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Anarchist communism

Anarchist communism advocates the abolition of the state, private property and capitalism in favor of common ownership of the means of production, Direct democracy and a horizontal network of voluntary associations, workers' councils and/or a Gift economy through which everyone will be free to satisfy their needs.

Anarchist communism is also known as anarcho-communism, communist anarchism, or sometimes, libertarian communism. However, while all anarchist communists are libertarian communists, some libertarian communists, such as council communists, are not anarchists. What distinguishes anarchist communism from other variants of libertarian communism is the former's opposition to all forms of political power, hierarchy and domination. However, some writers use libertarian communism and libertarian socialism as synonyms for anarchist communism or even anarchism in general.

Development of ideas

Anarchist communist currents appeared during the English Civil War and the French Revolution of the 1700s. Gerrard Winstanley, who was part of the radical Diggers movement in England, wrote in his 1649 pamphlet, The New Law of Righteousness, that there "shall be no buying or selling, no fairs nor markets, but the whole earth shall be a common treasury for every man," and "there shall be none Lord over others, but every one shall be a Lord of himself." During the French Revolution, Sylvain Maréchal, in his Manifesto of the Equals (1796), demanded "the communal enjoyment of the fruits of the earth" and looked forward to the disappearance of "the revolting distinction of rich and poor, of great and small, of masters and valets, of governors and governed."

An early anarchist communist was Joseph Déjacque, the first person to describe himself as "libertarian". Unlike Proudhon, he argued that, "it is not the product of his or her labor that the worker has a right to, but to the satisfaction of his or her needs, whatever may be their nature."

The collectivist anarchists advocated remuneration for labor, but held out the possibility of a post-revolutionary transition to a communist system of distribution according to need. As Bakunin's associate, James Guillaume, put it in his essay, Ideas on Social Organization (1876), "When... production comes to outstrip consumption... [e]veryone will draw what he needs from the abundant social reserve of commodities, without fear of depletion; and the moral sentiment which will be more highly developed among free and equal workers will prevent, or greatly reduce, abuse and waste.

First International

Anarchist communism as a coherent, modern economic-political philosophy was first formulated in the Italian section of the First International by Carlo Cafiero, Errico Malatesta, Andrea Costa and other ex-Mazzinian Republicans. Out of respect for Mikhail Bakunin, they did not make their differences with collectivist anarchism explicit until after Bakunin's death. The collectivist anarchists sought to collectivize ownership of the means of production while retaining payment for labor, but the anarcho-communists sought to extend the concept of collective ownership to the products of labor as well. While both groups argued against capitalism, the anarchist communists departed from Proudhon and Bakunin, who maintained that individuals have a right to the product of their labor and to be remunerated for their work, by proposing that individuals should be free to access goods according to their needs without respect to how much labor they exert.

Cafiero explains in Anarchy and Communism (1880) that private property in the product of labor will lead to unequal accumulation of capital and, therefore, undesirable class distinctions: "If we preserve the individual appropriation of the products of labour, we would be forced to preserve money, leaving more or less accumulation of wealth according to more or less merit rather than need of individuals." At the Florence Conference of the Italian Federation of the International in 1876, held in a forest outside Florence due to police activity, they declared the principles of anarcho-communism, beginning with:

"The Italian Federation considers the collective property of the products of labour as the necessary complement to the collectivist programme, the aid of all for the satisfaction of the needs of each being the only rule of production and consumption which corresponds to the principle of solidarity. The federal congress at Florence has eloquently demonstrated the opinion of the Italian International on this point..."

The above report was made in an article by Malatesta and Cafiero in the (Swiss) Jura Federation's bulletin later that year.

Peter Kropotkin

Peter Kropotkin, often seen as the most important theorist of anarchist communism, outlined his economic ideas in The Conquest of Bread and Fields, Factories and Workshops. Kropotkin felt that co-operation is more beneficial than competition, arguing in Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution that this was illustrated in nature. He advocated the abolition of private property through the "expropriation of the whole of social wealth" by the people themselves, and for the economy to be co-ordinated through a horizontal network of voluntary associations where goods are distributed according to the physical needs of the individual, rather than according to labor. He further argued that these "needs," as society progressed, would not merely be physical needs but "[a]s soon as his material wants are satisfied, other needs, of an artistic character, will thrust themselves forward the more ardently. Aims of life vary with each and every individual; and the more society is civilized, the more will individuality be developed, and the more will desires be varied."

