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What's left anarchism?

+1 vote
asked Jun 13, 2015 by Zubaz (4,110 points)
retagged Jun 16, 2015 by Zubaz
some tags would be great so this indexes with similar questions.
Also, I liked that when I first saw this question, I read: "What's left, anarchism?"

but that is a different question.
I read the same, ingrate.  I like that question better.  It reads as an open-ended call to action.

What's left, anarchism?  To belie power through consensual living.

What's left, anarchism?  To demonstrate cooperation.

What's left, anarchism?  To teach our kids.

What's left, anarchism?  To win.

3 Answers

–2 votes
Left anarchism is an artificial category invented by politicians claiming to be anarchists. This is the case for all named forms of anarchism. In reality there are as many anarchies are there are anarchists AND THIS FACT IS CENTRAL TO WHAT ANARCHY IS.

Defining political groups tends to have a polarizing influence on people who are exposed to the definitions, causing them to align themselves with one group and its orthodox views and reject the other. Anarchy as I see it is primarily concerned with ending that demeaning game in favor of developing the individual expression of our unique views which will allow us to work together in new and more creative ways.
answered Jun 13, 2015 by Sweater Fish (560 points)

Your answer doesn't really explain or say anything about what left anarchism is.  I was asking if someone could explain what it is.

in some ways i feel you, essentialism is bad, categories can be very misleading, but it also seems like a complete general rejection of labels, categories and definitions leaves us unable to have meaningful conversations about politics.

Assuming that there really are states, and there really are systems of oppression, not everything someone chooses to call "anarchism" should necessarily be given equal credit as such. If a body of theory and practice can identify, analyse and attack social hierarchies and contribute to the creation of free and egalitarian social relations, it deserves the name anarchism in a more objective sense.  On the other hand, there exists a form of coded fascism that  poses as "national anarchism".

 It's important to distinguish those ideas and practices that genuinely create freedom from those that merely claim they will. It's all well and good to say "labels don't matter" until someone labels a deadly poison as necessary medicine.
+1 vote

Left (also called red) anarchism can best be characterized by the following: 

an adherence to a primarily Marxist analysis of capitalism (including, but not limited to, the world of political economy, subscribing to the Labor Theory of Value, looking to the proletariat as the revolutionary subject, accepting Hegelian dialectics...); leading to an almost exclusive strategy of engaging in a vague working class politics (which often translates into trying to push existing business unions into a more rank and file-friendly direction). 

an adherence to a primarily Leninist strategy of engaging with capitalism, usually taking the form of anti-imperialism.

an adherence to a linear view of economic/technological/scientific development.

Left anarchists share more in common with the Left (liberals, social democrats, Maoists...) than with consistent anti-statists. They tend to be active in campaigns for the amelioration of the excesses of capitalism and the state rather than engaging in strategies and tactics geared toward the abolition of their foundations. 

Among the most delusional forms, this is a sad example:


answered Jun 14, 2015 by lawrence (550 points)

Thanks! I have a question about something you wrote.

"an adherence to a primarily Leninist strategy of engaging with capitalism, usually taking the form of anti-imperialism."

Do you mean stuff along the line of "dual power" and what not?

edit: font was way too large

0 votes
Left Anarchism is a broad, general term usually used to group together a few different forms of anarchism, including  both organizational anarcho-communism (platformism) and anti-organizational anarcho-communism (insurrectionism), anarcho-syndicalism as well as some forms of anti-capitalist market anarchism, green anarchism and individualist anarchism.

These forms of anarchism are radically left-wing in that they aim to eliminate class/economic hierarchy, and   other forms of oppression or inequality such as racism, patriarchy, cis-sexism, shadeism, etcetera. Thus they have some common traits with socialist and communist ideas, but are nonetheless forms of anarchism in that they oppose hierarchy and the state.

Red Anarchism, Social Anarchism, and Left Libertarianism are all fairly similar terms.


