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Libertarian socialism

Not to be confused with liberal socialism.

Libertarian socialism (sometimes called social anarchism,[1][2] left-libertarianism[3][4] and socialist libertarianism[5]) is a group of political philosophies within the socialist movement that reject the view of socialism as state ownership or command of the means of production[6] within a more general criticism of the state form itself[7][8] as well as of wage labour relationships within the workplace.[9] Instead it emphasizes workers' self management of the workplace[10] and decentralized structures of political government[11] asserting that a society based on freedom and equality can be achieved through abolishing authoritarian institutions that control certain means of production and subordinate the majority to an owning class or political and economic elite.[12] Libertarian socialists generally place their hopes in decentralized means of direct democracy and federal or confederal associations[13] such as libertarian municipalism, citizens' assemblies, trade unions, and workers' councils.[14][15] All of this is generally done within a general call for libertarian[16] and voluntary human relationships[17] through the identification, criticism, and practical dismantling of illegitimate authority in all aspects of human life.[18][19][20][21][22][23][24]

Past and present political philosophies and movements commonly described as libertarian socialist include anarchism (especially anarchist communism, anarchist collectivism, anarcho-syndicalism,[25] and mutualism[26]) as well as autonomism, communalism, participism, revolutionary syndicalism, and libertarian Marxist philosophies such as council communism and Luxemburgism;[27] as well as some versions of "utopian socialism"[28] and individualist anarchism.[29][30][31][32]

Contents

Overview

Libertarian socialism is a Western philosophy with diverse interpretations, though some general commonalities can be found in its many incarnations. Its proponents generally advocate a worker-oriented system of production and organization in the workplace that in some aspects radically departs from neoclassical economics in favor of democratic cooperatives or common ownership of the means of production (socialism).[33] They propose that this economic system be executed in a manner that attempts to maximize the liberty of individuals and minimize concentration of power or authority (libertarianism).

File:Le libertaire 25.png
August 17, 1860 edition of libertarian Communist publication Le Libertaire edited by Joseph Déjacque.

Libertarian socialists are strongly critical of coercive institutions, which often leads them to reject the legitimacy of the state in favor of anarchism.[34] Adherents propose achieving this through decentralization of political and economic power, usually involving the socialization of most large-scale private property and enterprise (while retaining respect for personal property). Libertarian socialism tends to deny the legitimacy of most forms of economically significant private property, viewing capitalist property relations as forms of domination that are antagonistic to individual freedom.[35][36]

The first anarchist journal to use the term "libertarian" was Le Libertaire, Journal du Mouvement Social and it was published in New York City between 1858 and 1861 by French anarcho-communist Joseph Déjacque.[37] "The next recorded use of the term was in Europe, when "libertarian communism" was used at a French regional anarchist Congress at Le Havre (16–22 November 1880). January the following year saw a French manifesto issued on "Libertarian or Anarchist Communism". Finally, 1895 saw leading anarchists Sébastien Faure and Louise Michel publish La Libertaire in France."[37] The word stems from the French word libertaire, and was used to evade the French ban on anarchist publications.[38] In this tradition, the term "libertarianism" in "libertarian socialism" is generally used as a synonym for anarchism, which some say is the original meaning of the term; hence "libertarian socialism" is equivalent to "socialist anarchism" to these scholars.[2][39] In the context of the European socialist movement, libertarian has conventionally been used to describe those who opposed state socialism, such as Mikhail Bakunin.

The association of socialism with libertarianism predates that of capitalism, and many anti-authoritarians still decry what they see as a mistaken association of capitalism with libertarianism in the United States.[40] As Noam Chomsky put it, a consistent libertarian "must oppose private ownership of the means of production and wage slavery, which is a component of this system, as incompatible with the principle that labor must be freely undertaken and under the control of the producer."[41]

In a chapter recounting the history of libertarian socialism, economist Robin Hahnel relates that thus far the period where libertarian socialism has had its greatest impact was at the end of the 19th century through the first four decades of the twentieth century.

Early in the twentieth century, libertarian socialism was as powerful a force as social democracy and communism. The Libertarian International– founded at the Congress of Saint Imier a few days after the split between Marxist and libertarians at the congress of the Socialist International held in The Hague in 1872– competed successfully against social democrats and communists alike for the loyalty of anticapitalist activists, revolutionaries, workers, unions and political parties for over fifty years. Libertarian socialists played a major role in the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917. Libertarian socialists played a dominant role in the Mexican Revolution of 1911. Twenty years after World War I was over, libertarian socialists were still strong enough to spearhead the social revolution that swept across Republican Spain in 1936 and 1937.[42]

On the other hand a libertarian trend also developed within marxism which gained visibility around the late 1910s mainly in reaction against Bolshevism and Leninism rising to power and establishing the Soviet Union.

Anti-capitalism

Main article: Anti-capitalism
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Libertarian socialists are anti-capitalist, and can thus be distinguished from right-wing libertarians. Whereas capitalist (and right-libertarian) principles concentrate economic power in the hands of those who own the most capital, libertarian socialism aims to distribute power, and thus freedom, more equally amongst members of society. A key difference between libertarian socialism and capitalist libertarianism is that advocates of the former generally believe that one's degree of freedom is affected by one's economic and social status, whereas advocates of the latter focus on freedom of choice within a capitalist framework. This is sometimes characterized as a desire to maximize "free creativity" in a society in preference to "free enterprise."[43]

Within anarchism there emerged a critique of wage slavery which refers to a situation perceived as quasi-voluntary slavery,[44] where a person's livelihood depends on wages, especially when the dependence is total and immediate.[45][46] It is a negatively connoted term used to draw an analogy between slavery and wage labor by focusing on similarities between owning and renting a person. The term wage slavery has been used to criticize economic exploitation and social stratification, with the former seen primarily as unequal bargaining power between labor and capital (particularly when workers are paid comparatively low wages, e.g. in sweatshops),[47] and the latter as a lack of workers' self-management, fulfilling job choices and leisure in an economy.[48][49][50] Libertarian socialists believe if freedom is valued, then society must work towards a system in which individuals have the power to decide economic issues along with political issues. Libertarian socialists seek to replace unjustified authority with direct democracy, voluntary federation, and popular autonomy in all aspects of life,[51] including physical communities and economic enterprises. With the advent of the industrial revolution, thinkers such as Proudhon and Marx elaborated the comparison between wage labor and slavery in the context of a critique of societal property not intended for active personal use,[52][53] Luddites emphasized the dehumanization brought about by machines while later Emma Goldman famously denounced wage slavery by saying: "The only difference is that you are hired slaves instead of block slaves.".[54]

