Rethinking Anarchism: Carlos Taibo (7)

What follows below is the 7th Chapter of Carlos Taibo’s Rethinking Anarchy: Direct Action, Self-Management, Autonomy (La Catarata, Madrid, 2013).  This chapter addresses the mutual influences between anarchism and feminism, radical ecology and pacifism/anti-militarism.  We have already translated and posted the “Prologue” and the “Chapter 1″ of this work (Click here), “Chapter 2″ (Click here), “Chapter 3″ (Click here), “Chapter 4” (click here), “Chapter 5” (Click here), “Chapter 6” (Click here).  And we hope to continue in what will be the complete translation of the book.  In this way we aim to share with English readers the work of one of the most significant anarchist voices today in spain.

Chapter 7: New Airs

Mutual Germinations

It is very common when speaking of, though not without many equivocations, what has come to be called new social movements to refer to feminism, environmentalism and what has sometimes been described as pacifism and other times anti-militarism, as the three most important manifestations of these.  When, years ago, I set out on the task of giving shape to an anthology of libertarian thought, I must confess that I encountered serious problems when it came to tracing the presence of the material and conceptual foundations of feminism and environmentalism – not so for pacifism/anti-militarism – among the classics of 19th century anarchism.  And this to the extent that I feel tempted to improvise a quick conclusion: the frequent and lucid reflections on the condition of women and regarding our precarious place in the natural world have come rather, and then, from persons who should be classified – following the categorisation that I proposed earlier, and to which I appeal to on occasion – as libertarians instead of strictly speaking anarchists.

With everything, it is important to understand what I wish to say: that the presence of feminism and environmentalism was weak throughout a great period of time in anarchist thought – in the same way as occurred, with similar contours, with Marx and his epigones – does not mean that this thought did not carry through, with reasonable success as I will endeavour to document, the called upon for revisions.  And much less does this mean that today, that there are serious obstacles for a mutual fecundation.

Anarchism and feminism

Despite what I have just finished saying, there is a relatively important presence of considerations regarding women and their problems – though often sporadic and not always fully lucid – among anarchist thinkers and movements of the past.

I will begin by recalling that Bakunin rejected on many occasions patriarchy and denounced “the despotism of husband, father, older brother over the family”, something that transformed this last “into a school of violence and triumphant brutality, of cowardliness and daily corruption”.(1)  “My father had been quite rich.  He was, in the language of the time, owner of a thousand male souls, since women were not counted in slavery, in the same way that they also do not count now in freedom”(2), added Bakunin.  In 1872, a Spanish anarchist congress proclaimed, moreover, the equality of women and men, as much in the home as in places of work, a principle which, very often expressed by Bakunin himself, would at least in theory become a part of latter anarcho-syndicalism.  It is certainly the case that there was no shortage of contrary opinions, such as those voiced, in the wake of Proudhon, by Richard Mella.  While so suggestive in so many other domains, he believed that women should essentially give themselves over to reproduction and care of the home.  I would add that even though Spanish anarcho-syndicalists assumed that the abolition of private property would lead, by itself, to the emancipation of women, there were positions, even though minority positions, that advocated for the creation of organisations specifically dedicated to struggling for this emancipation and which were distrustful of the identification invoked earlier.(3)

It seems reasonable, apart from the above, to recover the fact that the questioning of the monogamous family was common, much earlier, in the writings of one of the first socialists, Charles Fourier, who considered this type of family anti-natural, as it repressed passions – those linked to carnal love, as well as those of a platonic nature – and was grounded on the supposed inferiority of women.  And this against the fact that the condition of women in many of the communities created following the ideas of the first socialists – fortunately exceptions there were, such as those associated with certain communities of an anarchist nature or with some, though not all, of the experiments encouraged by Owenists and Fourierists – was anything but enviable.(4)  In general terms, it has to be said in the end that within this horizon, there was a greater emphasis on the practice of free love – regardless of what was understood by this – than on the liberation of women.

