Top ten worst things done in the name of anarchism

Crimethinc

We had a hard time whittling it down, but now we at libcom.org are proud to present the top ten worst things ever done in the name of anarchism.

10 The Anarchist Cookbook

9 CRASS - not just terrible music, but terrible pacifist music

8 Primitivism

  • Read our critique of primitivism

    7 The Middlesex Declaration, from Beyond ESF
  • Read it here

    6 'Solidarity' actions where you don't tell the workers you're supposed to be doing it for first.

    5 Class War Hooliganz / Toffbusters - one member of CW decides to tell the newspapers that their hooligan firm will batter any Nazis coming to England for Euro '96. Needless to say the group did not exist, and nothing happened to any fascists attending any of the games. "Toffbusters" was another fictional campaign supposedly against foxhunters.

    4 Evasion - a book by CrimethInc. declaring "Unemployment, poverty, homelessness: if you're not having fun you're not doing it right" written by a man who wants most of the world to"die in the most horrible pain and suffering".

    3 Pierre Joseph Proudhon – one of the founding fathers of anarchism, also a misogynist, anti-semitic twat.

    2 A bunch of muppets bringing a soundsystem into a Wetherspoons after the Anarchist Bookfair and playing shite music and being aggressive to the staff, as an "action", until one Antifa comrade kicked it in.

    And finally, last but not least:
    1 Several leading Spanish anarchists joining the government during the Spanish Revolution
  • History link
  • Compiled with the help of posters on our forums

    Posted By

    libcom
    Oct 1 2005 12:47

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    jonthom
    Oct 21 2011 10:50

    sad

    Sidney Huffman
    Oct 21 2011 22:04

    i love crass!!!!

    Serge Forward
    Oct 21 2011 22:23

    Anyone remember A Pinch of Salt christian anarchist magazine? The logo was a picture of a church with a black flag flying from the tower and they used to refer to 'the apostle Errico', etc. roll eyes

    888
    Oct 21 2011 22:28

    I think the Philly APOC intervention at teh Crimethincc conference in 2009 should be added to the list at #2

    Chilli Sauce
    Oct 21 2011 22:44

    Diddo on the above, but really Crimethinc deserves there own mention in the top 10.

    Juan Conatz
    Oct 21 2011 23:34

    I disagree. That action ended Crimethinc convergences. That was a good thing.

    Arbeiten
    Oct 22 2011 00:03

    Serge, I have a penchant for christian anarchism. I'm not religious myself, but i still like it. better than fucking primmos

    working class
    Oct 22 2011 00:53

    The Manifesto of the Sixteen signed by Kropokin has to be in this list: http://recollectionbooks.com/bleed/Encyclopedia/manifesto16.htm

    Railyon
    Nov 6 2011 01:14

    I don't quite see the problem with Crass or Proudhon. With Proudhon's issues like antisemitism or misogynism, well... I don't want to defend it, but it was kinda like an epidemic of the times. Bakunin was an antisemite too. Since capitalism and hierarchy are self-reproducing modes of social relations, it's easy to see residues of that even in revolutionaries.

    So it comes to no surprise to me, at least... without saying it's a good thing. And we can't really assume that first generation anarchists had such a clear-cut and all-encompassing understanding of hierarchy already... gotta start somewhere.

    But I guess that was besides the point. I second "working class" though, that gotta be somewhere on that list...

    Entdinglichung
    Jan 25 2013 15:11

    Federica Montseny on a meeting in Madrid, 31/08/1936, reported in Solidaridad Obrera (02/09/1936), found in Vernon Richards: Lessons of the Spanish Revolution. Third edition (Freedom Press, London, 1983/1995):

    Quote:
    “… with the enemy lacking dignity or a conscience, without a feeling of being Spaniards, because if they were Spaniards, if they were patriots, they would not have let loose on Spain the Regulars and the Moors to impose the civilisation of the Fascists, not as a Christian civilisation, but as a Moorish civilisation, people we went to colonise for them now to come and colonise us, with religious principles and political ideas which they wish to impose on the minds of the Spanish people“.

    Tian
    Jan 25 2013 16:28

    Primitivism, propaganda of the deed, random stupid acts of violence attributed to 'anarchy', right libertarianism in general, Kropotkin's support of the Allies, and the Anarchist cookbook, all, for me, beat out something that happened once in a Wetherspoons. Number 2!

    Libcom sure used to be a goofy place.

    yidkid
    Feb 18 2013 12:05

    anything charlie veitch has ever done

    fip
    Feb 18 2013 15:48

    Here's my top 5 from the Spanish Civil War mostly from Michael Seidman's powerful work:

    1. Spanish CNT Justice Minister Garcia Oliver initiating the setting up of ‘concentration camps’. (See here for a debate around this issue)

    2. ‘Anarchist’ collectives sacking workers for ‘laziness’ and ‘immorality’ and imposing a discipline that was ‘more strict’ than that of the former capitalist owners.

    3. CNT proposing that all workers should ‘have a file where the details of their professional and social personalities will be registered’.

    4. The Friends of Durutti advocating ‘forced labour’.

    5. Durutti himself stating that: ‘We are not in the least afraid of ruins. … The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world here, in our hearts.’ (Over the next decade war spread across the planet killing 50 million people, leaving most of Europe and Asia in ruins, and helping contain the prospects of genuine anarchist- communist revolution for decades.)

    On second thoughts the worst thing some anarchists still do is to imagine we don't need to transcend anarcho-syndicalism and the Spanish experience just as much as Trotskyists need to go beyond the disasters of the Russian Revolution.

    Black Badger
    Feb 18 2013 16:02

    Durruti FFS; he was not Italian...