Many libertarian socialists argue that large-scale voluntary associations should manage industrial manufacture, while workers retain rights to the individual products of their labor.[55] As such, they see a distinction between the concepts of "private property" and "personal possession". Whereas "private property" grants an individual exclusive control over a thing whether it is in use or not, and regardless of its productive capacity, "possession" grants no rights to things that are not in use.[56]

Anti-authoritarianism and opposition to the state

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Libertarian socialists generally regard concentrations of power as sources of oppression that must be continually challenged and justified. Most libertarian socialists believe that when power is exercised, as exemplified by the economic, social, or physical dominance of one individual over another, the burden of proof is always on the authoritarian to justify their action as legitimate when taken against its effect of narrowing the scope of human freedom.[57] Libertarian socialists typically oppose rigid and stratified structures of authority, be they political, economic, or social.[58]

In lieu of corporations and states, libertarian socialists seek to organize society into voluntary associations (usually collectives, communes, municipalities, cooperatives, commons, or syndicates) that use direct democracy or consensus for their decision-making process. Some libertarian socialists advocate combining these institutions using rotating, recallable delegates to higher-level federations.[59] Spanish anarchism is a major example of such federations in practice.

Contemporary examples of libertarian socialist organizational and decision-making models in practice include a number of anti-capitalist and global justice movements[60] including Zapatista Councils of Good Government and the Global Indymedia network (which covers 45 countries on six continents). There are also many examples of indigenous societies around the world whose political and economic systems can be accurately described as anarchist or libertarian socialist, each of which is unique and uniquely suited to the culture that birthed it.[61] For libertarians, that diversity of practice within a framework of common principles is proof of the vitality of those principles and of their flexibility and strength.

Contrary to popular opinion, libertarian socialism has not traditionally been a utopian movement, tending to avoid dense theoretical analysis or prediction of what a future society would or should look like. The tradition instead has been that such decisions cannot be made now, and must be made through struggle and experimentation, so that the best solution can be arrived at democratically and organically, and to base the direction for struggle on established historical example. They point out that the success of the scientific method comes from its adherence to open rational exploration, not its conclusions, in sharp contrast to dogma and predetermined predictions. To libertarian socialists, dogmatic approaches to social organization are doomed to failure; and thus they reject Marxist notions of linear and inevitable historical progression.[citation needed] Noted anarchist Rudolf Rocker once stated, "I am an anarchist not because I believe anarchism is the final goal, but because there is no such thing as a final goal".[62]

Because libertarian socialism encourages exploration and embraces a diversity of ideas rather than forming a compact movement, there have arisen inevitable controversies over individuals who describe themselves as libertarian socialists but disagree with some of the core principles of libertarian socialism. For example, Peter Hain interprets libertarian socialism as minarchist rather than anarchist, favoring radical decentralization of power without going as far as the complete abolition of the state[63] and libertarian socialist Noam Chomsky supports dismantling all forms of unjustified social or economic power, while also emphasizing that state intervention should be supported as a temporary protection while oppressive structures remain in existence.

Proponents are known for opposing the existence of states or government and refusing to participate in coercive state institutions. Indeed, in the past many refused to swear oaths in court or to participate in trials, even when they faced imprisonment[64] or deportation.[65]

Civil liberties and individual freedom

Libertarian socialists have been strong advocates and activists of civil liberties that provide an individual specific rights such as the freedom in issues of love and sex (free love) (see Anarchism and issues related to love and sex) and of thought and conscience (freethought). In this activism they have clashed with state and religious institutions which have limited such rights (see Anarchism and religion). Anarchism has been an important advocate of free love since its birth. Later a strong tendency of free love appeared alongside anarcha-feminism and advocacy of LGBT rights (see Anarchism and issues related to LGBTI persons). In recent times anarchism has also voiced opinions and taken action around certain sex related subjects such as pornography,[66] BDSM[67] and the sex industry.[67]

Anarcha-feminism developed as a synthesis of radical feminism and anarchism that views patriarchy (male domination over women) as a fundamental manifestation of compulsory government. It was inspired by the late 19th-century writings of early feminist anarchists such as Lucy Parsons, Emma Goldman, Voltairine de Cleyre and Virginia Bolten. Anarcha-feminists, like other radical feminists, criticise and advocate the abolition of traditional conceptions of family, education and gender roles. Also the council communist Sylvia Pankhurst was a feminist activist as well as a libertarian marxist. Anarchists also took a pioneering interest in issues related to LGBTI persons. An important current within anarchism is free love.[68] Free love advocates sometimes traced their roots back to the early anarchist Josiah Warren and to experimental communities, viewed sexual freedom as a clear, direct expression of an individual's self-ownership. Free love particularly stressed women's rights since most sexual laws discriminated against women: for example, marriage laws and anti-birth control measures.[69]

Libertarian socialists have traditionally been skeptical of and opposed to organized religion.[70] Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or other dogmas.[45][71] The cognitive application of freethought is known as "freethinking," and practitioners of freethought are known as "freethinkers."[45] In the United States, "freethought was a basically anti-Christian, anti-clerical movement, whose purpose was to make the individual politically and spiritually free to decide for himself on religious matters. A number of contributors to Liberty (anarchist publication) were prominent figures in both freethought and anarchism. The individualist anarchist George MacDonald was a co-editor of Freethought and, for a time, The Truth Seeker. E.C. Walker was co-editor of the...free-thought / free love journal Lucifer, the Light-Bearer".[72] Free Society (1895–1897 as The Firebrand; 1897–1904 as Free Society) was a major anarchist newspaper in the United States at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries.[73] The publication staunchly advocated free love and women's rights, and critiqued "Comstockery" – censorship of sexual information. In 1901, Catalan anarchist and free-thinker Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia established "modern" or progressive schools in Barcelona in defiance of an educational system controlled by the Catholic Church.[74] The schools' stated goal was to "educate the working class in a rational, secular and non-coercive setting". Fiercely anti-clerical, Ferrer believed in "freedom in education", education free from the authority of church and state[75] (see Anarchism and education). Later in the 20th century Austrian freudo-marxist Wilhelm Reich became a consistent propagandist for sexual freedom going as far as opening free sex-counselling clinics in Vienna for working-class patients[76] as well as coining the phrase "sexual revolution" in one of his books from the 1940s.[77] During the early 1970s the anarchist and pacifist Alex Comfort achieved international celebrity for writing the sex manuals The Joy of Sex and More Joy of Sex.

