Category Archives: anarchist communism

L. A. M., “The New Anarchism” (1919)


This is not the beginning of a new cult. It is a restatement of what we want and what we intend to do towards realising it. The New Anarchism is the old Anarchism in new clothes. It is set out in a way that he who runs may read.

What Anarchists Want.

We want to place certain ideas before the people. These ideas we believe will contribute towards the making of a better people and a better world. Anarchists are not alone in holding such ideas. But the ideas of Anarchists differ essentially from others in some main points.

The world has so evolved by now that most nations are more or less self-governing States. That is to say, we have nations such as the British, French, German and many others spread over the five continents. They are Empires, Monarchies, Republics, according as the main body of each nation has asserted itself. In the main, however, the controlling force is the Government, however it may be elected. These Governments rule the people by laws already framed, new laws being added as circumstances arise.

The main body of the people have had nothing to do with the framing of these laws; they were there when they were born into the world. The new laws are invariably framed without consulting the people. These laws are made for the preservation of the State or the defence of the realm.

Most of these laws are property-protecting laws. They are laws against theft of property, destruction of property. And as most of the property is held by a few “owners,” it follows that the laws are made for the benefit of the few, not for the benefit of the nation.

A man who starves has no right to take bread where he may find it. That is one instance.

The laws are upheld by judges, lawyers, policemen, jailers and hangmen. Property inside the country is protected in this way. Outside the country the property of individuals in a nation is protected by an army and a navy. These are to prevent other nations interfering with the rights of property of other people resident or holding property in those countries. The property in any given country is, as we said, held by a few. The land belongs to a few landlords. The mills, mines, factories, docks, ships, and so forth are held by a few capitalists. The rest of the nation, having no property from which to get a living, have to work for these property owners. This is the case in all countries. Each nation is, therefore, divided into the Haves and the Have-nots: the masters and the workers. This is described by most Socialists as the two classes of capitalists and workers (or proletariat).

Now as to the “rights of property.” The land was made by no one; consequently, it cannot have “ owners.” The whole of the nation is, therefore, entitled to free access to the land. The mills, factories, docks, ships, and so forth were made by the workers; the pretence that the workers were paid for the work will not hold. The full value of work done is never paid; otherwise there would be no “profit.” The workers are, therefore, robbed of the value of their work in the form of “profit.”

So far the Anarchists and the Socialists agree. Where they differ is in the cure. The Socialists want all the land and all the industries, all the buildings and the ships to belong to the nation, nominally, but really to the State. This State will be a Parliament elected by the people, and this State will control all industry. Consequently there will be only one master—the State—and the people will have to work on the terms of the State. This State will control everything, and, consequently, the State will have to make laws for the control of the people. In order to uphold these laws the State must have recourse to some punishments that will make the disobedient obey these laws. The people, then, will be well housed and fed, but they will be exploited by the State. In other words, they will still be slaves, although well-fed slaves.

The Anarchists, being for the fullest freedom possible, are in all cases against the State; that is to say, against government. The individual is unable to develop where he is controlled from above; progress and evolution are thereby hindered. The individual is, however, not always able to battle for himself ; and individualism lends itself to abuse by the strong, who invariably turn out despots or tyrants. They can only develop themselves at the expense of the community. The Anarchist is, therefore, for co-operation, or a Communistic state of society. The Law of Nature is that the best progress is made where individuals are bound together by mutual aid. With the present rate of progress of civilisation, it is impossible for an individual to be independent of others.

The Anarchist suggests, therefore, that the best form of society, and the most natural, is where men can form together in free organisations for the common good. These free organisations are impossible under a Government, therefore government must go. No free organisation can do anything unless there is free access to the land and to industry. The land and industry are held by a few “owners” as private property. It follows then that private property must go.

The essence of Anarchism, therefore, is free land and free industry. The people, organising themselves in groups and communities, will then be able to supply all their wants without the interference of a State or Government. And since the people will look after their own wants, there will be no money, either as wages or for exchange. This means the abolition of the wage system.

Free land, free industry, free exchange, and the people looking after themselves in free organisations—this is the essence of Anarchism. This is what Anarchists want. We now come to

How It Will Be Done.

The Anarchists do not pretend to put forth a cut-and-dried plan, an easy method of changing society for the better. The saving of the people must be the work of the people themselves. They have only to decide what they want done and to do it. This is the main thing of all, that this change must be accomplished by the people themselves. They have only to take over the land and work it. They have only to take over industry and run it for the good of all. This does not mean that the land and industry will be run on the same lines as at present. It is sufficient to say that all useless work will be cut out, and science brought to the aid of cultivation and industry. This will save an enormous amount of labour, and mean more leisure all round.

Anarchists want to hasten this change; they, therefore, do all they can to spread their ideas by publishing literature and by speaking. They try always to point out that any trouble and distress that may arise cannot be cured by the State. The trouble (or “questions”) of poverty, unemployment, lack of housing, and so on, are part and parcel of the present system of ownership by the few and toil by the many. They can only be done away with by changing the whole system, and running the country as the Anarchists suggest.

It is not necessary for the people to proclaim themselves Anarchists—and wait for something to happen. They will have to make something happen by doing it themselves. Once they have got the idea, it only remains to be carried out, and they are the ones to do it.

This is Anarchism and How to Get It.

L. A. M.

L. A. M., “The New Anarchism,” Freedom (London) 33 no. 363 (August, 1919): 47

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Commonweal Anarchist Group, “Why We Are Anarchists” (1894)




It may be well to give some of the arguments for our belief in Anarchism as the coming form of our social and political institutions.

We are confronted, it appears, on all sides by obstacles and difficulties. Here, the inveterate belief in law and authority, in religious superstitions and in the educational powers of compulsion and coercion; there, the various forms of political humbug, the representative system, the struggle for political power, expressed in the shape of self-advertizing electioneering political swindlers on one side and the ever befooled, hero-worshipping, addle-headed, “sovereign people” on the other side. Again, the fallacious belief either in competition and throat-cutting and monopolizing individualism, or in that other treacherous panacea—State-socialism, the dream of all authoritarians and, in reality, the paradise of officialism and corruption, erected on the shoulders of a people whose freedom and equality would consist of the freedom to elect new masters and that equality which is the product of equal servitude and degradation. The arguments of “economic science” are arrayed against us; the misapplied doctrines of evolution as apparently opposed to evolution; the state or municipal ownership of all the means of production; the centralization of the production of all commodities—in support of which the concentration of capital in the hands of, a diminishing number of big capitalists is adduced;—Anarchism is said to be antagonistic to the real course of the evolution of human society; etc., etc.

All these and other arguments are constantly used by all existing parties against Anarchism—not to mention the host of lies from which no party shrinks when Anarchism, that enemy of society, is concerned. These fallacies and misconceptions are inoculated in the people by their education, at home and at school, by their daily private And public life—as Long as they, have not learned to see through the veil of superstition and ignorance which all parties are eager to keep on their eyes as long as ever possible

Yet still, there is an increasing number of Anarchists in all countries. What are the ideas that bring them together, unite them in their aims, without the necessity of an artificial organization which no other party can do without? Whilst the other parties give free scope to the development of evil passions, of corruption, arrogance, and self-seeking, what has anybody who is active in Anarchist agitation to expect but persecution and calumny,—and the conviction that he is doing the right thing, that he is on the road to progress and is helping others to go forward with him towards their individual and social emancipation?

It is, after all, because in many people the belief in FREEDOM as the only sound foundation of human development has never been eradicated by the coarse brutality and coercion of the weary every-day life and toil, nay, has been strengthened and is spreading in spite of all obstacles, and supported by the evident failure of the law and order system.

Those who believe in freedom are constantly met with the objection that unlimited freedom is impossible, being incompatible with the existence of any human society, etc. To these objections as far as they are bona fide, and are not the mere phrases which lazy intellects have got against everything which is new to them, we reply that we understand by freedom the free scope left to the development of everything on its own lines, by non-interference with it from outside on any account, consequently neither for oppressive nor for apparently beneficent and tutelary purposes. We maintain that only if every person, or group, or whatever form any aggregation of people may assume, are left free to associate or to disconnect themselves with and from persons, groups, societies, institutions, surroundings, etc., according to their own mind about the matter, their faculties and powers will have the proper opportunity to exert themselves;—and, whether their aims meet in the end with success or failure, this will not injure the equal freedom of others, but be an example to them;—whereas, when people, whether they like it or not, are bound together by artificial ties, be it in the name of an absolute king “by the grace of God,” or in the name of the elective assembly of a Socialist republic, the result of this compulsory co-operation will be that the best faculties are stunted, many possibilities of development never discovered, etc., all owing to everybody’s reliance on the laws imposed by the leaders, and the consequent corruption and incapacity of these leaders through the authority given into their hands.

It may be preferable to a great number of careless people to be looked after by the State in a paternal and tutelary way, as they fancy, not seeing the claws of oppression and exploitation behind the bland demeanor and glib phrases of politicians; and these people may rejoice if they see the care of the State for their own well-being constantly extended by State-interference with everything, but these are not the people we appeal to. We quite recognize that some sense of human dignity and independence is necessary in order to grasp the primary ideas of Anarchism; and, thanks to our blessed civilization, some people have lost even that. But they do not count in the history of progress; they are the victims and tools of the present system; and as the wretched slums and hovels will give place to neat houses and homes, these people will have to go. But most people have some glimmering sparks of the spirit of liberty left, and from these our ranks begin to fill.

A consequence of freedom is the rejection of majority rule, viz: the right of association and secession. The mere fact that a majority of a given number of persons are in favor of something, proves evidently nothing for or against it. There cannot be any connection whatever between the advisability or absurdity of any measure—which depends entirely upon its own nature—and the opinions which any number of people of various knowledge, intelligence, experience, tendencies, character, even whims and hobbies, hold about it.

Nor is majority rule adopted in anything to which human progress is due. No scientist who discovers a natural law is expected to submit it to the vote of an assembly of even the most learned men of his branch of science. Those scientists whose studies the new discovery affects take notice of it if they think it worth while, and try, by their own experiments, to get supplementary evidence to confirm or refute it; and by-and-by the new theory is universally adopted or sinks into oblivion. It may be advanced that congresses of scientists adopt certain general rules, international standards and tests, terms and signs, etc., by majority rule; but even this is no proper law-making by majority, because it ordinarily means the sanction given to a procedure which is already almost generally adopted and approved after having been proposed and tried in the above described way. And if some go too far in this, it must not be forgotten that science is also under the corrupting influence of the State, that in some branches there is an official and a free science, etc. But in general the rules adopted are not enforced by police and soldiers; anybody who knows better may go his own way and has—if the means of production are not entirely monopolized by the State, in the form of the official science,—the power to show by the results who is right or wrong.

Compare the steady progress of science, to which the advantages now exploited and preyed upon by the oppressing classes are due, to the conspicuous failure of legislation by majority rule, prompted by personal or party interests or, even in the rare cases of disinterestedness, made incapable by ignorance and want of experience. Experience, the source of knowledge, and law exclude each other; knowledge, the understanding of natural laws, follows experience, whilst artificial law precedes experience and excludes it, because it wants obedience and submission, not doubt and experiments.

The confession of the failure of legislation is made by those who cry for more legislation, like a rich person who, when medicine fails, calls for more medicine. Science, as long as it lay bound under the antique and mediaeval traditions of Aristotle or the scholastic philosophers, in fact, as long as it held to the authority of traditions and supposed revelations, made no progress whatever; only when it shook off the ancient fetters and went on the lines of freedom it achieved all that we see to-day, or rather what is still unknown to the vast majority of mankind, but what would insure to everybody an almost unknown degree of comfort and ease, if applied for the benefit of all instead of being misappropriated by the governing classes of to-day.

And yet every branch of science comprehends but one group of phenomena, and human life and activity comprises such a number of phenomena that no science has hitherto discovered more than the barest outlines of some not quite improbable hypotheses on the various phenomena of human life. Still, what science which invented machines and telegraphs and all the countless perfections of human domination ever the forces of nature, was unable to achieve—to find the laws of human society,—the representative assemblies, consisting of landlords, capitalists, lawyers And soldiers, officials and social-Democrats, or, for the matter of that, maybe consisting of the very incarnations of most scientific social-Democracy, are expected to find! This is so manifestly absurd that it requires no refutation; the greatest scientist may spend years in active study before he ventures to summarise the result of his studies in one general observation which may if by-and-by found to be right, be called a natural law, whilst the bragging demagogue scribbles down a dozen laws as a programme, tells invented lies on the benefits the people will derive from them, and if he has reasons of his own to stick to his promises, tries to enforce these laws by getting them adopted by a majority of ignorants and tricksters like himself.

The principle of the rejection of majority rule, then, if applied to society at large, would mean that minorities are left to themselves to go their own way, until example and experience establish a reliable proof as to who is right.

This would not imply confusion, waste of time and material, etc., as our opponents contend: it is the interest of both majority and minority to be as practical and sensible as the case requires, for they have not as to-day, to order others to do something, but they have to do it themselves and to bear the consequences. They act on their own responsibility and will be careful.

Suppose even the worst happens, a majority forgets its respect for the freedom of the minority and of itself, and coerces a minority. Surely that would be an isolated case, generally resented, and probably the minority would find more support from outside than it ever wants. Is this an argument against us, as is sometimes said? But what is done to-day? To-day coercion of the minority is the rule, rebellion against it is rank treason and Anarchy; coercion rules in every country, town, village, and family. Those who are so apprehensive of a possible act of atavistic unsolidarity in the future, and who consider this an argument against freedom and in favor of law, are the same who uphold a state of things in which this wanton infringement on freedom is general, the time-honored custom and rule! Anarchism is no panacea against every evil, but it maintains that freedom is the best remedy for everything.


The rejection of the representative system and of laws is another consequence of freedom as we understand it.

Representation means the abdication of the will and the brains of a large number of people in favor of one individual who has somehow contrived to attract their attention and to get their votes. By what unscrupulous means and reckless use of promises, slander and lies this is usually done, everybody knows. And yet the people think they are the masters, the possessors of political power, when they exercise the precious privilege of choosing between two or three humbugs and go home again for three, five, or seven years, having fulfilled one of their “highest civic duties.” In ancient Rome the slaves were allowed on a certain day of the year, the Saturnalia, to roam about the town, amuse themselves by fancying that they were free men, and put in the place of their masters; this was done to keep them content; the next day, of course, they were slaves again, and so all the year round. Bakounine, in one of his writings, compares the day of the general election, in our high-praised civilization, to the farce of the Saturnalia in ancient Rome, and the comparison is a just one. You fancy one day to be the masters of the destiny of your country, and return a parliament—and then go home to toil away for seven more years! You go to Hyde Park—not even on the First of May, as the poor Continental workers do, but on the first Sunday of May, when trade and commerce are not interfered with—and then trot home again to your life of drudgery and misery in the East End, until you pop up again in the West End with starving faces and glittering banners and sashes at the bidding of another set of demagogues who want to show to the bourgeois their influence and prestige by pulling you up and down at their pleasure, like puppets in a show.

We hardly think, indeed, that the great mass of the people can be so stupid as to imagine that their representatives in elective bodies are of any good to them. They may think to themselves that a government will exist in any case, and that it little matters which set of oppressors put their heels on them; they know that they are cheated and exploited in any case. It should be our effort to confirm them in this indifference and disgust of politics, and to open their eyes to the possibility and necessity of a society without government, where people themselves manage their own affairs.

A tedious obstacle to this is the propensity of the so-called Socialist and Labor parties to do just the opposite, and extol the value of the rotten representative system. After winning the people’s confidence by dwelling on the necessity of alleviating their misery and promising palliative reforms which it is very easy to invent and orate about, they foment again the superstitious belief in “sending the right man to Parliament”—meaning, of course, themselves. This party is, in our eyes, the most dishonest of all existing parties; for the other parties act quite fairly when they say: “We want to maintain by all means the present system of private property and capitalism—only it might be mended here and there to prevent eruptions of popular discontent;” that’s reaction pure and simple, an open enemy. But these so-called Socialist and Labor cliques say: “We want the people to be happy and to abolish private property and capitalism—but by legal means, by constitutional exercise of our political rights and what not!” This is dishonest; it means posing as your friend and then putting a treacherous broken weapon in your hands for your defence. Can a decaying putrid organism, which infects and pesters its surroundings, be saved by a transfusion of new blood? In most cases, not, and even though it be kept alive, it is still a source of evil to its neighbours. So the rotten system of State and Government, if strengthened by the new interest the people are to take in it, would only become more oppressive, coercive, and exploiting than ever.

We do not for a moment believe that a parliament or a government of the foremost State-socialists and labor leaders would be better than any bourgeois parliament and government. They may resolve that all their manifold programmes and particular hobbies become law tomorrow; how is this to be carried out? By governmental authority and red tape,—for the people must not move; they have got a government that provides for them! I cannot imagine a more piteous spectacle than such an assembly of scientific socialists would be. Nor did anybody, except these benighted labor politicians, ever expect such things from parliaments and governments as the modern labor programmes do. The French peasants in 1789 did not wait for the parliament of that period to give them the land,—else they might still be waiting; they took it, and burned the castles, and left to parliament the gratification of its self-importance by endorsing facts which could not be undone. In 1848 the peasant of other continental countries did the same; the governments had for years meddled with the question of serfdom, but their solutions of it remained on paper until the peasants took matters into their own hands during the revolution of 1848. And the Russians, although liberated officially in 1861, are still as badly off as before, and will be until the coming Russian revolution sets them free. In America only a gigantic war, the greatest civil war of all ages, could liberate the slaves. And, in face of all the teachings of history, the English people are lulled and gulled to continue to believe in constitutional means! Only knaves, fools—or labor leaders can believe such things.


Laws are by necessity an obstacle to progress. They must be obeyed, and are enforced, else it would be absurd to have them at all; so they must prevent progress according to their own nature.