He maintained that, in anarcho-communism:

Individuals and groups would use and control whatever resources they needed, as the aim of anarchist-communism was to place "the product reaped or manufactured at the disposal of all, leaving to each the liberty to consume them as he pleases in his own home. He supported the expropriation of property to ensure that everyone would have access to what they needed without being forced to sell their labour to get it.

He said that a "peasant who is in possession of just the amount of land he can cultivate," and "a family inhabiting a house which affords them just enough space... considered necessary for that number of people" and the artisan "working with their own tools or handloom" would not be interfered with, arguing that "[t]he landlord owes his riches to the poverty of the peasants, and the wealth of the capitalist comes from the same source."

While many anarcho-communists are opposed to trade, some post-left and post-scarcity anarcho-communists, and ones with syndicalist sympathies, are not opposed to trade. Some support a non-monetary form of trade in the form of non-monetary commons. Others such as Tiziana Terranova easily see anarcho-communism being compatible with a non-hierarchical, open access, free association, non-monetary form of trade such as P2P.

Economic theory

Anarcho-communism stresses egalitarianism and the abolition of social hierarchy and class distinctions that arise from unequal wealth distribution, as well as the abolition of private property and money. Replacing these approaches would be collective production and distribution of wealth by means of voluntary association. In anarchist communism, the state and private property would no longer exist. Each individual and group would be free to contribute to production and to satisfy their needs based on their own choice. Systems of production and distribution would be managed by their participants.

The abolition of wage labor is central to anarchist communism. With distribution of wealth being based on self-determined needs, people would be free to engage in whatever activities they found most fulfilling and would no longer have to engage in work for which they have neither the temperament nor the aptitude. Anarchist communists argue that there is no valid way of measuring the value of any one person's economic contributions because all wealth is a collective product of current and preceding generations. For instance, one could not measure the value of a factory worker's daily production without taking into account how transportation, food, water, shelter, relaxation, machine efficiency, emotional mood etc. contributed to their production. To truly give numerical economic value to anything, an overwhelming amount of externalities and contributing factors would need to be taken into account especially current or past labor contributing to the ability to utilize future labor.

Anarchist communists argue that any economic system based on wage labor and private property requires a coercive state apparatus to enforce property rights and to maintain unequal economic relationships that inevitably arise from differences in wages or amount of property. They further argue that markets and systems of currency divide labor into classes and assign artificial numerical values to an individual's work and attempt to regulate production, consumption and distribution. They argue that money restricts an individual's ability to consume the products of their labor by limiting their intake with prices and wages. Anarchist communists recognize money as fundamentally quantitative in nature, rather than qualitative. They believe production should be a qualitative matter, and that consumption and distribution should be self-determined by each individual without arbitrary value assigned to labor, goods and services by others. In place of a market, most anarcho-communists support a currency-less gift economy where goods and services are produced by workers and distributed in community stores where everyone (including the workers who produced them) is essentially entitled to consume whatever they want or need as "payment" for their production of goods and services. A gift economy does not necessarily involve an immediate return (such as with remuneration); compensation comes in the form of whatever the person decides is of equal value to their products of labor (what is commonly called bartering). Any limits on production and distribution would be determined by the individuals within the groups involved, rather than by capitalist owners, investors, banks or other artificial market pressures.