However, most certainly and as would be expected, the majority of the contributions in this domain came from libertarian women.  The North American Voltairine de Cleyre, little known among us, accordingly defended free love and birth control, rejected monogamy and the grounds for the sexual division of labour and condemned repeatedly the double exploitation suffered by women as a consequence.  Louise Michel struggled against the discrimination suffered by women and for the equality of the sexes.  The Argentine anarchist Carmen Lareva emphasised how inequality functioned to the detriment of women, but not without forcefully denouncing sexual hypocrisy and the exploitation that characterised our societies.  Emma Goldman, for her part, argued that the only difference between a married woman and a prostitute is the permanent character of the exploitation suffered by the first, while also demanding the complete independence of women.  Teresa Claramunt and Teresa Mañé contested arguments that pointed to the eventual superiority of men, a fictitious superiority that is at the origin nevertheless of all social organisation.  Many of these ideas were at the origin of a movement, Mujerers Libres, very vigorous in the decade of the 1930s.  In short, despite the fact that Federica Montseny liked to emphasise that anarchism had never “distinguished between man and woman”,(5) the daily reality of many of the anarchist organisations – and I had the opportunity to signal this – belied again and again the good intentions of such a statement.  In the dense social magma in which contradictions were frequent, it is sufficient to recall that in the wake of the revolution of 1936, even though many anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists were firmly determined to close the brothels, in no way was there an absence of those equally determined in defending their continuity under the singular argument that invoked the necessity of providing workers and militia men with an escape … .(6)

In our time, it is a rather easy to discern the fluid relationship between radical feminism and anarchism.  Many libertarian feminists have underlined that in reality the majority of radical feminists are unconsciously anarchists.  “The intuitive anarchism of women, if it sharpens and clarifies itself, is an incredible step forward in the struggle for human liberation”, Peggy Kornegger has stated.(7)  In the contemporary libertarian world, there is a strong conviction that specifically feminist organisations are necessary, more often than not similar to affinity groups.  In this respect, the necessity of breaking with the isolation that so many women suffer and the enforcing of the consciousness that they must liberate themselves, without reproducing schemas of domination and submission, and on the basis of mutual aid, equality and the refusal of leaderships, imposes itself.  The emancipation of women will be the doing of women themselves, or it will not be.

I am referring to an anarcho-feminism that openly contests capitalism, which recalls that patriarchy and class exploitation maintain an obvious interrelation, and that concerns itself with an extremely broad range of issues.  This variety is illustrated in the criticism of marriage and of the nuclear family, of the radical primacy of heterosexuality, of fixed sexual identities, of hierarchical norms, of alienating divisions, of stereotypes vehicled by education and culture, and of double exploitation; it also affirms the desire to increase power over the body and the aspiration of reinventing everyday life.  To demand equality between men and women in a system weighed down ontologically by inequality and hierarchy leads to a multitude of contradictions.  Some problems probably resolve themselves, but only at the cost of reinforcing others, in a theatre in which an obvious risk appears: that of reproducing the rules of the game of power that are at the origin of the marginalisation of women.  “Feminism does not mean defending a corporate power of women or the existence of a female president; it means rejecting the powers of all corporations and presidents.”(8)  In the end, what seems to reveal itself is a deep awareness in relation to what power signifies: if this survives in a matriarchal society, many of the usual problems will survive as well.  With such difficulties, it is not hard to understand how the criticism of an omnipresent State feminism, somehow bound to the idea that problems can be clearly addressed by demanding from State institutions this and that, has been strengthened.  And it is equally unsurprising how at times the contestatory potential of the global discourse of radical feminism makes itself manifest.

Biological resistances

I have already noted that the ecological question does not have a very consistent presence in the writings of 19th century anarchists.  The only exception in this regard is perhaps expressed in the work of Élisée Reclus.  Of course, some will say that circumstances were even more delicate then.  Kropotkin, to cite but one example, seemed to share with Marx the same certainties with regard to the exhaustion, seemingly impossible, of natural resources.  And not only: he disagreed harshly with the Luddites and criticised the antipathy that machinery provoked in William Morris, adhering to, by contrast, to the acritical praise of mechanisation displayed at another time by another William: Godwin.  Furthermore, some decades later, all of the currents of the Spanish libertarian world, from the treintistas to the faistas, [Tans. note: A distinction that emerged within the Spanish CNT in the early 1930s, between a more reformist versus a more radical tendency within the union] incautiously embraced a productivist perception that ingenuously idealised work and consumption.