    Steven.
    Feb 18 2013 16:48

    fip, just having a quick look at the references on only one of your points and can clearly see it is inaccurate:

    fip wrote:
    2. ‘Anarchist’ collectives sacking workers for ‘laziness’ and ‘immorality’ and imposing a discipline that was ‘more strict’ than that of the former capitalist owners.

    the text you link to doesn't say that - the footnote you link to talks about drunk tram workers being temporarily suspended and their salaries paid to their wives instead of them. Which if you know anything about the conditions working people lived under prior to the revolution is not a worse situation…

    plasmatelly
    Feb 18 2013 16:51

    fip - what have you been drinking man? Are you seriously suggesting that in some way Durruti is responsible for the second world war? wall

    fi p
    Feb 19 2013 17:33

    It was completely understandable that Durutti and other anarchists should join the Popular Front in a conventional war against Franco. After all, their lives were on the line. But if they had been more successful, and the Spanish Republic had survived to 1939, then Spain could easily have become a battleground in the Second World War. If that had happened, millions might well have died and Spanish workers would have been no nearer to transcending capitalism.

    On the other hand, we can now see that the large numbers of workers and peasants who refused to fight in this barbaric conflict were probably acting in a more genuinely 'anarchic' way than the anarchist activists. This is because their refusals to fight may have helped the Popular Front to lose more quickly and for Spain to avoid being dragged into the horrors of Second World War. (See the excellent 'Quiet Fronts in the Spanish Civil War' by Michael Seidman)

    Of course, this is speculation and Durutti's statement was understandable at the time. But in the wake of the mass killing and unprecedented destruction of the 1939-45 war, his statement seems naive at best. To use this statement after the war as an example of political passion and insight, as so many anarchists have done, is, in my opinion, one the 'worst things done in the name of anarchism'.

    Another 'worst thing' some anarchists have done is to defend Makhno's regime as if it was as anything like as anti-authoritarian as it claimed. This quote from a Makhnovist declaration in 1920 indicates otherwise:

    Point 8. '... Everyone convicted of counter-revolution or banditry will be shot on the spot.'

    The quote appears to be restricting this repression to 'bourgeoisie' (a rather loose term at the time), 'officers' and 'bandit[s]' (an even more loose term considering the fact that the Bolsheviks called all the Makhnovists 'bandits'). But, no, Point 11 makes clear that:
    'All individuals deliberately obstructing the distribution of this declaration will be considered counterrevolutionary.'

    Again, I have no huge issue with what Makhno did under appalling circumstances many years ago. But, to defend his regime as anything to do with what a revolution should be like in the 21st century is as absurd as seeing Bolshevism as relevant model for today.

    As for Gaston Leval's quote about work discipline, readers can read it themselves here (it's note 8), and make up their own mind.

    It would be great if all we needed to do to work out how to replace capitalism was to find some 'successful' socialist experiment in the 20th Century (Russian soviets, anarchist collectives, Israeli kibbutzim, Cuban 'people's committees' etc...). Unfortunately, they all failed, and we are left with the much more challenging and exciting task of developing a radically new revolutionary politics in the 21st century. I hope libcom continues to be an important part of that process and not just a place to defend anarchist ideology.

    Battlescarred
    Apr 19 2020 09:03

    What a steaming pile of horse manure this thread is. Whichever muppet on libcom who thought this crass list up should be ashamed of themselves.

    darren p
    Apr 19 2020 10:52

    Self-awareness and self-criticism are good no?

    tyneside anarchist
    Apr 19 2020 20:19

    yes i logged on the nite to say the same thing. concentrating on and perpetuating division. also at times some things are done in the 'name' of anarchism but not necessarily by 'anarchists' or those who believe they are

    tyneside anarchist
    Apr 19 2020 20:30

    creating a thread where the opportunity to 'attack' aspects of perceived 'anarchism' in a free for all is not exactly "Self-awareness and self-criticism" childish threads such as this are just creating opportunities for typical 'tankie' type slander

    adri
    Apr 20 2020 04:17

    I'd remove Crass. "Systematic Death" is a good song. Besides that Proudhon was a "twat" and market socialism is trash.

    freemind
    Apr 20 2020 07:20

    Crass I liked musically aswell as the Artwork and their single issue statements ie Falklands- How Does It Feel but they were not Anarchists.They were middle class life stylists who used Anarchism and paraphrasing Penny Rimbaud when asked about Spain 36 stated he wasn't interested in Trade Unions or Militias.That would involve commentating on class issues which middle class alternative cliques recoil in horror at as it leaves them and their genre exposed for what it is.
    Proudhon's diatribe somewhat is Government and his Property is Theft quote are good but he was a horrible bastard and his theory economically especially was flawed and his Mutualism poor.This like Bakunins Collectivism was formulating as Anarchism was in its nascent early stages of development and can be excused to a degree but I dont count Proudhon as a progenitor of Anarchism but an embarrassment and a liability to be dismissed when defending Anarchist ideas.
    Class War where a parody who peddled a lazy stereotype of Anarchism and demeaned it through childish propaganda.A legacy that needs to be binned along with a lot of other fakirs.

    R Totale
    Apr 20 2020 11:08

    2005 was a long time ago, and you can tell this article is very old because it doesn't include anarcho-Corbynism (anarcho-Sir-Kier-Starmer-QCism?) And tbh, I love Crass, but if you changed the entry from just Crass in general to their reponse to nazis attacking their gigs it'd be hard to argue with.

    Fozzie
    Apr 20 2020 11:53

    It's very much a forum post (and discussion) rather than an article that should be preserved for posterity.

    It's a reminder of how subcultural this place used to be, which put a lot of people off at the time.

    Fozzie
    Apr 20 2020 15:38

    Or to put it more positively, things have got better here since 2005.