No-Wing Anarchy

I am told that anarchism is a “left wing” ideology, by many. I am not sure those who claim this understand the true meaning of the term.

The terms “left wing” and “right wing” come from the position of seated delegates during the French Revolution. The bourgeoisie would sit to the left, and the monarchists would sit to the right. The first leftists were, in fact, capitalists.

The term anarchy stems from the Greek for “no rulers”. If the original designations of left and right were pointed at those trying to rule others, then it follows that anarchism has no place in either the left or right wings. Anarchism is not considered with how to rule over others. It is concerned with not being ruled.

“But!”…some will say… “These terms have changed since the French Revolution!” To that, I would ask “how?”. What is generally considered the left wing is full of parties and organizations that, like those early capitalists, claim to work for the people, and promise freedom under their rule. From the Democratic Party, to the myriad socialist or communist groups across the globe, those who consider themselves left wing strive to establish themselves as benevolent rulers over the people. They act in the name of the people, but always seem to place themselves apart, or ahead, of those they claim to act for.

As can be seen in the endless talk between those who call themselves leftists, these types of people always see themselves at the head of the system, calling the shots in the name of “the people”. Countless discussions are had about “How will x work?” or “Who will do x?”. These types of discussions exemplify the managerial personality of the leftist, as it seems they are more concerned with telling people what to do, with having a system of rulership, than rolling their sleeves up and doing something. “Who will grow the food without capitalism?” The people that need to eat! “Who will build the roads?” Whoever needs to travel!

What chains leftists down to the pillar of rulership is this need for a blueprint…the need for a plan…that they are presumably at the head of, or had a part developing. The leftist fears true anarchy. The leftist fears having to create the world around them as they go, without a system or framework to work within. In fact, leftists fear this so much, that in some cases, they even turn to violence against anarchists.

If anarchists and leftists have such similar views that anarchism can be considered “left wing”, then why is there a history of leftist violence against anarchists? The Soviets imprisoned and murdered anarchists within their borders. They declared war on those anarchists outside them. During the Mexican Revolution, the Red Battalions allied with the state against the anarchist forces of Emiliano Zapata. In more recent times, a Greek Communist group, the KKE, played the role of police during anti-austerity protests, and physically attacked anarchists. With this history of siding with the power of the system, and using that to crush anarchists, I question anyone who thinks that anarchism shares any of the same goals as the left!

The left and right are wings of the same system of capital. Neither offers freedom, only systems that give the illusion of freedom. I believe anarchists would do well to separate themselves from leftism, and maybe even those who call themselves leftists. If we are for a situation of “no rulers”, then surely the baggage that comes along with the history of left wing movements is something akin to a form of rulership that we should shrug off. Why chain ourselves to an ideology that for centuries has striven to rule over others in the name of some faux freedom? Reject both left and right wings…We do not need wings to fly!

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The Left used to be anti-monarchists, and republican liberals. Now they're for instituting the democratic State as the absolute ruler in their shallow belief system. Same for fascists.

"If anarchists and leftists have such similar views that anarchism can be considered “left wing”, then why is there a history of leftist violence against anarchists?"

Well, it's complicated. That is to say, there is a shared history. There was a time in the 19th century that seminal figures such as Marx, Bakunin, Proudhon, William Morris, Elisee Reclus, Gustav Landauer, Petr Kropotkin, William Godwin, Benjamin Tucker, Josiah Warren, Lysander Spooner, etc were all against the state and/or capitalism. They were all fighting a common enemy, and in the early stages at least, they were all associated with the 'left' in the sense of being opposed to monarchy, aristocracy and other forces of tradition. Remember that Marx was an admirer of the dynamism of the bourgeoisie who had wrought revolution against the aristocracy in France. Marx felt that the turn must be overthrown by the proletariat because decadence had set in (albeit he never used that term). In England, and to some degree France, this general leftist opposition to capitalism was called socialism. But as various thinkers and leaders worked out their ideas in more detail, they began to differentiate themselves from each other. Marx started calling his movement communism, Proudhon had already been calling himself an anarchist as had Bakunin, some called themselves mutualists, while others were still content to use the term socialism. All these people and groups were working more or less together and attended each others' meetings. But when the Marx - Bakunin split occurred, the various factions deepened and acrimony grew. Bakunin's warnings about Marx began to come true.

I don't think any of these people used the term 'left' much, if at all. However, many of them still used the word 'socialism' as a kind of umbrella term. Anarchism was considered part of the wider movement of and towards socialism. Marx of course, considered socialism as a stage towards communism.

As history unfolded, the Marx - Bakunin split became a more general communist - anarchist split. This is why later, when Lenin (inspired by Marx) led the Bolsheviks, he saw anarchists as a threat to his vision of state communism, since anarchists were against the state itself and not just as a means to a communist end. All communist violence against anarchists around the world in various revolutions can be understood in the light of this point forward.

Historically speaking then, early modern anarchism does come out of a more general (what we now more commonly call) 'left' oppositional movement because anarchists, communists, socialists, mutualists, were all at one time loosely affiliated, if not actively working together with, each other. But since around the 1920s, after Emma Goldman had long became disillusioned with the Soviet revolution, after what happened in Spain,and in Mexico, etc. most anarchists kept their distance from any communist / socialist movements. Which also probably explains why anarchism went dormant from about 1940 until the 1990s.

It's probably fair to say that anarchists and leftists no longer have similar views, if by 'left' we mean today's progressive-socialist-communist movements. While we may share similar general first principles such as egalitarianism and opposition to capitalism, the actual working details are starkly different. And as we all know, the devil is in the details, and the biggest detail is the left's belief in the state. This is why seeing hammer and sickle 'anarchists' sickens me. It means some people still don't know their ideological history.

cool story bro

funny that someone with Stirner in their name would be so obsessed with Bakunin, Marx, and 'ideological history', don't you think?

What makes you think I'm 'obsessed'? Because I happened to mention them?

Probably a reactionary troll, getting all wiggy when you point out how the supposedly different tendencies started out in bed together. Because EGOISM GOOD but MARX BAD derp derp.

Anyway, good summary.

But, what howard stirner are you talking about?
The Working Class Movement ist NOT the left.
The authoritarian wing of the working class movement integrated into the parlamentary logics and became like this a part of the left.
But this is not where anarchism comes from.
Rather it's the opposite: socialdemocrats came from working class circles (if they really came from there) to politics.
The international is also NOT the left.
The 1st international, where marx was in too, is an onw historic thing not recoverable. As is the working class movement.
Maybe, to refer to a nearer historic movement, you could compare it with the antiglobalisation movement, now also rather dead (or integrated. Does not Trump fulfill some of their goals?).
But anyway... if anything, you could compare anarchism with being the left wing of the working movement. But also that is only right for some anarchists.
Anarchism comes anyway from everywhere, or: can come...

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