Throughout history, anarchists have been involved in a wide variety of communities. While there are only a few instances of large scale "anarchies" that have come about from explicitly anarchist revolutions, there are examples of societies functioning according to various anarchist principles.
Historical examples of societies successfully organized according to anarchist principlesEdit
In recent history there have been numerous instances of the collapse of state authority, sometimes prompted by war but also often due to implosion of the state. In some cases, state collapse is followed by lawlessness, rioting, looting and, if disarray lasts long enough, warlordism. Although such societies are often described as anarchy, they are not organized according to anarchist principles.
However, there are instances in which a society peacefully organizes itself without a government or other form of centralized power, along philosophically anarchist lines. A functioning society would then maintain peace without a state. It is often difficult to find and research past anarchist or semi-anarchist societies, since, as Murray Rothbard points out, "The lack of recordkeeping in stateless societiesTemplate:Ndash since only government officials seem to waste time, energy, and resources on such activitiesTemplate:Ndash produce a tendency toward a governmental bias in the working methods of historians."
Celtic Ireland (650-1650)Edit
In Celtic Irish society of the Middle Ages and Early Modern period, courts and the law were largely anarchist, operating in a purely stateless manner. This society persisted in this manner for roughly a thousand years until its conquest by England in the seventeenth century. In contrast to many similarly functioning tribal societies, preconquest Ireland was not in any sense "primitive": it was a highly complex society that was, for centuries, the most advanced, most scholarly, and most civilized in all of Western Europe. A leading authority on ancient Irish law wrote, "There was no legislature, no bailiffs, no police, no public enforcement of justice... There was no trace of State-administered justice."
All "freemen" who owned land, all professionals, and all craftsmen, were entitled to become members of a tuath. Each tuath's members formed an annual assembly which decided all common policies, declared war or peace on other tuatha, and elected or deposed their "kings." In contrast to primitive tribes, no one was stuck or bound to a given tuath, either because of kinship or of geographical location. Individual members were free to, and often did, secede from a tuath and join a competing tuath. Professor Peden states, "the tuath is thus a body of persons voluntarily united for socially beneficial purposes and the sum total of the landed properties of its members constituted its territorial dimension. The "king" had no political power; he could not decree or administer justice or declare war. Basically he was a priest and militia leader, and presided over the tuath assemblies.
Celtic Ireland survived many invasions, but was finally vanquished by Oliver Cromwell's reconquest in 1649-50.
Icelandic Commonwealth (930 to 1262)Edit
Classical ("Thing system") Iceland is an example of society where police and justice were guaranteed through a free market. Author Jared Diamond has written
Medieval Iceland had no bureaucrats, no taxes, no police, and no army. … Of the normal functions of governments elsewhere, some did not exist in Iceland, and others were privatized, including fire-fighting, criminal prosecutions and executions, and care of the poor.
Medieval Icelandic institutions have several peculiar and interesting characteristics; they might almost have been invented by a mad economist to test the lengths to which market systems could supplant government in its most fundamental functions. Killing was a civil offense resulting in a fine paid to the survivors of the victim. Laws were made by a "parliament," seats in which were a marketable commodity. Enforcement of law was entirely a private affair. And yet these extraordinary institutions survived for over three hundred years, and the society in which they survived appears to have been in many ways an attractive one . Its citizens were, by medieval standards, free; differences in status based on rank or sex were relatively small; and its literary, output in relation to its size has been compared, with some justice, to that of Athens.
This Icelandic "thing system" survived for several centuries. It was eventually destroyed by the Christian church, which bought up all the godards (defense agencies) creating a state monopoly. For market anarchist scholar Roderick Long, this illustrates a flaw in the thing system which differentiates it from pure anarcho-capitalism - new "startup" mutual defense units were not allowed.
The social anarchist authors of An Anarchist FAQ took issue with Friedman's portrayal of the period, arguing that the Icelandic system was pre-capitalist in nature with numerous communal institutions. Friedman accused them of misconstruing his position and not caring whether what they published was true, and although they admitted making mistakes, the authors of the FAQ rejected the notion that they were uninterested in the truth.
Barbary pirates (1500-1830)Edit
The Ottoman Corsairs or Barbary pirates were anarchical military republics that survived for more than three hundred years (1500-1830). This community developed an economy based upon slave-hunting and the sale of slaves, raiding Europe for slaves as far north as Iceland. Although within the pirate community individuals enjoyed a large degree of freedom, the economy of the community was dependent on the enslavement of others, in conflict with anarchist principles.
Rhode Island (1636-1648)Edit
Religious dissenter Roger Williams founded the colony of Providence, Rhode Island after being run out of the theocratic Puritan Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636. Unlike the Puritans, he scrupulously purchased land from local Indians for his settlement. In political beliefs, Williams was close to the Levellers of England. He describes Rhode Island local "government" as follows: "The masters of families have ordinarily met once a fortnight and consulted about our common peace, watch and plenty; and mutual consent have finished all matters of speed and pace." Template:Fact
While Roger Williams was not explicitly anarchist, another Rhode Islander, Anne Hutchinson, was. Hutchinson and her followers emigrated to Rhode Island in 1638, bought Aquidneck Island from the Indians, and founded the town of Pocasset (now Portsmouth.) Another "Rogue Island" libertarian was Samuell Gorton. He and his followers were accused of being anarchists, and Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts Bay called Gorton a "man not fit to live upon the face of the earth." Gorton and his followers were forced in late 1642 to found an entirely new settlement of their own, Shawomet (later Warwick). In the words of Gorton, for over five years the settlement "lived peaceably together, desiring and endeavoring to do wrong to no man, neither English nor Indian, ending all our differences in a neighborly and loving way of arbitration, mutually chosen amongst us."
In 1648, Warwick joined with the other three towns of Rhode Island to form the colony of the "Providence Plantation." From that time on Rhode Island had a government; this government, however, was far more democratic and libertarian than existed elsewhere in the American colonies. In a letter to Sir Henry Vane penned in the mid-1650s, Williams wrote, "we have not known what an excise means; we have almost forgotten what tithes are, yea, or taxes either, to church or commonwealth."
