Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Book review: Michael Schmidt, Mapping revolutionary anarchism
by Jacques Ghiloni

Michael Schmidt, South African journalist and anarchist, challenges the traditional historiography anarchist. Too often for his liking, anarchists simply refer to five moments of collective memory anarchist anarchist Haymarket martyrs executed in 1887 in the United States, the Charter of Amiens of the CGT in 1906, the founding text revolutionary syndicalism, the revolt of the Kronstadt sailors in 1921 against the dictatorship of the Bolsheviks, the Spanish revolution of 1936 to 1939 and finally May 68 in France. The author criticizes the martyrology of the anarchist movement that leaves out some much more active participation of anarchists in the Mexican Revolution of Baja California in 1910-1920, the revolution of Manchuria in 1929-1931, the establishment of trade unions illegal in Cuba between 1952 and 1959 ... He criticizes this ethnocentrism attached to the North Atlantic, which forgets the movements of Eastern Europe, South America, Japan, China, Korea or the Vietnam. Michael Schmidt offers a larger narrative of the history of the anarchist movement.

The book the author refers to the "grammar libertarian communist" 1, classist anarchism, which is the recognition of the class struggle and the existence of social classes, not humanity or individuals, the basis of anarchist action. In their book, "Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism (Counter-Power vol. 1)" 2, Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt also stated that "the class struggle anarchism, sometimes revolutionary Called gold communist anarchism, is not a kind of anarchism ... it is the only anarchism ".3 It is therefore understandable why the author started the origin of anarchism in the First International in 1864, and more particularly to the split of 1868 between the majority and the minority Marxist anarchist.

Michael Schmidt identifies five waves of anarchist activism - a distinction that is more akin to historical landmarks only a true historical immutable law. It also distinguishes two approaches to strategy tradition anarchist anarchism mass on the one hand, which considers only mass movements can cause revolutionary changes in society and gives a prominent role to organizations such as unions revolutionary insurrectionary anarchism on the other hand, based on armed struggle or terrorism.

The first wave raised by the author, begins in 1868 with the International Brotherhood, founded by Mikhail Bakunin, following the publication of the Programme (abolition of the nation-state, the armed forces, courts, clergy and private property). The mass anarchism is particularly within federations in Spain, Mexico, Uruguay, Cuba and the United States, and later in Germany. This first wave is a response to the inadequacies of Marxism and the dangers of terrorism populist narodnik. This wave ended in 1894 following the dissolution of the Black International in 1893, and the development of insurrectionary anarchism.

The second wave, 1895-1923, is a period during which, according to Schmidt, there is a consolidation of the anarchists and revolutionary syndicalism. Two events contributed to the expansion in the early twentieth century: first anarchist guerrillas and the establishment of municipalities in Macedonia in 1903 and secondly the onset of soviets, anarchist-inspired, Moscow and Saint Petersburg in 1905-1907. You can also report the creation of anarchist Black Cross during this period. In the wake of these events, revolutionary unions are created in the United States (IWW) and in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, South Africa ... In addition, after the Russian revolt, many anarchists (as Peter Kropotkin) will exile in London and disseminate the need for collective action, as opposed to individualist anarchists. In fact, the anarchist federations will work together with revolutionary anarchists unions in many Latin American countries, Spain, Portugal ... And in 1922, a new Workers' International is founded in Berlin. During this wave, we are also witnessing the emergence of various revolutionary movements: from 1910 to 1920, there is a revolution anarchist influence in Mexico, which will die because of the fragmentation of the revolutionary groups, in 1919, Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine related to anarcho-communist groups, releases a territory of 7 million. Russian anarchist movements also develop (in Siberia, Kronstadt ...). But in both cases, these movements are suppressed by the Bolsheviks. If we add the failure of the 1918-1923 revolution in Germany, ending a period during which up nationalism and also the discouragement of many anarchists.

