"Anarcho-syndicalism: Theory and Practice" by Rudolf Rocker, Chapter 1. Anarchism

this audio production was made in collaboration with audible anarchist anarcho-syndicalism theory and practice an introduction to a subject which the Spanish war has brought into overwhelming prominence by Rudolf rocker chapter one anarchism its aims and purposes anarchism is a definite intellectual current in the life of our times whose adherents advocate the abolition of economic monopolies and of all political and social coercive institutions within society in place of the present capitalistic economic order anarchists would have a free association of all productive forces based upon cooperative labor which would have as its sole purpose the satisfying of the necessary requirements of every member of society and would no longer have in view the special interest of privileged minorities within the social Union in place of the present state organization with their lifeless machinery of political and bureaucratic institutions anarchists desire a federation of free communities which shall be bound to one another by their common economic and social interests and shall arrange their affairs by mutual agreement and fair contract anyone who studies at all profoundly the economic and social development of the present social system will easily recognize that these objectives do not spring from the utopian ideas of a few imaginative innovators but that they are the logical outcome of a thorough examination of the present-day social maladjustments which with every new phase of the existing social conditions manifest themselves more plainly and more unwholesome lee modern monopoly capitalism and the totalitarian state are merely the last terms in a development which could culminate in no other results the portentous development of our present economic system leading to a mighty accumulation of social wealth in the hands of privileged minorities and to a continuous impoverishment of the great masses of the people prepared the way for the present political and social reaction and befriended it in every way it sacrificed the general interest of human society to the private interest of individuals and thus systematically undermined the relationship between man and man people forgot that industry is not an end in itself but should only be a means to ensure to man his material subsistence and to make accessible to him the blessings of a higher until actual culture where industry is everything and man is nothing begins the realm of a ruthless economic despotism whose workings are no less disastrous than those of any political despotism the two mutually augment one another and they are fed from the same source the economic dictatorship of the monopolies and the political dictatorship of the totalitarian state are the outgrowth of the same political objectives and the directors of both have the presumption to try to reduce all the countless expressions of social life to the mechanical tempo of the machine and to tune everything organic to the lifeless machine of the political apparatus our modern social system has split the social organism in every country into hostile classes internally and externally it has broken the common cultural circle up into hostile nations and both classes and nations confront one another with open antagonism and by their ceaseless warfare keep the communal social life in continual convulsions the late World War and it's terrible after-effects which are themselves only the results of the present struggles for economic and political power are only the logical consequences of this unendurable condition which will inevitably lead us to a universal catastrophe if social development does not take a new course soon enough the mere fact that most states are obliged today to spend from 50 to 70% of their annual income for so-called national defense and the liquidation of old war debts is proof of the unten ability of the present status and should make clear to everybody that the alleged protection which the state affords the individual is certainly purchased too dearly the ever-growing power of a soulless political bureaucracy which supervises and safeguards the life of man from the cradle to the grave is putting ever greater obstacles in the way of the solid arrack cooperation of human beings and crushing out every possibility of new development a system which in every act of its life sacrifices the welfare of large sections of the people yes of whole nations to the selfish lust for power and the economic interests of small minorities must of necessity dissolve all social ties and lead to a constant war of all against all this system has been merely the pacemaker for the great intellectual and social reaction which finds its expression today in modern fascism far surpassing the obsession for power of absolute monarchy of past centuries and seeking to bring every sphere of human activity under the control of the state just as for the various systems of religious theology God is everything and man nothing so for this modern political theology the state is everything and the man nothing and just as behind the will of God there always lay hidden the will of privileged minorities so today their hides behind the will of the state only the selfish interest of those who feel called to interpret this will in their own sense and to force it upon the people anarchists ideas are to be found in every period of known history although there still remains a good deal of historical work in this field we encounter them in the Chinese sage Loud see the course and the right way and in the later Greek philosophers the hedonist and cynics and other advocates of so-called natural right and in particular in Zeno who at the opposite pole from Plato founded the stoic school they found expression in the teaching of the Gnostic car parties in Alexandria and had an unmistakable influence on certain Christian sects of the Middle Ages in France Germany and Holland almost all of which fell victims to the most savage persecutions in the history of the Bohemian Reformation they found a powerful champion in Peter Chao chickie who in his work the net of