Peter Kropotkin Communism and Anarchy

Patrick Granet

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The importance of the question hardly needs to be remembered. Many anarchists and thinkers in general, while recognizing the immense benefits that communism can offer society, see this form of social organization a threat to freedom and the free development of the individual. On the other hand, taken as a whole, the question comes another problem, so vast, raised its full extent by our century: the question of the Individual and Society.
The problem has been obscured in various ways. For the most part, when we talked about communism, it was thought to communism more or less Christian and monastic and always authoritarian, which was preached in the first half of this century and put into practice in some municipalities. These, taking the family to model, sought to be “the great communist family” to “reform the man,” and needed for this purpose, in addition to working together, living together in tight family, away of modern civilization, isolation, intervention “brothers” and “sisters” throughout the psychic life of each member.

In addition, sufficient distinction was not made ​​between a few isolated communities, based on many occasions during the last three or four centuries, and the many federated communes which might arise in a limited way to accomplish the social revolution.

It will therefore, in the interest of discussion, consider separately:

Production and consumption in common;
Cohabitation – is it necessary to model the current family?
Isolated communities of our time;
Federated communes of the future.

And finally, as a conclusion: Communism he brings with him necessarily lessening of the individual? In other words: the Individual in communist society.

Under the name of socialism in general, an immense movement of ideas is accomplished in the course of this century, in commencçat by Babeuf, Saint-Simon, Robert Owen and Proudhon, who formulated the prevailing currents of socialism and then by their many followers French (Considering Pierre Leroux, Louis Blanc), German (Marx, Engels), Russian (Chernyshevsky, Bakunin etc.)., which is worked to popularize the ideas of the founders of modern socialism, either on the support bases scientists.
These ideas, by specifying engendered two main streams: the authoritarian communism and anarchist communism, and a number of middle schools, seeking compromises, such as the single state capitalism, collectivism, cooperation; while in the working masses, they gave birth to a great labor movement, which seeks to group the whole mass of workers by sector in the fight against capital increasingly international.

Three key points were acquired by this great movement of ideas and action, and they have largely penetrated the public consciousness. These are:

The abolition of wage labor – stands the ancient serfdom;
The abolition of individual appropriation of everything that needs to be used for production;
And empowerment of the individual and society of political wheel, the State, which serves to maintain economic servitude.

On these three points the agreement is quite ready to settle; because even those who advocate the “good work”, or say (as Bush) “! All officials” is to say “all employees of the state or municipality,” admitting that they advocate these palliatives only because they do not see the immediate possibility of communism. They accept this compromise as a stopgap. And as for the state, even those who are strong supporters of the state, authority, or even dictatorship, recognize that when we have classes today have ceased to exist, the State will disappear with them.

So we can say without exaggerating anything about the importance of our fraction of the socialist movement – the anarchist fraction – that despite the differences that occur between the various socialist factions and are accentuated by the difference mainly means more action or less revolutionary accepted by each of them, we can say that all, by the word of their thinkers recognize, for, libertarian communism focus. The rest, by their own admission, are only intermediate steps.

Any discussion of steps to go through would be pointless if it was based on the study of the trends that are emerging in today’s society. And these various trends, two deserve particular attention.
One is that it becomes increasingly difficult to determine the share that accrues to everyone in the current production. Industry and modern agriculture become so complicated, so entangled, all industries are so dependent on each other, that the system of payment by the producer worker performance becomes impossible. Thus we see that an industry is more developed than piecework disappears to be replaced by a salary day. The latter, on the other hand, tends to be equalized. Bourgeois society today certainly remains divided into classes, and we have a whole class of citizens whose emoluments grow in inverse proportion to the work they do the more they are paid less they work. On the other hand, in the working class itself, we see four divisions: women, agricultural workers, workers who do simple work, and finally those who have a more or less special craft. These divisions are operating qautre degrees and are the results of the bourgeois organization.

But in a society of equals, where everyone can learn a trade and where the exploitation of women by men, and the peasant by the manufacturer cease these classes disappear. And today, in each of these classes wages tend to equalize. This is what makes say, rightly, that a day of work navvy vautcelle a jeweler, and what sounds like Robert Owen to work orders, paid to everyone who gave so hours of work in the production of things deemed necessary.

