I haven’t encountered it in a while, but it has been a thorn in my side on multiple occasions: the utter lack of theory anarchists use to back up their own stances or to try to demean the stances of others. Where I live, as is likely to be the case in many places, anarchists and liberals have a choke-hold on the labor movement, due to both being immune from “red scare” politics, since the American bourgeoisie finds neither ideology to be much of a threat to the dictatorship of capital. Indeed, US media encourages anarchistic defiance of any theory of socialism that has actually worked to overthrow capitalist political and economic power. The bourgeoisie doesn’t mind anarchists claiming to support socialism, as long as they support “never existing socialism” – something entirely out of touch with reality. Now, this isn’t to say that the bourgeoisie has never attacked anarchists or that anarchists have never caused any problems with bourgeois rule – anarchist activists have been killed by the bourgeois state police force, have been imprisoned, have been beaten and forcefully put down. But this was all in the middle to late 19th century and early 20th century, when anarchists and “authoritarian” socialists both took part heavily in various liberation movements here in the US. This was before the day when anarchists decided to spend 90% of their time saying “THAT isn’t real socialism! This theory that has never been put into practice IS!!” and joining in on the imperialist’s anti-communist choir. Anarchists today, like Trots and other far(pseudo)-“leftist” closet-liberals, have the sole function of discrediting every attempt at building socialism that actually gets somewhere, whereas their present street work and organizational skills are non-existent.
This post is focusing mainly on the ideology of anarchists, which has always been covered in holes, and how they go about expressing and defending this ideology. Like I pointed out in the above, their primary ideological attribute today is the attacking of all previous “authoritarian” forms of socialism(i.e. all examples of socialism that have ever existed and ever made the bourgeoisie fear for their lives and power). In this post, I want to specifically talk about one argument I have heard several times from anarchists of various stripes – syndicalists, anarcho-communists, anarcho-collectivists, etc. – as part of their constant crusade against all things “authoritarian”, specifically Marxism and Leninism. This argument goes something like: “If you love asserting your authority and worshiping a leader so much, why don’t you just go join the RCP!!”
For some odd reason, anarchists seem to collectively assume that all Marxist-Leninists agree with Bob Avakian, or that there are no Marxist-Leninists out there that criticize the RCP and its cult of personality or ever-growing neoliberalism. Here’s some news for the anarchists: it is pretty much a given that every legitimate ML is highly critical of the RCP and laughs at the absurd theories of “Avakianism”, and the RCP continuously tries to separate itself from the theories of Lenin and practices of Stalin. I’m not going to use this post as a critique of everything that’s wrong with the RCP, it is just always used as the anarchist go-to for “telling off” a Marxist-Leninist, for some reason. And it is a false assumption.
Whenever I have countered this weak insult by explaining this, the anarchist retorts with something like, “Well, the RCP claimed to be Leninists, but of course you would have narrow standards for people to call themselves by the authoritarian label of Leninist!”
Two things wrong with this:
1) Names don’t make ideology.
2) Yes, because when someone who is saying anti-Leninist things and taking part in anti-Leninist actions claims to be a Leninist, they and their revisionist ideas must be called out and corrected. Without doing such leaves room for distortions and even pro-bourgeois elements. The refusal to do such is a big reason why anarchism has been a complete failure throughout history.
But there is something else: blatant hypocrisy. If we are to follow the anarchist’s logic in this foundationless argument against Leninism, it puts anarchism into an even deeper hole of reaction than Marxism-Leninism. Because, a) it means every person who has spoken in the name of anarchism must now be considered a “true anarchist”(just as this logic assumes the RCP are “true Leninists”), and b) present anarchists cannot refute anything said by any other anarchist(since doing so would be “ideologically authoritarian”).
So, what theories would have to be included in this situation? Some pretty fucked up theories, that’s what. And it all begins with the first “big” anarchist thinker after Proudhon, Mikhail Bakunin. Bakunin is known for his feud with Marx and attempts at taking over the First International(then known as the International Workingmen’s Association), as well as setting the ideological ground work for most forms of left-anarchism of the 20th century and today, and inspiring Kropotkin, who would later formulate the theories of anarcho-communism.
Bakunin, in his ruthless attacks against Karl Marx, said some pretty despicable things, that were most certainly worthy of the expulsion from the International he eventually received. One quote has become quite well known everywhere but in anarchist circles, where it is either unknown or ignored. Here it is:
“This whole Jewish world, comprising a single exploiting sect, a kind of blood sucking people, a kind of organic destructive collective parasite, going beyond not only the frontiers of states, but of political opinion, this world is now, at least for the most part, at the disposal of Marx on the one hand, and of Rothschild on the other… This may seem strange. What can there be in common between socialism and a leading bank? The point is that authoritarian socialism, Marxist communism, demands a strong centralisation of the state. And where there is centralisation of the state, there must necessarily be a central bank, and where such a bank exists, the parasitic Jewish nation, speculating with the Labour of the people, will be found.” -Mikhail Bakunin
That’s right, one of the most prominent anarchist figures in history was a raging anti-Semite, whose theories and actions could, without much disagreement, be deemed as proto-Nazism. Because it is also fairly clear that Bakuninism was authoritarian to the extreme, with its constant grabs for power, whining whenever it failed to get its way democratically, demonizing enemies, fighting for ideological hegemony – everything it blamed Marxism for, Bakuninism did more.
This isn’t to say that every person who calls themselves an anarchist is anti-Semitic, but just that they need to think before they speak, lest one of the scary “authoritarians” turns the logical fallacy around. However, it is still relevant to call anarchists hypocrites in their “anti-authoritarianism”, since they still attempt to control the movement for themselves. The funny thing is, they oppose using authority to relinquish the bourgeoisie, but are a-okay with using it to force aside any other leftist they dislike. After all, anyone who believe Catalonia didn’t use forced labor or imprisonment is a utopian dreamer in denial.
So, anarchists, next time you try to tell Leninists what they are and what they are not, be sure you know what Leninism consists of, and remember that every Leninist knows more about anarchism’s history than even anarchists do. And for the love of god, stop with the bullshit “arguments” that lack the logic of even a 3rd grader. Because you’ll probably just be digging a hole for yourself.