Monday, June 29, 2009

Unity, Diversity and Divisiveness In Anarchism

One aspect of anarchism that differs from Marxist socialism is there is less divisiveness and sectarianism. This is not to say we do not have our dogmatists and hair-splitters. We do, but such people make up the minority, increasingly so, it seems as our movement grows and implants itself. Predominately, the trend is for anarchists to work together on projects even when they belong to different tendencies and to not see others as enemies, traitors or fools, just because they have a few different ideas.

One example of many; In France, a land of 50 million people with 55 million political views, Alternative Libertaire (AL) and the Federation Anarchiste (FA) work on common projects. Neither group spends time in their media castigating each other for doctrinal sins. This, in spite of the fact that the AL split off from the FA some years ago and the former is Platformist and the latter Synthesist. (1)

Unity In Diversity

It is possible to divide anarchists along a number of lines, "life style anarchists" vs. "social anarchists", is one possibility. Reformists and revolutionaries another. While these differences exist in theory, in reality it is more complex. Someone may engage in a lot of "lifestyle" activities but be a member of the IWW. Another anarchist might think a revolution in the American context a pipe dream, but see the possibility elsewhere. As long as you adhere to basic anarchist principles such as self-management, anti-capitalism and anti-statism, anarchists have not found diversity to be a problem. When people are willing to work together in key areas such as media, trade unions, community organizations and anarchist gatherings, diversity becomes a strength. Anarchists are divided in a number of ways – type of organizational approach, anti-religion vs, religious anarchists, type of future economy, and favored area of activity. As such, anarchists who favor a more "individualistic" approach will attract artists and poets to the cause, religious anarchists, a conduit for those who take the egalitarian words of ther Gospel seriously and eco-anarchists and anarcha-feminists link us to the environmentalists and women's movements.

There also exists a large number, many times more numerous than ideological anarchists, of semi-anarchists. These are people who favor some, but not all, of the anarchist program. These folks will say, be interested in worker self-management or popular power, but not consider themselves anarchist.

It thus becomes possible, as long as you refrain from dogmatism, to create a broad-based movement. One composed of anarchists and semi-anarchists based upon key common goals such as self-management, direct democracy and autonomy.

When the working population begins to act upon these ideas, you have the beginning of a social revolution.

What To Do Next?

What anarchists ought to do next, is a source of division within the movement. Revolutionary change can be made, but can it be kept? The traditional position anarchism had been more spontaneous in nature, encourage the masses to self-organize and the revolution will carry itself. The anarchist defeats in the Russian and Spanish Revolutions caused many to consider a tighter form of program and organization. These are the Platformists. At first there was animosity between the two groups, with the traditionalists accusing the Platformists of authoritarianism and the latter acting in a very divisive manner within the larger movement. But this was all in the past, and today's Platformists are Neo-Platformists, are not at all sectarian, and as shown above, work freely with other anarchists. It should be noted that the Platform is not an attempt to form a party ot organization standing over other anarchists or working people. The function of the Platform is to be a tendency within the broader movement to influence that movement in the direction of greater programatic, organizational and tactical coherence.

1. For The Platform See,

Synthesist anarchism seeks to unite several different anarchist tendencies within the same organization. Its program is thus more general and the different groups making up the federation are free to choose whether to support an action or not.


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