Violent and non-violent means

Some libertarian socialists see violent revolution as necessary in the abolition of capitalist society, while others advocate non-violent methods. Along with many others, Errico Malatesta argued that the use of violence was necessary; as he put it in Umanità Nova (no. 125, September 6, 1921):

It is our aspiration and our aim that everyone should become socially conscious and effective; but to achieve this end, it is necessary to provide all with the means of life and for development, and it is therefore necessary to destroy with violence, since one cannot do otherwise, the violence that denies these means to the workers.[78]

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon argued in favor of a non-violent revolution through a process of dual power in which libertarian socialist institutions would be established and form associations enabling the formation of an expanding network within the existing state-capitalist framework with the intention of eventually rendering both the state and the capitalist economy obsolete. The progression towards violence in anarchism stemmed, in part, from the massacres of some of the communes inspired by the ideas of Proudhon and others. Many anarcho-communists began to see a need for revolutionary violence to counteract the violence inherent in both capitalism and government.[79]

Anarcho-pacifism is a tendency within the anarchist movement which rejects the use of violence in the struggle for social change.[80][81] The main early influences were the thought of Henry David Thoreau[81] and Leo Tolstoy.[80][81] It developed "mostly in Holland (sic), Britain, and the United States, before and during the Second World War".[82] Opposition to the use of violence has not prohibited anarcho-pacifists from accepting the principle of resistance or even revolutionary action (see: non-violent revolution) provided it does not result in violence; it was in fact their approval of such forms of opposition to power that lead many anarcho-pacifists to endorse the anarcho-syndicalist concept of the general strike as the great revolutionary weapon. Later anarcho-pacifists have also come to endorse to non-violent strategy of dual power.

Other anarchists have believed that violence (especially self-defense) is justified as a way to provoke social upheaval which could lead to a social revolution.

Environmental issues

Green anarchism, or ecoanarchism, is a school of thought within anarchism which puts a particular emphasis on environmental issues. An important early influence was the thought of the American anarchist Henry David Thoreau and his book Walden,[83] as well as Leo Tolstoy[84] and Elisee Reclus.[85][86] In the late 19th century there emerged anarcho-naturism as the fusion of anarchism and naturist philosophies within individualist anarchist circles in France, Spain, Cuba[87] and Portugal.[83][84] Important contemporary currents are anarcho-primitivism and social ecology.[88] An important meeting place for international libertarian socialism in the early 1990s was the journal Democracy & Nature in which prominent activists and theorists such as Takis Fotopoulos, Noam Chomsky,[89] Murray Bookchin and Cornelius Castoriadis[90] wrote. The journal promoted a green libertarian socialism when it manifested as its aims that:

Political roots

Within early modern socialist thought

Peasant revolts in the post-reformation era

For Roderick T. Long libertarian socialists claim the seventeenth century English Levellers among their ideological forbears.[91] Various libertarian socialist authors have identified the written work of English Protestant social reformer Gerrard Winstanley and the social activism of his group, the Diggers, as anticipating this line of thought.[92][93] For anarchist historian George Woodcock although (Pierre Joseph) Proudhon was the first writer to call himself an anarchist, at least two predecessors outlined systems that contain all the basic elements of anarchism. The first was Gerrard Winstanley (1609-c. 1660), a linen draper who led the small movement of the Diggers during the Commonwealth. Winstanley and his followers protested in the name of a radical Christianity against the economic distress that followed the Civil War and against the inequality that the grandees of the New Model Army seemed intent on preserving.[94]

In 1649–1650 the Diggers squatted on stretches of common land in southern England and attempted to set up communities based on work on the land and the sharing of goods. The communities failed, but a series of pamphlets by Winstanley survived, of which The New Law of Righteousness (1649) was the most important. Advocating a rational Christianity, Winstanley equated Christ with “the universal liberty” and declared the universally corrupting nature of authority. He saw “an equal privilege to share in the blessing of liberty” and detected an intimate link between the institution of property and the lack of freedom."[94] For Murray Bookchin "In the modern world, anarchism first appeared as a movement of the peasantry and yeomanry against declining feudal institutions. In Germany its foremost spokesman during the Peasant Wars was Thomas Muenzer; in England, Gerrard Winstanley, a leading participant in the Digger movement. The concepts held by Muenzer and Winstanley were superbly attuned to the needs of their time — a historical period when the majority of the population lived in the countryside and when the most militant revolutionary forces came from an agrarian world. It would be painfully academic to argue whether Muenzer and Winstanley could have achieved their ideals. What is of real importance is that they spoke to their time; their anarchist concepts followed naturally from the rural society that furnished the bands of the peasant armies in Germany and the New Model in England."[95]

The Enlightenment

For Roderick T. Long libertarian socialists also often share a view of ancentry in the eighteenth century French encyclopedists alongside Thomas Jefferson[96][97][98] and Thomas Paine".[91] A more often mentioned name is that of English enlightenment thinker William Godwin.[99] For Woodcock a more elaborate sketch of anarchism, although still without the name, was provided by William Godwin in his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793). Godwin was a gradualist anarchist rather than a revolutionary anarchist; he differed from most later anarchists in preferring above revolutionary action the gradual and, as it seemed to him, more natural process of discussion among men of good will, by which he hoped truth would eventually triumph through its own power. Godwin, who was influenced by the English tradition of Dissent and the French philosophy of the Enlightenment, put forward in a developed form the basic anarchist criticisms of the state, of accumulated property, and of the delegation of authority through democratic procedure."[94]

During the French Revolution, Sylvain Maréchal, in his Manifesto of the Equals (1796), demanded "the communal enjoyment of the fruits of the earth" and looked forward to the disappearance of "the revolting distinction of rich and poor, of great and small, of masters and valets, of governors and governed."[27][100] The term "anarchist" first entered the English language in 1642, during the English Civil War, as a term of abuse, used by Royalists against their Roundhead opponents.[101] By the time of the French Revolution some, such as the Enragés, began to use the term positively,[102] in opposition to Jacobin centralisation of power, seeing "revolutionary government" as oxymoronic.[101] By the turn of the 19th century, the English word "anarchism" had lost its initial negative connotation.[101]

