Do anarchists have a problem with authority?




1 Introduction

2. Basic ideas of anarchism

2.1. State and authority are sinister prejudices

2.2. The criticism of bourgeois democracy

2.3. The early anarchists' criticism of "authoritarian" socialism

2.4. The Sources of Revolutionary Energy: The Individual and the Spontaneity of the Masses

3. Brief summary: history of anarchism

4. Future of anarchy and criticism

4.1. Anarchy and Small Group Research

4.2. Principles of the council system and approaches to criticism

1 Introduction

In contrast to many studies, in my largely macro-sociological, even social-philosophical work, I want to briefly outline the main features of a virulent anarchism that is still debatable today and, as you can see at all universities. This anarchism does not want to solve the problem of power and domination, as well as their tendency towards violence and fearfulness, not through disorder, chaos and destruction, as it is assumed in ignorance, but through radical democratic and federal real utopian concepts.

The third section looks at some historical manifestations of anarchism. From this brief historical overview, the limited application and applicability of anarchist concepts in the individual political situations becomes clear.

In the first part of the fourth section I made a small contribution to the criticism of anarchism from the point of view of small group research and the interaction processes observed by it. In the second part of the fourth section, some results of the interaction and institutional analysis are compared to the demands of left-wing radical council theorists for self-determination in all institutions. The principles of the council system and its hope for the realization of a domination-free society are examined from the perspective of contemporary society and its basic needs. The goal of anarchism was better described by the great American poet Whitman than the formula of the "communist empire of freedom" can do. In the middle of the last century he wrote: "I sing about the self, the individual, but pronounce the word democratically, the word en masse."

2. Basic ideas of anarchism

Isn't life that is non-violent and "uncontrolled" the best? Isn't the solution to the political problem at the same time the elimination of master and slave?

Although it is hardly possible to bring the diverse thoughts of the anarchists to a common denominator, after some study of the Marx-Bakuin controversy, the writings of Proudhon, the libertarian communists Peter Kropotkin, Errico Malatesta and V.M. Eichenbaum (Volin) some coherent and consistent opinions. The existing relations of domination, indeed domination in general, are negated ("Let's not make ourselves the heads of a new religion, be it the religion of logic or the religion of reason", wrote the French anarchist Pierre J. Proudhon to K. Marx) as well as authority and dogmatism.(2) The distinction made by Daniel Guerin between anarchist individualism (Max Stirner, The One and His Own) and social anarchism is very useful at first.(3) Furthermore, for educational reasons, it seems to me to make sense to mention a few points in the broad field of association "anarchism". Today, for example, the two terms anarchist and libertarian are interchangeable quantities. Likewise, the terms "gauchism" (derived from the French gauche = left), left-wing radicalism and anarchism mean almost the same thing.(4) The Soviet professor N. Moltschanov uses these terms to denote the "soviets" (what power do the soviets have in the Soviet Union = workers 'and peasants' councils?) By no means mythical ideology and "gauchism". The anarchist is, at least by his own definition, primarily a socialist. Its goals are the abolition of the exploitation of man by man, the abolition of the state and the establishment of a non-repressive society, at the center of his political activity and theory is the socialist idea of ​​freedom.

2.1. State and authority are sinister prejudices

Why should man's rule over man be good, even if the word "sanctioned" is appended to it? Why should the peoples become savages and eat each other's noses off as soon as the government ceases to function, why do the "authorities" have such a great fear of freedom? The anarchists ask themselves these questions when considering the state and its tendencies towards totality (monarchy, today: Spain, Russia, Greece, etc.) to imperialism (colonialism, today: USA and USSR in the third world) , Vietnam, CSSR), for unnecessary restriction (repression, waste capitalism while 2/3 of mankind starves) (125 million tons of grain were destroyed in 1960 in the USA alone), for subordination in the army and administration.

The danger that threatens the individual from the state is worsening, writes Guerin, as the competence of the state and its bureaucracy expands. Proudhon described this main scourge of the twentieth century in the following words: "The bureaucracy leads to state communism ..., centralization becomes more and more powerful ..."

