Murray Bookchin on Anarchism, Marxism, Socialism & the Libertarianism of the Left (part 1)



question you know anarchism perceived as being a kind of infantile philosophy that appeals to the impulses of you know adolescents who want to repeal and who basically adopt all the trappings of anarchism you know the black clothing in the circle there the a in the circle and let's talk about that that the first one to say that by the way I think was Clemenceau he said you've never been young if you weren't an anarchist some time in your life it's a loose rotation I mean I'm not giving you an exact you know quote and there's another feature too and that is a very important feature and that is that amicus have not defined themselves the word anti-authoritarian typically is negative it's not a definition in positive terms you say so consequently one doesn't so much called a vision of what a new society should be like and even discuss and quarrel which is quite healthy over that vision or various competing visions what makes competing visions an end in itself the result is that you cannot appeal to any large number of people it becomes esoteric it becomes a subtle doctrine you see and it suffers sometimes from the degree of subtlety that makes it completely incoherent and let me say to and this is important which had a profound effect upon my experience with amicus not just the question of our ideas and that is the fact that amicus value this incoherence they make that a fetish they value it and that finds itself expressed in many different ways not only in ideas but even in procedure and even an organization the idea is the more coherent you are the more authoritarian you are this is an absurdity because we're not only looking we're not only if let me put it more precisely we if we are were looking for a common idea okay try to fetishize incoherence we'd be working against rationality science predicates itself on coherence the debate within science or between scientists in the same field is the idea to unify unify reality to find what its common denominators are to find what it's sensibility and susceptibility to a unity to a coherent and meaningful world is and this is the highest morality the highest form of morality to make a fetish out of the idea that you are incomprehensible or that your theories are incomprehensible is to actually subvert the possibility of creating a movement and building yourself on a form of individualism that's where the real individualism that Anika's have been accused of comes into play the idea above all that you should not be comprehensible and that is an abdication a total application of the idea that you should build a movement from this came the terrorist group dynamic ISM the idea of the heroic individual who will change the world and you know if you want to really look at it it's a very a latest point of view I took what was generally regarded as the popular image I'm not the terrorist you know that idiotic motion of anarchy is being bombed throwing in the rest I took the more sophisticated image of Anarchy namely anti-authoritarianism a word I'm sure you've heard repeatedly the formation of new movements movements in particular that drew from the entire socialist or if you like communist tradition and try to see what they have in common and how they melded together to create a unified movement that was important the most important thing is what that movement stood for not simply what that movement was against it was easy enough to find people who would insist and agree with me as they agreed with each other I'm quite sure that you had the capitalism was irrational minerally that it was a rational that was an irrational social order and that you had to bring rationality to a social order that thought the public would try to maximize if I may use a term that I don't particularly like but try to maximize the possibilities of ever emerging developments and technology ever emerging developments in insight into the natural world inside into the relationship of people to each other and unify that into a coherent body of ideas that I assumed was the one image I could work with a manic ism I couldn't do that in the communist movement and I would not call it communism but exactly the communist or stand honest movement that was closed the door was closed on that with the emergence of the Bolsheviks and with that also the betrayals of the social democrats who in turn closed the door so far as I was concerned on conventional Marxism and I wanted this thing we share very plainly between Karl Marx's writing and development he changed his point of view very radically from the early part of his life through this middle part and to a little latter part of noxian ideas the changes were incredible most people are not cognizant of them it's only now that we have in English I point to the 40 volumes of Marx's collected works that we have access to points of view that Marx never expressed in the conventional format that Stalinism gave it so I had neither social democracy Marxism and therefore I was left with only one thing a conventional but at least sophisticated anti-authoritarian and more importantly utopian vision of a rational society and that rationality was totally closed to me by the development of capitalism which turned out to be as a the account of the history in the sense of a movement that always turned anything that could have served the public good into a worse evil most concluded most of decisively the uses of Technology there everything from a 10-9 to a nuclear reactor is designed in one way or another to do some harm and is used most effectively for sinister and frankly evil purposes but what I was doing unbeknownst to me was not working with the merges that had taken place in all these different social movements Karl Marx was not simply an authoritarian he was also in his own way of libertarian and books have been written demonstrating that fact very very effectively and one has to account for how these relationships interacted with the children Marx's own mind and in the movements that Marx participated as if some extent even founded like the first international it must be remembered that the inaugural address of the first international one of the most libertarian statements written and promulgated by a mass movement the International workingmen's association which we now called the first international that inaugural address which says there only the working class can liberate itself that famous line which has appeared on endless anarchist periodicals was written by guests who follow Marx and these things have to be squared off squared off and their relationship historically and theoretically have to be clearly defined but they never were not to my satisfaction anyway so the point is that when I met you I was looking for something that the spring the trap that conventional versions of Marxism of communism of anarchism had created to me and I would exclude anarchism at that time because anarchism was so ill-defined that anything you wanted to believe would be as acceptable as anything else it made no difference and as I said this at least for the anarchist was deliberate whereas for all the other movements it was not it was due to the unintended consequences of fights within the movements themselves what I was giving you in point the fact or trying to present the people who were reading my works was a version of a libertarian movement that approximated syndicalism when Joe Hill famously wrote his parting statement to all before it was going to be shot by a youth or was a firing squad said don't mourn organize this would have offended thousands of Anika's it was exactly not to organize but to think of a revolution emerging completely spontaneously that people who call themselves Anika's believed it yet it was accepted as things will be accepted don't mourn organize was a Cinderella statement if it was authoritarian anti-authoritarian in its premises that's not virtue that's not what the amicus believe them and many anarchists most famously Malatesta condemned syndicalism when it was being presented in the 1890s and early 1900s for being authoritarian for being quote dogmatic because it was systematic relatively speaking condemned these movements and that fight never ended it never ended so I didn't realize first of all the nature of the fight and what was at its root and I gradually assimilated more and more a deeper understanding at least as I thought of anarchism when in the book that I wrote not too long ago social anarchism or lifestyle anarchism and which I emphasized as a result of my studies of postmodern that's great this is the joke as a result of my studies of post-modernism that anarchism was a lifestyle it was primarily a lifestyle and I had been imputing when I talked about organization to it when I talked about organization and the importance of building movements and the anarchists were opposed to mass movements incidentally I didn't realize that I was mouthing basically certain syndicalist notions which were antithetical telemachus anak ism was an individual philosophy and it had its roots quite understandably in my external and not surprisingly it has been sterner has been adopted by every point of view you can think of pretty nearly including certain fascists but it was an individualistic tendency syndicalism emphasized the autonomy of the individual and that word autonomy was more important than syndicalism than words like freedom freedom in fact was I identified with individual autonomy and nothing was more antithetical to the syndicalists and the idea that they should reduce their movement to mainly individual autonomy which is what the anarchists were trying to do this fight went on in Spain very markedly in the part and the public view




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