Anarcho-Collectivism

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Anarcho-Collectivism is an Anarchist and economically far-left ideology that believes in a worker-owned economy seized directly by the workers with no interim state. He believes in a form of currency called labour coins, but unlike Mutualism, he does not believe in the market. He has a strenuous relationship with Marxism, who he believes to be authoritarian and a jew, but with some very good ideas.

The "collectivism" in the title does not, contrary to popular belief, refer to a focus on the collective, much rather it refers to the economic system based on labour vouchers and collective ownership (hence the name).

Beliefs

Bakunin

Much of Bakunin's writings on anarchism centres on antipathy for the state and "political organization itself as the source of oppression and exploitation". His revolutionary solutions focus on undoing the state and hierarchical religious, social, and economic institutions, to be replaced by a system of freely federated communes organized "from below upward" with voluntary associations of economic producers, starting locally but ostensibly organizing internationally. These thoughts were first published in his unfinished 1871 The Knouto-Germanic Empire and the Social Revolution, expanded by a second part published in his 1908 Oeuvres, and again elaborated a fragment found and published posthumously as God and the State (1882). The latter was his most famous work, translated widely. It appeals to cast off both the state and religion to realize man's inborn freedom.


As a writer, Bakunin was prolific yet fragmented. He was prone to large digressions and rarely completed what he set out to address. As a result, much of his writings on anarchism do not cohere and were published only posthumously. He wrote mainly in French.


Bakunin's political beliefs rejected statist and hierarchical systems of power in every name and shape, from the idea of God downwards, and every form of hierarchical authority, whether emanating from the will of a sovereign or even from a state that allowed universal suffrage. He wrote in God and the State that "[t]he liberty of man consists solely in this, that he obeys the laws of nature because he has himself recognized them as such, and not because they have been imposed upon him externally by any foreign will whatsoever, human or divine, collective or individual".


Bakunin similarly rejected the notion of any privileged position or class, since the social and economic inequality implied by class systems were incompatible with individual freedom. Whereas liberalism insisted that free markets and constitutional governments enabled individual freedom, Bakunin insisted that both capitalism and the state in any form were incompatible with the individual freedom of the working class and peasantry, stating that "it is the peculiarity of privilege and of every privileged position to kill the intellect and heart of man. The privileged man, whether he be privileged politically or economically, is a man depraved in intellect and heart". Bakunin's political beliefs were based on several interrelated concepts: (1) liberty; (2) socialism; (3) federalism; (4) anti-theism; and (5) materialism. He also developed a critique of Marxism, predicting that if the Marxists were successful in seizing power, they would create a party dictatorship "all the more dangerous because it appears as a sham expression of the people's will", adding that "[w]hen the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called 'the People's Stick'".

Authority and freethought

In his 1870 essay What is Authority?, Bakunin wrote:

Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or the engineer. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and censure. I do not content myself with consulting a single authority in any special branch; I consult several; I compare their opinions, and choose that which seems to me the soundest. But I recognise no infallible authority, even in special questions; consequently, whatever respect I may have for the honesty and the sincerity of such or such individual, I have no absolute faith in any person.


According to Bakunin:

Therefore there is no fixed and constant authority, but a continual exchange of mutual, temporary, and, above all, voluntary authority and subordination. This same reason forbids me, then, to recognise a fixed, constant and universal authority, because there is no universal man, no man capable of grasping in all that wealth of detail, without which the application of science to life is impossible, all the sciences, all the branches of social life".

Anti-theologism

According to political philosopher Carl Schmitt, a prominent member of the Nazi Party, "in comparison with later anarchists, Proudhon was a moralistic petit bourgeois who continued to subscribe to the authority of the father and the principle of the monogamous family. Bakunin was the first to give the struggle against theology the complete consistency of an absolute naturalism. [...] For him, therefore, there was nothing negative and evil except the theological doctrine of God and sin, which stamps man as a villain in order to provide a pretext for domination and the hunger for power."


Bakunin believed that religion originated from the human ability for abstract thought and fantasy.According to Bakunin, religion is sustained by indoctrination and conformism. Other factors in the survival of religion are poverty, suffering and exploitation, from which religion promises salvation in the afterlife. Oppressors take advantage of religion because many religious people reconcile themselves with injustice on earth by the promise of happiness in heaven.