faith passed the same judgment on the church and the state as Tolstoy did later among the great humanists there was Rabelais who in his description of the happy abbey of Thelema gargantuan presented a picture of life freed from all authoritarian restraints of other pioneers of libertarian thinking we will mention here only labo et Sylvan Marechal and above all Diderot and whose voluminous writings one finds thick least room the utterances of a truly great mind which had rid itself of every authoritarian prejudice meanwhile it was reserved for more recent history to give clear form to the anarchist perception of life and connected with the immediate processes of social evolution this was done for the first time in William Godwin splendidly conceived work concerning political justice and its influence upon general virtue and happiness London 1793 Godwin's work was we might say the ripened fruit of that long evolution of the concepts of political and social radicalism in England which proceeds in a continuous line from George Buchanan through Richard Hooker Gerrard Winstanley Algernon Sidney John Locke robert wallace and john bell errs to jeremy bentham joseph priestley Richard Price and Thomas Paine Godwin recognized very clearly that the cause of social evils is to be sought not in the form of the state but in its very existence just as the state presents only a caricature of a genuine society so also it makes of human beings who are held under its eternal guardianship merely caricatures of their real selves by constantly compelling them to repress their natural inclinations and holding them to things that are repugnant to their inner impulses only in this way is it possible to mold human beings to the established form of good subjects a normal human being who was not interfered with in his natural development would of himself shaped the environment that suits his inborn demand for peace and freedom but Godwin also recognized that human beings can only live together naturally and freely when the proper economic conditions for this are given and when the individual is no longer subject to exploitation by another the consideration which the representatives of mere political radicalism almost completely overlooked hence they were later compelled to make consistently greater concessions to that power of the state which they had wished to restrict to a minimum Godwin's idea of a stateless society assumed the social ownership of all natural and social wealth and the carrying on of economic life by the free cooperation of the producers in this sense he was really the founder of the later communist anarchism Godwin's work had a very strong influence on advanced circles of the English workers and the more enlightened sections of the liberal intelligentsia more important of all he contributed to give the young socialist movement in England which found its matura STEC SPO nents in Robert Owen John Gray and William Thompson the unmistakable libertarian character which it had for a long time and which it never assumed in Germany and many other countries but a far greater influence on the development of anarchist theory was that of Pierre Joseph Prudhomme one of the most intellectually gifted and certainly the most many sided writer of whom modern socialism can boast Prudhomme was completely rooted in the intellectual and social life of his period and these inspired his attitude upon every question he dealt with therefore he is not to be judged as he has been even by many of his later followers by his special practice proposals which were born of the needs of the hour amongst the numerous socialist thinkers of his time he was the one who understood most profoundly the cause of social maladjustment and possessed besides the greatest breadth of vision he was the outspoken opponent of all systems and saw in social evolution the eternal urge to new and higher forms of intellectual and social life and it was his conviction that the evolution could not be bound by any abstract general formulas fruit all opposed the influence of the Jacobin tradition which dominated the thinking of the French Democrats and most of the Socialists of that period with the same determination as the interference of the central state and economic policy in the natural processes of social advance to rid society of these two cancerous growths was for him the great task of the 19th century revolution Prudhomme was no communist he condemned property as merely the privilege of exploitation but he recognized the ownership of the instruments of production by all made effective by industrial groups bound to one another by free contract so long as this Rite was not made to serve the exploitation of others and as long as the full product of his individual labor was assured to every human being this organization based on reciprocity mutuality guarantees the enjoyment of equal rights by each in exchange for equal services the average working time required for the completion of any product comes the measure of its value and is the basis of mutual exchange in this way capital is deprived of its you cereal power and is completely bound up with the performance of work by being made available to all it ceases to be an instrument for exploitation such a form of economy makes a political coercive apparatus superfluous society becomes a League of free communities which arrange their affairs according to need by themselves or in association with others and in which man's freedom finds in the freedom of others not its limitation but its security and Confirmation quote the freer the more independent and enterprising the individual is in a society the better for the society unquote this organization of federalism in which Bruno saw the immediate future sets no definite limitations on further possibilities of development and offers the widest scope to every individual and social activity starting out from this point of view of the Federation Prudhomme combated likewise the aspirations for political activity of the awakening nationalism of the time and in particular that nationalism which found in Mazzini Garibaldi lol and others such strong advocates in this respect also he