The coastal area north of Albemarle Sound in what is now northeastern North Carolina was home to a quasi-anarchistic society in the mid-17th century. Described by Murray Rothbard as "[t]echnically a part of the Virginia colony but in practice virtually independent," Albemarle was a haven for political and religious refugees, such as Quakers and dissident Presbyterians. As Rothbard has said, "This semi-libertarian condition came to an end in 1663, when the English Crown included Albemarle in the mammoth Carolina land grant bestowed on a group of eight feudal proprietors. Little is known of pre-1663 Albemarle, since historians display scant interest in stateless societies."
Holy Experiment (Quaker) Pennsylvania (1681-1690)Edit
When William Penn left his Quaker colony in Pennsylvania, the people stopped paying quitrent, and any semblance of formal government evaporated. The Quakers treated Indians with respect, bought land from them voluntarily, and had even representation of Indians and Whites on juries. According to Voltaire, the Shackamaxon Treaty was "the only treaty between Indians and Christians that was never sworn to and that was never broken." The Quakers refused to provide any assistance to New England's Indian wars. Penn's attempt to impose government by appointing John Blackwell, a non-Quaker military man, as governor failed miserably.
Libertatia (1670s to 1690s)Edit
Libertatia was a legendary free colony forged by pirates and the pirate Captain Misson, although some historians have expressed doubts over its existence outside of literature. Historian and activist Marcus Rediker describes the pirates as follows:
These pirates who settled in Libertalia would be "vigilant Guardians of the People's Rights and Liberties"; they would stand as "Barriers against the Rich and Powerful" of their day. By waging war on behalf of "the Oppressed" against the "Oppressors," they would see that "Justice was equally distributed."
The pirates were against the various forms of authoritarian social constructs of their day, monarchies, slavery, and capital. The pirates practiced forms of direct democracy, where the people as a whole held the authority to make laws and rules, and used systems of councils with delegates, who were supposed to think of themselves as "comerads" of the general population, and not rulers. The pirates created a new language for their colony and operated a socialist economy.
[The] pirates were anti-capitalist, opposed to the dispossession that necessarily accompanied the historic ascent of wage labor and capitalism. They insisted that "every Man was born free, and had as much Right to what would support him, as to the Air he respired." They resented the "encroachments" by which "Villains" and "unmerciful Creditors" grew "immensely rich" as others became "wretchedly miserable." They spoke of the "Natural right" to "a Share of the Earth as is necessary for our Support." They saw piracy as a war of self-preservation. [They redefined the] fundamental relations of property and power. They had no need for money "where every Thing was in common, and no Hedge bounded any particular Man's Property," and they decreed that "the Treasure and Cattle they were Masters of should be equally divided."
Misson's crews often were half white and black. The pirates have been reported to have freed enslaved people as the idea of slavery went against their own ideals of freedom.
Although the existence of Libertatia is contested, the radical ideas that it represented were very common in various pirate era events. After the American revolution, pirates fleeing from England crashed on an island and set up their own Libertatia. They called their new island "the Republic of Spensonia", and according to A. L. Morton, it "looks backward to the mediaeval commune and forward to the withering away of the state."Template:Fact
Utopia (1847 to 1860s)Edit
Utopia was an individualist anarchist colony begun in 1847 by Josiah Warren and associates, on a tract of land in the United States approximately Template:Convert from Cincinnati, Ohio. Personal invitation from the first settlers was required for admission to the community, with Warren reasoning that the most valuable individual liberty was "the liberty to choose our associates at all times." Land was not owned communally, but individually, with lots being bought and sold at cost, as required by contractual arrangement. The economy of the community was a system based upon private property and a market economy where labor was the basis of exchange value (see Mutualism (economic theory)). Goods and services were traded by the medium of "labor notes." By the mid-1850s, the community eventually came to contain approximately 40 buildings, about half of which were of an industrial nature. Also present were two "time stores" (see Cincinnati Time Store). The impact of the American Civil War, the rising prices of surrounding land (which made expansion difficult), and the requirement of being invited by the original settlers are said to have led to the eventual dissolution of the project. However, as late as 1875 a few of the original occupants were still in residence and some business in the area was still being conducted by labor notes.
Modern Times (1851 to late 1860s)Edit
- See also Modern Times (intentional community)
Modern Times was an individualist anarchist colony begun on March 21, 1851 on 750 acres (3 km²) of land on Long Island, New York, Josiah Warren and Stephen Pearl Andrews. By contract, all land was bought and sold at cost, with three acres being the maximum allowable lot size. The community was said to be based in the idea of "individual sovereignty" and "individual responsibility." There was an understanding that there was to be no initiation of coercion, leaving all individuals to pursue their self-interest as they saw fit. All products of labor were considered private property. The community had a local private currency based upon labor exchange in order to trade goods and services (see Mutualism). All land was private property, with the exception of alleys which were initially considered common property but later converted to private property. No system of authority existed in the colony. There were no courts, no jails, and no police; yet, there are no reports of any problem with crime existing there. This appearsTemplate:Who to have given some credence to Warren's theories that the most significant cause of violence in society was most attributable to policies and law which did not allow complete individuality in person and property. However, the modest population of the colony might be considered a factor in this characteristic. The Civil War, as well as a gradual infiltration into the community by those that did not share the same libertarian and economic philosophy, is said to have contributed to its eventual dissolution. The colony's location is now known as Brentwood, New York. Almost all of the original buildings that existed in Modern Times have been destroyed.
Whiteway Colony (1898 to present)Edit
Whiteway Colony in the Cotswolds near Stroud, Gloucestershire was set up in 1898 and still exists today. Though it no longer has an explicitly anarchist outlook, it still retains a flavor of its roots and many of its residents are both aware and proud of its origins. Today the traces of its anarchist past can be seen in the communal facilities such as the playing field, hall and swimming pool built and used by residents, and in the way the governance of the community is still carried out by general meeting of all residents. Whiteway is regarded as a collectivist anarchist society and is one of the longest running anarchist experiments in existence.
