Sunday, September 24, 2006

Libertarian Communism A Definition

Since I continue to get comments from those who attempt to enlighten me as to why you cannot be a Libertarian and a Communist the latest being here.

I thought I would let an expert on the subject explain it. For those who are so blighted by half baked Republican interpretations of both terms that they just don't get it.

This is an exerpt from the
1910/1911 Encyclopedia Britannica entry on Anarchism; by Peter Kropotkin

Anarchism continued to develop, partly in the direction of Proudhonian ‘mutuellisme’, but chiefly as communist-anarchism, to which a third direction, Christian-anarchism, was added by Leo Tolstoy, and a fourth, which might be ascribed as literary-anarchism, began amongst some prominent modern writers.

The ideas of Proudhon, especially as regards mutual banking, corresponding with those of Josiah Warren, found a considerable following in the United States, creating quite a school, of which the main writers are Stephen Pearl Andrews, William Grene, Lysander Spooner (who began to write in 1850, and whose unfinished work, Natural Law, was full of promise), and several others, whose names will be found in Dr Nettlau’s Bibliographie de l’anarchie.

A prominent position among the individualist anarchists in America has been occupied by Benjamin R. Tucker, whose journal Liberty was started in 1881 and whose conceptions are a combination of those of Proudhon with those of Herbert Spencer. Starting from the statement that anarchists are egotists, strictly speaking, and that every group of individuals, be it a secret league of a few persons, or the Congress of the United States, has the right to oppress all mankind, provided it has the power to do so, that equal liberty for all and absolute equality ought to be the law, and ‘mind every one your own business’ is the unique moral law of anarchism, Tucker goes on to prove that a general and thorough application of these principles would be beneficial and would offer no danger, because the powers of every individual would be limited by the exercise of the equal rights of all others. He further indicated (following H. Spencer) the difference which exists between the encroachment on somebody’s rights and resistance to such an encroachment; between domination and defence: the former being equally condemnable, whether it be encroachment of a criminal upon an individual, or the encroachment of one upon all others, or of all others upon one; while resistance to encroachment is defensible and necessary. For their self-defence, both the citizen and the group have the right to any violence, including capital punishment. Violence is also justified for enforcing the duty of keeping an agreement. Tucker thus follows Spencer, and, like him, opens (in the present writer’s opinion) the way for reconstituting under the heading of ‘defence’ all the functions of the state. His criticism of the present state is very searching, and his defence of the rights of the individual very powerful. As regards his economical views B.R. Tucker follows Proudhon.

The individualist anarchism of the American Proudhonians finds, however, but little sympathy amongst the working masses. Those who profess it - they are chiefly ‘intellectuals’ - soon realize that the individualization they so highly praise is not attainable by individual efforts, and either abandon the ranks of the anarchists, and are driven into the liberal individualism of the classical economist or they retire into a sort of Epicurean amoralism, or superman theory, similar to that of Stirner and Nietzsche. The great bulk of the anarchist working men prefer the anarchist-communist ideas which have gradually evolved out of the anarchist collectivism of the International Working Men’s Association. To this direction belong - to name only the better known exponents of anarchism Elisée Reclus, Jean Grave, Sebastien Faure, Emile Pouget in France; Errico Malatesta and Covelli in Italy; R. Mella, A. Lorenzo, and the mostly unknown authors of many excellent manifestos in Spain; John Most amongst the Germans; Spies, Parsons and their followers in the United States, and so on; while Domela Nieuwenhuis occupies an intermediate position in Holland. The chief anarchist papers which have been published since 1880 also belong to that direction; while a number of anarchists of this direction have joined the so-called syndicalist movement- the French name for the non-political labour movement, devoted to direct struggle with capitalism, which has lately become so prominent in Europe.

As one of the anarchist-communist direction, the present writer for many years endeavoured to develop the following ideas: to show the intimate, logical connection which exists between the modern philosophy of natural sciences and anarchism; to put anarchism on a scientific basis by the study of the tendencies that are apparent now in society and may indicate its further evolution; and to work out the basis of anarchist ethics. As regards the substance of anarchism itself, it was Kropotkin’s aim to prove that communism at least partial - has more chances of being established than collectivism, especially in communes taking the lead, and that free, or anarchist-communism is the only form of communism that has any chance of being accepted in civilized societies; communism and anarchy are therefore two terms of evolution which complete each other, the one rendering the other possible and acceptable. He has tried, moreover, to indicate how, during a revolutionary period, a large city - if its inhabitants have accepted the idea could organize itself on the lines of free communism; the city guaranteeing to every inhabitant dwelling, food and clothing to an extent corresponding to the comfort now available to the middle classes only, in exchange for a half-day’s, or five-hours’ work; and how all those things which would be considered as luxuries might be obtained by everyone if he joins for the other half of the day all sorts of free associations pursuing all possible aims - educational, literary, scientific, artistic, sports and so on. In order to prove the first of these assertions he has analysed the possibilities of agriculture and industrial work, both being combined with brain work. And in order to elucidate the main factors of human evolution, he has analysed the part played in history by the popular constructive agencies of mutual aid and the historical role of the state.

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AZiggen said...

What gibberish.

Posting an encyclopedia entry that’s almost 100 years old to support definitions that have evolved over time only inspires ridicule.

It’s rather incredulous in the year 2006 that you support your libertarian/communist “reality” without commenting on a near 100 years of philosophical advance.

Where are the Austrians?…Mises, Hayek, and Block who defined what libertarianism is in the 20th/21st century? What about Friedman, Russell, and Nozick how do they fit into your lazy [circa] 1911 cut and paste defense?

If you want to defend the indefensible then please do so in your own words…I’ll be more than willing to correct your stupidity.

FurGaia said...

Hi Eugene, I have not stopped at that "libertarian communist" thing before. I just read your posts because I find them interesting.

However, my curiosity having been piqued, I went & found this treasure trove of information on the subject. You must have come across it yourself. If not, enjoy!

eugene plawiuk said...

Fur guy one of the links on the page goes to my site on Left Communism

eugene plawiuk said...

Aziggen you obviously did not read the references to Tucker who is the major influence on authentic right wing libertarians still today. After a hundred years.

Last time I checked Von Mises has been dead, like his ideology of the comic book characture of capitalism the mythic free market, for many years and his writing date back to the 1920's. He is not a libertarian by any definition of the word he is a capitalist apologist. Like Hayaek Friedman Greenspan etc. In the latter case he was a follower of Ayn Rand. Whom you forgot to mention, and I deal with her here.

Last time I checked Nozick was also dead and wrote his critique of the state back sixty years ago.

You failed to mention the only real libertarian in that mess, besides Nozick, who was Murray Rothbard. Followed by his student Samuel E. Konkin III whom I link to on the left with Movement for the Libertarian Left logo.

As for commenting on my writings on libertarianism see these

UncleMeat said...

OK Eugene, prove me wrong and I will convert. Try that "Smash The State" thing in China or North Korea. If they let you live I will say that you are right on this one.

FurGaia said...

Extremely interesting stuff, Eugene! Thanks!

eugene plawiuk said...

Ok Uncle meat eat my shorts here it is Anarchist freedom in Stalinist bout Ba Jin one of China's greatest novelists who was an anarchist. Who suffered under the Cultural revolution, crawling on glass across the length of a football field, but remainining in China to continue to propigate his libertarian ideals to his people.