An independent guest contribution by Fredrik Filip Larsson

1. Introduction

This article was prompted by a recent amusing post on You Tube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV8ps0OOJNk&feature=youtube_gdata_player , entitled ‘South Troythgate National-Anarchist Manifesto Burning’. The poster, SilentSRI, gives a fairly accurate summary of National-Anarchist positions.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t pay much attention to these sorts of things, but, on watching this, I was struck by the similarity between National-Anarchism and contemporary Far Left ideas. The poster draws attention to this connection by including an excerpt from the American comedy show South Park – an episode which satirises ‘decentralist’, neo-anarchist, marijuana-smoking Occupy Wall Street-type hippies – and stating ‘This is what Southgate believes’. The idea of a connection between modern Leftism and National Anarchism got me thinking: it threw my mind back further – before modern times, South Park, before Occupy – to the time of Bakunin and Proudhon.

My belief now is that we find that just about all the ideas of the National Anarchists were anticipated by the 19th century anarchist movement, and in particular, by the great thinkers Proudhon and Bakunin and, of course, the famous ‘Utopian Socialists’ Saint-Simon, Fourier and Robert Owen (and similar ‘Utopian’ projects, e.g., the Oneida community in the USA). White Western man hasn’t had a new thought, politically, in 200 years, and certainly the Far Left hasn’t. In order to refute National Anarchism, then, all we need do is refute the anarchism of 200 years ago.

In this essay, I don’t aim at achieving a straightforward refutation (by frontal attack, as SilentSRI has attempted to do): instead, I’ll be contrasting two ways of going about things – radical, left-wing political things, that is – side by side; I will then leave it up to the reader to decide which is the true and correct course, and which is the best course for contemporary Western nationalists to follow (because the left-wing and revolutionary movements of the 19th century have extreme relevance, in my view, to nationalism).

I will state here, at the outset, that there are a good many nationalists who are attracted to ideas and groups with a progressive, anti-capitalist tinge: e.g., the German nationalists in the Freie Nationalisten groups, or the nationalists attracted to Third Positionism (which I will touch upon later). Some of them may, with the best intentions, oscillate towards, and even flirt briefly, with National-Anarchism; let me say, that nothing in this essay is an attack on them or their ideology. These nationalists are leaning in the right direction – the anti-capitalist direction – but it is my belief that they won’t find what they’re looking for in National-Anarchism.

2. The Trotskyites of the Far Right

I have had long experience, on a personal and political level, with the National-Anarchists, and, on a superficial level, I characterise them as the Trotskyites of the Far Right nationalist and racialist movement. They are prone to splitting; entryism (endorsed by Southgate in his essay, The Case for National-Anarchist Entryism , which holds up the notorious British Trotskyite Militant Tendency as a model for ‘penetrative’ tactics); erraticism; sectarianism; a tendency (after splitting) to divide up into smaller and smaller formations; a fetish for militarism and guerrilla warfare (Southgate has his own ‘Revolutionary Command Council’); and (closely related) an ultra-Left, ultra-radical ‘left adventurism’, which can be categorised as a demand for ‘instant revolution’, that is, ‘revolution, NOW’. Trotskyism, of course, attracts footloose and fancy-free individuals, most often, radical students and youth who are attracted to the idea of joining a communist group ‘for kicks’ (to use a beatnik slang phrase) but don’t necessarily stay for too long. (The Trotskyite groups here in Australia have an enormous annual turnover in membership, mainly of joining, and then departing, students – they go through them like a wheat grinder goes through chaff). It’s quite possible, in his search for revolutionary thrills, for a student-type to go from communism to anarchism to Far Right nationalism and neofascism and back again, for consistency is not the order of the day for him. In my experience, National-Anarchists either leave to return to the ‘mainstream’ of nationalism, to rejoin the more conventional nationalist groups or to mainstream left-libertarianism and anarchism.

But, in a few respects, the National-Anarchists are not like the Trotskyites. The latter, for all their faults, are prolific writers: the writers and theorists for the Trotskyite publications are fecund, literary-wise: the sheer quantity of original Trotskyite writing is a standing joke among the Left – the Trotskyites keep on producing mountains of scribbling which no-one will ever read. In contrast, the National-Anarchists are always trying to ‘claim’ other authors, and activists, as their own, as being somehow ‘National-Anarchist’ when they are not (visit any National Anarchist website, and you will see huge numbers of links to other non-related causes and organisations on the left-hand side, and also, references to an extremely lengthy string of authors (Crowley, Nietzsche, Evola, et al.)). This pilfering takes a number of forms. At the 2007 APEC demonstration in Sydney, virtually none of the nationalists there were National-Anarchist – some of them were from other groups, e.g., there was Darrin Hodges, a member of the Far Right conservative Australian Protectionist Party – but it was later claimed, by National-Anarchists on the Internet, that the ‘National-Anarchists’ had put on the demonstration, the protestors were ‘National-Anarchist’. This sort of ‘claiming’ I have seen happen in front of me at meetings of nationalist activists and intellectuals from diverse ideologies and groups: a lone National-Anarchist there will claim, wildly, that at least 50% of those gathered are ‘National-Anarchist’ ( or, if those in attendance are not ‘National-Anarchist’ consciously, perhaps they are, but just don’t know it yet). This meets with bafflement from the assembled nationalists, who are certainly not National-Anarchist in their ideology, in any shape or form, not unconsciously and certainly not consciously. (This sort of ‘claiming’ goes on at the literary level. One of my essays (written under a pen name) appeared in a compilation of ‘National-Anarchist thought’, National Anarchism: A Reader (2012)).

What other radical ideology – Maoism, Trotskyism, skinheadism, white nationalism, whatever – needs to resort to such tactics? There is no shortage of people willing to declare themselves to be white nationalist or Trotskyite or whatever. Or engage in activism, or write books and newspapers, or play music, for that ideology. Which suggests, at first sight, that the National-Anarchists simply don’t have the numbers, or intellectual confidence yet (it may be that they will have these things in the future).

3. The metaphysics of National-Anarchism

Something else which is unique, I feel, is the National-Anarchist rhetorical style. One will notice that, in the rejoinders to SilentSRI, Southgate doesn’t answer the charges of Proudhonism (although it’s not characterised as such) directly; he evades them, and responds, instead, to something else (preferring to seize upon an irrelevant point). This is an old politician’s trick, of course. That is, when asked question A by a journalist in an interview, the politician won’t answer it; he’ll instead give an answer to an entirely different question, B, which wasn’t asked by the interviewer. But, more than that, there are these responses from Southgate which I, as someone who knows Southgate’s positions fairly well, found somewhat astonishing in their duplicity:

As I remarked elsewhere: “Oh well, at least our shadowy friend had the decency to get back to nature and burn the thing out in the woods. Not that it actually WAS the N-AM Manifesto in the first place, of course! Why are people making such a big deal out of New Right meetings? We’re not some kind of self-appointed elite ready to step in and take over the world. In fact the meetings are organised by me personally and people simply come along, listen to the talks and then go home. It’s as simple as that. The meetings are also designed to be educational, just like the books we publish at Black Front Press. The New Right in England has no agenda whatsoever, it is just a form of political networking and we seek to provide a platform for political dissidents of all stripes. Yesterday afternoon, for example, we had a rabbi from the anti-Zionist group, Neturei Karta. I won’t take up any more of your time, but if anyone here wants to debate with me in the National-Anarchist group, then I am always happy to oblige and help clear up any misconceptions. And believe me, after reading some of the comments here, there are quite a few.”

For the record, I am not and have never been an ‘Evolian’. I disagree with a number of the Baron’s ideas, not least the concept of spiritual race and much of the neo-dualism and negativity that pervades his work in relation to what I would regard as complimentary and balanced polarities. I prefer to take a Jungian line on that type of thing. I also side with Guénon when it comes to the age-old debate surrounding the Brahmins and Kshatriyas.

