Means and Ends of Anarchist Communism
Here’s where the problem ultimately lies according to the anarchists. — Anarchists have this thing called ‘‘Means and Ends’’ — For the anarchist appropriate means must be used in order to secure the end, if the wrong means are used, then the wrong end is produced as a result. Therefore ‘’The end justifies the means’’ is really not a good method, because it’s grabbing unto whatever means possible whether incorrect or correct, it does not matter, as long as the end is secured. What is the end goal of socialism? It is communism, a stateless and classless society, what means are being used? — For the anarchist this is an important question, The end goal of anarchism is communism , a stateless classless society in which workers collectively own the means of production and self-manage their workplaces and communities. How do we achieve this? Such a society would be reproduced over time by human beings engaging in these forms of activity and in so doing continuously creating and re-creating both communist social relations and themselves as people with the right kinds of capacities, drives and forms of consciousness for a communist society. People who want to and are able to reproduce a communist society will not magically come into existence. A communist society can only emerge through a social revolution that abolishes capitalism and therefore will have to be created by the people who presently live under capitalism. Given this, in order to achieve a communist society the majority of the population has to engage in activities during the struggle against capitalism itself that transform them into people who want to and are able to self-direct their lives. This is because for communism to exist real people must establish and reproduce it day after day through their own activity. The Anarchist realizes that ‘‘the means become the end’’
Revolutionaries therefore have to use means that are constituted by forms of practice that will actually transform individuals into the kinds of people who will be able to and want to create the end goal of communism.
This behavior can be observed within capitalism, we lead a capitalist way of life and we are determined by it, we become selfish, the workers compete with one another. Capitalism as a whole is streghtening capitalist ties and relations in the best way it can even by sometimes alienating the workers. Anarchism seeks to do the same by streghtening anarchist ties and relations ( What are these ties?) — They are collectivization of the workplace, mutual aid, to each according to his need put into practice, the abolishment of the state, the fight against counter-revolutionaries, all this organization is transforming ‘‘People that were once alienated under capitalism’’ and transforming them into people that now have a new way of life, new ways of relating to production
So when anarcho-syndicalists came along, the anarcho-communists simply criticized them because of using ‘’inappropriate means’’ — unionism doesn’t streghten anarchist ties between the proletariat, they keep living in the past even after the revolution with their ‘’unionism’’ — because unionism is a tool to be used to fight for better working conditions and cannot therefore be used as a tool that constructs anarchism. It can be used to fight… Yes… this is true, but it cannot construct anarchism. This is why syndicalism is flawed, because it doesn’t establish anarchist relations between people. Production has to change, and so must the people. When it comes to unionism, the production changes, but people are not self-reliant, they are reliant on the union. Therefore instead of relying on anarchist relations between people, they rely on a union instead which is supposedly there to construct relations for them.
‘‘The society which organizes production anew on the basis of free and equal association of the producers will put the whole state machinery where it will then belong — into the museum of antiquities, next to the spinning wheel and the bronze ax’’ — Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State
What does this mean? That the society that basis its production on free and equal association among producers will not recquire a state. In this manner, Engels has validified anarchism itself. Also, since unionism is not based on free and equal association, rather based on union control, you can see how that cannot produce communist relations between people, and as such communism as an end goal in this scenerio is impossible as long as the union control exists.
Even if you are a marxist-Leninist and supposedly, you want to finally transition from socialism into communism, the party by necessity must gradually destroy itself of course through a ‘’method’’ . A method should be used, that establishes free and equal assosciation of producers that will eventually replace the state machinery, otherwise communism cannot be achieved. Engels gives us proof, that it’s not enough that class is destroyed, and as a result the state withers away, because here he is also telling us, that a society that organizes itself in this manner, will put the state machinery where it belongs in the mesuem of antiquity (Which is basically a metaphor) for saying ‘‘The state is a thing of the past, it shall no longer be used’’ — it has withered away. So two things are needed, the destruction of class society, but what shall replace class society, what shall replace the state? Think about that for a moment if you can, — Engels is clear about it, that this society that organizes production on the basis of freedom and equality will take hold. (This is precisely what the anarchist tries to implement but they do it without a state, because so as long as the state exists, production will not be free, neither equal.) Clearly Engels highlights this point, in fact he makes it clear in that quotation, that production is only free and equal, once the state is placed into the museum.
Let’s clarify on this, The bourgeois state is abolished, the influence of the state however isn’t. The bourgeois state has influenced people very much, and therefore the ability for the bourgeois state to be remerge through a counter-revolutrionary effort has been itnernalized within the people themselves. It is that internalization which has to be destroyed through action, that will abolish every state influence once and for all. The influence of the state is what needs to ‘’wither away’’ in anarchism, and it doesn’t do this by itself of course, but through the method, I’ve already illustrated. Anarchist don’t replace one state with another, even though we replace them with anarchist strongholds of power, these are technically not a state.