Despite all of this, it is also the case that with the majority of anarchist thinkers, a mistrust, almost biological, with regards to the virtues, idolised by Marx, of large industrial complexes, of centralised, mass production and of the strict regimentation of labour that for example would give body to Taylorism, is evident.  The defence of self-management and of direct democracy constituted in this instance an interesting antidote to such projects and realities.  More marginally, but not all that distant, not all anarchist thinkers proposed societies marked by the desire for abundance.  Thus, for example, the aforementioned Godwin, for whom luxury was a necessary source of corruption, defended that one should work only as much as could assure happiness and affirmed that the simpler life is, the better.  Austerity and self-restraint were, in any case, part of the daily life of militants and libertarian organisations.  It is sufficient to recall the example of many Spanish anarchist peasants who self-consciously chose a simple and austere life.

Another conceptual paradigm that forcefully contributed – and still does – to protect that which in the end must be understood as something that was a spontaneous ecological consciousness in the libertarian world was the aim of defending many of the organisational habits and relations of primitive societies.(9)  I think of studies which, like those carried out – and I have already had occasion to mention them – by Sahlins, Clastres or Zerzan, have served to identify, both in the past as well as in the present, societies based on mutual aid, not subject to the logic of accumulation and profit, not hierarchized nor burdened by the institution of the State.  I believe that the paradigm that I refer to has rarely been the consequence of ingenuous analyses, but has rather helped to distinguish healthy elements in human communities which otherwise of course offer up very divergent limitations.

This fortunate biological defence that libertarian thought has been able to exhibit, together with recent efforts to deepen enquiries into the significance of the ecological crisis, makes pathetic the claims, so often repeated in the past, that suggest that anarchism is a worldview completely unsuited to the challenges of complex societies.  For example, consider this claim of paradoxical ingenuousness by Irving Lewis Horowitz: “No talent or intelligence is necessary to demonstrate that modern industrial life is incompatible with the anarchist demand for the liquidation of State authority.”(10)  The response is simple: the incompatibility is welcome, because thanks to it, anarchism continues to be fully relevant.  And it is so inasmuch as it recalcitrantly appears dedicated to contesting the supposed virtues of complex societies.

Degrow, Deurbanise, Detechnologise, Decomplexify

If one wishes, in my understanding, there are four verbs that enable libertarian thought today to confront the ecological crisis and its limits: to degrow, to deurbanise, to detechnologise and to decomplexify.

What term we employ to capture the corresponding project is of little importance.  What is usually called degrowth takes as its point of departure the certainty that, if we live on a planet with limited resources, it is senseless that we to continue to grow without limit, even more so when there are more than sufficient reasons to be suspicious of the supposed positive effects of growth.  With regards to the countries of the opulent north, the need therefore arises of reducing considerably the economic activity of those areas that are at the origin of the uncontrolled expansion of the ecological footprint.  With time, then, a number of explicit demands gain shape: the recuperation of the social life that we have been losing, the organisation of creative forms of leisure, the sharing of work, the reduction in the dimensions of many of the infrastructures that we use, the recuperation of local life – in a setting of direct democracy and self-management – and, at the individual level, voluntary simplicity and sobriety.  It is important to remember that degrowth is not a worldview that comes to substitute older forms of challenges to capitalism that we have known for a long time: it proposes itself rather as an addition to these challenges.  An essential addition, however: how many times have I had the opportunity to emphasise that any opposition to capitalism in the opulent world of the early 21st century has by definition to be against growth, to be anti-patriarchal, to advocate for self-management and to be internationalist, otherwise it will simply contribute unequivocally to the movement of the system that it pretends to question.

