Despite the force and unquestionably positive character of anarchist ideas, despite the clarity and completeness of anarchist positions with regard to the social revolution, and despite the heroism and countless sacrifices of anarchists in the struggle for Anarchist Communism, it is very telling that in spite of all this, the anarchist movement has always remained weak and has most often featured in the history of working-class struggles, not as a determining factor, but rather as a fringe phenomenon.
This contrast between the positive substance and incontestable validity of anarchist ideas and the miserable state of the anarchist movement can be explained by a number of factors, the chief one being the absence in the anarchist world of organizational principles and organizational relations.
In every country the anarchist movement is represented by local organizations with contradictory theory and tactics with no forward planning or continuity in their work. They usually fold after a time, leaving little or no trace.
Such a condition in revolutionary anarchism, if we take it as a whole, can only be described as chronic general disorganization. This disease of disorganization has invaded the organism of the anarchist movement like yellow fever and has plagued it for decades.
There can be no doubt, however, that this disorganization has its roots in a number of defects of theory, notably in the distorted interpretation of the principle of individuality in anarchism, that principle being too often mistaken for the absence of all accountability. Those enamoured of self-expression with an eye to personal pleasure cling stubbornly to the chaotic condition of the anarchist movement and, in defence thereof, invoke the immutable principles of anarchism and its teachers.
However, the immutable principles and teachers show the very opposite.
Dispersion spells ruination; cohesion guarantees life and development. This law of social struggle is equally applicable to classes and parties.
Anarchism is no beautiful fantasy, no abstract notion of philosophy, but a social movement of the working masses; for that reason alone it must gather its forces into one organization, constantly agitating, as demanded by the reality and strategy of the social class struggle.
As Kropotkin said:
"We are convinced that the formation of an anarchist party in Russia, far from being prejudicial to the general revolutionary endeavour, is instead desirable and useful in the highest degree." (Foreword to Bakunin's Paris Commune, [Russian edition], 1892)
Nor did Bakunin ever oppose the idea of a general anarchist organization. On the contrary, his aspirations with regard to organization, as well as his activities within the first workingmen's International, give us every right to view him as an active advocate of precisely such a mode of organization.
Broadly speaking, nearly all of the active militants of anarchism were against dissipated action and dreamed of an anarchist movement united by a common purpose and common tactics.
It was during the Russian revolution of 1917 that the need for a general organization was felt most acutely, since it was during the course of that revolution that the anarchist movement displayed the greatest degree of fragmentation and confusion. The absence of a general organization induced many anarchist militants to defect to the ranks of the Bolsheviks. It is also the reason why many other militants find themselves today in a condition of passivity that thwarts any utilization of their often immense capacities.
We have vital need of an organization which, having attracted most of the participants in the anarchist movement, would establish a common tactical and political line for anarchism and thereby serve as a guide for the whole movement.
It is high time that anarchism emerged from the swamp of disorganization, to put an end to the interminable vacillations on the most important questions of theory and tactics, and resolutely move towards its clearly understood purpose and an organized collective practice.
It is not enough, though, to simply state the vital need for such an organization. It is also necessary to establish a means for creating it.
We reject as theoretically and practically unfounded the idea of creating an organization using the recipe of the "synthesis”, that is to say, bringing together the supporters of the various strands of anarchism. Such an organization embracing a pot-pourri of elements (in terms of their theory and practice) would be nothing more than a mechanical assemblage of persons with varying views on all issues affecting the anarchist movement, and would inevitably break up on encountering reality.
The anarcho-syndicalist approach does not solve anarchism's organizational difficulty, since anarcho-syndicalism fails to give it priority and is mostly interested in the idea of penetrating and making headway into the world of labour. However, even with a foothold there, there is nothing much to be accomplished in the world of labour if we do not have a general anarchist organization.
The only approach which can lead to a solution of the general organizational problem is, as we see it, the recruitment of anarchism's active militants on the basis of specific theoretic, tactical and organizational positions, which is to say on the basis of a more or less perfected, homogeneous programme .
Drawing up such a programme is one of the primary tasks which the social struggle of recent decades demands of anarchists. And it is to this task that the Group of Russian Anarchists Abroad has dedicated a substantial part of its efforts.
The “Organizational Platform” published below represents the outline, the skeleton of such a programme and must serve as the first step towards gathering anarchist forces into a single active, revolutionary anarchist collective capable of struggle: the General Union of Anarchists.
We have no illusions about the various deficiencies in the platform. As in any new, practical and, at the same time, critical departure, there are undoubtedly gaps in the platform. It may be that certain essential positions have been left out of the platform, or that certain others have not been developed adequately, or that still others may be too detailed or repetitive. All of this is possible, but that is not the issue. What is important is that the groundwork be laid for a general organization, and that aim is achieved, to the necessary extent, by this platform. It is the task of the general collective - the General Anarchist Union - to further elaborate and improve the platform so as to turn it into a complete programme for the whole anarchist movement.
We also have no illusions on another score.
We anticipate that a great many representatives of so-called individualism and "chaotic" anarchism will attack us, foaming at the mouth and accusing us of infringing anarchist principles. Yet we know that these individualist and chaotic elements take “anarchist principles" to mean the cavalier attitude, disorderliness and irresponsibility that have inflicted all but incurable injuries upon our movement and against which we struggle with all our energy and passion. That is why we can calmly parry any attacks from that quarter.
Our hopes are vested in others - in those who have remained true to anarchism, the workers, who have lived out the tragedy of the anarchist movement and who are painfully searching for a way out.
And we have high hopes of the anarchist youth, those young comrades born on the winds of the Russian revolution and absorbed from the outset by the whole gamut of constructive problems, who will undoubtedly insist on the implementation of positive organizational principles in anarchism.
We invite all Russian anarchist organizations, scattered throughout the various countries of the world, as well as individual anarchist militants, to come together into a single revolutionary collective, on the basis of a general organizational platform.
May this platform be a revolutionary watchword and rallying point for all the militants of the Russian anarchist movement and may it mark the birth of the General Union of Anarchists!
Long live the organized anarchist movement!
Long live the General Anarchist Union!
Long live the Social Revolution of the world's workers!
The Group of Russian Anarchists Abroad
Petr Arshinov, Group Secretary