Who has heard of laws made by scientists to prohibit further experiment to be made on a given subject? And yet this is what governments and parliaments do: once something has become law, you may make agitations, petitions, resolutions, etc., about it, but must not -test its value by outstepping and transgressing it. Only in the middle-ages and with primitive peoples dissent from childish biblical theories on science was considered a crime, and torturers and the stake awaited those who made independent researches; and yet to those men our progress and knowledge is due. They broke the law, which was ten times stronger than modern laws are, because it had not only brute force but stupid superstition at its disposal, and acting as Anarchist pioneers they paved the road to progress. Torquemada and Loyola are in the pillory of history; Giordano Bruno and Galileo, the rebels, are in its pantheon; and so future generations will think about the authoritarians, from Bismarck to Marx on one side, and the Anarchists and rebels, from Ravachol to Bakounine, on the other side.

Natural facts are matters of experience and of knowledge, and to disregard them is absurd and suicidal. Besides them only impulsive: or spontaneous arrangements can be made between men according to their temporary knowledge of the matter in question. Nothing prevents the repetition of such arrangements if advisable; but nothing calls for the arbitrary fixing of such arrangements, which is what is called Law. And what escape is there from such arbitrary regulations except by breaking them? And what is this method, the most self-evident and practical one, but the Anarchist method? Why, then, make laws at all?

Have we not already made some progress towards disregarding the most “sacred” laws? Think how, a few centuries ago, people strictly and fanatically believed in the bible and were hanged and burned about theological quibbles which to-day no sensible person cares for? Too much of all sorts of superstitions is still left, but some of it has gone, and in the same way, no doubt, there are hundreds of things, forbidden by laws still in existence, which are done as a matter of course—in the same way, really, as children are told about dressing and going to bed and grown people are not told. Does not all this show Anarchists to be on the right road when they say that laws are to be abolished? And how?-not by expecting others to abrogate and cancel them, but by boldly transgressing and defying them and their satellites.


The consequences of Anarchism, viz. no majority rule, no representative system, no laws, must be tested by their working in real life, in a system of production and consumption in which they have full scope to exert themselves, in which, therefore, free arrangements, voluntary combinations and separations, and personal and local autonomy shall prevail.

On the economic structure of such a society various opinions prevail among Anarchists; that one corresponding to our views is the theory of Anarchist-Communism, whilst others uphold those of Collectivism and Individualism. We are not going to enter into this question here, but to explain our position towards Individualism.

By Individualism we understand those views which uphold the idea that the attainment of the greatest perfection, happiness and independence of every individual is the highest of all human aspirations, in opposition to other views which maintain that the prosperity of Society or the State is the great goal to which the independence, the happiness, if need be the life of every individual must at any moment be ready to be sacrificed. As Anarchists we are individualists, and we are Communists because we think that true individualism—aspiring to the greatest individual elevation and perfection—can best prosper under Communism. Communism means that, by the free cooperation of all, the commodities necessary for life are produced in such quantities that it would be absurd to mete out a share to everybody, but that they be adopt it; for communism is a means and not the aim. The line between communism and individualism will be drawn in each case according to the local and personal requirements. Some will prefer to live more for themselves, others prefer to live in common with their neighbours. All these details, satisfying the individual wants of everybody can easily be met, once—by a few hours of cooperation—the economic independence of all is secured.

From these reasons we consider communism as the true basis of Anarchism. We reject the so-called individualist Anarchism as authoritarian and coercive.


Whilst we put our confidence in the principles of freedom and autonomy, our State-socialist opponents assert that the State is called to crush by legislative coercion and competition the capitalist monopolists, to arrange production on a huge scale, utilizing all the results of concentration of machinery, etc., and to establish a system in which everybody would have his little post as one of the minute wheels of the gigantic machinery of State regulated production.

Is State-socialism in this sense possible at all? There is no doubt that it is easy enough to increase the number of laws which are supposed to protect the workers and are called “socialistic legislation,” nor would it be difficult (or in any way dangerous to the present system) to find jobs for supervision, registration, inspection, statistics, etc., of labor for all those who cry loudest for State-socialism; but all these measures are in perfect harmony with the capitalist system, which they would only help to prolong by removing apparently some of its most appalling atrocities whilst wage-labor and monopoly continue to exist. Nor would so-called nationalization of any part of the existing private property destroy the present system, as the profit-mongers would shift to the remaining parts of private property. So State-socialism by installments is impossible and the absurdity of the belief in constitutional means demonstrated. And who can imagine a State-socialist revolution? The starving masses who to-day are supposed to fight and put an end to the capitalist State—what are the fruits of their victory to them? To-morrow the new “socialist” State is constituted, which expects them to give up everything into the hands of their new masters whom they will graciously be allowed to choose themselves-out of the great host of labor politicians who were cautious enough to survive the struggles of the revolution.

Is this new State to be arranged on a national or an international basis? In the former case there would be other “socialist” States, and rivalry, competition and coercion, in consequence standing preparations for war would continue; whilst to-day the international character of capitalist property is one of the strongest factors to prevent continuous wars,—the exclusively national character of State-socialist property in that impossible future society would immensely help to create wars. And suppose an international, universal, World State: this means the negation of all progress, the return to the delirious phantasies of the decaying Caesars and popes who dreamed of an universal empire or of universal submission to the Roman Church; and yet even they were content with political and spiritual submission and did not interfere with production and consumption, which would be the chief duty of a “socialist” State. Individual and collective initiative would be banished, for they would frustrate the careful calculations of the paternal, omniscient, omnipotent State which would either have to arrange everything, simply everything—for only in this case a methodical regulation of production (of which social-Democrats talk so much, but in a perfectly thoughtless way) is possible—or nothing at all, and then there exists no State-socialism at all. A compromise is impossible, because all individual action (action of persons, groups, larger collectivities) interferes with the providential State arrangements and makes them fail. This puts an end to progress; for progress “by the permission of the authorities” has not yet advanced mankind one inch up to date; freedom is the only soil upon which progress grows and prospers.

Thus real, consequent State-socialism is an absurdity, and the absorption of the labor politicians by the present State, and the enactment of pseudo-protective laws for labor—the only issue of the social-Democratic movement—which, then, is no danger but rather a safety-valve to the present system. The people will, we are sure, not let themselves in this way be cheated of the revolution; all these schemes will vanish when—perhaps sooner and easier than we think—the reign of capitalism and monopoly is demolished and the people feel that they are free and have no masters; these sentiments none of us can realize to-day; the change in all conceptions will be so rapid and so great that our present optimists may be called pessimists then; but, however that may be, the advocates of new slavery and new masters, the advocates of State-socialism will have played out their role then; of that we are sure.

We are next going to trace the future development of society as we Anarchists believe it will happen, and to state our reasons for, this belief.


After stating our arguments against State socialism we will next put forward our own conception of the course the economic evolution of society is taking, and examine whether this course leads to a necessary and inevitable centralization of production—the preliminary condition of State socialism,—or to the decentralization of production—the basis of Anarchist economics of the future.

We cannot discuss this question at full length here. The evidence in favor of centralization is generally known and may make, on many, an overwhelming impression: still, we think that the two tendencies must be separated which, if taken together, give a false picture of the real character of modern civilization, namely, the centralization due to the technical requirements of production, and that due to the superior power of competition of a larger capital over a smaller capital, to the interference of the State, which at the instance of the most successful capitalists makes them still more powerful by enforcing all sorts of regulations, customs, duties, etc.: even, if thought profitable, making war to accommodate their private interests,—in short monopoly, the outcome of competition, and State-power, the obedient tool of monopoly, create an immense amount of artificial centralization, not required at all by the purely technical process of production. When monopoly and State-power are abolished, many huge centralizations of to-day which are thought to be the very incarnation of practical and really modern production, will collapse like an inflated balloon with the gas escaping. The real productive forces can only be known then, because now all calculations are necessarily wrong owing to the difficulty, we may say impossibility, to judge between practical and artificial centralization, and because nearly all inventive efforts are now directed toward increasing this artificial centralization, which is only maintained by robbery and slavery, by monopoly and the State.

On the other side, in spite of these obstacles, the decentralization of industry is making progress. The same commodities which, thirty or fifty years ago, were only produced in the huge industrial centres of England, or a very limited part of the continent, are now produced almost everywhere on the spot; and the scramble for new markets (e.g. the infamous invasion of Africa in the exclusive interest of European merchants) show how difficult and unremunerative commerce between the so-called civilized countries is gradually becoming, owing to the local development of industry. As long as it was possible for the old established industrial centres to crush this new development, they certainly did so; and the fact that they are no longer able to do so, proves the victorious force of the local development of industries. In the near future, we may presume that almost everything will be produced within a comparatively small area. If, therefore, State socialists try to ignore this natural development and advocate centralization by all means, they are wasting their time like people who are expecting a river to run uphill.

Of course, the question of the agricultural products, and of the raw materials in general, and the motive power, coals, etc., will be raised against us. We are not discussing the events of to-day and to-morrow, but the general tendency of development; and so, anticipating a certain time to come, we might reply thus: The natural fertility of the soil becoming more and more exhausted, agriculture will become more and more an industry depending, not so much on the soil itself, but on the chemical products, manure, etc., put into the soil; and, this being possible almost everywhere, the privilege of special agricultural countries or districts is gradually diminishing. The same will be the case with many raw materials, and everybody seems to be aware of it with regard to coals which must be exhausted at some certain date, but long before that time, probably, heat will be produced everywhere on the spot. We cannot say how, but as long as it is a fact that coals are not found everywhere, but that everywhere, at the same depth underneath the surface of the globe, there is nothing but material substance heated to the greatest possible degree, and when we consider that all natural phenomena, be they of an acoustic, optical, magnetic, or electric character, are simply one and the same material substance in different forms of motion, and that science begins to find the ways of supplanting one form of motion by an equivalent other form, changing heat into motive power, or electricity into heat, etc., we may presume that the total decentralization and localization of motive power and fuel is a problem that will be solved. Coals are an accidental product and, whilst giving the immense impulse to production that we know, are to a large extent responsible for the existing centralization and monopoly. They have certainly, at the present time, become a reactionary factor. It may be possible for the miners by a general strike to paralyze all production and make the present capitalist system collapse—well and right! because this system is to be destroyed by all means,—but they would be equally able to enforce their terms in a future society; therefore, the sooner this remainder of centralization will be dispensed with the better.

It will always be easy to object to that particular detail of these conclusions; it should be borne in mind that that we consider is the general tendency of evolution, which means the product of many forces working in all sorts of directions; therefore particular facts are no objection, even if they point in another direction, as long as the stronger facts counteracting them are not refuted. (Fuller details are found in several articles by Kropotkine, in the Nineteenth Century Review and La Révolte, reprinted in La Conquête du Pain, Paris, 1892.)


As Anarchists we draw from all this the following conclusion: The development of production itself combats centralization—leading to monopoly, and based on State power. It leads towards decentralization, the basis of local autonomy and Freedom, that is—to ANARCHY.

To advocate State socialism is, therefore, not only a violation of the principle of freedom, but also an absurdity, because it is impossible. If it were possible it would not work, as we saw before; but it is impossible from the beginning. All we may see of it, is more State-interference under the present system, since every tyrant, when he feels his hour of defeat approach, increases his ferocity and brutality as last efforts to save himself, at the same time often making desperate efforts to captivate part of his assailants, as the present State does with the labor leaders and their crowd.

These views coincide with the only way by which production can be organized after the revolution. The people in each locality will not want to work again for others,—to be ordered about by a new centralized power, etc. They will start to work for themselves; and there being, as we have shown, no mechanical necessity for centralization, they will be doing the right thing.


During the revolution it will be the most important work to destroy all the governmental and administrative centres, to prevent the existing state-apparatus of centralization being used against the people. If these centres were not as soon as ever possible paralyzed, others, new leaders, will get them into their power and use them for their purposes. This new government, even if consisting of Revolutionary Socialists, can only produce the same mischief as all other governments: uselessly and wantonly interfering where the people themselves know what to do; and powerless to interfere—because orders are not acts—where the people are on the wrong track. From the beginning it is a mistake to imagine that the revolution will be equally thorough and successful at once, everywhere; therefore, the more completely centralization is destroyed, the less harm backward localities or districts or even countries can do. It is wrong to establish a new centralization to fight them with united efforts, because we want no vanquished slaves but free fellow human beings. The only way to convince them is to let them alone and to bring about in our own localities and districts all the wonderful progress we expect from Anarchism, and they will soon fall in with us.

The chief thing is the utter destruction of central power, and the full freedom of every group or individual to arrange matters in their own way. This will bring about actions of the most diverse kind and value—some absurd, probably: but that diversity is just the thing we want; only by full freedom can we properly discern what is useful, practical, valuable, and what not. The change to be brought about is so immense that it is not to be expected to hit at once on the right principles.


From these remarks it will be seen that we have little belief in schemes laid out beforehand, and leave all this to the free development under full freedom, the only thing in which we have full confidence. But we may have, each one of us, our personal conceptions of this future organization (nobody need be afraid of this word “organization” which is a mere technical term for the co-operation of two or more factors, implying no authority at all, if properly used)—and we imagine about as follows:—

The greater part of the articles of first and immediate necessity will be produced by the greater part of the people of a greater or smaller locality or district for themselves. Nearly all the rest will be producing articles of secondary importance, and for these it might not be worth while to produce them everywhere; so, those working at them would be in immediate co-operation with others in other localities, not with the other local groups. Finally, articles of a personal character, requiring individual skill, would be produced by single individuals, forming the rest of the population. Thus, whilst the local production of the chief necessities of life is a guarantee of local autonomy, the dependence on non-local groups for other commodities, etc., is a guarantee of mutual intercourse and relations, and an equilibrium, a balance, will be established which will, we hope, make local privileges, the predomination of some local groups over others, impossible. For to all this we have to add the necessity for a certain exchange of raw materials, such as iron or other metals, which is inevitable; but by the decentralization of production the local groups will be such strongholds of independence that they can successfully paralyze the monopolistic tendencies of, for example, iron or coal producing groups, if such tendencies should arise.

And there is another antidote to such tendencies: this is the principle of free access to all groups, which is a fundamental principle of Anarchist society. This principle, in our opinion, is one of the arguments against the economic rent objection to Anarchism, the famous houses on Richmond Hill or the fertile and unfertile land. No rules, need to be made about these houses, no rent need be charged; the principle of free access will bring the attractions of everything to the consumed in measure to the wants of everybody. This is nothing so very out of the way as it may appear to some at the first glance. Is it really so inconceivable that what exists to-day with regard to water or roads, free access, without measuring what one individual consumes,—taxes and monopolies exist of course to day—shall to-morrow exist with regard to bread or potatoes, or clothes or houses? Mankind would be played out indeed, if this small step forward, once put in practice, would not the next day become a matter of course, and a reaction impossible. Communism, then, will give to all the security and ease that are necessary to make higher intellectual efforts, and here the role of Individualism, as we understand it, begins. The people, all on the equal basis of plenty and security, will begin to make individual manifold efforts in all directions to attain the particular perfections which they desire; everybody goes his own way and associates, if he likes, with his friends. The greater the solidarity and unity in which he cooperated in the morning with his neighbours to produce food and shelter for the community, the more he may like to spend the rest of the day working or studying for himself, or amusing himself in the way he best likes.

This is only possible if the ordinary wants, which can only be supplied by work, are supplied in the speediest and most effective, and—for the individual—least oppressive way: by free co-operation, banishing the principle of competition, ambition, monopoly. Competition in matters of daily bread makes life insupportable, a continuous race and reckless crushing of the weaker and good-natured by the stronger or brutal and callous—and to this end Individualist Anarchism of the Tuckerian school would come. Competition in other matters, better named emulation, is an element of progress. And why is competition good in one case and bad in the other case? Because in one case it possesses the basis essential to all progress; in the other case not. This basis is FREEDOM. Competition as to daily bread is compulsory competition; competition in other matters is voluntary competition. If all run for bread, death and starvation are waiting for the vanquished. If all have plenty of bread, those who choose may run for the laurels of science, others for those of art, of strength, of skill—others may stay where they are and look on—this free competition will exercise and develop their faculties and create true individualities, not machine and routine-made men as those of to-day;—the compulsory competition for bread of the Tuckerians would only breed greedy and callous monopolists on one side, and vanquished slaves, ready to sell their “liberty” for bread, on the other side.

If we knew a better way to attain the possibility of individual development than communism as the economic basis of society, we would same level and then people will not move about without good reasons; and, before the attractions are equalized, whilst diversity of objects exists they will not cease to crowd together to make use of better things before the less good—this is inevitable. It might be presumed that people in our future society will have more feeling of solidarity than now, and will reasonably give way to those who need a thing most, even if they themselves are stronger and are the first comers; but, even if this feeling of solidarity were not yet fully developed in everybody, the principle of free access finally solves this question, e.g. the houses on Richmond Hill would simply be so crowded that there would be but very insufficient accommodation for every individual, whilst there would be plenty of room in less attractive places. Then everybody would not have to choose between a house on Richmond Hill and a house in Poplar, but, perhaps, between a small room on the Hill and a comfortable house in the East End—in short, the attractions of “very small room and splendid situation” would be equal to those of “comfortable house and plain country,” as 1 plus 11= 11 plus 1; should still more people come to the Hill, its attractions would become smaller and smaller, as ½ plus 11, ¼ plus 11, etc., are smaller than 11 plus 1—the East End house; therefore people would find no advantage in going there, and only those who most wanted to do so would go.

The same applies to the “fertile land” objection. However much you toil on land, with all the perfections of agricultural chemistry applied to it, there is a limit to its fertility. When, for example, ten persons, cultivating an area of land (A), produce as much a fifty persons, on a less fertile soil (B), so many would come from B to A that even the rich crops of A would not suffice for their needs, and in consequence a part of them would return to B, or elsewhere, until an equilibrium of attraction is established. For we must never compare two things by themselves as our opponents sophistically do, but only compare different things together with the number of people attracted to them by their free access,—in the first case all things are different, in the second all things are equalized by freedom itself and therefore there is no necessity for an artificial regulation by means of rents and taxes, which imply rent and tax collectors, which imply courts of law, police and prison for those who object, which implies the State with all its baleful consequences.


We will conclude with a general survey of the present Anarchist and Labor movements and their most conspicuous tendencies.


In conclusion we shall examine the present situation of the labor movement in different countries and point out the facts which, in our opinion, justify our confidence in the future of Anarchism.