saw more clearly than most of his contemporaries Prudhomme exerted a strong influence on the development of socialism which made itself felt especially in the Latin countries but the so-called individual anarchism which found able exponents in America in such men as Josiah Warren Steven pearl Andrews William B green Lysander Spooner Francis D Tandy and most notably in Benjamin R Tucker ran in similar lines though none of its representatives could approach Rudolph's breath a view anarchism found a unique expression and mocks Turner's Johann Kaspar Schmidt's book der einzige ax wound sign again tongue the ego and his own which it is true quickly passed into oblivion and had no influence at all in the anarchist movement as such though it was to experience an unexpected resurrection 50 years later Stern errs book is pre-eminently a philosophical work which traces bands dependence on so-called higher powers through all its devious ways and is not timid about drawing inferences from the knowledge gained by the survey it is the book of a conscious and deliberate insurgent which reveals no reverence for any authority however exalted and therefore impels power ly2 independent thinking and ism found a virile champion of vigorous revolutionary energy in mikhail bakunin who took his stand upon the teachings of prude all but extended them on the economic side when he along with the collectivist wing of the first international came out for the collective ownership of the land and of all other means of production and wished to restrict the right of private ownership to the full product of individual labor Bakunin was also an opponent of communism which in his time had a thoroughly authoritarian character like that which it has again assumed today in Bolshevism in one of his four speeches at the Congress of the League of peace and freedom in Bern 1868 he said quote I am NOT a communist because communism unites all forces of society in the state and becomes absorbed in it because it inevitably leads to the concentration of all property in the hands of the state while I seek the abolition of the state the complete elimination of the principle of authority and governmental guardianship which under the pretense of making men moral and civilizing them has up to now always enslaved oppressed exploited and ruined them unquote bakunin was a determined revolutionary and did not believe in an amicable adjustment of the existing class conflict he recognized that the ruling class is blindly and stubbornly opposed even the slightest social reform and accordingly saw the only salvation in an international social revolution which should abolish all the ecclesiastical political military bureaucracy and judicial institutions of the existing social system and introduced in their stead a Federation of free workers associations to provide for the requirements of daily life since he like so many of his contemporaries believed in the close proximity of the Revolution he directed all of his vast energy to combine all the genuinely revolutionary and libertarian elements within and without the International to safeguard the coming revolution against any dictatorship or retrogression to the old conditions thus he became in a very special sense the creator of the modern anarchist movement anarchism found a valuable advocate in Peter Kropotkin who set himself the task of making the achievements of modern natural science available for the development of the sociological concepts of anarchism in his ingenious book mutual aid a factor of evolution he entered the lists against so-called social Darwinism whose exponents tried to prove the inevitability of the existing social conditions from the Darwinian theory of the struggle for existence by raising the struggle of the strong against the weak to the status of an iron law for all natural processes to which even man is subject in reality this conception was strongly influenced by the Malthusian doctrine that life stable is not spread for all and that the unneeded we'll just have to reconcile themselves to this fact Kropotkin showed that this conception of nature as a field of unrestricted warfare is only a caricature of real life and that along with the brutal struggle for existence which is fought out with tooth and claw there exists in nature another principle which is expressed in the social combination of the weaker species and the maintenance of races by the evolution of social instincts and mutual aid in this sense man is not the creator of society but society is the creator of man for he inherited from them that preceded him the social instinct which alone enabled him to maintain himself in his first environment against the physical superiority of other species and to make sure of an undreamed-of height of development the second tendency in the struggle for existence is far superior to the first as is shown by the steady retrogression of those species which have no social life and are dependent merely upon their physical strength this view which today is meeting with consistently wider acceptance in the Natural Sciences and in social research open wholly new vistas to speculation concerning human evolution the fact is that even under the worst despotism most of man's personal relations with his fellows are arranged by free agreement and solid Eric Cohen without which social life would not be possible at all if this were not the case even the strongest coercive arrangements of the state would not be able to maintain the social order for a single day however these natural forms of behavior which arise from man's inmost nature are today constantly interfered with and crippled by the effects of economic exploitation and governmental guardianship which represents in human society the brutal form of the struggle for existence which has to be overcome by the other form of mutual aid and free cooperation the consciousness of personal responsibility and that other precious good that has come down to man by inheritance from remote antiquity that capacity for sympathy with others in which all social ethics all ideas of social justice have their origin developed best in freedom like Bakunin Kropotkin ii