The Romantic era and "utopian socialism"

Kent Bromley, in his preface to Peter Kropotkin's book The Conquest of Bread, considered early French socialist Charles Fourier to be the founder of the libertarian branch of socialist thought, as opposed to the authoritarian socialist ideas of Babeuf and Buonarroti.[103] Anarchist Hakim Bey describes Fourier's ideas as follows: "In Fourier's system of Harmony all creative activity including industry, craft, agriculture, etc. will arise from liberated passion — this is the famous theory of "attractive labor." Fourier sexualizes work itself — the life of the Phalanstery is a continual orgy of intense feeling, intellection, & activity, a society of lovers & wild enthusiasts." Fourierism manifested itself "in the middle of the 19th century (where) literally hundreds of communes (phalansteries) were founded on fourierist principles in France, N. America, Mexico, S. America, Algeria, Yugoslavia, etc. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Friedrich Engels, and Peter Kropotkin all read him with fascination, as did André Breton and Roland Barthes.[104] Herbert Marcuse in his influential work Eros and Civilization praised Fourier saying that "Fourier comes closer than any other utopian socialist to elucidating the dependence of freedom on non-repressive sublimation."[105]

Anarchist Peter Sabatini reports that in the United States "of early to mid-19th century, there appeared an array of communal and "utopian" counterculture groups (including the so-called free love movement). William Godwin's anarchism exerted an ideological influence on some of this, but more so the socialism of Robert Owen and Charles Fourier. After success of his British venture, Owen himself established a cooperative community within the United States at New Harmony, Indiana during 1825. One member of this commune was Josiah Warren (1798–1874), considered to be the first individualist anarchist".[106]

Anarchism

Main article: Anarchism

As Albert Meltzer and Stuart Christie stated in their book The Floodgates of Anarchy, anarchism has:

...its particular inheritance, part of which it shares with socialism, giving it a family resemblance to certain of its enemies. Another part of its inheritance it shares with liberalism, making it, at birth, kissing-cousins with American-type radical individualism, a large part of which has married out of the family into the Right Wing and is no longer on speaking terms. (The Floodgates of Anarchy, 1970, p. 39.)

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who is often considered the father of modern anarchism, coined the phrase "Property is theft" to describe part of his view on the complex nature of ownership in relation to freedom. When he said property is theft, he was referring to the capitalist who he believed stole profit from laborers. For Proudhon, the capitalist's employee was "subordinated, exploited: his permanent condition is one of obedience."[107]

Seventeen years (1857) after Proudhon first called himself an anarchist (1840), anarchist communist Joseph Déjacque was the first person to describe himself as a libertarian.[108] Outside the United States, "libertarian" generally refers to anti-authoritarian anti-capitalist ideologies.[109]

Libertarian socialism has its roots in both classical liberalism and socialism, though it is often in conflict with liberalism (especially neoliberalism and right-libertarianism) and authoritarian State socialism simultaneously. While libertarian socialism has roots in both socialism and liberalism, different forms have different levels of influence from the two traditions. For instance mutualist anarchism is more influenced by liberalism while communist and syndicalist anarchism are more influenced by socialism. It is interesting to note, however, that mutualist anarchism has its origins in 18th- and 19th-century European socialism (such as Fourierian socialism)[110][111] while communist and syndicalist anarchism has its earliest origins in early 18th-century liberalism (such as the French Revolution).[100]

Anarchism posed an early challenge to the vanguardism and statism it detected in important sectors of the socialist movement. As such "The consequences of the growth of parliamentary action, ministerialism, and party life, charged the anarchists, would be de-radicalism and embourgeoisiement. Further, state politics would subvert both true individuality and true community. In response, many anarchists refused Marxist-type organisation, seeking to dissolve or undermine power and hierarchy by way of loose political-cultural groupings, or by championing organisation by a single, simultaneously economic and political administrative unit (Ruhle, Syndicalism). The power of the intellectual and of science were also rejected by many anarchists: “In conquering the state, in exalting the role of parties, they [intellectuals] reinforce the hierarchical principle embodied in political and administrative institutions”.[47] Revolutions could only come through force of circumstances and/or the inherently rebellious instincts of the masses (the “instinct for freedom” (Bakunin, Chomsky)). Thus, in Bakunin’s words: “All that individuals can do is to clarify, propagate, and work out ideas corresponding to the popular instinct”.".[112]

Marxism

Main article: Libertarian Marxism
Marxism started to develop a libertarian strand of thought after specific circumstances. "One does find early expressions of such perspectives in (William) Morris and the Socialist Party of Great Britain (the SPGB), then again around the events of 1905, with the growing concern at the bureaucratisation and de-radicalisation of international socialism".[112] Morris established the Socialist League in December 1884, which was encouraged by Friedrich Engels and Eleanor Marx. As the leading figure in the organization Morris embarked on a relentless series of speeches and talks on street corners, in working men's clubs and lecture theatres across England and Scotland. From 1887, anarchists began to outnumber socialists in the Socialist League.[113] The 3rd Annual Conference of the League, held in London on 29 May 1887 marked the change, with a majority of the 24 branch delegates voting in favor of an anarchist-sponsored resolution declaring that "This conference endorses the policy of abstention from parliamentary action, hitherto pursued by the League, and sees no sufficient reason for altering it."[114] Morris played peacemaker but sided with the anti-Parliamentarians, who won control of the League, which consequently lost the support of Engels and saw the departure of Eleanor Marx and her partner Edward Aveling to form the separate Bloomsbury Socialist Society.

