Introduction to anarchist communism - Anarchist Federation

Introduction to anarchist communism - Anarchist Federation

The Anarchist Federation's overview of anarchist communist politics, arguing what is basically wrong with the world we live in, how we can fight to improve it, and what kind of world is worth struggling for.

The pamphlet is made up of two parts that run alongside each other. The main text lays out the fundamental ideas of anarchist communism. Various boxes throughout the text give examples from history to illustrate the ideas described in the main section.

Full reading pdf, published March 2010

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Comments

micapam
Sep 10 2011 04:19

Is there really a need for that last clause? Just a throwaway line on religion without justification. I feel like I could get behind everything in the document except that last clause. Implicitly, doesn't it give a Eurocentric bias to the document, also? Lack of religious belief among people is massively disproportionally skewed towards Europe. It seems disingenuous to posit a mass movement that is not only open to worldwide solidarity but depends on it, and then throw in a stance towards religion that is highly culturally contingent. It is one thing to critique the church or other systems of power, and quite another to mandate a specific attitude toward religion, that precludes inclusion of such a vast swathe of humanity.

Auld-bod
Sep 10 2011 10:41
Quote:
10. We oppose organised religion and religious belief(s).

This point reads a little as if it has been abbreviated too far. I take it to mean that the AF opposes organised religion and any organised religious beliefs.
In my opinion if the members of the AF are materialists, it is only honest to state their opposition to beliefs and practices which are based on supernatural phenomena. However the form of how that opposition is expressed should be explained. I am sure the last thing they have in mind is driving religion ‘underground’ as in present day China.

Last week James Wood had an interesting piece in the Guardian where he examined ‘The New Atheism’ and religious practices and beliefs.

From the Saturday Guardian 27.08.11 – God Interrupted by James Wood.

Quote:
‘… Along with this curious parochialism about the varieties of religious belief comes a simplistic reading of how people actually hold these beliefs. Terry Eagleton and others have rightly argued that, for millions of people, religious “belief” is not a matter of just totting up stable, creedal propositions (“I believe that Jesus is the son of God”, “I believe I will go to heaven when I die”, and so on), but rather a matter of unconscious, daily practice (“Now it is time to kneel down, face Mecca and pray”)…

…Marx said that the study of religion was the most serious project an intellectual could have. If I told you that the history of warfare, say, could be “explained” by some recent discovery of a particular receptor in the brain, that Agincourt and Austerlitz, Antietam and the Ardennes were all essentially the same thing, because produced by a universal delusion, what would I have told you about the nature of warfare, of politics, of statecraft, of the enormous mass mobilisations that Tolstoy characterised as “the swarm-like life of mankind”?

One good place to study that “swarm-like life”, and to see religious belief seriously represented and seriously examined, is the modern novel – from, say, Melville and Flaubert in the 1850s to…

…In a beautiful passage in Moby-Dick, Melville says that the ocean constantly moves and heaves like a human conscience. That could be said of our mental life, too.

Part of the weakness of current theological warfare is that it is premised on stable, lifelong belief – each side congealed into rival (but weirdly symmetrical) creeds. Likewise, in contemporary politics, the worst crime you can apparently commit is to change your mind. Yet people’s beliefs are often not stable, and are fluctuating. We are all flip-floppers. Our “ideas” may be rather as (Virginia) Woolf imagined consciousness, a flicker of different and self-annulling impressions and convictions…’

This is a disconcerting notion for anyone who thinks of themselves as a materialist though on reflection it is surely not inaccurate. I have known old Stalinists, who while reluctantly acknowledging that Stalin had committed innumerable crimes, still faintly hoped it was all a lie.

nastyned
Sep 10 2011 11:35

It's been changed to this:

10. We oppose organised religion and cults and hold to a materialist analysis of capitalist society. We, the working class, can change society through our own efforts. Worshipping an unprovable spiritual realm, or believing in a religious unity between classes, mystifies or suppresses such self-emancipation / liberation. We reject any notion that people can be liberated through some kind of supernatural force. We work towards a society where religion is no longer relevant.

Uncreative
Sep 10 2011 11:51
micapam wrote:
Is there really a need for that last clause? Just a throwaway line on religion without justification. I feel like I could get behind everything in the document except that last clause. Implicitly, doesn't it give a Eurocentric bias to the document, also? Lack of religious belief among people is massively disproportionally skewed towards Europe. It seems disingenuous to posit a mass movement that is not only open to worldwide solidarity but depends on it, and then throw in a stance towards religion that is highly culturally contingent. It is one thing to critique the church or other systems of power, and quite another to mandate a specific attitude toward religion, that precludes inclusion of such a vast swathe of humanity.

The current wording of our 10th A&P runs as follows: "We oppose organised religion and cults and hold to a materialist analysis of capitalist society. We, the working class, can change society through our own efforts. Worshipping an unprovable spiritual realm, or believing in a religious unity between classes, mystifies or suppresses such self-emancipation / liberation. We reject any notion that people can be liberated through some kind of supernatural force. We work towards a society where religion is no longer relevant."

I'm not sure it's true that 'lack of religious belief' is "Eurocentric". According to wikipedia, 59% of people in China identify as non-religious, whereas 80% of people in Japan describe themselves as "atheist, agnostic or non-religious". South Korea and Vietnam also have a high percentage of atheists according to research.

But even if Europe did have the most materialists, this wouldn't make materialism wrong. The majority of people alive today are not anarchists either (and most of those that are are in Europe!) so should we abandon our position on the abolition of the state as well, as this 'precludes the inclusion of such a vast swathe of humanity' i.e. all the non-anarchists?

~J.

Auld-bod
Sep 10 2011 17:21

Excellent! The amended version is brief and to the point, and says all that need be said (in the context of an introduction).

Yorkie Bar
Sep 11 2011 18:48

Just for clarification, the above post by 'Uncreative' is by me. He'd left his account logged in on my laptop and I didn't notice.

~J.

Arbeiten
Sep 11 2011 22:33

ha! I would love to see how they collated that evidence! Just to throw a spanner in the works, it is probably a bit 'eurocentric' to ask people of non-abrahamic background (Jew, Christian and Muslim) whether or not they hold 'religious' beliefs. Shinto, Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism etc, etc, etc, all of these 'philosophies' would not be called 'religions'...

WithDefiance
Mar 6 2013 14:56

Hi all, first of all to say, I'm new here. I've been following LibCom already for a couple of years and feel its time to introduce myself and to contribute a little as well. My name is Tommy Ryan (yeah right) and am an organized anarchist from the Netherlands.

As a response to this discussion and about this pamflet: it would be good if with the changes (that I applaud), also the uploaded pamflet here on LibCom would be changed into the revised version.

further more some of my overthinkings with the topic in the debate: I do not know about Religion in general what my opinion is. I'm also a materialist and humanist / atheïst. But there have been anarchists practicing religion on a personal level, see christian-anarchists for instance (which luckilly is more a historical branch then a contemprary).

Now with the new wave of anarchist-ideas spreading in North-Afrika en the Middle-Eest I also wonder which kind of brands will develop. On the otherhand seeing people as comrades would not have to mean ofcourse you also have to be pro their ideas... same goes for philosophical/tactical ideas as the insurrectionalist anarchists. Comradeship is broader than being the same.

little_brother
Aug 30 2013 21:46

Updated version (April 2013 issue) is now online on AF website:
http://www.afed.org.uk/publications/pamphlets-booklets/163-introduction-to-anarchist-communism.html