First of all, as I'm french, please excuse my possible mistakes in english.
Then, I would like to plebiscite Anok's intervention as it summarizes really well the various positions anarchists stand for about the twisted question of classes and class analysis.
However, I also have to confess that to me, it also reflects a lack of criticism towards the marxist or marxian analysis.
First of all, the idea that society is divided into antagonist classes is not instrisically marxist in itself. What defines the basic marxist stance about its class analysis is that the most revolutionnary class is the industrial working class. Which is only a part of the proletariat, even when defined by its relations to the means of productions in general. But to Marx and marxists (and some anarchists who share this view, especially the anarcho-syndicalists and most of the libertarian communists) the supposed revolutionnary role of the industrial working class is not only linked to his relation to the means of production, but to the idea that its the only "class" able to take over the means of production (especially because of its supposed "discipline" and its respect of the "work ethic") and consequently "provoke" the revolution.
This conception offers to a lot of revolutionnary anarchists an bunch of critics to make. To sum it up : the idea the society and class structure has changed so much all over the world that this analysis is obsolete for the greatest part of humanity, or at least for the western society (including the old europe where I live); that the deep changes in the wage system, technological progress and in the whole society also redifined the structure of class society so much that we simply could not specify a clear "revolutionnary subject" as the revolution shall be now more than ever the fact of all the dispossessed, workers of not.
Othewise, a lot of anarchist (including myself), considere that if class conflict, class struggle on a traditionnal social and economic point of view is still an important part of social antagonism and at the very heart of the revolutionnary struggle, this question leads to two important conclusions for anarchists who are supposed to confront all kinds of oppressions and dominations.
First, class division in society is not only strictly economic but also social and multiple, and various oppressions and dominations reinforce the class structure and complexify it. Or to say it in another way, there is other major divisions in society that are not less important than Capitalism and/or its class division and older than it in most of case. Like Patriarchy (and what some anarcha-feminist define as a division in sexual social classes, that isn't only a question of "gender binary"), white supremacy and racial segregation (even it often appears today as an "invisible" social apartheid -invisible for people who don't experience racism-), etc... And that depends of cours on where you live and what is your history).
Plus, the traditionnal marxist conception of class analysis and the class struggle, as it's only considered on its "work place" aspect (the industrial working class, the means of production, the discipline, the work ethic, etc...) tends to define itself as central in social problematics and political organisations, and then to give prominence to decisions of economic nature. And this analysis and proposition tends also obviously to cancel or upstage other aspects of class antagonism : for exemple the struggles around housing, squats, evictions, etc... or the situation of margins and populations disaffiliated from the wage system and formal economy that constitute an ever larger share of what is today still called the proletariat. And of course, this analysis tends to hide others aspects of domination and exploitation in society.
To support these contributions, I should only advise you to steer (in addition to the references already given by others) to the italian insurrectionist and autonomous anarchist texts written since the 70s, especially because they are related and linked to struggle practices, critical reflections and theorizing arround this praxis.
- "A question of class", by Alfredo Bonanno : http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/alfredo-m-bonanno-a-question-of-class
- "Class war", also by A. Bonnano : http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/alfredo-m-bonanno-class-war
- "Worker's autonomy", by bonanno and other comrads : http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/alfredo-bonanno-and-the-comrades-of-kronstadt-editions-worker-s-autonomy
- "Listen Marxist!" by Murray Bookchin, for it's important contribution to the criticism of the work ethic and the supposed role of the industrial working class (and the kind of organisation that this conception suppose).
Enjoy yourself folks ;-)
As an appendix to my intervention, I would like to emphasize the fact that class analysis of the Invisible Comittee (or the authors of l'Appel and Tiqqun's journal, who clearly share similar views on this question, not to say exactly the same) that found it conclusion in "The Coming Insurrection" is really poor and credulous.
Credulous insofar as it mostly ignore this question in going much further in confusion than André Gorz, Jacques Camatte or a lot of other french post-situationnists or anti-industrial tendencies (who defend similar positions) : that is to say that classes have disapeared (how ? where ? we never know), or have "merged" into some kind of Totality (the "Spectacle", the "authoritarian commidity", the "bloom", the "Bio-power", the "Empire"... and why not the "666 New World Order 666"). Which leads, as it seems to me, exactly to the same. And I insist on the capital T as all these concepts that merely designate the same thing, are very close to the hegelian idea of Totality. And the influence of Hegel on this tendency is absolutly undeniable.
But this confusion, as the claimed influence of such things as metaphysics or the jewish kabbalah (where the name of the journal and concept -Tiqqun- come from), leads Tiqqun, the invisible committee and their disciples to some sorts of mysticism and philosophical esoterism in terms of social analysis. And the tendency to use spooky langage and strange words everywhere are unfortunately too reminiscent of the religious methods to subjugate and control people.
And this poor conception linked to very arrogant pseudo-philosophical profusion of references could explain that upper middle class and petit-bourgeois intellectuals, college teachers, students, and part-time squatters constitute the essence of the background of most of its "partisans" (as some of them define themselves).
Finally, I wanted to add that if this analysis may seems attractive or interesting on certain points, it's at least not enough. I would not say what I say only to shot a bolt on any people who read or appreciate these readings (or certain aspects of it) but to be very critical with its authors and a lot of people who take this shit too seriously in france.
So as to support this last intervention, I would like to refer you to this masterpiece of modern critical and revolutionnary though :
- "10 commandments", by comrad George Carlin : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-RGN21TSGk