We have to deal with four series of facts, viz.: the Anarchist movements, the State-socialist and Labor movements, the action of other parties, of the State, the Church, etc., and the action of the People themselves, if let alone and influenced as little as possible by any of the preceding factors. It is evident that the last series of facts is the most important as far as the general tendencies, which we will try to find out, are concerned; but it is difficult to observe it properly, because the people are not used to take matters into their own hands, and the influence of this or that of the old or new parties or institutions intervenes constantly, and—reviving the old prejudices of Law and Order, the State, Representation, Constitutional action, Patriotism, Religion, etc., which the people, driven by misery and oppression to revolt, put aside for a moment—lead away the wrath of the people into peaceful channels; so it is only by moments that we can observe the popular tendencies like flashes of lightning in the dark night of prejudices and reaction.

We will begin with a survey of the forces of modern reaction, that is of all parties and institutions except the various kinds of Anarchists; for here we may not only count the number of comrades who are actively engaged in the Anarchist movement, but also the much larger number of persons who, whilst quite outside of every Anarchist movement, view with disgust the insidious growth of these freedom-killing tendencies to State-interference with everything of which modern humanity boasts as a great blessing, and whom we may consider as latent or passive Anarchists.

The crucial point is the admission or rejection of the principle of interference with other people for whatever purpose. Those who admit it, whether they wish to benefit or exploit the people, act as reactionists, because they interfere with the freedom of others to arrange their own affairs as they think best Every system of democracy, of majority rule, falls under this head, and it is sufficiently known that the most lofty imaginations of State-socialists about their ideal of a future society do not outstep the worn-out paths of representative democracy, of a majority called “the sovereign People” imposing their will as law on the minority, which has got to abide by the “will of the people.” If, then, this party does not respect freedom even in their conceptions of a future better society, if freedom is not one of their aims for the future, still less, evidently, it will care for it in its present political career where, using the old rotten machinery of cheating the people, of the bourgeois State, the system of elections and “constitutional” agitation, they strive for what is called “political power,” that is the ways and means to make the people submit for ever to exploitation and oppression.

And, indeed, what do we see of progressive, free tendencies in these labor movements under the control of State-socialists? Precious little, here and there a poor crust thrown in to make the people swallow more eagerly the bulk of authoritarian measures. A new bureaucracy is imposed on the people, the bureaucracy of organized labor, which by means of its various institutions, labor bureaus, labor exchanges, boards of arbitration, etc., and other offices for official labor statistics, inspection etc., has the evident tendency to make all spontaneous action of the working-classes impossible, to act the role of wise and beneficent Providence for the poor strata of society which is unable to arrange its own affairs and which, giving way to revolutionary tendencies that only uneducated barbarians and Anarchists still believe in, are likely to act foolishly and criminally, to attack the foundations of civilized society if they, the politicians and labor-leaders, do not wisely settle their affairs for them. This spirit of impertinent tutelage, of cynical contempt for the people, characterizes all these so-called labor movements: first the people are cajoled, bamboozled by these men to get their votes, and when they have acted as stepping-stones for them, they think it time to put fetters on the people to prevent them from getting rid of these new masters. They enter into negotiations with the people’s enemies, the capitalists, and strive to become a recognized public institution as a board of arbitrators or a labor exchange or what not; in parliament they strive for little laws or amendments regulating this or that detail, imposing fines or more registration, more inspection, etc.,—that is, as a rule, laws regulating things which, where the workers are strong enough, they have enforced long since, themselves; and which, where they are not strong enough to do so, remain on paper whether they are laws or not. But, not only are they useless, they engender the demoralizing spirit of petty quibbling, denouncing, and going to law,—all for the benefit of the present system, for men who actually believe in all this humbugging and pettifogging are the very strongholds of existing prejudices and reaction.

When the workers begin a strike, in come these men and before all exhort the strikers to abide by law and order, and when they have taken the spirit out of the movement and reduced it to a subservient tool in their hands, they negotiate with the capitalists and arrange matters in such a way that the outcome of the immense sufferings of the starving workers and their families is the advertisement and apotheosis of the worst enemies of the people, who adopt the mask of friends of the people, of Cardinal Manning in the dockers strike of 1889 or of Lord Rosebery in the recent miner’s strike. It matters little whether they are scoundrels or dupes, for the action of the honest among them, like that of the worst scoundrel, is born of the idea that they are called to act for the people, instead of leaving the people alone to act for themselves. They are imbued with the spirit of enslavement, authority, tyranny, and every apparent victory that they may win is a tenfold loss to the people, for it is the victory of Authority over Freedom.

Is it necessary to let all these men and their acts pass before our eyes? Who is silly enough to wait for the benefits that the working-classes will reap from the action of “honest John Burns” in parliament, or of Keir Hardie, or Wilson, or Woods? Or of the Independent Labor Party, or of Champion and Barry, or of Hyndman and Quelch, or of that incarnation of human wisdom and science—the Fabian Society? All these quacks, who want to impose their rulership on the working classes, have so often mutually exposed each other that hardly anything serious is left of them for an impartial observer. They all try the impossible, absurd, and reactionary, to lay the great popular movement of discontent in the bondage of their own little personalities and doctrines, and whenever they succeed it is because their allies are nothing else but the old superstitious belief of the people in authority and leaders—which they do their best to preserve; hence their enmity to the Anarchists, the only ones who openly fight this belief and advocate the ideas of freedom and revolt.

There is no need to say that the capitalist parties benefit by the action of these trimmers. Twenty years ago they trembled at the thought of international and revolutionary action of the working classes. They have seen long since that their only serious enemies are the Anarchists and the people itself as long as not enslaved to any political party; but as to the political socialist parties, they hope to absorb them at the cost of compromises and concessions. To do this the working classes must give up all spontaneous action, and this is far better achieved when they are held down by their own leaders than by mere brute force: for this oppression exists in any case, in England as in Russia, only in England the fetters are twofold. First, oppression which is identical—for, whilst the fetters of the laws may be different, the bullets and butt ends of soldiers’ guns are practically identical in both countries, are they not?—and, secondly, submission to leaders and organizations, the self-imposed fetters of the workers in free England only. And is not almost everything in these movements being arranged to make matters as comfortable and cheering as possible for the capitalist classes? The State, this machinery of coercion, which the people must destroy if they want to be free,—is it not invoked daily by the people’s leaders to protect the people with regard to trifles—whilst it attacks and plunders them wholesale? Is not the belief in the State strengthened by the continuous appeals for nationalization of this or that, for State property in everything: and by the continuous advocacy of electioneering, of requiring parliament to do this or that? Property—is it seriously attacked? Direct attacks on it by the people are denounced as criminal, riotous, barbarous; and in the immediate agitation all attacks on property are reduced to demanding state-ownership of railways or mines, or municipal ownership of docks or waterworks, all things which to a large degree exist just in the most reactionary countries: viz., the Siberian mines, the Prussian State railways, the Austrian monopoly of salt and tobacco etc. Of course the “means of production” figure still in academic resolutions but have long since been put aside in practical agitation. Religion—it is seriously left alone, if not openly embraced; canting hypocrites or fools à la Mann or Tillett or “Labor Church” directly advocate it; parsons and priests, lurk around these labor movements, ready to creep in at critical periods as arbitrators d la Manning or exploiters of the unemployed à la Booth or the more audacious ones enter these movements as “Christian Socialists” etc. These movements seem to be open to every quack or rogue, for they are void of any definite intellectual contents: allegiance to this or that leader who has won some prestige by unscrupulously, stepping on the shoulders of others is all their basis and foundation; thus, nothing is more open to errors and deceptions; they collapse often, but other leaders gather in the same flock; in short, the same farce which we see in the countless religious bodies which, for thousands of years preach, dogmatize, excommunicate each other, amalgamate or split up, is repeated in these modern authoritarian labor movements and organizations. And this is not to be wondered at; are they no both built on the same rotten principles of authority and submission, of exploiters and exploited?

In short, the worst enemy of the workers could not devise a more cunning system of deceiving them and perpetuating their misery, than this network of labor politics, which paralyze the spontaneous outbursts of revolt among the working classes or, if it cannot do so for once, misdirects it to fill the ballot-boxes with voting papers—a new version of the old legend of the Danaids.

We might hold small hopes for a future of freedom and happiness if, by the side of these pseudo-popular movements, there existed no signs of freedom and revolt in the people; before we consider them, we will rapidly review the State-socialist movements in the continental countries and in America.

Almost everywhere the propaganda of Socialist principles is considered now an unpractical utopian waste of time, and all the energy of the State-socialist parties is concentrated on politics. The absurd dogma: because the working classes are not strong enough to get their emancipation by economic means (combinations and strikes), they must get it by political means (the State and parliament), is triumphant in all these labor movements. Said M. Jaurès, a Socialist deputy in the French Chamber: “The workman has the power to wreck a ministry, but nothing protects him against being sacked to-morrow by his employer. The workingmen are Sovereigns by the vote, and proletarians by the existence of capital.” Quite right, and yet all efforts of these movements tend towards teaming the horse by the tail, towards getting economic power by politics. The most significant victim of these doctrines is the proletariat of Germany: when it matters to boss international congresses or to silence the voice of conscience in the more sincere members of that party, they, the German social-Democratic Party, boast to be the largest and strongest Socialist party on the face of the globe; but in all practical questions they declare themselves to be very nearly powerless; take for example the First of May, the war strike, and general strike questions. They are even afraid that the Austrian workers, who are almost always their satellites, should, by independent action, set an example to the German workers in the question of a general strike for universal suffrage, which has been agitated in Austria since the summer of this year (1893). There is not much prospect that such a strike will take place, and it would be in favor of an object for which we have no sympathy; but already the earnest discussion of such a subject—instead of sneering at it and excommunicating it in the name of “scientific” Socialism—is disagreeable to the Berlin leaders, and they raise their voice to put this discussion down (see the Vorwœrts): from this we see that they extend their reactionary influence over other countries outside of their own. And they have not the slightest intention to alter their tactics, viz. the recent discussion about “Labor politics—v—Trade-unionism” during their Congress at Cologne and in their official organ; the economic movements are deliberately neglected and belittled to give space to the omnivorous abyss of labor politics. And even where labor organizations exist, they are to a great extent paralyzed by centralization and officialism.

The failure of all these movements is so manifest with regard to the English movement. There are hundreds or thousands of persons, each full of unscrupulous ambition to raise himself above the heads of his fellows, and there is next to nothing of revolutionary conviction, ardour, and enthusiasm. They are all afraid of revolutionary outbursts of the people, which would jeopardize their peaceful and regular course of promotion to higher and higher ranks in the army of privileged leaders of the people. They are wide awake to the fact that the present State can absorb all of them and go very far in the way of “concessions” and “ameliorations” without seriously affecting the holy principles of Property, Profit, and Plunder. If it is true that we must not expect the social revolution to be promoted by the bourgeois, who have only to lose by it, we must equally accept the truth of the fact that we must not expect anything in favor of the revolution from this new class of labor parasites, who make their living as intermediaries and trimmers between Capital and Labor, and who will be the losers in the event of a revolution like the bourgeois, for they know very well that the revolution may be a little delayed and certainly betrayed by their machinations, but that it will come in any case, and that it will sweep away the greater part of them; a few might try to become grand chiefs and dictators of the revolution, but they will also find things lively for them; for the revolution will be an Anarchist revolution if it be a revolution at all; otherwise there might be all sorts of political riots, introducing a new set of masters, even such as call themselves Socialists, but no revolution: once the people themselves seize on property and destroy the machinery of the State, they have nothing before them but Anarchism as the self-evident solution of all questions; and before they do so they will never achieve anything, but be exploited in the name of other enemies, be they capitalists or State-socialists.


We did not think it worth while to insist on mentioning persons or facts with regard to the foreign movements, for they are too dreary and monotonous and all of the same character: the steady decline of these movements into training grounds for parliamentary and municipal place-hunters and so-called reformers; the decline of the existing economic organizations by the preference given to politics on one side and their authoritarian centralizing tendencies on the other side; the disgraceful attacks and sneers at Anarchists [1] and revolutionists in general; the haughty disdain for the propaganda of Socialism pure and simple versus all these petty reforms, etc. The capitalists second these tactics by tendering with one hand political, parliamentary “reforms” which they make useless with the other hand, by their economic supremacy. This play would go on for ever, were not the people beginning to realize the dreary farce they are victims of, and to act for themselves.


Life under capitalism is becoming more miserable for the workers in spite of all “reforms” and this leads, and will always lead, to strikes, lock-outs, and their consequences. So much of discontent is accumulated everywhere that outbursts are evoked by causes quite disproportionate to the effects they produce. And these outbursts take the form of attacks on property and its defenders, the State in the form of soldiers and police, capitalists and blacklegs; their weapons range from stones and rifles to dynamite and fire. The Homestead steel-workers, the Kansas miners, the Buffalo railway workers, the French and Belgian miners, the Sicilian peasants, the workers of all trades in Naples and Barcelona,—their actions represent all kinds and all grades of effective and victorious warfare against the bourgeois system and it is from these sources that we may trace in our minds pictures of the social war that is coming. New means and methods spontaneously originate and, if effective, spread from one country to the other. Thus when in July last the Paris population, during the nightly riots on the Rive gauche, pulled down the kiosks and overturned tramcars and set fire to both, the same was done a month later by the Italian population at Naples, and may be considered as a new element, new ground won for popular warfare: the awe which one of the most dreadful weapons and a weapon that is in the hands of everybody inspired, fire, seems to be gone and one powerful instrument more added to the arsenal of the people: for so perverted and misdirected are the people by the false education they have for ages received from reactionists, that only one by one, by slow instalments, they learn to use for themselves the weapons which are continually, daily used against them.

But this understanding is making progress, and this is all we can wish for. We do not pretend to do anything for the people, we only wish, by acting ourselves for ourselves, to induce the people to follow our example and also act for themselves. And he who acts for himself must admit the right of others to do the same, or he will be a tyrant; and if he does so he is an Anarchist. For we cannot repeat it often enough: Anarchism is not a philosophical system imposed on men like so many other philosophical, theological, economical schemes, but it is simply life itself, the way of living without building up our wellbeing on the oppression and, consequently, exploitation of our fellow men. It is the way the most honest and best of men tried to live during all times—and succeeded as far as the coercive surroundings permitted it: they lived by their own labor, imparted the results of their genius and talent to mankind in general without asking for reward and profit, and their worries and persecutions, often their martyrdom, are witnesses to the fact that their worst enemy was the State, its rulers and institutions and the tyranny of the majority, of the big prejudiced crowd which upholds every reaction.

To-day, at last, it has become evident that it is not sufficient to abstain from taking part in the work of oppression by the State and try to live apart from its interference, but that it is necessary to destroy once for all this huge machinery, detrimental to progress. Every act of revolt brings the people nearer to this intelligence, every act of “law and order” removes again this goal. For us, the most important features of all these recent strikes are not the way in which they usually ended, discipline, submission to the counsel of prominent leaders, and compromises or defeats, but the amount of direct unorganized violence used before the movement was, once more, got under the control of the fanatic priests of law and order, be they called Socialists or soldiers. And if we compare the recent events of 1892 and 1893 in Europe and America with what used to happen a few years ago, we cannot fail to notice the progress made in the way of spontaneous violent action of the workers so long as they are not crushed by some organization; and on such action, the spread of the examples given and the new ideas that spring up, we base our hopes for the future.


On the actions of the Anarchists themselves we have only a few words to say at a moment like this, when their acts in nearly all countries are before the public and are daily being commented upon and discussed by millions of people.

The ways of Anarchist action are wide and different, because they are not actions of a particular sect or creed, but action in itself, independent of fetters and prejudices of any kind, directed against the immense variety of oppressive and coercive horrors by which we are surrounded. Whoever feels disgust at these horrors and rebels against them, adds something to increase the wave of revolt that will sweep away this system. And, in many cases, the direct effect of the act is of small importance, whilst its chief benefit is its value as an example to others It is quite evident that, if everybody follows his own judgment, we shall often disagree as to the importance and value of this or that act, but those who are not used to tolerate other people’s opinion besides their own, do not consider one of the first principles of Anarchy: that the freedom of others is the basis of our own freedom. The war against the present system has begun for years, and the more we enter into it the more the fight produces new situations which require new means, and these means are found by independent forerunners who open up new paths, like our comrades Pini, or Ravachol, or Pallas, and many others, or by independent collective action of a greater number, or any other natural development. It is not our part to be horrified at the incidents that may occur in this fight here and there, we leave this to the upholders of the present system who are showing off so much hypocritical morality and “ humanity “ when speaking of the “crimes” of Anarchists. Our ways and means, our host of comrades are inexhaustible; because, we repeat, we are not a sect of a certain limited opinion, but the exponents of the principle of free action, free development itself, which is the only basis of all human and organic development in general. We teach the people by our example to remove all the fetters laid on the free development of Humanity by the State, law and authority, and the rest: a better state of things will and must come by itself. Our principles are those lying at the bottom of every progress during the past and will be so in the future. This is why we are Anarchists.

[1] Only a few weeks ago (on November 30th) Mr Liebknecht, in a discourse in the German Parliament, declared Ravachol was a police spy. And infamous old idiots of this kind “represent” the German proletariat.


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Henry Glasse, “Anarchism in a Nutshell” (1918)

The State is a mutual assurance company comprising the ruling classes—landowners, capitalists, high officials, and clergy; government is the directorate or executive committee of this association, whose object is to secure to its members their domination over the mass of the people, and the exploitation of its necessities for their aggrandisement. Even supposing that the State could be reorganised according to the theories of Social Democracy (Parliamentary Socialism), the most that could result would be the substitution of majority rule for minority rule; the one is just as much tyranny as the other. For my part, with Byron,

“I’d have mankind be free
As much from mobs as kings, from you as me.”

