Black Flame Chapter VIII

The broad anarchist tradition has consistently stressed the significance of ideas for the libertarian and socialist reconstruction of society as well as the need for a “fundamental transvaluation of values” and the removal of the “authority principle” from the hearts and minds of the popular classes. Even the insurrectionist anarchists, for example, saw armed action as important primarily for its educative function. The same concern with the centrality of ideas is seen in the mass anarchist strand, the promotion of revolutionary countercultures, Bakunins emphasis on anarchism as a “new faith,” Malatestas stress on the “revolutionary imagination,” the intellectual work of figures like Reclus, Foster s idea of a militant minority, and so on.

The issue that arises, however, is how best to spread the new faith, and it is here that we encounter a wide range of different tactical positions on a crucial question: Is it necessary for the militant minority of anarchists or syndicalists to form themselves into a specifically anarchist or syndicalist political organisation in order to promote their ideas and pursue their strategies? If so, how should such a group be organised?

There are a number of key positions. There is an “antiorganisationalist” one, which argues for an informal network of revolutionaries. There is the view of some syndicalists that a revolutionary union can undertake all the tasks of an anarchist or syndicalist political organisation, making such an organisation redundant. Finally, there is organisational dualism, which is the stance that there must be a specific and distinct anarchist organisation that would promote anarchist or syndicalist ideas.

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