A state is characterized by being a monopoly and centralization of power, and since these ‘’anarchist strongholds’’ have none of that, therefore they are not a state. You may however to be fair call it a ‘’state’’ in the non-traditional sense, because anarchist strongholds become an organ of class rule — but even this isn’t a state. According to Lenin,
‘‘In the first place, Engels at the very outset of his argument says that, in assuming state power, the proletariat by that very act, puts an end to the state as the state’’ — Lenin, State and Revolution
So if we argue that anarchism replaces a state with its own version of a proletarian state, then you are also following with Engel’s logic that the proletariat in assuming state power, by that very act has put an end to the state as the state.
‘‘From the state, special forces of suppression of a particular class into something which is no longer really the state in the accepted sense of the word’’ — ‘’But the organ of suppression is now the majority of the population, and not the minority. Once the majority of the people itself suppress its oppressors, a special force for suppression is no longer necessary. In this sense the state begins to wither away. Instead of the special institutions of a privileged minority, heads of a standing army, the majority can itself directly fulfil all these functions and the more the discharge of these functions, the more state power devolves upon the people generally, the less need is there for the existence of its power’’ — Lenin, State and Revolution
With Lenin’s statement, here the anarchist (The intelligent anarchist) would agree, the anarchist abolishes the state, but he is not entirerly free from its influence either. The more the majority under anarchism direct these functions (I’ve already mention them haven’t I, the ability of people to organize in militias to protect themselves, collecticization of the workplace, mutual aid being implemented) — The more these functions are exercised the more the need for a state to be ‘’born again’’ from the ashes withers away. Of course, always understand this interpretation from an anarchist context, because we have abolished state power, therefore what remains isn’t precisely the state, but it’s influence on society and on the people that still exists. Bourgeois relations are still somewhat maintains, — it is precisely this what the anarchists hopes to destroy. Once they are destroyed, the state will not be reborn from within anarchism itself. If however the anarchists do not do this and discahrge these functions to the majority, then the same thing will happen to them as happened to the CNT Anarchists, they built up a new state, in the form of a union. Syndicalism in my opinion is quite clearly anarchist revisionism pretty much. At first it’s very revolutionary, and struggles, wages class war, and abolishes the state, then it becomes reformist, fighting within itself, and not constructing anything at all but maintain their own power as union in an age where unionism as such is no longer recquired.
I wouldn’t see it as ‘‘anarchism constructing it’s own state’’ — I would see it as ‘‘Anarchists who have destroyed the state, but are still in their own way struggling against the fragments of the state that have remained even after abolishing most of it’’— What are these fragments? — They are the fragmentary relations between the masses that need to be resolved. Even the marxists struggle against the bourgeois elements within post-revolutionary society, because the fragments of bourgeois society still remain after the revolution.
It is the fragments that remain of the bougeois state, in fact there are two reasons for the dictatorship of the proletariat, the worker’s state in socialism, one of them is to destroy these fragments that remain, secondly to build something towards commuism, which furthermore is supposed to witheraway the conditions of the socialist state after class society has been laid to waste. In anarchism, after the state is abolished, the fragments that remain must be destroyed, once they are destroyed, statelessness is established, when class society no longer exists. It doesn’t matter whether CNT had democracy if it was built on the wrong foundations. CNT was not the most anarchist one could get, it was possibly the least anarchist you could get, their dependance on unions, meant that they were implementing union construction (Take a moment to appreciate what union construction means) — It means precisely struggling for better working conditions, not to achieve communism itself.
While Anarchists may agree with marxists on the concept of a transitionary stage, and on the concept of withering away. In Anarchism what is withering away are fragments of the old capitalist society, while in marxism what is withering away is precisely the proletarian state. Anarchism does not recquire the proletarian state, because it doesn’t believe that a worker’s state can implement proper socialist construction, instead we believe that once devoid of the state, people are free to construct their new way of life, with entirerly new relations, — these constructs then are used to negate the old society and negate the fragments that remain, and also abolish the need for a state to ever emerge ever again, thus achieving a stateless and classless society. Unlike the Marxist who go into many extra steps to achieve communism, such as abolishing the state, building a proletariat state, so that it can wither away, allowing communism to finally exists. Anarchists abolish the bourgeois state, build constructs that help ease the way into communism, and these constructs in turn are in contradiction with the old society and will inherently develop a new society from the unity of such opposites. The bourgeois way of life has first to be weakened to the level of the working class, not vice versa, the anarchist like the pious christian revels in his weakness, in his own weakness, the anarchist is made stronger.