However, when we consider all attempts at socialism, we see that apart from the union of several thousand farmers in the United States, the work order has not made ​​its way from three-quarters of a century have passed since Owen’s attempt to implement it. And we pointed out elsewhere (Conquest of Bread, the Labor) reasons.

By cons, we see a mass produce partial socialization attempts in the direction of Communism. Hundreds of common Communists were founded during this century, everywhere, and right now we know more than a hundred – all more or less communist.

It is also in the direction of Communism – partial, of course – as are almost all the numerous attempts of socialization that arise in bourgeois society, between individuals or in the socialization of Municipal things.

The hotel, the steamboat, the pension are all attempts made in this direction by the bourgeois. In exchange for a contribution as a day, you have a choice of ten or fifty dishes that are offered in the hotel or on the boat, and nobody controls the amount of what you ate. This organization extends even internationally, and before leaving Paris or London or you can bring you good (at 10 francs per day) that allow you to stop at will in hundreds of hotels in France, Germany, Switzerland, etc.., all belonging to the international League hotels.

The bourgeois have very well understood the benefits of partial communism, combined with an almost complete freedom of the individual, for consumption; and in all these instutitions, for a price as a month, we take care of all your needs of accommodation and food, except those extra luxury (wines, especially luxurious rooms), you pay separately.

Insurance against fire (especially in villages where some equal terms allows a premium for all inhabitants), against the accident against theft; this arrangement allows great English stores provide you every week for a shilling a week, all the fish you eat in a small family; the club; companies countless insurance in case of illness, etc.. etc.., all this immense variety of institutions born in the course of this century, fall into the same category reconciliations to communism for a certain part of consumption .

And finally we have a whole wide range of municipal institutions – water, gas, electricity, workers’ houses, trams uniform rate, motive power, etc., -. Wherein the same attempted socialization of consumption are applied to a scale grows more every day.

All this is certainly not communism. Far from it. But the principle which prevails in these institutions contains a part of the communist principle: – For a contribution as a year or a day (cash today, work tomorrow), you are entitled to satisfy such catégoriede your needs – luxury excepted.

To be Communists, lacks these draft communism many things, two of which are especially critical: 1 fixed payment is made ​​in cash, instead of being in work; and 2 consumers have no voice in the administration of the company. However, if the idea, the tendency of these institutions was well understood, there would be no difficulty, even today, to launch a private shareholder company or a joint, in which the first point would be realized. For example, suppose a plot of 500 hectares. Two hundred houses, each surrounded by a quarter hectare garden or vegetable garden, are built on this land. The company gives each family occupying one of these houses, on both fifties meals a day all they want, or it gives them bread, vegetables, meat, coffee refills, to be cooked at home. And in exchange, she asks, is so much a year paid in cash or so hours of the facility: agriculture, raising cattle, kitchen, service cleanliness. This can be done already tomorrow if you like; and it is surprising that such a farm hotel has not already been started by some enterprising hotelier.

It will be noticed, probably, that it is here, introducing the joint work, the Communists have generally failed. Yet the objection could not be sustained. The causes of failure have been elsewhere.
First, almost all municipalities were founded in the wake of an almost religious enthusiasm momentum. Men are asked to be “pioneers of humanity”, to undergo thorough legal regulations, to rebuild entirely by the Communist life, to give all their time during working hours and outside these hours to the town, to live fully for the town.

This was done even as the monks and ask men – no need – to be what they are not. It is only recently that communities were founded by anarchist workers unpretentious in a purely economic objective – that of avoiding exploitation employer.

The other fault was still shaping the town on the family and want to do the “big family”. For this, we lived under the same roof, always forced, at every moment, to be with the same “brothers and sisters”. However, if two brothers often find it difficult to live under one roof, if family life is not successful at all, it was a fundamental error to impose on all the “big family”, instead of looking at Instead, to ensure as far as possible the freedom and home of all.