was a revolutionary but he like LS a recluse and others saw in revolution only a special phase of the evolutionary process which appears when new social aspirations are so restricted in their natural development by authority that they have to shatter the old shell by violence before they can function as new factors in human life in contrast to Prudhomme and Bakunin Kropotkin advocated community ownership not only of the means of production but of the products of labour as well as it was his opinion that in the present status of technique no exact measure of the value of individual labour is possible but that on the other hand by a rational direction of our modern methods of labour it will be possible to assure comparative abundance to every human being communist anarchism which before him had already been urged by Joseph – Jacques Ellis a recluse Erico Malatesta Carlo Cafiero and others and which is advocated by the great majority of anarchists today found in him one of the most brilliant exponents mentioned must also be made here of Leo Tolstoy who took from primitive Christianity and on the basis of the ethical principles laid down in the Gospels arrived at the idea of society without rulership comment all anarchists is the desire to free society of all political and social coercive institutions which stand in the way of development of a free humanity in this sense mutualism collectivism and communism are not to be regarded as closed systems permitting no further development but merely as economic assumptions as to the means of safeguarding a free community there will even probably be in society of the future different forms of economic cooperation operating side-by-side since any social progress must be associated with that free experiment and practical testing out for which in a society of free communities there will be afforded every opportunity the same holds true for the various methods of anarchism most anarchists of our time are convinced that a social transformation of society cannot be brought about without violent revolutionary convulsions the violence of these convulsions of course depends upon the strength of the resistance which the ruling classes will be able to oppose to the realization of the new ideas the wider the circles which are inspired with the idea of a reorganization of society in the spirit of freedom and socialism the easier will be the birth pains of the coming social revolution in modern anarchism we have the confluence of the two great currents which during and since the French Revolution have found such characteristic expression in the intellectual life of Europe socialism and liberalism modern socialism developed when profound observers in social life came to see more and more clearly that political constitutions and changes in the form of government could never get to the bottom of that great problem that we call the social question its supporters recognize that a social equalizing of human beings despite the loveliest of theoretical assumptions is not possible so long as people are separated into classes on the basis of their owning and not owning property classes whose mere existence excludes in advance any thought of a genuine community and so they're developed the recognition that only by elimination of economic monopolies and common ownership of the means of production in a word by a complete transformation of all economic conditions and social institutions associated with them does a condition of social justice become thinkable a status in which society shall become a genuine community and human labor shall no longer serve the ends of exploitation but shall serve to assure abundance to everyone but as soon as socialism began to assemble its forces and became a movement there at once came to light certain differences of opinion due to the influence of the social environment in different countries it is a fact that every political concept from theocracy to Cesar ISM and dictatorship have affected certain factions in the socialist movement meanwhile there have been two great currents in political thought which have been of decisive significance for the development of socialistic ideas liberalism which powerfully stimulated advanced Minds in the anglo-saxon countries and Spain in particular and democracy in the later sense to which Rousseau gave expression in his social contract and which found its most influential representatives in French Jacobin ISM while liberation in its social theorizing started off from the individual and wished to limit the state's activities to a minimum democracy took its stand on an abstract collective concept Russo's general will which its to fix in the national state liberalism and democracy were pre-eminently political concepts and since the great majority of the original adherents of both maintained the right of ownership in the old sense these had to renounce them both when economic development took a course which could not be practically reconciled with the original principles of democracy and still less with those of liberalism democracy with its motto of all citizens equal before the law and liberalism with its right of man over his own person both shipwrecked on the realities of the capitalist economic form so long as millions of human beings in every country had to sell their labor power to a small minority of owners and sink into the most wretched misery if they could find no buyers the so called equality before the law remains merely a pious fraud since the laws are made by those who find themselves in possession of the social wealth but in the same way there can also be no talk of a right over one's own person for that right ends when one is compelled to submit to the economic dictation of another if he does not want to starve an arc ism has in common with liberalism the idea that the happiness and prosperity of the individual must be the standard of all social matters and in common with the great representatives of liberal thought it has also the idea of limiting the functions of government to a minimum its supporters have followed this thought to its ultimate logical consequences and wish to eliminate every institution of