Tolstoyan Agricultural Communes (1921-1937)Edit
Template:Unreferencedsection Following the anarchistic teachings of Leo Tolstoy, many peasant communes were formed voluntarily after the October Revolution based on his values of labor and non-violence. Repressed heavily by the Soviets, the history of many of these communes is lost. One of the largest was the Life and Labor Commune which at its peak had almost a thousand members.
Autonomous Shinmin region (1929-1931)Edit
The apex of Korean anarchism came in late 1929 outside the actual borders of the country, in Manchuria. Over two million Korean immigrants lived within Manchuria at the time when the Korean Anarchist Communist Federation (KACF) declared the Shinmin province autonomous and under the administration of the Korean People’s Association. The decentralized, federative structure the association adopted consisted of village councils, district councils and area councils, all of which operated in a cooperative manner to deal with agriculture, education, finance and other vital issues. An Army to fight for the defense of Shinmin was also set up and spearheaded by the great Korean Anarchist Kim jwa-jin which had great successes against the Japanese and Stalinist Armies using hit-and-run guerrilla tactics. KACF sections in China, Korea, Japan and elsewhere devoted all their energies towards the success of the Shinmin Rebellion, most of them actually relocating there. Dealing simultaneously with Stalinist Russia’s attempts to overthrow the Shinmin autonomous region and Japan’s imperialist attempts to claim the region for itself, the Korean anarchists had been crushed by 1931Template:Fact.
Spanish Revolution (1936 to 1939)Edit
- Main article: Spanish Revolution
Much of Spain's economy was put under direct worker control; in anarchist strongholds like Catalonia, the figure was as high as 75%, but lower in areas with heavy Socialist influence. Factories were run through worker committees, agrarian areas became collectivized and run as libertarian communes. Even places like hotels, barber shops, and restaurants were collectivized and managed by their workers. George Orwell describes a scene in Aragon during this time period, in his book, Homage to Catalonia: [ISBN 978-0156421171, Harvest Books, Fort Washington]
- I had dropped more or less by chance into the only community of any size in Western Europe where political consciousness and disbelief in capitalism were more normal than their opposites. Up here in Aragon one was among tens of thousands of people, mainly though not entirely of working-class origin, all living at the same level and mingling on terms of equality. In theory it was perfect equality, and even in practice it was not far from it. There is a sense in which it would be true to say that one was experiencing a foretaste of Socialism, by which I mean that the prevailing mental atmosphere was that of Socialism. Many of the normal motives of civilized lifeTemplate:Ndash snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc.Template:Ndash had simply ceased to exist. The ordinary class-division of society had disappeared to an extent that is almost unthinkable in the money-tainted air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves, and no one owned anyone else as his master.
The communes were run according to the basic principle of "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need," without any Marxist dogma attached. In some places, money was entirely eliminated. Despite the critics clamoring for maximum efficiency, anarchic communes often produced more than before the collectivization. The newly liberated zones worked on entirely egalitarian principles; decisions were made through councils of ordinary citizens without any sort of bureaucracy. It is generally held that the CNT-FAI leadership was at this time not nearly as radical as the rank and file members responsible for these sweeping changes.
In addition to the economic revolution, there was a spirit of cultural revolution. For instance, women were allowed to have abortions, and the idea of free love became popular. In many ways, this spirit of cultural liberation was similar to that of the "New Left" movements of the 1960s.
However, some express disapproval at the methods of the anarchists, claiming that they executed those who disagreed with them. Burnett Bolloten, in The Spanish Civil War, claims that "Thousands of members of the clergy and religious orders as well as of the propertied classes were killed, but others, fearing arrest or execution, fled abroad, including many prominent liberal and moderate Republicans."
Anarchist Catalonia (1936 to 1939)Edit
- Main article: Anarchist Catalonia
Anarchist Catalonia (July 21, 1936 - February 10, 1939) was the stateless territory and anarchist society in part of the territory of modern Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War, The most effective anarchist unit in Catalonia was known as the Durruti Column and was headed by Buenaventura Durruti.
Israeli Kibbutz MovementEdit
- Main article: Kibbutz
The Kibbutz movement was an outgrowth out of socialist strands of the Zionist Movement, many of which stressed Arab-Jewish cooperation. The movement revolved around anarchist principles of non-hierarchy, self-management of production, and direct democracy. The early kibbutz collectives could be seen to be following the doctrine of, "...from each according to ability, to each according to need". New people joining the collective farms, however, were expected to give up most of their assets to the greater whole.
- "... a voluntary collective community, mainly agricultural, in which there is no private wealth and which is responsible for all the needs of its members and their families." (Encyclopedia Judaica, 1969)
- "...an organization for settlement which maintains a collective society of members organized on the basis of general ownership of possessions. Its aims are self-labor, equality and cooperation in all areas of production, consumption and education." (Legal definition in the Cooperative Societies Register)
The early kibbutzim were examples of a closely-knit egalitarian community, based on common ownership of the means of production and consumption, where all, conferring together, made decisions by majority vote and bore responsibility for all. Decisions were generally made during general assembly dinners, and direct democracy was used to come to consensus. In discussions, which often continued late into the night, members would decide how to allocate the following day's work, guard duties, kitchen chores and other tasks, as well as debate problems and make decisions. Beyond farm land and dining halls, many centers included offices, sports areas, libraries, and entertainment areas.
When kibbutzim were smaller, social and cultural life was characterized by togetherness and being "one big family". This found expression in the high involvement of members in planning, organizing and carrying out activities, which ranged from campfires and nature walks to choirs and folk dancing. Each kibbutz appointed a cultural director to plan and coordinate events.
