst he may also vary his work, a change for which his early education and instruction will have prepared him—this can easily be put in practice in a Communist society—this, again, means the emancipation of the individual, who will find doors open in every direction for his complete development".[22][105]

Individualism and collectivism

Voline, influential Russian anarcho-communist who went on exile to France after escaping persecution of the Soviet state

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