But this is typical: asserting the opposite of what one believes, and then holding to a different position tomorrow. ‘Today I am an Evolian; tomorrow I am not; today the National-Anarchist Manifesto is representative of me, tomorrow, when you burn it, it is not; today, I am a follower of the New Right and the Nouvelle Droit, tomorrow, I am not; tomorrow, I am a sympathiser with the Conservative Revolution, today I am not; today I am a sympathiser with fascists like Codreanu and Strasser, tomorrow, I am not; tomorrow, I seek to draw adherents from white nationalism, neofascism and the Far Right; tomorrow, I repudiate the white nationalists, neofascists and Far Rightists as scum; today, I am a fully-fledged member of a skinhead Neo-Nazi group; tomorrow, I decry you “fascists” out there in the nationalist movement’. And so on. Things constantly pass into their opposites, and back again. (Which is why, for instance, pictures of David Duke and Noam Chomsky will be put up on one of the endless sidebars of links at a National-Anarchist website). No doubt, if and when defenders of National-Anarchism pen a rebuttal of this article, they will contend that Southgate’s views are ‘not representative of National-Anarchism’, which is like saying that Trotsky’s views are ‘not representative of Trotskyism’; but, of course, will reinstate him on as throne as chief theorist of National-Anarchism the next day.

But is this a mere rhetorical trope? Dishonesty? No: it would be a mistake to think so. I believe that this is symptomatic. It is, in fact, a way of thinking which comes about from a metaphysical world view which stems from anarchist thought, specifically, the thought of Proudhon, and, after him, Mao. (Which isn’t to say that the National-Anarchists have imbued the thought, and spirit, of Proudhon, or Mao, by reading them: it’s perfectly possible to be deeply influenced by the ideas of a certain author, via the medium of someone else).

In Maoist metaphysics, famously, things are always changing into their opposites. This is the ‘unity of opposites’. Today, you may have A, but tomorrow, this will turn into its opposite, B: or more accurately, B will take the place of A. In turn, A will return and displace B. Metaphysically, it’s an endless game of musical chairs:

Mao regards the unity of opposites as their mere coexistence in one thing or process, he regards their intertransition, their transformation into each other as no more than a mutual exchange of places… Consequently, according to Mao, as a result of the victory of the socialist revolution the proletariat changes places with the bourgeoisie. Mao’s approach to the law of the unity and struggle of opposites suggests that development is not viewed as a negation of the old by the new, but as a simple repetition of the past, as a circular movement or even as a movement in reverse. Suffice it to say that Mao’s “dialectics” envisages the destruction of mankind and the globe: “There are no things in the world which are not born, which do not develop and die. The monkey was transformed into man, men arose, but ultimately mankind as a whole is bound to perish. It will be transformed into something different, and at that time there will be no globe. The globe is ultimately bound to be destroyed.”

The content of the Maoist concept of contradiction itself is a mechanical antithesis of external opposites, with Mao using good and bad as the terms to designate these opposites. There are also other pairs like good and evil, hot and cold, etc. [But contrary to Mao] war and peace are [not] phenomena which mutually determine each other. Mao takes the oversimplified, unscientific view of these two phenomena as being outwardly opposite to each other, and regards them as social opposites expressing the essence of social development. It may logically follow from this that the self-movement, the unfolding of the opposite sides of a social organism, inevitably leads to the alternation of war and peace. [Chapter One, ‘The Substance of Maoist Philosophy’, in Konstantinov, F.V., Sladkovsky, M.I., Georgiyev, V.G., (eds.), A Critique of Mao-TseTung’s Theoretical Conceptions, Progress Publishers, 1972.]

All this is not a mere philosophical discussion, of course: Maoist thought on these questions determined the destiny of millions – as did Marxist, dialectical materialist thought.

The main difference between Marxism and Maoism is that, in the former, the antagonism, the differences, between the opposites (e.g., working-class and bourgeoisie) come to a rest and, as a result, there is progress. A higher level of development is attained: that is, Soviet-style communist society. This stands in contrast to the metaphysics of Mao – and Proudhon:

 The Maoist “theory of disequilibrium” with its cyclic pattern of “equilibrium—disequilibrium—equilibrium” creates only the appearance of a progressive movement in accordance with the law of negation of the negation. Actually, it is a theory of viciously infinite rotation, of two alternating states of a phenomenon, whatever reservations Mao Tse-Tung cares to make. Rotation does not settle contradiction.

The vicious infinity of alternating states of things is expressed by Mao Tse-Tung in a number of formulas. For instance, he writes: “Practice, knowledge, more practice, more knowledge; the cyclical repetition of this pattern to infinity.” The analogous pattern “unity—criticism—unity” likewise rests on the endless rotation of the same forms. The same pattern is seen in the triad: summing up of experience —taking it to the masses—new summing up of experience. Or the formula of the development of knowledge: specific— general—specific, and so on.

Here and there Mao Tse-Tung states that development follows an ascending curve. But these are only words, because the formula of cyclical repetition does not express an ascent. Dialectical movement is accomplished not along a circle but along a spiral. In the Philosophical Notebooks Lenin stressed that a return to the old is a return to the “seemingly old”, and not a reproduction of the old. Dialectics gives the formula of progress, while the theory of equilibrium or disequilibrium offers the formula of a viciously infinite rotation along one and the same circle.

Mao Tse-Tung regards the settlement of a contradiction as the eradication of the “bad” and the leaving of the “good”. Marx, it will be remembered, criticised a similar assertion by Proudhon. “The very setting of the problem of eliminating the bad side,” he wrote, “cuts short the dialectic movement.” When a contradiction is settled, both its sides disappear, and a new phenomenon arises with its own new contradictions. Mao Tse-Tung does not understand the dialectical nature of opposites, and he is, therefore, unable to understand their unity, unfolding or struggle. [A. Rumyantsev, ‘Maoism and Its Anti-Marxist “Philosophy”, in Maoism Unmasked: Collection of Soviet Press Articles, Progress Publishers, 1972.]

Maoism was deeply influenced, of course, by anarchism, and there are some parallels between it, anarchism and National-Anarchism, which I shall detail later. Suffice to say, the contradictoriness of Southgate and the National-Anarchists, in their rhetoric – the constant leaping back and forth (between, say, fascism and non-fascism, or primitivism and a repudiation of primitivism), the holding of two pairs of exclusives as being both good and bad (good on one day, bad the next), the refusal to come to a settled result, a halt, a point of rest – can be traced back to Mao’s and Proudhon’s binarism. It’s not a case of mere rhetorical slipperiness or dishonesty, it is very much a fundamental of National-Anarchist thought.

4. The roots of ‘revolutionism’

Presently, we shall examine the ideas of Bakunin and Proudhon, which form the basis of the National-Anarchist ideology. But we shall detour for a moment and look at Southgate’s political career and try and discover the common thread running throughout.

Southgate, as is well known, went from the National Front (in its famous mid-eighties ‘Griffinist’ phase, when it distributed copies of Ghaddafi’s Green Book, applauded the black nationalist Louis Farrakhan, helped introduce Strasserism to a British nationalist audience, and preached a tough ‘revolutionary’ attitude); then to the International Third Position (which holds to Distributism, Social Credit, Schumacherism, ruralism, co-operatives and what I call ‘English small town-ism’) and which was sympathetic to Codreanu and the Spanish Falangists; then to the ‘tough’-sounding National Revolutionary Faction (which, in its name, evokes the national-liberation movements of the Third World in the post-war era, or perhaps a seventies-era European Far Left terrorist group; it preached ‘revolution’ and displayed vaguely conspiratorial, Blanquist tendencies). I first encountered Southgate and his ideas over ten years ago, in the context of the small Third Positionist (‘Neither Left nor Right’) and National Bolshevik grouplets and individuals then around. These tendencies were sympathetic to, among other things, the ideas of the non-aligned, post-war, national liberationist figures (e.g., Sukarno, Nassar, Peron) – figures which were neither pro-Soviet nor pro-American, hence, ‘Third Position’ or ‘The Middle Way’.

So, what is the common root of all this? There are two roots. The first is what A Dictionary of Scientific Communism (Progress Publishers, 1980), defines as (ironically) ‘Theories of “National Socialism”‘:

Theories of “National Socialism”, ideological conceptions that emerged among society’s middle sections (q. v.) and the non-proletarian sections of the working people in the newly liberated countries. As a rule, they are an eclectic concoction of socialist ideals and national traditions, all kinds of Populist, Utopian, reformist, religious, petty-bourgeois and other ideas. Socialist doctrines of a national type have emerged at the current stage of national liberation revolutions, when their further growth is restricted by the all too narrow boundaries of bourgeois nationalism (q. v.), while the forces capable of consistently implementing scientific socialism [i.e., communist parties] in these countries are not yet mature enough to lead the struggle for national and social liberation.

