Cenocracy: A Declaration for Greater Independence
Anarchism Supplement
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The following is the rest of the Britannica article on Anarchism whose initial comments were used for the page entitled Anarchism and other Bad Words". It is offered as a supplement for those readers interested in the topic of anarchism as an alternative form of Social Reformist thinking.

Anarchism as a movement, 1870-1940

A crucial development in the history of anarchism was the emergence of the doctrine of "propaganda of the deed." In 1876 Errico Malatesta expressed the belief held by Italian anarchists that "the insurrectionary deed destined to affirm socialist principles by acts, is the most efficacious means of propaganda." The first acts were rural insurrections intended to arouse the illiterate masses of the Italian countryside. After the insurrections failed, anarchist activism tended to take the form of acts of terrorism by individual protesters, who would attempt to kill ruling figures to make the state appear vulnerable and to inspire the masses with their self-sacrifice. Between 1890 and 1901 several such symbolic murders were carried out; the victims included King Umberto I of Italy, the empress consort Elizabeth of Austria, President Sadi Carnot of France, President William McKinley of the United States, and Antonio C´novas del Castillo, the prime minister of Spain. This dramatic series of terrorist acts established the image of the anarchist as a mindless destroyer, an image that was further strengthened as anarchist attacks on government officials, as well as on restaurants and other public places, became more widespread.

During the 1890s, especially in France, anarchism was adopted as a philosophy by many avant-garde artistic and literary figures, including the painters Gustave Courbet (who had been a disciple of Proudhon), Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat, and Paul Signac and the writers Paul Adam, Octave Mirbeau, Laurent Tailhade, and Felix Fénéon. The Symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé was also a strong sympathizer. In England, the Irish poet and dramatist Oscar Wilde declared himself an anarchist and, under Kropotkin's inspiration, wrote the essay "The Soul of Man Under Socialism" (1891).

Artists were attracted by the individualist spirit of anarchism. By the mid-1890s, however, the more militant anarchists in France began to realize that an excess of individualism had detached them from the workers they sought to liberate. Anarchists, indeed, have always found it difficult to reconcile the claims of general human solidarity with the demands—equally insistent—of the individual who desires freedom. Some anarchist thinkers, such as the German Max Stirner, refused to recognize any limitation on the individual's right to do as he pleases or any obligation to act socially; and even those who accepted Kropotkin's socially oriented doctrines of anarchist communism have in practice been reluctant to create forms of organization that threatened their freedom of action or seemed likely to harden into institutions.

In consequence, although a number of international anarchist congresses were held—the most celebrated being those in London in 1881 and Amsterdam in 1907&mddash;no effective worldwide organization was ever created, even though by the end of the 19th century the anarchist movement had spread to all continents and was united by informal links of correspondence and friendship between leading figures. National federations were weak even in countries where there were many anarchists, such as France and Italy, and the typical unit of organization remained the small group dedicated to propaganda by deed or word. Such groups engaged in a wide variety of activities; in the 1890s many of them set up experimental schools and communities in an attempt to live according to anarchist principles.

Revolutionary syndicalism

In France, where individualist trends had been most pronounced and public reaction to terrorist acts had imperiled the very existence of the movement, anarchists made an effort to acquire a mass following, primarily by infiltrating the trade unions. They were particularly active in the bourses du travail ("labour exchanges"), local groups of unions originally established to find work for their members. In 1892 a national confederation of bourses du travail was formed, and by 1895 a group of anarchists, led by Fernand Pelloutier, Émile Pouget, and Paul Delesalle, had gained effective control of the organization and were developing the theory and practice of working-class activism later known as anarcho-syndicalism, or revolutionary syndicalism.