Bakunin argued that oppressors receive authority from religion. Religious people are in many cases obedient to the priests, because they believe that the statements of priests are based on direct divine revelation or scripture. Obedience to divine revelation or scripture is considered the ethical criterion by many religious people because God is considered as the omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent being. Therefore, each statement considered derived from an infallible God cannot be criticized by humans. According to this religious way of thinking, humans cannot know by themselves what is just, but that only God decides what is good or evil. People who disobey the "messengers of God" are threatened with punishment in hell. According to Bakunin, the alternative for a religious power monopoly is the acknowledgement that all humans are equally inspired by God, but that means that multiple contradictory teachings are assigned to an infallible God which is logically impossible. Therefore, Bakunin considers religion as necessarily authoritarian.


Bakunin argued in his book God and the State that "the idea of God implies the abdication of human reason and justice; it is the most decisive negation of human liberty, and necessarily ends in the enslavement of mankind, in theory and practice". Consequently, Bakunin reversed Voltaire's famous aphorism that if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him, writing instead that "if God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish Him". Political theology is a branch of both political philosophy and theology that investigates the ways in which theological concepts or ways of thinking underlie political, social, economic and cultural discourses. Bakunin was an early proponent of the term political theology in his 1871 text "The Political Theology of Mazzini and the International", to which Schmitt's eponymous book responded.

Class struggle strategy for social revolution

Bakunin's methods of realizing his revolutionary program were consistent with his principles. The working class and peasantry were to organize from below through local structures federated with each other, "creating not only the ideas, but also the facts of the future itself." Their movements would prefigure the future in their ideas and practices, creating the building blocks of the new society. This approach was exemplified by syndicalism, an anarchist strategy championed by Bakunin, according to which trade unions would provide both the means to defend and improve workers' conditions, rights and incomes in the present, and the basis for a social revolution based upon workplace occupations. The syndicalist unions would organize the occupations as well as provide the radically democratic structures through which workplaces would be self-managed, and the larger economy coordinated. Thus, for Bakunin, the workers' unions would "take possession of all the tools of production as well as buildings and capital."


Nevertheless, Bakunin did not reduce the revolution to syndicalist unions, stressing the need to organize working-class neighbourhoods as well as the unemployed. Meanwhile, the peasants were to "take the land and throw out those landlords who live by the labor of others". Bakunin did not dismiss the skilled workers as is sometimes claimed[by whom?] and the watchmakers of the Jura region were central to the St. Imier International's creation and operations. However, at a time when unions largely ignored the unskilled, Bakunin placed great emphasis on the need to organize as well among "the rabble" and "the great masses of the poor and exploited, the so-called "lumpenproletariat" to "inaugurate and bring to triumph the Social Revolution."


Bakunin's socialism was known as "collectivist anarchism", where "socially: it seeks the confirmation of political equality by economic equality. This is not the removal of natural individual differences, but equality in the social rights of every individual from birth; in particular, equal means of subsistence, support, education, and opportunity for every child, boy or girl, until maturity, and equal resources and facilities in adulthood to create his own well-being by his own labor."


Collectivist anarchism advocates the abolition of both the state and private ownership of the means of production. Instead, it envisions the means of production being owned collectively and controlled and managed by the producers themselves. For the collectivization of the means of production, it was originally envisaged that workers would revolt and forcibly collectivize the means of production. Once collectivization takes place, money would be abolished to be replaced with labour notes and workers' salaries would be determined in democratic organizations based on job difficulty and the amount of time they contributed to production. These salaries would be used to buy goods in a communal market.

Critique of Marxism

The dispute between Bakunin and Karl Marx highlighted the differences between anarchism and Marxism. He strongly rejected Marx's concept of the "dictatorship of the proletariat" in which the new state would be unopposed and would, theoretically, represent the workers. He argued that the state should be immediately abolished because all forms of government eventually lead to oppression. He also vehemently opposed vanguardism, in which a political elite of revolutionaries guide the workers. Bakunin insisted that revolutions must be led by the people directly while any "enlightened elite" must exert influence only by remaining "invisible [...] not imposed on anyone [...] [and] deprived of all official rights and significance". Bakunin claimed that Marxists "maintain that only a dictatorship—their dictatorship, of course—can create the will of the people, while our answer to this is: No dictatorship can have any other aim but that of self-perpetuation, and it can beget only slavery in the people tolerating it; freedom can be created only by freedom, that is, by a universal rebellion on the part of the people and free organization of the toiling masses from the bottom up". Bakunin further stated that "we are convinced that liberty without socialism is privilege and injustice; and that socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality".