It seems easier to explain what must be understood by, to deurbanise.  The last one hundred years of a society like our own have been characterised, by virtue of a process as much essential as forgotten, by the dramatic venture of deruralisation: with rural life moribund, many elements of popular wisdom and many forms of organisation, that one imagines vital to avoid or at least mitigate the looming collapse, have disappeared.  In exchange, we have inherited visibly over dimensioned and uninhabitable cities, something which reveals itself emphatically – it is already with us – in an opposing movement of city inhabitants who seek to return to a rural environment.  When we speak of the creation of self-managed and de-commodified spaces of autonomy, the greater part of our attention is forcefully directed towards their development in this domain.

I willingly assume that to detechnologise involves a certain degree of provocation.  Contemporary libertarians are accustomed simultaneously to a frequent and consistent use of technology – computers above all else – and a critical discourse with respect to the same, something which obviously gives rise to contradictions.  An essayist that I have mentioned on various occasions, John Zerzan, has assumed a radical criticism of all technologies created under capitalism.  From his perspective, one that merits attention, these technologies always bear the mark of exploitation, of the division of labour and of hierarchy, in such a way that it is very difficult to see how they could be a contributing part of an emancipatory project.  Without having to go so far, mistrust towards the many technologies that are imposed on us, ingenuously used by us as if they were strictly neutral, is more than justified.  And this would appear to be even more when there is no reason to conclude that they by themselves engender self-management or the reconstruction of lost social life and when information accumulates that leads one to consider that with many of these technologies there comes a desire to surveil and permanently control.  Did the absence of contemporary means of communication impede, by the way, the action of the CNT in the decade of the 1930s?  Was not this action, technologically poor, much more efficient than the bureaucratic machinery of today?

I will finish with, to decomplexify.  Reasons are not lacking to be able state that we are ever more dependent because we have accepted societies that are ever more complex.  Given this, if we wish to recuperate independence, we will necessarily have to reduce the complexity of the environments in which we live.  Many of the disinherited of the world, the inhabitants of the countries of the south, find themselves paradoxically in a better position than our own to face the likely coming collapse: they live in small human communities, they have maintained a much richer social live than is evident in our cities, they have preserved a much more fluid relation with the natural environment and, lastly, and as I have just suggested, they are much more independent.  Let us imagine what would happen in any of the opulent societies should the supplies of oil cease to arrive: their whole fragile edifice would collapse from one day to the next, a circumstance which by itself obliges one to conclude that it is much more advantageous to venture on human communities which, in the face of complexity and personal hedonistic satisfaction, call for self-restraint, simplicity, equality, solidarity and horizontality.  Furthermore, the material conditions for direct democracy necessarily call for less complex societies and smaller communities.

Bookchin’s Polemic

One of the most controversial texts of the last years in the libertarian world bares the title, Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism.  Its author, Murray Bookchin, now deceased, is a very well-known polemicist who had the virtue of recovering, from an anarchist perspective, central debates associated with, for example, ecology or libertarian municipalism.

I suspect that a good part of the controversy generated by Bookchin’s little book has to do with the fact that it is difficult not to feel sympathy with the arguments raised against those he criticises.  Bookchin defends, and rightfully, a social and combative anarchism, one with a class consciousness and an emphatically altruistic vocation.  From this perspective, he criticises in an often seductive way counter-cultural and individualistic anarchism, anarcho-primitivism, neo-Luddism and many of the contemporary challenges to technology.  With more harm than good, Bookchin understands that the whole of this hotchpotch of views can be summarised by the following traits: “Ad hoc adventurism, personal bravura, an aversion to theory oddly akin to the antirational biases of postmodernism, celebrations of theoretical incoherence (pluralism), a basically apolitical and anti-organizational commitment to imagination, desire, and ecstasy, and an intensely self-oriented enchantment of everyday life.”(13)  When it is not – I will add – witchcraft and mysticism.

