Critiques of Propaganda of the Deed

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malatesta1932
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Feb 4 2018 21:52
Critiques of Propaganda of the Deed

I am writing a series of articles introducing anarchism and my first one is titled "What it is and is not". I have decided to open the article with a historical look at propaganda of the deed. I am aware that it was spawned due to the repression of the Paris Commune, French state repression, and the Haymarket Martyrs, but i don't know that much about it. I would like to open a discussion on this subject.

zugzwang
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Feb 5 2018 04:41
malatesta1932 wrote:
I am writing a series of articles introducing anarchism and my first one is titled "What it is and is not". I have decided to open the article with a historical look at propaganda of the deed. I am aware that it was spawned due to the repression of the Paris Commune, French state repression, and the Haymarket Martyrs, but i don't know that much about it. I would like to open a discussion on this subject.

I think clarification of what tradition within anarchism you're introducing is needed. Some aim for a market system whereas others, a moneyless system, etc. (Right-wing libertarianism of course has nothing to do with anarchism.) It's also not as if everyone within the anarchist movement has historically agreed with one another, so that's something to keep in mind (e.g. Kropotkin and WWI, platformism, Berkman's attempted assassination etc.) Maybe others can give better texts that discuss this topic more exclusively, but Avrich's The Russian Anarchists discusses various groups, Chernoe Znamia e.g., that used violent methods to spread anarchism within Russia.

It's an interesting book, which I should re-read at some point. Here's a taste of some of the discussion about propaganda by the deed:

Quote:
Of the several schools of anarchism to make their appearance in Russia during this period, the severest critics of terrorist tactics [of Chernoe Znamia and other groups] were the Anarcho-Syndicalists. Not even the comparatively moderate Khlebovol'tsy were spared their censure. The foremost Anarcho-Syndicalist leader inside Russia, who went under the pseudonym of Daniil Novomirskii ("man of the New World" -- his real name was Iakov Kirillovskii), rebuked Kropotkin and his associates for sanctioning propaganda by the deed and other isolated forms of terrorism, which, he said, only fostered a waseful "spirit of insurgency" among the backawrd and uprepared masses. As for the outright terrorists of Beznachalie and Chernoe Znamia, Novomirskii compared them to the People's Will organization of the previous generation, since each group mistakenly relied on small "rebel bands" to bring about a fundamental transformation of the old order, a task which could be performed only by the broad masses of Russian people themselves.

https://libcom.org/history/russian-anarchists-paul-avrich

ajjohnstone
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Feb 5 2018 07:15

https://www.marxists.org/archive/pannekoe/1933/person.htm
https://www.marxists.org/archive/pannekoe/1933/individual.htm

jc
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Feb 6 2018 17:39

Most critiques I've seen look at individual actions like bombings. But strikes make great propaganda! So they really throw out a useful idea because some people did it in an ineffective way...