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What is                                  narchism?Anarchists are often mentioned in the newspaper and TV coverage ofglobal...
Anarchism in Action                   ence and it is his/her responsibility to see        The lot of rural workers and pea...
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What is anarchism


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What is anarchism

  1. 1. What is narchism?Anarchists are often mentioned in the newspaper and TV coverage ofglobalisation protests. We are often portrayed as violent criminals. Almostnever are the ideas of anarchism explained. Read on and find out whatanarchists stand for. thousands of militants lost their lives. Central to our politics is the belief that or- dinary people must make the revolution. Every member of the working class (work-Anarchists believe in a revolution by the ety. A world where the 225 richest people ers, unemployed, housewives, etc.) has aworking class which will overthrow the have a combined wealth equal to the com- role to play. Only by this participation canbosses and their governments, and create bined annual income of the worlds 2.5 bil- we ensure that anarchism is made real. Wea society run and controlled by those who lion poorest people. believe in a revolution that comes from theactually produce the wealth of the world. bottom up and is based on factory and com- The state is there to protect the interests ofWe believe that it is possible to live with- munity councils. Freedom cannot be given, this minority, if not by persuasion then byout government and to put in its place coun- it has to be taken. force. Laws are made not to protect us butcils and assemblies where the ‘ordinary peo- to protect those who own the property. This is where we disagree with what isple’ can decide what happens to this wealth.We believe in the equality of all and that Elections called the ‘revolutionary left’. While theymaximum solidarity is needed between We are led to believe that the state is run say that they agree with all that weve saidworkers and other oppressed groups if we in our interests. Dont we have elections to so far, they still hold to a belief that a partyare to defeat those who live off our sweat. ensure that any government not behaving is necessary to make the revolution for the itself can be brought to task? Their democ- people. Most of them base their ideas onWhen you hear about anarchists you are Lenin who believed that workers were only racy is about ticking boxes. We are given aled to believe that we are mad bombers. The capable of achieving what he called "trade choice all right but between parties who allmyth is created that we believe in violence union consciousness". According to him they agree with the system of a tiny minorityfor the sake of it. The other myth is that needed a party of professional revolution- ruling the country.anarchism is chaos. It is claimed by politi- aries to make the revolution for them. Whatcians, bosses and their hacks in the me- we saw in Russia was nothing to do withdia that if there was no government there socialism. Power rested in the hands of awould be chaos. But did you ever wonder tiny party elite. The state was the boss andabout society today and come to the con- the workers were still exploited and toldclusion that perhaps we are already liv- what to in chaos? So we say it is up to ordinary people. SomeYou might ask why is this so? We say that ask: "Is this possible? Would it not be cha-there is one big reason - PROFIT! At the otic?" Of course not. At the moment capi-moment we live in a society in which there talism would collapse without the supportare two major classes - the bosses and the of the working class. We make everything,workers. The bosses own the factories, we produce all the wealth. It is possible tobanks, shops, etc. Workers dont. All we organise production so that the needs ofhave is our labour, which we use to make all are met. It is also possible to createa living. Workers are compelled to sell structures that allow everyone to partici-their Labour to the boss for a wage. The pate in making the decisions that affectboss is interested in squeezing as much out of the worker for as little wagesas possible so that he/she can maintain high Society would be based on factory and com- Electioneering inevitably leads to revolu- munity councils. These would federate withprofits. Thus the more wages workers get tionaries forsaking their revolutionary prin- each other so that decisions could be madethe less profits the bosses make. Their in- ciples. They go for whatever is popular and covering large areas. Delegates could beterests are in total opposition to each other. will ensure that they get elected. This be- sent from each area and workplace. TheyProduction is not based on the needs of or- comes more important to them than edu- would be recallable, i.e. if those who voteddinary people. Production is for profit. cating people about the meaning of social- them in are not happy with their behaviourTherefore although there is enough food in ism. It also means that they look on the they can immediately replace them withthe world to feed everyone, people starve mass of voters as mere spectators. People someone else. With the new technology itbecause profits come first. This is capital- are seen as voters, not as people who can will be much easier to involve lots of peopleism. be actually involved in politics and bring- in making quick decisions. ing socialism about. What is the State? Within this society there would be genuineFor workers needs to be fully met we must Socialism cannot come through the Parlia- individual freedom. Individuals would haveget rid of the bosses. But this is no easy task. ment. If we look at a country like Chile we to contribute to society but would be free toThe bosses are organised. They have the can see why. In 1973 the people elected a the extent that they do not interfere withmedia on their side. They also have the moderate socialist government led by Presi- the freedom of others. Fundamentally weState and the force of the army and police dent Allende. This democratically elected believe that people are good and if they wonthat go with it. The state (i.e. governments, government was toppled by a CIA backed freedom would not easily give it up or de-armies, courts, police, etc.) is a direct re- military coup. Repression followed in which stroy it.sult of the fact that we live in a class soci- the workers movement was smashed and
