Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Anarchist Critique of Government

A tip o the blog to my fellow left libertarian Freeman who noted that many of the revolutionary anarchist pamphlets in the Labadie collection are now available online as facsimile reproductions, that is as jpgs of the actual pamphlets with text accompanying them.

For more on Joe Labadie who started the collection see;

There are at least 200 pamphlets available from the collection online. This is an exerpt of one of them in two parts. This is part one.

The whole pamphlet is well worth the read and download.

As I have often said in this blog the State or government is the executive class of capitalism. The State is the creature of modern capitalism and not separate from it. And I liked the Anarchist attack on taxation from a working class viewpoint.

Part two is on Direct Action and as it is fairly long I will be posting it separately.

The Anarchist Revolution.
George Barrett, London: Freedom Press, 1920.

Thus, while the politicians muddle their heads with the most complex theories of reform, the revolutionist may keep his mind perfectly clear if he will but confine himself to what is really essential, and always start to consider social matters from the simplest point.
The fact is, the Government is simply the executive cominittee of the ruling class. Taxation is its principle source of finance. The landlords and capitalists are those for whom it keeps the land and means of production, and prevents the producers from taking possession.
If instead of the present capitalist class there were a set of officials appointed by the Government and set in a position to control our factories, it would bring about no revolutionary change. The officials would have to be paid, and we may depend that, in their privileged positions, they would expect good remuneration. The politicians would have to be paid, and we already know their tastes. You would, in fact, have a nonproductive class dictating to the producers the conditions upon which they were allowed to make use of the means of production.

As this is exactly what is wrong with the present system of society, we can see that State control would be no remedy, while it- would bring with it a host of new troubles. It cannot be too clearly understood that any system of Government control-that is, any system except Anarchism can at the best do nothing better than enforce the politician's ideal of society upon the people.

For example, let us suppose an absolutely ideal Socialist State, where all the Members of Parliament are in agreement, and where their only object is the welfare of society. As a Government, or an executive committee, or an administrative body, or whatever they called themselves, it will be agreed, I think, that they undertake two chief duties. The one is to see that the necessities of life are supplied, and the other is to ensure that the workers shall have proper conditions under which to produce. Now let us suppose that a section of the workers disagree with the Government as to what are proper conditions (for the worker sees the factory from a slightly different point of view from the politician).

What takes place? The politicians, we will say, refuse to grant these conditions, which seem to them unfair. This section of the workers consequently come out on strike. They are successful up to the point of causing a serious shortage of the commodity which they produce. The politicians are responsible for the supply of this commodity, and they cannot allow the whole community to suffer because of the (to them) unreasonable action of an extremist minority. The inevitable conclusion is that the strikers must be forced back into their factories.
Surely from this it is evident that under a governmental system of society, whether it is the capitalism of to-day or a more perfected Government control of the Socialist State, the essential relationship between the governed and the governing, the worker and the controller, will be the same; and this relationship so long as it lasts can be maintained only by the bloody brutality of the policeman's bludgeon and the soldier's rifle.
You cannot put new wine into old bottles. The institutions of the present society, based upon the subjection of the workers, must be thrown aside, for they will not hold the spirit of liberty which will compose the new society. If we wanted further proof than that furnished by the logic of the position, it would be found in that question so often levelled at the Anarchist: What would you do with the man who would not work?

The implication is, of course, that the questioner, a Governmentalist, and generally a Socialist, has a method of dealing with him. What can such a method be, which the Anarchist has not also, except force? Is not the striker one of the most important of the men who will not work? And is not the question, therefore, an admission that force will be brought to bear on the discontented, to compel them to occupy their proper position in society? Certain it is that to-day the capitalist is compelled to bring out the soldiers and force his slaves back to work; but it is no more certain than the fact that in all societies where there is a central controlling force the same means must be used to crush the rebellious.

That is why we are Anarchists. We have seen already how inevitably we come to this conclusion, and one labour dispute after another in recent years has shown us the theory in practice; and all this logic and fact brings us to one great truth, the truth upon which is based all the hopes of revolutionary activity. It is obvious to us every day, and yet it is recognised by a comparative few.
Many there are who believe that the worker is dependent on the rich capitalist-the governing class; but a few-they are revolutionists-realise that the governing class is entirely impotent itself, and depends most abjectly and helplessly upon the worker.
If the workers refuse to work, it can do nothing unless it can induce some of them to leave their jobs and come and shoot down their rebellious mates. The workers are the only creative, live power in society, and it is for this reason that it must be they who will regenerate society and bring about the revolution.

Their task is on, of construction and re-creation, while the utmost that the helpless Governmentalist can do is to stay the onward progress by persuading some of them to forsake their legitimate task and take part in destruction, in which cause to-day they have vast numbers of workers employed. This truth of the utter dependence of the capitalist and governing class is really the starting-point of the revolultion.

Also See:

State-less Socialism

Not Your Usual Left Wing Rant

The Need for Arab Anarchism


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