While both anarchists and Marxists share the same final goal, the creation of a free, egalitarian society without social classes and repressive/bureaucratic government, they strongly disagree on how to achieve this goal. Anarchists believe that the classless, stateless society should be established by the direct action of the masses, culminating in social revolution and refuse any intermediate stage such as the dictatorship of the proletariat on the basis that such a dictatorship will become a self-perpetuating fundament. For Bakunin, the fundamental contradiction is that for the Marxists "anarchism or freedom is the aim, while the state and dictatorship is the means, and so, in order to free the masses, they have first to be enslaved." However, Bakunin also wrote of meeting Marx in 1844: "As far as learning was concerned, Marx was, and still is, incomparably more advanced than I. I knew nothing at that time of political economy, I had not yet rid myself of my metaphysical observations. [...] He called me a sentimental idealist and he was right; I called him a vain man, perfidious and crafty, and I also was right". Bakunin found Marx's economic analysis very useful and began the job of translating Das Kapital into Russian. In turn, Marx wrote of the rebels in the Dresden insurrection of 1848 that "they found a capable and cool headed leader" in the "Russian refugee Michael Bakunin." Marx wrote to Engels of meeting Bakunin in 1864 after his escape to Siberia, stating: "On the whole he is one of the few people whom I find not to have retrogressed after 16 years, but to have developed further."


Bakunin has sometimes been called the first theorist of the "new class", meaning a class of intellectuals and bureaucrats running the state in the name of the people or the proletariat, but in reality in their own interests alone. Bakunin argued that "[t]he State has always been the patrimony of some privileged class: a priestly class, an aristocratic class, a bourgeois class. And finally, when all the other classes have exhausted themselves, the State then becomes the patrimony of the bureaucratic class and then falls—or, if you will, rises—to the position of a machine."

Federalism

By federalism, Bakunin meant the organization of society "from the base to the summit—from the circumference to the centre—according to the principles of free association and federation". Consequently, society would be organized "on the basis of the absolute freedom of individuals, of the productive associations, and of the communes", with "every individual, every association, every commune, every region, every nation" having "the absolute right to self-determination, to associate or not to associate, to ally themselves with whomever they wish".

Liberty

By liberty, Bakunin did not mean an abstract ideal but a concrete reality based on the equal liberty of others. In a positive sense, liberty consists of "the fullest development of all the faculties and powers of every human being, by education, by scientific training, and by material prosperity." Such a conception of liberty is "eminently social, because it can only be realized in society", not in isolation. In a negative sense, liberty is "the revolt of the individual against all divine, collective, and individual authority."

Materialism

Bakunin denied religious concepts of a supernatural sphere and advocated a materialist explanation of natural phenomena, for "the manifestations of organic life, chemical properties and reactions, electricity, light, warmth and the natural attraction of physical bodies, constitute in our view so many different but no less closely interdependent variants of that totality of real beings which we call matter." For Bakunin, The "mission of science is, by observation of the general relations of passing and real facts, to establish the general laws inherent in the development of the phenomena of the physical and social world."

Proletariat, lumpenproletariat and the peasantry

Bakunin differed from Marx's on the revolutionary potential of the lumpenproletariat and the proletariat, for "[b]oth agreed that the proletariat would play a key role, but for Marx the proletariat was the exclusive, leading revolutionary agent while Bakunin entertained the possibility that the peasants and even the lumpenproletariat (the unemployed, common criminals, etc.) could rise to the occasion." According to Nicholas Thoburn, "Bakunin considers workers' integration in capital as destructive of more primary revolutionary forces. For Bakunin, the revolutionary archetype is found in a peasant milieu (which is presented as having longstanding insurrectionary traditions, as well as a communist archetype in its current social form—the peasant commune) and amongst educated unemployed youth, assorted marginals from all classes, brigands, robbers, the impoverished masses, and those on the margins of society who have escaped, been excluded from, or not yet subsumed in the discipline of emerging industrial work—in short, all those whom Marx sought to include in the category of the lumpenproletariat."

Revolutionary societies

Beginning in Italy with the International Brotherhood, Bakunin attempted to create secret revolutionary societies towards the end of his life, a concept at odds with his professed caution against the autocratic tendencies of the revolutionary elite. These organizations did not participate in revolutionary action.


The idea of the "invisible dictatorship" was central to Bakunin's politics. In combination with Bakunin's opposition to parliamentary politics, historian Peter Marshall wrote that such a secret party, its existence unknown and its policies beholden to none, had the potential for greater tyranny than a Blanquist or Marxist party and was hard to envision as presaging an open, democratic society.

Individualism

Although the name “Anarcho-Collectivism” would make you think otherwise, Bakunin's ideology was fiercely individualist. Bakunin considered it a danger to the freedom of the individual to align oneself with a collective or uniform mass.

In truth, Bakunin's collectivist sense of anarchism focuses on the economic sense, based on the collective ownership of the means of production (which was in agreement with Marx) under the direct self-management of workers and peasants.