The ideal of Anarchist Communism (Free Socialism) embraces complete individual liberty, the regulation by each of his own life, free association with his fellows in accordance with his own tastes and aptitudes, and recognition of the right of all to the world’s wealth, to be used by each according to his needs and capacities. The Anarchist does not believe in Government nor Legality, therefore he cannot consistently advocate the capture of governmental power by the vote; neither is he so foolish as to hope to do so through the means of ” constitutional” methods adopted and adapted by his enemies in order to perpetuate their baneful influence under hypocritical forms. Numbers, on which alone an election depends, constitute only one, and that by no means the most important, factor of success in any other kind of contest; ten brave men can overcome twenty cowards, a man of conviction is worth a dozen waverers, and a few intelligent men can outwit the stupidity of a crowd. Anarchists need not wait to convert a voting majority, but will assert their claims as soon as they feel strong enough; temporary or partial failures will not affect their determination, and the numerical force necessary will be in inverse proportion to its energy and enthusiasm.

H. Glasse.

Henry Glasse, “Anarchism in a Nutshell,” Freedom (London) 32 no. 345 (February, 1918): 11.

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Nestor Makhno, “The Anarchist Revolution”


ANARCHISM – a life of freedom and creative independence for humanity.

Anarchism does not depend on theory or programs, which try to grasp man’s life in its entirety. It is a teaching, which is based on real life, which outgrows all artificial limitations, which cannot be constricted by any system.

Anarchism’s outward form is a free, non-governed society, which offers freedom, equality and solidarity for its members. Its foundations are to be found in man’s sense of mutual responsibility, which has remained unchanged in all places and times. This sense of responsibility is capable of securing freedom and social justice for all men by its own unaided efforts. It is also the foundation of true communism.

Anarchism therefore is a part of human nature, communism its logical extension.

This led to the necessity of formulating anarchism’s basic theories by the use of factual material and by systematized analysis. Some people (enemies of freedom, enemies of solidarity) were to try and conceal anarchism’s truths or to slander its ideals; others (fighters for man’s right to lead a proper life) were to develop and clarify this ideal. I think that Godwin, Proudhon, Bakunin, Most, Kropotkin, Malatesta, S. Faure, and others never believed, that they could harness anarchism, a framework of immutable scientific dogma, by their theories. Instead, the teachings of anarchism represent a concerted effort to show its roots in human nature, and to prove that man’s creative achievements never deviate from it; anarchism’s fundamental trait, the negation of all bondage and servitude, is likewise to be found in human nature.

Anarchism means freedom; socialism cannot destroy chains or bondage.

I am an anarchist and a revolutionary myself, and I took part in the activities of the revolutionary peoples of the Ukraine. The Ukrainians are a people who grasp instinctively the meaning of the anarchist ideas and who act them out. They suffered incredible hardship, but have never ceased to talk of their freedom and freedom in their form of life. I often made tactical errors on this difficult path, as I was often weak and unable to make judgements. But because I correctly understood the goal towards which I and my brothers were working and I was able to observe the effect of living anarchism during the struggle for freedom and independence. I remain convinced on the grounds of my practical fighting experience that anarchism is as revolutionary, as diverse, and as sublime in every facet as is human life itself. Even if I only felt the remotest glimmer of sympathy for anarcho-revolutionary activity I would still call on you, reader and brother, to take up the struggle for the ideal anarchism, for only if you fight for this ideal and uphold it will you understand it properly. Anarchism is revolutionary in this and many other aspects. The more awake a man is, the deeper his thoughts about his situation are. He will recognize his state of slavery and the anarchistic and revolutionary spirit within him will wake and show itself in his thoughts and actions. It is the same for every man and woman, even if they could never have heard of it.

Anarchism plays a considerable role in the enrichment of human life, a fact recognized by the oppressors as well as by the oppressed. The oppressors do their best to distort the ideal of anarchism; the others do their best to carry it further. Modern civilization has succeeded in making anarchism ever more prominent for both masters and slaves, but has never been able to lull or extinguish this fundamental protest of human nature, for it has been unable to stamp out the independent intellects who have proven that God does not exist. Once this has been proven it was easy to draw back the veil which hides the artificiality of the priesthood and the hierarchies which it supports.

But various other ideas have been propounded alongside anarchism: “liberalism”, socialism and bolshevik communism. These doctrines, despite their large influence on modern society, despite their triumph over both reaction and freedom, are on shaky ground because of their artificiality, their disavowal of organic development and their tendency towards paralysis.

The free man, on the other hand, has thrown away the trammels of the past together with its lies and brutality. He has buried the rotten corpse of slavery and the notion that the past is better. Man has already partially liberated himself from the fog of lies and brutality, which enslaved him from the day of his birth, from the worship of the bayonet, money, legality, and hypocritical science.

While man frees himself from this insult he understands himself better, and once he has understood himself, the book of his life is opened to him. In it he immediately sees that his former life was nothing but loathsome slavery and that this framework of slavery has conspired to stifle all his innate good qualities. He sees that this life has turned him into a beast of burden, a slave for some or a master over others, or into a fool who tears down and tramples on all that is noble in man when ordered to do so. But when freedom awakes in man, it treads all artificialities into the dust and all that stands in the way of independent creativity. This is how man moves in his process of development. In former times he moved in spans of a generation or so, but now the process is moving year by year; man does not wish to be an academic mouthpiece of the rule over others or to tolerate the rule of others over himself. Once man is free from earthly and “heavenly” gods, free from “good manners” and from his morality, which depends on these Gods, he lifts up his voice and struggles against the enslavement of mankind and the distortion of his nature.

The man of protest, who has fully grasped his identity and who now sees with his eyes fully open, who now thirsts for freedom and totality, now creates groups of free men welded together by the ideal and by the action. Whoever comes into contact with these groups will cast off his status of lackey and will free himself from the idiot domination of others over him. Any ordinary man who comes from the plough, the factory, the bench of the university or from the bench of the academic will recognize the degradation of slavery. As man uncovers his true personality, he will throw away all artificial ideas, which go against the rights of his personality, the Master/Slave relationship of modern society. As soon as man brings to the fore the pure elements in his personality through which a new, free human community is born, he will become an anarchist and revolutionary. This is how the ideal of anarchism is assimilated and disseminated by men; the free man recognizes its deep truth, its clarity, and its purity, its message of freedom and creativity.

The idea of anarchism, the teaching of a renewed life for man as an individual and as a social being, is therefore bound up with man’s self-awareness and his awareness of the suppurating sore of injustice in modern society. Anarchism exists therefore only illegally or semi-legally, never in total legality.

In the modern world, society does not live for itself but for the preservation of the Master/Slave relationship, the State. One could go further and say that society has completely de-personalized itself. In human terms, it does not exist at all. It is widely believed however that the State is Society. But is “Society” a group of men who live it up while sitting on the shoulders of all humanity? Why is man as an individual or as a mass numbering hundreds of millions nothing in comparison with this slothful group of “political leaders”? These hyenas, rulers both of right and left wing, are rightly upset with the idea of anarchism. The bourgeois at least are frank about this. But state-socialists of all denominations, including Bolsheviks, are busy swapping the names of bourgeois rule with those of their own invention, while leaving its structure essentially unchanged. They are therefore trying to salvage the Master/Slave relationship with all its contradictions. And although they are aware that these contradictions are totally irreconcilable with their professional ideas, they nevertheless uphold them in order to forestall the putting into practice of Anarchist Communism. In their programs, the state-socialists said that man must be allowed to free himself “socially”. But of man’s spiritual freedom, of his human freedom, no word was spoken. Instead, they are now making sure that such a liberation of man outside their tutelage cannot be carried through. “Liberation” under the management of any government or political set-up – what’s that got to do with freedom? The bourgeois, who never applies himself to the task of making anything beautiful or useful, says to the worker: “Once a slave, always a slave. We cannot reform social life because we have got too much capital in industry and in agriculture. Besides, modern life is pleasant for us; all the kings, presidents, and their governments cater for our wishes and bow before us. The slaves are their responsibility.” Or he says: “The life of our modern society is full of great promises!”

“No, no!” screams the bourgeois socialists and communists. “We disagree!!” Then they rush to the workers, marshal them into parties, and call on them to rebel as follows: “Drive out the bourgeois from their positions and hand their power over to us. We will work for you. We will liberate you.”

So the workers, whose hatred of government is even greater than their hatred of parasites, rise up in revolution to destroy the machinery of power and its representatives. But either because of clumsiness or naivete, they allow socialism to come to power. This is how the communists got into power in Russia. These communists are real dregs of mankind. They tear down and shoot innocent people and hang liberty; they shoot men exactly as the bourgeois did. They shoot men who think differently to them in order to subjugate all to their power, in order to enslave him to the throne of government they have just taken over. They hire guards for themselves and killers for dealing with free men. Under the weight of the chains made by the new “Workers’ Republic” in Russia, man groans and sighs as he did under bourgeois rule. Elsewhere, man is groaning under the yoke of the bourgeoisie or under that of the bourgeois socialist. The hangmen, both old and new, are strong. They have mastered the art of tactical suppression of opposition, and man only flares up briefly to contest his rights before sinking down again under the burden of authority and despair. He drops hi hands as the noose is thrown around his neck again, shutting his eyes like a slave before the gleeful hangman.

From these unfolding vistas of human misery and from personal misery, man must forge convictions, call other men his brothers, and fight for freedom. Man is only free if he is prepared to kill every hangman and every power magnate if they do not wish to stop their shameful tasks. He is only free if he does not put a prime on changing his government and is not led astray by the “Workers’ Republic” of the Bolsheviks. He must vouch for the establishment of a truly free society based on personal responsibility, the only really free society. His pronouncement on the State must be one of total destruction: “No. This must not be. To rebellion! Rise up, brothers, against all government, destroy the power of the bourgeoisie and do not allow the socialists and bolshevik government to come to life! Destroy all authority and drive out its representatives!”

There are even moments when the authority of the socialists and communists is worse than the bourgeois, for they tear down their own ideas and trample on them. After fumbling about in secret for the keys to bourgeois government, the communists became guilty and furtive; they do not want the masses to see what they are doing, so they lie and cheat and deceive. If the masses notice this, they seethe with indignation. So the government falls upon them in an orgy of irresponsibility and butchers them in the name of “socialism” and “communism”. The government has of course long since thrown these ideas into the dustbin. At such moments the rule of the socialists and Bolsheviks is more degraded than that of the bourgeoisie for it is even unoriginal in its recourse to the mechanics of bourgeois oppression. While a bourgeois government strings a revolutionary up on the gallows, socialist or bolshevik-communist governments will creep up and strangle him in his sleep or kill him by trickery. Both acts are depraved. But the socialists are more depraved because of their methods.

Any political revolution in which the bourgeoisie, the socialists and state-communists struggle with each other over political ascendancy while dragging in the masses will show the traits outlined above, the most obvious example being the Russian Revolutions of February and October 1917. When the working masses that made up Tsarist Russia felt themselves partially freed from reaction, they began to work towards total freedom. They expressed this wish by expropriating landlords and monasteries and by handing over their lands to the people who wished to cultivate it with hired labor. Sometimes factories, works, presses, and other businesses were taken over by those who worked in them. Attempts were made to create liaisons between towns and villages. And while they were engaged in this activity the people were of course unaware that there were governments sitting about in Kiev, Kharkov, St. Petersburg, and elsewhere. The people were in fact laying the foundations for a new, free society that would throw out all parasites and governments and the idiocy of power. This healthy activity was especially noticeable in the Ural, in Siberia, and in the Ukraine. It was remarked upon by the old as well as the new regimes in Petrograd, Moscow, Kiev, and Tiflis. But the socialists as well as the Bolsheviks had (and still have) a widely dispersed party membership and a well-distributed network of professional killers. It must be added that, besides these professional killers, they also hired people from our own ranks. With the help of these people they managed to nip the people’s freedom in the bud. And they did a good job. The Spanish Inquisition would have been green with envy.

We now know the real truths behind government. To the Bolsheviks and socialists we say: “Shame! Dishonor! You talked such a lot about the terror of the bourgeoisie and you took the side of revolution with great zeal. But now that you are in power you show yourself the same old fools, the same lackeys of the bourgeoisie, and slaves of their methods. You have turned yourselves into bourgeois.” Looking at the experiences of bolshevik communism during recent years, the bourgeois know perfectly well that this particular brand of socialism can never manage without using their methods or without hiring them in person. It knows that the exploitation and suppression of the working majority is inherent in this system, that the vicious life of sloth is not cast aside in socialism, but that it merely masquerades under another name before spreading and taking root again.

This is the Truth! You’ve only got to look at the bolshevik vandals and their monopoly over the people’s revolutionary conquests! Look at their spies, their police, their laws, prisons, jailers, and their armies of bailiffs. The “Red” Army is only the old army under a new name.

Liberalism, socialism, Bolshevism; they are three brothers who go their different ways to grab power over man. This power is used to block man’s advance towards self-realization and independence.

To Rebellion!

This is the cry of the anarchist revolutionary to the exploited. Rebel, destroy all government and see that it never takes root again. Power is used by those who have never really lived by the work of their hands. Government power will never let workers tread the road to freedom; it is the instrument of the lazy who want to dominate others, and it does not matter if the power is in the hand of the bourgeois, the socialists or the Bolsheviks, it is degrading. There is no government without teeth, teeth to tear any man who longs for a free and just life.

Brother; drive out power in yourself. Never let it fascinate you or your brothers. A true collective life is not built with programs or with governments but with the freedom of mankind, with its creativity and its independence.

The freedom of any individual carries within it the seed of a free and complete community without government, a free society that lives in organic and decentralized totality, united in its pursuit of the great human goal: Anarchist Communism!


Anarchistic Communism is a great community in total harmony. It is formed voluntarily by free individuals who form associations and federations according to their needs. Anarchist Communism fights to secure man’s freedom and his right to boundless development; it fights against all the evils and injustices that are inherent in governments.

The free, non-governed society aims to embellish life with its intellectual and manual work. It will have as its resources all that nature gave man as well as nature’s own inexhaustible riches; it makes man drunk with the beauty of the earth and exhilarated by his own, self-made freedom. Anarchist Communism will let man develop his creative independence in all directions; its adherents will be free and happy with life, guided by brotherly work and reciprocity. They will need no prisons, hangmen, spies, or agents, which are products of the bourgeoisie and socialists, for they will have no need ofthe idiot robber and murderer that is the State. Prepare yourselves, brother, to create this society! Prepare organizations and ideas! Remember that your organizations must be safe from attack. The enemy of your freedom is the state personified in five figures:

  • The property owner
  • The lover of war
  • The judge
  • The priest
  • Academics who distort the truth about man

These last make up “historical laws” and “judiciary norms”, and scribble slickly in order to get money; they are busy all the time trying to prove the rightfulness of the first four’s claims to power that degrades human life.

The enemy is strong. For millennia he has spent his time accumulating experience in robbery, violence, expropriation, and murder. He underwent an inner crisis and is now busy changing his outward aspect, but he is only doing this because his life has been threatened with the new, emerging knowledge. This new knowledge is waking man from his long sleep, freeing him from prejudices implanted by the five, giving him a weapon to fight for his true society. This change in the outer appearance of our enemy can be seen in reformism. It was evolved to combat the revolution in which he took part. In the Russian Revolution, the five seemed to have vanished off the face of the earth. .. but this was only appearance. In reality our enemy changed his features momentarily and is now calling up new recruits to fight against us. Bolshevik communism is especially revealing in this matter; but it will be a long time before this doctrine will forget man’s struggle for true freedom.

The only reliable method for waging a successful struggle against enslavement is social revolution that engages the masses in a continual struggle (evolution). When it first erupts, social revolution is elemental. It flattens the path for its own organizations while smashing any dam that is artificially set against it. These dams in fact only increase its power. Anarchist revolutionaries are already working for this, and any man who is aware of the burden of slavery on himself has a duty to aid the anarchist; at the same time every man should feel responsible to the whole of mankind when he struggles against the five of the State. Every man should also remember that the social revolution will require appropriate methods of realization; that is especially true of the anarchist who is scouting ahead along the road of freedom. During the destructive phase of the revolution, while slavery is being abolished and freedom beginning to spread in an elemental outburst, organization and steadfast methods are essential to secure the gains. In this phase the revolution needs you most urgently. The Russian Revolution, in which anarchists played a considerable role (which they could not carry through because action was denied them), brought home to us the truth that the masses who have torn themselves loose from their chains had no desire to put on others of a different make. In their revolutionary momentum, they sought immediately for free associations that would only aid their efforts to build up a new community but which would defend them against the enemy. If we look at this process closely, we come to the conclusion that the best method to create new collective freedom is the “Free Soviet”. Proceeding from this conviction, the anarchist revolutionary will call the enslaved to struggle for these free associations. He will believe that social revolution will thus create freedom while smashing slavery altogether. This belief must be cherished and defended. The only people who can possibly provide the defense for this belief are the masses themselves who have made the revolution and who equate their lives with their principles. While the human masses create the revolution they instinctively cast about for free associations and rely on their inherent anarchism; they will uphold above all the Free Soviet. As the masses make a revolution they are bound to come upon this themselves and the anarchist must help them formulate this principle.

Economic problems in the free society will be resolved by the producer-consumer co-operatives in which the Free Soviets will act as co-ordinators and clarifiers. The nature of the Free Soviet during the social revolution must be to consolidate the masses’ position by urging them to take their rightful inheritance (land, factories, works, mineral and coal mines, shipping, forestry, etc.) into their own hands. While groups according to interest or inclination are formed, the masses will build up an entire social fabric, freely and independently.

The struggle along this road will demand great sacrifice, for it will be the final effort of nearly free man. In this struggle there will be no hesitation, no sentimentality. Life or Death!? – This question will stand before every man who considers his rights and those of humanity to be a better life. As the healthy instincts of man will have preponderance, he will embark upon this road to life as victor and creator.

Organize yourselves, brothers, call every man to your ranks. Call him from the factory, from the school; call the students and the learned. It may be that nine out of ten academics will not come to you, or it may happen that they will come in order to deceive you if they are servants of the State’s five. But the tenth man will come. He will be your friend and will help you overcome the deceit of the others. Organize yourselves; call every man to your ranks; call on all the governors to stop their stupidity and the brutalizing of human life. If they do not desist, disarm the police, the army and other organizations of the five’s defense. Burn their laws and destroy their prisons, kill the hangmen, the bane of mankind. Smash authority! Call to your ranks the press-ganged army; there are many killers in the army who are against you and who are bribed to kill you. But there are friends for you even in the army. They will confound the mobs of murderers and will hurry to your side.