After the creation of the state of Israel, the kibbutz movement began to become much more hierarchical and wage-labor based. Ideas of egalitarianism still existed, but became seen as not as important. To this date however, hundreds of thousands of people have existed and worked in worker-self-managed kibbutz farms.
The Kibbutz movement deviates from anarchist philosophy. The Kibbutz system is highly organized in a more oligarchical fashion and quite democratically. The economic system paired with anarchy, communism, is a classical pairing not in accordance with the actual definitions of the words. The kibbutz system is not anarchy but rather an example of an effective form of socialist economic policy controlled by oligarchical democracy, and in many cases direct democracy with participation by all members.
Freetown Christiania (1971–)Edit
Christiania was founded in 1971, when a group of hippie squatters occupied an abandoned military barracks in Copenhagen, Denmark. One of the more influential people involved was Jacob Ludvigsen, who published an anarchist newspaper which widely proclaimed the establishment of the free town. The people of Christiania developed their own set of rules—independent of the Danish government—which include the prohibition of cars, stealing, guns, bulletproof vests and hard drugs. Cameras are not allowed, and locals will wave their hands and shout "No photo!" if they see a picture being taken. Famous for its main drag, known as "Pusher Street" as hash was sold openly from permanent stands until 2004. Such commerce is controversial, but cannot be removed without complete community consensus. For years the legal status of the region was in limbo, as the Danish government attempted, without success, to remove the squatters.
The neighborhood is accessible only through two main entrances, and cars are not allowed. Danish authorities have repeatedly removed the large stones blocking the entrance, which have been replaced each time by residents. The authorities claim that the area must be accessible for safety concerns, but the residents suspect that it will instead be used by the police. The town negotiated an arrangement with the Danish defense ministry, the legal owners of the location, in 1995, resulting in resident taxation. The future of the area remains in doubt, as Danish authorities continue to push for its removal.
The inhabitants fight back with humour and persistence—for instance, when authorities in 2002 demanded that the hash trade be made less visible, the stands were covered in military camouflage nets. On January 4, 2004, the stands were finally demolished by the owners themselves (without stopping the hash trade as such, which continued on a person-to-person basis) as a way of persuading the government to allow the Free Town to continue to exist. Before they were demolished, the National Museum of Denmark was able to get one of the more colourful stands, and includes them now part of an exhibit.
Examples of revolts and uprisings with anarchist qualitiesEdit
Instances of anarchist and anti-authoritarian systems of operation during periods of uprisings and revolts against authoritarian governments.
Italian Factory Occupations and CouncilsEdit
Template:Unreferencedsection After the First World War, Europe’s working class went on a massive radicalization process. Union membership exploded with strikes, demonstrations and uprisings increasing with it. Italy was no exception. Its workers were angry with the fall-out from the war and were getting increasingly militant. In Turin, and all across Italy, a rank ‘n’ file workers’ movement was growing which was based around ‘internal commissions’. These were based on a group of people in a workshop with a mandated and recallable shop steward for every 15-20 workers. The shop stewards in one factory would then elect their ‘internal commission’ which was recallable to them. This was known as the ‘factory council’, and is a structure of direct democracy practiced and proposed by anarcho-syndicalists, (and today through spokescouncils by modern day anarchists).
By November 1918, these commissions had become a national issue within the trade union movement and by February 1919, the Italian Federation of Metal Workers (FIOM) won a contract to allow the commissions in their workplaces. They then tried to transform these commissions into councils with a managerial function. By May 1919, they “were becoming the dominant force within the metalworking industry and the unions were in danger of becoming marginal administrative units.” (Carl Levy, Gramsci and the Anarchists) Though these developments happened largely in Turin, this militancy swept Italy with peasants and workers seizing factories and land. In Liguria, after a breakdown in pay talks, metal and shipbuilding workers occupied and ran their plants for four days.
During this period, the Italian Syndicalist Union (USI) grew to 800,000 members and the influence of the Italian Anarchist Union (20,000 members plus Umanità Nova, its daily paper) grew accordingly. Welsh Marxist, Gwyn Williams says clearly in his book Proletarian Order that the “Anarchists and revolutionary syndicalists were the most consistently…revolutionary group on the left…The syndicalists above all captured militant working-class opinion which the socialist movement was utterly failing to capture.” Anarchists were the first to suggest occupying workplaces. Errico Malatesta wrote in Umanità Nova in March 1920 “General strikes of protest no longer upset anyone…We put forward an idea: take-over of factories…the method certainly has a future, because it corresponds to the ultimate ends of the workers’ movement”.
Obviously, this militancy was going to provoke a reaction from the bosses. Bosses organizations denounced factory councils for encouraging “indiscipline” amongst workers and asked the government to intervene. The state backed the bosses, who began to enforce existing industrial regulations. The big showdown, however, was in April. When several shop stewards were sacked at Fiat, the workers staged a sit-in strike. The bosses responded with a lockout which the government supported by deploying troops and placing mounted machine gun posts outside the factory. After two weeks on strike, the workers decided to surrender. The employers then responded with the demands that the FIOM contract should be re-imposed along with managerial control. These demands were aimed at destroying the factory council system and the workers of Turin responded with a general strike in defense of it. Workers called on Marxist and socialist unions and parties to spread the strike, but they refused, and the anarcho-syndicalist groups were the only ones to act. In the end, control was given back to the bosses with the help of authoritarian socialist groups, and many of the main anarchist organizers were arrested.
Ukraine and the Makhnovist movement (1918 to 1921)Edit
See also: Ukrainian Revolution In March 1918 Russia (led by the Bolsheviks), the Ukrainian People's Republic, and the Central Powers, signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk to pull Russia out of the First World War. The Treaty resulted in the occupation of the territory of the weak Ukrainian state by the German and Austro-Hungarian empires. This was done without consulting the inhabitants. Various insurgence groups arose, including the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine, led by the anarcho-communist Nestor Makhno. They won popular support due to their attacks on the Austro-Hungarian puppet-leader Hetman Skoropadsky and the Nationalist Petliurists.
