Counterpower, Participatory Democracy, Revolutionary Defence” (anarchism, Marxism)

By Lucien van der Walt

This article responds to criticisms of the broad anarchist tradition in International Socialism, an International Socialist Tendency (IST) journal. I will discuss topics such as the use of sources, defending revolutions and freedom, the Spanish anarchists, anarchism and democracy, the historical role of Marxism, and the Russian Revolution. The articles I am engaging with are marked by commendable goodwill; I strive for the same. Paul Blackledge’s article rejects “caricatured non-debate”. Ian Birchall stresses that “lines between anarchism and Marxism are often blurred”. Leo Zeilig praises Michael Schmidt’sand my book, Black Flame: the Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism, as “a fascinating account”.
It is important to note where we converge. The IST states it is for socialism from below through revolution. If Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky are invoked here, it is because the “essence” of their works is taken to be“working-class self-emancipation”. The term “dictatorship of the proletariat”, Leo insists, means merely “the democratic defense of working-class power” through “organs of self-organization; councils, trade unions, communes, etc”.

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