The role played by the socialist doctrines of a national type depends on the nature of the countries and the given historical conditions under which they are formulated, on which class interests they express, and what kind of socio-economic programme they promote. Correspondingly, a number of relatively independent ideological trends take shape: socialist concepts of a national-bourgeois type; petty-bourgeois reformist doctrines of national socialism; and finally, non-Marxist socialist theories created by the contemporary revolutionary democracy of the developing countries.

The adherents of scientific socialism while supporting everything progressive in T. N. S. also remark their weak and negative points. The positive aspect of these concepts, especially those belonging to the revolutionary-democratic trend, is first and foremost their criticism of the capitalist system. The advanced part of revolutionary democracy supports radical socio– democratic transformations, which are conducive to socialist development. They strive to eradicate the aftermath of the colonial past, clear society of the vestiges of feudal and patriarchal relations, build a developed, diversified economy, improve the conditions of those who till the land, and raise the living standards and cultural level of the people as a whole. The socialist oriented countries [i.e., the countries friendly to the Soviet Union] attach primary importance to solving these problems.

At the same time, in a number of countries, T.N.S. display the marked impact of religious concepts. This is because, for many decades running, the most popular religious systems dominant in Asia and Africa, e. g. Islam and Buddhism, served as an ideological banner in the struggle of the oppressed peoples. After achieving independence, some religious figures openly sided with reactionaries; many others, however, remained with the working people, supporting them in their striving to embark on a socialist-oriented path (see Non– Capitalist Path of Development).

By guiding the thrust of the struggle against imperialism and domestic reaction, T.N.S. for the most part objectively facilitate advance along the path of non– capitalist development, the achievement of economic independence and consolidation of state sovereignty. At the same time, since this ideological platform is not an integral scientific [i.e., communist] world outlook, its supporters sometimes give their slogans a petty– bourgeois hue, displaying an inclination to “skip” certain indispensable stages of development, exaggerate the role of military political methods in administration, underrate that of organisational and ideological work among the masses, and show an uncalled-for distrust of the adherents of the Marxist-Leninist world outlook.

That pretty much sums up Ghaddafi, Nasser, Sukarno, Nkrumah, Peron, the Ba’ath Party and the whole crowd. The ‘non-aligned’, ‘non-capitalist path of development’, more or less went of fashion, politically, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the peculiarly Arab national-socialism of the Nassarites, Ghaddafists, Syrian Ba’ath and the rest is now dying a slow, tortuous death during the present Arab Spring – in which the Arab national-liberation socialists have now become the bloody oppressors of their people…

Whatever the faults of national-liberationism and ‘Third Positionism’, the interest shown by nationalists represented a positive step (depending on your orientation) in the direction of progressivism and socialism. Southgate’s attitude towards radical socialism is ambiguous. He was a Strasserite for a time. As we know from history, Strasser’s Left-faction – in an alliance with German conservatives (Papen and others) and the brownshirts tried to launch a coup against Hitler; one of the demands of the brownshirts was that the officer corps of the German army be replaced by brownshirts, who were former German servicemen (eerily, nearly eighty years later, the former Maoist guerrilla army in Nepal made a similar demand – to be incorporated into the Nepalese armed forces, as part of peace deal). The fact that the putschists were slaughtered was, to Southgate, proof of their integrity, and the fact that Hitler had ‘betrayed’ the National Socialist revolution and had ‘sold out’ to capitalism. I once asked Southgate, on an Internet forum, how it was that Strasser’s policies were more ‘Left’ that Hitler’s. That is, if we are to view, for instance, the economic policies of the most left-wing government in the world in the 1930s – the USSR – as the standard of what is ‘Left’, where did Strasser’s suggested policies stand on the scale, and where did Hitler stand? Given that Strasser and Hitler weren’t as far ‘Left’ as Stalin, was Strasser closer to Stalin than Hitler was? Or did Hitler and Strasser occupy roughly the same spot on that scale? Weren’t then, Strasser’s and Hitler’s agrarian policies (for instance) on the same spot? After all, neither endorsed the collectivisation of farms, the formation of co-operatives, and the rest, unlike Stalin. To go by Strasser’s statements, his ideas are corporatism and guild-socialism mixed in with the ‘social partnership’ and class-collaborationism of German and Austrian social democrat policies after the war. (These governments, of course, were accused of ‘bourgeois reformism’ and ‘selling out to capitalism’ by the communists; the corollary is that Strasser would have been accused of exactly the same thing. But the charge of ‘selling out to capitalism’ is always highly arbitrary and subjective. The USSR was accused, after Khrushchev, by the Maoists of ‘reintroducing capitalism to the USSR’ – a ridiculous charge, to anyone who knows anything about Soviet political economy). Following this, I asked Southgate, if he supported left-wingism and ‘German socialism’ to such a degree, why didn’t he support the East German Democratic Republic? I received no answer.

(But, lo and behold, we find Southgate ‘claiming’ Strasser for National-Anarchism: declares Southgate in an interview: in ‘Interview with Troy Southgate’ at http://blacksuninvictus.org/home.html ):

As an Anarchist, of course, I no longer support the kind of State-orchestrated policies that were being advocated by the Strasser brothers all those years ago, but it is probably fair to say that I am a post-Strasserite in that I strongly believe that, were they still alive, both Otto and Gregor would be very sympathetic towards the National-Anarchist Movement (N-AM).

This doesn’t follow. The inveterate corporatist Strasser, one-time founder of a (regrettably, failed) post-war German nationalist political party, would very much likely be more sympathetic to the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD)).

Just as in the case of Khrushchev and Brezhnev vis-à-vis the Maoists, I think that Hitler and the NSDAP were insufficiently ‘Left’, ‘Left-adventurist’, for a man of Southgate’s temperament. Which brings us to the second common root: ‘Left-adventurism’ or ‘Left-opportunism’. This is one of communism’s favourite jargon-words. It could be defined as: what happens when a socialist renounces one class for another, that is, he renounces the natural class of socialism – the working-class, the proletariat – for the bourgeoisie or the petit-bourgeoisie (the middle class).

We understand, intuitively, what ‘Right-wing opportunism’ is – it is when a socialist party, like the British Labour Party, or the Australian Labor Party, in communist phraseology, ‘sells out the workers’ and renounces socialism for the sake of the capitalist class, and exchanges radicalism for participation in bourgeois liberal democracy; indeed, such socialist parties were ‘revisionist’ and ‘Right-opportunist’ at their inception. (On the Far Left, we have the European communist parties which ‘sold out’ and adopted eurocommunism). In the nationalist world, the nearest equivalent to the ‘Right-opportunists’ and ‘revisionists’ are the Nick Griffin, Geert Wilders and Gianfranco Fini types.

The phenomenon of ‘Left-opportunism’, however, requires a little more explanation. Here is A Dictionary of Scientific Communism again:

Opportunism is adaptation of the policy and ideology of the working-class movement to the interests and needs of non proletarian (bourgeois and petty– bourgeois) strata. O. is usually associated with revisionism (q.v.) or dogmatism (q.v.). It can be right-wing or “left”-wing.

“Left”-wing O. is, on the face of it, the diametrical opposite of right-wing O. It urges the most resolute and super– revolutionary methods of struggle, rejects all compromise and any co-operation with reformist organisations, and disdains the struggle for the partial demands of the working people. This difference is, however, of another nature. Like right-wing, “left”-wing O. reflects the mood of petty-bourgeois strata. While right-wing O. is personified by the trade union official, the representative of the middle-class-like upper crust of the working class, the leftists are backed, in Lenin’s words, by “the frenzied petty bourgeois” (V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 27, p. 352), who may be unsettled by the poverty and suffering and prepared to do anything to escape the horror of his life’s torpor. Like right-wing O., “left”-wing O. misinterprets revolutionary theory. It gives ground to anarchism and dogmatism (qq. v.). Both right- and “left”-wing O. hamper the revolutionary process and side-track the working-class movement, the former towards class conciliation and the latter towards adventurism. “Left”-wing opportunists usually step up their activities in periods of more acute class struggle, difficulty and hardship. On the international scene, “left”-wing opportunists are now represented by Trotskyism (q.v.) which wages a fierce anti-communist and anti-Soviet campaign. There was a noticeable increase in leftist radicalism in the 1960s.

