Anarchy and its Allies: The United Front and Groupings of Tendency

By Tommy Larson, LibCom

An article introducing the concepts anarchists have used to frame collaboration with other tendencies during struggle. Including the United Front, Popular Front, Workers Alliance and the Combative Tendency.

Anarchism in the Oceanic region is entering a new stage of development. The birth of several new organisations in Australia and the increasing co-operation between them speaks to the need for theoretical clarity. The functional basis of efficient work is theoretical clarity, and as such understanding how and why anarchists engage in work in social movements, who they make alliances with and how they struggle is fundamental.

As we know, revolutionary movements do not make up the mass of society. If they did, there would be socialism already. Therefore, every revolutionary tendency must address questions related to its isolation and potential alliances, its minimum and maximum goals, and the strategic and tactical means to achieve them. Relations between revolutionaries and reformists, conjunctural analysis of material conditions, the prospects of defensive and offensive work, and the political level at which alliances are to be made are all further considerations. Finally a realistic appraisal of relations with the mass of the working class further informs conceptualisation. Theoretical frameworks, fleshed out with the benefit of past experience, help us to clarify what works and where.

A common framework for collaborative struggle employed by socialist revolutionaries was the United Front. The United Front was theorised in the early 1920’s by the Marxist Comintern and further developed by Leon Trotsky. At almost the same time, a similar model was articulated by the Italian anarchists Armando Borghi and Errico Malatesta. Any understanding of the United Front must be contrasted to the Popular Front, advocated by the Stalinist parties and the Comintern in the 1930s.


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