The anarcho-syndicalists argued that the traditional function of trade unions—to struggle for better wages and working conditions—was not enough. The unions should become militant organizations dedicated to the destruction of capitalism and the state. They should aim to take over factories and utilities, which would then be operated by the workers. In this way the union or syndicate would have a double function—as an organ of struggle within the existing political system and as an organ of administration after the revolution. The anarcho-syndicalists' strategy called for sustaining militancy by creating an atmosphere of incessant conflict, which would culminate in a massive general strike. Many anarcho-syndicalists believed that such an overwhelming act of noncooperation would bring about what they called "the revolution of folded arms," resulting in the collapse of the state and the capitalist system. However, although partial general strikes, with limited objectives, were undertaken in France and elsewhere with varying success, the millennial general strike aimed at overthrowing the social order in a single blow was never attempted. Nevertheless, the anarcho-syndicalists acquired great prestige among the workers of France—and later of Spain and Italy—because of their generally tough-minded attitude at a time when working conditions were bad and employers tended to respond brutally to union activity. After the General Confederation of Labour (Confédération Générale du Travail; CGT), the great French trade-union organization, was founded in 1902, the militancy of the anarcho-syndicalists enabled them to retain control of the organization until 1908 and to wield considerable influence on its activities until after World War I.

Like anarchism, revolutionary syndicalism proved attractive to certain intellectuals, notably Georges Sorel, whose Reflections on Violence (1908) was the most important literary work to emerge from the movement. The more purist anarchist theoreticians were disturbed by the monolithic character of syndicalist organizations, which they feared might create powerful interest structures in a revolutionary society. At the International Anarchist Congress in Amsterdam in 1907, a crucial debate on this issue took place between the young revolutionary syndicalist Pierre Monatte and the veteran anarchist Errico Malatesta. It defined a division of outlook that still lingers in anarchist circles, which have always included individualist attitudes too extreme to admit any kind of large-scale organization.

Revolutionary syndicalism transformed anarchism, for a time at least, from a tiny minority current into a movement with considerable mass support, even though most members of syndicalist unions were sympathizers and fellow travelers rather than committed anarchists. In 1922 the syndicalists set up their own International with its headquarters in Berlin, taking the historic name of the International Workingmen's Association. When it was established, the organizations that formed it could still boast a considerable following. The Italian Trade Union (Unione Sindicale Italiana) had 500,000 members; the Regional Federation of Argentine Workers (Federación Obrera Regional Argentina), 200,000 members; the General Confederation of Labour (Confederação General de Trabalho) in Portugal, 150,000 members; and the Free Workers (Freie Arbeiter) in Germany, 120,000 members. There were also smaller organizations in Chile, Uruguay, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Mexico, and Sweden. In Britain, the influence of syndicalism was shown most clearly in the Guild Socialism movement, which flourished briefly in the early years of the 20th century. In the United States, revolutionary syndicalist ideas were influential in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), which in the years immediately before and after World War I played a vital part in organizing American miners, loggers, and unskilled workers. Only a small minority of IWW militants were avowed anarchists, however.

(Syndicalism) also called Anarcho-syndicalism, or Revolutionary Syndicalism, (is) a movement that advocates direct action by the working class to abolish the capitalist order, including the state, and to establish in its place a social order based on workers organized in production units. The syndicalist movement flourished in France chiefly between 1900 and 1914 and had a considerable impact in Spain, Italy, England, the Latin-American countries, and elsewhere. It had ceased to be a strong, dynamic force by the end of World War I, but it remained a residual force in Europe until World War II.

Syndicalism developed out of strong anarchist and antiparliamentary traditions among the French working class. Greatly influenced by the teachings of the anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and the socialist Auguste Blanqui, it was developed as a doctrine by certain leaders of the French trade-union movement toward the end of the 19th century. In France, syndicalism is known as syndicalisme révolutionnaire (the word syndicalisme means only "trade unionism"). Syndicalist tendencies manifested themselves with increasing strength during the 1890s in the two main French labour organizations of the period—the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) and the Fédération des Bourses du Travail. The secretary of the latter, Fernand Pelloutier, did much to work out the characteristic tenets of syndicalism and to spread them among his workers. When these two organizations joined forces in 1902, trade unionism, and syndicalism in particular, gained an immense accession of strength.

The syndicalist, like the Marxist, was opposed to capitalism and looked forward to an ultimate class war from which the working class would emerge victorious. To the syndicalist, the state was by nature a tool of capitalist oppression and, in any event, was inevitably rendered inefficient and despotic by its bureaucratic structure. As an appendage of the capitalist order, then, the state could not be used for reform with peaceful means and must be abolished.