After we have collected ourselves into a great, universal family, brothers, we will go further in the fight against darkness. On to the universal human ideal! We will live as brothers, enslaving no one. The brute force of the enemy will be answered with the force by our revolutionary army. If our enemies do not agree with our ideal, we reply by building our new life based on individual responsibility. Only hardened criminals who belong to the five will not wish to tread the road to a new life with fruitful activity. They will try to fight us in order to regain their power. They must die.

Long live the ideal of universal human harmony, and man’s fight towards it!
Long live the ideal of anarchist society!

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London Anarchist Communist Alliance, “An Anarchist Manifesto” (1895)


WE come before you as Anarchist Communists to explain our principles. We are aware that the minds of many of you have been poisoned by the lies which all parties have diligently spread about us. But surely the persecutions to which we have been and are subjected by the governing classes of all countries should open the eyes of those who love fair play. Thousands of our comrades are suffering in prison or are driven homeless from one country to the other. Free speech—almost the only part of British liberty that can be of any use to the people—is denied to us in many instances, as the events of the last few years have shown.

The misery around us is increasing year by year. And yet there was never so much talk about labor as there is now, labor, for the welfare of which all professional politicians profess to work day and night. A very few sincere and honest but impracticable reformers, in company with a multitude of mere quacks, ambitious place-hunters, etc., say they are able to benefit labor, if labor will only follow their useless advice. All this does not lessen the misery in the least: look at the unemployed, the victims of hunger and cold, who die every year in the streets of our rich cities, where wealth of every description is stored up.

Not only do they suffer who are actually out of work and starving, but every working man who is forced to go through the same dreary routine day by day—the slavery and toil in the factory or workshop—the cheerless home, if the places where they are forced to herd together can be called homes. Is this life worth living? What becomes of the intellectual faculties, the artistic inclinations, nay, the ordinary human feeling and dignity of the greater part of the workers? All these are warped and wasted, without any chance of development, making the wretched worker nothing but a human tool to be exploited until more profitably replaced by some new invention or machine.

Is all this misery necessary? It is not if you, the wealth producers, knew that there is enough and to spare of food and of the necessaries of life for all, if all would work. But now, in order to keep the rich in idleness and luxury, all the workers must lead a life of perpetual misery and exploitation. As to these facts we are all agreed; but as to the remedy most of you, unfortunately, have not given up trust in Parliament and the State. We shall explain how the very nature of the State prevents anything good coming from it. What does the State do? It protects the rich and their ill-gotten wealth; it suppresses the attempts of the workers to recover their rights, if these attempts are thought dangerous to the rich. Thus idle electioneering, labor politics etc. are not suppressed, but any effective popular demonstration, vigorous strikes as at Featherstone and Hull, Anarchist propaganda, etc., are suppressed or fought against by the vilest means. Moreover, the State, pretending thereby to alleviate the sufferings of the poor, grants Royal Commissions on the Sweating System, the Aged Poor, on Labor in general, or Select Committees on the Unemployed—which produce heaps of Blue Books, and give an opportunity to the politicians and labor leaders, “to show themselves off.” And that is about all. If the workers demand more—there is the workhouse; and if not satisfied with that, the truncheons of the police and the bullets and bayonets of the soldiers face them:—not bread, but lead!

All political promises are of the same value: either they are not kept, even if it could be, or they involve social changes which can only be effected by a revolution, and not by mere votes cast in Parliament. This applies to the promises of Socialist candidates, even if it could be admitted that these candidates could remain uncorrupted by the demoralising influence of Parliament.

There can be no true humanity, no true self-respect, without self-reliance. No one can help you if you do not help yourselves. We do not promise to do anything for you, we do not want anything from you, we only appeal to you to co-operate with us to bring about a state of society which will make freedom, well-being possible for all.

To do this efficiently, we must all be imbued with the spirit of freedom, and this—freedom, and freedom alone—is the fundamental principle of Anarchy.

Freedom is a necessary condition to, and the only guarantee of, the proper development of mankind. Nature is most beautiful when unfettered by the artificial interference of man. Wild animals are stronger and more harmoniously developed than their domesticated kind, which the exploiting mind of man makes mere instruments of profit by developing chiefly those parts of them which are of use to him. The same threatens to be the case with the human victims of exploitation, if an end is not put to the system which allows the rich and crafty exploiters to reduce the greater part of mankind to a position resembling that of domestic animals—working machines, only fit to do mechanically a certain kind of work, but becoming intellectually wrecked and ruined.

All who acknowledge this to be the great danger to human progress should carefully ponder over it, and if they believe that it is necessary to ensure by every means the free development of humanity, and to remove by all means every obstacle placed in its path, they should join us and adopt the principles of Anarchism.

Belief in and submission to authority is the root cause of all our misery. The remedy we recommend:—struggle unto death against all authority, whether it be that of physical force identical with the State or that of doctrine and theories, the product of ages of ignorance and superstition inculcated into the workers’ minds from their childhood—such as religion, patriotism, obedience to the law, belief in the State, submission to the rich and titled, etc., generally speaking, the absence of any critical spirit in face of all the humbugs who victimise the workers again and again. We can only deal here briefly with all these subjects, and must limit ourselves to touch only on the chief points.

Economic exploitation—the result of the monopolisation of the land, raw materials and means of production by the capitalists and landlords—is at the bottom of the present misery. But the system which produces it would have long ago broken down if it were not upheld on one hand by the State, with its armies of officials, soldiers and police—the whole machinery of government, in one word; and on the other hand by the workers themselves, who tamely submit to their own spoliation and degradation, because they think it right, owing to a superstitious belief in a divine providence inculcated by their masters, or because they desire, by sneaking means, to be exploiters themselves—an object which only one in a thousand can succeed in—or because they have not lost faith in political action or the capacity of the State to do for them that which they are too ignorant to do for themselves. Under these protections the rich classes are enjoying their spoil in safety and comfort.

It is evident that this system, if to be destroyed at all, must be attacked by the workers themselves, as we cannot expect those who profit by it to cut their own throats, so to say.

Many still consider the State a necessity. Is this so in reality? The State, being only a machine for the protection and preservation of property, can only obstruct freedom and free development, being bound to keep up the law and every statute law is an obstacle to progress and freedom.

Laws are of two kinds. They are either simple formulæ, derived from the observation of phenomena as the so-called laws of nature, the phrasing of which is open to revision with the progress of human knowledge and the accumulation of fresh material to draw deductions from. No authority is required to enforce them, they exist; and every being arranges his conduct in conformity with his knowledge of their action. The phenomenon of fire burning is the result of such a natural law, and all pay attention to it though there is no policeman posted behind every match and fireplace. Here again Nature gives us an example of free development and Anarchy, and in a free society all social facts and necessities would be equally well recognised and acted upon.

But there is the other kind of law. That which is the expression of the will of an unscrupulous minority, who, owing to the apathy and ignorance of the majority, have been able to usurp the means of power and purport to represent the whole people at the time of the enaction of the laws.

The fact that a great number of persons is in favor of something is evidently no guarantee that it is right. Experience, on the contrary, shows that progress is usually brought about by individuals. New discoveries, new lines of human activity are first found and practised by a few, and only gradually adopted by the many. The majority that makes the laws or abides to them will almost always lag behind progress, and the laws made by it will be reactionary from the very beginning. How much more so as time proceeds and new progress is made!

Of course, progress itself laughs at the puny efforts of the usurpers of power to stop its triumphant march. But its apostles and advocates have to suffer much and severely for the enthusiasm and the hope that is within them. Prison and often death itself is their doom, the penalty for having raised the standard of revolt against authority and law, the embodiment of the spirit of oppression.

And the very makers of these laws are forced to admit that their work is useless. Is not the continuous manufacture of new laws going on in the Parliaments of all countries throughout the greater part of this century, and in England for many centuries, a proof of the fact that the laws never satisfy anybody, not even those who make them. They know, however, that their legislating is mere mockery and hypocrisy, having no other object but to make the people believe that something is being done for them, and that the public interest is well looked after. The people obey all these laws, whilst the State, in the alleged interest of all, in reality in the interest of the property owners and of its own power, violates them all and commits numberless crimes—which are glorified as deeds of valor committed in the interest of civilisation.

This principle, kept in the background in time of peace, is paraded before the eyes of so-called “rights” in some savage territory, plunders and provokes the natives until they return force by force. Then the State steps in, in the pretended interest of religion and civilisation, slaughters them and annexes their land. The greater the slaughter, the greater the glory for these “heroic” pioneers. Or it may be in a war on a greater scale with a European State, when the workers of one country are let loose against those of another, to murder, plunder and burn homes and villages, and perform such like patriotic deeds of valor and chivalry.

We Anarchists are internationalists, we acknowledge no distinction of nationality or color. The workers of all countries suffer as we do here, and our comrades have everywhere to fight the same battle for freedom and justice. The capitalists are internationally unanimous in persecuting the defenders of freedom and in fleecing the workers. Even England is brought more and more under the sway of a continental police system, the dangers of which the British masses do not see at present, as it is used chiefly against friendless foreign refugees. They are regardless of the fact that it is but the forerunner of an attack on their own liberties.

The workers as a rule are filled with an unreasoning dislike to the workers of other countries, whom their masters have succeeded in representing to them as their natural enemies, and herein lies one of the main sources of the strength of the capitalist system; a strength which has no other foundation than the weakness and the helplessness of the people. It is in the interests of all governments to uphold patriotism, to have their own people ready to fly at the throats of their fellow workers of other nationalities whenever it suits the interests of the employers to open up new markets, or draw the attention of the people away from the contemplation of their own misery, which might drive them to revolt.

Patriotism and religion have always been the first and last refuges and strongholds of scoundrels. The meek and lowly servants of the one blessing—in the name of their God—the infamies committed for the sake of the other, and cursing in the same name the deeds they just now blessed if committed by the enemy.

Religion is mankind’s greatest curse! It is absurd to expect that science, in the few years that the State and the priests have left it to a certain extent alone—the stake or the prison has been too often the reward of its pioneers—should have discovered everything. It would not be worth living in a world where everything had been discovered, analysed and registered. One fact is certain: all so-called religions are the products of human ignorance, mere phantastical efforts of barbarous people to reason out matters which they could not possibly understand without some knowledge of science and scientific methods. The opinion of the savage on the power that works a steam engine, or produces the electric light, is evidently worthless and could be refuted by anyone possessing elementary knowledge. In the same worthless way our forefathers, savages also, reasoned about the phenomena of nature, and came to the naive conclusion that somebody behind the curtains of the sky pulled the strings. This supposed individual they called God and the organic force of man the soul, and endowed it with a separate entity, although that organic force does not possess any more separate entity than that working a clock or a steam hammer. A dim consciousness of this has permeated the mind of most in spite of the fact that religion has been bolstered up by all the forces of authority, because it teaches submission to the law, and as a reward gives cheques drawn on the bank of heaven, which are not more likely to be met than the politician’s promises of what he will do when he is returned for Parliament. Religion is the most deadly enemy to human progress. It has always been used to poison the mind and deaden the judgment of the young, thus making grown up people accept all its absurdities because they are familiarised with them in their youth.

Unfortunately, religion is not kept out of the labor movement. Priests and parsons, who should be a horror to mankind, as their presence adds an additional element of corruption, sneak into it, and labor politicians use their services as the Liberals and Tories do. There is actually in existence a body of persons who prostitute the noble word “Labor” by coupling it with the disgusting word “Church,” forming the “Labor Church,” which is looked upon favorably by most of the prominent labor leaders. Why not start a “Labor Police”?

We are Atheists[1] and believe that man cannot be free if he does not shake off the fetters of the authority of the absurd as well as those of every other authority. Authority assumes numerous shapes and disguises, and it will take a long period of development under freedom to get rid of all. To do this two things are wanted, to rid ourselves of all superstition and to root out the stronghold of all authority, the State.

We shall be asked what we intend to put in place of the State. We reply, “Nothing whatever!” The State is simply an obstacle to progress; this obstacle once removed we do not want to erect a fresh obstruction.

In this we differ essentially from the various schools of State Socialists, who either want to transform the present State into a benevolent public-spirited institution (just as easy to transform a wolf into a lamb), or to create a new centralised organisation for the regulation of all production and consumption, the so-called Socialist society. In reality this is only the old State in disguise, with enormously strengthened powers. It would interfere with everything and would be the essence of tyranny and slavery, if it could be brought about. But, thanks to the tendency of the ways and means of production—which will lead to Anarchy—it cannot.

But whilst State Socialism is impracticable as a system of real Socialism, it is indeed possible if its advocates had their way, that all matters of general interest and more and more of private interest too would pass under the control of the State; whether it be a little more democratised or not, it does not matter, for we reject Democracy as well as Absolutism. Authority is equally hateful to us whether exercised by many, or by few, or by one. The last remnant of free initiative and self-reliance would be crushed under the heels of the State, and the emancipation of the workers would be as far off as ever. State Socialism has indeed strengthened the decaying faith in, and renewed the prestige of, the State.

All we Anarchists want is equal freedom for all. The workers to provide for their own affairs by voluntary arrangements amongst themselves. This leads us to a consideration of the economic basis of the state of things we desire to bring about, and here we avow ourselves Communists.

Everybody has different faculties and abilities for work, and different wants and desires for the various necessities of life and leisure. These inclinations and wants require full satisfaction, but can only receive it in a state of freedom. Everybody supposing his faculties to be properly developed can best judge what is best for himself. Rules and regulations would hinder and make him a fettered, incomplete being who necessarily finds no pleasure in work forced upon him. But under Anarchy he would associate voluntarily with others to do the work he is best fitted to do, and would satisfy his wants in proportion to his needs from the common stock, the result of their common labor.

Cut-throat competition for the bare necessities of life would be done away with, leaving many matters of a more individual, private and intimate character, in which the free man would find opportunity for peaceful and harmonious emulation, and thereby develop his faculties in the highest possible degree.

One of the stock objections against Anarchist Communism is that no one would work. We reply that to-day work is viewed with disfavor and neglected by all who can possibly exist without it because it has to be carried on under the most disadvantageous conditions and is, moreover, looked upon as degrading. The worker earning his food by hard labor and ceaseless toil is a pariah, the outcast of society, while the idler who never does an hour’s work in his life is admired and glorified, and spends his days in luxurious ease amongst pleasant surroundings. We believe that under Anarchism everybody would be willing to work; work being freed from the badge of dishonor now associated with it will have become a labor of love, and the free man will feel ashamed to eat food he has not earned. But as to some atavistic remnants of modern capitalist society that would only work if forced? Well, nobody would want us to retard the emancipation of the immense mass of mankind on account of these few unsocial beings who may or may not exist then. Left to themselves and scorned by everyone they would soon come to their senses and work.

We cannot further enter here into the arguments which show the tendency of a development into Free Communism, and we refer to our literature on the subject. (See Kropotkin’s “Anarchism: its Basis and Principles.” Freedom Pamphlets, No. 4, etc.)

Anarchist society will consist of a great number of groups devoted each to the production of certain commodities free of access to all, and in local and interlocal contact with other groups to agree and make arrangements for purposes of exchange. With regard to the first necessities of life, food, clothes, shelter, education, Free Communism would be carried out thoroughly. All secondary matters would be left to a mutual agreement in the most varied ways. There would remain in such a society full freedom for the Individualist as long as he did not develop any monopolistic tendencies.

These are our principles; let us consider the means to realise them.

Here we are met by the cry “Dynamiters,” “Assassins,” “Fiends,” etc. Let us see who chiefly utter these cries.

The same people who, by colliery disasters, the ensuring of rotten ships, fires in death-trap-houses, railway accidents caused by overwork, etc., daily massacre more people than the Anarchists of all countries ever killed. The same people who are ready at any moment to have the natives of any country slaughtered, simply to rob them, who are overjoyed at the butchery of the Chinese war, which will enable them to make fresh profit, who are slowly starving and killing the millions of workers, whose lives are shortened by overwork, adulterated food, and overcrowding slums. These people have, in our eyes, no voice when the question of Humanity is considered. They may abuse and insult us just as they like. The worst thing that could happen to us, indeed, would be to win their approbation, to be petted by them as the respectable labor politicians are.

Some well-meaning, but rather weak-minded people too, are misled by these cries. To these we say come and study our movement and gain a knowledge of its history and personalities, and you will find that every act of revolt is but a reply to a hundred, nay, a thousand villainous crimes committed by the governing classes against us and against the workers in general. You will find that those who did these acts were the very best, the most human, unselfish, self-sacrificing of our comrades, who threw their lives away, meeting death or imprisonment in the hope that their acts would sow the seed of revolt, that they might show the way and wake an echo, by their deeds of rebellion, in the victims of the present system.

With the specific mode of action of anyone we have nothing to do. Anarchists advocate the propagation of their ideas by all means that lead to that end, and everyone is the best judge of his own actions. No one is required to do anything that is against his own inclination. Experience is in this as in other matters the best teacher, and the necessary experience can only be gained through entire freedom of action.

Thus the means which we would adopt embrace all that furthers our cause, and exclude all that will damage it. The decision of what is good or harmful must be left to persons or groups who choose to work together.

Nothing is more contrary to the real spirit of Anarchy than uniformity and intolerance. Freedom of development implies difference of development, hence difference of ideas and actions. Every person is likely to be open to a different kind of argument, so propaganda cannot be diversified enough if we want to touch all. We want it to pervade and penetrate all the utterances of life, social and political, domestic and artistic, educational and recreational. There should be propaganda by word and action, the platform and the press, the street corner, the workshop, and the domestic circle, acts of revolt, and the example of our own lives as free men. Those who agree with each other may co-operate; otherwise they should prefer to work each on his own lines to trying to persuade one the other of the superiority of his own method.

Organisation arises from the consciousness that, for a certain purpose, the co-operation of several forces is necessary. When this purpose is achieved the necessity for co-operation has ceased, and each force reassumes its previous independence ready for other co-operation and combination if necessary. This is organisation in the Anarchist sense—ever varying, or, if necessary, continuous combinations of the elements that are considered to be the most suitable for the particular purpose on hand, and refers not only to the economical and industrial relations between man and man, but also to the sexual relations between man and woman, without which a harmonious social life is impossible.

