Although there are dark imprints of Anarchist thoughts in Chinese philosophy of Zhuang Zhou, and in works of Roman philosophers (Christian Anarchists), there is no doubt that Anarchism started taking shape from the Enlightenment eras of late 17th century, with basic idea of questioning authority as it is not self-justifiable. Then it grew stronger with socialist movements and class struggles of 19th century. Marxism and Anarchism , for most part of history, have not been happy. But they have definitely helped shape each other, drawing broader lines between ‘centralists’ and ‘federalists’ within Marxism. This was a very interesting period, as it started with Marx criticizing Proudhon’ economic theory (1847, The Poverty of Philosophy). In 1860’s, Michail Bakunin took place of Proudhon as Marx’s Anarchist opponent.
Michail Bakunin was born on this date 200 years ago (30 May 1814), a prominent Atheist and Anarchist.
“The liberty of man consists solely in this: that he obeys natural laws because he has himself recognized them as such, and not because they have been externally imposed upon him by any extrinsic will whatever, divine or human, collective or individual.”
Bakunin argued that there was a good amount of truth in Marx’s criticism of Proudhon. But he also pointed out the limits of Marx’s own theory. Bakunin and fellow Federalist socialists and Anarchists rejected the idea of a revolutionary government. Marx believed that Government can be changed by the change of party, and if a communist party takes over, it will end the class struggle and make a proletarian dictatorship. In response Bakunin wrote,
“[Marx] holds that the political condition of each country is always the product and the faithful expression of it’s economical situation… He takes no account of other factors in history, such as the present political, juridical and religious institutions on the economic situation. He says “Poverty produces political slavery, the State”, but he does not allow this expression to be turned around, to say:”Political slavery, the State, reproduces in its turn and maintains poverty as a condition for its own existence; so that to destroy poverty. it is necessary to destroy the State”
There is much truth in this expression. The neo-liberal economical practices and the conditions which it renders in present day maintain poverty, poor working conditions, orthodox education system , extremist religious militants and corporate tyrannies. A recent example:
‘Saint Alan’ [Greenspan]: ““That’s a very healthy thing, because if workers are insecure, they’re not going to ask for benefits, they’re not going to strike, they’re not going to call for an increase in wages.”
There has been a split in Socialists since the Bolshevik (October) Revolution all over the world, which turned bloody for Russia in a way similar to Chinese Cultural Revolution in some respects and made the Red Flag something to be feared. But let us not forget that Stalin and Mao were never federalists, they were the result of what Bakunin called the ‘Red Bureaucracy’. In recent times Anarchists of the New-Left have also given up on the Class Struggle, which lacks future commitment for any cause, for example the LGBT movements. They are very important, but even after everyone has been granted equal rights, there will be no change in the form of operation.
The Red and Black Flags have been successful in creating the living utopia in Spain (1936), Cuba, Venezuela, Algeria, and some were short-lived not because of insufficiency but because of military coups. Anarchism and Socialism are meant to go hand in hand, and one is not bound to use their slogans or flags. But the present dark ages of economic, corporate and state dictatorship can only be brought to an end by “Stateless Socialism: Anarchism” (Bakunin)
Two hundred years ago a legend was born, and his ideas are most relevant today. It’s a call for all the Anarchists in India and around the world to organize, occupy streets, let your presence be known, fight against operation, most importantly disobey. A new world is possible only if we start building it today.
“We are convinced that liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; and that socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality.”
“Man becomes conscious of himself and his humanity only in society and only by the collective action of the whole society”