In a not insignificant part the egalitarian ideas of the anarchists are based on the early Christian idea of ​​equality among brothers. ("Nobody should call himself father" Christ).

2.2. The criticism of bourgeois democracy

The anarchist, in the opinion of the anarchists, exposes the structural defects of bourgeois democracy much more sharply than the "authoritarian" specialist. If democracy were really popular rule and popular sovereignty, there would be no government and no ruled. "The representative system guarantees the permanent existence of a government aristocracy against the people," asserts the exiled Russian Mikhail Bakuin. The boycott of the ballot box is also not an article of faith for the anarchists, who are mostly representatives of direct action, but part of their tactics. I will attempt a closer and more differentiated critique of bourgeois democracy in the chapter "Criticism of Parliamentarism and the Council System" based on Wilfried Gottschalch. Of course, with the introduction of parliamentary systems, relative progress was made on the way to a future society free of domination, but not only democracies of the western pattern, but also communist systems show tendencies towards oligarchization and centralization, which can only be achieved by organizing from the "bottom up" and not the other way around. From these few lines it can be seen that the anarchists do not, as Lenin criticized them, do not care about the form of oppression. In my opinion, the anarchists' demand for permanent "operationalization of the concept of freedom" characterizes this personal-societal utopia. Since their first goal is the emancipation of the "lower" (e.g. workers), their mistrust is primarily the adjustment and integration compulsions of bourgeois society, and they see these compulsions prevailing in the elections too. (Were "elections" between America's final presidential nominations?).

2.3. The early anarchists' criticism of "authoritarian" socialism

In order to show the right with which radical left students call themselves anarchists (Daniel Cohn-Bendit as well as the chairman of the Munich Soviet Republic the expressionist poet Ernst Toller) I would like to explain the early anarchists (Bakunin, Proudhon) and their criticism of communism. Only today can this dispute be properly assessed.

Above all, Stirner suspects the danger of a communist society in which the collective appropriation of the means of production gives the state far more power than it has in contemporary society: "By abolishing all personal property, communism only makes me even more dependent on to another, namely from the general public or as a whole, and no matter how loudly he attacks the state, what he intends, is itself again a state, a status, a condition that hinders my free movement, a sovereignty over me. which I learn from the individual owners, communism rightly rebels; but the violence which it hands over to the community is even more horrific. "(5) Proudhon, too, turns sharply against the authoritarian powers of state socialism. The concept that the communists have of the state and the power of the state is exactly the same as that of their rulers, only less liberal. "The formula borrowed from the old absolutism: rule of violence, complete centralization, inquisitorial police will also characterize state communism". Bakuin developed his criticism of the authoritarian structures of communism even further: "I abhor communism because it is the negation of freedom and because I cannot imagine anything worthy of human beings without freedom. I am therefore not a communist because communism has all the power of Society in the state concentrates and allows it to expand because it must necessarily lead to the centralization of property in the hands of the state, while I wish the most radical extermination of the principle of authority and the guardianship of the state, which, under the pretext of educating people and morally to civilize, has enslaved, oppressed, exploited and corrupted them to this day.I want the organization of society and collective or social property from the bottom up through free association and not from the top down with the help of some authority, whoever she is. " Shortly after this speech, Bakuin joined the First International. In the following dispute, which ultimately involves control of the international labor movement, Bakuin draws the worst. "The true or alleged scholars" of scientific Marxism (the party = revolutionary avant-garde of the people) will rule.(6) This party predisposes the masses to passivity, it constantly plans ahead. Spontaneity, initiative and self-administration are against a state socialism.

2.4. The Sources of Revolutionary Energy: The Individual and the Spontaneity of the Masses

For a long time Max Stirner was an outsider among anarchist thinkers. But today it is being republished and, like Marcuse, used to analyze contemporary society. Our society suffers from highly perfected structures of domination, adaptation and oppression. The forms of oppression that followed classical capitalist oppression require analysis and its removal. The therapy of anarchism is now the self-liberation of the individual. In order to free himself, the individual has to free himself from the usualities (conventions) that restrict his thinking (and writing; E. Toller was an expressionist poet) and acting. One of the main thrusts is directed by the anarchists against Christian sexual morality and the internalization mechanisms in the home and school. Stirner writes: "God, conscience, duties and law have become an inner power that I can no longer evade. Your despotism is ten times worse than external rule, because it rumbles in conscience."(7) Only if one constantly keeps the terms society (rule as an "annoying fact" of society) and individual in mind, one becomes the political intention of the anarchists even today (e.g. liberation of ego-weak individuals from the consumer compulsions internalized by advertising, or SDS Action on the anniversary of Rosa Luxemburg's death against the "Kaufhaus des Westens").

