Democracy GEORGE WOODCOCK: THE ANARCHIST READER

GEORGE WOODCOCK: THE ANARCHIST READER

  • GEORGE WOODCOCK: The ANARCHIST READER
  • 1986,Glasgow: Fontana Press, William Collins Publishing Group, 4th impression.
  • [THESE ARE NOTES FROM WOODCOCK’S BOOK.]
  • ANARCHISM: A HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION (11-56)
  • TRADITION AND TERRAIN
  • Page 11
  • DEFINITIONS
  • Anarchy is very often mistakenly regarded as the equivalent of chaos, and an anarchist is often thought of as at best a nihilist – a man who has abandoned all principles – and at worst a mindless terrorist.
  • What we are concerned with, in terms of definition, is a cluster of words which in turn represents a cluster of doctrines and attitudes whose principal uniting feature is the belief that government is both harmful and unnecessary.
  • The word archon, meaning ruler, and the prefix an, indicating without; hence anarchy means the state of being without a ruler.  By derivation, anarchism is the doctrine which contends that government is the source of most of our social troubles and that there are viable alternative forms of voluntary organization. And by further definition the anarchist is the man who sets out to create a society without government.
  • Page 12
  • … society as a living entity becomes intensified when he (the anarchist) contemplates the abolition of government.
  • … the pyramidical structure imposed by a government , can only be replaced if society becomes a closely-knit fabric of voluntary relationships.
  • The difference between a governmental society and an anarchic society is … the difference between a structure and an organism; one (government, structure) is built and the other (organism) grows according to natural laws.
  • Anarchists are much concerned with (two kinds of) equilibriums:
  • between destruction and construction
  • between liberty and order (order is not something imposed from above; it is natural order -- (i.e.) self-discipline and voluntary co-operation.)
  • Page 13
  • Anarchism – a movement rather than a [political]party
  • Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
  • First man to accept title of anarchist… declared:
  • “To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated over, regulated, docketed, indoctrined, preached at, controlled, assessed, weighed, censored, ordered about, by men who have neither right, nor knowledge, nor virtue. That is government, that is its justice, that is its morality.”
  • Proudhon [wrote and published]: Qu’est-ce que la Propriété? (What is Property?)
  • … Proudhon’s answer … ‘Property is Theft’, … the phrase … identified capitalism with government as the two main enemies of freedom
  • Proudhon – took part in the 1848 French Revolution
  • [influenced founding of] alliance of European socialists, the International Workingmen’s Association (better known as The First International)
  • … he [Proudhon] … refused to establish a dogmatic doctrine such as Marx bequeathed to his followers. Page 14
  • He distrusted theoretical structures as much as governmental structures. Doctrines, for him, were never complete; their meanings emerged and their forms changed according to the situation; he believed that, within broad channels of principles, political theory – like thought of any kind – was in a process of constant evolution.
  • – he condemned all [political]parties as ‘varieties of absolutism’
  • – he was influenced by William Godwin
  • –[he rejected] fixed forms of political organization [and Constitutions] … constitutions [are] fixed and guaranteed political systems which rigidify the state and institutionalize the exercise of power
  • [he believed] organization of community life on a political level should be replaced by
  • Page 15
  • its social and economic organization on the basis of free contractual agreement between individuals.
  • William Godwin: “Government lays its hands upon the spring that is in society and puts a stop to its motion. It gives substance and permanence to our errors. It reverses the genuine propensities of mind, and instead of suffering us to look forward, teaches us to look backward for perfection. It prompts us to seek the public welfare, not in innovation and improvement, but in a timid reference for the decisions of our ancestors, as if it were the nature of mind always to degenerate and never to advance.”
  • [Anarchist] objection to fixed and authoritarian forms of organization does not mean that they deny organization as such.
