Malatesta, Yesterday and Today, and Third Wave Anarchism 1

Wayne Price, a veteran anarcho-communist, has made the following observation about the ideas of the classical anarchist Errico Malatesta:

“Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta (comrade of Bakunin and Kropotkin)…wrote that he did not expect a post-revolutionary period to be simply dominated by anarchist-communists (he preferred to call himself an anarchist-socialist). The revolution was likely to have been made by a united front of radical groupings and tendencies. It would be necessary for anarchists to work with others, to develop as much of an anarchist process as possible, while promoting experimentation and flexible pluralism.”

I would argue that this framework has been fundamental to the ATS position, with the modification that anarchism in the 21st century is not merely a reworking of late 19th-century socialism, a time when the “labor question” was at the center of virtually all political struggles.

If classical anarchism can be considered the “first wave” of modern anarchism (as opposed to anarchist prototypes found in pre-modernity), then contemporary anarchism, which has its roots in the 1960s cultural revolution, would be the “second wave.” Bellamy Fitzpatrick points out that the principal weakness of second wave anarchism is its absorption of progressive universalism, or what he calls “world domination anarchism” (basically, the anarchist version of what I call “totalitarian humanism”). Bellamy notes that the egoist writer “SirElnzige” has “commented frequently about the possibility of an oncoming ‘third-wave anarchy,’ and I think one among several necessary features of this hypothetical third wave would be a firm, explicit commitment to radical decentralization.”

A prediction: The principle dividing line in the of future anarchist movements will not be between an-coms and an-caps as it has been in recent decades but between WDA anarchists and decentralist anarchists.

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