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  • Anarchism

Political ideology based on mutual aid, solidarity and the abolition of the state. Anarchists fall largely into two camps:
- Social anarchists – see libertarian communists,
- Individualist anarchists – a form of ultra-classical liberalism, believe in the supreme importance of the individual over any collective. Often believe in private property, and oppose organisation.

  • Anarcho-Syndicalism

Strain of social anarchism which sees the working class as the means to achieve a revolution through organising workers into revolutionary, rank and file unions. These unions would be both the instrument for the overthrow of capitalism and the administrative apparatus of a future society.

  • Anarchy

See also socialism, communism. Taken from the Greek words an (no) and archy (rule). The name given by anarchists to a society based on the realisation of anarchist ideals. Since been stolen and used as a synonym for chaos. See Anarchism.


  • Bourgeoisie

See Class, Capitalist.


  • Capital

Capital is wealth which is used to create more wealth, where wealth is a description of anything created by human labour. Capital takes the form of money (money capital), which is then invested in the means of production (tools and raw materials; fixed capital) and labour power (wages; variable capital) to produce commodities. Collective production produces a surplus (surplus value, profit), which the capitalist recieves when the commodities are sold. This can then be added to the original capital to expand it (valorisation, or capital accumulation). Expanded capital is then reinvested into production to create a constantly expanding cycle of both production and capital accumulation.

The working class is forced to work for a wage since they do not own capital themselves (although some people receive income from both sources), and because all the means of life (food, shelter, energy) are sold as commodities. As such, capital, rather than simply being "wealth" or "dead labour" represents the social relationship which makes it impossible for the working class to produce for their own needs without working for a capitalist or the state. Since it is this social relationship that libertarian communists want to replace, rather than specific powerful individuals or companies in control of it, we usually refer to capital, rather than "corporations, capitalists, the ruling class" terms which tend to be either too general or too specific to describe what we mean.

  • Capitalism

The system based on exchange of commodities, private ownership by a few of the means of production and the exploitation of wage workers.

  • Class

A group of people connected by a common relationship to the means of production. In capitalist society there are two economic classes (see below).

  • Class, Capitalist

The capitalist class consists of those individuals who do not have to work (though they generally do) since they draw enough income from property such as land, housing or businesses/stocks and shares. In terms of the entity whose interests are opposed to the working class, we prefer to refer to capital (see above).

  • Class, Middle

Sociological/cultural term referring to a section of the working class (below). As many definitions as you can shake a feta and rocket salad at.

  • Class, Working

The working class consists of all the people in society who can not get by without selling our time and energy to a boss - by working. I.e. if we do not make large amounts of money from property holdings or owning a business we have to be wage labourers, or in some places in the world rely on state welfare or crime.

  • Communism

See also, socialism, anarchy. An egalitarian, stateless socio-economic system based on the principle of "from each according to ability, to each according to need".
Many regimes claim or have claimed to be communist, whereas in fact their countries are at least as authoritarian and hierarchical as those which preceded them, and as can be clearly seen in China and the USSR. In all instances the state has remained, as have basic capitalist relationships and wage labour. For this reason it is useful to divide communists into two sections (see below).

  • Communist

Someone who wishes to realise communism. As outlined above, communists fall into two main camps:
- Libertarian communists - who wish to see directly democratic bodies of self-organisation (such as workplace and community councils) replace the existing hierarchical state (such as occured temporarily in Spain 1936 or the Ukraine 1917).
- State communists - who wish to see communists seizing state power in order to crush the capitalist class, and then see the state "wither away". This second stage has never occured in history.


  • Direct Action

Action taken independently by the working class in struggle rather than appealing to the power of politicians, bureaucrats, and employers. Most mass direct action is in the form of strikes and other workplace action, non-payment of unjust taxes, and blockades.

  • Direct Democracy

The equal and direct participation of working people in the decisions that affect us. As opposed to representative democracy where we choose people to have a say on our behalf and hope for the best!


  • Fascism

Originating in Italy in the 1920s, it is a right-wing, fiercely nationalist, totalitarian ideology to gain mass popular support and crush the workers’ movement. Often highly racist.

  • Federalism

Organisational structure based on the free agreement of people to work towards a common goal. All decisions are made collectively by those affected by them.

  • Federation

An organisation based on the principles of federalism.

  • Feudalism

Type of society based on traditional patterns of land-ownership where the rights and duties of everyone is defined by traditional inheritance and kinship relations.

  • Feminism

Feminism is the theoretical commitment to the liberation of women from sexism, and equality of the sexes.

  • Freedom

The right, and ability, of people to determine their own actions in a community which can provide the full development of their potential - provided that they do not harm others.


  • Hegemony

The way that the ruling institutions maintains ideological control over society. The ideas of the ruling class are spread over the whole of society through culture, education, the media etc.


  • Imperialism

Economic, social and political domination of one society over another.

  • Internationalism

The idea that the working class should unite across all countries.


  • Leninism

Strain of state communism. See Communism.

  • Libertarian

Aspiring for greater liberty, and reduction of the powers over the individual, whether by the state, capital or any other hierarchy. Was originally synonymous with "anarchist" but now often associated with capitalist neoliberalism which has wrongly tried to claim the term as its own.


  • Means of Production

All land, housing, factories, technology, offices and now even ideas such as patents, which are needed to feed, clothe and house the world's population.


  • Proletariat

See Class, Working.


  • Reformism

Attempting to improve the world working within capitalist and state structures like Parliament and legislation without challenging the economic basis of society.

  • Revolution

Radical social change over a short period of tim where an existing ruling class is overthrown and replaced with a new way of structuring society. There are two main types: - Political revolution - like a military coup. One set of rulers is overthrown and replaced by another like in the Russia - Social Revolution - the overhaul of an entire socio-economic system


  • Solidarity

The idea of sticking up for other members of the class. A fundamental ethical value of the workers’ movement, based on the idea of "An injury to one is an injury to all!" which obliges workers to support the struggles of other workers to their mutual benefit.

  • Soviet

See Workers' Council.

  • Syndicalism

Syndicalism is from the French word for trade unionism. In English syndicalism refers to the theory and practice of rank-and-file unionism, where decisions are made from the bottom-up. It includes revolutionary currents such as those practised by the IWW union, which would see the syndicalist union take over the running of society, and Anarcho-Syndicalism, see above.


  • Trotskyism

Strain of state communism. See Communism.


  • Worker

A member of the working class, whether currently employed or not.

  • Workers' Council

Workers' councils are bodies in a given locale (containing a mix of workers, peasants and soldiers depending on where they are) which are formed when large numbers of workers come together to defend their own interests against capital. They are usually run on the lines of direct democracy, with instantly recallable delegates. They tend to appear before and during all revolutions and near-revolutions, and can become organs of the future self-management of society if not crushed as in Hungary '56 or usurped as in the Russian Revolution.

  • Workers’ movement

A broad term for the agglomeration of all trade unions and groups – formal or informal – which seek to defend and improve the conditions of all workers.

  • Working Class

See Class, Working.