  • [Though the Anarchist] believes passionately in individual freedom, … he also recognizes that such freedom can only be safeguarded by a willingness to co-operate, by the reality of community … the discussion of various kinds of non-coercive organization plays a great part in anarchist literature
  • … if the anarchist refuses to be ruled by the dead hand of the past, he accepts the corollary of that refusal; he does not expect the future to be determined by the present, and for this reason it is wrong to identify the anarchist with the utopian. The essential characteristic of utopian thought is the creation of an ideal society, beyond which there will be no progress, no change, because the ideal is by definition perfect and therefore static. [Perfection = Death]
  • Page 16
  • We can only seek to remove the injustices we know.
  • Heraclitus – unity of existence lies in its constant change. “Over those who step into the same river,” said Heraclitus, “the waters that flow are constantly different.” … a doctrine with variations … moves between the banks of certain unifying principles
  • Though there are many different anarchist points of view, there is a definable anarchist philosophy …[and] anarchist temperament
  • [Anarchism] involves 3 elements –
  • criticism of society as it is,
  • a vision of a desirable alternative society,
  • a plan for proceeding from one to the other
  • … anarchists believe in a modified version of … the Great Chain of Being – continuity proceeding from the humblest form of life to the Godhead
  • Everything … had its place in the order of being, and if it followed its own nature, all would be well
  • Page 17
  • [According to Lao Tse, the Taoist sage}
  • When the actions of the people are controlled by prohibitive laws, the country becomes more impoverished. Therefore the wise man says: ‘I will design nothing, and the people will shape themselves. I will keep quiet and the people will come forth. I will discountenance ambition, and the people will return to their natural simplicity.’
  • By the time the essential idea of the Great Chain of Being had reached the anarchists, God had been replaced from its head or had been rationalised into a principle of harmony
  • Page 18
  • [Influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau]:
  • Stress on spontaneity
  • Education = drawing out of what is latent in the child – development of natural instincts for good
  • Noble Savage – [no apparent system of authority]
  • “Man was born free and is everywhere in chains!”
  • … if man obeys the natural laws of his kind, he will be able to live at peace with his fellows; in other words he may not be naturally good, but he is … naturally social. It is authoritarian institutions that warp and atrophy his co-operative inclinations.
  • Darwin, Origin of Species
  • … established firmly that man belonged in the chain of evolution –made possible comparison of human species with other (animal) species
  • Page 19
  • Peter Kropotkin
  • … evolution of successful species …not so much their power to compete as their inclination to cooperate
  • … developed theory of mutual aid
  • … man not naturally solitary … He was naturally social
  • … social organization based on voluntary cooperation
  • … [precludes] the need for government
  • Proudhon
  • … anticipated Jung’s doctrine of the collective unconscious
  • … deep in the human psyche [Page 20] lies a sense of justice
  • … freedom is a social virtue
  • Man should live by natural law -- voluntary cooperation –the fundamental basis of society
  • The State has taken over from the individual the communal responsibilities that once gave his personal life the extended dimension of fellowship
  • [In a State] – responsibility in danger of being strangled by paternalistic authority -- gigantism and the impersonality of the modern state -- alienation – man isolated among the masses of his fellows -- authority places distance between individual men and the initiation of socially necessary activities
  • 2 [basic] concepts of all forms of anarchism:
  • decentralization
  • social action i.e. individual capability
  • Page 21
  • The State … centralizes all social and political functions
  • -- puts them out of reach of the citizens whose lives they shape
  • -- men are thus deprived of freedom to decide on their own futures
  • -- they lose the purpose of their lives
  • -- the poor and underprivileged experience the impositions of the paternalistic state in a very direct way
  • the anarchist:
  • -- proposes the breaking down of gigantic impersonal structures of the State and of the great corporations that dominate industry and communications
  • -- advocates the smallest practicable unit of organization à face to face contacts; everyone involved in an operation [knows] how & why it is going on; share[s] directly in decisions
  • -- the activity of functional groups will be voluntary
  • Functional groups arise from need
  • Page 22
  • Criticism of Anarchy: decentralization and participatory democracy à fragmentation of society
  • Counter argument: Small groups – parishes [Godwin] or communes [Proudhon] -- strengthening of social bonds and social virtues; responsibility; dignity; direct collaboration between people most intimately involved in a phase of living
  • Page 23
  • Marxism:
  • -- dominance of economic factor in exploitation
  • -- ignored lethal characteristics of other forms of power
  • --theory of dictatorship of the proletariat; dictatorship - hidebound party rule; freedom destroyed
  • Bakunin [anarchist]: … Marxist failure to understand that power is psychologically as well as economically based would lead to a re-creation of the State in a new form.
