To Keep the State or Not to Keep it?

To the ultimate question at hand however: ‘‘Do we keep the state, is the vanguard party necessary?’’ — First we must look at why the Marxist think the socialist state is necessary — According to them the proletarian party is recquired as an organ of the ruling class, as something that is powerful enough that will oppress the bourgeoisie, reactionaries, imperialists and counter-revolutionaries, according to the Marxists, the reason why anarchism is not successful, is because anarchism is devoid of the proletarian party, therefore it is not strong enough to defeat the counter-revolutionary offensive and neither is it capable of handling contradictions within it’s system. So, let’s start with the first one, the idea that anarchism is weak because it doesn’t have a party under democratic centralism rule.

First and foremost, the vanguard in the Russian revolution and in the Chinese revolution is proof enough, that one doesn’t need a party in order to defeat its opponents and overthrow the bourgeois state, of course many Marxists seem to make the claim that the vanguard is a ‘‘Party in forming’’ — a party that is forming, but has not formed yet — this is a blatant excuse and simply hypocritical. For example, the movement in Russia overthrew the state in February and then the bolsheviks overthrew the weak provisional government in October — by Marxist-Leninist-Maoist standards today, this would be incorrect, because it was the party rather than a revolutionary movement that overthrew the provisional government. Furthermore one could argue that this so-called bolshevik party was still a party in forming and therefore ‘‘not an actual party’’ but rather a revolutionary movement that fashioned itself in design after a party, that its goal was to become a political party but since it was not yet in power, one could not call it a party.

A party that hasn’t yet formed isn’t a party and that’s where that story begins and ends. If the proletarian party is characterized by ‘‘being an organ of the proletariat class rule’’ — therefore the so-called vanguard is not yet a party, but quite simply an organized movement, it only becomes a party, after the revolution has been successful. What does all of this mean? — It means quite simply that one can wage a struggle and defeat his enemies without the need of a party, an organized movement seems to be enough. Secondly, the Marxists assume that their victory is assured simply because they have the instrument they call a ‘‘party’’ while the anarchists simply don’t. The Marxists are under the impression that thing that wins people wars is a political party — they are incorrect, what wins a war is not the fact that one has a political party, but the fact that there are dedicated people ready to lay down their lives voluntarily, an organized disciplined armed militant movement. Quite simply if one removed discipline, voluntary action, armed people dedicated to the cause, the party would be useless and weak, — not only that, but most likely the party wouldn’t exist in the first place. The party is indebted to these components for it’s existence and without these components it cannot form itself, neither can it survive. So really and truly what makes a revolutionary country strong and able to defend itself from counter-revolutionary and imperialist is not the party, but armed people dedicated to defend their cause. If you remove ‘‘armed disciplined organized people ready to defend their cause’’ — the party is useless and it cannot form. If a party was devoid of armed disciplined organized men, counter-revolutionaries would laugh and trample over the party as if it were nothing. What wins people the class war is not the party, we need less of the party and more of these armed disciplined organized men and women ready to defend their cause voluntarily.

The Proletarian party in Russia and China, conscripted its citizens for the army, how can these citizens be fully disciplined and organized, ready to defend their cause, if they are being conscripted and forced into the struggle? — This is yet another weakness of the party, anarchism relies on the power of persuasion, the ability it has to persuade individuals to dedicate themselves fully to the cause voluntarily, surely such people are dedicated, since they joined not out of coercion but out of their personal beliefs. Since dedicated individuals win wars, and anarchism is full of such people, therefore anarchism can be successful in defending itself against counter-revolutionaries without the party. The anarchist debunk the idea that one needs a ‘‘state apparatus’’ in order to defend themselves. It shows for instance how the russian revolution managed to overthrow the bourgeois state without the need of a state apparatus, therefore making the argument, that one can defend themselves even while devoid of a state apparatus. It also shows how, the party that is devoid of ‘‘weaponary, dedicated people who fight for the cause’’ — then the party is pretty much useless without these. So, the argument is made, that what wins one a class war, class struggle is not the party, but the ‘‘;Organized disciplined people and armed to the teeth’’ — These are the only elements necessary for the protection of an ideology, the party is not needed. In fact, if you remove ‘‘Organized disciplied armed people’’ from the party, the counter-revolutionaries will simply take over, meanwhile if you remove the ‘‘party’’ from the equation, the organized disciplined and armed people are left behind to protect their anarchism. It’s simply a matter of equation. The party as a whole simply stands in the way of organized individuals and obstructs their progress.