political power from the life of society when Jefferson clothes the basic concept of liberalism in the words quote that government is best which governs least unquote then anarchists say with Thoreau quote that government is best which governs not at all unquote in common with the founders of socialism anarchists demand the abolition of all economic monopolies and the common ownership of the soil and all other means of production the use of which must be available for all without distinction for personal and social freedom is conceivable only on the basis of equal economic advantages for everybody within the Socialist Movement itself the anarchists represent the viewpoint that the war against capitalism must be at the same time a war against all institutions political power for in history economic exploitation has always gone hand in hand with political and social oppression the exploitation of man by man and the Dominion of man over man are inseparable and each is the condition of the other as long as within society a possessing and a non possessing group of human beings face one another in enmity the state will be indispensable to the possessing minority for the protection of its privileges when this condition of social injustice vanishes to give place to a higher order of things which I'll recognize no special rights and shall have as its basic assumption the community of social interests government over men must yield the field to the administration of economic and social affairs or to speak with Sansom own quote the time will come when the art of governing man will disappear a new art will take its place the art of administering things unquote and his dispossesses of the theory maintained by Marx and his followers that the state in the form of a proletarian dictatorship is a necessary transitional stage to a classless society in which the state after the elimination of all class conflicts and then of classes themselves will dissolve itself and vanish from the canvas this concept which completely mistakes the real nature of the state and the significance in history of the factor of political power is only the logical outcome of so-called economic materialism which sees in all the phenomena of history merely the inevitable effects of the methods of production of the time under the influence of this theory people came to regard the different forms of the state and all other social institutions as a juridical and political superstructure on the economic edifice of society and thought that they had found in that theory the key to every historical process in reality every section of history affords us thousands of examples of the way in which the economic development of a country has been set back for centuries and forced into prescribed forms by particular struggles for political power before the rise of the ecclesiastical monarchy Spain was industrially the most advanced country in Europe and held the first place in economic production in almost every field but a century after the triumph of the Christian monarchy most of its industries had disappeared what was left of them survived only in the most wretched conditions in most industries they had reverted to the most primitive methods of production agriculture collapse canals and waterways fell into ruin and vast stretches of country were transformed into deserts down to this day Spain has never recovered from that setback the aspirations of a particular caste for political power had laid economic development fallow for centuries princely absolutism in Europe with its silly economic ordinances and industrial legislation which punished severely any deviation from the prescribed methods of production and permitted no new inventions blocked industrial progress in European countries for centuries and prevented its natural development and we're they're not considerations of political power which after the world war constantly Bakht any escape from the universal economic crisis and delivered the future of whole countries to politics playing generals and political adventurers who will assert that modern fascism was an inevitable result of economic development in Russia however where the so called proletarian dictatorship has ripened into reality the aspirations of a particular party for political power have prevented any truly socialistic reconstruction of economy and have forced the country into the slavery of a grinding state capitalism the dictatorship of the proletariat in which naive souls wish to see merely a passing but inevitable transition stage to real socialism has today grown into a frightful despotism which lags behind the tyranny of the fascist states in nothing the assertion that the state must continue to exist until class conflicts and classes with them disappear sounds in the light of all historical experience almost like a bad joke every type of political power presupposes some particular form of human slavery for the maintenance of which it is called into being just as outwardly that is in relation to other states the state has to create certain order official antagonisms in order to justify its existence so also internally the cleavage of society into castes ranks and classes is an essential condition of its continuance the state is capable only of protecting old privileges and creating new ones in that its whole significance is exhausted a new state which has been brought into existence by a social revolution can put an end to the privileges of the old ruling classes but it can do this only by immediately setting up a new privileged class which it will require for the maintenance of its rulership the development of the Bolshevist bureaucracy in Russia under the alleged dictatorship of the proletariat which has never been anything but the dictatorship of a small clique over the proletariat and the entire Russian people is merely a new instance of an old historical experience which has repeated itself uncountable times this new ruling class which today is rapidly growing into a new aristocracy is set apart from the great masses of Russian peasants and workers just as clearly as the privileged caste in classes in other countries from the masses