In addition, petitecommune can not live. “Brothers and sisters” forced to continual contact with poverty impressions that surrounds eventually hate. But just two people, becoming rivals, or simply do not support each other, can bring their quarrel by the dissolution of a municipality. It would be strange if this town alive, especially since all municipalities based hitherto isolated themselves from the world. We must say in advance that close association of ten, twenty, a hundred people will only last three or four years. If it lasted longer, it would be regrettable, since it proves only, or all allowed themselves subjugated by one, or all lost their individuality. and it is certain that in three, four or five years, some members of the town want to separate, they should at least have a dozen or more federated communes, so that those who, for one reason or another , want to leave this town can enter another comune and be replaced by people from other groups. Otherwise communist hive must necessarily perish or fall (as it almost always happens) in the hands of one – usually smarter than the other “brother.”

Finally, all communities founded so far were isolated from society. But the struggle, a life of struggle is for the active man, a far more pressing need for a table well served. This need to see the world, embarking on his current fight his struggles, suffering his suffering is all the more urgent for the younger generation. That is why (as noted by Tchaikovsky experience) young, when they reached eighteen or twenty years, necessarily leave a municipality that is not part of the whole society.

Needless to add that the government, whatever it is, has always been the most serious stumbling block for all municipalities. Those who have had very little or do not have at all (like the young Icaria) still the most successful. This is understandable. Political hatreds are more violent. We live in a city, next to our political opponents, if we are not forced to rub shoulders at all times. But how to live, if we are forced, in a small town, to see every moment? The political struggle is transported in the workshop, in the working chamber in the rest room, and life becomes impossible.

By cons, it has been shown and proven that arch-communist work, communist production, succeed admirably. In any business venture, the additional value given to the land by the work has been greater qu’elel has been in each municipality based either in America or in Europe. Certainly there were mistakes everywhere development, as there are in any capitalist enterprise; but, since we know that the proportion of business failures is approximately four out of five in the first five years after their foundation, we must recognize that nothing like this huge proportion occurs in public communists. Also, when the bourgeois press is the spirit and speaks to offer anarchists an island to establish common – strong experience, we are ready to accept this proposal, provided only that this island is, for example , Ile-de-France, and that assessment of social capital, we received our part. But as we know that does not give us the Ile-de-France nor our share of the capital, we will one day either, ourselves, the social revolution. Paris and Barcelona, ​​in 1871, were not so terribly far from it – and ideas have progressed since.

Especially that progress is that we understand that city alone getting in common, find it difficult to live. The test should therefore be started on a territory – that, for example, one of the western states, Idaho or Ohio – American socialists tell us – and they are right. This is a fairly large area, including town and country – not only in a city – it will, in fact, one day start to the communist future.

We have so often demonstrated that the statist communism is impossible, it would be useless to insist on this. The proof is also in the fact that the statists themselves defenders of the socialist state, do not believe it themselves. Some, busy conquering some of the power in the modern state – the bourgeois state – does not even care to explain what they understand by a socialist state which would however not the only state capitalist, and all state employees. When we tell them that this is what they want, they get angry; but they do not specify any other form of organization they intend to establish. They do not believe in the possibility of a future social revolution, their goal is to become part of the government in the current bourgeois state, and leave the future to determine where you end up.
For those who have tried to draw the socialist state, overwhelmed by our critics, they tell us that everything they want is statistical offices. But this is just a play on words. Moreover, we now know that the only statistic available is that which is made by the individual himself, giving his age, sex, occupation, social position, or the list of what he sold or bought.

The questions for the individual are generally developed by volunteers (scientists, statistical societies) and the role of statistical offices is now reduced to distribute questionnaires, rating sheets, and adding using machines addition. Thereby reducing the state, the government, in this role, and that government can not understand by this means (when said sincerely) simply make an honorable retreat. And, indeed, we must recognize that the Jacobins of thirty years there have immensely pulled over their ideal socialist dictatorship and centralization. Nobody would dare say today that the production and consumption of potatoes or rice must be settled by the Parliament of Volksstaat (popular state) German in Berlin. This nonsense not say more.

