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+3 votes
In recent years some anarchists have attempted to appropriate the idea of "dual power" from authoritarian communists. Is there some degree of peril in absorbing this Leninist concept? Is it compatible with anarchist theory and other anarchist practices?
by (6.1k points)

this link was posted by lawrence. perhaps someone will post an answer to this question after having read his article.
check out this neo-platformist group in the UK Liberty & Solidarity who are trying to "build working class dual power":

The problems of there approach are obvious.

3 Answers

+2 votes
Best answer
If we are speaking generally, yes.  A dual power relationship, as Lenin saw it, can be practiced by anarchists and be considered an anarchist approach.

However, as Lawrence pointed out, dual power relationships are spontaneous developments rather than part of some sort of movement building strategy, as Lenin used the concept.  What the term means to the anarchist vanguard is pretty much the same as turning Civil Society into a political instrument against the state.

In this strategy, the "dual power" fulfills the same space as "general strike".  It is a myth that people work towards achieving, even when its truth and effectiveness may not actually exist without embracing this myth.

 There are implications that Civil Society doesn't need government, business or mafias...but this is the same as the libertarian pro-capitalist view that a world of business can exist without government.  These views can easily become political and can easily be recuperated by approaches like democratic socialism, which desires pretty much the same thing, but is willing to work through the government to achieve it.

A follow-up question and perhaps the real answer being sought is: Can a dual power relationship end social alienation?  No.  Dual power relationships rely on institutions that reify struggle, so any society built through institutions will not achieve an anarchy.  Dual power relationships are massive when observed.  The democracy used in such relationships may be less like a republic, but they also do anything but free power.  Power is condensed inside various delegate councils, which historically condense power in similar ways to a republic and create reasons to play politics, where we talk about what we'd like to do and hope for agreement rather than do what we want.

There is no great vision coming from those that seek a society that is dominated by civil institutions.  Today's unions run what was business while charities, churches and non-profits take over the social services traditionally offered by the government as well as continue to offer those services that they always have, minus the dollar bill being a factor.
by (3.9k points)
Question (one not worth posing as a question)- how does an answer become designated "best answer?" I've always wondered, and don't recall seeing anything about it when I registered or in the "about us" section.
i know the moderators can choose an answer as "best". maybe the questionner can too?
–3 votes
Yes, it is an appropriate concept, but it is important, while using it, to develop an Anarchist institution alongside the leninist one, so that it can replace it after the leninist dual power supplants the state.

However, it is also important for individual splinter cells to develop their own dual power to replace the anarchist dual power.

Thus, the only truly appropriate anarchist position to take is one of quad power.
by (580 points)
i think maybe some people didn't get the joke?
–3 votes
Yes.  We can build the new world in the shell of the old.  Prefiguration and Dual Power is a thoroughly appropriate strategy for Anarchists.  

The Bolshevik pre-revolutionary power structure was the same as their post-revolutionary power structure; why shouldn't Anarchist pre-revolutionary power structures mimic what they might be "After The Revolution" (i.e. acephalous federations of autonomous collectives and communities)?  Any Leninist strategies that we can steal, we should, if they can be made to work for Anarchist goals.

What does Dual Power mean from an Anarchist perspective?  It can mean providing services and creating organizations that replace or duplicate State or Capitalist functions, such as growing/distributing food, Anarchist housing (such as, arguably, squatting), or community defense.  It can mean establishing cooperative houses or small businesses, although they have to make compromises to be legal.

"Power" doesn't have to mean authoritarianism.

See also:

i just changed my mind and upvoted this, although i really disagree with it, because the site needs more breadth of perspective, i think.

the reason i disagree with it so strongly, and in fact consider it at least verging on being un-anarchist in its solution, is the idea that anarchists should, or should want to, "provide services and create organizations to replace or duplicate state or capitalist functions, such as growing/distributing food." etc.
to me this would be either creating a nascent state (perhaps of the Communist variety) or forcing people into structures for problem solving to the detriment of other ways of solving problems and ways of relating to each other (the endless meetings of parecon, for example).
(in the manual of revolutionary leaders, the perlmans describe the various ways that these kinds of organizations end up ruling people.)

unfortunately i'm sure i'm too late to start a conversation with this person, as educational as that would have been.