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is there an anarchist political party

–2 votes
edited to create tags
asked May 3, 2010 by anonymous
edited Jul 13, 2014 by dot

2 Answers

+4 votes
no. how could there be? even aside from the question of representation (boo), aren't political parties part of a state apparatus? how could people against the state be part of it (except as some exercise in non-anarchist activity)?
answered May 3, 2010 by dot (52,130 points)
–6 votes
No.  Anarchist believe in building a new world in the shell of the old.  This mean the creation of something new, not just getting better representation in what already exists.

Anarchist organizations such as the IWW ban anyone from joining who holds public office.
answered May 5, 2010 by Taigarun (1,720 points)
this anarchist DOES NOT "believe in building a new world in the shell of the old." i find this purposely vague slogan is an excuse for following a path of least resistance, a path of reformist amelioration, a path of creating institutions that are supposed to out-perform their capitalist inverted twins. the shell of the old world is just as rotten as what's inside it; it all needs to be torn down.

it is inaccurate to describe the IWW as an anarchist organization. not all members have been anarchists, nor was being an anarchist ever a requirement. that anarchists have been members of it doesn't make it an anarchist organization. there have been specifically anarchist critiques of the wobblies from 1905.
I don't see what you think is "reformist" about "a new world in the shell of the old."  Maybe you could give me some examples of what you are talking about.  I think JANE, the clandestine abortion clinic was a good example of "a new world in the shell of the old."  I don't think it was "just as rotten" as the medical industry and state that were denying people abortions.

Is the requirement for something to be an anarchist group, that every member be an anarchist?  The IWW was a bridge between anarchism and left communism, the group that emerged from that bridge was undeniably anarchist.

"there have been specifically anarchist critiques of the wobblies from 1905."
well, there are also anarchist critiques of anarchism, so I try not to take it personally.

If someone is fighting for equality and freedom, against oppression and the state, I am going to work with them whether or not they declare their group to be 100% anarchists.
p.s.  it would be nice if when talking to y'all, I didn't have to go look up words to understand what you're saying.
The clandestine abortion clinics and other self-help campaigns are precisely the kind of reformism I'm talking about. They undoubtedly make some people's lives more tolerable, and that's a fine thing if that's all you're interested in. That's the problem with ameliorative campaigns; they are not radical in that their organizers and promoters are not interested in getting at the root of the problem(s) and attacking them there, but are only interested in correcting humanist complaints.

The unchallenged shell is the framework of institutionalized hierarchy (in this case patriarchy) and the division of labor (in this case medical professionalization, part and parcel of another institutionalized hierarchy), which were untouched by the creation of clandestine abortion clinics; they just had to find some sympathetic doctors. That they were largely self-organized is to be acknowledged and lauded, but just because something is self-organized or self-managed is no reason to see in it the seeds of a genuinely anti-state, anti-capitalist revolution. So if we are going to measure the actual radical effects of something like a campaign to have safe abortions available to women who want them, then we need to find some anti-capitalist metric in it. Unfortunately for your example, I don't find one. In the absence of an official and legal medical procedure (which contains a bunch more assumptions about how the mainstream Euro-American medical industry functions to keep people separated from their own healing), the reclaiming of the ability of women to control their reproductive choices is a good thing, but again, there's nothing revolutionary about it.

Another shell that's rotten is industrialism.

I would say that in order for an organization or group to be anarchist it would need to have the following:
an explicit adherence to anarchist principles in terms of decision making and decision implementation (majority membership of anarchists not required);
explicit anarchist goals, namely the abolition of government, capitalism, and other institutions of hierarchy and domination (majority membership of anarchists not required).
If the organization maintains a principled adherence to prefigurative anti-politics and maintains a clear set of goals toward reaching an anarchic future, then I'd say that organization would qualify as anarchist. A majority membership of anarchists is irrelevant, since it's less interesting what they call themselves than what they're actually doing.

If you think the IWW has anything in common with left communism, then you'll have to explain what the hell you think left communism is and how the wobs embody it. You're the first person I've ever come across who makes such a wacky claim.

Yep there are anarchist critiques of anarchism, and I'm happy to include myself as one of the ones doing it. And why the defensiveness about whom you choose to work with? Nobody said anything about how you shouldn't have that capacity.

