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Anarcho-Communism, or Libertarian Communism, is a political ideology related to Libertarian socialism. However, the terms Anarcho-Communism and Libertarian Communism should not be considered synonyms for libertarian socialism. Anarcho-Communism is a particular branch of libertarian socialism.

Anarcho-Communism was first formulated in the Italian section of the First International, by Carlo Cafiero, Errico Malatesta, Andrea Costa and other ex-Mazzinian Republicans. Out of respect for Mikhail Bakunin, they did not make their differences from standard Anarchism explicit until after the latter's death. In 1876, at the Florence Conference of the Italian Federation of the International (which was actually 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 actually made in an article by Malatesta and Cafiero in the (Swiss) Jura Federation's bulletin later that year.

Anarcho-communism stresses the abolition of money and the introduction of the gift economy to facilitate the exchange of goods.

In anarcho-communism, profit no longer exists. Not only that, but goods are given away as gifts in the certainty that others will also give products back (in an industrial setting, this would occur between worker syndicates as well as between individuals). If one syndicate does not share their products, they will not receive resources from other syndicates, making it in their best interest to share.

Anarcho-communism also advocates the abolition of work in the sense of wage slavery, and recommends worker self management to improve working conditions, increase efficiency, and make working enjoyable.

Development of ideas[edit]

Anarchist communist currents manifested themselves during the English Civil War and the French Revolution of the 1700s. 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."[1] 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."[2]

An early anarchist communist was Joseph Déjacque, the first person to describe themself as "libertarian".[3] 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."[4]

The collectivist anarchists advocated remuneration for labor, but held out the possibility of a post-revolutionary transition to a communist system of distribution according to need. As Bakunin's associate, James Guillaume, put it in his essay, Ideas on Social Organization (1876), "When... production comes to outstrip consumption... [e]veryone 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."[5]

First International[edit]

Anarchist communism as a coherent, modern economic-political philosophy was first formulated in the Italian section of the First International by Carlo Cafiero, Errico Malatesta, Andrea Costa and other ex-Mazzinian Republicans. Out of respect for Mikhail Bakunin, they did not make their differences with collectivist anarchism explicit until after Bakunin's death.[6] The collectivist anarchists sought to collectivize ownership of the means of production while retaining payment for labor, 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 labor and to be remunerated for their work, by proposing that individuals should be free to access goods according to their needs without respect to how much labor they exert.

Cafeiro explains in Anarchy and Communism (1880) that private property in the product of labor will lead to unequal accumulation of capital and, therefore, undesirable class distinctions: "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."[7] 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]

Peter Kropotkin, 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 co-operation is more beneficial than competition, arguing in Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution that this was illustrated in nature. He advocated the abolition of private property through the "expropriation of the whole of social wealth" by the people themselves,[8] and for the economy to be co-ordinated through a horizontal network of voluntary associations[9] where goods are distributed according to the physical needs of the individual, rather than according to labor.[10] 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."[11]

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.|Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread[12]

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."[13] He supported the expropriation of 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[14]

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,[15] 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."[16]

While many anarcho-communists are opposed to trade, some post-left and post-scarcity anarcho-communists, and ones with syndicalist sympathies, are not opposed to trade. Some support a non-monetary form of trade in the form of non-monetary commons. Others such as Tiziana Terranova easily see anarcho-communism being compatible with a non-hierarchical, open access, free association, non-monetary form of trade such as P2P. [17]


Anarchist communism stresses egalitarianism and the abolition of social hierarchy and class distinctions that arise from unequal wealth distribution, the abolition of capitalism and money, and the collective production and distribution of wealth by means of voluntary associations. In anarchist communism, the state and property would no longer exist. Each individual and group would be free to contribute to production and to satisfy their needs based on their own choice. Systems of production and distribution would be managed by their participants.

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. 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. 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 infinite amount of externalities and contributing factors would need to be taken into account. Especially current or past labor that contributes to the ability to utilize future labor.

Anarchist communists argue that any economic system based on wage labor and private property requires a coercive state apparatus to enforce property rights and to maintain the unequal economic relationships that inevitably arise from differences in wages or amount of property. They further argue that markets and systems of currency divide labor into classes and assign artificial numerical values to an individual's work and attempt to regulate production, consumption and distribution. They argue that money restricts an individual's ability to consume the products of their labor by limiting their intake with prices and wages. They believe that production, consumption and distribution should be self-determined by each individual without arbitrary value assigned to labor tasks by others. In place of a market, most anarcho-communists support a currency-less gift economy where goods and services are produced by workers and distributed in community stores where everyone (including the workers who produced them) is entitled to consume whatever they want or need as "payment" for their production of goods and services. A gift economy does not necessarily involve an immediate return (such as with remuneration), compensation comes in the form of whatever the person decides is of equal value to their products of labor.