  • [Anarchists] recognized that economic and political inequality were interdependent; they attacked ‘accumulated property’ as strongly as they criticized centralized government.
  • [But]
  • Once the industrial revolution had changed patterns of manufacture and transport, it was impossible for … Proudhon to ignore the fact that complexity of organization was a social if not a political necessity.
  • Page 27
  • [DEVELOPMENT OF ANARCHIST THEORY]
  • Anarchism … not abstract theory … developed out of social conditions
  • As a doctrine … began to take shape … four centuries ago during the period of the Reformation
  • [which also gave rise to its antithesis – the modern nation-state]
  • Page 12 [Historical precedents and development]
  • Ancient Greece
  • Ancient China
  • Heretical Christian Sects of the Middle Ages
  • 15th – 17th centuries [Renaissance –Reformation]
  • 18th century [French and American Revolutions]
  • 19th – 20th centuries [Latin America, Spain, Ukraine – Shelley , Tolstoy]
  • 2. THE ANARCHIST FAMILY TREE [Roots of Anarchism]
  • Page 27.
  • Stone Age
  • [According to] Kropotkin…roots of anarchism were to be found in the long war between liberty and authority that had already begun in the Stone Age … Tribal societies live by elaborate patterns of customary co-operation with no visible system of authority
  • He [Kropotkin] failed to take into account … [that] authority does not have to be embodied in a person [chief, king]… it also thrives in the elaborate systems of taboo and obligation
  • [But] Kropotkin did prove … primitive man seems quite naturally to seek out patterns of co-operation
  • Ancient Greece
  • [FREEDOM DEPENDENT ON EQUALITY] Only devotees of Eleusinian mysteries and philosophers like Epicurus and Zeno, the stoic – conceived a society accepting of all moral men as equals
  • Only Zeno … clear rejection of government
  • Ancient Rome
  • [Neither] Brutus [nor] Spartacus would [have understood] freedom as anarchists do … they had not yet made the vital conjunction between freedom and equality
  • 14th century
  • Page 29 John Ball: The Peasants’ Revolt 1381 : “Things cannot go well in England, nor ever will, until all goods are held in common, and until there will be neither serfs, nor gentlemen, and we shall be equal.” [Jean Froissart: Chronicles]
  • John Ball … wandering preacher … no church … propounded heretical and millenarian form of Christianity
  • … millenarian Christianity… one of two most vital strands in anarchist tradition --14th century dissent took on religious form … apocalypse … second coming [ànew order]
  • 18th century … secularized … changes in political organization
  • 1640s English Revolution – Fifth Monarchy Men and the Levellers à first real proto-anarchists
  • – the Diggers … identified economic with political power … social rather than a political revolution … necessary for the establishment of justice ... Gerard Winstanley, the Diggers’ leader … God = the principle of reason … [i.e.]what Leo Tolstoy, the other great Christian anarchist, meant when he declared “ The Kingdom of God is within you.”
  • Page31 Winstanley : “Everyone that gets an authority into his hands tyrannizes over others. … not only masters and magistrates, but also fathers and husbands.”
  • Page 34
  • The Renaissance … [liberation] of thought from dogma à thinkers who offered libertarian alternatives to the total rule of authority … France – Diderot and Etienne de la Boëtie … England – John Locke and Thomas Paine.
