Anarchy 103/Observations on Anarchy 99 and 100

From Anarchy
Jump to navigation Jump to search



I have frequently disagreed with or been irritated by articles in anarchy, but Nicolas Walter’s review of the Cohn-Bendit book leaves me bewildered, or rather the last part of it does. My Oxford Dictionary tells me what I have always assumed to be so, that bureaucracy means Government from offices. It seems rather strange that a writer in anarchy should tell us that Government is inevitable in any group which is too large to meet in a room. “We need leaders—but they should be followed only as long as they lead in the right direction.” What is the right direction and who decides it? If the individual followers decide for themselves, why do they need a leader? If they don’t, who does and how do we know he’s right? I find it impossible to sort my way through this Platonic maze. I would rather say what I have always said, “I don’t need any leaders.”
  As for Cohn-Bendit introducing dogma—this from a man who says, “bureaucracy is inevitable”. You can hardly be more dogmatic than that. In fact I found that one of the agreeable aspects of the Cohn-Bendit book was that it was refreshingly free from dogma. Fortunately I read it before reading the reviews. Whatever faults the book may have, it is a reasonably clear exposition (thank you, Gabriel) of the writers’ opinions, which is in happy contrast to most of what is written about anarchy in England. I think the best advice that readers of anarchy could be given is to read the book and ignore the reviews.

*   *   *


Gabriel cohn-bendit’s statement (anarchy 99) that “individualists … refuse to form groups” is false. Individualists do form groups for temporary, specific purposes, as Cohn-Bendit could have discovered in Paris where the Foyer Individualiste meets regularly. What individualists do not do is to allow a group to become an end in itself, able to claim “loyalty” (i.e. obedience) from its members, or exercise any kind of authority over them. Nor do they wish to submerge themselves in any organised, pyramidical structure of councils, syn­dicates, or communes, topped with “co-ordinators” who, in practice, would soon turn out to be oligarchs.
  However, since the hoary myth that individualists are anchorites still flourishes, I have little hope that my rectification will have much effect, particularly on persons who can believe that “in a society which seeks to crush the individual” salvation can be found
in “a deep feeling of collective strength”. To hope that the individual can be liberated from the old collectivism by creating a new one is a tragi-farce of the first order. I am not surprised that such prophets of the new tribalism as the Cohn-Bendits still cling to Marx. Individualists, from their point of view, may be “rather out of date”, but if their ideas constitute the future, they are welcome to it.

*   *   *


I am disturbed by Nicolas Walter’s frank assertion that Anarchists do not reject property. He states he is or rather he says Anarchists are against such property as can be used to exploit others. All property exploits others to some degree, so long as we have property we will have exploitation be it state property, private property, or any other conceivable kind of property. Let me make myself clearer, let us say one man has six eggs another man has none, the one man clinging to the belief that as he will be undoubtably in need of the six eggs, for he intends to eat them, claims those eggs as his property, assuming property to still exist. You see it seems to me that with the preservation of property you preserve the values of his and mine, them and theirs, with the strong possibilities of more wars and horrors arising from this. Indeed if all the benefits and produce of humanity were common to all then the man with six eggs would share his eggs with the other man, then he would have three eggs so that his fellow brother would not go hungry and even then the three eggs which each of them possess would not be the property of these two men for if other needy comrades are about they will be obliged to share what they have with one another in common as they would the sky, the air, the waters, all things. Let us do away with this talk of property it is ROBBERY, both the existence of private property and the state is the existence of exploitation, domination and oppression.

*   *   *


I have just read Nick Walter on the “dark side” of anarchism—which seems a rather sectarian way of referring to those with whom one disagrees—how about an issue of anarchy precisely on this? On, say, the protagonists of propaganda by deed, as well as Malatesta and the Italian terrorists, Spain, etc., up to the present time?