From The Land of Proudhon

 

Social revolution is a term associated with anarchism. The ideological background is that a political revolution does not extend much beyond redecoration or reoccupation of institutional dominance. This is precisely what anarchists contest. The question is: to remain in the social struggle, even if it is the wrong direction as in Spain in 1938? Many anarchists would not have the heart to give up the fight. Dealing with the process towards the lost revolution is the book of Daniel Aïache , La révolution défaite , Les groupements révolutionnaires parisiens face à la révolution espagnole (The Lost Revolution , Parisian Revolutionary Groups With Regard to the Spanish Revolution , Paris, 2013).

 

What type of organization did Bakunin have in mind for the struggle for social change? He drew the lines in his ” Revolutionary Catechism ” (not to be confused with the ” Catechism of the Revolutionary” by Serge Netchaïev ). Revolutionary catechism is one of the two chapters of Bakunin’s Principles and Organization of the International Revolutionary Society (1866). The French edition (Éditions du Chat Ivre, 2013) is accompanied by a comprehensive introduction of the French philosopher and anarchist, Jean-Christophe Angaut.

 

That introduction is informative. Angaut focuses on issues such as placing this text in the development of ideas and opinions of Bakunin himself, and what to do in particular with the part of the text dealing with the organization of the secret national and international brotherhood. After that Angaut makes clear how the catechism is written in line with ideas of Proudhon.

 

Then we find two other authors who write within the extension of revolutionary activities. Suppose that these activities have achieved their goal: dispelling the prevailing power. What will be the first revolutionary measures to take into account? Eric Hazan and Kamo treat a number of these in their book Premières Mesures Révolutionnaires (Paris, 2013). What they recommend is to set the irreversible.

Thus, one should immediately transform the offices of power into living rooms, cafes, theatres, schools, restaurants, day care centres (chrèches) etc. In their offices they can show their authority, outside they do not know what to do and have lost their familiarity. It is well known how all the previous popular uprisings and revolutions have ended, with some of these described by Hazan and Kamo to explain what happened: restoring power and worse.

 

Disobedience

 

The preparation of popular uprising and social revolution occurs not as a systematic and advance planned process, it is a form of fermentation that runs out at a point: this far and no further. The ferment depends on many factors and one of them is to continually focus on specific topics such as feminism and anti- militarism. The French sociologist Andrée Michel (1920)  combines these ‘political’ symptoms – which she has been working on all her life – as a researcher, teacher, activist. I came across a bundle of her texts, written in the 1980s and 1990s (some with commentary from after 2000), entitled Féminisme et Antimilitarisme (Donnemarie -Dontilly , 2012) with an introduction by Jules Falquet. Fascinating and compelling!

There are several ways to enact fermentation and keep it going. Many of them relate to what Andrée Michel points out. It can be possible to group this all under the term ” libertarian forms of disobedience”. That denominator is chosen by André Bernard and Pierre Sommermeyer for their small manual entitled Désobéissances Libertaires, Manières d’agir et autres Façons de Faire (Paris, 2014) (Libertairen Disobidience, Manners of how to Handle and Other Ways to React).

 

Refraction

 

Bernard and Sommermeyer are both editors of the French anarchist journal Réfractions. The autumn issue (Nr 31, 2013) focuses on conflict. Conflict is part of anarchism, although it can seem that conflict is an external phenomenon to anarchism. Within the anarchist movement there are conflicts, not just “struggle in orientation” (individual/social anarchism) but also a struggle about the use of violence/non-violence and debate about organizational types (micro, macro, platform).

The spring issue (Nr 32, 2014) deals with the issue of technology in relation to ecological thinking. What logic for the future is obvious to anarchists? A definitive answer can’t be given. The authors rest in disagreement, so the future is open, if somewhat threatened.

 

Bloody War

 

It is impossible to miss the current commemorations of historidc war crimes: World War I raged a hundred years ago, and World War II was fought just decades later. Perhaps something worse than WWI could not be possible, but WWII surpassed the first in cruelty. It was said we would learn from it, no more war. However, when it comes to heavy industry and the military-industrial complex, it will never stop.

Therefore: commemoration? It merely provides an excuse for leaders and governments to continue their activities. In this light, the editors of the French anarchist weekly Le Monde libertaire put an extraordinary number under the headline” Killed by France ” (No. 57, September-October 2014). On the cover this is already clear with the help of the ‘image agitation’ by the French anarchist cartoonist Jacques Tardi: “Well then, the procession of ministers drop by. For commemorating the outbreak of the First World War, a hundred years ago. And then to think that for these bastards one has been pumped full of lead! “. Besides the impressive portfolio of Tardi, one can also find an interview with him about his ideas as well as his production’Putain de Guerre’ (Bloody war). It will be on stage on November 11, 2014 in London, England.

 

Also in this issue is an article about women in the war (because of course as war breaks out they are capable of doing men’s work), an interview with René Berthier on Kropotkin and the “Manifesto of the Sixteen”, an interview with the mayor, farmer and anti militarist from the northern French village of Craonne. The village was annihilated during WW1 and at least 40, 000 pounds of grenades are found in the region every year. An interesting contribution also comes from Pola K. She ponders why do many of the official fuss around the remembrance of war is packaged in white. While this war is death and destruction, blood, sweat and tears, black mud, brown rats. This is all washed white!

 

Thom Holterman

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Ella Harrison

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