Communist anarchism shares many traits with collectivist anarchism but has defining differences. Collectivist anarchism believes in collective ownership but communist anarchism negates the entire concept of ownership in favor of the concept of usage. Thus, things are seen as either private possessions used by an individual, or social possessions used to produce for society. Anarcho-communists believe that means of production should not be owned by any one person or entity, leaving it free to be used by individuals for their own self-determined needs and wants. Land and housing would no longer be subject to rent or property taxes (and therefore, its use would be free of eviction threats). It would instead be subject simply to the desires of occupants on an egalitarian basis. For example, in an apartment building in which many live, no one person would have a say in the arrangements. All who live there would be involved in decisionmaking. For example, occupants may decide to share certain responsibilities on a revolving-door basis rather than relegate them to a particular individual.

Crucially, the abstract relationship of "landlord" and "tenant" would no longer exist, for such titles are held to occur under conditional legal coercion and are not absolutely necessary to occupy buildings or spaces (intellectual property rights would also cease). In addition to believing rent and other fees are exploitative, anarcho-communists feel these are arbitrary pressures inducing people to carry out unrelated functions. For example, they question why one should have to work for 'X hours' a day to merely live somewhere. So instead of working conditionally for the sake of the wage earned, they believe in working directly for the objective at hand. From this it follows that, rather than land being for sale or rent, vacant land and housing would be freely taken regardless of one's employment or financial status (essentially, the "for sale" sign could be replaced by a "vacant" sign). Therefore, in anarcho-communist theory, land used by individuals for themselves or their families, or productive property used to produce for an individual (such as a small farm), would be considered private possessions rather than social possessions. The individual would be perfectly free to create something and keep it as long as it is not a crucial means of production for the community or general public. So an artist's paintbrushes would not need outside approval to be utilized, and the same basic principle would apply to other personal items such as one's toothbrush, musical instruments or book collection, which others needn't tamper with. However, if the matter at hand involves production for society (such as a factory which makes toothbrushes, musical instruments or books), it would become a social possession, accountable to all who work within it and the consuming public. In that regard, anarcho-communism could be considered a compromise between collective and individual use.

Anarcho-communists reject mutualist economics because they believe that market competition, even non-capitalist markets, inherently create inequalities in wealth and land which would lead to inequalities of power - thus the recreation of the State and capitalism as some workers would have more access to capital and defence force than others. They reject collectivist economics arguing that remuneration would require a type of currency, which, again, anarcho-communists reject as an artificial measurement of the value of labor. They further argue that those who are not part of collective groups or unions in workers' councils and collectives could be alienated from access to capital, and thus promote free common use over ownership by society.

Philosophical arguments

Anarchist communists reject the claim that wage labor is necessary because people are by "nature" lazy and selfish. They point out that even the so-called "idle rich" sometimes find useful things to do despite having all their needs satisfied by the labour of others. Anarcho-communists generally do not agree with the belief in a pre-set 'human nature', arguing that human culture and behavior is very largely determined by socialization. Many, like Peter Kropotkin, also believe that human evolutionary tendency is for humans to cooperate with each other for mutual benefit and survival instead of existing as lone competitors.

Anarchist communists support communism as a means for ensuring the greatest freedom and well-being for everyone, rather than only the wealthy and powerful. In this sense, anarchist communism is a profoundly egalitarian philosophy. Anarchist communists do not think that anyone has the right to be anyone else's master, or 'boss' as this is a concept of capitalism and the state. Some contemporary anarchist communists and advocates of post-left anarchy such as Bob Black reject the concept of work altogether in favor of turning necessary subsistence tasks into voluntary free play.

Many anarcho-communists (and collectivist anarchists as well) reject "individualism" and "collectivism" as illusory concepts. They argue that an individual sacrificing themself for the "greater good" or being ruled by the "community" or "society" is not possible because society is composed of individuals rather than being a cohesive unit separate from the individual, and argue that collective control over the individual is tyrannical and un-anarchistic.

