Communist Anarchism: A Manifesto of Equality

Posted on August 6, 2011

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This essay was written when I was still very new to radical philosophy. It was voted to be published by a book of student work (essays, stories, poems, photos, and the like) at Dutchess Community College. It was written in a matter of a week specifically for this publication.

The other day I was asked by a newly added friend on Facebook, “Your page says your political views are ‘communist anarchist’. What the heck is that anyway?” In the current setting, the question did not merit a well-thought answer. But, I thought this would be a good place to write one out.

Another friend, upon hearing the question, posed another, “Isn’t that kind of contradictory?” This question baffled me. It made me realize how misunderstood these concepts are. I’m not going to sit here and preach to you that it is “the right way” or “the only way” to live, but I will tell you that just about everything our culture tells us about these two concepts is absolutely wrong.

To start, let me make the differentiation between the two, thus disproving them to be contradictory to one another. Communism, I venture to guess, is the more misunderstood term. Communism is strictly a form of economics, while anarchism is a form of government. At its core, a true communist society can only exist in anarchy. However, there are other forms of anarchy that are also perfectly well-established; for instance individualist anarchism, Christian anarchism, and feminist anarchism.

I must ask my reader forthright to keep an open mind. Some of these explanations may seem a bit fantastical or transcendental, but that is only because they are the enemy to our current system. They are shown as evil or not realistic for the sole reason of keeping the current system in place.

Communism is broadly defined as a classless economic system with common ownership and means of production. There are a lot of terms in there that probably mean nothing to most people. Allow me to explain with an example. If you build say a birdhouse, that birdhouse is yours. It is the direct product of your labor. You own it. Consider now an entire town. Who built that? The people in the town did, obviously. There had to be someone to draw up the plans, gather the materials, laboriously construct the foundations, the frame, the drywall, the paint, the furniture, the lawn, the list goes on almost infinitely. Then your list continues when you consider the pencil and paper used by the architect, the man who cut the wood, mined the stone, mixed the paint. Then again, the buildings in which each of those tasks were completed and the work that went in to them. The list is clearly infinite.

Now, this idea of having equality in labor is not at all against a supervisor position, only one that is authoritative. It is, in fact, necessary to have these kinds of positions in the workplace in order to keep a focus on the big picture. Since we clearly don’t have an artisan production system in order to supply our massive population, we must have jobs that are specific to a piece of the whole and still have someone who can look at the bigger picture and see how the parts fit together. The difference is the idea, the understanding attached to such a position. That individual would have an understanding that he has no more power over the production than the man doing the physical labor. And the laborer must understand that this man is not his boss, nor does he have to follow his orders. A supervisor position is simply one who holds the schematic of the operation. These parts are all equal in the productive machine. I will address this relationship in more detail, later.

This is what is called common ownership and means of production. No one can pinpoint a single thing that is part of a society that any one single person has ownership of. Yet, that is the way we treat it today. This is MY company, MY place of business, MY idea. Yes, even ideas are shared. You would know nothing without the help and guidance of your parents and teachers and their parents and teachers and so on. Does this mean nothing is truly yours? Absolutely not. This is simply a method of explaining a philosophy in which the people in a society understand that everything they know and use is a product of the collective.

Current culture tells us that this idea of collective cooperation and lack of private ownership is wrong because we like having “our things.” But I’m telling you this interpretation is askew from the actual meaning of the term. It simply means that we acknowledge that nothing is truly “ours” on an individual level. This does not mean that in a communist state people randomly walk into each others’ homes and take what they please. It simply invokes a public state of mind in which we treat each other as equals through an understanding of common motive and ownership.

Keep in mind this entire thing is about changing the social philosophy. Capitalism, the current system, breeds failure, selfishness and lack of humility. It makes us constantly strive for more of something, but to what end? Will we ever have enough? Will we ever reach what were pushing for? Do we even know what it is we want so much?

Anarchism is defined as a lack of organized government and the free grouping of peoples, “organized” being the key word there. It is almost universally understood that anarchy means chaos. Well, that would be so if lack of organized government meant chaos, but it simply does not. Anarchy is believed to be an “every man for himself” state of being, a dog eat dog world where everyone is fighting each other to survive. This only makes me laugh because what people do not realize is that world is called capitalism. So then, what is anarchy?

To over simplify it, it is a system which allows people to be who they naturally are, which is compassionate and independent. Many disagree that men are naturally compassionate but they fail to see that it is the current system we live in that makes us not so. A child until confronted by the harsh, shaping reality of adolescence is entirely compassionate. He or she has an innate sense of his or her feelings and has no motives to be destructive or selfish or loathsome or rueful whatsoever.

The argument against anarchism is that people are not built to live without authority. They maintain that people are naturally angry, jealous, and selfish. Culture argues that without this omnipotent force to dictate orders or premeditated life goals, man would be rendered ineffectual and animalistic. They say that if men were suddenly made to live in anarchy, they would certainly destroy each other, and on this we would agree. The current version of man is much unprepared to live in anarchy. The current system has made him angry and jealous and selfish; indeed he must be in order to survive in the current system.

The current culture is very Hobbes-based. Thomas Hobbes, in his Leviathan, proposed that man needed to be controlled by some form of authority (no matter what kind) otherwise he is bound to kill and destroy. This is simply not true. Hobbes didn’t understand the concept of interest.

All men have the same interests. The necessities, of course food, water, shelter, etc. But humans also want a little extra, such as art, music, games and entertainment, camaraderie, etc. One thing we already have in place in our philosophy is that everyone deserves these things equally. But do they have them? I should think not. The poverty levels are higher than ever in this country and unemployment is reaching eerily high numbers.

Why then do we have this class division in America or in the world even? Why do we have this vast chasm between the haves and the have not’s? The most recent polls show that the top 20% of Americans hold 84% of America’s wealth and property and the lowest 20% hold roughly 0.1%. How can that be if we all want the same thing? If everyone has the same common interests, why do we not work together to get them for everyone? Emma Goldman said in her essay, Anarchism, that the social interests of a people reflect the individual interests of those people. They are one in the same. See, anarchism is a concept that puts faith in humanity on an individual level. It proposes that the needs of man are righteous and noble in their natural state, and when collected into a society, they can do wonders.

So, simply put, communist anarchism is a system in which the people collectively own and produce everything without an authority figure to force them to do it. It goes without explanation that men work much better when they are allowed to do the work that pleases them rather than having to be forced into any kind of labor. It also instills an attitude of unity and mutuality. Let me explain this system with an example.

In society today we have many kinds of occupations, all of which are rewarded differently for their efforts. Why is this? Consider a machine of any kind. If any one of the parts is removed or broken, will the machine still function properly? The answer is no. Therefore, as I briefly mentioned before with the supervisor position, all pieces of a machine are equal in the sense that they are all equally necessary to the overall success of the machine. This is true for the social machine as well.

If society is truly a machine with interworking parts that all must work together, then why are some parts valued more than others? For instance, a doctor is paid much more than a garbage man, when in reality these two are equal components of society. These parts rely on each other in order to function individually. The doctor treats the garbage man if his ills because he knows that the garbage man will properly dispose of his waste. The garbage man removes the waste for the doctor because he knows that when he is ill the doctor will help him. This attitude of fairness and universal understanding of equal contribution is what will make the system thrive in a way that cannot be understood by greed filled, profit driven capitalists.

The same concept is in existence on a political level. We pay taxes in order for the government to erect community buildings and roads and other things that are used collectively. But as we saw before, these things are not built by any entity; they are built by real people. “The government”, essentially an entity consisting of a few politicians and judges, does not construct anything. They hire people to construct things. The same people who pay taxes are paid by the taxes to construct communal structures. This is labor which they are then, in turn, taxed for allowing the cycle to continue. Why do we need to pay some entity to tell us to build these kinds of things? Even more so, why must they take our money, then turn around and pay it back to us for our labor? Anarchism says that if the people have the proper mindset, they can do these things on their own as they used to in colonial America and, of course, all native and “primal” cultures.

This kind of society allows people to live together free of rule and restriction, master and employer. It is a system that uses the nature of men as they are born into this world – compassionate, creative, and open. If you were to think about your duties in life and question, who benefits from my labor? Am I being rightfully rewarded for my work? Why is it that I must do things that I loathe? Who is making me do this and why? The answers you would reap would shock and disgust you.

How then, do we begin to adopt this mindset that allows us to live this way? I say, in the same way blacks gained their rights and women their suffrage, and even the American colonists their freedom from England. We protest, and speak and write. We must change the public view of the world, the industry, the government, and their own lives. People accept the current system simply because “it’s just the way things are.” This is untrue! Things can change! This has been historically proven at Bastille, the American Revolution, and even the misdirected Bolshevik. Revolution is not a new concept. It is the right and the duty of the people to act in a time of universal oppression. Sit no longer in complacency, hoping for a miracle. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Get up and join the ranks. Question authority and fight for your freedom!

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Posted in: Anarchism, Communism