These views differ immensely from those held by the believers in authority, who advocate permanent organisations with chiefs or councils elected by the majority, and who put all their trust in these institutions. The more they centralise these organisations and introduce stringent rules and regulations to preserve order and discipline, the more they will fail to achieve their object. In such organisations we see only obstacles to the free initiative and action of individuals, hot-beds of ambition, self-seeking and rotten beliefs in authority etc. That means, we see in them agents of reaction to keep the people in continued ignorance of their own interests.

We do not therefore discourage workingmen from organisation, but such organisations could only be free groups of men and women with the same aims for identical purposes, disbanding when the object in view is achieved.

This brings us to the question of the advisability of Anarchists to join Trade Unions, not the question of the membership of Unions which may be a necessity for them as the case stands, but the question of propaganda in them. Anarchists do not wish to isolate themselves and Unions may be useful as a place to meet their fellow workers. But whether Unions should be formed by Anarchists is entirely dependent on the particular case. For we do not consider Trades Unionism as at present constituted as a serious force to overthrow the system, but only as a means to get a little better provision for the workers under the present conditions. Therefore they cannot be carried on without dealing with immediate so-called practical questions, which are never settled without compromises, as all members are not Anarchists.

In Unions the General Strike might form a proper subject to start the propaganda, and such a strike, though in itself not effective as a remedy, would probably bring about revolutionary situations which would advance the march of events in an unprecedented way. To speak plainly, we advocate the General Strike as a means to set the ball rolling: who knows whether it may not lead to the Social Revolution, which we all desire as the only thing that can help us.

The Social Revolution, as we conceive it, would consist in the paralysation of all existing authoritarian institutions and organisations, the prevention of new organisations of this character, the expropriation of the present exploiters of labor, and in the rearrangement of relations between men on the basis of voluntary agreements. This will appear to some to be rather a large program, but logical thinking will convince them of the fact that every one of these points is the necessary consequence of the others, and that they can only be carried out altogether, or not at all. For what is really impracticable are not full measures, but those half-hearted measures—so-called reforms—which pretend to do away with a part of the existing misery, whilst the root remains intact and makes the whole reform futile and useless.

These then are our means of propaganda, and we trust they are manifold enough to allow everybody full scope for his energies who chooses his place amongst us. The leading idea of our propaganda must always be defiance and destruction of the principle of authority in all its forms and disguises—full scope for freedom, the basis and condition of all human development and progress.

In conclusion, let us consider briefly the remedies proposed by the other parties—useless as they are, as the ever-increasing misery around us abundantly shows.

The State Socialist parties, apart from a few Socialists pure and simple who, if they were true to the foundations of their opinions, would come over to us, have of late become entirely parties for advocating political action. They believe in sending the right man to Parliament, and we have the choice between the chosen of the I.L.P., of the Fabians, and of the S.D.F. We do not consider their minor differences: what is the principle of political action worth?—is the question we ask. It is intended to bring pressure on the governing classes to effect social changes. We maintain that no amount of pressure exercised through political action can bring about these social changes. Some palliatives may be adopted, but the system will continue to exist; for these labor parties make the workers believe in constitutional means, in the leadership and worship of men; in short, they will destroy their self-reliance and self-respect, and do for them that which religion does—make them expect everything from others, nothing from themselves. The history of the labor movement in Europe and America shows the greater these parties become the less advanced their leaders grow and the less is achieved by these bulky, cast-iron organisations with no room for freedom left in them.

We have no more belief in Trades Unions as such than in political action, yet we prefer those Unionists, who rely upon their own action to those who cry for State help. Our propaganda might sometimes use this question as a starting point.

The Co-operative movement can only benefit a few who remain unnoticed among the general misery. Productive Co-operation on a large scale would have to compete with capitalism, which ruthlessly cuts down wages and gets a supply of cheap labor from the unemployed. Co-operators would have to work on similar lines, those of the greatest possible exploitation of labor and that will be no remedy for the needs of labor, or they would be crushed by the capitalist competition, being in fact the first victims of a commercial crisis. Thus on a large scale Co-operation is impracticable, and those who take part in it in its present form are only too often estranged from the general labor movement. So we consider Co-operators as workers who are no essential factor in the coming struggle.

The meanest and most repulsive “friends” of the workers are the Teetotalers, Malthusianists, and advocates of thrift and saving, who propound each his particular crochet as an infallible remedy for poverty. They want the workers to give up the small mites of, however adulterated and paltry, pleasure and enjoyment that are left to them. “Hypocrisy is the compliment vice pays to virtue,” the proverb says, and the other parties make at any rate promises of better things, but these want to make life still more dreary and cheerless. Economically they are utterly wrong. If all were content to live as Coolies do, on a handful of rice per day, wages would be lowered by competition down to the level of Coolie wages—a few pence per day. We want the standard of the workers’ living raised, not lowered, and all the things to which these “friends” object belong to a real, full, human life.

We need not dwell on all the cranks who have cut and dried remedies like the Free Currency advocates, who ignore the principle of every society with private property: “No property, no credit.” To be benefited by money cheques, it would be necessary to possess some kind of portable or realisable property to be given in exchange for the cheques or to have them secured on. Nothing would be altered by them, they could simply perpetuate the worst evils of the present system in a more aggravated form. To the worker who has no property but his labor to dispose of, in times when work is slack and labor therefore not in demand, they would offer no resource whatever, and he would still be obliged to suffer and to starve. To make the remedy proportionate to the evil proposed to be cured, it would be requisite to abolish all private property and make the land and all it contains, together with all the implements of production, common property—that is, to introduce Communism, where money and money cheques will become equally useless.

As you will have seen, Anarchism does not preach anything contrary to the principles which have always inspired men to strive for freedom and right. It would indeed be absurd to try and impose something new upon mankind. No! Anarchism is nothing but the full acknowledgment of the realisation of the principle that freedom is at the root of sound natural development. Nature knows no outside laws, no external powers, and only follows her own inward forces of attraction or repulsion. Everything is the result of the existing forces and tendencies, and this result becomes again in turn the cause of the next thing following. In its childhood, humanity suffered from ignorance of this cause, and suffers still by being trodden under the heel of imaginary celestial and human authority (both arising from the same sources—ignorance and the fear of the unknown). All progress has been made by fighting and defying authority. Great men in history—men who have done real work, that is, work useful for the progress of the human race by breaking and defying laws and regulations apparently made for everlasting time—showed mankind new roads, opened new ground. These were rebels, and the last in this series—those who wish not only to be free themselves but who saw that which before them men did not see so clearly, that to be free ourselves we must be surrounded by free men; that the slavery of the meanest human being is our own slavery. Those last rebels for freedom and progress are the Anarchists of all countries, and in solidarity with them we appeal to you.

Study our principles, our movement, and if they convince you join us in our struggle against authority and exploitation, for freedom and happiness for all.

London, May 1st, 1895.

[1] This open statement of our convictions does not imply any spirit of persecution on our part against those who believe in the absurdities of the different religions. Persecution is essential to authority and religion, and fatal to freedom; we should destroy the basis of our own hopes and ideals, if we were ever carried away by the spirit of persecution, bigotry and intolerance, which is so commonly raised against us.


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Filed under 1895, anarchist communism, London Anarchist Communist Alliance, manifestos, Max Nettlau, The Era of Anarchism

Joseph Lane, “An Anti-Statist Communist Manifesto” (1887)

“In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with its abuse. The thing – the thing itself is the abuse !” – Burke


Human society can only be organized upon the basis of one or the other of the two principles of authority or of liberty. From these two principles are derived two political systems, equally broad and far reaching, though diametrically opposite in their effects, that of the one being the happiness, and of the other the misery of mankind. Beyond these two there is no political system capable of contending for supremacy in this 19th century of ours. All intermediary systems are powerless in equal degree, and can only occasion transient perturbations.

Such has been our situation for a century past, authority losing prestige on the one hand and freedom gaining on the other, but still scarcely understood. Vain attempts have, indeed, been made to reconcile the two, but being by nature incompatible the admixture has only resulted in a yet more debased blend of the two theories, in a conflict of jarring interests which only rend and damage one another.

Thus either liberty or authority each by itself and at issue with each other, must organise society. Where authority flourishes, we shall find the structure of society based upon a fundamental plan of Absolutism. Entirely ignoring the various stages through which humanity has already passed, authority affirms that the world is immutable in its primordial principles; it proceeds from God in the direct line, God the beginning and the end of all things, who has delegated to his representative on earth, Priest or Monarch ( both are kings ) a portion of his might and power.

The power of king or priest must not be counterbalanced by any other, he is responsible to God alone, and any attempt against his majestic authority is a direct invasion of the prerogatives of the source of all things. Heedless of the fact that the theological and metaphysical phases are spent and exhausted, authority still boldly takes up tradition and appeals to God, who by his grace directly intervenes in the ordering of things human. God, King and Nationalism, the symbols of the most formidable reaction, such is the cry and motto of authority. It believes in God, without whom it would not exist itself; in the King, who is an emanation from God, and in Nationalism, which is a mere jingo sentiment, belonging to the God idea. It has no faith or belief in the people, whose existence alone is a reality, and whose emancipation and enfranchisement it dare not permit on pain of suicide.

In order to its maintenance, the system of authority needs a religion above all. Be it what it may, religion teaches the renunciation of earthly possessions, and a love for the heavenly beatitudes. It causes uncertainty to predominate over certainty, fiction over reality, things imaginary over things palpable, falsehood over truth. It proclaims the doctrine that misery is of divine institution; that it ever has existed and ever must continue to exist in God’s ordinance, who will therefore inevitably punish as a crime, any popular insurrection caused by starvation.

After the Church, the army more directly representative of the monarch’s power, the mainstay of law and order, and after it, the centralised State uniting in itself all the reactionary forces required to enable it to govern, such are the natural products of authority. Freedom, with such a system, becomes illusory, since it can only exist by dint of the constant abridgement of force and of the progressive annihilation of the powers that be, whereas the whole machinery of the state is devised on the contrary to render the enfranchisement of the people impossible, and to make the power of the government crushing. War, as a matter of course, becomes an indispensable ailment for this type of Society, with which arms, diplomacy and the tribune – the three phases of war – are necessary phenomena. It is in the shade of such a political system that financial and capitalistic feudality will flourish, since God has decreed in his infinite wisdom that the rich and the poor shall for ever form two distinct castes, one of which was created to exploit the other. This flagrant inequality borrows from its source a semblance of justice, and a sanction against which it would ill become us to protest. If the political system of Authority prevails now, the policy of Liberty will henceforth rule the destinies of the world; there is no middle path between these two extremes. Today we must have all or nothing, nothing but freedom and its creations can avail any longer to satisfy us. In the system of Liberty, God is deposed, society is the work of man, who is himself its beginning and end, and the distribution or division of earthly goods shall proceed according to the will of man, regulated by reason and justice. There shall no longer be a class to rule and dominate over another class; each member of society working for himself and for all fulfils his social duties.

All useful forces are necessary to the development of Society, and no one shall be at liberty to deprive it of any of these. God, no longer the supreme regulator of human destinies, becomes useless and misery ceases to be irremedial, for labour and intelligence must of necessity triumph over it. The Church, deriving its power from the Absolute, will disappear with it. It is no longer the State, the Army, the Church or God that will preside over the government of the world; it is labour represented by the people that will organise all things.

Religion annihilated, the people will arise from their degradation, intellectual and moral. Politics being eliminated they will emerge from their state of economical servitude, and with these will disappear the finacial industrial proprietorial and capitalistic feudalism. Social science appears teaching us the uselessness and the nuisance of politics and government. The economic equilibrium realised, there will be no need of force to maintain it, war, by its nature, being a huge parasite, could only disturb and not consolidate it. Peace is the necessary resultant and sublime crowning of all the social forces directed towards labour. The latter being essentially a peace maker, the people being emancipated by the Revolution, will endeavour to guarantee the fruits of their labour and consequently the fruits of the labour of all; instead of creating as must inevitably occur nowadays new monopolies for the benefit of the few, it will extend on the contrary, these guarantees and confederate from town to town, from country to country, internationally. It makes all working men unite together, and creates what is called the life of relationship in the economical order. Is it conceivable that politics and war could find room, be it ever so small, in a Society so transformed? No, and when the constitution of labour shall have definitely replaced the constitution of the old world, the advent of the working classes will be realised with a character so imperious and fateful that the most severe justice must acknowledge its legitimacy.


The object of socialism is to constitute a Society founded on labour and science, on liberty, equality and solidarity of all human beings. It is consequently a mortal foe to all oppressors, of whatsoever kind, of all speculators and exploiters, be their name what it may. The first form in which oppression is manifested in organised society is the religious oppression, the divine exploitation. Religion seeks to enslave the human intelligence, the God idea is the generator of all despotism. Man will never be free in any of the manifestations of his activity, so long as he shall not have expelled from his brain the notion of God, the product of ignorance, sustained by the exploiting priests. So long as a mystic vision of a divinity shall darken the world, it will be impossible for men to know that world, and as a consequence to possess it. It is by the aid of this notion of a God governing the world, that all forms of servitude, moral and social, have come into existence and been established religion’s despotism, classes, property, and the exploitation of man by man. To enable men, therefore, to attain to freedom and to knowledge, that is to realise the object of the Revolution he must first expel God from the domain of knowledge and consequently from Society itself. We can therefore only consider as true revolutionary socialists, conscious of the object they pursue, those who, like ourselves, declare themselves Atheists and do whatever in their power lies to destroy this corrupting notion of God in the mind of the masses. The struggle, therefore, against every kind of religion, and the propagation of Atheism must form a part of every socialistic programme that pretends to give a logical exposition of the ideas, the aspirations and the object of the adepts of the Social Revolution.


Politics properly so-called, that is the science of government or the art of directing men gathered in social community, is entirely based upon the principle of authority, and, it being so, we oppose with all our might the reactionary notion which consists in the pretence that the revolutionary socialists must seek to seize upon the political machine, and to acquire power for themselves. We decline to recognise a divine absolutism because it can only give rise to the enslavery of reason and intelligence. Why, then, should we recognise a human absolutism, that can only engender the material exploitation of the ruled by the rulers? In this argument we are not specially concerned with any particular form of government, for all without distinction had their rise from the same source: Autocratic, Oligarchic systems, constitutional monarchy, plutocracy, the republic, as governmental forms, are all antagonistic to human freedom, and it is because of this that we are opposed to every form of government. If it be admitted that individual man has no right to govern, we cannot admit that a number of men should have this right, be they a minority or a majority. It is claimed that the theory of government is the outcome of the tacit agreement between all of the citizens for the acceptance of some form of government, but this theory is inadmissible, for such tacit agreement cannot exist since men have never been consulted anywhere upon the abdication of their own freedom.

A certain school of socialists, while sharing our ideas upon the majority of forms of government, seeks nevertheless to defend what they call the democratic state, ruling nations by means of a parliamentary system, but we argue just precisely that freedom does not exist any more in this system than in any of the others, and it is for this reason that we oppose it. Act as it will, this popular state will nevertheless require for its maintenance to appeal to the reactionary forces, which are the natural allies of authority – the army, diplomacy, war, centralisation of all the powers which operate in restraint of freedom, and the initiative of individuals and social groups. Once launched upon this arbitrary career, it is an inevitable necessity to mount up round after round of the ladder, there being no resting place. On the contrary they must be ever trenching more and more upon the freedom and autonomy of the individual until these undergo a process of complete absorption and annihilation. In opposition therefore to those who desire by means of parliamentarianism to achieve a conquest of political power, we say for ourselves that we wish to forgo power and monopoly alike, which means that we seek to bring out from the very bosom of the people, from the depths of labour a factor more potent, that shall deal with capital and the state and subdue them. This powerful factor will be realised by the organisation of industrial and agricultural groups, having studied and being able to apply the laws of exchange possessing the key and secret of the contradictions and antagonism of the bourgeois political economy, standing possessed, in a word, of social science. And what does social science teach to those who consult it? It teaches that political reforms, as a preliminary to social reforms, are a Utopia or a mere trick and an eternal mystification, by which the radicals of every shade, including parliamentary socialists have up till now deceived the workers. Social science protests against these subterfuges and palliatives; it repudiates every alliance with the policy of parliaments. Far from expecting any succour from them, it begins its work of exclusion by eliminating politics and parliamentarianism. We revolutionary socialists desire to organise ourselves in such a manner as to render politics useless and the powers that be superfluous, i.e., that we aim at the abolition of the State in every form and variety. We are waging a battle of labour against capital i.e., against the State proprietary, financial and industrial. We pursue a warfare of freedom against authority, i.e., against the State, the respecter of religion and the master of all systems of teaching. We champion the cause of the producers as arrayed against that of the non-producers, i.e., we combat the State in its military and civil functionaries. We fight the battle of equality against privilege, i.e., we oppose the State, having all monopolies industrial, bankocratic, agricultural, etc. Now in order to subdue capital, to subjugate the powers that be, and destroy them, we in no way need to win by means of a parliamentary system that political power which as a matter of fact we seek to destroy, we do not wish, by acquiring power, to increase the number of non-producers that our socialistic organisation is meant to reduce more and more until none are left, i.e., until the complete annihilation of power, until the abolition of the State whatever its form, monarchical or democratic.

We need not waste time over those Socialists who while condemning the political action of the proletariat, at the same time wish to avail themselves of parliamentary action as a means of propaganda; such socialists are wanting in logic. If the participation of socialists in the policy of governments be condemned as fatal to the interests of the proletariat, then a propaganda in favour of parliamentary action on behalf of the proletariat can be neither good in itself nor serviceable in the development of socialism. On the other hand, as regards socialistic propaganda in times of election, all the good achieved by a candidate for parliamentary honours would be counter-balanced by the evil which he would otherwise cause, by filling the minds of the workers with notions false and reactionary, thus creating complete confusion among those who are struggling for the emancipation of mankind. The only means in our view of making the most of a period of political excitement, such as may be an electoral contest, would be to take advantage of it, to disseminate among the masses revolutionary papers, pamphlets leaflets, etc., got up specially for the occasion, and showing the people that it is not by Parliamentary means but by social revolution, that their lot will be ameliorated materially, morally and socially. Summing up we may, therefore, say that as far as politics are concerned we are Anti-Statists, and as such we abstain from taking any part whatsoever in parliamentary action, whatever be the end assigned to such action.