For me, as for many others, it appears that Bookchin’s analysis is sketched too roughly.  If a clear defence of social and combative anarchism is of value, we should nevertheless avoid the simple dismissal of the contributions of for example the counterculture.  Let us not forget, to recover one fact, that this last elaborated a necessary criticism of prudish and bourgeois puritanism, a criticism that also obliges one to keep a distance, furthermore, from the simplistic propaganda of many versions of classical anarchism, frequently very close to socialist realism and its fragilities.  It is enough to have a glimpse of the films made by the CNT in the decade of the 1930s or the many texts published in La Novela Ideal: “The heroes appear sublime, they are altruistic and display solidarity, and they confront negative elements, generally isolated and often distant from the people.  The principal protagonists are generally men, and women assume much more passive roles.”(14)  The same can be said of anarcho-primitivism, which whatever its distortions and simplifications, raises a necessary discussion with regards to complex societies, technology or cities.  It is one thing, in the end, that in the benefit of the rights of others, that we struggle to limit hedonistic tendencies, it is another to reduce to nothing these tendencies by bowing to a moral code that invokes intolerance and inquisitions.

In another domain, it is evident that Bookchin ingenuously idealises the emancipatory potential of technologies.  To confer a social dimension to the analyses of these does not magically solve the problem.  Nor does it convert these technologies into instruments of liberation, nor cancel their frequent tie to the division of labour, exploitation and alienation.  It is as problematic to forget the social relations and condition of capitalism as it is to idealise the benefits of the technologies rendered possible by it.  And Bookchin does not seem to pay heed to this, however much he sometimes also flirts with a radical criticism of technological knowledge.  His aim, much more frequent, of distinguishing himself from the radical critics of technology provokes in most cases, in other words, a censorship that cancels out the good intention.  Undoing capitalism, by itself, will not free us from many of the effects of the inherited technologies.  Nor does Bookchin show himself, lastly, prone to appreciating, and this is perhaps more serious, many of the problems that accompany societies of abundance.

I conclude: if we accept what Bookchin defends in the referred to work, anarchism would have fallen behind, in terms of lucidity, of other worldviews.  Fortunately and obviously, we are not obliged to accept the arguments of our author.  And it seems more reasonable that here, as in so many other areas, that we seek to build bridges between currents, movements and generations.  This extends also to counterculture, anarcho-primitivism and neo-Luddism.

Terminal Decay and Collapse

Over the last years, I have often reiterated that we have become overly accustomed to using the word crisis in the singular, to identify the cadence of the phenomenon that the system has decided to denominate as financial, when we far too frequently forget that behind the scenes other crises are at work, now in the plural.  I am thinking of climate change, which is a disquieting reality that is already here and which has no positive consequences: the inevitable increase, in the medium and long term, of the cost of the majority of energetic raw materials that we use; the demographic problems that beset many of the regions of the planet; the condition of submission of which so many women suffer, or, to stop here, the pursuit of the exploitation of the human and material wealth of the countries of the south.  If each of these crises taken separately is sufficiently worrying, their combination is literally explosive.  And this – let us not forget – that the very concept of crisis is in large part a western aliment: it can only be explained if, within the framework of a cyclical vision of events, periods of prosperity and others of recession can be identified, something which only with difficulty occurs in the south of the planet.  I recall in this regard that many years ago, when I asked a Uruguayan colleague how they endured in his country uncontrolled inflation, answered me with a fortunate sense of humour: “In Uruguay, we live in a condition of stable bankruptcy”…  It is important in this respect to take into consideration, and to act in a consequent manner relative to, the effects of past colonialism, including those that influence the concepts that we employ.

