First Published: People’s Canada Daily News Release, November 15, 1971
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
Toronto, (PCDN), November 15th, – The latest edition of Toronto Student , Vol.3, No. 6 carries an article entitled “Anarchism or Socialism?”, the full text of which follows:
At this revolutionary time when the people are daily rising against U.S. imperialism and imperialism is heading for total collapse all sorts of so-called “revolutionaries” with “revolutionary” schemes are taken out of the closets and paraded to the people as genuine prophets. One such “prophet” was brought to Toronto on Nov, 2nd.
SAC in cooperation with Our Generation magazine paraded Mr. Murray Bookchin, writer, editor and a very professional anarchist to the U of T students as a ’real revolutionary’. One can only marvel at the political inconsistencies of the SAC hacks, bureaucrats and careerists par excellance, those who now bring us a ’revolutionary’ anarchist, who urges revolt against everything SAC stands for. This glaring contradiction between theory and practice (SAC promotes ’anarchism’ and is itself bureaucratic) is usually no problem for the bourgeoisie which says one thing and does another. SAC is fully aware that in promoting anarchism it promotes only intellectual discussion on the merits of utopia instead of organising to change the world.
In defence of anarchism Bookchin argues that history is fundamentally a development of hierarchies from primitive communism to the modern state. Although he mentions Marx and class conflict, his portrayal of history, is clearly not based on historical materialism. He concedes that central organisation may be required at certain stages of development but he clearly does’nt recognise why. If he did he would not be an anarchist.
In fact he sees the state as an end in itself, whereas Marxism holds that the state machine is the coercive tool of the ruling class to exercise its will in maintaining its relations of production. Which ever class is in power uses the political superstructure that best suits its needs. At one time, at a very primitive level of production, central coercive organisation was not required but central organisation became necessary at an advanced economic level in order to enforce an adequate division of labour (at first so that a small number of people could live off the labour of a large number of slaves) and thus class society was brought about. If Bookchin fully grasped this fact, he would recognise that it is class conflict and not the interaction of the ’state’ and the ’community’ that is the prime moving force in history.
This failure to comprehend the scientific nature of Marxism leads Bookchin to discount the revolutionary nature of the proletariat which he slanders and to make anti-communist slurs(he blames communists for having suppressed counter-revolutionary anarchists and Trotskyites).
Our anarchist “prophet” fails to see that within capitalist society are the seeds of its own destruction, for with capitalists come the proletariat, with private accumulation of capital comes large scale collective production and with capitalist competition for profits come economic crises. By taking political power, the proletariat can not only rationalise production to meet social needs but also exercises dictatorship over other classes and forces them to join the ranks of the workers, thus laying the basis of a classless society of free producers.
Bookchin goes on to argue that with technology (read ’Wonders of the Atomic Age’) the possibility of liberation is real. This proposition leads our anarchist into his vision of “eco-technology” technology applied in harmony with nature ( a pollution free utopia). When confronted with questions as to how he proposed to transform his dream into reality, he replied that an “Enlightenment” was taking place which “corresponds to the great French ’Enlightenment’” of the 18th century which preceded the revolution of 1789 and that “intuitively” millions of people were rebelling against this oppressive system. If we investigate this “Enlightenment” we see that in the first instance he refers to the manifestation of the rise of bourgeois culture whereas his present version shows only the complete degeneration of bourgeois society.
Mysticism, the “youth” culture, theatre of the “absurd” and the use of drugs, are these components of Bookchin’s “Enlightenment”? This is no “Enlightenment”. This is bourgeois culture running amuck. Yet to Bookchin this degeneration which has occurred throughout history in decaying societies is something to be marvelled at – a truly miraculous advance for civilisation which will establish anarchism! From which marsh did Bookchin dredge up such nonsense? IDEALISM AND METAPHYSICS ARE THE EASIEST THINGS IN THE WORLD, BECAUSE PEOPLE CAN TALK AS MUCH NONSENSE AS THEY LIKE WITHOUT BASING IT ON OBJECTIVE REALITY OR HAVING IT TESTED AGAINST REALITY. At U of T Bookchin demonstrated that anarchism was part of the problem of imperialism not part of its solution.