On big words: it is better for you to have to look up something than to force me to dumb down my vocabulary. I'm sorry you're not as familiar with certain words as I am, but that's not my responsibility.
jane started out with a doctor (who they eventually found out wasn't even a doctor) and then moved on to doing the prrocedures themselves, without a medical doctor on hand. jane is a fantastic example of a project getting more radical as it went on.
taigarun's answers are irritating, but don't put jane down.
I wasn't putting JANE down. I was merely pointing out that, despite the organizational form they eventually adopted (through necessity rather than because they were anarchists and already knew that a self-organized campaign would be a good way to go on principle), they were not, nor could they ever be, revolutionary. How many times did I praise the project? "Fine," "to be lauded," "a good thing." But the fact is that regardless of how much better they were able to make the lives of countless women, they did not bring The Revolution one day closer. Did I ever say "we should dismiss all the benefits that JANE helped to provide"? Did I ever say "we must never support any ameliorative campaigns"? I'm only pointing out the obvious: such campaigns are neither revolutionary nor anarchist, nor do I believe that any of them have the potential to be so. Whether or how anarchists choose to interact with them and their proponents and organizers is not up to me.

As for your assertion that "jane is a fantastic example of a project getting more radical as it went on," I must point out that the form of an organization does not determine its content. You assume that more self-organization equals more radical, but if the content of the project is not radical in the first place, then how can it become "more radical"?

For me to recognize a project as radical requires not only an anti-capitalist, anti-state, and anti-hierarchical sensibility, but also a practice accompanying that sensibility as well as specific goals that parallel that sensibility and practice. Self-organization is an excellent tactic and strategy to use, as is decentralization, but that doesn't mean that every time people use decentralization and/or self-organization we should see in it the seeds of an anarchic future. People choose to use those particular organizational tools because they work well to bolster feelings of individual involvement and accomplishment (and therefore a certain loyalty to the organization), not because they are unconscious revolutionaries or anarchists. It's important for critical analysis to avoid an inversion or reversal of cause and effect and/or form and function.
“The unchallenged shell is the framework of institutionalized hierarchy (in this case patriarchy) and the division of labor (in this case medical professionalization, part and parcel of another institutionalized hierarchy)”

actually, JANE challenged both patriarchy and division of labor.  When JANE started they were restricted to using doctors who were men, but they found one who would train women (who were not doctors) in how to perform abortions.  By the end, there were enough women volunteers who had learned the skills necessary to run the place independent of men.

This is specifically a blow against patriarchy as a major strategy of patriarchy was the destruction of womens’ science and medicine and an attempt to put the power of birth into the hands of men.

They were also anti-capitalist as they operated on a sliding scale and no one was turned away for lack of funds.

“If you think the IWW has anything in common with left communism, then you'll have to explain what the hell you think left communism is and how the wobs embody it. You're the first person I've ever come across who makes such a wacky claim.”


Maybe left communism was the wrong term.  Some founding members of the IWW were trotskyist.  The IWW was able to form bridges across divergent ideologies to strengthen the fight against the state and capital.  I can only see that as a good thing, and I can only see that as an anarchist project.

“On big words: it is better for you to have to look up something than to force me to dumb down my vocabulary. I'm sorry you're not as familiar with certain words as I am, but that's not my responsibility.”

Yeah, I guess it can be easy to forget how regular people speak.  I’m not hating, we're all nerds and weirdo’s here.
lawrence: obviously i agree with your point about "building the new in the shell of the old," but you have no idea what the lasting impact of Jane was (neither do i, obviously).

to be critical of them as not revolutionary, you would have to be critical of everything that anyone has ever done. ie there is no point to any action, everything that anyone has ever done has got us here, so it's all "bad action," or whatever.

Jane was a decentralized, hand-on group, practical proof for that generation that women were (and presumably still are) capable of taking their own health into their hands around an issue that was then and still is incredibly controversial and kills people. they did this at cost or for free, with no appeal to authority, and with a practice of skill-sharing. all of those things call for more than the kind of bland laudatory words that you use (which could as well be applied to social workers, missionaries, and teachers).

as far as i can tell your argument is that groups or individuals must call themselves anarchist in order to be taken seriously as desirers-of-fundamental-change, which flies in the face of your own lived experience (in which plenty of stupid activity is called anarchist), it also sounds like the argument that people must call themselves christians in order to get into heaven. (i recognize my argument is getting sloppy here, but perhaps it's still a point worth making.)
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