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Are anarchists against all war?

0 votes
A people's war against the state/capitalism? A state's war against a separate state committing genocide? War between anarchists and fascists/communists?
asked Mar 11, 2012 by anonymous
I don't think you have a very sophisticated understanding of "war" if you can use the same word to describe all those different things.

Anarchists are opposed in principle to "a state's war." And really what other kind is there? "A people's war" is an oxymoron if we understand "war" to be a function of armies. As soon as "people" get organized into an army, they are no longer "the people" but a specialized subset of armed semi- or quasi-professional militarists.
I would suggest some reading into the anarchist Black Army of Ukraine during the Russian civil war, as well as the fighting between the anarcho-syndicalists and the fascists and Communists in civil war Spain.

And I would argue that there could be other wars besides "states' wars" -- religion, cultural/ethnic differences, resources like fresh water, etc. can all be a spark for the prolonged aggressive conflict between separate parties that is generally defined as war. I agree, however, that the term 'war' can and does apply to other types of conflict and aggression that aren't necessarily bloody and fatal.
The Makhnovshchina was a guerrilla formation, an army of sorts, which was one of the reasons that anarchists in other parts of Russia were skeptical of it as an *anarchist* guerrilla formation. The fact that there was a de facto officer corps, that there was a quasi-militarist style of discipline, and that they entered into treaties and/or cease-fires with other forces that were clearly militarist (the Ukrainian nationalists under Petliura and the Red Army), all create a strong impression that their anarchic characteristics were mainly exhibited away from the battlefield.

While self-organized at the outset of the Spanish Civil War, almost as soon as the anarchist militia columns began to accept the strategies of their military advisers they began to lose their anarchist characteristics. For the sake of efficiency and strategic parity with their enemies, they began to instill more and more militaristic discipline around taking orders and coordinating attacks with their (unreliable) allies on the front.

So what precisely are you trying to indicate with these examples? That anarchists fight in wars? To the extent that's true, I would argue that they lose their anarchist characteristics. In other words, their anarchist credentials exist in inverse proportion to the extent that they accept militaristic logic.

In terms of the other types of conflicts you list, beyond a certain number of participants (for the sake of expedience, I'll call it "tribal"), the ability to muster the combatants and support infrastructure required to maintain their fitness for battle requires the logistical resources of some kind of apparatus that can requisition (by force if necessary) men and material. That is, a state.

Your last comment is what has held me back from answering this question:


thanks for filling in the details of what made me not want to be all, Ukraine, Catalonia.
yes all war is bad. only fight to end war and end fighting

From what I understand, you're either saying that 1) anarchists cannot engage in organized warfare against the state, foreign or otherwise, without basically losing their "title" of anarchist? or 2) that anarchists can engage in warfare as long as they reject ranks/higher authorities within their "army"?

1 Answer

–2 votes
answered Mar 13, 2012 by MollyTheAnarchist (1,520 points)
except for dance war, I heard.