Working Class Anarchists

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Sleeper
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Feb 13 2016 21:12
Working Class Anarchists

There seems to be a lack of information about the social class of anarchists, in particular anarchist thinkers and writers.

Am I right in thinking that Proudhon was working class, a printer?

Fleur
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Feb 13 2016 21:21

Does someone own or control the means of production? If the answer is no, that they have to sell their labour, then they are working class.

Beyond that, what difference does it make how somebody makes a living?

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Reddebrek
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Feb 13 2016 21:30

You mean economic class (least I hope so), social class is a product of culture and differs from time and place.

For example Proudhon was a self taught peasant before becoming apprenticed to a printer. He then set up his own print works becoming briefly a member of the bourgeois, it soon failed leaving him destitute. He then drifted through Paris becoming acquainted with radical Proletarians.He made his living as far as I know writing articles and pamphlets advocating increasingly radical response to working conditions, so basically a proletarian.

Sleeper
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Feb 13 2016 21:33

..

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Reddebrek
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Feb 13 2016 21:37
Sleeper wrote:
No I mean social class. If I meant 'economic class' I would have said that.

Oh, well then you're asking a very stupid question since to answer it I'd either have to know what you mean by `working class`, or what 19th Century French society declared `working class`, and even if I did, the answer would have no relevance. As I said social categories change overtime and are very different from place to place.

You may as well be asking if Mary Shelley was a Goth girl.

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Auld-bod
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Feb 13 2016 21:41

Reddebrek #5

You're being a wee bit harsh on Sleeper, after all if Mary Shelley had been a 'Goth girl', I'd find that interesting. But that is just me.

Sleeper
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Feb 13 2016 21:46

As you are quoting a post I deleted to test you can admin: flaming removed. This is a warning until I get a full and honest answer to this - https://libcom.org/forums/feedback-content/who-are-libcom-moderators-130...

Reddebrek wrote:
Sleeper wrote:
No I mean social class. If I meant 'economic class' I would have said that.

Oh, well then you're asking a very stupid question since to answer it I'd either have to know what you mean by `working class`, or what 19th Century French society declared `working class`, and even if I did, the answer would have no relevance. As I said social categories change overtime and are very different from place to place.

You may as well be asking if Mary Shelley was a Goth girl.

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Reddebrek
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Feb 13 2016 21:50
Auld-bod wrote:
Reddebrek #5

You're being a wee bit harsh on Sleeper, after all if Mary Shelley had been a 'Goth girl', I'd find that interesting. But that is just me.

You're missing the point mate, the problem isn't this question is boring, its that its impossible to answer because the terms are vague and are used differently in different contexts. Since sleeper is interested in social classes but doesn't tell us what he means by it there's no way you can give a satisfactory answer.

Sleeper wrote:
As you are quoting a post I deleted to test you can fuck off until I get a full and honest answer to this - https://libcom.org/forums/feedback-content/who-are-libcom-moderators-130...

Lol, first off mate, I started responding to your comment before you deleted it, so since the text was already copied onto my comment box your editing didn't do anything.

Knock the paranoia on the head will you.

Sleeper
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Feb 13 2016 21:49

Your loss.

Fleur
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Feb 13 2016 21:54

You could just do a site search.
http://libcom.org/notes/about/who-are-libcom-group

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Auld-bod
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Feb 13 2016 22:05

Reddebrek #8

I take your point.

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armillaria
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Feb 15 2016 01:17

Uh, what social strata people belong in / grew up in is *completely* relevant to how they express themselves / who their ideas reach / how they relate to revolt and struggles around them. It doesn't determine their politics but it definitely matters.

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Auld-bod
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Feb 15 2016 19:44

armillaria #12

‘It doesn't determine their politics but it definitely matters.’

It matters only in the sense that it brings into play our prejudices. This is probably true particularly in the UK where social class often dominates people’s attitudes. It can manifest itself as inverted snobbery, where someone can parade their lowly origins. My particular prejudice is when ‘educated’ people ape working class speech as proof of their revolutionary bona fides. I am prompted to think - ‘You patronising bas***d’. Silly but true.

