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How are anarchists different from socialists or communists?

+2 votes
Aren't there some anti-state communists? Weren't anarchists called socialists? And aren't there anarcho-communists?

This is all very confusing.
asked May 20, 2012 by anonymous

2 Answers

+2 votes
Anarchists are against the establishment. Yes, there have been anti-state communists and anarcho-communists for the past 100-some years of "classical" anarchism, e.g. Kropotkin, Goldman and Berkman, but with state communism, "communism" got muddled. There are some people who avoid the word entirely, but there are a few nihilist communists and RAANistas.

Yes, anarchists were called socialists, and some still are, today. Some anarchists call themselves libertarian-socialists, and some call themselves all of these socialist/commie terms. On the other hand, some anarchists are neither socialists nor communists; they could be against society without proposing a socialist or communist replacement. Some anarchists criticize socialism and communism as being left-overs of leftist politics, and they say these are characteristics of a state. A common terrain of socialists and communists seems to be the workplace, so anarchists who are against work instead of struggling for better conditions usually oppose the common tactic of syndicalism.
answered May 20, 2012 by frenzy (980 points)
Hey frenzy, come on the chat sometime soon, if you can.  I'm needing a little help with something.  This is the only place I know to contact you, so apologies for being off topic.
+1 vote
anarchists are against the state, which means that we are against a kind of (frozen) power that today is best exemplified by governments. we are also against capitalism, which is a system of values and practices that quantify everything.
people who call themselves anarcho-communists are focusing on the communism that marx posited as the end of history - the "goal", the post-revolutionary time, and the "anarcho" refers to how they think people will get there.
there is confusion over communism as posited by marx, and communism as it has been claimed by state powers (russia, china, etc). some people do not call themselves communists mostly because the history is so horrible for the word, that it is more work to reclaim it than it is worth.
people who call themselves communists want communism but don't usually believe that people will get there without coming together in big bodies, and may or may not believe that communism will be achieved through a state.
because anarchists are so widely variant, there are plenty of anarchists who also believe that people need to come together in big groups in order to create change. so there is a lot of overlap in practice as well as ideas between some anarchists and some communists. this is made more complicated by the historical tendency of communists to act like the friends of anarchists in times of conflict, and then to kill us (see the spanish civil war and kronstadt, among others).  
socialism has also been sullied by the real world experience of people who call themselves socialist, but to the extent that it means "collective ownership" (*not* state ownership), some anarchists have used it. other anarchists reject the concept of ownership (as currently understood) altogether, as part of the training we have gotten from capitalism.
answered May 21, 2012 by dot (57,750 points)