Libertarian socialist society

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Joined: 14-08-13
Oct 5 2014 14:44
Libertarian socialist society

(Mendel Dainov’s Ideas)

Mendel Dainov’s name is almost forgotten today. Meanwhile, he stood at the origins of the Russian anarchist movement of the early 20th century. Information about Dainov can be found in the encyclopedia "Revolutionary Thought in Russia of XIX - beginning of XX Century" (article by D. Rublev). Dainov is interesting by his original thoughts, including those on the ideal of the future non-authoritarian socialist society.

In the late 19th century French workers who belonged to different factories and different unions began holding meetings (such gatherings were called "bourses") in order to share useful information about job offers and the situation of workers at various enterprises, as well as for preparing strikes together without the permission of union tops. This activity was attended by active supporters of anti-authoritarian socialism (anarchism, stateless self-governing society) like Fernand Pelloutier. Moreover, it was supported by radical leftist intellectuals such as Georges Sorel. The result was the formation of revolutionary syndicates – voluntary autonomous associations of workers’ bourses and other workers' organizations which considered direct action as the main method of struggle for better life. In other words, their strikes were not coordinated with the authorities (whether moderate trade unions bosses or factory bosses) nor with the current legislation which did not allow workers to achieve all their goals. Decisions about the course of the strikes and their demands were taken by assemblys of workers, not leaders. Direct action is direct democracy. Revolutionary syndicalists were aimed at the general strike, the abolition of capitalism and the seizure of all existing industry in the hands of the workers' unions through a general occupation strike. (As can be seen, the activity of the revolutionary syndicalists had nothing to do with the work of any modern union. All modern trade unions support the deal with the business, comply with government legislation, complain to the state court.)

Almost all the leaders of Russian anarchists: Dainov, Karelin, Novomirskii, Volin, Grossman-Roschin (from a certain moment) fell under the influence of revolutionary syndicalism. Its ideas and practices, according to Dainov, prepare the economic foundation of the future of society.

Economy of local communities (communes) will be organized on the basis of industrial "productive groups" created, in turn, by the revolutionary unions (syndicates). Moreover, thanks to the syndicates, in the course of their daily economic struggle, which begins still in capitalist conditions, workers prepare themselves for self-government. Arranging the strike for salary, people learn the collective interaction. On the other hand, using direct action, workers are destroying the state and, at the same time, overcoming their own fears of state power and respect for state laws. In the end, having united the majority of workers, syndicates capture and manage the industry.

But the work of production groups is not enough for the community. In addition to the production of goods, there are many other issues: education, housing, defense, local law. All these questions will be administered by local communities (communes), their assemblies and councils of delegates. Professional associations (industrial groups) within the community will be engaged exclusively in economies. In other words, Dainov proposed to organize society, combining two principles: territorial principle and production principle.

There are also economic and social issues that can not be solved at the level of a local community. For example, transport, railways, big ports and factories cannot be built and kept in working condition by the efforts of a local commune. So an important aspect of the new society will be the system of federal agreements between communes. For this people need federal congresses of the delegates.
Dainov believed that these congresses can have only temporary meetings. He feared for the concentration of power in the hands of centralized structures. During the Russian Revolution of 1917-1921 representatives of other libertarian Socialist movement, the SRs Maximalists, promoted the idea of permanent Congress of delegates (1, 2). Members of the Congress must be in constant communication with their local communities.

Dainov believed that at the very beginning of the revolution, a society organized into a coherent whole state, inevitably breaks up into separate regions. This is a very accurate observation. That's how events unfolded in a series of the revolutions known to us.

Internal unity of the separated regions is provided by their geographical location, local customs and traditions, economic interests and common historic past. Then, in the case of successful development, regions will be transformed into self-managed communes. At the next step they will unite into large federations, and then into the international federation. It is clear, however, that if the workers do not have the experience of self-organization, such a development will be impossible.

Very interesting, in our opinion, is Mendel Dainov's critique of state socialism.
In those days, many politicians and theorists on both the left and the right, for some reason, were convinced of the benefits of the economic system totally controlled by the centralized state (such ideas were associated with Marxism, but not only with it). Dainov, on the contrary, spoke about the inefficiency of the statist sector. He believed that the basis for the functioning of the statist economy will be two interconnected phenomena: corruption and inefficiency. This criticism was close to truth, anticipating the difficulties of the USSR economy.

"The total failure of the bureaucracy to seriously organize any industry and all disadvantage, all ruinousness of the centralized production are strikingly clear. Costs of starting the business are usually too large, the production is not regulated, the products are disgusting and their quality is much worse than that of the same products made by private producers. But whereas, under these circumstances, private enterprises usually stop working, state-run ones, very often in spite of everything, still continue to exist because this or that persona of the bureaucratic world is interested in it... "

"To take away all social wealth and all instruments of production from the ruling class and pass them to a collectivist administration: it is to actually provide it with all the might of the expropriated bourgeoisie ... It will be able to abuse its power because in its hands will be all, all the threads of the economic, and thus political life of the society, all the forces of the menacing, centralized state mechanism. [...] And it will abuse its power because its very position will push it for this. "

1) SRs Maximalists

2) Also here you can read materials on the practical experience of creating a libertarian socialist society in the Russian city of Kronstadt by the maximalist and anarchists.