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Anarchist communism (also known as anarcho-communism and occasionally as free communism or libertarian communism) is a theory of anarchism which advocates the abolition of the state, capitalism and private property (while retaining respect for personal property), and in favor of common ownership of the means of production, direct democracy and a horizontal network of voluntary associations and workers' councils with production and consumption based on the guiding principle: "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need".
Some forms of anarchist communism such as insurrectionary anarchism are strongly influenced by egoism and radical individualism, believing anarcho-communism is the best social system for the realization of individual freedom. Most anarcho-communists view anarcho-communism as a way of reconciling the opposition between the individual and society.
Anarcho-communism developed out of radical socialist currents after the French revolution but was first formulated as such in the Italian section of the First International. The theoretical work of Peter Kropotkin took importance later as it expanded and developed pro-organizationalist and insurrectionary anti-organizationalist sections.
To date, the best-known examples of an anarchist communist society (i.e., established around the ideas as they exist today and achieving worldwide attention and knowledge in the historical canon), are the anarchist territories during the Spanish Revolution and the Free Territory during the Russian Revolution. Through the efforts and influence of the Spanish Anarchists during the Spanish Revolution within the Spanish Civil War, starting in 1936 anarchist communism existed in most of Aragon, parts of the Levante and Andalusia, as well as in the stronghold of Anarchist Catalonia before being crushed by the combined forces of the regime that won the war, Hitler, Mussolini, Spanish Communist Party repression (backed by the USSR) as well as economic and armaments blockades from the capitalist countries and the Second Spanish Republic itself. During the Russian Revolution, anarchists such as Nestor Makhno worked to create and defend—through the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine—anarchist communism in the Free Territory of the Ukraine from 1919 before being conquered by the Bolsheviks in 1921.
Anarchist communist currents appeared during the English Civil War and the French Revolution of the 17th and 18th centuries, respectively. 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." Returning to New York he was able to serialise his book in his periodical Le Libertaire, Journal du Mouvement social. Published in 27 issues from June 9, 1858 to February 4, 1861, Le Libertaire was the first anarcho-communist journal published in America. This was the first anarchist journal to use the term "libertarian". According to the anarchist historian Max Nettlau, the first use of the term libertarian communism was in November 1880, when a French anarchist congress employed it to more clearly identify its doctrines. The French anarchist journalist Sébastien Faure, later founder and editor of the four-volume Anarchist Encyclopedia, started the weekly paper Le Libertaire (The Libertarian) in 1895.
Dejacque "rejected Blanquism, which was based on a division between the ‘disciples of the great people’s Architect’ and ‘the people, or vulgar herd,’ and was equally opposed to all the variants of social republicanism, to the dictatorship of one man and to ‘the dictatorship of the little prodigies of the proletariat.’ With regard to the last of these, he wrote that: ‘a dictatorial committee composed of workers is certainly the most conceited and incompetent, and hence the most anti-revolutionary, thing that can be found...(It is better to have doubtful enemies in power than dubious friends)’. He saw ‘anarchic initiative,’ ‘reasoned will’ and ‘the autonomy of each’ as the conditions for the social revolution of the proletariat, the first expression of which had been the barricades of June 1848 (see Revolutions of 1848). In Déjacque’s view, a government resulting from an insurrection remains a reactionary fetter on the free initiative of the proletariat. Or rather, such free initiative can only arise and develop by the masses ridding themselves of the ‘authoritarian prejudices’ by means of which the state reproduces itself in its primary function of representation and delegation. Déjacque wrote that: ‘By government I understand all delegation, all power outside the people,’ for which must be substituted, in a process whereby politics is transcended, the ‘people in direct possession of their sovereignty,’ or the ‘organised commune.’ For Déjacque, the communist anarchist utopia would fulfil the function of inciting each proletarian to explore his or her own human potentialities, in addition to correcting the ignorance of the proletarians concerning ‘social science.’"
The collectivist anarchists advocated remuneration for the type and amount of labor adhering to the principle "to each according to deeds"; 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."
Anarchist communism as a coherent, modern economic-political philosophy was first formulated in the Italian section of the First International by Carlo Cafiero, Emilio Covelli, 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 proportional to the amount and kind of labor of each individual, 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 individual labor and to be remunerated for their particular contribution to production. But, Errico Malatesta put it: "...instead of running the risk of making a confusion in trying to distinguish what you and I each do, let us all work and put everything in common. In this way each will give to society all that his strength permits until enough is produced for every one; and each will take all that he needs, limiting his needs only in those things of which there is not yet plenty for every one."
Cafiero explains in Anarchy and Communism (1880) that private property in the product of labor will lead to unequal accumulation of capital and, therefore, the reappearance of social classes and their antagonisms, and thus the resurrection of the state: "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 (1842-1921), 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 cooperation is more beneficial than competition, arguing in his major scientific work Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution that this was well-illustrated in nature. He advocated the abolition of private property (while retaining respect for personal 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:
...houses, fields, and factories will no longer be private property, and that they will belong to the commune or the nation and money, wages, and trade would be abolished.
— Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread
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 private property into the commons or public goods (while retaining respect for personal property), to ensure that everyone would have access to what they needed without being forced to sell their labour to get it.
We do not want to rob any one of his coat, but we wish to give to the workers all those things the lack of which makes them fall an easy prey to the exploiter, and we will do our utmost that none shall lack aught, that not a single man shall be forced to sell the strength of his right arm to obtain a bare subsistence for himself and his babes. This is what we mean when we talk of Expropriation...
— Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread
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."
In summation, Kropotkin described an anarchist communist economy as functioning like this:
Imagine a society, comprising a few million inhabitants, engaged in agriculture and a great variety of industries—Paris, for example, with the Department of Seine-et-Oise. Suppose that in this society all children learn to work with their hands as well as with their brains. Admit that all adults, save women, engaged in the education of their children, bind themselves to work 5 hours a day from the age of twenty or twenty-two to forty-five or fifty, and that they follow occupations they have chosen in any one branch of human work considered necessary. Such a society could in return guarantee well-being to all its members; that is to say, a more substantial well-being than that enjoyed to-day by the middle classes. And, moreover, each worker belonging to this society would have at his disposal at least 5 hours a day which he could devote to science, art, and individual needs which do not come under the category of necessities, but will probably do so later on, when man's productivity will have augmented, and those objects will no longer appear luxurious or inaccessible.
— Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread
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.
"In 1876, at the Berne conference of the International Working Men's Association, the Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta argued that the revolution "consists more of deeds than words", and that action was the most effective form of propaganda. In the bulletin of the Jura Federation he declared "the Italian federation believes that the insurrectional fact, destined to affirm socialist principles by deed, is the most efficacious means of propaganda."
As anarcho-communism emerged in the mid 19th century it had an intense debate with bakuninist collectivism and as such within the anarchist movement over participation in syndicalism and the workers movement as well as on other issues. So "In the theory of the revolution" of anarcho-communism as elaborated by Peter Kropotkin and others "it is the risen people who are the real agent and not the working class organised in the enterprise (the cells of the capitalist mode of production) and seeking to assert itself as labour power, as a more 'rational' industrial body or social brain (manager) than the employers.".
So "between 1880 and 1890" with the "perspective of an immanent revolution," who was "opposed to the official workers' movement, which was then in the process of formation (general Social Democratisation). They were opposed not only to political (statist) struggles but also to strikes which put forward wage or other claims, or which were organised by trade unions." But "While they were not opposed to strikes as such, they were opposed to trade unions and the struggle for the eight-hour day. This anti-reformist tendency was accompanied by an anti-organisational tendency, and its partisans declared themselves in favour of agitation amongst the unemployed for the expropriation of foodstuffs and other articles, for the expropriatory strike and, in some cases, for 'individual recuperation' or acts of terrorism."
But after Peter Kropotkin along others decided to enter labor unions after their initial reservations, there remained "the anti-syndicalist anarchist-communists, who in France were grouped around Sebastien Faure's Le Libertaire. From 1905 onwards, the Russian counterparts of these anti-syndicalist anarchist-communists become partisans of economic terrorism and illegal 'expropriations'." Illegalism as a practice emerged and within it "The acts of the anarchist bombers and assassins ("propaganda by the deed") and the anarchist burglars ("individual reappropriation") expressed their desperation and their personal, violent rejection of an intolerable society. Moreover, they were clearly meant to be exemplary, invitations to revolt."
Proponents and activists of these tactics among others included Johann Most, Luigi Galleani, Victor Serge, Giuseppe Ciancabilla and Severino Di Giovanni. The Italian Giuseppe Ciancabilla (1872–1904) wrote in "Against organization" that "we don't want tactical programs, and consequently we don't want organization. Having established the aim, the goal to which we hold, we leave every anarchist free to choose from the means that his sense, his education, his temperament, his fighting spirit suggest to him as best. We don't form fixed programs and we don't form small or great parties. But we come together spontaneously, and not with permanent criteria, according to momentary affinities for a specific purpose, and we constantly change these groups as soon as the purpose for which we had associated ceases to be, and other aims and needs arise and develop in us and push us to seek new collaborators, people who think as we do in the specific circumstance."
In Ukraine the anarcho-communist guerrilla leader Nestor Makhno led an independent anarchist army in Ukraine during the Russian Civil War. A commander of the peasant Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine, also known as the Anarchist Black Army, Makhno led a guerrilla campaign opposing both the Bolshevik "Reds" and monarchist "Whites". The revolutionary autonomous movement of which he was a part made various tactical military pacts while fighting various forces of reaction and organizing the Free Territory of Ukraine, an anarchist society, committed to resisting state authority, whether capitalist or Bolshevik. After successfully repelling Austro-Hungarian, White, and Ukrainian Nationalist forces, the Makhnovists militia forces and anarchist communist territories in the Ukraine were eventually crushed by Bolshevik military forces.
In the Mexican Revolution the Mexican Liberal Party was established and during the early 1910s it lead a series of military offensives leading to the conquest and occupation of certain towns and districts in Baja California with the leadership of anarcho-communist Ricardo Flores Magón. Kropotkin's The Conquest of Bread, which Flores Magón considered a kind of anarchist bible, served as basis for the short-lived revolutionary communes in Baja California during the "Magónista" Revolt of 1911
A group of exiled Russian anarchists attempted to address and explain the anarchist movement's failures during the Russian Revolution. They wrote the Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists which was written in 1926 by Dielo Truda ("Workers' Cause"). The pamphlet is an analysis of the basic anarchist beliefs, a vision of an anarchist society, and recommendations as to how an anarchist organization should be structured. The four main principles by which an anarchist organization should operate, according to the Platform, are ideological unity, tactical unity, collective action, and federalism. The platform argues that "We have vital need of an organization which, having attracted most of the participants in the anarchist movement, would establish a common tactical and political line for anarchism and thereby serve as a guide for the whole movement".
The Platform attracted strong criticism from many sectors on the anarchist movement of the time including some of the most influential anarchists such as Voline, Errico Malatesta, Luigi Fabbri, Camillo Berneri, Max Nettlau, Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman and Gregori Maximoff. Malatesta, after initially opposing the Platform, later came to agreement with the Platform confirming that the original difference of opinion was due to linguistic confusion: "...I find myself more or less in agreement with their way of conceiving the anarchist organisation (being very far from the authoritarian spirit which the "Platform" seemed to reveal) and I confirm my belief that behind the linguistic differences really lie identical positions."
Two texts were made by the anarchist communists Sebastian Faure and Volin as responses to the Platform, each proposing different models, are the basis for what became known as the organisation of synthesis, or simply "synthesism". Voline published in 1924 a paper calling for "the anarchist synthesis" and was also the author of the article in Sebastian Faure's Encyclopedie Anarchiste on the same topic. The main purpose behind the synthesis was that the anarchist movement in most countries was divided into three main tendencies: communist anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, and individualist anarchism and so such an organization could contain anarchists of this 3 tendencies very well. Faure in his text "Anarchist synthesis" has the view that "these currents were not contradictory but complementary, each having a role within anarchism: anarcho-syndicalism as the strength of the mass organisations and the best way for the practice of anarchism; libertarian communism as a proposed future society based on the distribution of the fruits of labour according to the needs of each one; anarcho-individualism as a negation of oppression and affirming the individual right to development of the individual, seeking to please them in every way.
The most extensive application of anarcho-communist ideas (i.e., established around the ideas as they exist today and achieving worldwide attention and knowledge in the historical canon), happened in the anarchist territories during the Spanish RevolutionIn Spain, the national anarcho-syndicalist trade union Confederación Nacional del Trabajo initially refused to join a popular front electoral alliance, and abstention by CNT supporters led to a right wing election victory. But in 1936, the CNT changed its policy and anarchist votes helped bring the popular front back to power. Months later, the former ruling class responded with an attempted coup causing the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). In response to the army rebellion, an anarchist-inspired movement of peasants and workers, supported by armed militias, took control of Barcelona and of large areas of rural Spain where they collectivised the land. But even before the fascist victory in 1939, the anarchists were losing ground in a bitter struggle with the Stalinists, who controlled the distribution of military aid to the Republican cause from the Soviet Union. The events known as the Spanish Revolution was a workers' social revolution that began during the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and resulted in the widespread implementation of anarchist and more broadly libertarian socialist organizational principles throughout various portions of the country for two to three years, primarily Catalonia, Aragon, Andalusia, and parts of the Levante. Much of Spain's economy was put under worker control; in anarchist strongholds like Catalonia, the figure was as high as 75%, but lower in areas with heavy Communist Party of Spain influence, as the Soviet-allied party actively resisted attempts at collectivization enactment. Factories were run through worker committees, agrarian areas became collectivised and run as libertarian communes. Anarchist historian Sam Dolgoff estimated that about eight million people participated directly or at least indirectly in the Spanish Revolution, which he claimed "came closer to realizing the ideal of the free stateless society on a vast scale than any other revolution in history." Stalinist-led troops suppressed the collectives and persecuted both dissident Marxists and anarchists.
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Anarcho-communism stresses egalitarianism and the abolition of social hierarchy and class distinctions arising from unequal wealth distribution, as well as the abolition of money and private property (while retaining respect for personal property). Replacing these outdated, harmful 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. As Kropotkin put it: "No distinction can be drawn between the work of each man. Measuring the work by its results leads us to absurdity; dividing and measuring them by hours spent on the work also leads us to absurdity. One thing remains: put the needs above the works, and first of all recognize the right to live, and later on, to the comforts of life, for all those who take their share in production.."
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 arbitrary 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, corporations, 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 decision-making. It's typically argued that everyone should share certain responsibilities on a revolving-door basis rather than relegate them to any particular individual. This way, no one would get stuck doing labor considered relatively degrading.
Crucially, the abstract relationship of "landlord" and "tenant" would no longer exist, as 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, since they are a form of private property.) 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 (personal property) 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.
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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.
While anarchist communists Peter Kropotkin and Murray Bookchin believed that the members of such a society would spontaneously perform all necessary labour because they would recognize the benefits of communal enterprise and mutual aid,[page needed] others such as Nestor Makhno and Ricardo Flores Magon had the conviction that all those able to work in an anarchist communist society should be obligated to do so, excepting groups like children, the elderly, the sick, or the infirm. Kropotkin did not think laziness or sabotage would be a major problem in an authentically anarchist-communist society, but he did agree that a freely associated anarchist commune could, and probably should, deliberately disassociate from those not fulfilling their communal agreement to do their share of work.
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 communism as an anarchist philosophy is against hierarchy in all its forms. 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 and implies authority over the individual. 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.
Peter Kropotkin said that the main authoritarian mistakes in communist experiments of the past were their being based on "religious enthusiasm" and the desire to live "as a family" where the individual had to "submit to the dictates of a punctilious morality". For him anarcho-communism should be based on the right of free association and dissasociation for individuals and groups and on significantly lowering the amount of hours each individual dedicates to necessary labor. He says that "to recognise a variety of occupations as the basis of all progress and to organise in such a way that man may be absolutely free during his leisure time, whilst he may also vary his work, a change for which his early education and instruction will have prepared him — this can easily be put in practice in a Communist society — this, again, means the emancipation of the individual, who will find doors open in every direction for his complete development."
Some anarcho-communists (and collectivist anarchists as well) reject "individualism" and "collectivism" as illusory concepts. They argue that an individual sacrificing themselves 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. Others, such as Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt, argue that: "The anarchists did not ... identify freedom with the right of everybody to do exactly what one pleased but with a social order in which collective effort and responsibilities- that is to say, obligations- would provide the material basis and social nexus in which individual freedom could exist." They argued that "genuine freedom and individuality could only exist in a free society" and that in contrast to "misanthropic bourgeois individualism" anarchism was based in "a deep love of freedom, understood as a social product, a deep respect for human rights, a profound celebration of humankind and its potential and a commitment to a form of society where a 'true individuality' was irrevocably linked to 'the highest communist socieability'"
Egoist philosophical positions are important in anarcho-communist insurrectionary anarchism. In the early 20th century the Italian individualist anarchist Renzo Novatore advocated both revolution and anarcho-communism when he spoke that "revolution is the fire of our will and a need of our solitary minds; it is an obligation of the libertarian aristocracy. To create new ethical values. To create new aesthetic values. To communalize material wealth. To individualize spiritual wealth.". From Stirnerist positions he also disrespected private property when he said that "Only ethical and spiritual wealth" was "invulnerable. This is the true property of individuals. The rest no! The rest is vulnerable! And all that is vulnerable will be violated!". This can also be seen in the contemporary writings of insurrectionary anarchism, as can be seen in the work of Wolfi Landstreicher, Alfredo Bonanno and others. Post-left anarcho-communist Bob Black after analysing insurrectionary anarcho-communist Luigi Galleani's view on anarcho-communism went as far as saying that "communism is the final fulfillment of individualism...The apparent contradiction between individualism and communism rests on a misunderstanding of both...Subjectivity is also objective: the individual really is subjective. It is nonsense to speak of “emphatically prioritizing the social over the individual,”...You may as well speak of prioritizing the chicken over the egg. Anarchy is a “method of individualization.” It aims to combine the greatest individual development with the greatest communal unity.
On the article by Max Baginski called "Stirner: The Ego and His Own" published in the American anarchist magazine Mother Earth there is the following affirmation "Modern Communists are more individualistic than Stirner. To them, not merely religion, morality, family and State are spooks, but property also is no more than a spook, in whose name the individual is enslaved - and how enslaved! The individuality is nowadays held in far stronger bondage by property, than by the combined power of State, religion and morality...The prime condition is that the individual should not be forced to humiliate and lower himself for the sake of property and subsistence. Communism thus creates a basis for the liberty and Eigenheit of the individual. I am a Communist because I am an Individualist. Fully as heartily the Communists concur with Stirner when he puts the word take in place of demand - that leads to the dissolution of private property, to expropriation. Individualism and Communism go hand in hand."
Anarchist communists counter the capitalist conception that communal property can only be maintained by force and that such a position is neither fixed in nature nor unchangeable in practice, citing numerous examples of communal behavior occurring naturally even within capitalist systems.. Anarchist communists call for the abolition of private property while maintaining respect for personal property. As such the prominent anarcho-communist Alexander Berkman maintained that "The revolution abolishes private ownership of the means of production and distribution, and with it goes capitalistic business. Personal possession remains only in the things you use. Thus, your watch is your own, but the watch factory belongs to the people.Land, machinery, and all other public utilities will be collective property, neither to be bought nor sold. Actual use will be considered the only title-not to ownership but to possession. The organization of the coal miners, for example, will be in charge of the coal mines, not as owners but as the operating agency. Similarly will the railroad brotherhoods run the railroads, and so on. Collective possession, cooperatively managed in the interests of the community, will take the place of personal ownership privately conducted for profit."
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Anarcho-communism has been critical of a simple call for worker´s ownership of workplaces and their administration as cooperatives. Murray Bookchin has put it this way "what of the syndicalist ideal of "collectivized" self-managed enterprises that are coordinated by like occupations on a national level and coordinated geographically by "collectives" on a local level?...Here, the traditional socialist criticism of this syndicalist form of economic management is not without its point: the corporate or private capitalist, "worker-controlled" or not"”ironically, a technique in the repertoire of industrial management that is coming very much into vogue today as "workplace democracy" and "employee ownership" and constitutes no threat whatever to private property and capitalism...In any case, "economic democracy" has not simply meant "workplace democracy" and "employee ownership." Many workers, in fact, would like to get away from their factories if they could and find more creative artisanal types of work, not simply "participate" in "planning" their own misery. What "economic democracy" meant in its profoundest sense was free, "democratic" access to the means of life, the counterpart of political democracy, that is, the guarantee of freedom from material want. It is a dirty bourgeois trick, in which many radicals unknowingly participate, that "economic democracy" has been re-interpreted as "employee ownership" and "workplace democracy" and has come to mean workers' "participation" in profit sharing and industrial management rather than freedom from the tyranny of the factory, rationalized labor, and "planned production," which is usually exploitative production with the complicity of the workers."
As such "Whereas the syndicalist alternative re-privatizes the economy into "self-managed" collectives and opens the way to their degeneration into traditional forms of private property - whether "collectively" owned or not - libertarian municipalism politicizes the economy and dissolves it into the civic domain. Neither factory or land appear as separate interests within the communal collective. Nor can workers, farmers, technicians, engineers, professionals, and the like perpetuate their vocational identities as separate interests that exist apart from the citizen body in face-to-face assemblies. "Property" is integrated into the commune as a material constituent of its libertarian institutional framework, indeed as a part of a larger whole that is controlled by the citizen body in assembly as citizens - not as vocationally oriented interest groups."
For platformist anarcho-communist Wayne Price "Today’s proposals for Parecon, in which workers are rewarded for the intensity and duration of their labor in a cooperative economy, would fit into Bakunin’s or Marx’s concept of a transitory, beginning, phase, of a free society ... Kropotkin rejected the two-phase approach of the Marxists and the anarchist-collectivists. Instead he proposed that a revolutionary society should “transform itself immediately into a communist society,” that is, should go immediately into what Marx had regarded as the “more advanced,” completed, phase of communism. Kropotkin and those who agreed with him called themselves “anarchist-communists” (or “communist anarchists”), although they continued to regard themselves as a part of the broader socialist movement."
Marxist-Leninists believe that without a transitionary period of state control (their interpretation of the dictatorship of the proletariat) it would be impossible for any revolution to maintain the momentum or cohesion to defend the new society against external and internal threats. Friedrich Engels noted: "Without a previous social revolution the abolition of the state is nonsense; the abolition of capital is in itself the social revolution and involves a change in the whole method of production." Alternatively, such quotations have been interpreted by Anarcho-Communists supportive of Marx and Engels to suggest the abolition of capitalism and the state simultaneously, not the creation of a new state. Anarchists reject the Leninist model of the "dictatorship of the proletariat," arguing that any revolutionary minority taking over state power would be just as authoritarian as the ruling class in capitalism to defend the new state, and would eventually constitute itself as a new ruling class. As an extension of this, 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". Again, the Spanish Revolution is cited as an example of successful anarchist military mobilisation, albeit one crushed by superior forces.
Anarcho-communism calls for a confederal form in relationships of mutual aid and free association between communes as an alternative to the centralism of the nation-state. Peter Kropotkin thus suggested that "Representative government has accomplished its historical mission; it has given a mortal blow to court-rule; and by its debates it has awakened public interest in public questions. But to see in it the government of the future socialist society is to commit a gross error. Each economic phase of life implies its own political phase; and it is impossible to touch the very basis of the present economic life-private property -without a corresponding change in the very basis of the political organization. Life already shows in which direction the change will be made. Not in increasing the powers of the State, but in resorting to free organization and free federation in all those branches which are now considered as attributes of the State."
As such "no community can hope to achieve economic autarchy, nor should it try to do so unless it wishes to become self-enclosed and parochial, not only "self-sufficient." Hence the confederation of communes"”the Commune of communes"”is reworked economically as well as politically into a shared universe of publically managed resources. The management of the economy, precisely because it is a public activity, does not degenerate into privatized interactions between enterprises; rather it develops into confederalized interactions between municipalities. That is to say, the very elements of societal interaction are expanded from real or potential privatized components to institutionally real public components. Confederation becomes a public project by definition, not only because of shared needs and resources. If there is any way to avoid the emergence of the city-state, not to speak of self-serving bourgeois "cooperatives," it is through a municipalization of political life that is so complete that politics embraces not only what we call the public sphere but material means of life as well."
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. Other movement included the egalitarian religious communities such as the Diggers Movement during the English Revolution.
The best known examples of an anarchist communist society, established around the ideas as they exist today, that received worldwide attention and knowledge in the historical canon, are the anarchist territories during the Spanish Revolution and the Free Territory during the Russian Revolution. Through the efforts and influence of the Spanish Anarchists during the Spanish Revolution within the Spanish Civil War, starting in 1936 anarchist communism existed in most of Aragon, parts of the Levante and Andalusia, as well as in the stronghold of Anarchist Catalonia before being brutally crushed by the combined forces of Francoism, Hitler, Mussolini, Spanish Communist Party repression (backed by the USSR) as well as economic and armaments blockades from the capitalist countries and the Spanish Republic itself. The Spanish example, in which high levels of mobilisation and swift improvements to production were implemented by anarchists, is often cited as an example of an anarchist-communist society which saw rapid improvements to both industrial and scientific output. While some exponents of capitalism believe that such a society's productivity and technological progress would stagnate out of lack of monetary incentives.
During the Russian Revolution, anarchists such as Nestor Makhno worked to create and defend- through the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine- anarchist communism in the Free Territory of the Ukraine from 1919 before being conquered by the Bolsheviks in 1921. Later movements include the free territories of Hungary during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
The Korean Anarchist Movement in 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, like the Free Software movement, the GNU Project and its copyleft principle 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 Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Commons), wikis and Indymedia are held up as examples of functioning anarcho-communistic organizations.