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FROM A-NARCHY TO AUTO-NARCHY.

Reading Bakunin's critique of Marx today - 124 years after it was written - one has to admit that history proved Bakunin right. The same can be said of Emma Goldman's and Alexander Berkman's critiques of Lenin written in 1922 after they saw Lenin and Trotsky attack and execute the strikers of Kronstadt who demanded that Lenin keep his promise "All power to the COUNCILS of workers, peasants, and soldiers" which brought him to power, but which he changed to:"All power to the Bolshevik PARTY" when he won power.
Bakunin wrote in 1872 :" In the People's State of Marx there will be, we are told, no priviliged class at all. All will be equal, not only from the judicial and political point of view but from the economic point of view. At least, that is what is promised. . .
There will therefore be no longer any priviliged class, but there will be a government and, note this well, an extremely complex government, which will not content itself with governing and administering the masses politically, as all governments do today, but which will also administer them economically, concentrating in its own hands the production and the just division of wealth, the cultivation of land, the establishment and developement of factories, the organization and direction of commerce, finally the application of capital to production by the only banker, the State.
All this will demand an immense knowledge and many "heads overflowing with brains" in this government. It will be the reign of the scientific intelligencia, the most aristocratic, despotic, arrogant and contemptous of all regimes.
There will be a new class, a new hierarchy of real and pretended scientists and scholars, and the world will be divided into a minority ruling in the name of knowledge, and an immense, ignorant, majority.
And then, woe betide the mass of the ignorant ones.
Such a regime will not fail to arouse very considerable discontent in this mass and in order to keep it in check the enlightened and liberating government of Marx will have need of a not less considerable armed force. For the government must be strong says Engels, to maintain order among these millions of illiterates whose brutal uprising would be capable of destoying and overthrowing everything, even a government directed by heads overflowing with brains. "

