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+2 votes
Is this true that all anarchists are socialists? I don't consider myself a socialist or a capitalist, but have trouble understanding how anarchist is automatically synonymous for socialist to some. I have read and been in discussion where this is asserted to be true.

I understand socialism to being an economic system in which the means of production and control of distribution are democratically held in common by the workers, or all of society, or the state.

In my view, either way one cuts it from authoritarian socialism to libertarian socialism (possibly a better term than libertarian socialism that I can't think of), it still subjugates the individual to the authority of the collective no matter how directly democratic it claims to be. It seems to me to be somewhat authoritarian in nature and not sure how being an anarchist one has to be a socialist as well? Perhaps I have a misconception of socialism?

Usually I'm asked to provide an alternative. I can't provide an alternative as I'm not too interested in economic systems and don't feel I have to anyways. I have another question about workers and work that may be somewhat similar, but that'll be for another post.

Edit: If the question was asked, could some provide the link? I looked and didn't really find an answer, except for one that was related to 'anarcho'-capitalism. Thanks
by (4.7k points)
edited by
it has been many years since i read either, but i second both of lawrence's writings above. i particularly remember liking parts of "leftism 101" from green anarchy (the journal).
Thanks. I'll read those. I read something else by you about Primitivist which pretty much helped answer my thoughts on that matter.

1 Answer

+1 vote

there is clearly some sort of a "genetic" (historical) connection between socialism and anarchism, and it seems that at least some socialist anarchists believe that theirs is the only legitimate form of anarchism.

i strongly disagree. individualist anarchists are at least one strain of the big @ that stand apart from (and somewhat contrary to) the socialist strains. i personally don't like the hyphenated labels to describe myself, but i an an anarchist with strong individualist (among others) tendencies.

anyone that says theirs is the one true way is immediately suspect, in my mind. chances are good they are just stuck in their dogma and condescension.

by (13.4k points)
i just remembered someone that posted here for a little while, named "anarchisteve", who was definitely a social anarchist that claimed an ideological trademark on the term anarchist for socialists.

if you do the following search on this site, you should see some of their perspective.


edited to add this link:
I think some of the confusion comes from reading older anarchist texts which don't work to distinguish the two tendencies. I think of Kropotk, but I think Berkman, Goldman and Malatesta tend to write positively of socialism as well.

Also, just to pose a different way to think about the conversations you are having, why are you required to come up with a positive plan for what the future will be? You don't need to know exactly what you would replace the current order with, you need to know your enemy.
I know activists like Staughton Lynd have been calling for a 'synthetisation' of Marxism and anarchism, following the 'Chicago school' of anarchism represented by the Haymarket martyrs, what do people think of this approach?
Thanks and for the link, funkyanarchy. I have read comments on here by Anarchisteve/Lantz (I've been under the assumption they're the same person?) about their way is the only way and rants about post-leftism.


ingrate, it usually shuts me up when I cannot purpose an alternative on the spot to socialism or democracy or other things. It's hard for me, in person, to argue/discuss with people without given time to process.

cyborg, i don't know anything about a chicago school of anarchism
Sorry if i wasn't very clear, Lynd basically argues for combining prefigurative direct action (anarchism) and a coherent structural understanding (Marxism).
I'm sorry, cyborg, I'm terribly confused now. I'm not sure if your question is for me or for funkyanarchy or ingrate? i'm not even sure if ingrate question was directed at me or funkanarchy? I'm not the person to attempt to answer your question as I assume you could be meaning 'dual power' stuff and have next to no idea who staughton lynd is. :/

lol human. i think that "what do people think" means that cyborg is asking anyone here.

and ingrate's suggestion that you re-frame the conversation when confronted by these people who want you to have all the answers is just that. one option to allow you to go on the offensive, rather than accepting the premise that is handed to you.

ps: most of us need to practice responses before we can be smooth in the kind of situation you describe.

cyborg, i for one am generally against getting any more marxism peanut butter in my anarchist chocolate. it's already a tendency--ie most anarchists default to marxist conceptions of economics, social change, revolutionary agents, etc. which i find to be a sad limit on imagination and theorizing.

edit: my peanut  butter analogy obviously wouldn't work for those who like peanut butter.
As dot suggested, I am not positing any sort of argument you should give when confronted, that is up to you. I don't believe that not having a prescrptive vision negates your criticisms of the current situations, or the futures offered by would-be functionaries of a future utopia.
i agree - fuck prescriptions!  people that demand that bullshit are just stuck in their way of thinking about the world, without any ability (or desire) to see the possibilities opened up by not preconfiguring the future. some very smart people are also very narrow-minded, and not particularly critical thinkers.
why a sad limit? isn't anarchism without a coherent structural understanding of social reality even more limited?

a. there are limits and limits.

b. there is no need for a coherent structural understanding of social reality to be marxist. (the fact that marxism has been engaged by the people on top should be an indication that it's not a way to break out of the current paradigm. it's "realistic" perspective, which is why some people find it compelling, is part of the problem. but i think you and i differ on what is most useful when rejecting current social realities.)

"a coherent structural understanding of social reality"

most days i just hope to have a somewhat coherent understanding of the people i interact with....and very often, i don't....the possibilities for how i relate to/with them seem unlimited (even when familiar) to me.

i second dot's point about structural understanding of social reality not needing to be marxist (and how it being so for so many has done nothing to further this anarchist's desires for a different world).

i further question what it means to have a "coherent understanding of social reality". what makes one's understanding coherent? and what scope/scale of social reality are we talking about? baa points out a personal scale, and how hard that alone can be. how valuable is it to assume one has an understanding of the full breadth of social reality (whatever that really means)?

i guess my issue with this has to do with the fact that "mass society" (and a generally larger scope of influence and interaction than is typical of most individual's lives) seems to be the only context within which this kind of discussion can occur. i therefore don't usually find it very interesting, since i despise mass society.