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+2 votes
by (6.1k points)

3 Answers

+2 votes
The anarchist synthesis was theorized by Voline. Most of the anarchist federations that ended up around the Mediterranean were synthesis groups, which is often why Bonanno refers to the Organization of Synthesis, though there were also short lived Platformist groups in that area.

Anyway Voline theorized the synthesis as a fusion of essentially three tendencies. Individual freedom and libertarian communism as goal, anarcho-syndicalism as method. This way the three main currents he thought could all synthesize what is best of their traditions together.

Back then a specific anarchist organization just referred to any grouping that was actually specifically anarchist, so this meant synthesis, platformist, anarcho-syndicalist, or others.

Anarchism without adjectives on the other hand is more pluralistic. The older classical expression of this was mainly in synthesis groups, but in the post-1960s era this mainly refers to ideologically polymorphic individuals or groups, with its' expression mostly found in activistic and "small-a" anarchist currents.
by (670 points)
An example of a synthesis organization where I am from could be considered the Northeast Anarchist Network. Its' original intent was to synthesize red and green anarchists into the same organizational network. Over time though I'd say folks have divided into either the specific informal (or pluralistic approach, becoming self-described insurrectionists) or the specific formal approach (or platformist approach, joining NEFAC)
Actually the most modern representation of the synthesis idea can be found in the IFA group from France, Federation Anarchiste. http://www.federation-anarchiste.org/
As far as the United States, the reason for the absence of large synthesis organizations might be the confusion there existing around individualist anarchism (there overassociated with the pro-capitalist and so non-anarchist economic neoliberal tendency known as "anarcho-capitalism" instead of the way it is understood in Europe). In Europe (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Individualist_anarchism_in_Europe) is an eclectic tendency which has included free love actvism, anarcho-naturism nudist ecologism (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-naturism), freethinking and atheist activism (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freethought), alternative education, intentional community experimentation among other things which platformists are not interested in.

It also might be possible to argue that in Italy, Spain and France anarchosyndicalism has more importance as the existence of anarchosindicalists trade unions CNT and CGT in Spain, CNT in France and USI in Italy and anarcho-syndicalists in those trade unions also participate in synthesis organizations such as FA in France, FAI in Spain and FAI in Italy. In the USA there is not a similar sized movement.

So it might be possible to argue that the strenght of FA and FAI is due to their eclecticism of interests and tendecies based on anarchism without adjectves. Platformist organizations such as Alternative Libertaire in France and FdCA in Italy are much smaller than FA and FAI.
+1 vote
the wikipedia article on this subject is very good. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthesis_anarchism

There it is shown why platformism was rejected by the most important personalities in that time within the anarchist movement worldwide incluiding Errico Malatesta, Luigi Fabbri, Camillo Berneri, Max Nettlau, Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman and Gregori Maximoff.

In the spanish establishment of the FAI (Iberian Anarchist Federation) synthesis anarchism was the model adopted and the Dielo Truda platform rejected because they saw it was too marxist and sectarian. Before and during the early days of Mussolini´s Fascist regime, the Unione Anarchica Italiana was a large national organization based on more or less synthesis principles and it was the main antecedent of the contemporary Federazione Anarchica Italiana. Also before and during the insurrection led by Nestor Makhno, there existed in Ukraine the NABAT Confederation of Anarchist Organizations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nabat). The principles of Nabat were written by synthesis anarchist theorist and fighter in the Makhnovist army Voline(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volin) .

Today synthesis anarchism manifests itself in the International of Anarchist Federations (IAF)(http://www.iaf-ifa.org/) which includes the biggest anarchist organizations worldwide. There are the large national synthesis federations such as Federation anarchiste (composed of about 60 local groups nationwide) from France and Belgium, the Federazione Anarchica Italiana (about 30 local groups nationwide) (http://federazioneanarchica.org/) and the post-Franco refundation of the Iberian Spanish Federation (http://www.nodo50.org/fai-ifa/).

In all of the countries where there exist a IAF national synthesis federation, that is the main anarchist organization. Other countries where there are IAF federations are Argentina, IK and Ireland (the platformist oriented Anarchist Federation), Bulgaria, Germany and Siwtzerland, Belarus, and Czech republic and Slovakia.