The structure of the ideal syndicalist community was generally envisioned somewhat as follows. The unit of organization would be the local syndicat, a free association of self-governing "producers." It would be in touch with other groups through the local bourse du travail ("labour exchange"), which would function as a combination of employment and economic planning agency. When all the producers were thus linked together by the bourse, its administration—consisting of elected representatives of the members—would be able to estimate the capacities and necessities of the region, could coordinate production, and, being in touch through other bourses with the industrial system as a whole, could arrange for the necessary transfer of materials and commodities, inward and outward.

In keeping with their conception of the state as a tool of capitalist oppression, the syndicalists shunned political means of achieving their goals. This reliance upon direct industrial action stemmed from practical considerations as well: outside the mine or factory, the syndicalists realized, political differences among workers would come into play, possibly hindering mass action. Inside, their similar employment gave workers a sense of solidarity. Georges Sorel, a leading syndicalist theoretician, developed the concept of the "social myth," which could be used to stir workers to revolutionary action. The general strike, the preeminent syndicalist tool, was conceived of in these terms. If successful, it inspires workers with a sense of power; if unsuccessful, it impresses upon them the servility of their lot and the need for better organization and wider aims.

In the United States the Industrial Workers of the World embraced a form of syndicalism but aimed for a system based on large, centralized unions rather than on local associations. The Italian Fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini sought to use syndicalist sentiment to gain support for its corporate state, which was in fact very much at variance with the syndicalist model in emphasizing a strong state.

After World War I, syndicalists tended to be lured away from the movement either by the Soviet model of communism or by the prospects for working-class gains offered by trade unionism and parliamentarianism in the Western republics. During the early years of Soviet power, in 1920-21, quasi-syndicalist ideas were prevalent among the trade-union communists' opposition movement, which acquired the name of "Workers' Opposition."

Source: "Syndicalism." Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite, 2013

Anarchism in Spain

The reconciliation of anarchism and syndicalism was most complete and most successful in Spain; for a long period the anarchist movement in that country remained the most numerous and the most powerful in the world. The first known Spanish anarchist, Ramón de la Sagra, a disciple of Proudhon, founded the world's first anarchist journal, El Porvenir, in La Coruña in 1845, which was quickly suppressed. Mutualist ideas were later publicized by Francisco Pi y Margall, a federalist leader and the translator of many of Proudhon's books. During the Spanish revolution of 1873, Pi y Margall attempted to establish a decentralized, or "cantonalist," political system on Proudhonian lines. In the end, however, the influence of Bakunin was stronger. In 1868 his Italian disciple, Giuseppe Fanelli, visited Barcelona and Madrid, where he established branches of the International. By 1870 they had 40,000 members, and in 1873 the movement numbered about 60,000, organized mainly in working men's associations. In 1874 the anarchist movement in Spain was forced underground, a phenomenon that recurred often in subsequent decades. Nevertheless, it flourished, and anarchism became the favoured type of radicalism among two very different groups, the factory workers of Barcelona and other Catalan towns and the impoverished peasants who toiled on the estates of absentee owners in Andalusia.

As in France and Italy, the movement in Spain during the 1880s and '90s was inclined toward insurrection (in Andalusia) and terrorism (in Catalonia). It retained its strength in working-class organizations because the courageous and even ruthless anarchist militants were often the only leaders who would stand up to the army and to the employers, who hired squads of gunmen to engage in guerrilla warfare with the anarchists in the streets of Barcelona. The workers of Barcelona were finally inspired by the success of the French CGT to set up a syndicalist organization, Workers' Solidarity (Solidaridad Obrera), in 1907. Solidaridad Obrera quickly spread throughout Catalonia, and, in 1909, when the Spanish army tried to conscript Catalan reservists to fight against the Riffs in Morocco, it called a general strike. The work was followed by a week of largely spontaneous violence ("La Semana Tragica," or the Tragic Week) that left hundreds dead and 50 churches and monasteries destroyed and that ended in brutal repression. The torture of anarchists in the fortress of Montjuich and the execution of the internationally celebrated advocate of free education Francisco Ferrer led to worldwide protests and the resignation of the conservative government in Madrid. These events also resulted in a congress of Spanish trade unionists at Sevilla in 1910, which founded the National Confederation of Labour (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo; CNT).