Criticisms and responses

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, some of whose philosophy has influenced social anarchists (social Christian anarchist Leo Tolstoy was heavily influenced by Proudhon), was critical of communism, "whether of the Utopian or the Marxist variety, [believing] that it destroyed freedom by taking away from the individual control over his means of production. At the time he wrote most of his works, the word "communism" was typically used to refer to the views of the Utopian socialists, whom Proudhon accused of attempting to impose equality by sovereign decrees. In opposition to the communist maxim "to each according to need", Proudhon said "To each according to his works, first; and if, on occasion, I am impelled to aid you, I will do it with a good grace; but I will not be constrained". However, Proudhon was against the hoarding of private property in an unequal society and thus supported people being in equal condition which he believed would negate the difference in amounts of private property. In his treatise What is Property?(1849), Proudhon answers with "Property is theft!" In natural resources, he sees two conceivable types of property, de jure property and de facto property, and argues that the former is illegitimate. Proudhon's fundamental premise is that equality of condition is the essence of justice. "By this method of investigation, we soon see that every argument which has been invented in behalf of property, whatever it may be, always and of necessity leads to equality; that is, to the negation of property." He argued that an inegalitarian condition in society would impoverish some people at the hands of people with more land,
The purchaser draws boundaries, fences himself in, and says, 'This is mine; each one by himself, each one for himself.' Here, then, is a piece of land upon which, henceforth, no one has right to step, save the proprietor and his friends; which can benefit nobody, save the proprietor and his servants. Let these multiply, and soon the people . . . will have nowhere to rest, no place of shelter, no ground to till. They will die of hunger at the proprietor's door, on the edge of that property which was their birth-right; and the proprietor, watching them die, will exclaim, 'So perish idlers and vagrants.'"

However, while being opposed to communism, he was also opposed to capitalism. In a series of commentaries, from What is Property? (1840) through the posthumously-published Théorie de la propriété, he first declared that "property is theft", "property is impossible", "property is despotism" and "property is freedom". When he said property is theft, he was referring to the landowner or capitalist who he believed stole the profits from laborers. For Proudhon, the capitalist's employee was "subordinated, exploited: his permanent condition is one of obedience. Proudhon called himself a "socialist" and called his philosophy "anarchist socialism". He opposed state ownership of capital goods in favour of ownership by workers themselves in associations.

Many individualist anarchists believe that elements of anarcho-communism are undesirable or even incompatible with anarchism. Benjamin Tucker referred to it as "pseudo-anarchism when admonishing Peter Kropotkin for opposing wages. Henry Appleton said: "All Communism, under whatever guise, is the natural enemy of Anarchism, and a Communist sailing under the flag of Anarchism is as false a figure as could be invented. Victor Yarros says 'no logical justification, no rational explanation, and no "scientific" reasoning has been, is, will be, or can be advanced in defence of that unimaginable impossibility, Communistic Anarchism'. Clarence Lee Swartz says in What is Mutualism: "One of the tests of any reform movement with regard to personal liberty is this: Will the movement prohibit or abolish private property? If it does, it is an enemy of liberty. For one of the most important criteria of freedom is the right to private property in the products of one's labor. State Socialists, Communists, Syndicalists and Communist-Anarchists deny private property." William Kline says that the individualists and communists "could not reconcile their differences, the Communist Anarchists dedicated to a community of property and the Individualist Anarchists deeply committed to private property and individual effort." Anarcho-communists counter these criticisms by arguing that the abolition of property creates maximum freedom for all individuals. As Errico Malatesta argues,

"The individualists assume . . . that the (anarchist) communists wish to impose communism, which of course would put them right outside the ranks of anarchism. "The communists assume . . . that the (anarchist) individualists reject every idea of association, want the struggle between men, the domination of the strongest

