About the “Platform”

Nestor Makhno’s reply to A Project of Anarchist Organisation, 1928

Dear Comrade Malatesta,

I have read your response to the project for an “Organisational Platform of a General Union of Anarchists”, a project published by the group of Russian anarchists abroad.

My impression is that either you have misunderstood the project for the “Platform” or your refusal to recognise collective responsibility in revolutionary action and the directional function that the anarchist forces must take up, stems from a deep conviction about anarchism that leads you to disregard that principle of responsibility.

Yet, it is a fundamental principle, which guides each one of us in our way of understanding the anarchist idea, in our determination that it should penetrate to the masses, in its spirit of sacrifice.  It is thanks to this that a man can choose the revolutionary way and ignore others.  Without it no revolutionary could have the necessary strength or will or intelligence to bear the spectacle of social misery, and even less fight against it.  It is through the inspiration of collective responsibility that the revolutionaries of all epochs and all schools have united their forces; it is upon this that they based their hope that their partial revolts – revolts which opened the path for the oppressed – were not in vain, that the exploited would understand their aspirations, would extract from them the applications suitable for the time and would use them to find new paths toward their emancipation. Continue reading “About the “Platform””

Further Thoughts on Anarchism and the Labour Movement

March 1926

Obviously I am unable to make myself understood to the Spanish speaking comrades, at least as regards my ideas on the labour movement and on the role of anarchists within it. I tried to explain these ideas in an article that was published in El Productor on 8th January (an article whose heading, ‘The Labour Movement and Anarchism’ was wrongly translated as ‘Syndicalism and Anarchism’). But from the response that I saw in those issues of El Productor that reached me I see I haven’t managed to make myself understood. I will therefore return to the subject in the hope of greater success this time.

The question is this: I agree with the Spanish and South American comrades on the anarchist goals that must guide and inform all our activity. But I disagree with some as to whether the anarchist programme, or rather, label, should be imposed on workers’ unions, and whether, should such a programme fail to meet with the approval of the majority, the anarchists should remain within the wider organisation, continuing from within to make propaganda and opposing the authoritarian, monopolist and collaborationist tendencies that are a feature of all workers’ organisations, or to separate from them and set up minority organisations. Continue reading “Further Thoughts on Anarchism and the Labour Movement”

The Labour Movement and Anarchism

An open letter addressed to the editors of El Productor, an anarchist journal published in Barcelona.
Dated December 1925

Dear comrades

In your journal I came across the following sentence: ‘If we must choose between Malatesta, who calls for class unity, and Rocker, who stands for a labour movement with anarchist aims, we choose our German comrade.’ This is not the first time that our Spanish language press has attributed to me ideas and intentions I do not have, and although those who wish to know what I really think can find it clearly set out in what I myself have written, I have decided to ask you to publish the following explanation of my position.

Firstly, if things were really as you present them, I too would opt for Rocker against your ‘Malatesta’, whose ideas on the labour movement bear little resemblance to my own. Let’s get one thing clear: a labour movement with anarchist objectives is not the same thing as an anarchist labour movement. Naturally everyone desires the former. It is obvious that in their activities anarchists look to the final triumph of anarchy – the more so when such activities are carried out within the labour movement, which is of such great importance in the struggle for human progress and emancipation. But the latter, a labour movement which is not only involved in propaganda and the gradual winning over of terrain to anarchism, but which is already avowedly anarchist, seems to me to be impossible and would in every way lack the purpose which we wish to give to the movement. Continue reading “The Labour Movement and Anarchism”