The third wave, 1923-1949, is in the context of implementation of that are two totalitarian fascism and Bolshevism. During this period, there is a reflux of anarchist movements, explained including the Soviet domination, but also the development of social democracy and the first elements of the welfare state. There are, nevertheless, new anarchist movements in 1928 with the creation of the Eastern Anarchist Federation, comprising Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam, India, and during the same year the Continental Association American workers in Latin America. There is a revolution in Manchuria between 1929 and 1931, in the prefecture of Shinmin, which created a regional administrative structure libertarian socialist. The Manchu revolution will be crushed by the Japanese invasion of 1931. In Europe, it is in Spain that is born and develops a revolution, following the coup of the colonial army between 1936 and 1939. Free communes appear in Catalonia, Aragon, Valencia. Various anarchist federations and the National Confederation of Labour will combine, but allow effective cohesion. Following various failures revolutionary anarchist movement will continue in resistance to totalitarianism. Federations will also appear in Africa. In 1948, the International Commissions anarchists are created to facilitate the relationship between movements in the world, and gather together in Paris in 1949.

The fourth wave, 1950-1989, is characterized by the weakening of the anarchist movement. This decline is temporary in a Cold War context, the emergence of dictatorships in Latin America, the Far East Bolshevism, totalitarianism, China, Korea. However, anarchism remains in the unions, especially during the strikes of 1956 in Chile and Argentina, in the creation of new federations as Uruguay or guerrilla movements in China and Spain. It is mainly from 1968 that anarchism will be revived with the social movements that have shaken many countries: France, United States, Senegal, Germany, Japan, Mexico ... In Latin America, anarchists oppose dictatorships in Chile and Argentina, but are crushed by repression. Middle East new movements appear, Iraq, Iran. Some movements in the northern hemisphere are moving towards a more violent struggle: sabotage in Britain, the first members of Direct Action in France, June 2nd movement in Germany, revolutionary groups in the Basque Country ... but for most , get lost in a terrorism offline theses anarchists. In addition, there has been a proliferation of anarchist organizations around the world, especially in Eastern Europe and Russia.

The fifth wave began in 1990 and continues today. It is driven by the collapse of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia. Underground anarchist movements may therefore constitute federations. The Federation largest in the world today are autonomous action which has branches in many cities of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine ... movements grow again since the 2000s in Cuba, America South Africa, the United States, Canada. Moreover, anarcho-syndicalism is present, and the Spanish CGT has 60 000 members.

Another advantage of the book, Michael Schmidt connects each wave in the evolution of the theory and strategy anarchists. Thus, in the first wave, this is the program of Bakunin dominates, with the rejection of statist solution, the intermediary role of the anarchist revolutionary organization. In the second wave, the Russian exiles in Paris (including Makhno) publishes The Platform, which advocates a strict internal discipline and a theoretical and tactical unity among different anarchist organizations and proposed a revolutionary society based on the soviets . Traditional anarchists oppose this orientation accusing platform diemakers bolcheviser of anarchism, and propose the synthesis anarchist ideology with softer, hence the name Synthetists. In the third wave, Spain, durrutistes publish a policy document advocating the creation of a junta (a soviet) revolutionary, are also accused of authoritarianism. In most countries, the platform remains dominant. During the fourth wave develops fontenisme (George Fontenis, militant French) Following the publication of the Manifesto of Libertarian Communism. This manifesto opposes extremism both individualistic than Bolshevism and advocated the establishment of a vanguard located within unions and other mass organizations. Finally, during the fifth wave, platform diemakers necessary in a growing anarchist movement, particularly in South America where the Platform is known to especifismo.

Michael Schmidt's book is a work activist, written by an anarchist. The conclusion is that explicit view and calls for struggle. It is therefore not a historical objective anarchist movements. But it was not about the author claimed. It contains, however, some interesting information about movements and organizations forgotten, or at least too little studied by historians or anarchists themselves.


1 Irene Pereira, Anarchism in the texts. Anthology libertarian Textuel, coll. "Little encyclopedia critical," 2011.

2 AK Press, Oakland, 2009.

3 "classist anarchism, sometimes called revolutionary or communist anarchism, is not a simple type of anarchism ... this is the only anarchism. '

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