What do we mean by this? Whilst the marxists seeks to elevate the working class to ruling status, and oppress the bourgeois who now find themselves in the minority, the anarchists seeks to reverse these terms — we seek simply to weaken the bourgeois to a point, where they are brought down to the worker’s level and his weakness, in such a way, that the bourgeois ceases to be bourgeois, but becomes a proletariat. There comes a point, where the bourgeois will be so weakened, that he will either become a proletariat, or otherwise simply be coerced and destroyed by the proletarian majority whom are now anarchists. We do not elevate the workers to ruling status via a state apparatus, but we elevate the working class to the majority status by weakening the enemy and streghtening the ties and organization concetration among the working class. The reason we weaken the enemy, rather than streghten the working class via a state, is because it is easier to win a war against a weak enemy, rather than a strong one — the same applies for class war. However, we shouldn’t assume that position of anarchism comes from a position of weakness — one should also note, that although anarchism doesn’t have a party, it doesn’t mean that it’s weak to protect itself against counter-revolutionary forces or otherwise, the anarchist believes that mutual aid in fact streghtens our position, much better than if there was a worker’s party that owned the state apparatus. The USSR and China all suffered the same consequences — While they elevated the working class through the state apparatus, they did not necessarily weaken the bourgeoisie. In turn the bourgeoisie and their tendencies latched unto that thing which has power aka the state machinery, and hindered it, destroyed it from within — this occured in secret speech during Kruschevist era in the USSR and the Dengist Era in Communist china. In order for this not to happen, in order for revisionist or latching unto power of any kind not to ever happen again, the anarchists seek to weaken the bourgeoisie. How do we weaken the bourgeoisie? — Simply remove the bourgeoisie invention, the state machinery and never put it there ever again. In this manner, the bourgeoisie couldn’t latch to the state, even if they wanted to, and internal revisionism will never become a problem ever again. The bourgeoisie in this manner are left with nothing, since they cannot utilize the state, they have to use other means — meaning counter-revolutionary means — when such a time comes, the anarchists must destroy this counter-revolutionary effort through force. Once the conter-revolution is dead, the bourgeoisie is left without tools and without weapons.
For the marxist, they try to match the proletarian power with bourgeois power, and they do so by elevating their class through higher status. This only means that the proletariat are on the same level as the bourgeoisie in terms of political strenght, meaning that both sides can win in this class war. The bourgeoisie have beaten the marxists-leninists blindfolded, hands behind their back all the while sucking on a juicy lollipop.
On the other hand the anarchists understands that ‘‘Through the weakness of my enemy, I become stronger’’, if we can weaken the bourgeoisie, then the working class naturally elevates itself as the other side weakens. Class war from this perspective becomes a walk in the park. This is why anarchists abolish the state, and do not reconstruct another state in it’s place, in order to hinder the bourgeoisie from latching themselves politically to the proletarian state, among many other reasons why anarchists are against the state. We don’t elevate the working class through the state apparatus, but through voluntary social organization in accordance to the need and mutual aid.
Another reason why we don’t rely on the state is explained explicitly by Bakunin,
‘‘The supreme law of the State is self-preservation at any cost. And since all States, ever since they came to exist upon the earth, have been condemned to perpetual struggle — a struggle against their own populations, whom they oppress and ruin, a struggle against all foreign States, every one of which can be strong only if the others are weak — and since the States cannot hold their own in this struggle unless they constantly keep on augmenting their power against their own subjects as well as against the neighborhood States — it follows that the supreme law of the State is the augmentation of its power to the detriment of internal liberty and external justice.”
― Mikhail Bakunin
The state will always busy itself with social imperialism, the competition between nations — this has been observed through the USSR that became social imperialist in order to propogate the state’s existence, the same happened to china with the dengist transformation. All states have a struggle against foreign states, the same can be said of the USSR’s struggle with foreign states, and thus this forces them to become social imperialist, because only through social imperialism where they allowed to keep the worker’s state strong enough, but in so doing, they also dilluted the worker’s state and it transformed itself into a counter-revolutionary force. The state is also in a struggle with it’s own people that it holds as subjects, it will augment its power and find every excuse to prolong its existence even if it is a ‘‘revolutionary excuse’’, — We will soon achieve ‘‘Communism through capitalism’’ in 50 years time says the modern Xi Jinpingists, disciples of Deng Xiaoping. ‘‘We will get there soon!’’ — Mao claims, but first imperialism has to be defeated, and after imperialism has been defeated, the state will yet find another excuse to prolong it’s existence. In all societies, all states have found all sorts of excuses to prolong their own existence, furthermore every conservative state attempts to prolong their existence by shunning the revolutionaries of the future.
Socialism must be free or not at all!