Anarcho-communists argue that individual worker cooperatives have the potential to isolate and control those who do not belong to such institutions, or those with less money. Anarcho-communists in general argue that the value of labor is subjective and thus cannot be measured by any monetary means, arguing that such values are arbitrary and lead to a stratification in society by a division of labor. Kropotkin and other communists anarchists have argued that the existence of defence associations, even worker-owned ones that are freely available for everyone, have authoritarian implications, "[f]or their self-defence, both the citizen and group have a right to any violence [within individualist anarchy] . . . Violence is also justified for enforcing the duty of keeping an agreement. Tucker . . . opens . . . the way for reconstructing under the heading of the 'defence' all the functions of the State." Moreover, anarcho-communists argue that even in a socialistic market such as in individualist and mutualist anarchy, as some workers reaped more revenue than others, due to different productivity in market competition, those with more money would have more access to capital (means of production) and thus become able to unilaterally influence market deals, decision-making and employment, offering the highest bids to defence firms and thus reconstituting capitalism and the State. Alfie Kohn points out "strife of competition reduces empathic sympathy, distorts communication, impairs the mutuality of support and sharing, and decreases the satisfaction of personal need." Communist anarchist Albert Metzer harshly argued, "the school of Benjamin Tucker by virtue of their individualism accepted the need for police to break strikes so as to guarantee the employer's 'freedom.' All this school of so-called Individualists accept . . . the necessity of the police force, hence for government, and the prime definition of anarchism is no government."

More recently, advocates of post-left anarchy, such as Bob Black in Anarchy After Leftism, argue that leftists have an attachment to generic moral standards that are incompatible with anarchism and seek to establish political forms, such as platformism and direct democracy, that amount to forms of the state. However, supporters of direct democracy claiming to be anarchists reject Black's claim, stating that direct democracy, albeit being the rule of some (relative majority) over others (relative minority as well as "silent majority"), would include no hierarchy or monopolization of force and territory. Bob Black is an anarchist and possibly an anarchist communist himself due to his rejection of wage labor and rejection of market systems.

One capitalist criticism of anarcho-communism is that such a society would not be able to keep productivity up because individuals would not be paid for their labor, since wages would be abolished and people would instead be given things "according to their needs." Anarchist communists propose that economic distribution should be based on the maxim "from each according to their ability and to each according to their needs" believing these "abilities" and "needs" should be self-determined.

Anarchist communists reject markets based on the principle that all theories of monetary value are subjective and argue that private property is inherently exploitative, and could not exist without force or without the eventual creation of a State to protect it. They also put forward the idea that, by making productive property freely accessible to all, it would increase individual liberty. They argue that labor should not be an obligation and should be a voluntary task that should be enjoyable or provide necessary services. Alexander Berkman in particular believed that all forms of private ownership of production are authoritarian whether or not they have an established state to protect them, "[so the boss] gives you a job: that is permission to work in the factory or mill which was not built by him but by other workers like yourself. And for that permission you help to support him for . . .as long as you work for him." Bob Black further argued, "Some people giving orders and others obeying them: this is the essence of servitude. Of course, as [right-Libertarians] smugly [observe], 'one can at least change jobs,' but you can't avoid having a job just as under statism one can at least change nationalities but you can't avoid subjection to one nation-state or another. But freedom means more than the right to change masters" Charlotte Wilson argued that it would not be possible to be forced into an anarcho-communist commune as the abolition of property (the anarchist conception of property) cannot be authoritarian, "every man [or woman] is free to take what he [or she] requires....[and so] it is hardly conceivable that personal necessaries and conveniences will not be appropriated.....[for] when property is protected by no legal enactments, backed by armed force, and is unable to buy personal service, its resuscitation on such a scale as to be dangerous to society is little to be dreaded. The amount appropriated by each individual . . . must be left to his [or her] own conscience, and the pressure exercised upon him [or her] by the moral sense and distinct interests of his [or her] neighbours." She further argued, "Property is the domination of an individual, or a coalition of individuals, over things; it is not the claim of any person or persons to the use of things this is, usufruct, a very different matter. Property means the monopoly of wealth, the right to prevent others using it, whether the owner needs it or not. Usufruct implies the claim to the use of such wealth as supplies the users needs. If any individual shuts off a portion of it (which he is not using, and does not need for his own use) from his fellows, he is defrauding the whole community.