Communist anarchism shares many traits with collectivist anarchism but has defining differences. Collectivist anarchism believes in collective ownership but communist anarchism negates the entire concept of ownership in favor of the concept of usage. [18] Thus, things are seen as either private possessions used by an individual, or social possessions used to produce for society. Anarcho-communists believe that means of production should not be owned by any person or entity, leaving it free to be used by individuals for their own self-determined needs and wants. The land used by an individual for themself or their family or productive property used to produce for an individual would be considered private possessions rather than social possessions in anarcho-communist theory. In that regard, anarcho-communism could be considered to be a compromise between collective and individual ownership, in that one would own what they had created unless it is used to produce for society in which case it would become a social possession. The individual would be perfectly free to create it again and keep it as long as it is not being used as a means of production for the community or general public.[19]

Anarcho-communists reject mutualist economics because they believe that market competition, even non-capitalist markets, inherently create inequalities in wealth and land which would lead to inequalities of power - thus the recreation of the State and capitalism as some workers would have more access to capital and defence force than others. They reject collectivist economics arguing that remuneration would require a type of currency, which anarcho-communists reject as an artificial measurement of the value of labor. They further argue that those who are not part of collective groups or unions in workers' councils and collectives could be alienated from access to capital, and thus promote common ownership over ownership by collective groups.

Philosophical arguments[edit]

Anarchist communists reject the claim that wage labor is necessary because people are by "nature" lazy and selfish. They 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.[unverified] 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. Many, 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.[20]

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 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. 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.

Many anarcho-communists (and collectivist anarchists as well) reject "individualism" and "collectivism" as illusory concepts [21]. They argue that an individual sacrificing themself for the "greater good" or being ruled by the "community" or "society" is not possible because society is composed of individuals rather than being a cohesive unit separate from the individual, and argue that collective control over the individual is tyrannical and un-anarchistic [22].


Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, some of whose philosophy has influenced social anarchists[23] (social Christian anarchist Leo Tolstoy was heavily influenced by Proudhon [24]), was critical of communism, "whether of the Utopian or the Marxist variety, [believing] that it destroyed freedom by taking away from the individual control over his means of production."[25] At the time he wrote most of his works, the word "communism" was typically used to refer to the views of the Utopian socialists, whom Proudhon accused of attempting to impose equality by sovereign decrees. In opposition to the communist maxim "to each according to need", Proudhon said "To each according to his works, first; and if, on occasion, I am impelled to aid you, I will do it with a good grace; but I will not be constrained" [26]. However, Proudhon was against the hoarding of private property in an unequal society and thus supported people being in equal condition which he believed would negate the difference in amounts of private property. In his treatise What is Property?(1849), Proudhon answers with "Property is theft!" In natural resources, he sees two conceivable types of property, de jure property and de facto property, and argues that the former is illegitimate. Proudhon's fundamental premise is that equality of condition is the essence of justice. "By this method of investigation, we soon see that every argument which has been invented in behalf of property, whatever it may be, always and of necessity leads to equality; that is, to the negation of property."[3] He argued that an inegalitarian condition in society would impoverish some people at the hands of people with more land,

"The purchaser draws boundaries, fences himself in, and says, 'This is mine; each one by himself, each one for himself.' Here, then, is a piece of land upon which, henceforth, no one has right to step, save the proprietor and his friends; which can benefit nobody, save the proprietor and his servants. Let these multiply, and soon the people . . . will have nowhere to rest, no place of shelter, no ground to till. They will die of hunger at the proprietor's door, on the edge of that property which was their birth-right; and the proprietor, watching them die, will exclaim, 'So perish idlers and vagrants.'"[27]"

However, while being opposed to communism, he was also opposed to capitalism. In a series of commentaries, from What is Property? (1840) through the posthumously-published Théorie de la propriété (Theory of Property, 1863-64), he first declared that "property is theft", "property is impossible", "property is despotism" and "property is freedom". When he said property is theft, he was referring to the landowner or capitalist who he believed stole the profits from laborers. For Proudhon, the capitalist's employee was "subordinated, exploited: his permanent condition is one of obedience."[28] Proudhon called himself a "socialist" and called his philosophy "anarchist socialism". He opposed state ownership of capital goods in favour of ownership by workers themselves in associations.

