2. The Problem of the Programme

Submitted by jef costello on August 12, 2010

As anarchism is a social doctrine it makes itself known through an ensemble of analyses and proposals which set out purposes and tasks, in other words through a programme. And it's this programme which constitutes the shared platform for all militants in the anarchist Organisation. Without the platform the only cooperation there could be would be based on sentimental, vague and confused desires, and there would not be any real unity of views. Then there would only be the coming together under the same name of different and even opposing ideas.

A questions arises: could the programme not be a synthesis, taking account of what is common to people who refer to the same ideal, or more accurately to the same or nearly the same label? That would be to seek an artificial unity where to avoid conflicts you would only uphold most of the time what isn't really important: you'd find a common but almost empty platform. The experiment has been tried too many times and out of 'syntheses' - unions, coalitions, alliances and understandings - has only ever come ineffectiveness and a quick return to conflict: as reality posed problems for which each offered different or opposite solutions the old battles reappeared and the emptiness, the uselessness of the shared pseudo-programme - which could only be a refusal to act - were clearly shown.

And besides, the very idea of creating a patchwork programme, by looking for small points held in common, supposes that all the points of view put forward are correct, and that a programme can just spring out of peoples minds, in the abstract.

Now, a revolutionary programme, the anarchist programme, cannot be one that is created by a few people and then imposed on the masses. It's the opposite that must happen: the programme of the revolutionary vanguard, of the active minority, can only be the expression - concise and powerful, clear and rendered conscious and plain - of the desires of the exploited masses summoned to make the Revolution. In other words: class before party.

The programme should be determined by the study, the testing and the tradition of what is constantly sought by the masses. So in working out the programme a certain empiricism should prevail, one that avoids dogmatism and does not substitute a plan drawn up by a small group of revolutionaries for what is shown by the actions and thoughts of the masses. In its turn, when the programme has been worked out and brought to the knowledge of these masses it can only raise their awareness. Finally, the programme as defined in this way can be modified as analysis of the situation and the tendencies of the masses progresses, and can be reformulated in clearer and more accurate terms.

Thought of in this way the programme is no longer a group of secondary points which bring together - (or rather do not divide) people who may think themselves nearly the same, but is instead a body of analyses and propositions which is only adopted by those who believe in it and who undertake to spread the work and make it into a reality.

But, you may say, this platform will have to be worked out, drawn up by some individual or group. Of course, but since it's not a question of any old programme but of the programme of social anarchism, the only propositions that will be accepted are those that accord with the interests, desires, thinking and revolutionary ability of the exploited class. Then you can properly speak of a synthesis because it is no longer a question of discarding important things that cause division - it is now a matter of blending into a new shared text propositions which can unite on the essential point. It's the role of study meetings, assemblies and conferences of revolutionaries to identify a programme, then gather together again and found their Organisation on this programme.

The drama is that several organisations claim to truly represent the working class - reformist socialist and authoritarian communist organisations as well as the anarchist Organisation. Only experience can settle the matter, can definitely decide which one is right.

There is no possible revolution unless the mass of people who will create it gather together on the basis of a certain ideological unity, unless they act with the same mind. This means for us that through their own experiences the masses will end up by finding the path of libertarian communism. This also means that anarchist doctrine is never complete as far as its detailed views and application are concerned and that it continuously creates and completes itself in the light of historical events.

From partial trials such as the Paris Commune, the popular revolution in Russia in 1917, the Makhnovists, the achievements in Spain, strikes, the fact that the working class is experiencing the hard realities of total or partial state socialism (from the USSR to nationalisations to the treacheries of the political parties of the West) - from all this it seems possible to state that the anarchist programme, with all the modifications it is open to, represents the direction in which the ideological unity of the masses will be revealed.

For the moment, let us content ourselves with summarising this programme so - society without classes and without State.