Thursday, August 25, 2016

Leninism v Anarchism (2012)

Book Review from the February 2012 issue of the Socialist Standard

Anarchism. A Marxist Criticism. by John Molyneux. Bookmarks. £4.

John Molyneux is the SWPer who wrote their 1987 pamphlet on The Future Socialist Society in which he stated that the first thing that would happen on the establishment of such a society would be that wages would be increased and also that engineers would be forced, if they refused to co-operate, to work with a gun at their head. Obviously, he was talking about a future state capitalist society.

His earlier pamphlet is still listed as ‘further reading’ in his new, 80-page booklet in which he criticises anarchists from an SWP viewpoint. His basic argument is that ‘through its rejection of parties in general and the Leninist party in particular anarchism merely contributes to the organisational and political disarmament of the working class’ (p. 29).

We can agree with his criticism of anarchists for their refusal to participate in elections and for their theory that it is the existence of the state rather than of capitalism that is the cause of working-class problems. But that’s about it. On the other hand, we can agree with the anarchist emphasis on the need to establish a stateless society and with their criticism of Leninism as the theory and practice of a would-be new ruling class.

Having said this – and Molyneux notes this too – some anarchists are themselves in effect vanguardists in that they seek as an ‘active minority’ to lead the working class in an assault on capitalism and the state. Molyneux appeals to such anarchists to be consistent and join a properly-structured leadership organisation.

Our appeal is to those anarchists who are committed to the concept of a self-organised majority revolution without leaders to be consistent and abandon their dogmatic opposition to the working class forming a political party to contest elections and eventually win control of political power, not to form a government but to immediately abolish capitalism and usher in the classless, stateless, moneyless, wageless society that real socialism will be.
Adam Buick

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