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Felipe Corrêa – Organizational Issues Within Anarchism

The Anarchist Library
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2022-05-08
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/felipe-correa-organizational-issues-within-anarchism?v=1652038217

Author: Felipe Corrêa
Title: Organizational Issues Within Anarchism
Date: 2010
Notes: Original article: “Questões Organizativas do Anarquismo”. Firstly published at Espaço Livre journal, num. 15 (Goiânia, Brazil, 2010). Translated into English by Enrique Guerrero-López.
Source: Retrieved on 7th May 2022 from www.anarkismo.net

INTRODUCTION

The present text aims to discuss, from a theoretical-historical perspective, some organizational issues related to anarchism. It responds to the assertion, constantly repeated, that anarchist ideology or doctrine is essentially spontaneous and contrary to organization. Returning to the debate among anarchists about organization, this article maintains that there are three fundamental positions on the matter: those who are against organization and / or defend informal formations in small groups (anti-organizationism); supporters of organization only at the mass level (syndicalism and communitarianism), and those who point out the need for organization on two levels, the political-ideological and the mass (organizational dualism).

This text delves into the positions of the third current, bringing theoretical elements from Mikhail Bakunin and then presenting a historical case in which the anarchists held, in theory and in practice, that position: the activity of the Federation of Anarchist Communists of Bulgaria (FAKB) between the twenties and forties of the twentieth century.

ANARCHISM: SPONTANEITY AND ANTIORGANIZATIONISM?

Kolpinsky, in his epilogue to the compilation of texts by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir I. Lenin on anarchism—a work financed by Moscow in the Soviet context to promote the ideas of Marxism-Leninism—claims that anarchism is a “petty-bourgeois” doctrine, “alien to the proletariat”, based on “adventurism”, on “voluntarist concepts” and in “utopian dreams about absolute freedom of the individual”.[1] Besides this, it emphasizes:

Typical of all anarchist currents are the utopian dreams of the creation of a society without a State and without exploitative classes, through a spontaneous rebellion of the masses and the immediate abolition of the power of the State and of all its institutions, and not through the political struggle of the working class, the socialist revolution and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.[2]

Claims of this kind have been made throughout the history of anarchism, by its adversaries and enemies, and they are still being made, although various recent theoretical and/or historical studies have shown that such claims are not supported by the facts.

Spontaneism[3] and the position against organization are not political-ideological principles of anarchism and, therefore, are not common to all its currents. The organizational question constitutes one of the most relevant debates among anarchists and is at the base of the configuration of the currents of anarchism themselves.

A broad analysis of anarchism in historical and geographical terms allows us to affirm that there is a minority sector opposed to organization and a majority sector advocating it. Anarchists have different conceptions of mass organization, including community and union organization, and different positions about the specific anarchist organization.[4]

THREE ANARCHIST POSITIONS ON ORGANIZATION

Three fundamental positions are evident in the anarchist debate on the organizational question:

  1. Anti-organizationism, which is situated, in general, against organization, at the social, or mass level, and the political-ideological level, specifically anarchist, and defends spontaneism or, at most, organization in informal networks and/or small groups of militants.

  2. Syndicalism and communitarianism, which believe that the organization of anarchists should be created only at the social, or mass level, and that anarchist political organizations would be redundant, and in some cases even dangerous, since popular movements, endowed with revolutionary power, can carry out all the anarchist propositions.

  3. Organizational dualism, which maintains that it is necessary to organize ourselves, at the same time, in mass movements and in political organizations, with a view toward promoting anarchist positions more consistently and effectively within broad based movements.

Anti-organizationism is based on propositions like those of Luigi Galleani, an Italian anarchist militant who believed that a political organization—or, as his countryman Errico Malatesta referred it, an “anarchist party”—necessarily leads to a government-type hierarchy that violates individual freedom:

The party, any party, has its program, which is its own constitution; has its assembly of sections or delegate groups, its parliament; in its governing body or in its sections executives have their own government. Therefore, it is a gradual superimposition of bodies by means of which a real and true hierarchy is imposed between the various levels and those groups that are linked: to discipline, infractions, to the contradictions that are treated with their corresponding punishments, which can be both censorship and expulsion.[5]

Galleani argues that anarchists should associate in loosely organized, almost informal networks, since he believes that organization, especially programmatic, leads to domination, both in the case of anarchist groups and in popular movements in general. For Galleani, “the anarchist movement and the labor movement travel along parallel paths and the geometric constitution of parallel lines is made in such a way that they can never meet or coincide”. Anarchism and the popular movement constitute, for him, different fields; the workers’ organizations are victims of a “blind and partial conservatism” responsible for “establishing an obstacle, often a danger” to anarchist objectives. Anarchists, he maintains, must act through education, propaganda, and violent direct action, without getting involved in organized mass movements.[6]