Anarcho
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Feb 18 2016 14:06

Proudhon was obviously working class (see my letter to the CPGB which claimed otherwise!). He had to leave school to work in a printers to support his family. He ended up living off his writing.

Bakunin and Kropotkin were both Russian Aristocrats who rejected their class. Bakunin seemed to live off his friends but Kropotkin lived off his writings (As he put it: “A socialist must always rely upon his own work for his living.”)

Malatesta came from an Italian middle-class family, rejected his past and became a worker. Goldman and Berkman both had to work -- they sometimes lived off their writings and speaking tours.

So, basically, Proudhon, Goldman and others were working class. Others, like Bakunin and Kropotkin, rejected their aristocratic background and Kropotkin lived off his (intellectual) labour.

In other words, no factory owners or those who lived off the surplus value their mate's workers produced smile

mollymew
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Feb 18 2016 23:22

It may be a trivial point in some ways, but it has interesting implications. From my reading of history Proudhon first became acquainted with "radical proletarians" in Lyons, a city ith radical insurrectionary and union traditions, not Paris. In Lyons he was the agent for a publishing company. As I understand it he had only limited social contact with them, but he had more there and also in Paris than the truly 'new' social group he met in Paris, the German exiles including Marx whose contact with workers as basically zero.

It's my opinion that the part of Proudhon's often contradictory and over abstract philosophy that had the greatest utility - Mutualism - was an almost complete borrowing from the practice of these Lyonnais who called themselves "les mutualistes". Whatever respect French syndicalists held him in he added little practical action to their cause in comparison to people like Flora Tristan.

Anarcho
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Feb 19 2016 11:35
mollymew wrote:
It may be a trivial point in some ways, but it has interesting implications. From my reading of history Proudhon first became acquainted with "radical proletarians" in Lyons, a city ith radical insurrectionary and union traditions, not Paris. In Lyons he was the agent for a publishing company. As I understand it he had only limited social contact with them, but he had more there and also in Paris than the truly 'new' social group he met in Paris, the German exiles including Marx whose contact with workers as basically zero.

Proudhon was indeed working in Lyons in 1843/44 and he did get involved with the radical workers movement there. They called their ideas "mutualism" and Proudhon first used that term in 1846's "System of Economic Contradictions" for his own ideas. That is not a coincidence. To quote my introduction to Property is Theft!:

Quote:
This socio-economic vision he called “mutualism,” a term Proudhon did not invent. The workers organisations in Lyon, where Proudhon stayed in 1843, were described as mutuel­lisme and mutuelliste in the 1830s. There is “close similarity between the associational ideal of Proudhon... and the program of the Lyon Mutualists” and it is “likely that Proudhon was able to articulate his positive program more coherently because of the example of the silk workers of Lyon. The socialist ideal that he championed was already being realised, to a certain extent, by such workers.” (K. Steven Vincent, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and the Rise of French Republican Socialism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), 164)

Vincent's book is the best on Proudhon -- it places him and his ideas into his social and intellectual context.

mollymew wrote:
It's my opinion that the part of Proudhon's often contradictory and over abstract philosophy that had the greatest utility - Mutualism - was an almost complete borrowing from the practice of these Lyonnais who called themselves "les mutualistes". Whatever respect French syndicalists held him in he added little practical action to their cause in comparison to people like Flora Tristan.

Proudhon is not "often contradictory" -- he is remarkably consistent in his ideas (although the terminology he used did change in 1851 onward). He consistently advocated workers' self-management of production, social ownership, socio-economic federalism, etc. While many aspects of these ideas predate his time in Lyons, it is true that they were very influenced by the workers' movement and the ideas of association it had raised from 1830 onward.

As for his influence, well, much of what I thought Bakunin had originally raised I discovered Proudhon had first. But he was a reformist and Bakunin and others in the First International laid the groundwork for revolutionary anarchism and syndicalism. Still, much of what we take for granted as anarchism comes from Proudhon and his critical engagement with French Republican politics, utopian and state socialism as well as the workers movement in Lyons and elsewhere. As I discuss in "A Few Thoughts on Anarchism"

Sleeper
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Feb 27 2016 19:45

Cheers Anarcho and thanks for the clarification. When you're in the middle of it it's easy to believe the shite the marxists and capitalists come up with.