{Bakunin "Marxism, Freedom, and the State", p. 18, Ch.3: "The State and Marxism"} {This text can be downloaded from http://www.cs.utah.edu/~galt/marxnfree.html }
. . . It will be for the proletariat a barrack regime, where the standardized mass of men and women workers would wake, sleep, work, and live, to the beat of the drum, for the clever and the learned a privilige of governing, and for the mercenary minded, attracted by the immensity of the international speculations of the national banks, a vast field of lucrative jobbery. At home it will be slavery. . . a State all the more despotic because it will call itself the People's State."
{op. cit. Ch.5, p.25}
This prediction, written in 1872, turned out to be correct whereas Marx's prediction that a classless State owning all means of production will usher in an era of freedom turned out to be wrong.
In the USSR and all 'People's Democracy' States the State owned all means of production but the entire population was oppressed by State and Party officials.
Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, anarchists who supported the Russian revolution and worked for it in the USSR from early 1920 to late 1921 had a similar critique of Lenin.
In her autobiography Goldman describes her last meeting with the anarchist Peter Kropotkin in 1920, agreeing with his observation:
"The Russian revolution was far greater than the French and of more potent worlwide significance. It had struck deep into the lives of the masses everywhere. No one could foresee the rich harvest humanity would reap from it.
The Communists, irrevocably adhering to the idea of a centralized State were doomed to misdirect the course of the revolution. Their aim being political supremacy, they had inevitably become the Jesuits of Socialism, justifying all means to attain their purpose.
Their methods paralyzed the energies of the masses and terrorized the people.
Yet without the people, without the direct participation of the toilers in the reconstruction of the country nothing creative and essential could be created."
(quoted by Emma Goldman in "Living my life" , Dover 1979, Vol.2 p.863)
After Kropotkin's funeral in February 1921 she adds:
"My grief over his passing away was bound up with my despair over the defeat of the Revolution which none of us had been able to avert." (p.869). Leaving Russia in December 1921 after witnessing the Red Army attack the striking sailors of Kronstadt she adds: "We were not running away from the Revolution.It was dead long ago." (p.919) adding later "We could do more for the country abroad than in Russia, work for a better understanding of the chasm between the Revolution and the regime and for the political victims in Soviet prisons and concentration camps." (p.927).
Goldman and Berkman saw in 1921 that the Communist Party led by Lenin had taken over the revolution establishing an extremely centralized State terrorizing the mass of the population and eliminating all opposition including critics from its own ranks.
The Anarchist critique of Marx's theories and of Lenin's practices turned out to be correct, profound, and valid. The fact that Anarchist predictions and warnings turned out to be correct while Marxist predictions turned out to be wrong raises the questions: Why did Anarchist ideas fail to win a big following while Marx's ideas and Lenin's practices atttracted millions ?
Why do Anarchist ideas today attract only a minute number of people ?
The fact that Lenin signed peace with Germany shortly after coming to power, as he promised he would, and committed himself to create a society based on social justice rather than greed won him the support of millions all over the world. Few heard the Anarchist critique while millions heard Lenin.
Yet even after Stalin's regime of terror became known in the West people did not accept Anarchist ideas. Anarchism did not provide a workable scheme for running a modern, large scale, industrial society.
It criticized Capitalism but did not provide an alternative to Capitalism.
Traditional 19th century Anarchism suffered from two drawbacks:
1. It was a mix of Individualist ('Life Style') Anarchism and Social Anarchism.
Ideas upholding absolute freedom of the individual against any majority were mixed with the Social Anarchism of Bakunin, Kropotkin, Berkman and Malatesta, of a Stateless society based on communes and mutual aid. This mixture confused many people.
2. The idea of a society without a State seemed unworkable to most people in the 20th Century.
Anarchism was a product of the 19th Century. In the 19th Century the State was run by a small elite of landowners and Capitalists and was stamped by its feudal heritage.
Education, Health, and Transport were private matters untouched by the State.
There was no minimum wage, no 40 hour working week, no paid holidays or sick leave, no unemployment benefeits, no State Health Insurance, no State paid pensions.
Appart from legislation and taxes the State left the economy to private interests.
The small elite running the State made the laws, appointed heads of the Legal system, Police, Prisons, and Army, oppressing the vast majority of the population. Women had no vote and no access to higher education.
After WW1 much of this changed and more after WW2 but by then Anarchist ideas crystalized and "The State" was enemy No.1.
After WW1 women got the vote in many countries, Social-Democrats came to power in some countries and initiated State-funded Education and Health services, State Pensions and unemployment benefeits, Public Transport, Housing projects, Public Works, etc.
The State became the largest employer in many countries and the main factor in the economy.
Those who aspired to liberate society from oppression, economic misery, exploitation, struggled for changing the structure and priorities of the State but not for abolishing it.
Could hospitals, roads, airports, or the electricity grid be built and run if the State were replaced by federations of Anarchist communes ?
Could Anarchist communes set up modern Medical Centres costing many times the annual income of many communes ?
Could a modern network of roads, railways, ports, airports, telephones, electricity, etc. be conctructed and run by, or as, communes ?
Very few Anarchist thinkers offered answers to these questions.
Anarchists disagree among themselves about the structure of decision-making in their own communes, let alone in society at large.
No wonder Anarchist ideas attracted mostly opponents of authoritarianism but not many of those searching an alternative system to Capitalism.
Bakunin died in 1876, before State funded Education, Health Service, Pensions, Unemployment benefeits, were implemented, before the invention of electric lighting, motor cars, airplanes, radio, TV, 40 hour working week.
For Bakunin The State was : "A tyranny of the minority over the majority in the name of the people" {op.cit. Appendix}. Which it certainly was in his time.
He argued against sending workers' representatives into existing Parliaments: " Is it not clear that the popular nature of this power will never be anything else but fiction ? It will obviously be impossible for some hundreds of thousands or even some tens of thousands or indeed for even only a few thousand men to effectively exercise this power. They will necessarily exercise it by proxy, that is to say, entrust it to a group of men, elected by themselves to represent and govern them, which will cause them without fail to fall back again into all the falsehoods and servitudes of the representative or bourgeois regime. After a brief moment of liberty or revolutionary orgy citizens of the new State will awake to find themselves slaves, playthings and victims of new power-lusters." {op.cit.p.27}.
All of which was valid until the 1980s.
Bakunin summed up his ideas on the State by the statement:
"State means domination, and all domination presupposes the subjection of the masses and consequently their exploitation to the profit of some minority or other ".
{op.cit. p.21} And so it is to this day.
Must this remain so forever, even after the invention, and daily use, of Magnetic Cards, Computer networks, communication satellites, and cable TV ?
NOT AT ALL !
Electronic communications technologies implemented in the 1980s open up possibilities unimaginable in the 1960s, let alone in Bakunin and Marx's time.
It is now possible to equip every phone with a magnetic card-reading device enabling the user to vote via the telephone on any issue.
Totals of all votes can be calculated immediately by computers and appear on TV.
Discussions on possibilities to be voted on can be done by experts on TV with people phoning in to ask questions or propose new ideas. After such discussions people can vote on the issues.
Every citizen must have the right to propose and vote on every political issue, and every employee must have the right to propose and vote on any issue related to his/her work.
People can be appointed to implement majority decisions. Appointees' authority will be like that of Ambassadors today. They carry out a policy but do not decide that policy.
Ambassadors have no authority to make policy decisions and can be changed any time.
Today it is possible to set up a political system based on the principle :
EVERY CITIZEN CAN PROPOSE, AND VOTE ON, EVERY POLITICAL DECISION.
This direct rule by the entire citizenry, can be named: Auto-narchy, meaning self - rule.
Electronic communication today can turn the whole country into a Parliament.
Physical presence is irrelevant, electronic presence is what matters.
Decision-making by representatives is obsolete.
Every citizen can be electronically present at every decision.