‘A noticeable increase in leftist radicalism in the 1960s’ is putting it mildly. Now, while one can disagree with the sociological analysis above, one has to admit that there’s something in it. In communist theory, the déclassé (literally, ‘fallen out of class’) elements of the middle-class which are doing it tough under capitalism – and facing proletarianisation, i.e., a descent to the level of the proletariat – tend to go slightly bonkers. If they get involved in radical Left politics, they may be inclined to the most extreme revolutionism. Even if one doesn’t agree with this, one has to admit that the majority of the radical Leftists we encounter come from a middle-class background, and that this has been the case for a while – at least since the days of the New Left, the hard nucleus of which was the children of the petit-bourgeoisie who had been educated (at their parent’s expense, or the taxpayer’s expense) at élite universities. Which was one of the reasons why the New Left had its peculiar character: it was not a Left-movement with a predominantly working-class, proletarian base (as was Bolshevism and fascism), it was composed of youth and students. One of the main theses of the New Left was that youth and students, not the working-class, were the most revolutionary and progressive, and that youth and students, not the communists, were the revolutionary vanguard…

One could, with ample justification, posit that a similar process – of turning towards ‘Left-opportunism’, an infection with petit-bourgeois, ‘adventurist’ ideology – could affect the Far Right as well as the Far Left; and my argument is that this did indeed take place, in the nationalist movement, sometime around the 1980s, twenty years after the advent of the sixties New Left student movement. Hence Southgate and the milieu of ‘revolutionary’ Third Positionists and National Bolsheviks from whence he came.

(Class is, of course, separate from one’s wealth: we all know rich people in Britain (which is the most class-stratified society in the Western world) who are of a decidedly working-class character; likewise, we know of middle-class people who are, in effect, lumpenproles, despite their coming from a ‘good family’ which owns a shop or a farm. For intellectuals in radical politics, it’s a question not so much of class background (although this is, of course, important) but class mentality. The Trotskyites and other ‘adventurist’ Left-radicals betray a petit-bourgeois mentality, but, if they are to be true Marxists, they should be geared towards the working-class mentality. That is, it is not a case of ‘thinking’ like a working-class man, but thinking in the interests of one. (Which is why communism accepts intellectuals like Rosa Luxembourg – a spoiled rich Jewess who had never done a day’s worth of manual labour in her life)).

5. National-Proudhonism

The International Third Position and its associated groups held to Distributism, Social Credit, co-operativism and barter societies; and indeed, many inside and outside the Far Right today are sympathetic to these ideas (especially the idea of minting one’s own currency). The news media reports of an experiment with an ‘Alternative Local Currency’ (or tems, in Greek) in the Greek city port town of Volos: the townsfolk are using their own currency as a means of exchanging their goods and services with one another.

Such practices, or the endorsement thereof, form one of the pillars of National-Anarchist thought (although, of course, the townsfolk of Volos are not ‘National-Anarchist without knowing it’, whatever the National-Anarchists may claim). Where do they come from? The answer is, from the anarchist Proudhon and the mutualist tradition (and before them, the Saint-Simonians). Possibly, in ancient Egypt and Babylon, there were thinkers with similar ideas; but in modern times, these ideas are best represented by the Proudhonists and the Utopians.

The essence of Proudhonism is the exchange of ‘labour notes’ (that is, one’s made-up currency) for goods and services – which is very similar to the Volos experiment. Combine this with decentralisation, proletarianism and anarchism, and you have Proudhonism.

Here is some historical background, from G.M. Stekloff’s classic work, History of the First International (International Publishers, 1928).

 The most essential point in Proudhon’s teaching (to which he himself gave the name of anarchism) was a refusal to contemplate the idea that the deliverance of the proletariat could be secured by a political revolution. An economic revolution must precede the political revolution. This economic revolution was to consist in the transformation of all producers into small owners. Such an end could be reached—so Proudhon thought—by spontaneous economic activity, by the organisation of the direct mutual exchange of products in the ratio of the labour incorporated in them. The exchanges would be effected through banks established for the purpose. It was also necessary to supply gratuitous credit to needy producers. Thus, the capitalist class would become superfluous, the exploitation of labour would cease, and the State would die out because it would have become functionless. In place of the State there would be a free society, founded upon the equitable exchange of products and services.

For a considerable period this doctrine, though permeated with the petty-bourgeois spirit, was very popular among the more advanced French workers… [Chapter Three, ‘Foundation of the International Workingmen’s Association’].

As a concrete proposal for a Proudhonist scheme to be put into action, we have:

In April, 1856, there arrived from Paris a deputation of Proudhonist workers whose aim it was to bring about the foundation of a Universal League of Workers. The object of the League was the social emancipation of the working class, which, it was held, could only be achieved by a union of the workers of all lands against international capital. Since the deputation was one of Proudhonists, of course this emancipation was to be secured, not by political methods, but purely by economic means, through the foundation of productive and distributive co-operatives. There were about twenty millions of workmen in the five leading European States. If each of these workmen was to make a small contribution, a large amount of capital would be secured, and with this a number of bakeries, slaughterhouses, and similar enterprises could be established. Thus by degrees capitalism would be painlessly superseded! A great meeting was summoned, and by this, with the active participation of Pyat and Talandier, the plan was approved. An executive committee was elected, and the meeting resolved to issue an appeal to the trade unions. It was the Owenist Utopia, resuscitated by the Proudhonists. Of course, the project was stillborn. Nevertheless, the affair had a stimulating influence on the International Committee. [Chapter Two, ‘Harbingers of the International’].

No doubt the reader, if he has been in nationalist politics long enough, will have encountered similar such schemes, put forward by cranks in the movement (and its offshoots) who in no way classify themselves as ‘Proudhonist’ or ‘anarchist’. (Which isn’t to say, of course, that co-operatives, mutual credit societies, self-help, and the rest, are necessarily bad: only that they are not substitutes for political struggle).

Something that is interesting, for our purposes, is the class content of Proudhonism. It is the ideology, the mentality, of the small-town shopkeeper, the artisan and craftsman, with a socialist bent but who is unwilling to engage in any form of politics.

The anarchists hoped to achieve the conquest of capitalism by a flanking movement. Instead of turning to their own account the inevitable internal conflicts of bourgeois society in order to secure a wider and more stable foundation for the working-class movement, the anarchists, whether of the pacifist or of the insurrectionist variety, endeavoured to solve the social problem quite independently of the existence of bourgeois society and its social and political struggles. Indeed, the anarchists, both of the Proudhonist and of the Bakuninist persuasion, considered that the participation of the working class in the political struggle would be a disastrous error, if not a positive betrayal of the interests of the proletariat. But whilst the Bakuninists hoped to secure the deliverance of the working class by the systematic propaganda of petty insurrections ( pending the general rising which was to achieve the social revolution at one blow), the Proudhonists recommended the workers to strive for deliverance, not by political methods, but by petty economic measures, and especially by the organisation of gratuitous credit and of equitable exchange among the producers, whom Proudhon liked to picture to himself in the form of smallholders and independent artisans. Thus Bakuninism gave expression to the destructive instincts of the more backward strata of the proletariat and the insurrectionally minded peasants: and Proudhonism gave expression to the aspirations of the uppermost strata of the working class, of those who had not lost hope of attaining a modest independence; and it reflected the petty bourgeois ideology of the proletariat in the Latin countries, where industrial development was less advanced than in the other lands of Central and Western Europe. [Chapter Five, ‘Conflicting Elements in the International’].

The political apatheticism of the Proudhonists, their political absentionism, led to their being accused, by other radicals, of being ‘government agents’:

Proudhonism was organised as a system in the period of extreme reaction which supervened in France upon the suppression of the proletarian rising in June 1848. On the one hand, it was tinged with political indifferentism, which was a reflection of the political indifferentism of the masses during the Second Empire; this aroused sharp criticism on the part of the Blanquists, who declared that the International (during the early days the French members of the organisation were mainly Proudhonists) was in the service of the Bonapartist police. [Ibid.]

In other words, the Blanquists accused the Proudhonists of being informers and police agents; today, rival nationalists throw similar accusations at each other.

