Interesting political autobiography from a somewhat leading theorist of left-anarchism. There’s really nothing in here that’s incompatible with the ATS program, except for the idea that his outlook does not need to be universalized.
By Wayne Price
The Anarchist Library
I came to this set of ideas by a zig-zag process. I grew up in the suburbs, the child of white collar workers (at the upper end of the working class or the lower end of the middle class). I suffered no material deprivation or personal abuse, but I was intensely, neurotically, unhappy. Shortly before entering high school, I spent a summer in a camp program for teenagers. By happenstance, I came across the writings of Paul Goodman and Dwight Macdonald which converted me to anarchist-pacifism. Over time, I was also influenced by the bioregionalist Lewis Mumford and by the humanistic Marxist, Erich Fromm (Fromm and Goodman were also both radical psychologists).
These and other writers convinced me that there was another way for human beings to relate to each other, more human, kinder, and more rational, than what I was used to. People, they said, needed decentralized, human-scale, face-to-face, radically democratic, communities, and this was technologically possible. They answered my intense need to rebel against authority while still keeping most of the humanistic and democratic values I had internalized from my liberal parents. I regarded myself as a decentralist socialist — and still do. (Paul Goodman is discussed further in one of the following essays.)
When I went to college, I joined the Students for a Democratic Society and participated in the movement against the Vietnamese war. In the course of this, I ran across a Trotskyist who talked me out of anarchist-pacifism. He persuaded me that a revolution was needed and that anarchist-pacifism was not a sufficient program for revolution. He argued that nonviolence would not work against a committed evil force, such as the Nazis. He gave me works on the Hungarian revolution and the Spanish revolution of the thirties. These argued that the Leninist concept of a “workers’ state” or “dictatorship of the proletariat” meant that workers, peasants, and soldiers should form assemblies and councils and should associate these together as an alternate power to either the fascists or to the liberal capitalist state. Why, I thought, I am for that! I still am, although I would not call this a workers state. So I became a Trotskyist.