of their own peoples it could perhaps be objected that the new Russian commissar och recei cannot be put up on the same footing as the powerful financial and industrial oligarchies of capitalist States but the objection will not hold it is not the size or the extent of the privilege that matters but its immediate effect on the daily life of the average human being an American working man who under moderately decent working conditions earns enough to feed clothe and house himself humanely and has enough left over to provide himself with some cultured enjoyments feels the possession of millions by the Mellon's and Morgan's less than a man who earns hardly enough to satisfy his most urgent necessities and who feels the privileges of a little caste of bureaucrats even if these are not millionaires people who can scarcely get enough dry bread to satisfy their hunger who live in squalid rooms which they are often obliged to share with strangers and who on top of this are compelled to work under an intensified speed-up system which raises their productive capacity to the utmost can but feel the privileges of an upper class which lacks nothing much more keenly than their class calmer in capitalist countries and this situation becomes still more unbearable when a despotic state denies the lower classes the right to complain of existing conditions so that any protest is made at the risk of their lives but even a far greater degree of economic equality than exists in Russia would still be no guarantee against political and social oppression it is just this which Marxism and all the other schools of authoritarian socialism have never understood even in the prison in the cloister or in the barracks one finds a fairly high degree of economic quality as all the inmates are provided with the same dwelling the same food the same uniform and the same tasks the ancient Inca state in Peru and the Jesuit state in Paraguay had brought equal economic provision for every inhabitant to a fixed system but in spite of this the vilest despotism prevailed there and the human being was merely the otamatone of a higher will on whose decisions he had not the slightest influence it was not without reason that Bruno saw in a socialism without freedom the worst form of slavery the urge for social justice can only develop properly and be effective when it grows out of man's sense of personal freedom and is based on that in other words socialism will be free or will not be at all in its recognition of this lies the genuine and profound justification for the existence of anarchism institutions serve the same purpose in the life of society as bodily organs do in plants or animals there are the organs of the social body organs do not rise arbitrarily but because of the definite necessities of the physical and social environment the eye of a deep-sea fish is formed very differently from that of an animal that lives on land because it has to satisfy quite different demands change conditions of life produced changed organs but the organ always performs the function it was evolved to perform or a related one and it gradually disappears or becomes rudimentary as soon as its function is no longer necessary to the organism but an organ never takes on a function that does not accord with its proper purpose the same is true of social institutions they too do not rise arbitrarily but are called in to be by special social needs to serve definite purposes in this way the modern state was evolved after monopoly economy and the class divisions associated with them had begun to make themselves more and more conspicuous in the framework of the old social order the newly arisen possessing classes had need of a political instrument of power to maintain their economic and social privileges over the masses of their own people and to impose them from without on other groups of human beings thus arose the appropriate social conditions for the evolution of the modern state as the organ of political power of privileged castes and classes for the forcible subjugation and oppression of the non possessing classes this task is the political life work of the state the essential reason for it existing at all and to this task it has always remained faithful must remain faithful for it cannot escape from its skin its external forms have altered in the course of its historical development but its functions have always remained the same they have even been constantly broadened in just the measure in which its supporters have succeeded in making further fields of social activities subservient to their needs whether the state be monarchy or Republic whether historically it is anchored to autocracy or in a national Constitution its function remains always the same and just as the functions of the bodily organs of plants and animals cannot be arbitrarily altered so that for example one cannot at will hear with his eyes and see with his ears so also one cannot at pleasure transform an organ of social oppression into an instrument for the liberation of the oppressed the state can only be what it is the defender of mass exploitation and social privileges the creator of privileged classes and casts and of new monopolies who fails to recognize this function of the state does not understand the real nature of the present social order at all and is incapable of pointing out to humanity new outlooks for its social evolution anarchism is no patent solution for all human problems no utopia of a perfect social order as it is so often been called since on principle it rejects all absolute schemes and concepts it does not believe in any absolute truth or indefinite final goals for human development but in an unlimited perfectibility of social arrangements and human living conditions which are always training after higher forms of expression and to which for this reason one can assign no definite terminus nor set any fixed goal the worst crime of any type of state is just that it always tries to force the rich diversity of social life into definite forms and adjust it to one particular form which allows for no wider outlook in regards the previously exciting status as finished the stronger it