But not only were the Proudhonists isolated from mainstream politics, they were also isolated (by their own choice) from the main current of Left-wing radicalism:

On the other hand, Proudhonism was characterised by a narrow doctrinairism. In a society based upon the dominion of large-scale capital and upon the centralisation of economic life, the Proudhonists hoped to solve the social problem by economic measures which should not transcend the limits of petty production and exchange. The difficulties arising out of the exploitation of wage labour by large-scale machine industry, in a society where banking capital had become highly concentrated, were to be overcome—so thought the Proudhonists —by the organisation of people’s banks, with free credit, and by the “equitable” (non-monetary) exchange of products among isolated producers, who were to exchange these goods for their actual (“constituted”) value. The Proudhonists did not understand the laws of capitalist development, and therefore they were in permanent opposition to the real working-class movement, which was a natural offspring of capitalism, but which they regarded as being wholly on a false route. They did not understand the significance of the fighting trade-union organisations of the proletariat; the workers’ instinctive interest in the political struggle; or the importance of labour-protection laws. They repudiated strikes, and they repudiated the emancipation of women. They even rejected the principles of socialism, paying tribute in this respect to the petty– bourgeois prejudices of the French peasantry. To quote Marx, they rejected “every kind of revolutionary tactic, I mean all tactic based upon the class struggle; every sort of concentrated social movement, and consequently every movement realising itself by political means; for example, the legislative restriction of the working day.” [Ibid.]

As a substitute for political action, the Proudhonists engaged in fantastic planning and scheming for the future ‘free society’ in which ‘every man was a master’.

Devoid of understanding of the problems which confronted the working class in consequence of the growth of large scale industry and commerce, the development of capitalist credit, and the creation of the world market, the Parisian Proudhonists approached the social question from the outlook of petty proprietors and independent artisans. In their meetings, which took place every Thursday, they worked till they were tired out at fantastic schemes for gratuitous credit, which was to make it possible for every worker to become an independent master. As for the tremendous problems arising out of the actual development of contemporary society, these they either ignored, or else solved in a Utopian and sometimes in an extremely reactionary fashion. With ingratiating frankness, Fribourg tells us the way in which the Parisian group of Proudhonists approached the problem of recruiting fresh strength after the Geneva Congress, at a time when the international proletariat had already begun to realise how gigantic were the tasks of social reconstruction, and when in France a political revival had begun among the working masses.

In 1866-7, “the Paris Central Committee spent a long time studying the possibility of founding banks. . . . Aware that there were certain risks of a prosecution, and eager to leave behind them something of real value the Gravilliers drew up the rules of a great mutual assurance society to cover individual risks.”

To anticipate for a moment, we may point out that at the Geneva Congress (1866) the French opposed the legislative limitation of the working day to eight hours. “In the name of freedom of contract, it was improper for the international assembly to interfere in the private relationships between employers and employed, except by giving advice when asked.” They brought forward a scheme for transforming the International Workingmen’s Association into a world-wide co-operative society with variable capital and uniform monthly deposits. The aims of this new organisation were to be: the finding of work for its members; the furnishing of them with credit; the opening of shops everywhere and of international depots for the sale of the products of the members’ industry; the supply of funds to co-operative societies. [Ibid.]

In the end, like so many groups of a similar ideological outlook, the Proudhonists became a small group who isolated themselves (just at a time when, historically, the working-classes were becoming politically active again). Stekel concludes:

The working masses were awakening to a new life. Recovering from the terrible defeat they had sustained after the revolution of 1848, they were once more preparing for a decisive struggle against the old order of society. Instinctively they were approaching the problem of their deliverance on the national plane, their efforts finding expression, economically, in strikes, and, politically, in a readiness to begin the struggle for the overthrow of the Empire. But at this juncture those who claimed to be the leaders of the movement, those who considered themselves competent to formulate and give expression to its general tasks, were deluding the masses by the offer of petty palliatives of an utterly unpractical character, and were tendering in place of a healthy revolutionary diet, debilitating sophistications of a purely theoretical character.

In a word, during the period we are now considering, the Proudhonists were no longer a party. They had become a sect which could not in any way assist, but could only retard, the mass movement. Blanquism in France, Lassallism in Germany, and subsequently Bakuninist insurrectionist anarchism everywhere, were likewise noted for their sectarian character. Instead of relying upon the actual working-class movement and utilising this as the basis for an attempt to advance the masses to a higher stage, the sectarians were endeavouring to impose upon it their own preconceived doctrines, and thus were involuntarily dragging the workers back to a stage of development which had already been traversed. This is why a fierce ideological struggle in the International was inevitable from the very outset, a struggle to determine in what direction the various rivulets of the then extant working-class movement were flowing. [Ibid.]

I think the parallels between the groups Stekel describes, and a few contemporary nationalist groups and individuals today (including the National-Anarchists) are obvious. There is a big upsurge in support for Far Right nationalism, especially in Europe, today, and there are tendencies appearing (e.g., Jobbik in Hungary, Golden Dawn in Greece) which have a strong working-class composition and a radical, socialist-leaning ideology (just like the fascist groups of the 1920s and 1930s). But there are plenty of people in the nationalist movement who just don’t want to get involved, get their hands dirty, in running for office, getting elected, and organising a mass movement. This is not merely because it is hard work, and a discouraging, uphill battle: it is because of a Proudhonist mentality. The National-Anarchist ideology is one of expecting the apocalypse, an inevitable breakdown in the capitalist system, and the nation-state itself, which will necessitate the formation of small, independent, self-sustaining communities – and the drawing up of economic schemes (mostly involving barter) for those communities. In short, after the apocalypse, society will wind up Proudhonist, whether it wants to or not.

(As an example of Southgate’s apocalypticism, we have:

We are not seeking to influence the masses because they are far too caught up in the trappings of Western consumerism. National-Anarchists take an elitist position and, rather than change society, we wish to create new communities elsewhere. When the present socio-economic catastrophe really begins to have an impact, I think we will see bloodshed, disease and suffering on a major scale and anyone who hangs around – particularly in the large cities and towns – will get swallowed up by the devastation that follows. Civilisation is on the way out. It cannot be redeemed or reformed and the situation cannot be reversed. It’s far too late for that. We have to replenish the natural balance by returning to Nature and setting up alternative communities elsewhere. [‘An Interview with Troy Southgate’, at: http://blacksuninvictus.org/home.html].

And:

As a movement of anarchists and anti-capitalists we also believe in revolutionary activity, but there have to be revolutionary structures put in place for people to fall back on in the event of a total collapse of society. A counter-economy, if you will. Otherwise, of course, we get arson, looting, violence and murder. [‘Thoughts on the London Riots’, at: http://www.national-anarchist.net/2011/08/thoughts-on-london-riots_11.html ].)

But then, there are similar tendencies in the nationalist and racialist movements in America, because America is, after all, the land of the small proprietor and the individual – who is, presently, being crushed by capitalism at the moment.

6. National-Bakunism

So far, I think, we have described around 50% of the National-Anarchist ideology in our summary of Proudhonist ideas, from Stekel; the other 50% is Bakuninism. While Proudhon makes up (what I consider to be) the gentle side of anarchism, Bakuninism makes up the harsh, ugly, insurrectionist and revolutionary side.

So, what is Bakunism? First of all, it should be noted that it has a penchant for secret societies, entryism, the formation of ‘factions’ (which represent a bridgehead for anarchist tendencies within a group), the poaching of members for Bakuninism, and so forth. Stekel records these proto-Trotskyite activities in exacting detail, and observes that the other members of the First International regarded the Bakuninists as disruptors, subverters, intriguers, etc. This proto-Trotskyism went hand in hand with an authoritarian ‘boss man’ politics within the anarchist formation itself. Stekel writes, on Bakuninist entryism:

Within this Alliance [viz., the Alliance of Social Revolutionaries] there was formed a secret international brotherhood. The founders of the Alliance belonged to it, but they endowed Bakunin with dictatorial powers. Thus the Alliance became a hierarchical organisation at the head of which were the “international brothers.” (Into this inner circle of the international brothers were to be admitted “none but persons accepting the whole program with all its theoretical and practical implications. Not only must they be intelligent, energetic, and trustworthy; but they must unite with these qualities a conspiratorial or revolutionary ardour—in a word, must have a spice of the devil in them.”) There were also the “national brothers,” subordinate to the “international brothers,” and not even aware of the existence of the secret “international organisation.” Finally, there was the semi-secret, semi-public International Alliance of the Socialist Democracy, of which the non secret Central Branch in Geneva acted as “the permanent delegation of the permanent executive committee.” The members of the secret organisation of the Alliance were to permeate the trade unions and the branches of the International Workingmen’s Association in order to indoctrinate these with the aims of the Alliance—the social revolution, and the annihilation of the State.