History

In 1864, the creation of the International Workingmen's Association (IWA, also called the "First International") united diverse revolutionary currents including socialist Marxists, trade unionists, communists and anarchists. Four years later, in 1868, Mikhail Bakunin joined the First International with his collectivist anarchist associates who advocated for the collectivisation of property and revolutionary overthrow of the state. Bakunin corresponded with other members of the International seeking to establish a loose brotherhood of revolutionaries who would ensure that the coming revolution would not to take an authoritative course, in sharp contrast with other currents that were seeking to get a firm grasp on state power.

Personality and Behaviour

How to Draw

Flag of Anarcho-Collectivism
  1. Draw a ball,
  2. Divide it in half from bottom-left to top-right,
  3. Colour the top-left a dark red, and the bottom-left black.
  4. Draw a C in the centre, with the part on the bottom-right part coloured the same shade of dark red, and the top-left part coloured the same shade of black. Make sure that the line dividing the C is the same as the one dividing the rest of the ball,
  5. Draw some eyes and you're done!
Color Name HEX RGB
Dark Red #890014 137, 0, 20
Black #141414 20, 20, 20


Relationships

Friends

  • Anarcho-Syndicalism - Union self-management? Sounds based!
  • Anarcho-Communism - You're the synthesis of mine & Marx's ideas? I didn't even know that was possible, but you're still a real good pal! And I like that most of you still realize that Marx wasn't perfect.
  • Mutualism - I owe much of my existence to Proudhon. "Proudhon was the master of us all." Plus we agree on Jews.
  • Anarchism - Mother Anarchy loves her sons!
  • Socialism - "Convinced that freedom without Socialism is privilege and injustice and that Socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality"
  • Soulism - Give me your drugs!

Frenemies

  • Communalism - I appreciate the sentiment, but we need more Labor Vouchers!
  • Anarcho-Egoism - You defend the freedom of the person and you are against capitalism just like me, you were also an enemy of Marx but I think you should think about others...
  • Religious Anarchism - You may be an anarchist, but how can you not see god as an unjust hierarchy?
  • Machajskism - I mean, you're technically my son, but why are you such an idiot? (And proud of it even!)
  • Libertarian Marxism - Better than regular Marxism I guess, but you should really grasp just how much Marx was encouraging the kind of authoritarian asshatery of people like him, whether it was intentional or not.
  • National Anarchism - You're too reactionary and not socialist enough. But at least we agree about Slavic unity and Jews.
  • Chomskyism - Uh, thanks for citing me as one of your inspirations, but why do you like to say some extremely questionable things when talking about certain crimes against humanity? Chomsky is a jew
  • Barracks Communism - I was in the Russian Nihilist movement, Nechayev was a good friend, although I don't understand why he distanced himself from me and the rest... and you led to my fallout with Marx.
  • Anarcho-Nihilism - "Let us put our trust in the eternal spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unsearchable and eternally creative source of all life–the passion for destruction is also a creative passion!" But why do you think I'm really that collectivist?
  • Post-Leftism - Why do you hate my worker councils, unions and collectives?
    • Post-Leftism - How your "councils, unions and collectives" differs from the state? Because they are confederal and democratic?

Enemies

  • Capitalism - The greatest enemy of human freedom.
  • Authoritarianism - Death to God, death to the king, death to the state, long live anarchy!
  • Marxism - You kicked me out of the First Internationale as a "monarchist spy" just because I didn't want to dissemble my old alliance, f*ck you! Kike
  • Authoritarian Socialism - "...the People's State so strongly commended by Marx, and the aristocratic-monarchic State, maintained with as much cleverness as power by Bismarck, are completely identical by the nature of their objective at home as well as in foreign affairs. In foreign affairs it is the same deployment of military force, that is to say, conquest; and in home affairs it is the same employment of this armed force, the last argument of all threatened political powers against the masses, who, tired of believing, hoping, submitting and obeying always, rise in revolt."
  • Tsarism - Down with the oppressive Russian monarchy!
  • National Capitalism - Authoritarian and capitalist? You're literally the worst person on this planet! We agree on jews though
  • Ingsoc - Unhand me, statist!
  • Theocracies - Disgusting hallucinatory bastards!
  • Macronism - STRIKE!!!
  • Objectivism - Russophobic, Jewish, capitalist... You are the epitome of the worst!
  • Anarcho-Capitalism - You're not a real anarchist. Rothbard was a jew
  • Illegalism - How you can prefer criminality over social lifestyle?

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Further Information

Literature

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Notes

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