Although the movement was forced to spend great energy and resources on fighting off the invaders, they still managed to carry out a social revolution according to the principles of anarchism.
- It seemed as though a giant grate composed of bayonets shuttled back and forth across the region, from North to South and back again, wiping out all traces of creative social construction. [Arshinov]Template:Fact
The Makhnovists aimed for a true social revolution in which the working classes (both urban and rural) could actively manage their own affairs and society. As such, their social program reflected the fact that oppression has its roots in both political and economic power and so aimed at eliminating both the state and private property. At the core of their social ideas was the simple principle of working-class autonomy, the idea that the liberation of working-class people must be the task of the working-class people themselves. This vision is at the heart of anarchism and was expressed most elegantly by Makhno:
- Conquer or dieTemplate:Ndash such is the dilemma that faces the Ukrainian peasants and workers at this historic moment . . . But we will not conquer in order to repeat the errors of the past years, the error of putting our fate into the hands of new masters; we will conquer in order to take our destinies into our own hands, to conduct our lives according to our own will and our own conception of the truth. [quoted by Peter Arshinov, The History of the Makhnovist Movement, p. 58]. ISBN, Publisher, and Location Needed
Around Gulyai-Polye (Nestor Makhno’s birthplace) several communes sprang up. Several regional congresses of peasants and workers were organized. A general statute supporting the creation of 'free soviets' (elected councils of workers', soldiers' and peasants' delegates) was passed, though little could be done towards its implementation in much of the Ukraine because of the constantly changing battlefront.
The Makhnovist movement consisted almost entirely of poor peasants and in contradiction to the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks the Makhnovists were very popular. Wherever they came, they were enthusiastically greeted by the population, who provided food, lodging and information on the enemy. The Bolsheviks and Whites relied on terror, imprisoning and killing thousands of peasants.
It is rare for a group of anarchists to be named after an individual. This occurred because the movement, although inspired by Anarchism, contained few people who had solidly defined their anarchist views. The movement encouraged learning and political discussion, but most combatants and supporters still called themselves Makhnovists and the name stuck.
The Makhnovist movement was quite a threat to the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks clung to the idea that the “masses” were unable to carry out a social revolution on their own and perform self-management. This was proven wrong by the Makhnovist movement, prompting Bolshevik attacks.
Even in the military area it seemed that the anarchist answer was superior. The Makhnovists defeated on several occasions armies up to 30 times their size, and had great morale.Template:Fact The army was organized according to three main principles:
Voluntary enlistment meant that the army was composed only of revolutionary fighters who entered it of their own free will.
The electoral principle meant that the commanders of all units of the army, including the staff, as well as all the men who held other positions in the army, were either elected or accepted by the insurgents of the unit in question or by the whole army.
Self-discipline meant that all the rules of discipline were drawn up by commissions of insurgents, then approved by general assemblies of the various units; once approved, they were rigorously observed on the individual responsibility of each insurgent and each commander."
Hungarian Revolution (1956)Edit
- Main article: 1956 Hungarian Revolution
The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 can be seen as an excellent example of a functioning anarchy. From October 22, 1956, Hungarian workers refused to obey their managers or their government, in the face of authoritarian soviet rule. Claiming sovereignty for their own workers' councils they organized economic, military and social production on an increasing scale. An example of the anarchic social organization was that vast sums of money were freely donated for injured revolutionary fighters, and that this money was left unattended in the street for days at a time. Peasants supplied the workers with food on a voluntary basis. Between October 22 and December 14 Hungary's economy and society was governed by the democratic opinion of workers councils and voluntary associations.
These councils constantly increased in scope and depth, eventually forming a Central Workers Council of Greater Budapest (CWC-GB), with intellectual and student associations affiliated to the body. The attempts to form a national Workers Council were crushed by Soviet military violence. The workers councils fought off one invasion by the Soviet Union between October 23 and 28, and fought a second invasion to an armistice of exhaustion between November 3 and November 10. After this time the Soviet Union negotiated directly with the Workers Councils. However, arrests of the primary and reserve leaderships of the CWC-GB, and massive reprisal executions and deportations of Hungarian revolutionaries lead to voluntary dissolution of the CWC-GB as it was no longer able to uphold its aims and ideals. Sporadic resistance by Hungarian revolutionaries and workers continued until mid 1957. Only one self-proclaimed anarchist, the playwright Julius Hay (Hay Gyula), was involved in organizing the revolution. Most revolutionary Hungarians adopted their own "anarchist" way of organizing spontaneously.
Situationist and Worker/Student Occupation Movement (May, 1968)Edit
Template:Unreferencedsection Following months of conflicts between students and authorities at the University of Paris at Nanterre, the administration shut down that university on May 2, 1968. Students at the University of the Sorbonne in Paris met on May 3 to protest the closure and the threatened expulsion of several students at Nanterre. Prominent student activist Daniel Cohn-Bendit rose to the limelight. Police were called in and finally prevailed, but only after arresting hundreds of students.
On Monday, May 6, the national student union and the union of university teachers called a march to protest the police invasion of the Sorbonne. More than 20,000 students, teachers and supporters marched towards the Sorbonne under red and black flags, still sealed off by the police, who charged, wielding their batons, as soon as the marchers approached. While the crowd dispersed, some began to create barricades out of whatever was at hand, while others threw paving stones, forcing the police to retreat for a time. The police then responded with tear gas and charged the crowd again. Hundreds more students were arrested.