The CNT, which included the majority of organized Spanish workers, was dominated throughout its existence by the anarchist militants, who in 1927 founded their own activist organization, the Iberian Anarchist Federation (Federación Anarquista Iberica; FAI). While there was recurrent conflict within the CNT between moderates and FAI activists, the atmosphere of violence and urgency in which radical activities were carried on in Spain ensured that the more extreme leaders, such as Garcia Oliver and Buenaventura Durutti, tended to wield decisive influence. The CNT was a model of anarchist decentralism and antibureaucratism: its basic organizations were not national unions but sindicatos únicos ("special unions"), which brought together the workers of all trades and crafts in a certain locality; the national committee was elected each year from a different locality to ensure that no individual served more than one term; and all delegates were subject to immediate recall by the members. This enormous organization, which claimed 700,000 members in 1919, 1,600,000 in 1936, and more than 2,000,000 during the Civil War, employed only one paid secretary. Its day-to-day operation was carried on in their spare time by workers chosen by their comrades. This ensured that the Spanish anarchist movement would not be dominated by the déclassé intellectuals and self-taught printers and shoemakers who were so influential in other countries.

The CNT and the FAI, which remained clandestine organizations under the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera, emerged into the open with the abdication of King Alfonso XIII in 1931. Their antipolitical philosophy led them to reject the Republic as much as the monarchy it had replaced, and between 1931 and the military rebellion led by Francisco Franco in 1936 there were several unsuccessful anarchist risings. In 1936 the anarchists, who over the decades had become expert urban guerrillas, were mainly responsible for the defeat of the rebel generals in both Barcelona and Valencia, as well as in country areas of Catalonia and Aragon; and for many early months of the Civil War they were in virtual control of eastern Spain, where they regarded the crisis as an opportunity to carry through the social revolution of which they had long dreamed. Factories and railways in Catalonia were taken over by workers' committees, and in hundreds of villages in Catalonia, Levante, and Andalusia the peasants seized the land and established libertarian communes like those described by Kropotkin in The Conquest of Bread. The internal use of money was abolished, the land was tilled in common, and village products were sold or exchanged on behalf of the community in general, with each family receiving an equitable share of food and other necessities. An idealistic Spartan fervour characterized these communities, which often consisted of illiterate labourers; intoxicants, tobacco, and sometimes even coffee were renounced; and millenarian enthusiasm took the place of religion, as it has often done in Spain. The reports of critical observers suggest that at least some of these communes were efficiently run and more productive agriculturally than the villages had been previously.

The Spanish anarchists failed during the Civil War largely because, expert though they were in spontaneous street fighting, they did not have the discipline necessary to carry on sustained warfare; the columns they sent to various fronts were unsuccessful in comparison with the communist-led International Brigades. In December 1936 four leading anarchists took posts in the cabinet of Francisco Largo Caballero, radically compromising their antigovernment principles. They were unable to halt the trend toward left-wing totalitarianism encouraged by their enemies the communists, who were numerically far fewer but politically more influential, owing to the Soviet Union's support of the Republican war effort. In May 1937 bitter fighting broke out in Barcelona between communists and anarchists. The CNT held its own on this occasion, but its influence quickly waned. The collectivized factories were taken over by the central government, and many agricultural communes were destroyed by Franco's advance into Andalusia and by the hostile action of General Enrique Lister's communist army in Aragon. In January 1939 the Spanish anarchists were so demoralized by the compromises of the Civil War that they were unable to mount a resistance when Franco's forces marched into Barcelona. The CNT and the FAI became phantom organizations in exile.

Decline of European anarchism

By the time of the Spanish Civil War, the anarchist movement outside Spain had been destroyed or greatly diminished as a result of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the rise of right-wing totalitarian regimes. Although the most famous anarchist leaders, Bakunin and Kropotkin, had been Russian, the anarchist movement had never been strong in Russia, partly because the larger Socialist Revolutionary Party had greater appeal to the peasantry. After the revolution the small anarchist groups that emerged in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) and Moscow were powerless against the Bolsheviks. Kropotkin, who returned from exile in June 1917, found himself without influence, though he did establish an anarchist commune in the village of Dmitrov, near Moscow. A large demonstration of anarchists accompanied Kropotkin's funeral in 1921. In the south, N.I. Makhno, a peasant anarchist, raised an insurrectionary army that used brilliant guerrilla tactics to hold a large part of Ukraine from both the Red and the White armies; but the social experiments developed under Makhno's protection were rudimentary, and when he was driven into exile in 1921 the anarchist movement became extinct in Russia.

In other countries, the prestige of the Russian Revolution enabled the new communist parties to win much of the support formerly given to the anarchists, particularly in France, where the CGT passed permanently into communist control. The large Italian anarchist movement was destroyed by the fascist government of Benito Mussolini in the 1920s, and the small German anarchist movement was smashed by the Nazis in the 1930s.

Anarchism in the Americas

In the United States, a native and mainly nonviolent tradition of anarchism developed during the 19th century in the writings of Henry David Thoreau, Josiah Warren, Lysander Spooner, Joseph Labadie, and above all Benjamin Tucker. An early advocate of women's suffrage, religious tolerance, and fair labour legislation, Tucker combined Warren's ideas on labour egalitarianism with elements of Proudhon's and Bakunin's antistatism. The result was the most sophisticated exposition to date of anarchist ideas in the United States. Much of Tucker's political influence, especially during the 1880s, derived from his journal Liberty, which he published in both Boston and New York City. Anarchist activism in the United States was mainly sustained by immigrants from Europe, including Johann Most (editor of Die Freiheit; "Freedom"), who justified acts of terrorism on anarchist principles; Alexander Berkman, who attempted to assassinate steel magnate Henry Clay Frick in 1892; and Emma Goldman, whose Living My Life gives a picture of radical activity in the United States at the turn of the century. Goldman, who had immigrated to the United States from tsarist Russia in 1885, soon became a preeminent figure in the American anarchist movement. A follower of Kropotkin, she lectured widely and published numerous essays on anarchist theory and practice in her journal Mother Earth. Most of her campaigns were controversial. She argued on behalf of birth control, defended the bomb throwers of her era as victims of a ruthless capitalist system, opposed women's suffrage—because, in her view, it would only further bind women to bourgeois reformism—and spoke out against American entry into World War I, which she believed was an imperialist war that was sacrificing ordinary people as cannon fodder.

Although anarchists were more often the victims of violence than its perpetrators, the cartoonists' stereotype of the long-haired, wild-eyed anarchist assassin emerged in the 1880s and was firmly established in the public mind during the Chicago Haymarket Riot of 1886. Anarchists—many of them German immigrants—were prominent figures in Chicago's labour movement. After police killed two strikers at a rally at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company on May 3, 1886, a protest meeting was called for Haymarket Square the next day. The demonstration was pronounced peaceful by Mayor Carter Harrison, who attended as an observer. After Harrison and most of the demonstrators had departed, a contingent of police arrived and demanded that the crowd disperse. At that point a bomb exploded among the police, killing one, and the police responded with random gunfire. In the ensuing melee, several people (including six police) were killed and many more injured.

The incident created widespread hysteria against immigrants and labour leaders and led to renewed suppression by police. Although the identity of the bomb thrower was never determined, eight anarchist leaders were arrested and charged with murder and conspiracy. Four members of the "Chicago Eight" were hanged on November 11, 1887; one committed suicide in his cell; and three others were given long prison sentences. Excoriating the trial as unjust, Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld pardoned the three surviving Haymarket prisoners in 1893. May Day—international workers' day—was directly inspired by the Haymarket affair, and anarchists such as Goldman, Berkman, and Voltairine de Cleyre, as well as socialist Eugene V. Debs, traced their political awakenings to the events at Haymarket.

