Marxism and Anarchism

anarchism ebookRadicalised youth, seeking to understand how to change modern society, naturally tend to look to both Marxism and anarchism in equal measure. The question as to which philosophy, or which combination of the two, has the best answers, has long been at the forefront of the minds of revolutionaries.

Anarchism is naturally attractive to all those correctly alienated by bureaucracy in the revolutionary movement. Anarchists are certainly correct to reject Stalinism and careerism. However, it is not sufficient simply to reject these phenomena. We need to understand why bureaucracy and oppression exist and what role they play, in order to understand how to avoid them. We believe that, for all its opposition, anarchism has little to say about the alternative to bureaucracy. Instead, it is Marxism’s historical materialist method that allows us to understand these problems. 

A few years ago we published a book called Marxism and Anarchism. This collection of classic and contemporary writings helps to clarify the Marxist perspective on anarchist theory and practice, and the need for a revolutionary party. 

"The anti-authoritarians demand that the political state be abolished at one stroke, even before the social conditions that gave birth to it have been destroyed. They demand that the first act of the social revolution shall be the abolition of authority. Have these gentlemen ever seen a revolution? A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon—authoritarian means, if such there be at all."

There have been many splits in the history of the Marxist movement. The enemies of Marxism seize upon this fact as proof of an inherent weakness, an intolerant spirit, excessive centralism, bureaucratic and authoritarian tendencies and so on. The same arguments were used in the First International (IWMA), when Marx and Engels were obliged to wage a ferocious struggle against the followers of the anarchist Bakunin. The document that we published in installments, Fictitious Splits in the International is a useful reminder of the differences between Marxism and anarchism. We believe it deserves a careful reading for the lessons it has for Marxists today.