High school students started to go out on strike in support of the students at the Sorbonne and Nanterre on May 6. Student Occupation collectives, general assemblies, and committees started to take over the Sorbonne, the teachers and whole system was attacked, and the church was looked upon with contempt. The use of vandalism and posters as a way of communication and propaganda became one of the main uses of distributing information during the revolt. General Assemblies at the Sorbonne were carried out every night, (generally, sometimes waiting for marches, etc), and students volunteered or elected various groups into action collectives that carried out various tasks. The people within the various groups had to be re-elected at various times and could be recalled. One of the most influential of the groups of students was the Enragers, who also worked directly with the Situationist International (SI), which was an autonomous Marxist group that had much of an organizational view like that of anarcho-syndicalism. Situationism rejected the state, and all hierarchical organization. It had an expanded vision of Marx's theories on the alienation created by capitalist society on workers and consumers. Although Situationists made up only a small number of people involved with the revolt, their ideas and forms of organization would spotlight them as a critical group.
Soon, wildcat strikes took over many French factories in solidarity with the student strikers, and went against the wishes of the labor leaders, who were under Stalinist (Communist Party), control. Literally millions of workers were on strike, occupied their factories, and a social revolution began. Workers' councils were formed on factory floors (councils generally meaning large assemblies of all workers without a hierarchy), and began to make contacts and networks with the student assemblies. "Committee for the Maintenance of Occupations", (which included Enragers and Situationists), grew out of the student assemblies at the Sorbonne, and worked to carry out occupation of buildings, help with various workers strikes, and produced massive amounts of propaganda, most of it advocating for the creation and power of the workers councils and self-management. Goods and services were traded and shared, money began to disappear to some extent, and direct democracy, and the creation of councils of students and workers carried out decisions along with general assemblies which used to be done by the state and the authoritarian unions. Militant resistance to the police, capital, (including the periodic destruction of police cars and vans, and the sacking of a stock exchange building), drew thousands of workers and students together, and many of the battles lasted through the night. Large sections of French working society began to come under the influence of anti-authoritarian principles of mutual aid, self-management, and direct democracy. Nurses organized against bureaucratic doctors, soccer players kicked out their managers, and grave diggers occupied the cemeteries (for example). Large masses of people largely rejected a modern, commodity driven capitalist society in favor of something new.
Infighting and desire by authoritarian Marxist groups (i.e., Maoists, Stalinists, etc.) to control the student assemblies and groups destroyed much of the direct democracy at the university. The infighting and sectionalism was so bad that many of the anti-authoritarian groups left the university to go and work out of occupied government buildings. The Stalinist Union labor leaders also tried to get the solidarity between the students and the workers to end, calling the rioters and Situationists various names, and said that they were not to be trusted. They also tried to get the workers back into the factories and end the strike, partly to make sure that they could gain power in the upcoming elections, and also to regain control over the working class - as opposed to having the workers control and manage their own destiny. Although first having left the country, the French President returned late in May, met with Communist Party leaders, and basically challenged the strikers and students to a civil war if they refused to end the occupation and strikes. With not many of the workers prepared to engage in armed struggle against a very powerful state, and with the constant orders of the labor leaders, many of the strikers went back to work, and the occupied buildings were retaken.
Kwangju Uprising (May, 1980)Edit
Template:Unreferencedsection Events in Kwangju unfolded after the dictator of South Korea Park Chung-Hee was assassinated by his own chief of intelligence. In the euphoria after Park's demise, students led a huge movement for democracy, but General Chun Doo-hwan seized power and threatened violence if the protests continued. All over Korea, with the sole exception of Kwangju, people stayed indoors. With the approval of the United States, the new military government then released from the frontlines of the DMZ some of the most seasoned paratroopers to teach Kwangju a lesson (see Gwangju Massacre). Once these troops reached Kwangju, they terrorized the population in unimaginable ways. Soldiers beat students, killing many. Bodies were piled into trucks, where soldiers continued to beat and kick them. By night the paratroopers had set up camp at several universities.
As students fought back, soldiers used bayonets on them and arrested dozens more people, many of whom were stripped naked, raped and further brutalized. One soldier brandished his bayonet at captured students and screamed at them, "This is the bayonet I used to cut forty Viet Cong women's breasts [in Vietnam]!" Despite severe beatings and hundreds of arrests, students continually regrouped and tenaciously fought back. As the city mobilized the next day, people from all walks of life dwarfed the number of students among the protesters. [The May 18 Kwangju Democratic Uprising, p. 127] This spontaneous generation of a peoples' movement transcended traditional divisions between town and gown, one of the first indications of the generalization of the revolt.
People fought back with stones, bats, knives, pipes, iron bars and hammers against 18,000 riot police and over 3,000 paratroopers. Although many people were killed, the city refused to be quieted. On May 20, a newspaper called the Militants' Bulletin was published for the first time, providing accurate newsTemplate:Ndash unlike the official (propaganda) media. At 5:50pm, a crowd of 5,000 surged over a police barricade. When the paratroopers drove them back, they re-assembled and sat-in on a road. They then selected representatives to try and further split the police from the army. In the evening, the march swelled to over 200,000 people in a city with a population then of 700,000. The massive crowd unified workers, farmers, students and people from all walks of life.
Cars were taken from the government, and were now being used by the people. In the heat of the moment, a structure evolved that was more democratic than previous administrations of the city. Assembling at Kwangju Park and Yu-tong Junction, combat cells and leadership formed. Machine guns were brought to bear on Province Hall (where the military had its command post). By 5:30pm, the army retreated; by 8:00pm the people controlled the city. Cheering echoed everywhere. Although their World War II weapons were far inferior to those of the army, people's bravery and sacrifices proved more powerful than the technical superiority of the army. The Free Commune lasted for six days. Daily citizens' assemblies gave voice to years-old frustration and deep aspirations of ordinary people. Local citizens' groups maintained order and created a new type of social administration - one of, by and for the people. Coincidentally, on May 27Template:Ndash the same day that the Paris Commune was crushed over a hundred years earlierTemplate:Ndash the Kwangju Commune was overwhelmed by military force despite heroic resistance. Although brutally suppressed in 1980, for the next seven years the movement continued to struggle, and in 1987 a nationwide uprising was organized that finally won democratic electoral reform in South Korea.