However, "the most important ruptures are to be traced to the insurgency during and after the First World War. Disillusioned with the capitulation of the social democrats, excited by the emergence of workers’ councils, and slowly distanced from Leninism, many communists came to reject the claims of socialist parties and to put their faith instead in the masses." For these socialists, “The intuition of the masses in action can have more genius in it than the work of the greatest individual genius”. Luxemburg’s workerism and spontaneism are exemplary of positions later taken up by the far-left of the period – Pannekoek, Roland Holst, and Gorter in Holland, Sylvia Pankhurst in Britain, Gramsci in Italy, Lukacs in Hungary. In these formulations, the dictatorship of the proletariat was to be the dictatorship of a class, “not of a party or of a clique”."[112] However within this line of thought "The tension between anti-vanguardism and vanguardism has frequently resolved itself in two diametrically opposed ways: the first involved a drift towards the party; the second saw a move towards the idea of complete proletarian spontaneity...The first course is exemplified most clearly in Gramsci and Lukacs...The second course is illustrated in the tendency, developing from the Dutch and German far-lefts, which inclined towards the complete eradication of the party form."[112]

In the emerging Soviet state there appeared Left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks which were a series of rebellions and uprisings against the Bolsheviks led or supported by left wing groups including Socialist Revolutionaries,[115] Left Socialist Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, and anarchists.[116] Some were in support of the White Movement while some tried to be an independent force. The uprisings started in 1918 and continued through the Russian Civil War and after until 1922. In response the Bolsheviks increasingly abandoned attempts to get these groups to join the government and suppressed them with force. "Left-Wing" Communism: An Infantile Disorder is a work by Vladimir Lenin himself attacking assorted critics of the Bolsheviks who claimed positions to their left.

For "many Marxian libertarian socialists, the political bankruptcy of socialist orthodoxy necessitated a theoretical break. This break took a number of forms. The Bordigists and the SPGB championed a super-Marxian intransigence in theoretical matters. Other socialists made a return “behind Marx” to the anti-positivist programme of German idealism. Libertarian socialism has frequently linked its anti-authoritarian political aspirations with this theoretical differentiation from orthodoxy... Karl Korsch... remained a libertarian socialist for a large part of his life and because of the persistent urge towards theoretical openness in his work. Korsch rejected the eternal and static, and he was obsessed by the essential role of practice in a theory’s truth. For Korsch, no theory could escape history, not even Marxism. In this vein, Korsch even credited the stimulus for Marx’s Capital to the movement of the oppressed classes. "[112]

In rejecting both capitalism and the state, some libertarian marxists align themselves with anarchists in opposition to both capitalist representative democracy and to authoritarian forms of Marxism. Although anarchists and Marxists share an ultimate goal of a stateless society, anarchists criticise most Marxists for advocating a transitional phase under which the state is used to achieve this aim. Nonetheless, libertarian Marxist tendencies such as autonomist Marxism and council communism have historically been intertwined with the anarchist movement. Anarchist movements have come into conflict with both capitalist and Marxist forces, sometimes at the same time, as in the Spanish Civil War, though as in that war Marxists themselves are often divided in support or opposition to anarchism. Other political persecutions under bureaucratic parties have resulted in a strong historical antagonism between anarchists and libertarian Marxists on the one hand and Leninist Marxists and their derivatives such as Maoists on the other. In recent history, however, libertarian socialists have repeatedly formed temporary alliances with Marxist-Leninist groups for the purposes of protest against institutions they both reject. Part of this antagonism can be traced to the International Workingmen's Association, the First International, a congress of radical workers, where Mikhail Bakunin, who was fairly representative of anarchist views, and Karl Marx, whom anarchists accused of being an "authoritarian", came into conflict on various issues. Bakunin's viewpoint on the illegitimacy of the state as an institution and the role of electoral politics was starkly counterposed to Marx's views in the First International. Marx and Bakunin's disputes eventually led to Marx taking control of the First International and expelling Bakunin and his followers from the organization. This was the beginning of a long-running feud and schism between libertarian socialists and what they call "authoritarian communists", or alternatively just "authoritarians". Some Marxists have formulated views that closely resemble syndicalism, and thus express more affinity with anarchist ideas. Several libertarian socialists, notably Noam Chomsky, believe that anarchism shares much in common with certain variants of Marxism such as the council communism of Marxist Anton Pannekoek. In Chomsky's Notes on Anarchism,[117] he suggests the possibility "that some form of council communism is the natural form of revolutionary socialism in an industrial society. It reflects the belief that democracy is severely limited when the industrial system is controlled by any form of autocratic elite, whether of owners, managers, and technocrats, a 'vanguard' party, or a State bureaucracy."

In the mid-20th century some libertarian socialist groups emerged from disagreements with Trotskyism which presented itself as leninist anti-stalinism. As such the french group Socialisme ou Barbarie emerged from the Trotskyist Fourth International, where Cornelius Castoriadis and Claude Lefort constituted a Chaulieu–Montal Tendency in the French Parti Communiste Internationaliste in 1946. In 1948, they experienced their "final disenchantment with Trotskyism",[118] leading them to break away to form Socialisme ou Barbarie, whose journal began appearing in March 1949. Castoriadis later said of this period that "the main audience of the group and of the journal was formed by groups of the old, radical left: Bordigists, council communists, some anarchists and some offspring of the German "left" of the 1920s".[119] Also in the United Kingdom the group Solidarity was founded in 1960 by a small group of expelled members of the Trotskyist Socialist Labour League. Almost from the start it was strongly influenced by the French Socialisme ou Barbarie group, in particular by its intellectual leader Cornelius Castoriadis, whose essays were among the many pamphlets Solidarity produced. The intellectual leader of the group was Chris Pallis ( who wrote under the name Maurice Brinton).[120]

In the People's Republic of China (PRC) since 1967, the terms Ultra-Left and left communist refers to political theory and practice self-defined as further "left" than that of the central Maoist leaders at the height of the GPCR ("Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution"). The terms are also used retroactively to describe some early 20th-century Chinese anarchist orientations. As a slur, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has used the term "ultra-left" more broadly to denounce any orientation it considers further "left" than the party line. According to the latter usage, in 1978 the CPC Central Committee denounced as "ultra-left" the line of Mao Zedong from 1956 until his death in 1976. "Ultra-Left" refers to those GPCR rebel positions that diverged from the central Maoist line by identifying an antagonistic contradiction between the CPC-PRC party-state itself and the masses of workers and "peasants"[121] conceived as a single proletarian class divorced from any meaningful control over production or distribution. Whereas the central Maoist line maintained that the masses controlled the means of production through the Party's mediation, the Ultra-Left argued that the objective interests of bureaucrats were structurally determined by the centralist state-form in direct opposition to the objective interests of the masses, regardless of however "red" a given bureaucrat's "thought" might be. Whereas the central Maoist leaders encouraged the masses to criticize reactionary "ideas" and "habits" among the alleged 5% of bad cadres, giving them a chance to "turn over a new leaf" after they had undergone "thought reform", the Ultra-Left argued that "cultural revolution" had to give way to "political revolution" – "in which one class overthrows another class".[122][123]