Bakunin is convinced that immorality is the sole consequence and expression of an incorrect organization of society. Crimes are a disease and their punishment is more like a learning process between "criminals" and a free society.(8)

When the Spanish anarchists, Bakuin's intellectual heirs, campaigned for the nationalization of the means of production, they did not fail to guarantee the autonomy of the individual even on the eve of the revolution of July 1936.

The Spanish anarcho-syndicalists (anarchist union) with over 2 million members were able to book the first successes of the self-government of the workers' councils for themselves even in 1936, after the industrialists and large landowners had left their property in great haste.(9)

However, for the anarchist not only the individuals are the sources of revolutionary energy, but also, as already mentioned, the masses, their initiative and spontaneity. Bakunin found confirmation of his views in the experiences of the Paris Commune of 1871. The thesis that the masses are the driving force of the revolution and not the communist parties was confirmed for anarchists in the Paris May Revolution.(10)

Nevertheless, this thesis (revolution through the masses) in our highly industrialized and complex industrial society appears to me to be too Roman and ultimately useful for "reaction". (Elections in France). In the last chapter I would like to deal with alternative concepts that have the utopian goal of freedom of domination and yet can be described as anarchist in the narrower sense.

On the way to a future society, the anarchists still deal with the following problems. Some of them have already been answered to some extent, some of them will probably never be finally answered. How is anti-authoritarian education possible? How is the future organization of society possible without rule? How can industrialization and planning for society as a whole be reconciled with the principle of autonomy for self-managed companies? Is it possible to undo alienation through self-management? Is full socialization possible and useful? How can the democratic, federal and communal principles be deepened into an anarchist principle? How can the principle of subsidiarity be made more valid? How should the public services be provided? How can you achieve decolonization? These and similar questions have been partially answered by the revolutionary practice of anarchism. The historical part of my presentation that follows is intended to give a brief overview of the history of anarchism, as far as this is possible in this context.

3. Brief summary: history of anarchism

1840 Pierre-Joseph Proudhon begins to use the term anarchy and place it in a new context. In his eyes, anarchy was the opposite of chaos. The government was the troublemaker, and only a society freed from governance could maintain the natural order of society. He and Bakunin had, it must be noted, a malicious pleasure to play with the ambiguity of the term anarchy.

The principle of free workers 'associations and the struggle for supremacy in the international workers' movement dominated the first phase of anarchism.

1880 to 1914 Since 1980, Bakunin's successors sought a dispute with the collectivist anarchists. Kropotkin even criticized the Paris Commune's precedent of 1871.

The controversial term state is replaced by the term federation or solidarity union of the municipalities. The First International broke up not least because of Proudhon himself, who wanted to replace the less successful union with a "dreaded International" that was to be communist, anti-clerical, anarchist, revolutionary and anti-parliamentary at the same time. Since this did not succeed, the anarchists withdrew from the labor movement. Adventurism, unreflective activism and conspiratorial politics spread under the name of anarchism. In order to regain access to the syndicates and thus to the workers, the unrealistic policy of individual actions and assassinations was abandoned. At the Anarchist Congress of 1907, the syndicates are viewed as fighting organizations in the class struggle. But Malatesta is already warning of the danger of conservatism in the syndical bureaucracy. In the period around 1905, a new type of model of revolutionary organizations was tested: the Soviets. As Guerin writes, they were formed during a general strike in the factories in Petersburg to coordinate the struggle of the striking workers. (Dryy: "The activity of the Soviet, that is, of the workers' councils, means the organization of anarchy"). As 1917 When the revolution broke out, the Soviets reappeared by themselves; they were the expression of the insurgents' interest, their central form of organization, which the Bolsheviks viewed with suspicion. The first phase of a libertarian revolution was followed by the authoritarian revolution. The new model of the state should not be self-government, but state monopoly is the model of Lenin's economic policy. ("Our next goal is to organize the entire national economy along the lines of the postal service" Lenin)(11); In fact, the competencies of the workers and peasants (in 1919 there was a "state" in southern Ukraine built according to anarchist principles and comprising an area of ​​7 million inhabitants. Nestor Makhno was the leader of these workers and peasants' councils, which were later liquidated by the Bolsheviks.) always less. On December 5, 1917, the industry was subordinated to a Supreme Economic Council, which controlled the activities of the producers in an authoritarian manner.