  • …Paine … emphasized vital distinction between society and government. “ Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negativily by restraining our vices … Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise.”
  • Paine’s influence permeated the native libertarian movement of nineteenth century America – Henry David Thoreau, Josiah Warren, Benjamin Tucker
  • William Godwin … page 35 …substituted reason for faith … influenced by French Enlightenment
  • Godwin: “authority is against nature … social ills exist because men are not at liberty to act according to reason. “ [ Godwin: Political Justice]
  • …he sketched out a decentralized libertarian society in which small autonomous communities will be the essential units and in which even democratic political practices will be minimized because majority rule is a form of tyranny and voting for representatives is an abdication of personal responsibility
  • 3. THE CLASSIC ANARCHIST MOVEMENT
  • Pages 35-6
  • 1840s – cafes and the Latin Quarter (Paris)—meeting place of revolutionaries – Spanish federalists, Italian carbonarists, Poles seeking to re-establish their country, Russian refugees from Tsarist tyranny, German refugees from Prussia and petty states of the Rhineland.
  • Often seen together in Paris – a Russian [Michael Bakunin] , a German [Karl Marx] and a French radical journalist [Pierre-Joseph Proudhon] --
  • Page 37
  • Proudhon and Bakunin – founders of anarchism. Marx founder of communism
  • Friends at first –ideological differences à split
  • Proudhon/ Bakunin – anti-authoritarian –belief in voluntary co-operative institutions – anarchism [evolutionary process]
  • Marx – power of the proletariat à anarchism [end state]
  • Page 39
  • 1848 revolutions – Proudhon and Bakunin actively involved
  • Bakunin in several cities – Paris, Prague, and alongside Wagner in Dresden – captured in Saxony – prisoner of Tsar – 1861 escaped – resumed revolutionary activity
  • Proudhon after 1848 Revolution in Paris – member of National Assembly à disillusionment –parliamentary activity puts a man out of touch with the people – tried to organize workers economically – People’s Bank. Imprisoned for criticisms of newly elected President, Napoleon Bonaparte [later Emperor Napoleon III] – spent the rest of his life in prison or exile
  • Page 40
  • Mutualist Movement –based on Proudhon’s views – French workers –anarchists – hoped to gain their ends peacefully –co-operation with producers
  • 1862-4 International Workingmen’s Association – the First International [wrongly believed a Marxist initiative] formed by disciples of Proudhon and English trade union representatives
  • First International became a battleground of ideologies
  • Conflict between Marx and Mutualists , between Marx and Bakunin personally
  • Page 41 i.e. authoritarian [Marxist]socialists vs libertarian anarchists
  • Marx and his followers more astute tacticians [driven by need for power] – gained control of the General Council
  • Bakunin – created:
  • secret brotherhood of revolutionaries in Italy;
  • world’s greatest anarchist movement in Spain under leadership of Italian engineer, Fanelli
  • Battles within the International:
  • between Marx and Bakunin
  • Germanic and Latin groups
  • Page 42
  • Marxists argued for political organization à proletariat [to become] ruling class [pursuit of power]
  • Anarchists argued for economic organization of workers according to occupation
  • i.e. authoritarian vs libertarian;
  • political action vs industrial action;
  • transitional proletarian dictatorship vs abolition of all State power
  • Conflict à Bakunin and anarchists expelled from International
  • Marxists transferred General Council to New York 1872. International dead by 1874
  • Anarchists set up rival International 1872. Dead by 1877.