In 1969 french platformist anarcho-communist Daniel Guerin published an essay called "Libertarian Marxism?" in which he dealt with the debate between Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin at the First International and afterwards he suggested that "Libertarian marxism rejects determinism and fatalism, giving the greater place to individual will, intuition, imagination, reflex speeds, and to the deep instincts of the masses, which are more far-seeing in hours of crisis than the reasonings of the ‘elites’; libertarian marxism thinks of the effects of surprise, provocation and boldness, refuses to be cluttered and paralysed by a heavy ‘scientific’ apparatus, doesn’t equivocate or bluff, and guards itself from adventurism as much as from fear of the unknown."[124] In the US from 1970 to 1981 there existed the publication Root & Branch[125] which had as a subtitle "A Libertarian Marxist Journal".[126] In 1974 the journal Libertarian Communism was started in the United Kingdom by a group inside the Socialist Party of Great Britain.[127]

Autonomist Marxism, Neo-Marxism and Situationist theory are also regarded as being anti-authoritarian variants of Marxism that are firmly within the libertarian socialist tradition. For libcom.org "In the 1980s and 90s, a series of other groups developed, influenced also by much of the above work. The most notable are Kolinko, Kurasje and Wildcat in Germany, Aufheben in England, Theorie Communiste in France, TPTG in Greece and Kamunist Kranti in India. They are also connected to other groups in other countries, merging autonomia, operaismo, Hegelian Marxism, the work of the JFT, Open Marxism, the ICO, the Situationist International, anarchism and post-68 German Marxism."[128] Related to this were intellectuals who were influenced by Italian left communist Amadeo Bordiga but who disagreed with his leninist positions and so these included the french publication Invariance edited by Jacques Camatte, published since 1968 and Gilles Dauve who published Troploin with Karl Nesic.

Notable libertarian socialist tendencies

Classical anarchist tendencies

In a chronological and theoretical sense, there are classical — those created throughout the 19th century — and post-classical anarchist schools — those created since the mid-20th century and after.

Mutualism

File:Proudhon-children.jpg
Proudhon and his children, by Gustave Courbet (1865).

Mutualism is a political and economic theory largely associated with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Proudhon argued that "all capital, whether material or mental, being the result of collective labour, is, in consequence, collective property."[66] This meant that artisans would manage the tools required for their own work while, in large-scale enterprises, this meant replacing wage labour by workers' co-operatives. He argued "it is necessary to form an ASSOCIATION among workers... because without that, they would remain related as subordinates and superiors, and there would ensue two... castes of masters and wage-workers, which is repugnant to a free and democratic society."[129] As he put it in 1848:

"Under the law of association, transmission of wealth does not apply to the instruments of labour, so cannot become a cause of inequality.... We are socialists... under universal association, ownership of the land and of the instruments of labour is social ownership... We want the mines, canals, railways handed over to democratically organised workers' associations... We want these associations to be models for agriculture, industry and trade, the pioneering core of that vast federation of companies and societies, joined together in the common bond of the democratic and social Republic."[130]

Mutualists believe that a free labor market would allow for conditions of equal income in proportion to exerted labor.[131][132] As Jonathan Beecher puts it, Proudhon's aim was to, "emancipate labor from the constraints imposed by capital".[133] Proudhon supported individual possession of land and argued that the "land is indispensable to our existence, consequently a common thing, consequently insusceptible of appropriation." [66] He believed that an individual only had a right to land while he was using or occupying it. If the individual ceases doing so, it reverts to unowned land.[134] Mutualists hold a labor theory of value, arguing that in exchange labor should always be worth "the amount of labor necessary to produce an article of exactly similar and equal utility,"[131] and considering anything less to be exploitation, theft of labor, or usury. Mutualists oppose the institutions by which individuals gain income through loans, investments, and rent, as they believe the income received through these activities is not in direct accord with labor spent.[131][135] In place of these capitalist institutions they advocate labor-owned cooperative firms and associations.[136][137] Mutualists advocate mutual banks, owned by the workers, that do not charge interest on secured loans. Most mutualists believe that anarchy should be achieved gradually rather than through revolution.[138] Some individualist anarchists, such as Benjamin Tucker, were influenced by Proudhon's Mutualism, but unlike Proudhon, they did not call for "association" in large enterprises.[139]

Mutualist ideas found a fertile ground in the XIX century in Spain. In Spain Ramón de la Sagra established anarchist journal El Porvenir in La Coruña in 1845 which was inspired by Proudhon´s ideas.[140] The catalan politician Francesc Pi i Margall became the principal translator of Proudhon's works into Spanish[141] and later briefly became president of Spain in 1873 while being the leader of the Democratic Republican Federal Party. According to George Woodcock "These translations were to have a profound and lasting effect on the development of Spanish anarchism after 1870, but before that time Proudhonian ideas, as interpreted by Pi, already provided much of the inspiration for the federalist movement which sprang up in the early 1860's."[142] According to the Encyclopedia Britannica "During the Spanish revolution of 1873, Pi y Margall attempted to establish a decentralized, or “cantonalist”, political system on Proudhonian lines."[140] Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist theorist who is the author of Studies in Mutualist Political Economy.[143]

Collectivist anarchism

Collectivist anarchism (also known as anarcho-collectivism) is a revolutionary[144] doctrine that advocates the abolition of the state and private ownership of the means of production. Instead, it envisions the means of production being owned collectively and controlled and managed by the producers themselves. For the collectivization of the means of production, it was originally envisaged that workers will revolt and forcibly collectivize the means of production[144] Once collectivization takes place, workers' salaries would be determined in democratic organizations based on the amount of time they contributed to production. These salaries would be used to purchase goods in a communal market.[145] This contrasts with anarcho-communism where wages would be abolished, and where individuals would take freely from a storehouse of goods "to each according to his need." Thus, Bakunin's "Collectivist Anarchism", notwithstanding the title, is seen as a blend of individualism and collectivism.[146] Collectivist anarchism is most commonly associated with Mikhail Bakunin, the anti-authoritarian sections of the First International, and the early Spanish anarchist movement.