The communist state being abandoned by its own creators utopia, it is time to go further. What is more important, in fact, to consider is the question of whether anarchist communism or libertarian communism does not necessarily lead, too, a diminution of individual freedom.
The fact is that in all discussions on freedom, our ideas are obscured by centuries of serfdom relics and religious oppression that we have experienced.
Economists have shown forced contract concluded under the threat of hunger between the employer and the worker, as a state of freedom. Politicians, on the other hand, described as a state of freedom that in which we now find the serf became citizen and taxpayer of the State. Their mistake is obvious. But the most advanced moralists such Mill and many students, identifying freedom as the right to do anything except to infringe on the equal freedom of others, also unnecessarily limited freedom. Without saying that the word “right” is a very confusing legacy of the past, that says nothing or says too much – the determination of Mill allowed the philosopher Spencer, a quantity countless writers and even some individualist anarchists to reconstitute the tribunal and the legal punishment to the death penalty – that is to say, necessarily, in the final analysis, the state of which they had made themselves an admirable criticism. The idea of free will lies at the bottom of all these arguments.

Come on, what is freedom?

Leaving aside the thoughtless acts and taking only the thoughtful acts (the law, religions and penal systems seek to influence only), each such act is preceded by some discussion in the human brain: – “I’m go out for a walk “, think such a man … -” No, I gave appointment to a friend, or I promised to finish this work, or my wife and children will be sad to stay alone, or at least I lose my place if I do not pay me to my work. ”

This last remark implies, as we have seen, the fear of punishment, while in the first three, man dealing with oneself, with its habits of loyalty, his sympathies. And there is all the difference. We say that the man who is forced to make this final thought: “I renounce such pleasure for such punishment” is not a free man. And we affirm that humanity can and must emancipate themselves from the fear of punishment; it can be an anarchist society in which the fear of punishment and even the displeasure of being blamed disappear. It is to this ideal as we walk.

But we also know that we can not free ourselves or our habits of loyalty (hold promise) or our sympathies (worth cause pain to those we love or we do not want to disappoint or even upset) . In this last respect, the man is never free. Robinson Crusoe on his island was not. Once he started his boat, and cultivated a garden, or had already begun to make its provisions for the winter, it was already taken, engaged by his work. If he felt lazy and preferred to lie in his cave, he hesitated a moment, but he nevertheless went to work started. When he had his companion dog, when he had two or three goats, and especially since he met Friday, he was not absolutely free, in the sense that is often attributed to this word in discussions. He had obligations, he must consider the interests of others, he was not perfect individualist whose love us maintain. The day he loves a woman, or has children, is high by itself or entrusted to others (society), the day he was only a domestic animal – even a vegetable that needs to be watered at certain times – the man is no longer the “I-me enfichiste”, “selfish”, “individualistic” imaginary that we are given sometimes comem type of man free. Or the island of Robinson, much less in society whatsoever, such exists. Man taking and will take into account the interests of other men, still more as it will be between them reports closer mutual interests, and such other more clearly assert their own feelings and desires .

Thus we find other determination for freedom that it is the ability to act without involving in decisions fear of punishment shareholder (constraint body, threat of hunger, or even blame, unless it comes from a friend).

Including freedom this way – and we doubt that we can find a broader determination, and even real time, freedom – we can certainly say that communism may decrease, even kill any individual freedom, and many a common communist we tried; but it can also enlarge this freedom to its utmost limits.
Everything depends on the basic ideas with which we wish to associate. It is not the shape of the association in this case determines the servitude: it will be the ideas of individual freedom that we bring in the association which determine the character more or less libertarian.

This is just about any form of association. Cohabitation of two individuals in a dwelling can bring the enslavement of one to the will of another, as it can bring freedom for one and the other. Similarly in the family. Similarly, if we put two to stir the soil of a garden, or to a newspaper. The same applies to any association, however small or large it is. The same applies to any social institution. Thus, in the tenth, eleventh and twelfth century, we see the common equal to also free men, anxious to maintain this freedom and equality – and four hundred years later we see that common calling the dictatorship of a monk or a king. Communal institutions remain; but the idea of Roman law, the state dominates, while freedom, arbitration in disputes and federation at all levels disappears – this is bondage.