All can vote on any issue of State, Work, Education.
This was impossible in Bakunin's day but is possible today in many countries.
Auto-narchy must be applied to work and to education.
Employees must make all decisions concerning their work on a national, regional, and local level.
Educational staff with students and their parents must make all decisions on education on national, regional, and local, level.
This is not A - NARCHY but AUTO - NARCHY.
The State exists but is run by ALL citizens - directly - not via representatives.
Kropotkin would have liked the idea. Bakunin too, maybe even Marx.






WHAT IS TO BE DONE ?

If the ideas in this pamphlet appeal to you and you wish to help implement Auto-narchy here is what you can do.
1.
Find other people interested in these ideas and discuss the ideas together.
2.
Think Globally, act locally.
Set up your own local Committee for DirectDemocracy (CDD).
Locality can be geographic, occupational, or electronic (via Internet), whichever.
3.
Your committee should meet regularly, finance itself, discuss any issue it likes, suggest autonarchic solutions to actual problems, and implement them.
4.
Publicize your ideas in every way possible, in print, on radio or TV , on the Internet, in oral discussions with friends, workmates, pupils, students, etc.
5.
Be self-reliant but establish contact with other CDDs. Help create new CDDs.
6.
When a number of CDDs emerge call for a local, regional, national, or international, conference, to coordinate activities, to learn from each other's experience, and to assist autonarchists and CDDs who need help.
All CDDs should work to create a WORLD AUTONARCHIC MOVEMENT.
7.
An Autonarchic Movement must not be organized like traditional Parties.
It must not have an Executive Committee which makes decisions on behalf of others. It should have a coordinating committee to facilitate coordination between CDDs and to exchange ideas between CDDs but, every CDD is free to accept or reject proposals of a Coordinating Committee.
Proposals of a Coordinating Committee are welcome but not binding.
Never lose sight of the basic Autonarchic priority principle:
'Needs of the many must be attended before needs of the few'.
Don't be self-centred. Do not allow local needs dominate global ones.
8.
An Autonarchic organization has no leadership, either personal or communal.
It is an embryonic forerunner of the political system it strives to create.
Political systems are like their creators. Means shape ends in their image.
Relations between members of a DD movement should be like those they wish to see between members of an autonarchic society. So too should be the way every CDD, and the movement, function.
9.
There is no need to wait until Auto-narchy is implemented everywhere.
In small domains Auto-narchy can be implemented without magnetic cards.
If it is possible to implement Auto-narchy locally, in a firm, a school, a village, town, or borough, DO IT. Be prepared for stiff resistance.
Experience gained from such cases will be of use to other CDDs.
10.
Keep your sense of humour. Grim politics produce grim results.
Don't just criticize, suggest autonarchic solutions to social and political problems.
Activate your creativity but keep your feet on the ground.
Do not be deterred by those saying your proposals will not work.
Great authorities insisted people will never be able to fly through the air, land on the moon, utilise atomic energy, cure infertilty, change hereditary traits, etc.
All were proved wrong. In politics 'impossible' is often a substitute for 'undesirable'.
Check out if those saying Auto-narchy is impossible desire it.



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