Marxists criticize anarchism as being incapable of creating a successful and lasting revolution because it is philosophically flat-footed and does not aptly identify issues of class and modes of production. Both Marxist and anarchist class analyses are based on the idea that society is divided up into many different "classes", each with differing interests according to their material circumstances. The two differ, however, in where they draw the lines between these groups. For Marxists, the two most relevant classes are the "bourgeoisie" (owners of the means of production) and the "proletariat" (wage laborers). Anarchists argue that it is not the capital class who actually has control over the state, but another upper class which is part of the ruling class (and thus, defending its interests), but with its own concerns, particularly retaining political power, national territory and military power. A revolutionary minority taking over State power and imposing its will on the people would be just as authoritarian as the ruling minority in capitalism, and would eventually constitute itself as a ruling class since the class that governs the state is seen as separate from the labor class. This was predicted by Bakunin long before the Russian Revolution and the fall of the Soviet Union, when he wrote:

If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Czar himself.

Also, anarchists have traditionally advocated that a successful revolution needs the support of the peasantry, and a joint effort between both rural agricultural workers and industrial workers. That is, it explicitly rejects imposing state property of the land. Some modern anarchists (particularly pareconists) argue that there are three “classes,” which have relevance to social change - not two. The first is the labor class which includes everyone whose labor is involved in producing and distributing goods; the second is the coordinator class which includes everyone whose labor is primarily concerned with “coordinating” and managing the labor of others primarily on behalf of the bourgeoisie (this would include bureaucrats, politicians, intellectuals and party hierarchs); and the third is the elite owning class or "capital class" which derives its income from its control of wealth, land, property and resources. Anarchists contend that Marxism fails, and will always fail, because it creates a dictatorship of the coordinating class and that a "dictatorship of the proletariat" is a logical impossibility. They argue its theoretical "socialist mode of production" involves centralizing and empowering the State apparatus which empowers people from the coordinator class to seize control of the State and means of production to manage the labor class. Bakunin foreshadowed this argument when he wrote:

"the State has always been the patrimony of some privileged class: a priestly class, an aristocratic class, a bourgeois class. And finally, when all the other classes have exhausted themselves, the State then becomes the patrimony of the bureaucratic class and then falls—or, if you will, rises—to the position of a machine." On the International Workingmen's Association and Karl Marx, Mikhail Bakunin, 1872

Anarchists do not differentiate between peasants, lumpen, merchants, some small business owners, and proletarians and instead define all people who work for the profit of others or sell the products of their own labor as members of the working class, regardless of occupation. Anarchists do differentiate between the economic and political elites who set policy and the business and government functionaries that carry those policies out, whereas Marxists lump the two together. Further, some anarchists argue that Marxism fails because it springs from the minds of middle class intellectuals, while arguing that anarchism springs spontaneously from the self-activity and self-organization of the labor class. They point to the fact that schools of Marxism are often named after the intellectuals who formed the movements through high analytical and philosophical praxis theorization. Marxists, however, contend that their ideas are not new ideologies which sprang from intellectuals but are ideas which form from the class contradictions of each economic and social mode of history. They argue that Marxian socialism in particular arose from the minds of the working class due to the class contradictions of the capitalist mode of production. Some Marxists even argue that anarchism springs from the ideas of proletarians (or even petty bourgeoisie) who have been marginalized by capitalism as an unorganized and unrefined reactionary struggle against the forces of capitalism. Marxists believe that attempts by oppressed people to liberate themselves will continue to fail to achieve their full aims until class society is done away with, because under capitalism and other class societies, social power rests at the point of production. Many Marxists point to the sometimes rag-tag nature of anarchist revolutions as evidence that any working class movement needs a sufficient backbone organizational focus to maintain good tactics and inspire a proletarian class consciousness, often in the form of a revolutionary vanguard party. Some Marxists believe anarchist revolutions tend to be reactionary (in the sense of reacting against the alienating effects of capitalism) and fail to stop capitalism due to their hostility to established political power. They argue that anti-capitalist revolutions need to seize sufficient political power in the form of a state in order to prevent the return of capitalism and to create an economy which allows both capitalism and the state to become unnecessary. Anarcho-communists counter-argue that decentralized, stateless collective federations are sufficient to give both power to workers and preserve personal freedom and point to the fact that no socialist state has ever showed signs of "withering away".

