Anarchism 101: Organisation

many small fish organised together as one can eat the big fish

Anarchist? Organisation? Surely that’s a contradiction in terms!

This is still one of the most common ‘mainstream’ objections that anarchists encounter. The Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta responded to this topic at length.

Malatesta argued that human society is synonymous with organisation. Everything we require to live, from food to housing to education, is the product of cooperation and interaction with multitudes of other human beings. In order to live, humans have to associate for various purposes, and adopt the forms and means required to achieve those purposes. Which is to say, in order to live, humans build organisation.

The ruling class tells us that organisation cannot exist without ‘authority’, the idea that some are in command, and others must obey. To maintain this authority, all manner of violent coercion is required. The notion that there is no organisation without authority is a self-serving lie concocted by rulers of all kinds trying to defend their parasitic existence.

At the heart of anarchism is the idea that humans can organise and live and produce everything we need without masters, without a ruling class, and without any special group in command that everyone else must obey. Authority is not a prerequisite to social organisation, but a hindrance upon it. The ruling class gives us wars, poverty and environmental destruction, whilst syphoning off the wealth produced by the working class.

Political Organisation and Class Organisation

To us it only makes sense that we should unite with others who share our politics, reach agreement on strategy, share resources, and cooperate to advance our politics. Comrades who refuse to organise squander their time and energy on ineffective and isolated action, before falling into inactivity, and leaving the next generation of anarchists the task of once again rebuilding our politics.

We seek to build an organisation that unites committed revolutionary anarchists from across the working class, in order to advance our politics and strategy. This organisation cannot be separate from the working class. Anarchist ideas are a historical development of the experiences of workers, who as an exploited class seek to create a new world free of tyranny and exploitation in any form. The challenge before us is to make these ideas the leading ideas of struggle within the working class.

But it is not enough to only build anarchist organisation. The minority of workers who are convinced of anarchism are not enough to make a revolution. We should not make convincing everyone of every aspect of our ideas a prerequisite for revolutionary struggle. To convince people of our ideas, we need to struggle alongside them. This means that beyond the political organisation, anarchists must enter and build wider organisations of class struggle.

We call the wider organisations of class struggle mass organisations. Within the mass organisations we argue for anarchist principles and methods of struggle. We argue for ever greater and wider solidarity between struggles. We show that our own struggles and other struggles are linked, that we face common enemies, and that the issues we face have systematic causes rooted in capitalism.

We want to make anarchism the leading idea in struggle, but we never want to make the mass organisations officially “anarchist”. To be effective, mass organisations of class struggle must draw in all workers prepared to struggle, and not just those we can convince of anarchism.

Within organisations of class struggle we argue for direct action, and we fight against hierarchical control and for movement democracy. We argue for these principles and methods both because we believe these are the best methods for winning the immediate demands of movements today, and because we believe these methods and principles equip movements to fight and defeat greater enemies tomorrow.

By participating and fighting for our ideas within the organisations of struggle that exist and emerge today, we hope to support the development of the mass organisation of the working class that can make and win the social revolution against capitalism tomorrow.