Many individualist anarchists believe that elements of anarcho-communism are undesirable or even incompatible with anarchism. Benjamin Tucker referred to it as "pseudo-anarchism"[29] when admonishing Peter Kropotkin for opposing wages. Henry Appleton said: "All Communism, under whatever guise, is the natural enemy of Anarchism, and a Communist sailing under the flag of Anarchism is as false a figure as could be invented."[30] Victor Yarros says 'no logical justification, no rational explanation, and no "scientific" reasoning has been, is, will be, or can be advanced in defence of that unimaginable impossibility, Communistic Anarchism' [31]. Clarence Lee Swartz says in What is Mutualism: "One of the tests of any reform movement with regard to personal liberty is this: Will the movement prohibit or abolish private property? If it does, it is an enemy of liberty. For one of the most important criteria of freedom is the right to private property in the products of one's labor. State Socialists, Communists, Syndicalists and Communist-Anarchists deny private property." William Kline says that the individualists and communists "could not reconcile their differences, the Communist Anarchists dedicated to a community of property and the Individualist Anarchists deeply committed to private property and individual effort."[32] Anarcho-communists counter these criticisms by arguing that the abolition of property creates maximum freedom for all individuals. As Errico Malatesta argues,

""The individualists assume . . . that the (anarchist) communists wish to impose communism, which of course would put them right outside the ranks of anarchism.

"The communists assume . . . that the (anarchist) individualists reject every idea of association, want the struggle between men, the domination of the strongest -- and this would put them not only outside the anarchist movement but outside humanity.

"In reality those who are communists are such because they see in common freely accepted the realisation of brotherhood, and the best guarantee for individual freedom. And individualists, those who are really anarchists, are anti-communist because they fear that communism would subject individuals . . . to the tyranny of the collectivity . . . Therefore they want each individual, or each group, to be in a position to enjoy freely the product of their labour in conditions of equality with other individuals and groups, with whom they would maintain relations of justice and equity.

"In which case it is clear that there is no basic difference between us. But, according to the communists, justice and equity are, under natural conditions impossible of attainment in an individualistic society, and thus freedom too would not be attained.

"If climatic conditions throughout the world were the same, if the land were everywhere equally fertile, if raw materials were evenly distributed and within reach of all who needed them, if social development were the same everywhere in the world . . . then one could conceive of everyone . . . finding the land, tools and raw materials needed to work and produce independently, without exploiting or being exploited. But natural and historical conditions being what they are, how is it possible to establish equality and justice between he who by chance finds himself with a piece of arid land which demand much labour for small returns with him who has a piece of fertile and well sited land?"[33]

Anarcho-communists argue that individual worker cooperatives have the potential to isolate and control those who do not belong to such institutions, or those with less money. Anarcho-communists in general argue that the value of labor is subjective and thus cannot be measured by any monetary means, arguing that such values are arbitrary and lead to a stratification in society by a division of labor. Kropotkin and other communists anarchists have argued that the existence of defence associations, even worker-owned ones that are freely available for everyone, have authoritarian implications, "[f]or their self-defence, both the citizen and group have a right to any violence [within individualist anarchy] . . . Violence is also justified for enforcing the duty of keeping an agreement. Tucker . . . opens . . . the way for reconstructing under the heading of the 'defence' all the functions of the State."[34] Moreover, anarcho-communists argue that even in a socialistic market such as in individualist and mutualist anarchy, as some workers reaped more revenue than others, due to different productivity in market competition, those with more money would have more access to capital (means of production) and thus become able to unilaterally influence market deals, decision-making and employment, offering the highest bids to defence firms and thus reconstituting capitalism and the State. Alfie Kohn points out "strife of competition reduces empathic sympathy, distorts communication, impairs the mutuality of support and sharing, and decreases the satisfaction of personal need." [35] Communist anarchist Albert Metzer harshly argued, "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." [36]

More recently, advocates of post-left anarchy, such as Bob Black in Anarchy After Leftism, argue that leftists have an attachment to generic moral standards that are incompatible with anarchism and seek to establish political forms, such as platformism and direct democracy, that amount to forms of the state.[37] However, anarchist communists reject this claim, stating that direct democracy includes no hierarchy or monopolization of force and territory. Bob Black is an anarchist and possibly an anarchist communist himself due to his rejection of wage labor and rejection of market systems.

One capitalist criticism of anarcho-communism is that such a society would not be able to keep productivity up because individuals would not be paid for their labor, since wages would be abolished and people would instead be given things "according to their needs."[38] Anarchist communists propose that economic distribution should be based on the maxim "from each according to their ability and to each according to their needs" believing these "abilities" and "needs" should be self-determined.

Anarchist communists reject markets based on the principle that all theories of monetary value are subjective and argue that private property is inherently exploitative,[39] and could not exist without force or without the eventual creation of a State to protect it.[40] They also put forward the idea that, by making productive property freely accessible to all, it would increase individual liberty.[41] They argue that labor should not be an obligation and should be a voluntary task that should be enjoyable or provide necessary services.[42] Alexander Berkman in particular be is not possible because society is composed of individuals rather than being a cohesive unit separate from the individual, and argue that collective control over the individual is tyrannical and un-anarchistic lieved that all forms of private ownership of production are authoritarian whether or not they have an established state to protect them, "[so the boss] gives you a job: that is permission to work in the factory or mill which was not built by him but by other workers like yourself. And for that permission you help to support him for . . .as long as you work for him."[43] Bob Black further argued, "Some people giving orders and others obeying them: this is the essence of servitude. Of course, as [right-Libertarians] smugly [observe], 'one can at least change jobs,' but you can't avoid having a job -- just as under statism one can at least change nationalities but you can't avoid subjection to one nation-state or another. But freedom means more than the right to change masters"[44] Charlotte Wilson argued that it would not be possible to be forced into an anarcho-communist commune as the abolition of property (the anarchist conception of property) cannot be authoritarian, "every man [or woman] is free to take what he [or she] requires....[and so] it is hardly conceivable that personal necessaries and conveniences will not be appropriated.....[for] when property is protected by no legal enactments, backed by armed force, and is unable to buy personal service, its resuscitation on such a scale as to be dangerous to society is little to be dreaded. The amount appropriated by each individual . . . must be left to his [or her] own conscience, and the pressure exercised upon him [or her] by the moral sense and distinct interests of his [or her] neighbours." She further argued, "Property is the domination of an individual, or a coalition of individuals, over things; it is not the claim of any person or persons to the use of things -- this is, usufruct, a very different matter. Property means the monopoly of wealth, the right to prevent others using it, whether the owner needs it or not. Usufruct implies the claim to the use of such wealth as supplies the users needs. If any individual shuts off a portion of it (which he is not using, and does not need for his own use) from his fellows, he is defrauding the whole community." [45]

Marxists criticize anarchism as being incapable of creating a successful and lasting revolution because it is philosophically flat-footed and does not aptly identify issues of class and modes of production[46]. Both Marxist and anarchist class analyses are based on the idea that society is divided up into many different "classes", each with differing interests according to their material circumstances. The two differ, however, in where they draw the lines between these groups. For Marxists, the two most relevant classes are the "bourgeoisie" (owners of the means of production) and the "proletariat" (wage laborers). Anarchists argue that it is not the capital class who actually has control over the state, but another upper class which is part of the ruling class (and thus, defending its interests), but with its own concerns, particularly retaining political power, national territory and military power. A revolutionary minority taking over State power and imposing its will on the people would be just as authoritarian as the ruling minority in capitalism, and would eventually constitute itself as a ruling class since the class that governs the state is seen as separate from the labor class. This was predicted by Bakunin long before the Russian revolution and the fall of the Soviet Union, when he wrote:

If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Czar himself. [47]

Also, anarchists have traditionally advocated that a successful revolution needs the support of the peasantry, and a joint effort between both rural agricultural workers and industrial workers [48]. That is, it explicitly rejects imposing state property of the land. Some modern anarchists (particularly pareconists) argue that there are three “classes,” which have relevance to social change - not two. The first is the labor class which includes everyone whose labor is involved in producing and distributing goods; the second is the coordinator class which includes everyone whose labor is primarily concerned with “coordinating” and managing the labor of others primarily on behalf of the bourgeoisie (this would include bureaucrats, politicians, intellectuals and party hierarchs); and the third is the elite owning class or "capital class" which derives its income from its control of wealth, land, property and resources [49]. Anarchists contend that Marxism fails, and will always fail, because it creates a dictatorship of the coordinating class and that a "dictatorship of the proletariat" is a logical impossibility [50] [51]. They argue its theoretical "socialist mode of production" involves centralizing and empowering the State apparatus which empowers people from the coordinator class to seize control of the State and means of production to manage the labor class. Bakunin foreshadowed this argument when he wrote:

""the State has always been the patrimony of some privileged class: a priestly class, an aristocratic class, a bourgeois class. And finally, when all the other classes have exhausted themselves, the State then becomes the patrimony of the bureaucratic class and then falls—or, if you will, rises—to the position of a machine." On the International Workingmen's Association and Karl Marx, Mikhail Bakunin, 1872 [4]"

Anarchists do not differentiate between peasants, lumpen, merchants, some small business owners, and proletarians and instead define all people who work for the profit of others or sell the products of their own labor as members of the working class, regardless of occupation [52]. Anarchists do differentiate between the economic and political elites who set policy and the business and government functionaries that carry those policies out, whereas Marxists lump the two together [53] [54]. Further, some anarchists argue that Marxism fails because it springs from the minds of middle class intellectuals, while arguing that anarchism springs spontaneously from the self-activity and self-organization of the labor class [55]. They point to [56] the fact that schools of Marxism are often named after the intellectuals who formed the movements through high analytical and philosophical praxis theorization [57]. Marxists, however, contend that their ideas are not new ideologies which sprang from intellectuals but are ideas which form from the class contradictions of each economic and social mode of history. They argue that Marxian socialism in particular arose from the minds of the working class due to the class contradictions of the capitalist mode of production. Some Marxists even argue that anarchism springs from the ideas of proletarians (or even petty bourgeoisie) who have been marginalized by capitalism as an unorganized and unrefined reactionary struggle against the forces of capitalism [58]. Marxists believe that attempts by oppressed people to liberate themselves will continue to fail to achieve their full aims until class society is done away with, because under capitalism and other class societies, social power rests at the point of production. Many Marxists point to the sometimes rag-tag nature of anarchist revolutions as evidence that any working class movement needs a sufficient backbone organizational focus to maintain good tactics and inspire a proletarian class consciousness, often in the form of a revolutionary vanguard party [59]. Some Marxists believe anarchist revolutions tend to be reactionary (in the sense of reacting against the alienating effects of capitalism) and fail to stop capitalism due to their hostility to established political power. They argue that anti-capitalist revolutions need to seize sufficient political power in the form of a state in order to prevent the return of capitalism and to create an economy which allows both capitalism and the state to become unnecessary [60] [61]. Anarcho-communists counter-argue that decentralized, stateless collective federations are sufficient to give both power to workers and preserve personal freedom and point to the fact that no socialist state has ever showed signs of "withering away".

However, it should be noted that these disagreements are less of a problem for libertarian Marxists who believe that a State apparatus should operate on proletariat-controlled participatory democracy or even as a consociational state. Marxists and anarcho-communists would both agree that "It is this class division of society which gives rise to the state - because the minority need a special force to maintain their rule over the majority - which has evolved over thousands of years into the complicated structures we see today." [62].


However, despite criticisms, anarchist communist communes, such as anarchist Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War, saw increased productivity. The production of potatoes increased 50% and the production of sugar beets and feed for livestock doubled. Through the use of more modernized machinery and chemical fertilizers, the yield per hectare was 50% greater on collective property than on individually-owned land. [63] The anarchist collectivization in Spain also showed that such ideas are possible to implement in industrial settings. 75% of Spanish industry was located in the Catalon region. According to local sources at the time,

"Catalonia and Aragon, were about 70 per cent of the workforce was involved. The total for the whole of Republican territory was nearly 800,000 on the land and a little more than a million in industry. In Barcelona workers' committees took over all the services, the oil monopoly, the shipping companies, heavy engineering firms such as Volcano, the Ford motor company, chemical companies, the textile industry and a host of smaller enterprises. . . Services such as water, gas and electricity were working under new management within hours of the storming of the Atarazanas barracks . . .a conversion of appropriate factories to war production meant that metallurgical concerns had started to produce armed cars by 22 July . . . The industrial workers of Catalonia were the most skilled in Spain . . . One of the most impressive feats of those early days was the resurrection of the public transport system at a time when the streets were still littered and barricaded." [64]

The collectivist projects were quite successful, sources noted

"In distribution the collectives' co-operatives eliminated middlemen, small merchants, wholesalers, and profiteers, thus greatly reducing consumer prices. The collectives eliminated most of the parasitic elements from rural life, and would have wiped them out altogether if they were not protected by corrupt officials and by the political parties. Non-collectivised areas benefited indirectly from the lower prices as well as from free services often rendered by the collectives (laundries, cinemas, schools, barber and beauty parlours, etc.)" [65]

History of anarchist communist societies[edit]

There have been several attempts both successful and unsuccessful at creating anarchist-communist societies throughout much of the world. Some anarchist-communists and some green anarchists (Especially Anarcho-primivists) argue that tribal societies are early forms of anarchist-communism. Egalitarian religious communities such as the Diggers Movement during the English Revolution could arguably be the first anarchist communist societies in modern history. Large communities and federations of communities such as Anarchist Catalonia and the Free Territory of revolutionary Ukraine are examples of anarchist-communism in 20th century Europe. The free territories of Hungary during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 could be seen as another example of large-scale successful anarcho-communism.

The Korean Anarchist Movement in North and South Korea led by Kim Jwa Jin showed a temporary success in bringing anarcho-communism to Korea. However, the success was short-lived and not nearly as widely spread as the anarchism in Spain or Hungary. Some consider the current existing anarchist nature of communities in Argentina and the Zapatista councils in Mexico to be anarcho-communist in nature. Others consider them to be collectivist or syndicalist.

Some parts of the free software community, the GNU movement and parts of the copyleft movement are a type of information and software gift economy (a gift economy being the preferred economic system of anarcho-communists). Programmers make their source code available, allowing anyone to copy and modify/improve the code. Individual programmers gain prestige and respect, and the community as a whole benefits from better software. Markus Giesler in his ethnography "Consumer Gift Systems" has developed music downloading as a system of social solidarity based on gift transactions.[66] [67] Some organizations such as online commons (such as the Wikimedia Commons), wikis and Indymedia are held up as examples of functioning anarcho-communistic organizations.

The Zeitgeist Movement could be viewed promoting anarcho-communist views. They are calling for abolition of money, property and scarcity whilst announcing the world's resources as common heritage of all the world's people. They are in favor of using technology and science to ensure that everyone's basic needs are met. Yet they don't want to be identified with any political or religious isms.

See also[edit]



  1. Graham, Robert Anarchism - A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas - Volume One: From Anarchy to Anarchism (300CE to 1939), Black Rose Books, 2005
  2. Ibid
  3. Déjacque, Joseph. De l'être-humain mâle et femelle - Lettre à P.J. Proudhon par Joseph Déjacque. Archived from source 2012-07-13. (in French)
  4. Graham op. cit.
  5. Guillaume, James. Ideas on Social Organization. Archived from source 2012-06-28.
  6. Guillaume, James. Michael Bakunin - A Biographical Sketch. Archived from source 2012-06-29.
  7. Graham op. cit.
  8. Kropotkin, Peter. Words of a Rebel, p99.
  9. Kropotkin, Peter. The Conquest of Bread, p145.
  10. Shatz, Marshall. Introduction to Kropotkin: The Conquest of Bread and Other Writings, Cambridge University Press 1995, p. xvi "Anarchist communism called for the socialization not only of production but of the distribution of goods: the community would supply the subsistence requirements of each individual member free of charge, and the criterion, 'to each according to his labor' would be superseded by the criterion 'to each according to his needs.'"
  11. Kropotkin, Peter. The Conquest of Bread Chapter IX The Need For Luxury. Archived from source 2012-09-16.
  12. Kropotkin, Peter Chapter 13 The Collectivist Wages System from The Conquest of Bread. Archived from source 2012-07-07., G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London, 1906.
  13. The Place of Anarchism in the Evolution of Socialist Thought
  14. Kropotkin, Peter The Conquest Of Bread Chapter IV Template:deadlink
  15. Kropotkin Act for yourselves. N.Walter and H. Becker, eds. (London: Freedom Press 1985) [p. 104-5]
  16. Kropotkin "The Conquest of Bread" op cit
  17. Terranova, Tiziana "Free Labor: Producing Culture for the Digital Economy". 07-26-2005
  18. Alexander Berkman. What is Anarchism?, p. 217
  19. Kropotkin Act for yourselves. N.Walter and H. Becker, eds. (London: Freedom Press 1985) [p. 104-5]
  20. Peter Kropotkin Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution[1]
  21. Template:deadlink
  22. The Place of Anarchism in the Evolution of Socialist Thought, p. 14-15
  23. Kropotkin, Peter, The Conquest of Bread, p. 145
  24. Hayward, Jack, After the French Revolution, p. 213
  25. From Encyclopedia Britannica article "Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph". Archived from source 2012-07-24. (2006)
  26. Proudhon, Pierre Joseph. System of Economical Contradictions: or, the Philosophy of Misery. Archived from source 2012-07-30.
  27. What is Property?, p. 118
  28. General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century (1851), Sixth Study, § 3 ¶ 5. Archived from source 2012-07-08..
  29. Benjamin Tucker, Labor and its Pay Template:deadlink
  30. Anarchism, True and False (1884). Archived from source 2012-07-02.
  31. Victor Yarros, A Princely Paradox Template:deadlink
  32. William Kline, The Individualist Anarchists: A Critique of Liberalism
  33. Life and Ideas, pp. 31-2
  34. Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets, p. 297
  35. Nathan Ackerman, quoted by Alfie Kohn, Op. Cit., pp. 142-3
  36. Anarchism: Arguments For and Against, p. 8
  37. Bob Black is a libertarian socialist, and likely an anarcho-communist (given his reference to attempts on his part to defend anarcho-communism in his essay "The Libertarian As Conservative") and his references to "leftism" are mostly against what he perceives as Marxist influences in libertarian socialism.
  38. Busky, Donald F. Communism in History and Theory: From Utopian Socialism to the Fall of the Soviet Union. Praeger/Greenwood 2002, p. 101
  39. Berkman, Alexander. What Is Communist Anarchism? p.11
  40. Kropotkin, Peter. Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets, p. 297
  41. Kropotkin, Peter. The Place of Anarchism in the Evolution of Socialist Thought, p.14-15
  42. Kropotkin, Peter. Fields, Factories and Workshops Tomorrow, p. 197
  43. Alexander Berkman, What is Communist Anarchism?, p. 11
  44. Bob Black, The Libertarian as Conservative
  45. Anarchist Essays, pp. 22-23 and p. 40
  46. "anarchism developed in opposition to the growth of capitalist society...the liberty defended by the anarchists was not the freedom of the working class to make collectively a new society. Rather, anarchism defended the freedom of the small property owner -- the shopkeeper, artisan and tradesman -- against the encroachments of large-scale capitalist enterprise." Socialism From Below McNally, David
  47. (Quoted in Daniel Guerin, Anarchism: From Theory to Practice (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1970), pp.25-26)
  48. K. Steven Vincent, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and the Rise of French Republican Socialism, pp. 282-3
  49. Elements of Political Economy" quoted by David Ellerman, Property and Contract in Economics, pp. 53-4
  50. The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control, p. xiv
  51. Murray Bookchin, Post-Scarcity Anarchism, p. 152
  52. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon What is Property? p. 137
  53. Malatesta, Errico. Life and Ideas, p. 145
  54. Leon Trotsky Stalinism and Bolshevism
  55. Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings, p. 170-2
  56. "Perhaps significantly, these few Marxist tendencies which are closest to anarchism are, like the branches of anarchism itself, not named after individuals." [2]
  57. Essential Works of Lenin, pp. 74-5
  58. McNally, David. Socialism From Below
  59. Marxism and direct action by Phil Mitchinson. Archived from source 2012-09-16.
  60. "Stalinism and Bolshevism", Socialist Workers Review, no. 146, p. 16
  61. Phil Mitchinson argues: "task of this state would be to develop the economy to eradicate want. Less need, means less need to govern society, less need for a state."
  62. Marxism and direct action by Phil Mitchinson. Archived from source 2012-09-16.
  63. Dolgoff, Sam. The Anarchist Collectives, ch. 10
  64. Antony Beevor, The Spanish Civil War, pp. 91-2
  65. The Anarchist Collectives, p. 114
  66. Markus Giesler, Consumer Gift Systems
  67. Archived from source 2012-09-16.

Further reading[edit]


External links[edit]

Introductory articles on anarchist communism[edit]

Anarchist communist websites and portals[edit]

In other languages[edit]

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