Far from the Second World War having produced a stable system of great power blocs secure in their heartlands and held in frozen equilibrium by the threat of mutual nuclear annihilation, the three decades since the war have witnessed major convulsions in all the great powers, together with endless violence on the periphery of the world system.
In the East the last act of the Bolshevik Revolution is being played out: the conversion of 'Soviet' Russia into a gigantic authoritarian welfare state - with or without the restoration of private property. In the West the international currency and energy crises, the 'great inflation' and the current turn into recession clearly show the bankruptcy of the Keynesian liberal state and throughout the advanced countries the attempted synthesis of all classes and groups in the parliamentary reformist state is breaking down. If it is true that in almost all countries, labour has accepted the bourgeois state and become merely one sectional interest among others in the existing society, it is also true that it is in conflict with these other sectional interests and the field of conflict is widening.
A century after the foundation of the modern worker's movement, anarchism's main competitors stand condemned by history. Both party dictatorship and parliamentary reformism have had their chance and as the libertarian wing of the International Workingmen's Association predicted, they have both failed when measured against the aim common to both wings of the classical workers movement. Moreover with them also lies a large share of the responsibility for the twentieth century holocaust. If today various micro-factions of 'left' labourites and 'revolutionary' Leninists rehearse doctrines that were already out of date in 1920, it is because they have learnt nothing from the last fifty years; nothing from Berlin, Kronstad, Budapest and Prague; nothing from Belsen, and Workuta; nothing from Stalin and Hitler.
Anarchism suffered the fate of any doctrine ahead of its time. It made the proletarian revolution its central concept at a time when the bourgeois revolution had not yet happened for the bulk of mankind. It was only the beginning of this century that saw a steady world-wide growth of anarchist and syndicalist organisations; a rise against which all factions of the so-called 'socialist' International closed their ranks.
The world historical significance of the Russian Revolution was that it split the revolutionary left and crippled the anarchist and syndicalist movements.
In terms of its effects the Third, or Communist, International was a profoundly counter- revolutionary organisation. It destroyed its revolutionary competitors - the anarchists and syndicalists - but it put nothing in their place. The Industrial Workers of the World in America, the Shop Stewards Movement in England, the Revolutionary Shop Stewards in Germany - all were destroyed, they have yet to rise again. Nor was this destruction purely organisational; by the time of the Nazi-Soviet pact, when Stalin gave Hitler several hundred foreign communist refugees for execution, the Gestapo and G.P.U. were gunning down anarchist militants all over Europe and America.
Whilst modern anarchism recognises its descent from the revolutionary libertarian wing of the first workers' International, and its kinship with those libertarian militants who survived the onslaught of Stalinism and fascism in the twenties and thirties and the general destruction of the Second World War, it arises principally from a critical reflection on the experience of the socialist bloc and on the irrelevance of labour, socialist and communist parties in the advanced West. Of the proletarian revolutions this century - Russia 1905, 1917; Kronstadt 1921; Asturias 1934; Spain 1936; East Berlin 1953; Poznan 1953; Hungary 1956; France 1968 - all except one started independently of the socialist and communist parties, only three gained the support of such parties and the majority were suppressed by socialist and communist parties. Such treachery, covering as it does a whole historical epoch, cannot be blamed on the characteristics of this or that individual leader; it is an essential characteristic of such parties.
For this reason the central task of the revolutionary movement is the creation of flexible democratic organisation, united by common programme, strategy and analysis rather than by subordination to a common centre; uncompromised by automatic support for external power- political interests, and having sections capable both of independent action and of unity on a joint action programme with other sections. It is as a first step to such an organisation that the following document adopted by January national conference of the Federation of Australian Anarchists is put forward.
FAAB, No 4, March-April 1975 Rabelais, Vol 9, no 1
The Federation consists of those groups and individuals in Australia who:
The basic units of the organisation are cells or affinity groups composed of either:
The cells or affinity groups in a given geographical region should form a regional association for purposes of mutual aid and discussion and for organising general propaganda. In areas where there are not functionally differentiated groups, regional associations should be formed in order to bring anarchists and sympathisers together and in this and other ways facilitate the emergence of affinity groups.
Affinity groups may also unite nationally, or regionally on the basis of common occupation, interest, status or program, to form sub-sections of the federation.
Each group - affinity, regional or national - should designate a member for correspondence with the rest of the movement. If the names and addresses of such corresponding members cannot be published openly they should still be held by the group producing the internal bulletin and also the corresponding member of each regional association or national sub-section within the federation should keep the names and addresses of the corresponding members of its component cells or affinity groups.
Although it is desirable that members belong to an affinity group, (or several), they may be attached directly to either a regional association, a national sub-section or the federation itself in the absence of suitable local groups.
FAAB No 3, Jan-Feb, 1975
Rabelais, Vol 9, No 1