  2. 2. Anarchism in Action ence and it is his/her responsibility to see The lot of rural workers and peasants wasLike most people who hear about Anarchism that balance sheets and reports addressed improved by the introduction of probably believe that "it is a good set of to the Council for Industry are prepared. Living standards rose, in the words of oneideas but unfortunately it would never work. collectivist "those who had less now ate more The delegate with technical functions super-People are naturally greedy and selfish, if and better - no one went short". Education vises the activities of his section, and usesthere was no government to look after our became a central concern and young chil- every endeavour to increase productivity. Tointerests there would be complete chaos". dren who had never been to school were lighten the workers burden by introducing given the education denied to them by theBut there are historical examples of anar- new methods. S/He checks on production landlords and their system.chism working. The greatest of these hap- at the power stations, the state of the net-pened in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. work, prepares statistics and charts indicat- Womens ActionIt started with an attempted fascist coup. ing how production is developing. At the Gains were also made by women. They wereIn response to the coup the workers mobi- summit there are the Councils of Industry. present everywhere - on committees, in thelised to defeat fascism. Popular militias One each for gas, electricity and water, Each militias, in the front line. In the early bat-were formed by the unions and workers is composed of eight delegates, four from the tles of the war, women fought alongside menseized factories. Peasants took over land U. G. T. (the socialist trade union) and four as a matter of course. It was not merely athat had been abandoned by the landlords. from the C.N.T. These are capped by the case of women filling in for men who wereThis marked the beginning of the revolu- General Council of the three industries, away at the front. They were in the mili-tion for the Anarchists. They believed that which is also made up by eight delegates tias and fought alongside the men as equals.the Civil War had to be not just a fight drawn equally from the two unions. They were organising the collectives andagainst fascism but also against the capi- taking up the fight against the sexist atti- This Council co-ordinates activities of thetalist system that had spawned fascism in tudes of the past, which have no place in three industries; attunes the production andthe first place. any real revolution. During the war abor- distribution of raw materials from a re- tion was legalised in the ‘republican zone’.In the zones controlled by the Anarchists, gional, national and international point of Centres were opened for women, includingworkers self-management became a reality. view; modifies prices; organises general ad- unmarried mothers and prostitutes.In Catalonia there were at least 2,000 in- ministration; indeed takes and uses all ini-dustrial and commercial collectives. At least tiatives useful to production and the work- From all accounts there truly were changes60% of ‘republican’ Spains agriculture was ers needs. Meanwhile it is obliged at all in attitudes towards women. One femalecollectivised. times to submit its activities to the scrutiny participant in the Civil War has said: "It of local and regional union assemblies" was like being brothers and sisters. It hadIn the workplaces councils or "comite" always annoyed me that men in this coun-elected by assemblies of workers and rep- On the Land try didnt consider women as beings withresenting all sectors of the enterprise, were The countryside also saw collectivisation. full human rights. But now there was thisgiven the task of administering the collec- In Aragon, near the front-line during the big change. I believe it arose spontaneouslytivised factory. Collectivised enterprises in war, collectivisation took root and spread out of the revolutionary movement"each sector of industry were represented in like wildfire. In February 1937 there werean Economic Federation. This in turn was 275 collectives totalling 80,000 members. The Lessonstopped by a General Industrial Council that Three months later there were 450 collec- History is not neutral. What we learn inwould closely control the whole industry. tives with 180,000 members. Often the school is the necessity for government, rul- peasants and farm labourers went further ers and capitalism. What we do not learn isHere is a description of the organisation of than their counterparts in the towns and that many times it has been shown that thisgas, electricity and water in Barcelona. cities. Not only was production collectivised government is not necessary. People are not"Each type of job (e.g. fitters) set up a sec- but in rural areas consumption too. In many inherently bad. Given the right conditionstion consisting of at least fifteen workers. of these areas money was abolished. a spirit of mutual aid and co-operation canWhere there were not the numbers to do this grow.workers from different trades got together Usually the decision to collectivise wasto constitute a general section. Each section made at an assembly (a meeting of the en- History shows us that Anarchist ideas cannominates two delegates that are chosen by tire village). It meant handing over land, work. A new society can be created with theassemblies of the workers. One of the del- livestock, tools, seed, stocks of wheat and workers in control. But it wont happenegates will be of a technical calibre and will other produce. The land was then divided spontaneously - We must organise for it.participate in the comite of the workplace. into sectors, each of which was assigned to That is why we need revolutionary organi-The other will be entrusted with the man- a work group of about a dozen who elected sation. An organisation that draws togetheragement of work in the section. their own delegate. Produce went into the all those fighting for workers control. An "pile" for communal consumption. EachThe comite of the building or plant comes organisation that gives us the chance to would produce according to their ability,next. It is nominated by the delegates of the exchange ideas, experiences, and to learn each would consume according to theirsections and consists of a technician, a from the lessons of history. An organisation needs.manual worker and an administrator. The that facilitates our struggle together for amanual worker has to solve difficulties that Collectivisation did not only apply to the new society.might arise between different sections. He land. In the villages, workshops were set We do not need a group of leaders and theiror she receives suggestions from workers in up where all the local trades people would passive followers. We do need an organisa-the different trades and the sections give him produce tools, furniture, etc. for the village tion working towards mobilising the massesor her daily reports on the progress of work. and also carry out repairs to of ordinary people in the process of makingPeriodically the delegate calls the sections the collectivists houses. Bak- the revolution. Find out about the anar-to general meetings. At these proposals and ers, butchers, barbers and so chist organisations where you live or if thereinitiatives which are likely to improve pro- on were also collectivised. are none then consider starting one.duction and productivity are studied as wellas ones to improve the workers situation. Acopy of the deliberation is sent to the Coun-cil for Industry.The delegates with administrative functions Find out more about anarchism atsupervises the arrival and warehousing ofmaterials, records requirements details with Leaflet locally produced by: www.anarchism.wsbook-keeping for supplies and reserves, and Links to local groups, educationkeeps an eye on the state of income and ex- material, email discussion lists, PDFpenditure. S/He also deals with correspond- leaflets for you to distribute etc etc.