In the case of France in the 1940s the Federation Anarchiste experienced an strange episode when a platformist faction led by George Fontenis rose up to the general secretariat and achieved imposing a rule of majority vote. Through this medium it expelled those opposing turning the FA into a platformist organization. Shortly later the FA changed its name into the Anarcho Communist Fedetation (FAC). This new organization didn´t last for long and those who were expelled by Fontenis and his group reorganized a new synthesist Federation Anarchiste which is the one that lasts until today in which important personalities who wrote the foundational principles included the non-platformist anarcho-communist Maurice Joyeux and the individualist anarchist freethinking and naturist Charles Auguste Bontemps (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles-Auguste_Bontemps).

Platformists complain that synthesis anarchism Federations have included individualist anarchists because of their adherence to anarchism without adjectives. Individualist anarchism as it has been understood in Europe (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Individualist_anarchism_in_Europe) is an eclectic tendency which has included free love actvism, anarcho-naturism nudist ecologism (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-naturism), freethinking and atheist  activism (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freethought), alternative education, intentional community experimentation among other things which platformists are not interested in.
by (3.3k points)
0 votes
Also it seems that today international groups like the IFA are more Social Anarchist. They even say this in their main propaganda. I guess you could still say they are influenced by synthesis since they regroup Anarchist Communists and Anarcho-Syndicalists, but I prefer usually to use the labels groups use themselves when identifying such tendencies.

by (670 points)
IFA federations like FA and italian FAI have included individualist anarchists. Also individualists like miguel gimenez Igualada have participated in the CNT spanish anarcho-syndicalist union. To me the label "social anarchist" is something the most bolchevik and sectarian of anarchists such as those belonging to platformism will tend to use more in order to sell true or the right anarchism as one focused on stereotypical working class quasi leninist politics. In my mind as within real experience nothing stops an anarchist to be a nudist naturist, promiscuous, interested in alternative education and also someone who sympathizes or joins an anarcho-syndicalist trade union or an anarchist federation. In fact one of the most influential recent individualist anarchists, Hakim Bey, also belongs to the IWW. As such Hakim Bey said in an essay entitled [url=http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/hakim-bey-an-esoteric-interpretation-of-the-i-w-w-preamble]" An esoteric interpretation of the I.W.W. preamble"[/url]  he says:

"As “individualists” moreover we have good reason to appreciate the IWW concept of the union. Stirner — contrary to the belief of those who have not actually read his book — spoke approvingly of a “Union of Unique Ones” (we prefer this translation to “Union of Egoists”), in which all members would reach for individual goals through common interests. He suggested that the workers had the most to gain by embracing this notion, & that if the productive class were to organize on such a basis it would prove irresistible. (The prejudice against Stirner, by the way, can be traced to Marx & Engels, who considered him potentially even more dangerous than Bakunin, & wrote their biggest book to destroy his influence.)...The Mackay Society, incidentally, represents a little-known current of individualist thought which never cut its ties with revolutionary labor. Dyer Lum, Ezra & Angela Haywood represent this school of thought; Jo Labadie, who wrote for Tucker’s Liberty, made himself a link between the american “plumb-line” anarchists, the “philosophical” individualists, & the syndicalist or communist branch of the movement; his influence reached the Mackay Society through his son, Laurance. Like the Italian Stirnerites (who influenced us through our late friend E. Arrigoni) we support all anti-authoritarian currents, despite their apparent contradictions. Why? Because we feel that some realization of personal liberty is possible even in the very act of struggling for it. From our point of view, radical organizing (up to the point of insurrection) is not a sacrifice one makes to the future; it is rather a mode of self-liberation with its own immediate reward — even if that reward consists only of fragments & moments of realization. Wobblies, with their contempt for “pie in the sky someday” (or as Lewis Carroll put it, “Jam tomorrow or jam yesterday, but never jam today”), must feel the same distrust of any leftist utopianism which demands our martyrdom on behalf of a materialist “someday” which we ourselves will not live to see."