Alexander Hope

The Myth of No Transitionary Period in Anarchism

There have been some who have simplified the difference between Marxism and Anarchism as simply being that one believes in a transitionary peroid and the other does not.

Anarchism is the belief that we can achieve communism immediately and Marxism is the belief that we can achieve communism through stages in society. Nothing can be more further than the truth, because anarchists have never claimed that anarchism is the belief that we can achieve communism in the here and now, rather we have always held a gradualist approach of society, similiar to that of the Marxists. Kropotkin believed society evolved and that communism can only be attained when society and mankind have evolved in particular stages. Communism is a goal, and there are many stages and transitionary peroid in between in order to achieve that goal.

The debate between Anarchists and Marxists have been always about this notion:

Marxist: ‘‘We believe in dialectics, we believe that socialism can only be necessary after capitalism fails, — we defined socialism as an intermediary stage before communism. Socialism can be implemented via the dictatorship of the proletariat. Anyone who denies this ‘‘socialism’’ is undialectical and doesn’t believe that there are ‘‘processess’’ and transformations from one society to another. Therefore anarchists are ‘‘Unscientific, undialectical and also they believe that we can skip socialism and immediately go to communism after capitalism has failed’’

Anarchists: ‘‘We believe in using the appropriate means in order to achieve the communist end. We don’t believe the ‘‘state’’ is an appropriate means, therefore a means that is stateless will achieve communism. This doesn’t mean however that we are undialectical, we have never claimed that we can achieve communism in 24 hours — rather we are also scientific, and we can also be dialectical should we wish. After the state is abolished, the first step towards communism has been achieved. We believe that society will gradually transform itself, that society has processses and transitions from one society to another. We don’t want to skip ‘‘socialism’’ and immediately go to communism, rather we define ‘‘socialism’’ as the society that has abolished the state, and is gradually working towards achieving communism through the ownership of the means of production, the defeat of our enemies, the handling of contradictions within our society en masse and the practice of mutual aid’’

In essence, the Marxists have largely misinterpreted anarchist theory as merely ‘‘the people who want to achieve communism immediately in 24 hours’’ — Lenin himself remarks this in his State and Revolution — He uses this ‘‘misinterpretation of anarchism’’ in order to serve his own ends. No anarchist in history has ever claimed that anarchists wants to achieve communism in 24 hours, only the enemies of anarchism have proclaimed that anarchists want to achieve communism in 24 hours, because they want to portray anarchists as undialectical and unscientific. The truth of the matter is, that anarchists can also be dialectical, — Max Stirner, a very early egoist anarchist was the first to apply dialectics to society, before Marx. Even Proudhon had notions of applying the dialectics in his critique of private property and he had done this masterfully. Kropotkin analyses history from an evolutionary point of view, where there is always a dialectical relationship between competition and cooperation — a synthesis of the blend of the two forces blend together in the human being.

The Anarchist is still scientific and dialectical just like the Marxists, the only difference is — that Marxists believes that the transition from capitalism into socialism and communism recquires a state, while the anarchists simply believes that the transition from capitalism into socialism and communism doesn’t recquire a state.

Marxist — Capitalist state abolished in revolution, Dictatorship of the proletariat = Socialism, that will eventually achieve communism

Anarchist — Capitalist state abolished in a revolution, cooperation of the masses in organized federated groups = socialism, that will eventually achieve communism.

I am a platformist anarcho-communist, a writer and student of political philosophy, specifically on anarchism.