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By Daniel Guérin, Mary Klopper, Noam Chomsky

Publication by way of Daniel Guérin

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As for the Paris Commune, while it is true that it spontaneously broke away from “traditional statist centralisation,” it was the product of a “compromise,” as Henri Lefebvre has noted, a sort of “united front” between the Proudhonists and Bakuninites on the one hand and the Jacobins and Blanquists on the other. It “boldly repudiated” the State, but Bakunin had to admit that the internationalist anarchists were a “tiny minority” in its ranks. As a result of Bakunin’s impetus, anarchism had, however, succeeded in grafting itself onto the First International - a proletarian, internationalist, apolitical, mass movement.

It had certainly made mistakes and taken wrong turns. That was the price of apprenticeship. ” The leaders of the Party did not hold this view. They were only too pleased to take back from the factory committees the power which they had not in their heart of hearts been happy to hand over. As early as 1918, Lenin stated his preference for the “single will” in the management of enterprises. The workers must obey “unconditionally” the single will of the directors of the work process. ” Moreover, the administration was invaded by large numbers of petty bourgeois, left over from old Russian capitalism, who had adapted themselves all too quickly to institutions of the soviet type, and had got themselves communism on a miniature, rural, infantile scale.

The freedom of the workers and peasants is their own, and not subject to any restriction. It is up to the workers and peasants themselves to act, to organise themselves, to agree among themselves in all aspects of their lives, as they themselves see fit and desire.... The Makhnovists can do no more than give aid and counsel.... ” One of the relative weaknesses of the Makhnovist movement was its lack of libertarian intellectuals, but it did receive some intermittent aid from outside. This came first from Kharkov and Kursk where the anarchists, inspired by Voline, had in 1918 formed a union called Nabat (the tocsin).

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