Polish revolution/Solidarity 1980 to 1982Edit
Famously initiated by Gdańsk Shipyard workers though the Solidarity independent trade union, this revolt against the Soviet Polish government triggered large scale discussion both inside and outside "Solidarity" on various conceptions of "workers' self-government" i.e. Workers councils and forms of industrial democracy. The old Communist party-controlled Conferences of Workers Self-Government (KSR) setup in 1958 were totally ineffectual to most of the workers. Large factories took the lead and a survey conducted by solidarity activists found that 95% of respondents in factories employing more than 1000 people were in favour of self-government and 68% of the whole sample wanted Solidarity to start building them at once. In March 1981 a "Network" of these initiatives was forming and by May the biggest enterprises in Poland (including the Gdansk and Warski shipyards) were represented through this movement. By July there were 3000 enterprises linked this way. The Network proposed - "Social ownership of the means of production should mean just that: ownership by society, not the state. In Lubin a similar network was organized. Within 2 years this movement had faded with the domination of the "national independence" issue (the freeing of Poland from Russian and Warsaw Pact interference) and the increasing power of nationalism and pro-capitalist factions within Solidarity.
Zapatista Autonomous MunicipalitiesEdit
Template:Unreferencedsection The indigenous peoples of Southern Mexico rebelled in 1994, partially in response to the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), reclaiming their lands in what is called "a war against oblivion." They established various municipalities which are, in practice, outside the realm of Mexican law.
Laws in the Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities are not passed by "leaders," as such, but by "Good Government Councils" and by the will of the people (representatives in these councils are truly representative of their communities, rather than professional politicians). This is very similar to the delegate structure that many anarchists engage in with spokescouncils, or with unions. In many communities, general assemblies gather during the week to decide on various things facing the community. The assemblies are open to all, with no formal hierarchy. The decisions made by the communities are then passed to elected delegates whose only job is to give the decided upon information to a council of delegates. Like anarcho-syndicalist organizations, the delegates are recallable, and are also rotated. This way, massive numbers of people are able to decide things with no formal hierarchy, and without people speaking for them.
The assemblies and councils serve not as traditional governing bodies but as instruments of the people to provide medicine, education, food, and other essentials. The "laws" passed by the Good Government Councils are not enforced with policemen and prisons, but in a way that respects "criminals" as members of the community. For example, it was decided to ban alcohol and drugsTemplate:Fact, due to their nefarious influence on Indians in the past (though alcohol/drug prohibition is considered in conflict with anarchist principles). Violation of this law is surprisingly rare; those who do may be required, for example, to help build something their community needs. Some anarchists believe this to be a decentralized, non-authoritarian style similar to what they advocate, having always loathed prisons, police power, and capital punishment.
Like anarchists, Zapatistas also believe in forming freely associated collectives to carry out various jobs and tasks. Zapatistas collectively work land, and plant and grow crops. The Zapatistas do not claim to be anarchists, but through their actions and words, have shown some similarities to self-proclaimed anarchists and have become a cause célebre of the global left and the "anti-globalization movement". However, the Zapatistas, along with libertarian Marxism and traditional Zapatismo (which is almost identical to anarchism), have also been heavily influenced by the writings and actions of Ricardo Flores Magón, or "Magonism", who was an anarcho-syndicalist during the Mexican Revolution.
Cascadia Free State 1996 (US)Edit
Template:Unreferencedsection In the mid-1990s, an arson fire near Warner Creek destroyed some sections of old growth forest in Oregon state, in the United States. The forest service responded by burning more of the forest, and selling it off as low price salvage. In response to this, Earth First!, (a network of collectives organized on anarchist principles and deep ecology), began organizing to stop the logging by road occupations. These occupations stopped the flow of logging and forest service workers in and out of the forest.
What first started out as a small group of protestors, grew to a large eco-village. In the following days the blockade grew and grew. Rock walls sprang up and deep trenches spanned the road in numerous places. Mainstream environmentalists, Earth First!ers, members of Congress, school children, people outside of the local community, and many others made the trip up to see the "Cascadia Free State". Several teams of people occupied the logging roads, with teams up in trees to do media and be watchouts, people ready to 'lock-down', (meaning to lock on to some sort of device that would hinder vehicles moving on the road), and a whole campsite constructed under a massive wooden structure.
Mutual aid was practiced, and the occupation was allowed to go on for over a year because of people from the surrounding community bringing food, blankets, and other items. Steady streams of people moved in and out of the camp, allowing people to spend various amounts of time blocking the road. "Warnerization" spread, and various other "free states" erupted on logging roads, and various groups occupied land to stop the logging of old growth eco-systems.
Eventually, with the resistance from the occupations, media campaigns, and also pressure from other groups; caused the government to make a deal with the logging company to stop the logging of Warner Creek. The free state was then destroyed by forest service workers, and activists arrested. Although the free state had been ended by force, the goal of its existence, to stop the logging of Warner Creek, was successful.
Argentina (2001 to 2002)Edit
After the collapse of the Argentine economy, coupled with riots and finally the fall of the government in the last days of 2001, the social and economic organization of Argentina underwent major changes. Argentina was once a shining example of free market reforms and structural adjustment programs ("the IMF's best pupil"). However, after the economy crashed, the IMF responded by demanding that more social programs (health care, schools, etc) be cut, and more things be privatized. Massive popular rebellion erupted.
Out of the uprisings came many popular organs of self-management and direct democracy. Worker occupations of factories and popular assemblies have both been seen functioning in Argentina, and both are the kind of action endorsed by anarchists: the first is a case of direct action and the latter a case of direct democracy. Approximately 250+ "recovered" factories (fábricas recuperadas) are now self-managed and collectively owned by workers. Over 10,000 people are working in factories with little or no management or hierarchy. In the large majority of them, pay is completely egalitarian; generally no professional managers are employed, or managers are collectively controlled in the other cases. Decisions are made by all workers, in general assembly type structures. These co-operatives have organized themselves into networks. Solidarity and support from external groups, such as neighborhood assemblies and unemployed (piquetero) groups, have often been important for the survival of these factories. Unemployed workers elsewhere have also organized takeovers of plots of vacant land, and taken them back for housing and growing food.