However, it should be noted that these disagreements are less of a problem for libertarian Marxists who believe that a State apparatus should operate on proletariat-controlled participatory democracy or even as a consociational state. Marxists and anarcho-communists would both agree that "It is this class division of society which gives rise to the state - because the minority need a special force to maintain their rule over the majority - which has evolved over thousands of years into the complicated structures we see today."

However, despite criticisms, anarchist communist communes, such as anarchist Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War, saw increased productivity. The production of potatoes increased 50% and the production of sugar beets and feed for livestock doubled. Through the use of more modernized machinery and chemical fertilizers, the yield per hectare was 50% greater on collective property than on individually-owned land. The anarchist collectivization in Spain also showed that such ideas are possible to implement in industrial settings. 75% of Spanish industry was located in the Catalon region. According to local sources at the time,

"Catalonia and Aragon, were about 70 per cent of the workforce was involved. The total for the whole of Republican territory was nearly 800,000 on the land and a little more than a million in industry. In Barcelona workers' committees took over all the services, the oil monopoly, the shipping companies, heavy engineering firms such as Volcano, the Ford motor company, chemical companies, the textile industry and a host of smaller enterprises. . . Services such as water, gas and electricity were working under new management within hours of the storming of the Atarazanas barracks . . .a conversion of appropriate factories to war production meant that metallurgical concerns had started to produce armed cars by 22 July . . . The industrial workers of Catalonia were the most skilled in Spain . . . One of the most impressive feats of those early days was the resurrection of the public transport system at a time when the streets were still littered and barricaded."

The collectivist projects were quite successful, sources noted

"In distribution the collectives' co-operatives eliminated middlemen, small merchants, wholesalers, and profiteers, thus greatly reducing consumer prices. The collectives eliminated most of the parasitic elements from rural life, and would have wiped them out altogether if they were not protected by corrupt officials and by the political parties. Non-collectivised areas benefited indirectly from the lower prices as well as from free services often rendered by the collectives (laundries, cinemas, schools, barber and beauty parlours, etc.)"

Example societies through history

An example of anarcho-communism is the traditional family. Each member contributes income purely by altruism. Parents have the right to please their children even though it contradicts their self-interest. Property is commonly owned. There is no internal price system in the traditional family, which is also a the main feature of anarcho-communism.

There have been several attempts, both successful and unsuccessful, at creating other anarchist-communist societies throughout much of the world. Anarchist-communists and some green anarchists (especially anarcho-primivists) argue that hunter-gatherer tribes, like families, were early forms of anarchist-communism, due to their egalitarian nature. Early Christian communities have been described by Christian anarchists and some historians as having anarcho-communist characteristics.

In modern history, the first anarchist communist societies are arguably egalitarian religious communities such as the Diggers Movement during the English Revolution. Large communities and federations of communities such as Anarchist Catalonia and the Free Territory of revolutionary Ukraine are examples of successful anarchist-communism in 20th century Europe. Luigi Galleani, an Italian anarcho-communist, inspired a terror bombing campaign in the United States from 1914 to 1932. The free territories of Hungary during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 could be seen as another example of large-scale successful anarcho-communism.

The Korean Anarchist Movement in North and South Korea led by Kim Jwa Jin briefly brought anarcho-communism to Korea. The success was short-lived and much less widespread than the anarchism in Spain or Hungary. Some consider the current existing anarchist nature of communities in Argentina and the Zapatista councils in Mexico to be anarcho-communist. Others consider them to be collectivist or syndicalist.

Aspects of the free software community, the GNU movement and the copyleft movement are a type of a gift economy for information and software; a gift economy is the preferred economic system of anarcho-communists. Programmers make the source code of their programs available for anyone to copy, modify and improve. Individual programmers gain prestige and respect, and the community benefits from better software. Markus Giesler, in his ethnography Consumer Gift Systems, explored music downloading as a system of social solidarity based on gift transactions. Some organizations such as online commons (such as the Wikimedia Commons), wikis and Indymedia are held up as examples of functioning anarcho-communistic organizations.

See also



Further reading

External links

Introductory articles on anarchist communism

Anarchist communist websites and portals

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