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insurrectionary anarchism

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Insurrectionary anarchism is critical of formal anarchist labor unions and federations. Instead, insurrectionary anarchists advocate informal organization, including small affinity groups, carrying out acts of resistance in various struggles, and mass organizations called base structures, which can include exploited individuals who are not anarchists. Here, Wolfi Landstreicher writes some of the basis points of its praxis.

Insurrectionary anarchism is not an ideological solution to all social problems, a commodity on the capitalist market of ideologies and opinions, but an on-going praxis aimed at putting an end to the domination of the state and the continuance of capitalism, which requires analysis and discussion to advance. We don’t look to some ideal society or offer an image of utopia for public consumption. Throughout history, most anarchists, except those who believed that society would evolve to the point that it would leave the state behind, have been insurrectionary anarchists. Most simply, this means that the state will not merely wither away, thus anarchists must attack, for waiting is defeat; what is needed is open mutiny and the spreading of subversion among the exploited and excluded. Here we spell out some implications that we and some other insurrectionary anarchists draw from this general problem: if the state will not disappear on its own, how then do we end its existence? It is, therefore, primarily a practice, and focuses on the organization of attack...The State of capital will not “wither away,” attack is the refusal of mediation, pacification, sacrifice, accommodation, and compromise. [Landstreicher, Wolfi]

Alfredo M. Bonanno, an Italian insurrectionary anarchist also had a great impact on this specific tendency, writing such works as "Armed Joy," "The Anarchist Tension," and others. In the US, Willful Disobedience, Killing King Abacus, and other magazines caused interest in insurrectionary anarchism to grow. Although insurrectionary anarchists are generally interested in class struggle anarchism, in the US, many insurrectionary anarchists consider themselves to be primitivists, or green anarchists, as well.

Roots of insurrectionary anarchism[edit]

As insurrectionary anarchism is a developing practice not an ideological model of the future or a determinist history, insurrectionary anarchists do not take the work of any single revolutionary theoretician as their central doctrine: thus insurrectionary anarchists are not Bakuninists, for example, and feel no need to defend all his writings and actions. Yet Bakunin was historically important to the development of an anarchism that focused its force in insurrection. Unlike Marx, who built his support in the First International mostly within the central executive structure, Bakunin worked to build support for coordinated action though autonomous insurrections at the base, especially in Southern Europe. And since Bakunin’s time insurrectionary anarchists have been concentrated in Southern Europe.

In the responses to the Paris Commune of 1871 and in the conflicts of the First International one can see the formation of insurrectionary anarchism’s basic concepts. Whereas Marx believed that the new political forms of the Commune (forms of democracy and representation) would advance the social revolution, Bakunin argued that political and organizational forms had held the social revolution back. Also influential to later insurrectionaries, Bakunin argued that it was one's actions that would spread the revolution, not words. In 1871, Marx and his supporters allied themselves with the followers of Blanqui--from whom the concept of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” came--to cut Bakunin and his supporters out of a special conference of the International held in London. Bakuninists held their own conference in Sonvilier, arguing that hierarchical and political means could never be used to gain social revolutionary ends: as the Sonvilier circular states, it was impossible “for a free and egalitarian society to come out of an authoritarian organization.” Marx pejoratively termed the Sonvilier conference “anarchist,” and those in Sonvilier called the London conference “Marxist” to mark its authoritarian attempt to control the International. In 1872, Marx succeeded in expelling Bakunin from the International and requiring all member organizations to advocate the conquest of political power as the necessary prerequisite to revolution.