Anarchist communism

Main article: Anarchist communism
File:ErricoMalatesta.gif
Errico Malatesta, 1891, influential italian activist and theorist of anarcho-communism

Anarchist communism (also known as anarcho-communism and occasionally as free communism) is a theory of anarchism which advocates the abolition of the state, markets, money, capitalism and private property (while retaining respect for personal property),[147] in favor of common ownership of the means of production,[148][149] direct democracy and a horizontal network of voluntary associations and workers' councils with production and consumption based on the guiding principle: "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need".[150][151]

Anarcho-communism developed out of radical socialist currents after the French revolution[27][100][152] but was first formulated as such in the Italian section of the First International.[153] The theoretical work of Peter Kropotkin took importance later as it expanded and developed pro-organizationalist and insurrectionary anti-organizationalist sections.[154] Some forms of anarchist communism, such as insurrectionary anarchism, are strongly influenced by egoism and radical individualism, believing anarcho-communism is the best social system for the realization of individual freedom.[155][156][157][158] Most anarcho-communists view anarcho-communism as a way of reconciling the opposition between the individual and society.[159][160][161]

To date, the best known examples of an anarchist communist society (i.e., established around the ideas as they exist today and achieving worldwide attention and knowledge in the historical canon), are the anarchist territories during the Spanish Revolution[162] and the Free Territory during the Russian Revolution. Through the efforts and influence of the Spanish Anarchists during the Spanish Revolution within the Spanish Civil War, starting in 1936 anarchist communism existed in most of Aragon, parts of the Levante and Andalusia, and in the stronghold of Anarchist Catalonia before being crushed by the combined forces of Francoism, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Spanish Communist Party repression (backed by the USSR) as well as economic and armaments blockades from the capitalist countries and the Spanish Republic itself.[163] During the Russian Revolution, anarchists such as Nestor Makhno worked to create and defend—through the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine—anarchist communism in the Free Territory of the Ukraine from 1919 before being conquered by the Bolsheviks in 1921. Anarcho-communist currents include platformism and insurrectionary anarchism.

Within individualist anarchism

Individualist anarchism refers to several traditions of thought within the anarchist movement that emphasize the individual and his or her will over external determinants such as groups, society, traditions, and ideological systems.[164][165]

Josiah Warren is widely regarded as the first American anarchist,[166] and the four-page weekly paper he edited during 1833, The Peaceful Revolutionist, was the first anarchist periodical published.[167] For American anarchist historian Eunice Minette Schuster "It is apparent...that Proudhonian Anarchism was to be found in the United States at least as early as 1848 and that it was not conscious of its affinity to the Individualist Anarchism of Josiah Warren and Stephen Pearl Andrews...William B. Greene presented this Proudhonian Mutualism in its purest and most systematic form.".[168] Later the american individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker "was against both the state and capitalism, against both oppression and exploitation. While not against the market and property he was firmly against capitalism as it was, in his eyes, a state-supported monopoly of social capital (tools, machinery, etc.) which allows owners to exploit their employees, i.e., to avoid paying workers the full value of their labour. He thought that the "labouring classes are deprived of their earnings by usury in its three forms, interest, rent and profit."... Therefore "Liberty will abolish interest; it will abolish profit; it will abolish monopolistic rent; it will abolish taxation; it will abolish the exploitation of labour; it will abolish all means whereby any labourer can be deprived of any of his product."...This stance puts him squarely in the libertarian socialist tradition and, unsurprisingly, Tucker referred to himself many times as a socialist and considered his philosophy to be "Anarchistic socialism."[169][170]

File:Oscar Wilde portrait.jpg
Oscar Wilde, famous anarchist Irish writer who published the libertarian socialist work titled The Soul of Man under Socialism

French individualist anarchist Emile Armand shows clearly opposition to capitalism and centralized economies when he said that the individualist anarchist "inwardly he remains refractory – fatally refractory – morally, intellectually, economically (The capitalist economy and the directed economy, the speculators and the fabricators of single are equally repugnant to him.)"[171] The spanish individualist anarchist Miguel Gimenez Igualada thought that ""capitalism is an effect of government; the disappearance of government means capitalism falls from its pedestal vertiginously...That which we call capitalism is not something else but a product of the State, within which the only thing that is being pushed forward is profit, good or badly acquired. And so to fight against capitalism is a pointless task, since be it State capitalism or Enterprise capitalism, as long as Government exists, exploiting capital will exist. The fight, but of consciousness, is against the State."[172] His view on class division and technocracy are as follows "Since when no one works for another, the profiteer from wealth disappears, just as government will disappear when no one pays attention to those who learned four things at universities and from that fact they pretend to govern men. Big industrial enterprises will be transformed by men in big associations in which everyone will work and enjoy the product of their work. And from those easy as well as beautiful problems anarchism deals with and he who puts them in practice and lives them are anarchists.... The priority which without rest an anarchist must make is that in which no one has to exploit anyone, no man to no man, since that non-exploitation will lead to the limitation of property to individual needs".[173]

The anarchist[174] writer and bohemian Oscar Wilde wrote in his famous essay The Soul of Man under Socialism that "Art is individualism, and individualism is a disturbing and disintegrating force. There lies its immense value. For what it seeks is to disturb monotony of type, slavery of custom, tyranny of habit, and the reduction of man to the level of a machine."[175] For anarchist historian George Woodcock "Wilde's aim in The Soul of Man under Socialism is to seek the society most favorable to the artist... for Wilde art is the supreme end, containing within itself enlightenment and regeneration, to which all else in society must be subordinated.... Wilde represents the anarchist as aesthete."[176] In a socialist society, people will have the possibility to realise their talents; "each member of the society will share in the general prosperity and happiness of the society." Wilde added that "upon the other hand, Socialism itself will be of value simply because it will lead to individualism" since individuals will no longer need to fear poverty or starvation. This individualism would, in turn, protect against governments "armed with economic power as they are now with political power" over their citizens. However, Wilde advocated non-capitalist individualism: "of course, it might be said that the Individualism generated under conditions of private property is not always, or even as a rule, of a fine or wonderful type" a critique which is "quite true."[177] In this way socialism, in Wilde's imagination, would free men from manual labour and allow them to devote their time to creative pursuits, thus developing their soul. He ended by declaring "The new individualism is the new hellenism".[177]

Anarcho-syndicalism

Main article: Anarcho-syndicalism
File:Manifestación CNT Bilbao.jpg
May day demonstration of Spanish anarcho-syndicalist trade union CNT in Bilbao, Basque Country in 2010. The red and black flag is often used by anarcho-syndicalists and anarcho-communists

Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism that focuses on the labor movement.[178] Anarcho-syndicalists view labor unions as a potential force for revolutionary social change, replacing capitalism and the state with a new society democratically self-managed by workers.