Some have argued that these terms are redundant, as all forms of anarchism are "left wing", and the term serves only to exclude "right wing anarchisms" such as "anarcho-capitalism" and "national anarchism", which really should not be counted as anarchism at all.



On the other hand, there are also many anarchists, including many  green anarchists, primitivists, insurrectionists, individualists and egoists, identify as "post-left", rejecting the left-right political spectrum and criticizing many aspects of the traditional left, while still  opposing capitalism and all other forms of domination.
answered Jun 14, 2015 by Biofilo Panclasta (320 points)
edited Jun 14, 2015 by Biofilo Panclasta
As a post-left @, I reject the idea that I (and most other post-left @s) "reject the left-right political spectrum." Such a statement is misleading. I recognize that there are substantial differences between leftists and rightists, while also acknowledging that the divisions are not linear or necessarily discrete (there are many overlaps among them, just as there are among leftists and left anarchists).

You will not make many friends here by citing AFAQ.
Fair point, probably a misleading oversimplification. care to elaborate on what makes post-leftism post left? I generally like both post-left and ultra-left type ideas, but i don't fully understand the lines of demarcation.


As for the AFAQ, I'm not saying i agree with it, to be honest i get bored and give up every time i try to read it all. It just makes the argument i was referencing, which is relevant to the definition-thing. I tried not to editorialize too much in the definition, people can make their own assessments of the arguments.
I'm familiar with the basics. Perhaps i should have said that post-leftists strongly reject the left and leftism, but do not identify with the right, and point to commonalities and complicities between the left and right wings of capital and the state.

This seems to imply that post-leftists refuse to situate themselves politically in terms of right or left, which is what i meant originally. Is this incorrect?
jeez lawrence, does the answer to what makes post-left post left really require reading more than five articles?

seems a bit excessive.

" including... green anarchism and individualist anarchism"

unless i have completely misunderstood your use of those terms, you are greatly mistaken to put greens and individualists in with left anarchists. i know a good number of green and individualist anarchists quite well, and not one would consider themselves a left anarchist. quite the contrary.

that said, many of us have come to our perspective after spending time as part of what might be called the left (or the far/radical left). some may still have some lingering leftist detritus to be jettisoned. but theoretically, both green and - particularly - individualist anarchists have very little in common with the left, and in fact are probably its most vocal and deep-digging critics (well, maybe other than right-wingnut media pundits, as far as vocal).

i would say you are largely correct, that post-left @s do not claim or adhere to the traditional political spectrum of left/right. i find that in some areas i agree with the left, in some areas i agree with the right, in most areas i agree with neither.

in fact i think the first moment i truly grokked anarchy (in a [anti]political sense) was when someone described for me that very linear political spectrum, and placed anarchy way off it.

"do not identify with the right, and point to commonalities and complicities between the left and right wings of capital and the state"


funkyanarchy- while this is often true, there's a decent amount of overlap.

For left-wing individualism and egoism, the french illegalists are a good example historically- they were heavily influenced by Stirner, and very critical of the official left and anarcho-syndicalism, but also saw themselves as participating in class warfare. In broad strokes, they were anarcho-communists, and also individualists and egoists.

for a more contemporary example:

: https://libcom.org/library/right-be-greedy-theses-practical-necessity-demanding-everything

Green anarchism, unless i misunderstand the term, is a broad descriptive term, similar to left anarchism, that includes forms of anarchism that are focused on environmental concerns. Probably the majority of green anarchists are anti-civ/primitivist, but in theory some Bookchin-type, or other environmentally focused left-anarchist, could reasonably identify with the term.

There are also anarcho-primitivists and anti-civ types who reject important elements of post-leftism, and fit into a broad definition of left-anarchism. Fredy Perlman and Fifth Estate are pretty important for  the development of anarcho-primitivism, and they largely started out as  left anarchists or left communists.

Finally, there are plenty of syncretic anarchists who draw upon, and could be said to fit into, all of these traditions. Margaret Killjoy and Crimethinc for example.