If we are Atheists in point of philosophy, and Anti-Statists in point of politics, we are communists as regards the economic development of human society. And whereas in the elaboration of all our conceptions, we always start from the principle of liberty, we are free communists as opposed to state communists. The society that we assail has for its basis of existence the private property of all raw materials, of the soil, of the wealth below the soil, all tools, and machinery, and all capital. Private property in its turn is the direct emanation from the principle of authority, and is based upon the theory of remuneration, or reward for individual efforts. Now it is absolutely certain that there is no isolated individual effort, there can only be efforts, general and collective or common; consequently neither should there be individual remuneration or reward, and we may thus logically be allowed to declare that property is robbery.

Social wealth has a threefold source: the forces of nature, the instruments of labour, and labour itself. An individual does not create the forces of nature, and therefore he can not appropriate them to his own use; at most they are the common property of all men. An individual does not create the plant and machinery of work. He therefore cannot appropriate them to his own use. It is the generations of men that from century to century have transformed the raw materials into tools of production, and consequently the theory of plant and machinery being regarded as a stock of property held in common must be the only principle accordant with equity and justice. The individual works it is true, but his personal work, his particular endeavour, would, as it were, have no value in the immense field of activity of modern production, did he not constitute an integral portion of the work and of the endeavour collective or common of all men.

It follows therefore that private property cannot be regarded as legitimate from any point of view. Society as under its present constitution, which makes of it a pivot of its organisation, political and economical, thus merely becomes an immense financial industrial, agricultural, and mercantile Feudalism, exploiting mercilessly the countless masses of the proletariat. Everything in the regime of individual property belongs to the bourgeoisie, even including thanks to the iron law of wages, the worker himself. In the proprietary system the majority of men are condemned to work for the sustenance and enjoyment of a handful of masters and parasites.

As the ultimate expression of all other forms of servitude, the bourgeois domination has at last divested the exploitation of labour of the mystic veil that obscured it; governments, family, law, institutions of the past, as of the present have at last shown themselves in this system of society, reduced to the simple terms of wage slaves and capitalists, as the instruments of oppression by means of which the bourgeoisie maintains its predominance and holds in check the proletariat. Reserving for itself, in order to increase its wealth, all the surplus of the product of labour, the capitalist leaves for the workman only just the scanty store he needs to keep him from starvation.

Forcibly held down in this hell of capitalist and proprietorial production, it would seem as though the working classes are powerless to break their fetters, but the proletariat has at length become alive to its own condition, it is sensible that within it, exists the elements of a new society, that its deliverance shall be the price of its victory over the bourgeoisie and that this class destroyed, the classes will be abolished altogether, and the object of the revolution attained. We desire to reach this object i.e., the triumph of the revolution without stopping at any middle paths which are mere compromises putting off victory and prolonging slavery.

By destroying individual property the Communist overthrows one after another all the institutions of which property is the pivot. Driven from his property, garrisoned by himself and family as though it were a citadel, the rich man will no longer find an asylum for his selfishness and his privileges. With the annihilation of the classes will disappear all the institutions that cause the oppression of the individual and of the social group, the only reason for which has been the maintenance of these very classes – the subjugation of the working man to his master.

Education open to all and equally placed at the disposal of all will produce that intellectual equality, without which material equality would be without value and without charm. No more wage slaves, victims of misery and wretchedness, of want of solidarity, of competition, but a free association of working men with equal rights, distributing the work among themselves, to procure the greater development of the community, the greater sum of well-being for each of its members. For every citizen will find the most extended freedom, the largest expansion of his individuality in the greater expansion of the Community.

It is hardly necessary for us to add that we fight against ( on the same principle of the abolition of private property ), the institution of the family, such as it exists nowadays. Thoroughly convinced partisans of the free union of the sexes, we repel the thought of marriage which institutes for the benefit of the man a new and exorbitant proprietorial right, namely the right of ownership of the woman, but in order to ensure a possible establishment of the free union of the sexes, it is necessary that both the man and the woman shall enjoy the same right in society as well as have the same duties imposed on them, that is, they must be equal, a thing that is impossible, unless private property be done away with.

In the same way it seems to us superfluous to state that recognising neither boundaries nor frontiers we are concerned in working out the realisation of our aspirations, wherever the lottery of events has placed us, regarding each revolutionary associate, no matter whence he comes, as a brother, and each exploiter of humanity, whatever tongue he may speak, as an enemy. And lastly we do not believe in the advent of the new order for which we are struggling by means of legal and pacific methods, and that is why we are revolutionary socialists. The study of history has taught us that the noblest conquests of man are written on a blood-stained book. To give birth to justice, humanity suffers a thousand tortures. Ours be then the force, so often employed against us, ours the force the heritage of the people which has been wrested from it by a coalition of the clever, and from its own want of energy, ours the force less as a desideratum than a consummation, regretfully sought less as a choice than as a necessity. Ours the force as the only means of breaking asunder the iron chains that bind us!

But at the same time let also prudence and caution guide us, the caution that determines the hour for the employment of force, and the firmness that preserves and directs it, unvanquished through all obstacles. Let us mature our ideas and our aspirations. Away with reckless and useless struggles; but no more hesitation nor armistice on the day of the battle, and once having commenced the final struggle let it be no longer merely with the hope of success, but with the certainty of triumph!

So, comrades, we finish by saying we are Atheists, Anti-Statists and Free Communists or International Revolutionary Socialists.


Having stated our principles I will now briefly state what should be our policy in accordance with our principles, which can be summed up shortly as educate, educate, educate, that an organisation may spring from the body of the people prepared for action, this action to be the destruction and not reform of Government, Authority, and Monopoly, of every description.


To the individualists (anarchists or otherwise) we are opposed. We contend that capital is the result not of any one individual’s labour, but of all the workers combined, not only of this but of many past generations. Therefore it would be unjust that it should be held as Individual Property. We are also opposed to the idea of every one receiving according to his deeds, that the strong, the able bodied, those well endowed by nature, are to have all they can procure, while the halt, the lame, and the blind are to be left to their own resources, or at best depend on the charity of those better off. Again, so long as private property exists, there can be no freedom for women, all the advantages of co-operative labour are lost, and an enormous amount of labour wasted in providing for separate homes, farms and what not.


These believe that the state should be all powerful, that it should own the land, mines, railways, machinery and means of exchange, in fact own all things and organise labour in all its branches, that their policy should be to gain possession of the state machine and then arrange everything for the people. The bureaucracy and officialism of today is not to be compared to what it must be when the state undertakes these manifold duties.

The representative farce would have to be resorted to. These representatives at once become the Authority, the Government, superior to the body of the people, and would have to be prepared with force to defend their authority against any rebellious minority.

The march of progress is against isolation and individualism on one hand, and on the other against centralisation and authority of every description. We, the Anti-Statist Communists are the pioneers of that future state of society towards which all progress tends, namely, the free association of groups of workers ( call them Towns, Villages, Communes or what you will ) holding the land and capital, in common, working it on true co-operative principles, federated with each other for mutual assistance, every member working according to his ability and receiving according to his needs, man and woman being then equally free, would form connections through love alone. Connections of this description would not require a State or Priest to endorse or enforce it. The bond of love would be sufficient, when it was not it would naturally be dissolved. This would be done without injury to anyone, the children being fed, clothed and cared for by the Community.


Trades Unionism like Socialism, is the outcome of the greed, tyranny, and oppression of the Capitalist class. The Capitalists at first thought the unions meant fighting, and that they would be successful, they became frightened, fearing that this would mean less profits if not the total extinction of their monopoly and privileges, they roundly abused and denounced Trades Unions, and passed laws against combination; but now that the development of the commercial system and the invention of new machinery has placed the workers in a more dependent position, and the Trades Unions are becoming little better than Benefit Societies, with an ever increasing subscription and decreasing reserve funds, helpless in the meshes of capitalism, they now tolerate and even occasionally say a good word for Trades Unions. But with the practical breakdown of Trades Unions Socialism springs forth and says the day for this unequal and losing battle between the bloated Capitalist and the starving workman for a mere increase or to prevent a decrease of wage is past. Today and from henceforth, the battle is by the workers as a whole, for the destruction of monopoly and tyranny of every description, as the only means of emancipating themselves.

As commerce grew and expanded, as fresh markets were found for commodities even faster than they could be manufactured, trade went up by leaps and bounds, when a comparative small amount of machinery was used, a large portion of the working population was employed in tilling the soil, this was the time of the prosperity of Trades Unions. Then, though the workers did not get all they wanted or were entitled to, they did by combination get some improvement in their position. But how do they stand today with depopulation of the rural districts, crowding in to the towns, an increase of population? The increased use of machinery, the ever growing force of foreign competition are all adding to the number of the unemployed. With all these forces against Trade Unions, is it possible for them to be otherwise than mere benefit Societies.

Our policy towards the Trades Union then, is to show them how this evolution has gone on in the past and will in the future; that as the commercial system expands and new machinery is invented, wealth can be produced to an unlimited extent, and comparatively independent of manual labour; the capitalists reaping all the benefit, the workers becoming more helpless and enslaved in their economical toils. That as the policy and tactics of the Trade Unions have failed to alter this in the past, so still more will they, in the future, their only hope being by developing their organisation, becoming Socialists and rebelling against a system that enslaves them, using their organisations not for a mere increase or to prevent a decrease of wage, but for the destruction of the capitalist system and the emancipation of the whole of the workers


With reference to this, the most prominent proposal put forward by the Social Democrats. In the first place what all socialists protest against is the exploitation of the labourers by the capitalist, whatever the hours of the working day may be. So long as labour has to pay a tribute to capital and is not free we have not achieved our end, moreover, an eight hours bill or even less would not in the long run absorb the reserve army of labourers even if it was carried. Competition at home and abroad would force on the invention and use of new machinery in order to dispense with human labour; capital and machinery would be removed to other countries where cheap labour could be obtained for the benefit of the capitalists. Labour would also be intensified so that an hour’s labour would mean much more wear and tear than it does now, as it does now more than it did fifty years since. For a large part of the workers, an act of this kind would be inoperative as the Factory Acts are for many women and children today, in short there would still be an ever growing army of unemployed, and the employed would be in much the same position as now. Seeing this so clearly it is not our business to advocate this palliative measure, but to criticise the action of those who do so.


This question of the unemployed is one of great difficulty. Our sympathy is naturally with these starving people. But there is no special unemployed class. It is the workers, some of whom are employed, others unemployed, these constantly changing places, employed today, unemployed tomorrow; therefore, it is a question for the whole of the workers. The question is, what can we do for the unemployed portion of the workers. It appears hard to call meetings specially of the unemployed and tell them that they cannot be permanently benefited until the Revolution, and that they must starve in the meantime. The only alternative is to advocate relief works, which no Revolutionist can do. These relief works must be unproductive or productive. If unproductive, it will be task labour, with just sufficient food for the workers to keep life in their bodies until the capitalist requires their services for fresh exploitation; and even at this no society could keep an ever-increasing army of unproductive workers for any length of time.

If on productive works, they are unemployed because wealth is produced for sale at a profit, and at present no profit can be made on their labour. We have wealth, the results of labour, in abundance, and no market for it; therefore, there is no demand for their labour; and if they are set to work producing other wealth, it will cause a still greater abundance for the world’s markets. This will mean a fall in prices and a reduction in wages, and the throwing out of work those at present employed. We hear even now of the unfair competition of prison labour, and this employment of the surplus labourers of our commercial system on productive works would have the same effect, only in a much greater degree. The most likely thing to occur by calling meetings specially of the unemployed is that, having their passions aroused by our denunciations of the thieving class, they will destroy a few windows. The paltry bill will be paid by an insurance company, and we lose some of our best advocates as a result. We Socialists do not want to see the aimless destruction of property, but the destruction of the property holders. In the meantime, let the starving people steal, sack shops, or what not, in preference to starving, if they so choose, it is a sign of discontent and of a determination to die fighting rather than starving. We may regard this as a sure forerunner of Revolution, but we must not let it be supposed that it is Socialism. Meetings specially of the unemployed, therefore, should not be called, but meetings of the workers as a whole should be held on every possible occasion. The principles of Socialism should be put plainly before them, and they must be told that the only remedy for their misery, poverty and constant unemployment is the destruction of a system that puts it in the power of an idle class to employ and enslave the workers, and at best to dole out a small portion of their stolen wealth as charity to those who have produced it all when starving, and that no permanent good can be done for them by relief works, charity, or, in fact, anything under our competitive commercial system, with all the means of producing wealth monopolised.


The official and recognised Radical party is based on what they are pleased to call liberty and freedom. Freedom meaning to them Free Trade, Free Contract, and Free Competition; and Liberty to them is the liberty to fleece the destitute and starving workers to their heart’s content by the aid of these three Fs.

They will not admit that there is a class struggle going on, but contend that with the aid of these three Fs all the workers have to do is to be more temperate and thrifty, and that under this splendid arrangement there is a chance for everyone to rise, blinding the workers to the fact that only a few can do this, and that they then leave their class and become exploiters in one way or another.

But there is an advanced wing of Radicalism formed by the workmen who having found that Toryism and liberalism were of no use to them, have gone as far as they could see or understand. They have no clearly defined principles, and, after all, only agitate for mere superficial reforms. The election of governors and the extension of the suffrage these have been agitated for about 120 years, and more strongly at the commencement than the finish. In 1770, part of the programme was adult suffrage and annual parliaments, but now it is not the question of a useless vote but food in the stomach. This question will not wait a hundred years for settlement, before this social problem the Radical stands helpless, shouting loudly about the cost of Monarchy and the pension list. This is as far as he can grasp at present, failing to see that this is a drop in the ocean compared to the robbery of the landlord and capitalist class. It is from this wing of the Radical party only that we can expect to make converts. We must, then, lay before them our principles, show them that any mere reform is useless. Urge upon them the necessity of studying this social problem, work with them when possible, but make no alliances that would cause us to sacrifice our principles in the least.


Many people belong to Temperance Societies, and think they have found the cure for poverty and misery by the mere abstention from drink. No greater delusion could enter the mind of man. As Socialists we admit that if people give way to drink they cannot have a clear head to understand the Social problem, and until a large part at least of the people understand this, we shall have the misery and poverty, but if a man becomes a blue ribbonite and nothing more he has done nothing towards the emancipation of the workers.

Where we Socialists fall foul of the temperance thrift and vegetarian advocates is with the iron law of wages argument. We contend, and all political economists agree with us that under a capitalist system of society, with monopoly and competition, wages are ruled by the standard of comfort, adopted by the people of a country, and always have a tendency to fall to the minimum rate or starvation point, therefore a reduction in the standard of comfort by a majority, or even a large minority, would only result in a reduction of the standard rate of wages, and be of benefit only to the capitalist class, being only of benefit to those who practise it so long as they are a small minority, if it can only affect the individual or small minority for good, and the majority for evil, it is a proof that it is no remedy for the workers as a whole.

As a proof of this argument we have only to refer to Ireland with a potato-standard, Russia black-bread, India rice, Germany and Italy with their cheap soups, and wages in all these countries accordingly low. The English workers are now complaining of the competition of other countries, particularly Germany. They are told that they are losing their trade because the German is content to work longer hours for less wages than an Englishman. This means that his standard of living is lower than an Englishman’s. Are we, then, to take the advice of the capitalists, vegetarians and temperance advocates, and reduce our standard of comfort to the level of the Germans?, or, rather, should we not tell these people that so long as they advocate their doctrines as a remedy for poverty we shall oppose them? That we are determined not to lower our standard of comfort, but rather to increase it, and at the first opportunity overthrow the system of monopoly as the only cure for poverty and misery.


We are in accord with the Freethought party in their battle against superstition and authority divine. The people must be free both economically and mentally. Tyranny, oppression and pea-soup philanthropy on one side, and cringing poverty and hypocrisy on the other, must be put to an end. This, however, can only be done by the destruction of monopoly and authority of every description. Priestcraft is, after all, only one of the effective weapons used for keeping the workers in slavery. Freedom of thought is of small avail without freedom for all to live as freely as they think.


We are in agreement with the Land Nationalisers so far as they advocate the abolition of private property in land; but we contend that if we had land nationalisation alone it would be the capitalists’ class, who would benefit by a reduction in taxation, so long as private property in the means of production, transit, and exchange exist, the iron law of wages comes into force, and the workers will only get a bare subsistence wage. We are entirely opposed to the idea of giving compensation to the present holders, believing that their having robbed and enslaved us and our forefathers in the past does not give them a title to further enslave our children for generations to come in the form of usury, which compensation would mean. Being opposed to centralisation and authority, we are not in favour of the central state under any name or form holding the land and demanding a rent for it, but believe that it should be in the hands of the local communes or towns, and cultivated on co-operative principles, without payment of any compensation or rent whatsoever.

The co-operative movement started with a noble ideal: the overthrow of the commercial system by the co-operative and self-employment of the workers. This has been found impossible, and the co-operators have degenerated into mere joint stock companies or distributive agencies, with agents in all parts of the world buying in the cheapest market, which means beating down the wages of the producer for the benefit of those with capital to spare to invest in these societies and, like Building Societies, are a very good investment for those better off, but for the poverty-stricken proletariat this co-operation is not only useless, but often used for their exploitation. Our duty, then, is, while always advocating co-operative effort to show these people that their movement, so far as it effects the condition of the people as a whole, has been a failure, and must be so as long as they attempt to plant it down in the midst of a competitive commercial system, and that until usury and monopoly of every description is destroyed there can be no real co-operation that shall benefit the workers, and unless they are prepared to do their duty and assist in this destruction, they, in the times coming, will be swept away as part and parcel of the old system of Society.


To Imperialism and Jingoism of every form we, as international Revolutionary Socialists, are bitterly opposed it being entirely in contradistinction to our idea of the brotherhood of man and of the principles of liberty and freedom. This policy is upheld by the capitalists for the purpose of finding markets for their shoddy wares. They are responsible for the wars in which many people are slaughtered or enslaved which are the outcome of this policy. It is not the Tory, Liberal or Radical, but the Capitalists, the Property and Bond holders who are responsible, as let the Soudan, Afghanistan and Burmah testify.