1918 began the first "purges" in Moscow. The climax of the actions of the Bolsheviks, fearing for their power, against the very popular anarchists was the brutal overthrow of the Kronstadt sailors and their soviets.

The sailors from 1921 have for the first time radically questioned a state of society that lies after the socialist revolution. The contradiction between the victorious revolution and the communist state party becomes clear here for the first time.(12)

In Italy, too, despite the initial successes of the factory councils, the anarchist concept of self-government could not prevail. In Germany, Holland, Austria and many other countries there were strong forces in the working class and in the intelligentsia who campaigned for the anarchist council system.

Particularly strong was that of its tradition of anarchism in Spain. Santillan, one of the leaders of the anarchist union (the C.N.T. had over 2 million members in 1936) challenged the criticism of the Russian revolution for the permanent further development of the revolution in favor of the "lower".

The syndicalist cooperatives let the working class manage the fields and factories themselves have already been fiercely opposed by the Spanish Communist Party; The ensuing defeat of the Spanish Revolution, as Guerin writes, robbed anarchism of its only and incomparable base in the world.

According to Guerin's judgment, no tendencies towards democratization and liberalization can be seen in economic administration except in Algeria and Yugoslavia; at least not to be seen according to anarchist principles.

In summary, one can say that despite all the contradictions that self-government has to grapple with (particularism and centralism, for example), it is thanks to it that it enables the masses to practice a democracy organized directly from the "bottom up" promotes people's free initiative and shapes their sense of responsibility.

4. Future of anarchy and criticism

In this section I will try to referee about anarchism and its limits in the construction of small groups based on the observations of F. Bales, as well as about the chances of a radical democratic council system in our highly industrialized and specialized society. Radical democratic tendencies in the family, church, university and in individual associations can unfortunately not be carried out because they would go beyond the scope of this report.

4.1. Anarchy and Small Group Research after F. Bales and L. Coch

In his observations of discussion groups (2-10 test persons) and the interaction processes taking place in them, Robert F. Bales not only provided an excellent scheme for observing small groups, but also discovered some remarkable data on the problem of leadership and performance. These investigations did not detract from the requirement for permanent rotation of roles (offices), but it was shown that this requirement is subject to certain limits and is determined by the performance of the group. At the end of the group meeting, for example, a questionnaire was presented to the members. The analysis of the questionnaires and the observation protocols shows, among other things, the following role structure. The role of the idea giver and the discussion leader coincided. The measurement in the integrative-emotional area (sympathy and antipathy represented by sociogram) showed that the task and performance-oriented leader was not identical with the "emotional leader". If this separation is now accepted by the two role-bearers, the group can perform well achieve. If this is not the case and it was not recognized that there could also be a "leaderless" (Lewin) group, a status battle begins at every meeting. This can lead to the fact that even in the short term, the role system does not exist. (The popular term of anarchy-chaos). One way of avoiding a crippling status struggle is to form a coalition between the "men at the top". Bales also sees this fact as an explanation of the incest taboo. However, we have to supplement the external aspect (increased performance through stable group structure) with some other social-psychological results from American group psychology.(13)

Is democratization as a way to freedom of rule a positive or negative factor in terms of performance. Of course, the concept of performance must be specified in more detail, but this should be done when explaining the individual research results.

The following explorations grew out of the work of Lewin, Lippitt, and White on the effects of autocratic and democratic leadership on groups of children.(14) These experiments showed that democratic leadership techniques increase productivity (performance was understood more in a creative way in this study). Alexander Bavelas now wanted to determine whether democratic discussion and decision-making techniques are also suitable for increasing industrial productivity. The very abstract concept of democracy was made operable by the fact that in the democratic groups it was not the leader but the group that made decisions. This is a management style that is used sporadically in upper management, but almost not at all at levels that are lower in the operational hierarchy. Furthermore, the Institute for Executives, Cologne-Braunsfeld assured me that quarrels and intrigues are much more frequent in authoritarian groups than under cooperative leadership.

Or as Adorno said a little more jargon at the last sociology congress: "Rule tends to be terrible". However, not only in the investigations of Bavelas, but also in the investigations of L. Coch and J.R. French show that the following can be said for many work situations:(15) People who work under democratic "leadership" and who have a more democratic communication structure are more satisfied, are more involved and thus achieve more. For a well-founded criticism of anarchism, these results are certainly very informative, as they make the real (even if only the still real) behavior of today's people confronted with the absolutely domineering system and type of people of the anarchist future.

In the following section, the macro-sociological analysis, which is more dominant in anarchism, will come to the fore.

4.2. Principles of the council system and approaches to criticism

In order to be able to give a reasonably useful and systemic criticism of the council system, I would like to formulate the following principles based on Udo Bermbach.

1. The purpose of the council idea is to create self-determination for those who have been ruled up to now, thus at least tending to eliminate alienation and to prevent bureaucratisation and oligarchization tendencies.

2. The councils have not only been successful as a fighting organ in all revolutions, they have also proven themselves to represent interests. More should be developed as a steering body of the political community and the economy. In the long run they could only prove themselves in this function in Yugoslavia.(16)

3. The primary voters - in accordance with the direct democratic idea that society wanted to be organized "from the bottom up" - to form closed grassroots groups. These could be business, residential or administrative units. Revolutionary Christian small communities that are active as grassroots groups are also conceivable. Most council theorists give preference to the company group. These grassroots groups are now active, in their assemblies the political will is formed and articulated.

4. In contrast to representatively structured constitutional systems, all public positions in the council system should be filled by direct elections.

5. The primary voters and their relatively autonomous groups have (e.g. in the event of conflicts with the central planning authority) the presumption of total competence responsibility for themselves, i.e. in case of doubt their decision applies. All political and relevant problems should be decided in base group discussions so as not to violate the democratic identity.

6. Capitalism, which is related to fascism (structural similarity between the command structure of a capital enterprise and the direct, non-constitutional mediated exercise of rule in the fascist state. Labor is not enough for entrepreneurs to legitimize economic democracy) is to be democratized. Since the famous statement in the industrial courier everyone has known that, in the eyes of many entrepreneurs, democracy is something that has just as little to do with the economy and the university as it does with penal institutions.

7. The elected delegates should work on a voluntary basis as far as possible, at least not earn more than the average income of the original electorate, in order to prevent economic independence from the outset.

8. All elected delegates are fully responsible for their decisions to the primary electorate, they have a bound mandate, are subject to constant control and can be recalled at any time.

9. In the ideal case, the personal composition of the respective councils reflects the social structure of the primary electorate.

10. Too frequent re-election should be counteracted by a rotation of office. Bermbach also writes that the postulate of office rotation also intends to make office accumulation and corruption impossible and to put an end to the traditional professional office which, according to council theory, has led to the calamity of "bureaucratization".

11. Finally, the liberal division of powers doctrine must be disregarded because it has already lost its social equivalent. It is governed essentially by extra-parliamentary forces (ministerial bureaucracy, management, monopoly capital and trade unions) against which so-called extra-parliamentary opposition forces (APO) have to be opposed. But that was only a remark concerning the path taken by various groups towards a council system.

It should also be noted that there are other important postulates besides these unreliable premises. For example, the correlation between the political and economic council system, the proletarian militia system, the introduction of general compulsory labor, etc.


Our highly differentiated performance society with its often difficult to manipulate practical constraints and necessary specialists makes it difficult to believe that a council organization and its immanent working mechanisms could completely abolish personal alienation and Michel's law of oligarchy formation.

Since the primary voters make a decision, but will hardly be able to put their own decision into practice; What is required is purposefully organized apparatuses which, as Bernbach observes, can take on this function more effectively, i.e. more competently, faster and cheaper than is to be expected from the self-governing municipalities. In this respect, bureaucratisation is unavoidable even in a council system. In addition, and with it, the bureaucracy analysis begins all over again, that every social system, in addition to its stabilization tendencies, also strives to integrate those that come into contact with it into its own bureaucratic mechanism, i.e. to gradually detach them from the political and social ties to their primary voters .

In addition, the ideal of the alienated person and certain of his or her autonomy comes into conflict with the inevitable differentiation of performance functions in an industrial society that is highly based on the division of labor. Certain elementary stability and supply expectations of this society have to be regulated by coordinating supraregional management bodies. The question is how the organizational amalgamation of a large number of local councils can take place, and what quality this supreme executive body must be in order to satisfy the radical democratic-anarchist conditions of the council idea. Wouldn't that be a huge cut in the decentralization demand?

On the other hand, however, because of their factual information advantage, these central organs tend to separate. The permanent control, which presupposes equality of information between voters and elected, is hardly possible properly because of the information advantage.

The criteria according to which account is to be given can therefore be determined by the new management system.

So that in the worst case it no longer means:

"KPÖ for security", "All councils are for security" but "We are for security". Which would also be tantamount to internalizing the management goals.

In addition, this alternative system also leads to the formation of new hierarchies, the mass basis is not given to education even before the revolution. The question of the criteria on the basis of which the council members should be awarded their mandate also remains unanswered.

I could only attempt a reception and criticism of anarchism and the idea of ​​councils on the basis of some certainly inadequate publications from abroad. At the end of my work I would like to rule out a few possible misunderstandings. For me, this lecture was not about an uncritical apology of our current power relations. The criterion of a progressive social theory seems to me, even if it is partially impractical, the contribution it has made to the increase in value of an underprivileged group (e.g. students, workers).

1. Presentation in: Sociological seminar: General sociology including social research (theory of society, macro-sociological theory) Prof. J. Wössner, Linz 20.1.69

2. See, Daniel Guerin, Anarchismus, 2nd edition, Frankfurt am Main 1967

3. See, Max Stirner, The Single and His Property, Leipzig 1928

4. cf., N. Moltschanov, Western Student Rebellion in a Soviet Perspective, Orientation No. 1, 33rd year, Zurich 1969

5. See M. Stirner, op. Cit., P. 166

6. cf., D. Guerin, Anarchismus, loc. Cit., P. 25 f

7. Max Stirner, The Only One, op. Cit., P. 77

8. similar to: R. Gronemeyer, Law and Utopia. On the jurisprudence of a future society, in: Kursbuch Nr. 14, Hrsg., H.M. Enzensberger, Frankfurt am Main, 1968, p. 122ff.

9. See, D. Guerin, Anarchismus, op. Cit., P. 111 f

10. See, D. Guerin, Anarchismus, loc. Cit., P. 33

11. See, D. Guerin, Anarchismus, loc. Cit., P. 76 f

12. More in: Kursbuch 9, Ed., H.M. Enzensberger, Dossier, Kronstadt 1921, Frankfurt am Main, 1967, p. 7 ff

13. See, R.F. Bales, Problem of the Balance in Small Groups, in: H. Hartmann, Moderne amerik. Sociology, Stgt, p. 331 f

14. See, R. Lipitt and R. White, An Experimental Study of Leadership and Group Life in: G.E. Swanson, Newcomb, Hartley, Ed., Readings in Social Psychologie, rev.ed., New York 1952, pp. 340 ff

15. See, L. Coch and John R.P. French, Jr., Overcoming Resistance to Change, in D. Cartwright and A. Zander, eds., Group Dynamics, 1960, 2nd edition, London, pp. 319-341

16. See, U. Bermbach, Approaches to a Critique of the Council System, in: Berliner Zeitschrift für Politologie, ed. Fachschaft für Politologie at the Otto Suhr Institute, Berlin, 1968,

No. 4, p. 21 ff