  • Anarchist movement lived on as a pattern rather than an organization – scattered groups, individuals
  • 1880 – 1900 Ideology of Anarchism [shaped by] Peter Kropotkin and Errico Malatesta flowered
  •   Followers : Leo Tolstoy who advocated non-violence – influenced Gandhi
  •   Painters – Pissaro, Signac, Vlaminck, Picasso
  • Poets, writers – Mallarmé, Oscar Wilde
  • Anarchist = propagandist for freedom [Marxist propagandist for people power]
  • Anarchist [believed] political theory valid only when activated
  • Carlo Pisacane: Page 43 “ Ideas result from deeds, not the latter from the former, and the people will not be free when they are educated, but educated when they are free.” à
  • a period of terrorism:
  • Small quixotic revolutions
  • Brief period of assassinations of symbolic figures [by fanatics]: to draw attention to injustice: a king of Italy; a President of the USA; a president of France, an empress of Austria; a prime minister of Spain
  • Page 44
  • End of nineteenth century: Anarcho-syndicalism: -- development of a movement to create libertarian unions of syndicates i.e., unions not merely instruments for getting better wages, but also as agents for the transformation of society – i.e. general strikes and taking over and running places of production during a revolution to form infrastructure of new society
  • Movement most successful in Spain –
  • In Spain the anarchists showed that in local and spontaneous efforts their methods were effective where they failed was in coordination on a large scale
  • The movement could not withstand Franco’s armies.
  • Page 45
  • 4. PHOENIX IN THE AWAKENING DESERT
  • Anarchism –[different from] tightly hierarchical structures of political parties whose aim is power
  • Anarchism had intellectual leaders but no organizational leadership
  • a variety of viewpoints on tactics;
  • co-existence with a remarkable degree of mutual tolerance
  • the idea expressed directly in action that was dynamic
  • structure always fragile; power of spontaneous thought important motive force
  • anti-dogmatic, unstructured cluster of related attitudes
  • does not need a movement to keep it alive– [is] dormant and [revives ]
  • Page 46
  • leaders tended to be solitary, dedicated –Godwin; Thoreau; Stirner;
  • no single political gospel [such as Marx’s Das Kapital]
  • anarchist writers e.g. Kropotkin, Herbert Read … awaken thought, [do] not to direct it
  • anarchist ideas remain a continual stimulus towards new understandings and movements
  • Page 47
  • Britain 1920-40 – anarchism drew together writers and painters, [including]refugee artists from Eastern Europe, France, Belgium – Augustus John, John Minton, Naum Gabo, Jankel Adler, Herbert Read, John Cowper Powys, Dylan Thomas, Alex Comfort, George Woodcock, Denise Levertov
  • Page 48
  • In the USA , New York: Dwight Macdonald, Paul Goodman, San Francisco: Kenneth Rexroth, Allen Ginsberg – beat movement in California
  • libertarian thinkers … relate their doctrines to important scientific insights -- in psychology, Alex Comfort: Authority and Delinquency (on the psychology of power); Erich Fromm: The Fear of Freedom; [influenced by heretical Freudian teachings of Wilhelm Reich] related psychological to political repression; sought neurosis in the origins of coercive power
  • Herbert Read: Need of a new type of education to enable men to accept and endure freedom.
  • Page 49 Education prepared men for obedience, not for freedom
  • [Read believed that we need to] educate the senses before the mind –education through art àharmonious personalityàpeaceful transformation of society
  • 1960s re-emergence of anarchism – more militant –influenced by
  • Page 50 civil rights movement (USA),
  • Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)àCommittee of One Hundred in which Bertrand Russell was active
  • Page52 Mainly young people – in particular middle-class young –revolt of the privileged who have seen the futility of affluence as a goal
  • Young – opposed to increasingly centralized and technocratic industrial cultures
  • Aldous Huxley –early recognition of perils of population explosion, ecological destruction, psychological manipulation
  • [His novel Brave New World presented a] vision of the kind of mindless, materialistic existence [in] society dominated by technical centralization
  • 1968 Paris Insurrection workers strike challenged De Gaulle
  • Pages 53-4 Holland : Twoneo-anarchist movements in the 1970s; the Provos and the Kabouters
  • Page 55 India: Sarvodaya led by Vinova Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan – gramdan—ownership of land by autonomous communities

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