History has shown that revolutions have been fought by and protected by organized labor movements, not by political parties — and that any party in history has merely delayed or tried to obstruct the revolution halfway through. The wars of political parties have always been imperialist, the same goes for the USSR that later on became ‘‘social imperialist’’ as a direct result of them relying on a political party.

Secondly if the argument of the marxist is that only a political party is strong enough to coerce petit bourgeois ideologies and contradictions within the masses, they are also incorrect. According to Mao,

‘‘The democratic method of resolving contradictions among the people was epitomized in 1942 in the formula “unity — criticism — unity”. To elaborate, that means starting from the desire for unity, resolving contradictions through criticism or struggle, and arriving at a new unity on a new basis. In our experience this is the correct method of resolving contradictions among the people. In 1942 we used it to resolve contradictions inside the Communist Party, namely, the contradictions between the dogmatists and the great majority of the membership, and between dogmatism and Marxism. The “Left” dogmatists had resorted to the method of “ruthless struggle and merciless blows” in inner-Party struggle. It was the wrong method.’’ — ON THE CORRECT HANDLING OF CONTRADICTIONS AMONG THE PEOPLE February 27, 1957

It seems that according to Mao this method was used within the party, and now is being used outside the party in the formula of unity-criticism-unity, to resolve contradictions amongst the people outside of the communist party. However, What’s to say that anarchists cannot do this? One does not need a party in order to resolve contradictions with the people outside the party, if anything one needs to be closer to the people themselves in order for this reconcilations to contradictions to have the most maximium effect. It seems to me that the Marxists are wrong when they say ‘‘Anarchists cannot reconcile contradictions’’ — because nothing is stopping anarchists from employing the formula of unity-criticism-unity — in fact, one does not need a political party to employ such a method.

The flaw within Marxism-Leninism-Maoism trying to resolve contradictions in this manner is quite simple that of ‘‘Commandism’’ — this is highlighted as a problem by Mao himself. Let us quote Mao and analyze this problem,

‘‘Commandism is wrong in any type of work, because in overstepping the level of political consciousness of the masses and violating the principle of voluntary mass action it reflects the disease of impetuosity. Our comrades must not assume that everything they themselves understand is understood by the masses. Whether the masses understand it and are ready to take action can be discovered only by going into their midst and making investigations. If we do so, we can avoid commandism.’’ -On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 316.

So in simpler words, what is commandism? The mass-line is necessary because revolutionaries hold a different set of ideas from the masses about how the world operates and how it should operate; While we are revolutionaries, the masses are not. Commandism is the practice of standing ahead of the masses politically and effectively commanding them to “catch-up”. The political party being the epitome of those revolutionaries is the sole one responsible as the organizer who is usually accussed of commandism. In simple words, the communist party may do the mistake of commandism and asking of the masses to catch up and quickly become revolutionaries. The party is an authority figure and it has an authority over the masses, therefore it is most liable to the mistake of commandism, even though Mao warned against such actions. When it comes to anarchism, since there is no authority over the masses, since there is no party, therefore anarchism is less liable to the mistake of commandism. The revolutionaries and the masses are one monad, they are one thing, united together, they are not sepearated by those within the party and those outside the party. Therefore commandism seems less likely under anarchism. The revolutionaries in anarchism walk hand in hand with the masses, and together they evolve together, unlike marxism-leninism, where the party evolves at a much higher and different pace from that of the masses, and is truly disjointed from the political development of the masses, in such a way that commandism becomes a short cut for the development and polticization of the masses. The party as a minority is always developing at its own accelerated pace and even although its connected with the masses, there is a great difference between the pace and development of the masses, and the accelerated development within the party itself, quite simply there is a division when it comes to their development.

Let’s quote Mao on the unity between the masses,

‘‘This [our] army has achieved remarkable unity in its own ranks and with those outside its ranks. Internally, there is unity between officers and men, between the higher and lower ranks, and between military work, political work and rear service work; and externally, there is unity between the army and the people, between the army and government organizations, and between our army and the friendly armies. It is imperative to overcome anything that impairs this unity.’’ -On Coalition Government” (April 24, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 264.*