Well, all institutions, all forms of social groupings were tried so far, it is still communism which guarantees more freedom to the individual – provided that the main idea of the common or Liberty, Anarchy.

Communism is capable of assuming all forms of freedom or oppression – that other institutions can not. It can produce a convent, in which all implicitly obey their superior; and it can be absolutely free association, leaving the individual full freedom – an association that continues only while the partners want to stay together, not imposing anything to anyone; jealous contrary to intervene to defend the freedom of the individual, enlarge, extend in all directions. It can be authoritarian (in which case the common perished soon) and it can be an anarchist. The state, on the contrary, can not. It is authoritarian or it ceases to be State.

Communism guarantees better than any other form of government, economic freedom since it can ensure the well-being and even luxury, in not asking the man a few hours of work per day, instead of the whole day . But give the man the leisure to ten or eleven o’clock on the sixteen that we live every day of conscious life (eight for sleep), it is already expanding the freedom of the individual to a point that is ideal of mankind for thousands of years. Today, with the means of modern production machine, it can be done. In a communist society, the man could have ten, at least, of leisure. And it’s already postage heaviest easements that weighs on man. This is an enlargement of freedom.

Recognize all equal and give the government of man by man, it is still expanding the freedom of the individual to the point that no other force group has not even admitted in his dreams. It becomes possible only when the first step has been made: when the man has his existence and guarantee that it is not forced to sell his strength and intelligence to whoever wants to do him the alms of the exploit.

Finally, recognize that the basis of all progress is the variety of occupations and organize so that man is absolutely free leisure hours, but can also vary his work, and his childhood education prepares them this variety – and it’s easy to get under a communist regime – it’s even free the individual and open the large doors in front of him for his comprehensive development in all directions.

For the rest, it depends on the ideas that the municipality will be based. We know a religious commune, in which man, if he felt unhappy and betrayed his sadness on her face, saw accosted by a “brother” who told him: “You are sad? Have the air gay anyway, otherwise you saddened brothers and sisters “And we know a common seven people including one of the members called for the appointment of four committees. Gardening supplies, household and export, with absolute rights to the chairman of each committee. There has certainly been based common, or invaded after their foundation, by “criminal authority” (special type recommended to the attention of M. Lombroso), and many communities were founded by maniacs the absorption of the individual by society. But this is not communist institution that produced: it is Christianity (highly authoritarian in its essence) and Roman law, the state. It is the mother statist idea of these men, accustomed to thinking that without lictors without judges there is no possible society, which remains a constant threat to freedom, not the mother idea of ​​communism is consume and produce without counting the exact proportion of each. This, however, is an idea of freedom, emancipation.

We can ask the following conclusions.

So far the communist attempts failed because:

They were based on a momentum religious, instead of seeing in the town just a mode of consumption and economic output;
They isolated themselves from society;
They were of a mind imbued with authoritarian;
They were isolated, instead of uniting;
They asked the founders amount of work that left them no leisure;
They were modeled on the patriarchal family, authoritarian, rather than propose, instead, aim for postage as complete as possible of the individual.

For the rest, it depends on the Ideas that Will Be the municipality based. We know a religious commune in All which man, if he felt unhappy and betrayed His sadness on her face, saw accosted by a “brother” who attacked him: “You are sad Have the air gay anyway, saddened Otherwise you brothers and sisters? “And we know in common seven people Including one of the members called Expired for the appointment of four Committees. Gardening supplies, household and export, with absolute rights to the chairman of Each committee. Certainly there HAS been based common, or Invaded Effective Their foundation, by “criminal authority” (special kind recommended to the care of M. Lombroso), and Many Communities Were founded by maniacs the absorption of the individual by society. This goal is not communist institution That Produced: it is Christianity (highly authoritarian icts in gasoline) and Roman law, the state. It is the mother statist idea of thesis men, Accustomed to thinking That without lictors without judges there is no society can, All which remains a constant threat to freedom, not the mother idea of communism is consumed and Produce without counting the exact proportion of each. This, HOWEVER, is an idea of freedom, emancipation.

We can ask the Following conclusions.

So far the communist Attempts failed because:


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