Here are the writings of Pierre Joseph-Proudhon, the first person in modern history to proclaim themselves an anarchist. He was a firm advocate of the traditions of revolutionary France, being born into poverty in rural France, he achieved a scholarship and became a brilliant student of philosophy and a socialist theorist. He was deeply involved in the movements of the revolution in 1848, writing for radical newspapers. Proudhon was at one point elected to the National Assembly, using these experiences of parliament and its failure, to practically theorise his anarchist ideas. He suffered repression and exile after the coup of Napoleon III in 1851.
His early anarchist ideas and experiences, provide the foundation stone, on which anarchism is built, influencing deeply the development of Bakunin and Kropotkin. His mutualist theories were superseded in development by Bakunin’s collectivism and Kropotkin’s communism. Proudhon was opposed to the authoritarian communism of Jacobin revolutionaries like Marx and Engels, which is one reason why he came out so strongly against communism.
His writings on the critique of social institutions; capitalism, church and state, are crucial to the pursuit and understanding of freedom. His discussion of the revolution, organisation and federation are also essential. His main political work was ‘General Idea of Revolution in the Nineteenth Century’ and also important for organisational theory, ‘The Principle of Federation’, all are worth reading. ‘The Philosophy of Misery’ and ‘The Principle of Federation’ are in the second parts only partially translated. Also important are ‘Confessions of a Revolutionary’, about his experience of 1848 and ‘The Political Capacity of the Working Classes’, both of which can be found in the Ak Press edition of ‘Property is Theft’, (https://libcom.org/library/property-theft-pierre-joseph-proudhon-anthology).
Pierre Joseph Proudhon – General Idea of the Revolution
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon – The Principle of Federation
The struggle against modern oppressors is a living, breathing process, full of challenges and difficulty. However, more recent historical events give valuable insight into the struggle, such as the 1994 Zapatista uprising, the movement against world bank austerity in Argentina and the revolt of 2008 in Greece. These show us possibilities for action to achieve liberty, equality and fraternity. Greece is the most recent example, and is particularly instructive for Brisbane:
beyondresistance subcomandante Marcos
Sitrin (Ed.) – Horizontalism – Voices of Popular Power in Argentina(1)
The Italian revolutionary movement is another important moment to study. From the early 1960s, to the hot autumn of 1969, to the ‘Autonomia‘ of the 1970s the struggle raged in Italy. This was part of the larger wave of working class revolt sweeping across the Europe in Paris 1968, leading to the breakup of the Keynesian economic consensus.
For the Italian ‘Workerists‘ and later ‘Autonomia‘, this was a time of great experimentation and lively working class social movements. These movements rocked the foundations of Italian society. The theoretical and practical experiments provide a framework for some of the challenges we face, in a time of class recomposition and ruling class attack. Although they are mostly Marxists, often ignorant and hostile to anarchism, the insights they provide are deeply valuable to all Libertarian Communists:
Autonomia – Post-Political Politics (reduced)
Wright S – Storming Heaven – Class Composition and Struggle in Italian Autonomist Marxism OCR
Antonio Negri – Books For Burning
Paulo Virno – Grammar of the Multitude
Antonio Negri & Michael Hardt – Empire
Antonio Negri & Michael Hardt – Multitude
Antonio Negri & Michael Hardt – Commonwealth
George Caffentzis – In Letters of Blood and Fire
Midnight Notes Collective – Promissory Notes 2009
John Holloway- Change the world without taking power
John Holloway – Crack Capitalism
Franco ”Bifo” Berardi – The Soul at Work From Alienation to Autonomy
The Uprising of Paris, May 1968 culminated a chain of struggles, in Europe and the world against bourgeois institutions. Started by students, it spread to the mass of workers, and culminated in at least 10 million workers going on wildcat general strike across France, against the will of trade unions, the communist party and the Gaullist state. The crisis of the refusal of work and discipline, was part of a major breakdown of capitalism known as keynesianism, the welfare state and post-war social democracy. The mass rebellions, once defeated, paved the way for the eventual defeat of the working class in the first world and the new system of neoliberalism.
Paris 1968 was influenced by a rejuvenated libertarian Marxism and anarchism. It was influenced partly by Council Communists, critical theorists and the left Communists. The movement was pushed forward by the renewed Libertarian Socialism of the journal ‘Socialisme ou Barbarie’, the situationist movement in France and Solidarity in the UK, and part of a new rethinking of Socialism. The movements of 1968 afterwards influenced the autonomist movements in Italy, Germany, the USA and globally. The modern Greek anarchist movement is heavily influenced by these movements. Here are some important writing from this era:
Pannekoek – Workers’ Councils
Maurice Brinton- Paris; May 68
Obsolete Communism – The left-wing alternative – Daniel Cohn-Bendit & Gabriel Cohn-Bendit
Anarchists have significant differences with Karl Marx and many marxists, (especially of the leninist tradition) in both theory and organisation. However, Bakunin and many other Anarchists recognised the contribution of Marx in his ‘Critique of Political Economy’. It is a tool of the working class to critique capitalism, and to analyse class composition for future struggles. Here are the pdfs available of his major works, (Michael Heinrich’s introduction is a good place to start):
Capital – (Penguin Classics) Volume II
Capital – (Penguin Classics) Volume III
marx value price profit
marx wage labor and capital
Theories of Surplus Value – karl Marx
In the struggle against the bourgeoisie, it is essential to address the power relations and imbalances between genders and sexualities. Under Capitalism, the Patriarchal family serves an important role in reproducing wage labour and providing emotional labour. This is essential to the reproduction of the nuclear family and the maintenance of the workers ability to perform paid labour. Here are some good texts on socialist feminism and sexuality, from both Marxist and Anarchist perspectives:
Ackelsberg – Free Women of Spain – Anarchism and the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women
Caliban and the Witch
Communist Interventions_Revolutionary Feminism_vol_three_2_01_0
Dalla Costa and Selma James – Women and the Subversion of the Community
Nina Power – One Dimensional Woman
Selma James sex-race-class-2012imp