supporters feel themselves the more completely they succeed in bringing every field of social life into their service the more crippling is their influence on the operation of all creative cultural forces the more unwholesome ly does it affect the intellectual and social development of any particular epoch the so-called totalitarian state which now rests like a mountain wait upon whole peoples and tries to mold every expression of their intellectual and social life to the lifeless pattern set by a political Providence suppresses with ruthless and brutal force every effort at alteration of the existing conditions the totalitarian state is a dire omen for our time and shows with frightful clarity whether such a return to the barbarity of past centuries must lead it is the triumph of the political machine over mind the rationalizing of human thought feeling and behavior according to the established rules of the officials it is consequently the end of all intellectual culture anarchism recognizes only the relative significance of ideas institutions and social forms it is therefore not a fixed self enclosed social system but rather a definite trend in the historic development of mankind which in contrast with the intellectual guardianship of all clerical and governmental institutions strives for the free unhindered unfolding of all the individual and social forces in life even freedom is only a relative not an absolute concept since it tends constantly to become broader and affect wider circles in more manifold ways for the anarchist freedom is not an abstract philosophical concept but the vital concrete possibility for every human being to bring to full development all the powers capacities and talents with which Nature has endowed him and turned them to social account the less this natural development of man is influenced by ecclesiastical or political guardianship the more efficient and harmonious will human personality become the more will it become the measure of the society in which it has grown this is the reason why all great culture periods in history have been periods of political weakness and that is quite natural for political systems are always set upon the mechanizing and not the organic development of social forces State and culture are in the depth of their being irreconcilable opposites Nietzsche recognized this very clearly when he wrote quote no one can finally spend more than he has that is good for individuals it holds good for people's if one spends oneself for power for hi politics for husbandry for Commerce parliamentarism military interests if one gives away that amount of reason earnestness will self-mastery which constitutes one's real self for one thing he will not have it for the other culture and the state let no one be deceived about this our antagonists the culture state is merely a modern idea the one lives on the other the one prospers at the expense of the other all great periods of culture are periods of political decline whatever is great in a cultured sense is non political is even anti political unquote a powerful state mechanism is the greatest hindrance to any higher cultural development where the state has been attacked by internal decay where the influence of political power on the creative forces of society is reduced to a minimum their culture thrives best for political rulership always strives for uniformity and tends to subject every aspect of social life to its guardianship and in this it finds itself an inescapable contradiction to the creative aspirations of cultural development which is always on the quest after new forms and fields of social activity and for which freedom of expression the many sidedness and the kaleidoscopic changes of things are just as vitally necessary as rigid forms dead rules and the forcible suppression of every manifestation of social life which are in contradiction to it every culture if its natural development is not too much affected by political restrictions experiences a perpetual renewal of the formative urge and out of that comes an ever-growing diversity of creative activity every successful piece of work stirs the desire for greater perfection and deeper inspiration each new form becomes the herald of new possibilities of development but the state creates no culture as is so often thoughtlessly asserted it only tries to keep things as they are safely anchored to stereotypes that has been the reason for all revolutions in history power operates only destructively then always on forcing every manifestation of life into the straitjacket of its laws its intellectual form of expression is dead Dogma its physical form brute force and this unintelligence of its objectives sets its stamp on its supporters also and renders them stupid and brutal even when they were originally endowed with the best of talents one who is constantly striving to force everything into a mechanical order at last becomes a machine himself and loses all human feeling it was from the understanding of this that modern anarchism was born and now draws its moral force only freedom can inspire men to great things and bring about social and political transformations the art of ruling men has never been the art of educating men and inspiring them to a new shaping of their lives dreary compulsion has at its command only lifeless drill which smothers any vital initiative at its birth and can bring forth only subjects not freemen freedom is the very essence of life the impelling force in all intellectual and social development the creator of every new outlook for the future of mankind the liberation of man from economic exploitation and from intellectual and political oppression which finds its finest expression in the world philosophy of anarchism is the first prerequisite for the evolution of a higher social culture and a new humanity this has been a production of audible anarchist you can find more audible anarchist on YouTube you

  1. Many thanks for the upload. I recall reading Rocker in the 70ies in college, along with many of the other usual suspects discussing anarchism and anarcho.syndicalism. Subscribed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *