An Anarchist FAQ - Anarchism and Marxism

An Anarchist FAQ
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LINKPDF version of Appendix 3.

Appendix : Anarchism and Marxism

This appendix exists to refute some of the many anti-anarchist diatribes produced by Marxists. While we have covered why anarchists oppose Marxism in section H, we thought it would be useful to reply to Marxist webpages and books whose content is not explicitly covered in that section. In this way we hope to indicate that Marxism is a flawed theory, flawed even to the extent of not being able to present a honest critique of anarchism. This consistent attempt to smear anarchism and distort its history and ideas is no co-incidence -- rather it is required in order to present Marxism as the only viable form of socialism and, more importantly, to hide the fact that much of the populist Marxist rhetoric was, in fact, said by anarchists first and latter stolen by Marxists to hide the authoritarian basis of their politics.

One last point. We are aware that we repeat many of our arguments in these appendices. That, unfortunately, is avoidable for two reasons. Firstly, Marxists usually repeat the same false assertions against anarchism and so we have to answer them each time they appear. Marxists seem to subscribe to the point of view that repeating an error often enough makes it true. Secondly, we have tried to make each appendix as self-contained as possible and that meant repeating certain material and arguments to achieve this. We hope the reader understands.

Reply to errors and distortions in David McNally's pamphlet "Socialism from Below"

Marxists and Spanish Anarchism

Reply to errors and distortions in Phil Mitchinson's "Marxism and direct action"

Reply to errors and distortions in the SWP's "Marxism and Anarchism"

Reply to errors and distortions in John Fisher's "Why we must further Marxism and not Anarchism"


 

Reply to errors and distortions in David McNally's pamphlet "Socialism from Below"

1. Introduction
2. Is anarchism the politics of the "small property owner"?
3. Does anarchism "glorify values from the past"?
4. Why are McNally's comments on Proudhon a distortion of his ideas?
5. Why are McNally's comments on Bakunin a distortion of his ideas?
6. Are the "quirks of personality" of Proudhon and Bakunin listed by McNally actually rooted "in the very nature of anarchist doctrine"?
7. Are anarchists against democracy?
8. Are Leninists in favour of democracy?
9. Why is McNally wrong on the relation of syndicalism to anarchism?
10. Do syndicalists reject working class political action?
11. Why is McNally's claim that Leninism supports the principle of working class self-emancipation is wrong?
12. Why is Marxist "class analysis" of anarchism contradictory?
13. If Marxism is "socialism from below," why do anarchists reject it?
14. Why is McNally's use of the term "socialism from below" dishonest?
15. Did Trotsky keep alive Leninism's "democratic essence"?

Marxists and Spanish Anarchism

1. Were the Spanish Anarchists "Primitive Rebels"?
2. How accurate is Felix Morrow's book on the Spanish Revolution?
3. Did a "highly centralised" FAI control the CNT?
4. What is the history of the CNT and the Communist International?
5. Why did the CNT not join the Workers' Alliance?
6. Was the October 1934 revolt sabotaged by the CNT?
7. Were the Friends of Durruti Marxists?
8. Did the Friends of Durruti "break with" anarchism?
9. Were the Friends of Durruti influenced by Trotskyists?
10. What does the Friends of Durruti's programme tell us about Trotskyism?
11. Why is Morrow's comments against the militarisation of the Militias ironic?
12. What is ironic about Morrow's vision of revolution?
13. Why do anarchists reject the Marxist "workers' state"?
14. What is wrong with Morrow's "fundamental tenet" of anarchism?
15. Did Spanish Anarchism aim for the creation of "collectives" before the revolution?
16. How does the development of the collectives indicate the differences between Bolshevism and anarchism?
17. Why is Morrow's support for "proletarian methods of production" ironic?
18. Were the federations of collectives an "abandonment" of anarchist ideas?
19. Did the experience of the rural collectives refute anarchism?
20. Does the experience of the Spanish Revolution indicate the failure of anarchism or the failure of anarchists?

Reply to errors and distortions in Phil Mitchinson's "Marxism and direct action"

1. How does Mitchinson impoverish the politics of the direct action groups?
2. Does anarchism "juxtapose" theory and action?
3. How does Mitchinson distort the London May Day demo?
4. Do anarchists really think "the bosses will do nothing to defend their system"?
5. How does Mitchinson misrepresent anarchist organisation?
6. How does Mitchinson define anarchism wrongly?
7. Does anarchism reject fighting for reforms?
8. Does anarchism see the state as the root of all problems?
9. Why is Mitchinson wrong about the "Abolishion [i.e. Abolition] of the state"?
10. Why is Mitchinson's comment that we face either "socialism or barbarism" actually undermine his case?
11. Why is Mitchinson wrong to assert anarchists do not believe in defending a revolution?
12. Would the "workers' state" really be different, as Mitchinson claims?
13. Is the Marxist "worker's state" really the rule of one class over another?
14. Why do anarchists reject the Marxist notion of "conquest of power"?
15. What caused the degeneration of the Russian Revolution?
16. Did anarchists reject "the need for organisation in the shape of trade unions"?
17. Why do anarchists reject political activity?
18. How do anarchists struggle for reforms under capitalism?
19. How does Mitchinson distorts the use of the term "Self-reliance"?
20. Is anarchism an example of "Philosophical idealism"?
21. How is Mitchinson's critique self-contradictory?
22. How did Trotsky make the trains run on time?
23. Can centralised planning meet the needs of the whole of society?
24. Is technology neutral?
25. Do anarchists ignore the "strength of the working class"?
26. What does Mitchinson's article tell about the nature of Trotskyism?

Reply to errors and distortions in the SWP's "Marxism and Anarchism"

1. What does the anti-globalisation movement tell us about the effectiveness of the "vanguard" parties like the SWP?
2. What does the SWP miss out in its definition of anarchism?
3. Why does mentioning the history of anarchism weaken the SWP's argument?
4. How is the SWP wrong about centralisation?
5. Why does the SWP's "picket line is 'authoritarian'" argument totally miss the point?
6. Why are the SWP's examples of "state functions" wrong?
7. What is ironic about the SWP's comment that workers' councils must "break up" the capitalist state?
8. How do the SWP re-write the history of the Russian Revolution?
9. How do the SWP re-write the history of the Spanish Revolution?
10. Do anarchists ignore the fact that ideas change through struggle?
11. Why do anarchists oppose the Leninist "revolutionary party"?
12. Why do the SWP make a polemical fetish of "unity" and "democracy" to the expense of common sense and freedom?
13. How does the Battle of Prague expose the SWP as hypocrites?
14. Is the Leninist tradition actually as democratic as the SWP like to claim?
15. Why is the SWP's support for centralisation anti-socialist?
16. Why is the SWP wrong about the A16 Washington D.C. demo?
17. Why does the SWP's Washington example refute the SWP's own argument and not anarchism?
18. Why is a "revolutionary party" a contradiction in terms?
19. Do anarchists operate "in secret"?
20. Why is the SWP wrong about Bakunin's organisation?
21. Why is the SWP's attack on Bakunin's organisation ironic?
22. Was the F.A.I. a "centralised and secret" organisation that shunned "open debate and common struggle"?
23. Do anarchists wait for "spontaneous upsurges by workers"?
24. Do anarchists blame workers "for being insufficiently revolutionary"?
25. Why does the history of centralised parties refute the SWP's arguments?

Reply to errors and distortions in John Fisher's "Why we must further Marxism and not Anarchism

1. Why should "the so-called Anarchistic youth of today" be concerned that Trotskyists consider them allies?
2. What else do people learn about when they discover anarchism is more than "utter rebellion"?
3. What do anarchists think will "replace the smashed state machine"?
4. What did Trotsky and Lenin think must replace the bourgeois state?
5. Is the "proletarian 'state'" really a new kind of state?
6. Do anarchists "hope the capitalists do not make any attempts of counterrevolution"?
7. Are Anarchists simply "potential Marxists"?
8. Is Marxism a scientific?
9. What does the Russian Revolution tell us about Trotskyism?
10. Do anarchists reject "leadership"?
11. Does the Spanish Revolution show anarchism is flawed?
12. Does anarchism believe in spontaneous revolution?