Anarchism: Its Aim In The Present

[In 1931 Pierre Ramus dealt with issues that affect us now - the danger of sublimating anarchism into other movements and the need for anarchism to determine "the means and methods of revolutionary activity which deserve the name of social revolution". The need to have our own economic programme is particularly telling!]

In the turmoil of broken-down ideas, theories and parties, only anarchism stands aloof. It has gained its great vindication in the fact that all its oppositional movements within the working class, based upon the "conquest of power," have failed to do anything for the workers except deteriorate their material conditions and smash their ideals. Social democracy, Bolshevism, and Fascism, have all had their chance to gain both power and the government, and show that they were able not only to better the conditions of labour, but transform social life by those means. That old and long cherished Marxian formula, "conquest of power," has been completely exploded as a means of labour emancipation when put to the test of experience and reality.

Thus the ideal of liberty, unfettered by, government, statute law, and the Church, has become by virtue of its logical consequence, the only common-sense ideal and aspiration in the minds of mankind. Being the very opposite of coercion, force and authority, it has until now withstood all its tests.

There are two problems which Anarchism must still fathom in order to penetrate the minds of humanity and become the leading star within social evolution and sociological science. These two problems are both a moral and material problem at the same time, and demand a positive solution within the theory and practice of Anarchism. The first one is unflinching endurance in the promotion of the uncompromised principle of Anarchism. Anarchists must not be misled, as many were before the War, into believing that other movements can perform their mission. Anarchism, by its complete solution of the individual and social problem, is entitled to utilise all other movements for its purpose which are coinciding with its aims. But it must never give itself up to those movements, since they are mainly means, never aims! This is the case with Syndicalism. Valuable as it undoubtedly can be when submerged in Anarchism, it becomes dangerous when Anarchists think to promote the welfare of the working class by stooping down to those every-day demands of the big, but important, mass movements which they raise as slogans. Sixty years of striving for the eight-hour working day has been entirely superseded and become meaningless by capitalist industrial evolution. This must cause us to beware of lowering our flag to the present slogan of a seven-or even six-hour day, since already in America this is superseded by some capitalists introducing the five-hour working day. But this does not exclude either wage-slavery or the most dreadful exploitation. This has become more manifold, much more highly developed and keener as a result of recent rationalisation than was formerly the case with the ten-hour day. If Anarchists believe in economic reform within the present system they ought, and must, start in with original ideas of their own. They must combat government, financial monopoly, with its money-power, and at the same time the economic dependence of the worker in wage-slavery. There arc today means and methods in this line which, to combine with Anarchist Communism, is in the tendency of the greatest evolution of this glorious principle. But this will only be achieved if Anarchists keep up their own idea of leading to a Social Revolution through a practical economic programme. They must aim solely at Anarchism without any Bolshevic authority, even if it is offered in the form of dictatorial workers councils, or any such-like busybodies, desirous of exercising a new power over their fellows.

In connection with this, there is the second problem to be solved. The realisation of Anarchist Communism is more than ever possible, after the utter bankruptcy of the Bolshevic revolutionary method. The great mission for mankind is to now develop a new form and method of the Social Revolution. It cannot be denied that many one-time Anarchists saw in the methods of Bolshevism aspects of Anarchism, and without realising its ultimate anti-social and authoritarian character, went over to it. The great lot of our generation is therefore to work out those means and methods of revolutionary activity which deserve the name of a Social Revolution, in contradistinction to the revolutions hitherto known. Thus alone will Anarchism become vital in its ideal as well as in its practical constructive capacity.

Pierre Ramus

From: Freedom, June 1931. .