5. The Qualities of Libertarian Communism

Submitted by libcom on April 4, 2005

Libertarian Communist Programme
(2) The Qualities of Libertarian Communism

We have tried to summarise as clearly as possible the characteristics of the bourgeois society which the Revolution has the goal of doing away with as it creates a new society: the anarchist communist society. Before examining how we see the Revolution we must make clear the essential qualities of this Libertarian Communist Society.

Communism: From the lower to the higher state or complete communism
You could not define communist society any better than by repeating the old 'From each according to their means, to each according to their needs.' First it affirms the total subordination of the economic to the needs of human development in the abundance of goods, the reduction of social labour and of each persons part in it to their own strengths, to their actual abilities. So the formula expresses the possibility for peoples total development.

Secondly, this formula implies the disappearance of classes and the collective ownership and use of the means of production, as only such use by the community can allow distribution according to needs.

But the complete communism of the formula 'to each according to their needs' presupposes not only collective ownership (administered by workers councils or 'syndicates' or 'communes') but equally an extended growth in production, abundance in fact. Now, its for sure that when the Revolution comes conditions won't allow this higher stage of communism: the situation of scarcity signifies the persistence of the economic over the human and so a certain limit. Then the application of communism is no longer that of the principle 'to each according to their needs', but only equality of income or equality of conditions, which amounts to equal rations or even distributing through the medium of monetary tokens (of limited validity and having the sole function of distributing those products which are neither so rare as to be strictly rationed nor so plentiful as to be 'help yourself') - this system would allow the consumers to decide for themselves how to spend their income. It has even been envisaged that people might follow the formula 'to each according to their work', taking account of the backwardness in thinking of certain categories attached to ideas of hierarchy - considering it necessary to carry on with differential wage rates or to give advantages like cuts in work time so as to maintain or increase production in certain 'inferior' or not very attractive activities, or to obtain the maximum productive effort or again to bring about work force movements. But the importance of these differentials would be minimal and even in its lower stage (which some call socialism) the communist society tends towards as great an equalisation as possible and an equivalence of conditions.

Libertarian Communism
A society in which collective ownership and the principles of equality have been realised cannot be a society where economic exploitation persists or where there is a new form of class rule. It is precisely the negation of those things.

And this is true even for the lower phase of communism which, even if it shows a degree of economic constraint, in no way justifies the persistence of exploitation. Otherwise, since it nearly always starts off from a situation of scarcity the revolution would be automatically utterly negated. The libertarian communist revolution does not realise from the start a perfect society, or even a highly developed one, but it does destroy the bases of exploitation and domination. It is in this sense that Voline spoke of 'immediate but progressive revolution.'

But there is another problem: the problem of the State, the problem of what type of political, economic and social Organisation we'll have. Certainly the Marxist Leninist schools envisage the disappearance of the State in the higher stage of communism but they consider the State a necessity in its lower stage.

This so called 'workers' or 'proletarian' State is thought of as organised coercion, made necessary by the inadequacy of economic development, lack of progress of human abilities and - at least for an initial period - the fight against the remnants of the former ruling classes defeated by the Revolution, or more exactly the degree of revolutionary territory within and without.

What is our idea of the kind of economic administration the communist society could have?

Workers administration of course, administration by the whole body of producers. Now we have seen that as the exploiting society was increasingly realizing the unification of power, the conditions of exploitation were decreasingly private property, the market, competition, etc...and in this way economic exploitation political coercion and ideological mystification were becoming intimately linked, the essential basis of power and the line of class division between exploiters and exploited being the administration of production.

In these conditions the essential act of revolution, the abolition of exploitation, is brought about through workers control and this control represents the system for replacing all authorities. It is the whole body of producers which manages, which organises, which realises self-administration, true democracy, freedom in economic equality, the abolition of privileges and of minorities who direct and exploit, which arranges for economic necessities and for the needs of the Revolution's defence. Administration of things replaces government of human beings.

If the abolition of the distinction in the economic field between those who give orders and those who carry them out is accompanied by the maintenance of this distinction in the political field, in the form of the dictatorship of a party or a minority, then it will either not last five minutes or will create a conflict between producers and political bureaucrats. So workers control must realise the abolition of all power held by a minority, of all manifestations of State. It can no longer be a question of one class dominating and leading, but rather of management and administration, in the political as much as the economic arena, by the mass economic organisations, the communes, the people in arms. It is the peoples direct power, it is not a State. If this is what some call the dictatorship of the proletariat the term is of doubtful use (we'll come back to this) but it certainly has nothing in common with the dictatorship of the Party or any bureaucracy. It is simply true revolutionary democracy.

Libertarian Communism and Humanism
So anarchist communism, or libertarian communism, in realizing the society,of humanity's full development, a society of fully human women and men, opens up an era of permanent progression, of gradual transformation, of transitions.

It does then create a humanism of purpose, whose ideology originates within class society, in the course of the class struggles' development, a humanism which has nothing in common with fraudulent pronouncements on the abstract human being whom the liberal bourgeois try to point out to us in their class society.

And so the Revolution - based on the power of the masses of the proletariat as it frees the exploited class frees all humanity.