Principled Bakuninism

When looking for new Latin American Anarchist groups, I happened to find a document I think is of importance. “El Anarquismo Revolucionario: origen, evolucion y vigencia…” was written by a Mexican anarchist group called Organizacion Popular Anarquista Revolucionaria (OPAR) [1]. They subscribe to “Principled Bakuninism” (Bakuninismo Principista) The following is a brief examination of this tendency. (My Spanish is not the best, my apologies to OPAR if I am misrepresenting them in some way.)

Bakunin developed revolutionary anarchism from the proto-anarchism of Proudhon. Key elements of Bakunin’s anarchism were the need to implant oneself in the popular movements and the organization of the revolutionary minority. This latter entailed the formation of a tight, well organized, international revolutionary organization. The goal of the revolution was to abolish capitalism and the state and introduce what we today call Popular Power. The goal of the revolutionary organization was to encourage the mass movements in that direction. Bakunin’s “vanguard” was not authoritarian. It did not boss the worker organizations. Nor was the vanguard to rule once the revolution was made. It was simply composed of the most advanced people and lead by example and persuasion, not coercion.

After Bakunin’s death, his followers, Cafiero, Kropotkin and Malatesta tried to continue the revolutionary anarchist tendency. But in doing so, they ignored those two key aspects of Bakunin’s revolutionary praxis — involvement with the masses and the revolutionary organization. Instead, they proposed the formation of loose affinity groups. They also sought to encourage attacks against the authorities; the ill-fated tactic known as “propaganda of the deed.” Their “revisionism” served only to distance revolutionary anarchism from the peasants and workers, marked anarchists as terrorists and chaotic people (to this very day) and bury the concept of the revolutionary organization. These errors allowed the Social Democrats to go unchallenged and to build powerful organizations that would then deflect the population away from revolution.

It was soon evident that propaganda of the deed was a disaster and within less than a decade, most anarchists had re-entered the labour movement. This new movement was anarcho-syndicalism and gave rise to many working class militants. While anarchist ideas now had a mass appeal, one thing was missing. This was the concept of the revoltionary organization. The lack of this revolutionary minority would prove fatal in 1936 when the CNT-AIT leaders betrayed the Spanish Revolution by joining the government rather than destroying it and instituting Popular Power.

By the time of the Great War, anarchism was split three ways. One group favoured an educational and cultural approach, the second were the syndicalists and the third were the synthesists. This latter group sought to unite all anarchist tendencies in one umbrella group. None of these tendencies followed Bakunin’s concept of revolutionary organization.

There were a number of groups and individuals, who, in some manner, did follow in Bakunin’s footsteps. These included the Magon Brothers, the Mahknovischina, (and the “Platform”) the Friends of Durruti, the FAU (Uruguayan anarchists) and George Fontenis. Contemporary groups are criticized. The present AIT and the groups it influences like Venezuala’s “El Libertario”, are condemned as ultra sectarians and a “rightist revision” of anarchism. Surprisingly enough, they don’t care much for the Neo-platformist or “Especifist” tendencies either, which are denounced for “eclecticism”.

From here on, I will attempt to give my evaluation of OPAR’s analysis.


Categories: Anarchism/Anti-State

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