There are sound reasons to argue that capitalism has entered a phase of terminal decay.  Capitalism is a system that historically has demonstrated a formidable capacity of adaptation to the most diverse of limits.  The great debate today is whether or not it is dramatically losing the breaking mechanisms that in the past have allowed it to save face.  Stated differently, if it is being carried by an impulse, seemingly unstoppable, towards the accumulation of spectacular profits in a very short period of time, whether it is not at the same time digging its own grave, with the additional complication that it may collapse on top of us.  Even though capitalism was always a system of exploitation, unjust and excluding, we have to agree that at a certain time it was reasonably efficient: it provided the guarantee that the majority of business people gained the profits that they competed for.  Today, not even this is evident in a scenario in which many of the apologists of the neo-liberal project, after having rejected any type of intervention by the public authorities in the economy, have quickly come – what greater sign of ineffectiveness – to demand government assistance necessary for the salvation of their businesses.  On the side of capitalism, at this hour, there is furthermore no discernible proposal of reform, nor any awareness of the dangers that threaten.  This is something particularly surprising when it comes to the enormous effects of the ecological crisis in its dual nature: that of the irreversible aggressions against the natural environment and that of the exhaustion of basic resources which put in serious danger the rights of future generations and, with them, that of other species who accompany us on this planet.  What is in crisis is not, as our last minute social democrats pretend, unregulated capitalism, but capitalism itself.

Even with this, it is important to attend to the form of what some researchers begin to call ecofascism.  In a highly recommendable book, Auschwitz, ¿comienza el siglo XXI? Hitler como precursor, the author, Carl Amery, develops an evocative thesis.(15)  We would be very much mistaken – he tells us – if we believed that the politics embraced by the German Nazis eighty years ago were the product of a temporary historical moment, singular, and therefore fortunately unrepeatable.  Amery exhorts us rather to study in detail the content of this politics, and to do so for a specific reason: there may well reappear in the coming years, though not now defended by ultra-marginal neo-Nazi groups, but rather put forward by the principal centres of political and economic power, ever more conscious of the looming general scarcity and ever more determined in preserving these scarce resources in the hands of a few, a militarised social Darwinism.  Let us seriously consider if many of the engagements of western leaders do not sink their roots in a project of this nature, or at least point to it.  And let us admit, yes, that eco-fascism can be an incipient response of capitalism before its terminal decay, and with it, before its collapse.

Pacifism, Anti-Militarism, Violence

I have already mentioned that, by contrast to what occurred with the stories of feminism and environmentalism, pacifist and anti-militarist struggles have always had a significant presence in libertarian thought.  I will first abstain from distinguishing between the two, often different, positions.  I will limit myself rather to stating that there could be nothing more misplaced than thinking that the two struggles have lost strength or interest.  Today, the military, apparently and self-interestedly humanised, continues to invade everything, without anything basic having changed.  The Israeli model can serve as testimony to demonstrate that the rules of representative democracy are compatible with apartheid and, in this case, with genocide.  There are also the cases of the repressive-military utilisation of emergency situations – and, with them, of natural disasters –, the settling of the myth of humanitarian intervention, the planetary expansion of the military industrial complex and the refinement of elaborated strategies of fear among citizens.  Consider what is involved, in the Spanish case, and in relation to all of these questions, the work of the so-called Unidad Militar de Emergencia [Military Emergencies Unit], directed towards preparing the population for the active presence of the armed forces in the most diverse of circumstances.

However it must be highlighted that what is specific to a good part of the disputes which to a greater or lesser degree mark a presence in pacifist and anti-militarist debates is the concern with the eternal question of violence.  A question, it is well known, that has given rise to deep divisions between libertarians.  There are many pacifist anarchists, in the same way that there are many pacifists who consider themselves anarchists: both have defended passive resistance and non-violent direct action.  Yet it is also true that the suggestion that they are pacifists in no way pleases many anarchists.(16)  For these last, it is easy to see that the idea of pacifism is a way of acting that is only within the reach of a minority of the population in very particular countries, whereas in the overwhelming majority of cases, the scenario dictates, without any margin for doubt, assuming positions that to one degree or another are violent.(17)  Nor is there any shortage of those who say that they believe in the armed struggle, without ever venturing to practice it, and, even more, who confess in public their commitment to it, a circumstance that obliges one to reflect on the mental stability of such individuals.