The only unity the army can achieve with those outside it, is through coercion and authority. Since the standing army is at a much higher ranks than the masses, it will always stand between actual unity. It is simply not possible to have true unity between officers of higher and lower rank, because those of lower rank will simply submit to the authority of the higher, not out of love, concern or actual unity, but out of authority. A unity out of authority is not a unity. In fact, Mao makes a statement at the end, that it is imperative to overcome all that impairs unity — if Mao didn’t know that there was a problem with unity, he woudn’t have remarked this at the end of his paragraph, in fact this last sentence shows us that indeed within china, there were things that impaired this unity. What Mao did not realize, is that the actual thing that impairs unity is the fact that the people rely on a political party, on hierarchy and authority. In order to truly overcome anything that impairs unity, one has to remove the differences between the masses and the standing army, otherwise they will always be divided by whose station is higher and whose station is lower. For the anarchists, unity, cohesion and agreement of the masses is not a problem, because militias are not divided between higher and lower, and every individual is armed. The Masses are not divided by those developing within the party, and those developing outside the party.

If the party and the masses are developing at different paces, then the party being so intellectual, being so revolutionary and great, it will achieve communism before the masses themselves! Then it will ask of the masses, that they catch-up! (Of course on this note I find myself in the mood for jesting.)

The Marxists claim that they are uniting the worker, but they actually divide and disjoint the worker outside the party and is told to catch up and Lo! forgive him if he does not catch up, lest he branded a counter-revolutionary!

Mao being wise, saw the error of commandism, yet did not attribuite this error to the fact that there is a party involved. Did marxists never stop themselves and critique themselves why there are such problems? Why does commandism exist in the first place? — Because there are people who are in a position of authority that would ask of the masses to catch up, and what of this authority?, what are it’s origins? — it’s origin of course is the proletarian party itself! While Mao being wise enough saw the error of commandism, he did not pin-point the location from which commandism emerges in the first place.

The anarchists walk side by side with beggars, they wear the same clothes, they talk the same langauge as the masses. While the marxist with his elitism develops at his own pace in the comforts of his home, in the warm scoffed-up elitist and ensnared embrace of the political party.

According to some marxists like Stalin, the success of an ideology is based on its doctrine, and if an ideology has a correct doctrine it will inherently bring forth good fruit and results, therefore if anarchism brings out good results, for Stalin, that would be an implication that anarchism is a correct doctrine. According to Stalin and I quote,

‘‘Nor are we the kind of people who console themselves with the thought that the Anarchists “have no masses behind them and, therefore, are not so dangerous.” It is not who has a larger or smaller “mass” following today, but the essence of the doctrine that matters. If the “doctrine” of the Anarchists expresses the truth, then it goes without saying that it will certainly hew a path for itself and will rally the masses around itself. If, however, it is unsound and built up on a false foundation, it will not last long and will remain suspended in mid-air. But the unsoundness of anarchism must be proved.’’ — Stalin in Anarchism or Socialism

Here, Stalin, unlike his childish descendants of modernday marxism-leninism acknowledges that the anarchists may not have many masses after them, however, what matters is not size of a larger or smaller mass, but rather the truth behind the doctrine. Unlike the marxists today who simply dismiss anarchism simply because the marxist experiments were much larger in scope and their grasp over the world.

The fact, that westerners today are more attracted to anarchism means that anarchism some distant utopian theory. Today, there is no doubt that anarchism is largerly more popular in leftist circles than marxism, some simply avoid marxism because of its past and its stigma. The alternative of anarchism seems like the most colorful and appropriate option in this modern day and age. The anarchists today outnumber the Marxist-Leninists at least when it comes to the western world.

Now let us use Stalin’s logic in this matter. Stalin thought that if an ideology, in this case anarchism doesn’t hew a path for itself and cannot rally the masses around itself therefore it is built around false foundations — if you are arguing that in today’s modern society, anarchism is hewing a path for itself and also getting the attention it recquires to rally the masses around itself, then by Stalin’s own criteria, Anarchism is built upon the foundations of truth, while marxism on the other hand which no longer seems to attract people as much, and therefore cannot hew a path for itself any longer, therefore marxism finds itself in the same position anarchism found itself long ago in Stalin’s Time. Hence, using Stalin’s Criteria, Marxism that no longer rallies the masses around itself and is not hewing a path for the future, is pretty much unsound and built on false doctrine. So we ask of the good marxist today,to be a good dogmat, and listen to Stalin, accept the the doctrine of anarchism that expressed the truth, then it goes without saying that it will certainly hew a path for itself and will rally the masses around itself. The Marxist using Stalin’s own logic should convert to anarchism and reject marxism-leninism that today is unsound and built up on a false foundation, it will not last long and will remain suspended in mid-air. But the unsoundness of marxism must be proved.




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

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Alexander Hope

Alexander Hope

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

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