The basic principles of anarcho-syndicalism are Workers' solidarity, Direct action and Workers' self-management. Workers' solidarity means that anarcho-syndicalists believe all workers—no matter their race, gender, or ethnic group—are in a similar situation in regard to their boss (class consciousness). Furthermore, it means that, within capitalism, any gains or losses made by some workers from or to bosses will eventually affect all workers. Therefore, to liberate themselves, all workers must support one another in their class conflict. Anarcho-syndicalists believe that only direct action—that is, action concentrated on directly attaining a goal, as opposed to indirect action, such as electing a representative to a government position—will allow workers to liberate themselves.[179] Moreover, anarcho-syndicalists believe that workers' organizations (the organizations that struggle against the wage system, which, in anarcho-syndicalist theory, will eventually form the basis of a new society) should be self-managing. They should not have bosses or "business agents"; rather, the workers should be able to make all the decisions that affect them themselves.

Rudolf Rocker was one of the most popular voices in the anarcho-syndicalist movement. He outlined a view of the origins of the movement, what it sought, and why it was important to the future of labor in his 1938 pamphlet Anarcho-Syndicalism. The International Workers Association is an international anarcho-syndicalist federation of various labor unions from different countries. The Spanish Confederación Nacional del Trabajo played and still plays a major role in the Spanish labor movement. It was also an important force in the Spanish Civil War.

Libertarian Marxist tendencies

Main article: Libertarian Marxism

Libertarian Marxism refers to a broad scope of economic and political philosophies that emphasize the anti-authoritarian aspects of Marxism.[180] Early currents of libertarian Marxism, known as left communism,[181] emerged in opposition to Marxism–Leninism[182] and its derivatives, such as Stalinism, Maoism, and Trotskyism.[183] Libertarian Marxism is also critical of reformist positions, such as those held by social democrats.[184] Libertarian Marxist currents often draw from Marx and Engels' later works, specifically the Grundrisse and The Civil War in France;[185] emphasizing the Marxist belief in the ability of the working class to forge its own destiny without the need for a revolutionary party or state to mediate or aid its liberation.[186] Along with anarchism, Libertarian Marxism is one of the main currents of libertarian socialism.[187]

Libertarian Marxism includes such currents as Luxemburgism, council communism, left communism, Socialisme ou Barbarie, the Johnson–Forest tendency, world socialism, Lettrism/Situationism and operaismo/autonomism, and New Left.[188] Libertarian Marxism has often had a strong influence on both post-left and social anarchists. Notable theorists of libertarian Marxism have included Anton Pannekoek, Raya Dunayevskaya, CLR James, Antonio Negri, Cornelius Castoriadis, Maurice Brinton, Guy Debord, Daniel Guérin, Ernesto Screpanti and Raoul Vaneigem.

De Leonism

Main article: De Leonism

De Leonism, occasionally known as Marxism-Deleonism, is a form of syndicalist Marxism developed by Daniel De Leon. De Leon was an early leader of the first United States socialist political party, the Socialist Labor Party of America. De Leon combined the rising theories of syndicalism in his time with orthodox Marxism. According to De Leonist theory, militant industrial unions (specialized trade unions) are the vehicle of class struggle. Industrial Unions serving the interests of the proletariat will bring about the change needed to establish a socialist system. The only way this differs from some currents in anarcho-syndicalism is that, according to De Leonist thinking, a revolutionary political party is also necessary to fight for the proletariat on the political field. De Leonism lies outside the Leninist tradition of communism. It predates Leninism as De Leonism's principles developed in the early 1890s with De Leon's assuming leadership of the Socialist Labor Party; Leninism and its vanguard party idea took shape after the 1902 publication of Lenin's "What Is to Be Done?". The highly decentralized and democratic nature of the proposed De Leonist government is in contrast to the democratic centralism of Marxism–Leninism and what they see as the dictatorial nature of the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China and other "communist" states. The success of the De Leonist plan depends on achieving majority support among the people both in the workplaces and at the polls, in contrast to the Leninist notion that a small vanguard party should lead the working class to carry out the revolution.

Council communism

Main article: Council Communism
File:Antonie Pannekoek.jpg
Antonie Pannekoek, one of the main theorists of council communism
Council communism was a radical Left movement originating in Germany and the Netherlands in the 1920s. Its primary organization was the Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD). Council communism continues today as a theoretical and activist position within Marxism, and also within libertarian socialism. The central argument of council communism, in contrast to those of Social democracy and Leninist communism, is that workers' councils arising in the factories and municipalities are the natural and legitimate form of working class organisation and government power. This view is opposed to the reformist and Bolshevik stress on vanguard parties, parliaments, or the state. The core principle of council communism is that the state and the economy should be managed by workers' councils, composed of delegates elected at workplaces and recallable at any moment. As such, council communists oppose state-run "bureaucratic socialism". They also oppose the idea of a "revolutionary party", since council communists believe that a revolution led by a party will necessarily produce a party dictatorship. Council communists support a workers' democracy, which they want to produce through a federation of workers' councils.

The Russian word for council is "soviet", and during the early years of the revolution worker's councils were politically significant in Russia. It was to take advantage of the aura of workplace power that the word became used by Vladimir Lenin for various political organs. Indeed, the name "Supreme Soviet", by which the parliament was called; and that of the Soviet Union itself make use of this terminology, but they do not imply any decentralization. Furthermore, council communists held a critique of the Soviet Union as a capitalist state, believing that the Bolshevik revolution in Russia became a "bourgeois revolution" when a party bureaucracy replaced the old feudal aristocracy. Although most felt the Russian Revolution was working class in character, they believed that, since capitalist relations still existed (because the workers had no say in running the economy), the Soviet Union ended up as a state capitalist country, with the state replacing the individual capitalist. Thus, council communists support workers' revolutions, but oppose one-party dictatorships. Council communists also believed in diminishing the role of the party to one of agitation and propaganda, rejected all participation in elections or parliament, and argued that workers should leave the reactionary trade unions and form one big revolutionary union.

Left communism

Main article: Left communism