Despite the way in which it has been branded, the libertarian movement has shown itself to be far less violent than others.  One only has to think in this regard of fascism, colonising liberalism, garrison communism, certain expressions of nationalism, many religious beliefs or the great powers.  Anarchists have never engaged in massive and indiscriminate forms of violence.  If no libertarian thinkers – not even Bakunin – acritically defended violence, many of them, though cautiously, have displayed a clear awareness of the shortcomings and problems that accompany it.  Let Kropotkin speak: “Of all parties I now see only one party – the anarchist – which respects human life, and loudly insists upon the abolition of capital punishment, prison torture and punishment of man by man altogether.  All of the other parties show us each day their lack of respect for human life.”(18)  Against this, there is the violence of the system, the violence that escapes the disinformation media: that of many business people over their workers, that of so many men over women, that exercised by the police against the undocumented, that which all of us deploy against the natural environment or, of course, the violence of genuine wars of plunder.  One does not have to be terribly astute to realise that behind all of this lies, evidently, the State, the principal agent of violence, so brilliantly unveiled by Tolstoy.  Violence is of the essence of the State.

In a text that cannot but be polemical, but which in any case possesses the virtue of teaching us something, David Graeber invites us to bring some order to the libertarian debate on violence.(19)  With regard to this, he first identified various reasons for its rejection.  One of the reasons affirms that if an anarchist must act in consonance with the values of the society that s/he wishes to create, and violence, logically, is not among those values, then it is for her/him to reject violence.  Moreover, to be efficient, this last calls for hierarchical structures that marry badly with the libertarian worldview.  In requiring the deployment of clandestine and secret conduct, violence renders difficult the parallel realisation of genuinely democratic principles.  Violence can also be accompanied, finally – I will add –, by an extremely poor evaluation of its consequences, as it may also destroy any prospects for genuine mass movements.  Graeber notes however that there is an important consideration that justifies a prudent acceptance of violence: the desired social revolution is difficult to imagine without the use of violence to one degree or other.  The North American libertarian comments, lastly, on various delicate issues, such as that connected with the need to determine what is understood by violence, or when violence sometimes assumes gratuitous forms devoid of any purpose – such as when it expresses self-satisfaction or a misconceived aesthetic – and without any collective project in the background, to some extent exemplified by many of the anarchists responsible for assassination and assassination attempts in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Otherwise however, while many libertarians have asked if it was reasonable to criticise the violence exercised against political leaders and economic magnates responsible for the misery and exploitation of many, there have not been a few who have shown concern for the damage that follows arbitrary violence for the image of anarchist movements; and this even when, on the other hand, there have been many who have emphasised that the demonization of these movements will occur, with or without violence.

  1. Quoted in Graham, op.cit., p. 494.
  2. Arthur Lehning, Conversaciones con Bakunin. Anagrama, Barcelona, 1978, p. 16.
  3. Waintrop, op.cit., pp. 467-9.
  4. See: “La femme et la famille”, in Jean-Christian Petitfils, Les communautés utopistes au XIXe siècle. Pluriel, París, 2011, pp. 257-78.
  5. Quoted in Termes, op. cit., p. 618.
  6. Ealham, op. cit., p. 189.
  7. Peggy Kornegger, in VV AA, Quiet Rumours. An Anarcha-feminist Reader. AK, Edinburgh, Oakland, Baltimore, 2012, p. 31.
  8. Ibidem.
  9. See: Beltrán Roca, ed., Anarquismo y antropología. La Malatesta, Madrid, 2008.
  10. Quoted in Price, op. cit., p. 93.
  11. John Zerzan, ed., Against Civilization. Feral House, Los Angeles, 2005; John Zerzan, Twilight of the Machines. Feral House, Port townsend, 2008.
  12. Murray Bookchin, Anarquismo social o anarquismo personal. Virus, Barcelona, 2012.
  13. Ibedem, p. 31. A good exemple of the texts criticised by Bookchin is the little book, barely understandable, by Hakim Bey, which carries the title, T.A.Z. Autonomedia, New York, 2003.
  14. Termes, op. cit., p. 386.
  15. Carl Amery, Auschwitz, ¿comienza el siglo XXI? Hitler como precursor. Turner, Madrid, 2002.
  16. Graeber, Rivoluzione …, op. cit., p. 52.
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