In a survey by an Argentina newspaper in the capital, it was found that around 1/3 of the population had participated in general assemblies. The assemblies used to take place in street corners and public spaces, and generally gathered to discuss ways of helping each other in the face of eviction, or organizing around issues like health care, collective food buying, or conducting free food distribution programs. Some assemblies started to create new structures of health care and schooling, to replace the old ones that were not working. Neighborhood assemblies met once a week in a large assembly to discuss issues affecting the larger community. In 2004, Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein (Author of No Logo) released the documentary The Take, about these events.
Popular assemblies have gradually died out as the economy began its recovery. However, activism has continued. The piqueteros and unemployed worker movements have become organized and often adopted a radical left-wing ideology. Some middle-class Argentinians, especially in Buenos Aires, now regard piqueteros as violent and disruptive, due to the continuous road blocks and massive demonstrations they stage in the capital.
Abahlali baseMjondolo Rebellion: South Africa 2005 to PresentEdit
The Abahlali baseMjondolo movement, a movement of shack dwellers active in 36 shack settlements in Durban, Pinetown and Pietermaritzburg in South Africa has instituted popular democratic rule in all settlements where the movement is dominant. The movement has refused electoral politics in favour of decentralised popular people's power.
All major decisions are taken in open assemblies and all elected positions are for one year terms and people can be recalled. People elected to official positions are not elected to represent those that voted for them but rather to ensure that there is democratic decision making on all issues related to their portfolio. The movement faces constant violent and unlawful police harassment.
Examples of projects and other movements with anarchist qualitiesEdit
- Main article: Cooperative
A cooperative (also co-operative or co-op) is defined by the International Co-operative Alliance's Statement on the Co-operative Identity as an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. A cooperative may also be defined as a business owned by the people who use its services. Cooperative enterprises are the focus of study in the field of cooperative economics. Cooperatives have a sponsored top level domain .coop, which informs users that they are dealing with a co-op.
A mainstream cooperative comprises a legal entity owned and democratically controlled by its members, with no passive shareholders, unless they hold non-voting shares. It thus combines the equal control characteristic of many partnerships with the legal personality conferred on corporations.
Laissez Faire CityEdit
In 1994, a group of libertarian "sovereign individuals" attempted to find a piece of land to buy or lease from an existing government, using Hong Kong as a model. They came close to leasing Template:Convert from Peru, but negotiations failed. Two interim communities were established in Costa Rica. The first was in the central valley near San Jose, in a suburb called Curridabat. This included a former Nicaraguan embassy and a "city club" restaurant/hotel. A second community was established in the beach community of Nosara, on the Pacific coast.
When it became clear that existing governments would not yield sovereignty, a second generation of LFC began building a "domicile" in cyberspace - a redundant network supporting various project. Some of these were a totally unregulated stock market, an encrypted email system (MailVault), a digital currency (DMT rand), communications systems for "founders" (members), and various trading and support systems. The second generation goal was "cyberspace sovereignty and building digital freedom tools." An online magazine called Laissez Faire City Times became successful, featuring authors such as Dr J. Orlin Grabbe, Tibor Machan, Jack Wheeler, Claire Wolfe, Wolf DeVoon, and many others.
LFC has problems getting out promised products on time, and suffered from eccentric founder, and government (and private) "scamdogs."Template:Fact It dissolved in April 2002. Several of its products were spun off and still survive, most notably MailVault. Many international friendships and collaborations are a continuing legacy.
Free Software movementEdit
Template:Epigraph The Free Software movement is an example of an emergent movement with anarchist characteristics. The nature of the GPL and many other free software licenses is such that there is a collective sharing of resources (in this case, source code) between developers and users, thus some anarchists see this as putting into practice their perspective on private property and economic organization. There is, however, little evidence that those involved in the Free Software have considered the political implications. The movement can be treated as being a large number of anarcho-syndicalist communities.
The Free Software movement was started by people who believe that software should be free, and indeed this is the position of the Free Software Foundation. However, large amounts of free software is written nowadays by traditional software development bodies who consider it as a better development method for many cases.
Western Sahara Exiles (1976 to Present)Edit
According to the Institute for Anarchist Studies: Since 1976, nearly half the indigenous population of Western Sahara has lived in exile in four self-managed refugee camps in Algeria. Their relatives and friends, the other half of the divided population, still live under Moroccan occupation in what is Africa’s last official colony, Western Sahara. In the four Sahrawi refugee camps–small spaces of political autonomy ceded by Algeria–the Western Saharan independence movement (Polisario Front) has committed itself to a now thirty-year-old experiment in prefigurative self-governance. Unlike any other refugees’ experiences in the world, the Western Saharan refugees who inhabit the camps manage their daily lives without direct help from the international community. At the same time, they participate in the political structures of their own liberation movement–from daily meetings in “tent groups” to the “National Congress” held every three years. The refugees claim that the camps model the very society an independent Western Sahara will achieve once Morocco withdraws.
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- ↑ Americas Program | Citizen Action in the Americas | Worker-Run Factories: From Survival to Economic Solidarity
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- "The Polish Revolution: Solidarity" by Timothy Garton Ash, (1999) ISBN 0-300-09568-6
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- Anarchist FAQ - What are some examples of "Anarchy in Action"?
- Anarchism in the Spanish Revolution
- Pirate Utopias (Do or Die) - Piracy and Anarchism
- Anarchism in the Italian Factory Councils
- Nestor Makhno Archive, Information on Anarchism in the Russian Revolution
- Hungary's Worker's Councils
- STEROIDS FOR SALE WEBSITE
- Zapatistas Autonomous Community Councils
- Self-Management in Argentina
- Mau Mau Uprising
- People Without Government - An Anthropology of Anarchy by Harold Barclay
- http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/talks/korea.htmlhe:קהילות אנרכיסטיות