In 1901 an immigrant Polish anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, assassinated President McKinley. In 1903 Congress passed a law barring all foreign anarchists from entering or remaining in the country. In the repressive mood that followed World War I, anarchism in the United States was suppressed. Berkman, Goldman, and many others activists were imprisoned and deported. In a sensational trial in the spring of 1920, two immigrant Italian anarchists, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, were convicted of killing a payroll clerk and a guard during a robbery at a Massachusetts shoe factory. In apparent retaliation for the conviction, a bomb was set off in the Wall Street area of New York City, killing more than 30 people and injuring 200 others. Despite worldwide protests that raised serious questions about the guilt of the defendants, Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in 1927.

In Latin America, strong anarchist elements were involved in the Mexican Revolution. The syndicalist teachings of Ricardo Flores Magon influenced the peasant revolutionism of Emiliano Zapata. After the deaths of Zapata in 1919 and Flores Magon in 1922, the revolutionary image in Mexico, as elsewhere, was taken over by communists. In Argentina and Uruguay there were significant anarcho-syndicalist movements early in the 20th century, but they too were greatly reduced by the end of the 1930s through intermittent repression and the competition of communism.

George Woodcock Ed.

Anarchism in East Asia

During the first two decades of the 20th century, anarchism was by far the most significant current in radical thinking in East Asia. Although East Asian anarchists did not make significant original contributions to anarchist theory, they did introduce a number of important ideas to the politics and culture of their countries, including universal education, the rights of youth and women, and the need to abolish all divisions of labour-especially those between mental and manual labour and between agricultural and industrial labour. Perhaps the most significant and lasting of their contributions was the idea of "social revolution"—i.e., the idea that revolutionary political change cannot occur without radical changes in society and culture, specifically the elimination of social institutions that are inherently coercive and authoritarian, such as the traditional family. Although some anarchists in East Asia sought to create revolution through violence, others repudiated violence in favour of peaceful means, especially education. Nevertheless, they all believed that politics is determined mainly by society and culture and therefore that society and culture must be the focus of their revolutionary efforts.

Anarchism in Japan

The first self-described anarchist in East Asia was the Japanese writer and activist Kotoku Shusui. In 1901 Kotoku, an early advocate of Japanese socialism, helped to found the Social Democratic Party, which was immediately banned by the government. Early in 1905, after the newspaper he published, the Heimin shimbun ("Commoner's Newspaper"), denounced the Russo-Japanese War, the paper was closed and Kotoku was imprisoned. While in prison he was profoundly influenced by anarchist literature—especially Kropotkin's Fields, Factories, and Workshops—and adopted anarchism wholeheartedly. As he wrote to a friend at the time, he had "gone [to prison] as a Marxian socialist and returned a radical anarchist." After five months in prison Kotoku traveled to the United States, where he collaborated with members of the IWW, popularly known as the "Wobblies." His experiences in the United States led him to abandon parliamentary politics in favour of a violent strategy of "direct action."

After his return to Japan in June 1906, Kotoku began organizing workers for radical activities. He also managed to persuade the newly founded Socialist Party of Japan to adopt his views on direct action. In 1910 Kotoku was among hundreds arrested for involvement in a conspiracy to assassinate the Meiji emperor. Although he had withdrawn from the conspiracy before his arrest, Kotoku was tried for treason and was executed in 1911. His death marked the beginning of a "winter period" for anarchism in Japan, which was to last until the end of World War I.

Although much diminished, anarchist activity in Japan did not completely cease during this period. Osugi Sakae, the foremost figure in Japanese anarchism in the decade after Kotoku's death, published anarchist newspapers and led organizing campaigns among industrial workers. His efforts were hampered by continuous police repression, however, and he had very little impact in Japan. Nevertheless, Osugi greatly influenced anarchists in China and, later, Korea.

George Woodcock
Arif Dirlik
Franklin Rosemont
Martin A. Miller

Source: "Anarchism." Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite, 2013.

Date of Origination: Friday, 04-Nov-2016... 07:37 AM
Date of Initial Posting: Friday, 04-Nov-2016... 12:46 AM
Updated Posting: Wednesday, 28-June-2017... 11:41 AM