New markets are a necessity of the Capitalist system of production. They must be got in some way, for as soon as the capitalist system ceases to expand, it begins to fall to pieces. The latest move, Imperial Federation, simply means an attempt on the part of the Capitalists of this country to get a monopoly of the trade with the colonies to the exclusion of other countries and that the resources of these colonies shall be used for the defence of the present markets and gaining of new ones in any and every direction, and not only this but that these united forces of the whole shall be used for keeping the workers in bondage to the Capitalists in every part.

As socialists, we contend that emigration is no remedy for poverty. We are opposed to the forcing of our fellow workers by their economical condition, to flee from the land of their birth to other countries to escape from removable evils, and which they are sure to find in large or small degree in any country to which they may go; even if they were sure of finding a paradise in a distant land it would be cowardly on their part to go without striking a blow for freedom, leaving their fellow workers in slavery at home.


Man, unlike animals and plants, does not depend entirely on the nourishment provided by nature, but as he consumes he produces not only an equivalent but a far larger quantity, or we should not have the enormous accumulation of wealth in all civilised nations, more particularly in the more densely populated ones.

The fecundity of individuals, of females especially, is in direct proportion to the intensity of the causes which tend to destroy them, or what amounts to the same thing, inversely in proportion to the causes tending to their preservation, that is, inversely proportional to their well being and improvement.

This apparent paradoxical proposition can be easily proved by the argument that flowers and fruits on which you bestow most care produce fewer seeds as they are more perfected.

Horse, oxen, sheep, pigs, dogs, fowls and other domestic animals of improved breeds are comparatively unfruitful, whence it happens that their price is always high. Hens stop laying when they get too fat.

Children are less numerous in opulent families than in poor ones. Weak, diseased, unhealthy women have generally more children than strong healthy women, especially if the minds of the latter are cultivated.

In this country nine out of ten marriages have children, but in the nobility only eight out of ten. Our Malthusian friends cannot say that this is caused by the check because the end and aim of this class is to accumulate wealth and perpetuate the family name and title.

We Socialists do not recognise any particular part of the wealth produced as being a wage fund, but contend that all wealth is produced by the labourers, and they, and they only, have a right to it. Until this right is recognised and acted upon, and every available means used for the production of wealth, it is rank nonsense to talk about a wage fund, to which they must keep their numbers down.

The aim of the Capitalists is to keep down the numbers of the labour class to their requirements; to have enough for competition in the labour market to keep wages down, but not enough to be a tax on the poor rates or a danger to Capitalism. If the reduction in the number of labourers was too great, and wages rose, i.e.: the cost of production increased, at once new machinery would be invented to supplant manual labour and again reduce the cost of production.

Has a decrease of population ever tended to increase the comfort and happiness of mankind? Let Spain, Turkey, France, Ireland, and even Sutherlandshire, after the Highland clearances, testify!

This Malthusian theory is the first article of the capitalist creed today. The large capitalists swallow up the small ones; joint stock companies swallow up the individual capitalists; there is not room for all. The large landed estates swallow up and consolidate the small ones; there is not room for all. Machinery supersedes manual labour; there is not room for man and machine; man must, or according to Malthus, will be, starved out of existence; there is no need of him; Nature has not provided for him, therefore he must depart.

Lastly, this Malthusian doctrine is the embodiment of capitalism.

The right to labour and live is the principle of Revolutionary Socialism.


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Johann Most, “Why I Am a Communist” (1892)

One of the principal features of the development of modern industrial production is the ever-increasing organization of the laboring force and of the means of production. The result is that with less “hands” a continually growing amount of commodities is being produced. From this last is might be concluded that man should be thus enabled to satisfy all his intellectual and physical wants with a decreasing exertion of his physical powers. Yet, no such result is apparent. On the contrary, all progress in the direction of facilitating the process of production has the effect of reducing the number of laborers employed, and of challenging those who are out of employment to increase the intensity with which they compete among themselves; and, consequently, the amount of compensation of which the producer is being deprived by the machinery of capitalism is growing continuously, with a tendency of being reduced to a minimal rate, representing that standard which is unavoidably necessary to procure those scanty commodities without which human being would be actually starved. Thus a state of affairs is characterized in which gigantic wealth is amassed in the hands of a continually centralizing and decreasing number of capitalists, while, in the opposite proportion the masses of the people are being pauperized. Such a condition is unbearable for any length of time, much more so as it is becoming more aggravating with its growth, and in this way it creates a formidable opposition.

This disproportion has not been caused by any accident, but it is the natural consequence of the institution of private property.

It has, from its inception, made the poor dependent upon the rich. But, dependence means the opposite of freedom, known as slavery, serfdom, and wage-system, of which the latter is the most unbearable, because it is an outgrowth not of a lack of commodities, but of an ever-increasing superabundance of wealth, making our present civilization a questionable institution in itself.

The absurdity of such a course of events will soon be apparent when we are confronted by a situation under which there are a small number of gigantic owners whose commodities cannot be purchased to any great extent, because the purchasing power of the masses has been impaired, and those engaged in the process of production, who live from hand to mouth, and finally a mass of people willing and able to work, but unable to sell their labor, and existing as the mere dregs of society. In other words, we are approaching a time when society will, not from want, but in consequence of superabundance, be so very miserable as to become bankrupt intellectually, morally and in every other way. At that moment the question, “What’s to be done?” will not only be asked, but those asking it will demand that it be properly answered. Mankind must, as the race will not tolerate its own destruction, look out for a new system to be carried into effect at once. And that new system cannot consist in giving up the substantial achievements already accomplished, but simply in their application for the general welfare. There will be no retrogression nor falling back upon the unorganized individual mode of production; on the other hand, the means of production now used by organized labor, but held by private owners who wield them for the purpose of despoiling the laboring masses, will be transferred into the possession of the community. And such a transfer means nothing short of abolishing private property, and of establishing the collectivism of wealth, of Communism.

Because I see the necessity of such an economic development, decucated from present and past event I am a Communist.

There are some misconceptions attached to the real meaning of Communism. There are some who, more or less, believe it to be some kind of Utopia, while others see in it, at least, an all-fixing machinery of State. And yet, neither the one nor the other is necessarily to be connected with the idea of Communism.

Modern Communists do not think of such Utopias as imagined by all those idealists from Thomas More down to Edward Bellamy; and they do not propose to shape, in advance, the mode of action by the people of future ages. Modern Communism is satisfied with proclaiming its principle of common possession of all wealth, and of the economic philosophical evidence that mankind, if developed in another direction, could not possibly make any progress.

And, as to the State, the scientifically educated Communist does not see what that institution could have to do with Communism.

All scientific research upon the field of history has shown that the State, in all its different forms, as known heretofore, has resulted from the institution of private property, as a means of protecting the same under given conditions. How, then, should anything having for its object the preservation of private property be expected to take under its wings the directly opposite institution of private property? An instrument needed by those whose comfort and luxury are possible only when the masses of the people are oppressed, and despoiled of what they need, cannot be subservient, or even indispensable, to those having emblazoned upon their banner the principle of equality and liberty, a fact that cannot be denied in regard to the contemporaneous Communists.

A society which had been developed intellectually to such a degree as to break the shackles of slavery imposed by the rules of private property and its adhering extremes of wealth and pauperism, and enabled to achieve such an emancipation only by simultaneously breaking the yoke of economic and political oppression, cannot come to the conclusion of enslaving itself by the erection of another building of State.

All conceivable objects of mankind can be accomplished by voluntary agreement, not the compulsory mandates of the State, but need, not laws, but the virtues of a complete liberty, born by reason and solidarity, and grown upon the soil of equality, will be the incentives directing all action. And, such a condition also means the absence of all personal rulers, to wit: Anarchism.

Communism, far from being antagonistic to Anarchism, thus forms the necessary foundation of the latter, its everlasting basis.

Without the abolition of private property there is no equality possible and without equality no real independence, while independence is the first condition of liberty, of Anarchism.

The question how to organize the society in the future, therefore, cannot involve whether it shall be Communism or Anarchism; but it is rather evident that these two will have to exist together, in order to prevent the new world from again suffering under the evils degrading the present world.

To avoid such misapprehensions I do not call myself simply a Communistic Anarchism. If you ask me how such an object may be achieved, I freely and openly declare by the Social Revolution. Thereby I do not make an arbitrary proposition, but I only draw my conclusions from the course of history up to the present day, when I declare that such a great social transformation cannot take place without the appearance of violent actions.

I know something of history, and I now that no ruing-class ever gave up peaceably the privilege it had held. I know something of the monopolists and capitalists f this and other countries, and I know the fight that will bring about better conditions will be terrible. Some say those idea will do for the Old World, where kind and emperors oppress the people, but not for America.

However, I take the official statements, and I find some 2,000 millionaires and 10,000 other capitalists possessing two parts out of three of the wealth of the United States, i.e., sixty thousand million dollars, the production of all the rest of the people, and I ask: are these millionaires simply lucky? No, they are the representatives of modern tyranny, and the politicians are their tools, and all the rest of the people are slaves, and will remain so until they are ready to free themselves.

The history of America is short. There have been but two principal events. One was when American wiped out English domination, the other was the abolition of black slavery. These two things were done, not by voting, not by petition, but by drawing the sword. We now have white wage-slavery, and I hope the third great even of American history will be the abolition of that.

John Most, “Why I Am a Communist,” Commonweal  (February 20, 1892): 32.

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Max Nettlau, “Anarchism: Communist or Individualist? Both” (1914)

Anarchism is no longer young, and it may be time to ask ourselves why, with all the energy devoted to its propaganda, it does not spread more rapidly. For even where local activity is strongest, the results are limited, whilst immense spheres are as yet hardly touched by any propaganda at all. In discussing this question, I will not deal with the problem of Syndicalism, which, by absorbing so much of Anarchist activity and sympathies, cannot by that very fact be considered to advance the cause of Anarchism proper, whatever its other merits may be. I will also try not to repeat what I put forward in other articles in years gone by as possible means of increasing the activity of Anarchists. As my advice was not heeded, it cannot, in any case, be considered to have hampered the progress of our ideas.

I will consider the theories of Anarchism only; and here I have been struck for a long time by the contrast between the largeness of the aims of Anarchism — the greatest possible realization of freedom and well-being for all — and the narrowness, so to speak, of the economic program of Anarchism, be it Individualist or Communist. I am inclined to think that the feeling of the inadequacy of this economic basis — exclusive Communism or exclusive Individualism, according to the school — hinders people from acquiring practical confidence in Anarchism, the general aims of which appeal as a beautiful ideal to many. I feel myself that neither Communism nor Individualism, if it became the sole economic form, would realize freedom, which always demands a choice of ways, a plurality of possibilities. I know that Communists, when asked pointedly, will say that they should have no objection to Individualists who wished to live in their own way without creating new monopolies or authority, and vice versa. But this is seldom said in a really open and friendly way; both sections are far too much convinced that freedom is only possible if their particular scheme is carried out. I quite admit that there are Communists and Individualists to whom their respective doctrines, and these alone, give complete satisfaction and leave no problem unsolved (in their opinion); these would not be interfered with, in any case, in their lifelong constancy to one economic ideal. But they must not imagine that all people are constituted after their model and likely to come round to their views or remain “unreclaimed” adversaries on whom no sympathy is to be wasted. Let them but look on real life, which is bearable at all only by being varied and differentiated, in spite of all official uniformity. We all see the survivals of earlier Communism, the manifold workings of present-day solidarity, from which new forms of future Communism may develop — all this in the teeth of the cut-throat capitalist Individualism which predominates. But this miserable bourgeois Individualism, if it created a desire for solidarity, leading to Communism, certainly also created a desire for a genuine, free, unselfish Individualism, where freedom of action would no longer be misused to crush the weaker and to form monopolies, as to-day.

Neither Communism nor Individualism will ever disappear; and if by some mass action the foundations of some rough form of Communism were laid, Individualism would grow stronger than ever in opposition to this. Whenever a uniform system prevails, Anarchists, if they have their ideas at heart, will go ahead of it and never permit themselves to become fossilised upholders of a given system, be it that of the purest Communism.

Will they, then, be always dissatisfied, always struggling, never enjoying rest? They might feel at ease in a state of society where all economic possibilities had full scope, and then their energy might be applied to peaceful emulation and no longer to continuous struggle and demolition. This desirable state of things could be prepared from now, if it were once for all frankly understood among Anarchists that both Communism and Individualism are equally important, equally permanent; and that the exclusive predominance of either of them would be the greatest misfortune that could befall mankind. From isolation we take refuge in solidarity, from too much society we seek relief in isolation: both solidarity and isolation are, each at the right moment, freedom and help to us. All human life vibrates between these two poles in endless varieties of oscillations.

Let me imagine myself for a moment living in a free society. I should certainly have different occupations, manual and mental, requiring strength or skill. It would be very monotonous if the three or four groups with whom I would work (for I hope there will be no Syndicates then!) would be organized on exactly the same lines; I rather think that different degrees or forms of Communism will prevail in them. But might I not become tired of this, and wish for a spell of relative isolation, of Individualism? So I might turn to one of the many possible forms of “equal exchange” Individualism. Perhaps people will do one thing when they are young and another thing when they grow older. Those who are but indifferent workers may continue with their groups; those who are efficient will lose patience at always working with beginners and will go ahead by themselves, unless a very altruist disposition makes it a pleasure to them to act as teachers or advisers to younger people. I also think that at the beginning I should adopt Communism with friends and Individualism with strangers, and shape my future life according to experience. Thus, a free and easy change from one variety of Communism to another, thence to any variety of Individualism, and so on, would be the most obvious and elementary thing in a really free society; and if any group of people tried to check this, to make one system predominant, they would be as bitterly fought as revolutionists fight the present system.

Why, then, was Anarchism cut up into the two hostile sections of Communists and Individualists? I believe the ordinary factor of human shortcomings, from which nobody is exempt, accounts for this. It is quite natural that Communism should appeal more to some, Individualism to others. So each section would work out their economic hypothesis with full ardour and conviction, and by-and-by, strengthened in their belief by opposition, consider it the only solution, and remain faithful to it in the face of all. Hence the Individualist theories for about a century, the Collectivist and Communist theories for about fifty years, acquired a degree of settledness, certitude, apparent permanency, which they never ought to have assumed, for stagnation — this is the word — is the death of progress. Hardly any effort was made in favor of dropping the differences of schools; thus both had full freedom to grow, to become generalized, if they could. With what result?

Neither of them could vanquish the other. Wherever Communists are, Individualists will originate from their very midst; whilst no Individualist wave can overthrow the Communist strongholds. Whilst here aversion or enmity exists between people who are so near each other, we see Communist Anarchism almost effacing itself before Syndicalism, no longer scorning compromise by accepting more or less the Syndicalist solution as an inevitable stepping-stone. On the other hand, we see Individualists almost relapse into bourgeois fallacies — all this at a time when the misdeeds of authority, the growth of State encroachments, present a better occasion and a wider field than ever for real and outspoken Anarchist propaganda.

It has come to this, that at the French Communist Anarchist Congress held in Paris last year Individualism was regularly stigmatised and placed outside the pale of Anarchism by a formal resolution. If ever an international Anarchist Congress was held on these lines, endorsing a similar attitude, I should say good-bye to all hopes placed in this kind of sectarian Anarchism.

By this I intend neither to defend nor to combat Communism or Individualism. Personally, I see much good in Communism; but the idea of seeing it generalized makes me protest. I should not like to pledge my own future beforehand, much less that of anybody else. The Question remains entirely open for me; experience will show which of the extreme and of the many intermediate possibilities will be the best on each occasion, at each time. Anarchism is too dear to me that I should care to see it tied to an economic hypothesis, however plausible it may look to-day. Unique solutions will never do, and whilst everybody is free to believe in and to propagate his own cherished ideas, he ought not to feel it right to spread them except in the form of the merest hypothesis, and every one knows that the literature of Communist and Individualist Anarchism is far from keeping within these limits; we have all sinned in this respect.

In the above I have used the terms “Communist” and “Individualist” in a general way, wishing to show the useless and disastrous character of sectional exclusiveness among Anarchists. If any Individualists have said or done absurd things (are Communists impeccable?), to show these up would not mean to refute me. All I want is to see all those who revolt against authority work on lines of general solidarity instead of being divided into little chapels because each one is convinced he possesses a correct economic solution of the social problem. To fight authority in the capitalist system and in the coming system of State Socialism, or Syndicalism, or of both, or all the three combined, an immense wave of real Anarchist feeling is wanted, before ever the question of economic remedies comes in. Only recognize this, and a large sphere of solidarity will be created, which will make Communist Anarchism stand stronger and shine brighter before the world than it does now.

P. S. — Since writing the above I have found an early French Anarchist pamphlet, from which I translate the following:

“Thus, those who feel so inclined will unite for common life, duties, and work, whilst those to whom the slightest act of submission would give umbrage will remain individually independent. The real principle [of Anarchism] is this far from demanding integral Communism. But it is evident that for the benefit of certain kinds of work many producers will unite, enjoying the advantages of co-operation. But I say once more, Communism will never be a fundamental [meaning unique and obligatory] principle, on account of the diversity of our intellectual faculties, of our needs, and of our will.”

This quotation (the words in brackets are mine) is taken from p. 72 of what may be one of the scarcest Anarchist publications, on which my eye lit on a bookstall ten days after writing the above article: “Philosophie de l’lnsoumission ou Pardon a Cain,” par Felix P. (New York, 1854, iv. 74 pp., 12mo) — that is, “Philosophy of Non-Submission,” the author’s term for Anarchy. I do not know who Felix P. was; apparently one of the few French Socialists, like Dejacque, Bellegarrigue, Coeurderoy, and Claude Pelletier, whom the lessons of 1848 and other experiences caused to make a bold step forward and arrive at Anarchism by various ways and independent of Proudhon. In the passage quoted he put things into a nutshell, leaving an even balance between the claims of Communism and Individualism. This is exactly what I feel in 1914, sixty years after. The personal predilections of everybody would remain unchanged and unhurt, but exclusivism would be banished, the two vital principles of life allied instead of looking askance at each other.

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