Having organised itself, the non-secret Alliance applied to the General Council in December, 1868, demanding acceptance as part of the International, and expressing the wish to retain its own special program and organisation. It was to have equal rights with the General Council as regards accepting branches of the International, and when the International held its congresses, the Alliance was to be entitled to hold special congresses side by side with these; and so on. The General Council, scenting a dangerous enemy in this Bakuninist organisation, and convinced that it would sow dissension in the ranks of the International, rejected the demand of the Alliance… [Chapter Eleven, ‘Season of Blossoming, and the Beginning of the End: Anarchism’].

All for naught, of course, because we know, from history, what happened to the International. Bakunin’s splitting activities ended up tearing it apart (he and his faction were eventually expelled). It should be noted that the Trotskyites disdain the Bakuninists for, among other things, helping destroy the International, but this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Really, the Bakuninist demand for dual-conferences – one for all the Bakuninist members in the International, another for all the non-Bakuninists – is the height of impudence, but it is also typical Trotskyism.

Bakuninism is made up of a number of theses. The first is a rejection of all political activity, on the grounds that it is ‘selling out’, and that any state – even a socialist one – will simply be a continuation of the same old:

When the anarchists thought of political action, they had in mind unceasing compromises with the bourgeois parties. The idea of independent political activity on the part of the working class never entered their heads; such independent activity would have seemed to them impossible within the framework of capitalist society. The suggestion that the workers should avail themselves of all the means of struggle at their disposal in capitalist society, and especially the suggestion that the workers ought to participate in the political struggle, seemed to the anarchists a betrayal of the revolutionary cause. They considered that the socialists who were trying to secure legal reforms beneficial, to the working class were little better than renegades, for they held that such reforms could only serve to strengthen the existing order. They completely failed to understand the agitational value of the struggle for legislative reforms, whether carried on within the walls of parliament and other representative assemblies, or elsewhere. The task of revolutionary socialists, in their view, was to bring about the destruction of the State, which was essentially founded upon the principles of authority, force, and government—and, of course, also upon exploitation. Even in a republican and democratic State, there could be nothing but oppression and exploitation of the many by the few. Consequently, from the workers’ outlook, the attempt to democratise the State was false tactics, for any and every State was hostile to the workers’ interests. It was, they declared, quite a mistake to believe that political changes could improve the condition of the masses.

The view that political emancipation must be an essential preliminary to the economic emancipation of the proletariat, was, in their opinion, a no less dangerous delusion. Especially disastrous was the theory that the proletariat, for the sake of its economic deliverance and in order to bring about the foundation of a socialist society, must seize political power and become the preponderant influence in the State. Such an attempt, said the anarchists, would be likely to lead the workers into the blind alley of compromises with the bourgeoisie, for every political movement was in its essence a bourgeois movement. The “people’s State” which the German social democrats of that day aspired to bring into being, would be just as great an imposture as any other kind of State. Every State was intimately associated with dominance on the one hand and subordination on the other. Representatives, even though drawn from the working class, as soon as they became the representatives or administrators of the people, would promptly be transformed into rulers and persecutors, and would look upon the people from the point of view of governors, that is to say, of enemies. Thus the dictatorship of the proletariat would be merely a new form of dominance and exploitation. It was an insane notion that the people could ever be set free by any sort of government. The State and all its institutions must be uprooted and utterly destroyed. [Ibid].

This pretty much sums up anarchist, and National-Anarchist, views on the state and participation of the working-class (even the white working-classes of Germany and Italy, via a fascist or communist party) in the affairs of the state. This ties in with the Proudhonist’s (and the National-Anarchist’s) belief that all politics and forms of political struggle are a complete waste of time, on the grounds that it would only ‘dope’ the workers:

The fundamental dogma of Bakuninism was abstention from all political activity except such as directly aimed at the triumph of the workers’ cause over capitalism, that is to say, directly aimed at the social revolution. We saw above that, in the main, this dogma was an expression of and a theoretical deduction from the actual position of affairs in the majority of European countries at that date, i.e., it was due to the lack of universal (manhood) suffrage and to die failure to make use of it where it existed. At one and the same time, the anarchists were opposed to the seizure of political power, to the use of the State machinery, and even to the workers’ State in general, for they considered that every kind of State inevitably retained an element of oppression and dominance – if not of class over class, at least of group over group, of majority over minority. Since they were adverse to any sort of struggle carried on within the four corners of the law, as being likely to “dope” the workers, to dissipate their energies, and to inveigle them into compromises with the governing classes, they refused to fight for partial reforms or palliatives, utterly failing to recognise the importance of these. Time and again their unwillingness to take even a single step in this direction made them run counter to the genuine working class movement, so that the breach between themselves and that movement continually widened. Instead of adopting a positive tactic like that of the social democrats, they practised an “abstentionist policy,” which they formulated thus; avoidance of electoral intrigues and parliamentary chatter; promotion of the organisation and federation of trade unions; energetic socialist propaganda, together with persistent criticism of bourgeois activities; the seizing of any opportunity that might offer to realise the demands of the proletariat, by way of revolution and the overthrow of government. This anarchism was the deliberate avoidance of all widely conceived national undertakings and of all the activities of real life.

Speaking generally, it may be said that the Bakuninist philosophy was a peculiar form of revolutionary ” economism,” and that times without number it became manifest that Bakuninism was nothing more than revolutionary phrase-making. [Part Two, Chapter Seven, ‘Theory and Practice of the Anarchist International’].

Nothing much has changed, in anarchism or National-Anarchism, 200 years later.

So who is the revolutionary class in Bakuninism? The answer is, the peasant, and, most notoriously, the lumpenproletarian. As Stekel writes, ‘Marxism represented the ideology of the proletariat engaged in large-scale industry, and it endeavoured to express the general interests of the working-class movement taken as a whole; Bakuninism, on the other hand, represented the ideology of the “Lumpenproletariat” (the tatterdemalion or slum proletariat) mixed with the groping aspirations of the peasantry in the backward countries, which were only beginning to be swept into the ambit of capitalist development’. [Part II, Chapter One, ‘The Causes of the Split’]. I won’t go into detail regarding the Bakuninist cult of the lumpenprole (and his corresponding disdain for skilled working-class labour), because even though lumpenproletarianism forms a big part of the mainstream anarchist movement (hence its reverence for illegal immigrants into Europe who often end up becoming homeless, foraging food out of bins, and so on), it does not seem to play (so far as I know) a similar role in National-Anarchism.

But the Bakuninist thesis of insurrectionism does appear in National-Anarchism. The latter, in fact, oscillates between two poles. The first is the idea of a ‘peaceful’ revolution: i.e., the capitalist system, and the nation-state, will fall apart of their own accord, and in the interim, all one has to do is declare one’s back yard to be an ‘autonomous zone’ and then get to work setting up a Proudhonian mutualist society. The other pole, however, does involve insurrection.

Stekel describes the differences on this point between the Bakuninists and the Marxists, differences which lay at the heart of the struggle between the two groupings in the International:

There is certainly no reason to be surprised that those who held such hopelessly conflicting theories should become involved in a fierce struggle.\

The conflict between the Bakuninists and the General Council was yet further complicated by differences of opinion concerning methods of organisation.

It is a familiar fact that differences of principle find expression in differences of organisation. To each general historico-philosophical outlook there corresponds a peculiar tactic and a special scheme of organisation. The primary aim of the Marxists, both nationally and internationally, was the conquest of political power and the establishment of their own authority over the State, that they might make use of the organised forces of society in order to bring about a social transformation. To this political theory there corresponded a centralised and disciplined organisation, whereby the scattered forces of the various parts were intensified to a degree proportional to the harmony of outlook and the solidarisation of activity. The anarchists, on the other hand, regarded destruction as their primary aim; they hoped by means of incessant insurrections to bring about a dissolution of all social ties, and thus to secure a clean slate. Upon the ground thus cleared, they were to build a new social organisation from the foundation upwards, would establish it by the general consent of free individuals and groups. To this political theory, there corresponded a decentralised and federative type of organisation, wherein the branches had unlimited local autonomy. [Chapter Eleven, ‘Season of Blossoming, and the Beginning of the End: Anarchism’].

Insurrectionism formed part of the Bakuninist ideology, but, in the late 19th century, it was resorted to by the French Bakuninists as a tactic to lead them out of their growing political isolation:

It is not surprising that the Bakuninists, in view of their attitude towards all the questions that deeply and directly touched the interests of the working masses, towards all the questions that stirred the popular conscience, should have tended more and more to become a mere sect. Real life seemed to flow past them, its activities being either completely ignored by them, or else arousing no more than a contemptuous smile (unless as sometimes happened, they should feel a positive delight in others’ mishaps). In 1873, Guillaume recommended the Spanish comrades to take no part in the elections to the Constituent Assembly… The Bakuninists were not unaware of their severance from the masses. In the early part of 1877, Kropotkin had come to settle for a time in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Guillaume wrote to him under date February 26, apropos of the anarchists there: “Our friends lead too isolated a life; they are too much cut off from the rest of the population.” Their political abstentionism, their sectarian hostility to all genuine mass movements, the restriction of their activities to an extremely one-sided propaganda (which, moreover, only made its way into very narrow circles)—these things were proving fatal to them. It was essential to discover some heroic means of linking themselves up with the masses and revivifying their organisation. The Bakuninists believed they had found the requisite means in their policy of promoting “outbursts of insurrectionary wrath.”

In actual fact the method not merely failed to save them or to transfuse fresh blood into their veins; it hopelessly compromised them, and in addition it brought discredit upon the name of the International, to which they stubbornly clung. [Part Two, Chapter Seven, ‘Theory and Practice of the Anarchist International’].

Stekel’s description here – ‘Real life seemed to flow past them, its activities being either completely ignored by them, or else arousing no more than a contemptuous smile (unless as sometimes happened, they should feel a positive delight in others’ mishaps)’ – is a picture-perfect description of the National-Anarchists. But, to continue, insurrectionism is the spontaneous eruption of the peoples’ energies against the state (the National-Anarchist slogan is, ‘For the Community, Against the State!’. Stekel’s characterisation of it, and the ‘propaganda of the deed’, should sound familiar to we moderns:

Insurrectionism was a natural outcome of the Bakuninist philosophy, and at the same time was one of its determinants. A refusal to take part in the political struggle, the abandonment of constitutional methods of agitation, the repudiation of reform, the rejection of plans for the slow and methodical storing up of energy, the repudiation of the dictatorship of the proletariat—all these had as their inevitable associate an aspiration towards a sudden and forcible revolution attended by the bursting of all political and legal bonds, by the utter disintegration of society, in order that a new society could be built from below upwards upon a voluntary association of free individuals and groups. This program was intimately linked with an ardent faith in the “revolutionary instincts” of the people, in a ” revolutionary fervour” with which the masses were supposed to be unceasingly animated. These instincts, this fervour, needed nothing more than to be aroused to consciousness, to be made to germinate, and, above all, to be given an initiative by example, which would provide an outlet for the stored potential energy. Then the rush would sweep everything before it. This theory accounts for the important part played in the Bakuninist system by local risings based upon the needs and aspirations of the masses. Insurrectionism is far more characteristic of Bakuninism than the idea of the general strike, above all for the reason that Bakuninism was pre-eminently the theory of peasant anti-capitalist and anti-state movements. Bakunin himself, a typical product: of unreformed Russia, and a man whose anarchist views were definitively formed during the days of his residence in Italy, hardly ever refers to the general strike as one of the instruments of social liquidation, but is perpetually looking forward to peasant risings. Even when he turns his attention to the revolution in urban areas, he still conceives it as a sort of jacquerie, in which the State goes up in flames, like a baronial castle, and in which all deeds, contracts, and other legal documents are consumed to ashes. It is a noteworthy fact that his views secured more cordial acceptance, and, in especial, found a wider practical application, in Russia and in Italy than elsewhere. As between these two, Italy takes the first place. The idea of the general strike, on the other hand, originated in industrial Belgium; it was adopted by the Jura Federation; and it was applied unsystematically and sporadically by the Spaniards, at a date when not a word about the matter was to be found in the anarchist literature of Russia and Italy, and when no attempt at the general strike was being made in either of those lands. [Ibid.]

 

Much of this sounds like the peasant uprisings in China and other countries, and is very similar to the terrorist actions by Maoist groups in Peru and elsewhere. I will give Stekel’s account of one such uprising because it so perfectly encapsulates the ‘verbal revolutionism’ we find in Southgate. Possibly, this is a prototype for a National-Anarchist insurrectionist putsch. Firstly, here is Stekel’s rather dry summary:

The Italian insurrectionists were convinced that spoken and written propaganda were quite ineffective. If they were to make themselves intelligible to the masses, there must be an ocular demonstration of things which could never be learned in a living and concrete way from any number of theoretical disquisitions. The masses must be taught socialism by facts, by experiences which they could see, feel, and handle. The Bakuninists fancied that they could give the Italian peasants an object lesson which would teach what society would be like when government and property owners had been abolished. For that, in their opinion, it would suffice to organise an armed band able to hold together for a time while moving from village to village and realising before the very eyes of the people “socialism in action.”

The means for carrying out the plan were supplied to them by the Russian socialist Smetskaya, and by Cafiero, who spent upon this the remnants of his little patrimony. The insurrectionists procured weapons, and began to get ready for their campaign, in which Stepniak (Kravchinsky) was also to take part—he went by the name of Rubleff, a merchant from Kherson. Since there was a traitor in the camp, the conspirators decided to waste no time, and not to wait until they had all been arrested. Thus originated the famous Benevento “putsch,” which made a good deal of noise in its day.

In the beginning of April, 1877, Stepniak took a house at San Lupo, a village in the province of Benevento. This house was to serve as an arsenal for the conspirators. On the 5th, the carabinieri, suspicious of the comings and goings of strangers to this house, tried to arrest some of the conspirators, and shots were exchanged. Then the conspirators, not yet having had time to organise themselves properly, took refuge in the countryside. They visited a few villages, burning the communal archives and distributing to the villagers whatever moneys they found in the treasuries; the insurgents also made speeches to the peasants, declaiming against the rich, against taxes, and so on. After a few days the rebels, tired out, wet to the skin, and chilled to the bone, were surprised by the soldiers and were taken prisoner without striking a blow. Thus ended the attempt at an anarchist revolution, and the failure was a terrible blow to the Bakuninists. [Ibid.]

Finally here is the extended, more comic, account, by the writer Laveleye:

“The band advance towards the neighbouring village of Letino, with a red and black flag at their head. They take possession of the town hall. The councillors demand their discharge; it is given to them in these terms: ’We, the undersigned, hereby declare that we have seized the municipality of Letino by armed force in the name of the social revolution.’ Then follow the signatures. They carry out to the market-place, to the foot of the cross that stands there, the cadastral surveys and civil registers, and set them on fire. The peasants quickly crowd around, while one of the insurgents makes a great speech. He explains that the movement is a general one, and that the people are free. The king has fallen and the social republic has been proclaimed. Applause follows. The women demand the immediate partition of the lands. The leaders reply: ’You have arms, you are free. Make the partition for yourselves.’ The cure Fortini, who was also a municipal councillor, mounts on the pedestal of the cross and says that these men, who are come to establish equality, are the true apostles of the Lord, and that this is the meaning of the Gospel. He then places himself at the head of the band and leads them to the neighbouring village of Gallo, crying, ’Long live the Social Revolution.’

“The cure of Gallo, Tamburini, comes forward to receive them and presents them to his flock. ’Fear nothing,’ he says, ’they are honest folk; there has been a change of government and a burning of the register’. The crowd appear delighted. The muskets of the national guard are distributed among them. The registers are carried out to the public square and make a great blaze. At the mill the people destroy the hated instrument for calculating the tax to be paid for the grinding. The enthusiasm reaches its height. The vicar embraces the leader, who wears a red belt. The women weep for joy. No more taxes, no more rent; everybody equal; general emancipation! But soon they hear that the troops are approaching. The band flies for safety into the forest of Matesa. Unhappily, the elements are less merciful than the peasants. Everything is buried in snow, and the cold is intense. The liberators die of hunger. They are taken, and, in the month of August, 1878, they are brought up at the Assizes of Capua. The leaders were Count G., of Imola, C., a doctor of law, and M., a chemist. The two cures were included among the thirty-seven prisoners.

The upshot of the adventure was not the least extraordinary part. The counsel for the accused pleaded that the matter was a political offence, and was covered by the amnesty granted by King Humbert on coming to the throne. The jury acquitted them. Meanwhile one of the two carabinieri wounded on April 5th had died, and the other was crippled for life.” [Ibid.]

Another upshot of this comic episode (comic except for the killing of one policeman, and the crippling of another) was that the putschists were accused of being ‘government agents’ and agents provocateurs by their fellow Leftists. ‘In this the social democrats were mistaken, for Malatesta, Cafiero, and their associates, were devoted to the cause, however wrongheaded their opinions’ [Ibid.]

Such an event shows up the dangers of putschism, and the whole thing will remind the nationalist reader of Hitler’s ill-fated Munich putsch of 1923 (like the anarchists here, Hitler got off lightly).

7. National-Anarchism and Maoism

I have mentioned before that there are strong parallels between Maoism and National-Anarchism. Kropotkin, of course, was a strong influence on Mao, and Maoism could be described as anarcho-communism mixed in with ‘Left-opportunism’, guerrilla adventurism, traditional Chinese nationalism, Chinese racialism, Chinese metaphysical philosophy. (Maoism, if you believe Mao’s Marxist competitors in Moscow and in Trotsky-land, was not a ‘true Marxism’).

At any rate, the following passage, from a Southgate post, is in the Maoist spirit, and in particular evokes Mao’s ‘Theory of the Three Worlds’:

There will be no progress until the internationalist economy begins to collapse and we see the gradual decline of Western Capitalism in its centres of power. But events such as those in North Africa and the Middle East represent the West’s attempts to slightly modify the manner in which power and authority are presented to the outside world. They are also designed to allow the Zionist parasites to grab land and resources, thus helping to postpone the process of economic decline. The West has an ageing population, it needs to expand into new markets and enslave new populations that were, to a large extent, formerly protectionist and thus out of reach. This is colonialism and imperialism in the name of humanitarianism. Indeed, the death-toll committed by Western imperialists goes back several centuries. Regardless of all the geopolitical modifications that have been made around the world, we are still talking about the British Empire here, as well as its French, German, Spanish, Belgium and American etc. counterparts. Between them, these imperialist countries have destroyed innumerable lives, cultures, languages, economies and eco-systems all over the world. The destruction they have caused is immeasurable and far greater than that of the tinpot dictators in the Middle East or North Africa who have mainly confined their activities to terrorising their own populations. [‘The National-Anarchist Attitude towards the So-Called Libyan “Rebels”‘, at: http://www.national-anarchist.net/2011/08/national-anarchist-attitude-towards-so.html ]

No doubt a staunch conservative defender of the West would leap to the defence of the West, Europe and even colonialism, and declare that Western technology, know-how, altruism, has saved more lives (including lives of the peoples of the Third World) than ended them, and improved them: in short, to paraphrase Marx, Western capitalism was a progressive force. But what I think is important is how Maoist this mentality is. Where does it come from? From Southgate’s onetime ideological mentor, the late Richard Hunt, whose theory of ‘The core and the periphery’ was Maoist through and through.

There are a few other similarities, which, if the nationalist intellectual cares to, will make themselves apparent upon further investigation of Mao’s life and work. ‘But under anarchism, everyone will be free’. Not necessarily. Mao’s China gives us an interesting picture of what life would be like under a militarised form of anarchism:

The Maoists have carried out a “militarisation” both of town and country, spreading army rules to the Party organisations, the enterprises, the schools and the kindergartens. Relations are modelled after the army in the people’s communes, the factories and plants; military orders are used to decide all questions relating to the development of production and a new system of wages has been introduced based on this principle: “Work for the highest level in production, and maintain a low level in life”; orders, coercion and violence have become popular as a means of “educational work” with the intelligentsia. This tendency, already fairly pronounced back in the 1950s, was carried to an extreme during the “cultural revolution”; the violent voluntaristic measures coming from the “top” were backed up by stage managed pressure from “below” on the part of politically immature masses of young people who had been drugged by pseudo-Marxist catchwords; subsequently, the anarchist masses escaping from under control were kept in check by the use of army units.

With the barrack-room as their ideal, the leaders of the “cultural revolution” have no need for normally functioning democratic organs or socialist legality. No wonder then that in the course of the “cultural revolution” central or local organs of power were disbanded, trade unions and young communist organisations were broken up and a massive purge of Party bodies carried out. The society the Maoists are trying to build up has no need either for the conscious, intelligent and well-educated man, capable of thinking for himself; no wonder the architects of the “cultural revolution” have set themselves the task of converting the conscious citizen of socialist society into “Chairman Mao’s stainless screw”. This kind of society has no need for popular participation in elaborating socialist forms, for there everything has been provided for in advance and established by the precepts of the “omniscient great helmsman”. The people are being induced to believe that to reach communism all one need do is obediently fulfil Mao’s teachings, that only one thing is necessary, namely, that the people should become “an army without uniform”.

“What a fine specimen of barrack-room communism!”, Marx and Engels once wrote about the well-known article of the Bakuninists entitled “The Main Principles of the Future Social System”, which proposed that men should produce for society as much as possible and consume as little us possible, that men’s activity should all be regulated, including the use of dining rooms and bedrooms, and that all the functions of administration should be vested in a committee of conspirators, without any control or responsibility to anyone. “This article shows that if mere mortals are being punished, as for a crime, for the very idea of a future organisation of society, that is because the leaders have already ordered everything beforehand.” We wonder what Marx and Engels would have said about the principles of present day Maoist policy, whose aim is to translate into life these monstrous principles of a reactionary utopia. [Chapter Four, ‘The Attitude of Marxism and of Maoism to the State and Proletarian Legality’, Konstantinov, F.V., Sladkovsky, M.I., Georgiyev, V.G., (eds.), A Critique of Mao-TseTung’s Theoretical Conceptions].

8. In conclusion

One of the effects of National-Anarchism is that it encourages a kind of sectarianism within the Far Right. As we know, Israel-friendly populist parties are achieving some success on the Continent, and are even forming coalitions with conservatives. As a result, Wilders’ Freedom Party, the Danish People’s Party, have managed to force governments to adopt stricter anti-immigration laws. Given the poisonous, Breivikist ideology of the Far Right populists, many nationalists prefer to keep them at arm’s length, and this is understandable. But the really sectarian nationalists – and the National-Anarchists are among them – will pooh-pooh the anti-immigrant legislation. Whereas a non-sectarian radical-nationalist approach would say that a law that prevents even one additional immigrant from getting into Denmark or the Netherlands is a win for the Danish and Dutch white working-classes, respectively.

On this brand of anarchist sectarianism, Stekel writes:

No less interesting was the attitude of the [Bakuninist] Jura Federation towards factory legislation. In Switzerland, during the year 1874, there began on the initiative of the Arbeiterbund (Workers’ League), which had come into existence not long before, an agitation in favour of the Ten Hour Day. The Jura Federation, in general, held aloof from the Arbeiterbund, and had refused to affiliate on the ground that it was a highly centralised organisation, this conflicting with the anarchist principles of federation and local autonomy. On this occasion, too, the Jura Federation poured ridicule on a purely working-class mass movement, because it could not be fitted into the rigid framework of anarchist doctrine.

“This is an excellent thing,” wrote the “Bulletin de la Federation Jurassienne,” in a leading article on June 14, 1874, “and we should be delighted to associate ourselves with the movement. . . . But if the aim is to secure the Ten Hours’ Day by legislative enactment, by asking the aid of the bourgeois parties, we shall find it impossible to join hands with the Swiss Arbeiterbund, for in our view this would not be working for the workers, but against the workers.” When the terms of a Swiss Federal Factory Bill were published, the “Bulletin” was not content with criticising particular defects, but declared that no kind of factory legislation could possibly be of any use, however favourable its terms might be to the workers. [Part Two, Chapter Seven, ‘Theory and Practice of the Anarchist International’].

This disdaining of political effort isn’t confined to those of the Dutch Freedom Party or the Danish People’s Party: it includes the Front National, True Finns, the Swedish Democrats, the Golden Dawn, Jobbik, the National Democratic Party of Germany…

The question is, transposed to today’s Far Right nationalism, not whether or not to ‘compromise’ with a bourgeois liberal democratic government, but whether or not the white working peoples of Europe and the West can improve their lot through political action. If we answer ‘No’, as the National-Anarchists do, then the nationalist endeavour is over before it begins.

One Response to National-Anarchism, a Left-Wing Infantile Disorder

  1. […] a Left-Wing Infantile Disorder National-Anarchism, a Left-Wing Infantile Disorder This article was prompted by a recent amusing post on You Tube at: South Troythgate […]