Defending an Anarchist Society
Determining whether anarchism can maintain its viability as a revolutionary theory within the scope and context of whether an established anarchist society is sufficiently capable of defending itself against external military aggression
Anarchism, when applied consistently, provides structures allowing for highly advantageous strategies when defending society, making anarchist social structures capable of defence against external invasion when fully established.
I used Gray’s 17 core dimensions of military strategy as a framework for what determines strategic success, what I called authoritarian-communism as a benchmark for successful strategy when defending a revolutionary society, and Kropotkin’s anarcho-communism as a framework for an established anarchism. Comparing authoritarian-communist strategies to the strategies implementable under a fully established anarchist society in a context where the survival of the society is at stake, anarchist structures are more strategically advantageous in 16 of the dimensions whilst still proving capable regarding the 17th dimension. Because of the defensive successes of authoritarian-communism, anarchist structures being more advantageous than authoritarian-communism in this context gives theoretical grounding for maintaining that an anarchist society could sufficiently defend itself against military aggression.
Demonstrating that anarchist societies are theoretically defensible, provides a strong counter to the intuition that anarchist societies would be doomed to fall under external aggression if implemented, therefore the research maintains anarchism’s viability as a revolutionary theory within this context. Moreover, because the research focuses on anarchism and its survivability against neighbouring states, this research provides a strong contribution to anarchist international relations theory which, because of anarchism’s neglect in larger international relations discussions, means this research also strongly contributes to international relations theory as a whole.
In order to survive, a society must defend itself against aggression; it should be expected that a society unable to defend itself would eventually be conquered. If an anarchist society is viable, it must be capable of defending itself against military aggression. However, given anarchism is an often revolutionary philosophy (Marshall; 1993; px-xi (introduction)), which rejects authority (Marshall; 1993; p42), and militaries traditionally follow a command hierarchy (HS; 2017) and are therefore authoritarian, it seems doubtful that an anarchist society has the capacity to defend itself against a state military and would therefore be indefensible and therefore unviable as a model for a revolutionary society. Hart defines strategy as ‘...applying military means to the end of policy’ (Baylis & Wirtz; 2002; p4). For anarchist defence, this means knowing what is required for defence and having the means to execute it. Fully answering whether anarchist social structures are capable of effective defence therefore means answering the following questions:
What is needed for a sufficient anarchist defence?
Is anarchism capable of achieving these needs?
However, current literature addressing anarchist defence fails to answer these questions, partially because little is written on the topic, but also because the few existing works answer very little. Taylor (1982) notes that historically, non-state societies, although internally stable, are usually destroyed by state conquest (p168). Kropotkin (1902) echoes this reasoning, observing that self organising mutual-aid societies, such as village communities, lasted centuries (p115-120), but were destroyed by state aggression (p223-227). Woods (2011) also highlights how the anarchist revolution in the Spanish civil war in the 1930’s would have defeated fascism, but was destroyed after being betrayed by the Stalinists.
This seemingly confirms the intuition that anarchist societies cannot defend themselves. However, these accounts simply highlight that these societies were destroyed, not whether they were incapable of defence; these societies could have made the wrong choices. It also doesn’t confirm that no anarchist society could ever be defensible; others may succeed in the future. Anarchism’s record of failure, although potentially problematic, doesn’t provide sufficient answers.
Supporting evidence for anarchist defence is also uninformative. Regarding the Spanish anarchists during the civil war, Alexander (1999) highlights how Orwell held that the Anarchist militias could have improved their efficiency whilst retaining trade union control (p254), meaning centralisation wasn’t needed for efficiency. Marshall (1993) also noted how Orwell held that the ‘Anarchist were the best fighters amongst the purely Spanish forces’(462). Dolgof (1974), highlights how Trotsky conceded that the Spanish anarchist fighters were superior to the Russian proletariat (p7).
Gelderloos (2010) observes other anarchist successes, for example the Ukrainian anarchists achieved highly organised and mobile combat when fighting the USSR, making defeating the Ukrainians difficult for the Bolsheviks (p244-245). The Mapuche defended their society for centuries against the Spanish, being conquered in 1865, with the Mapuche’s decentralised structures proving advantageous compared to the more authoritarian Aztecs, who were defeated much sooner because they would surrender after the loss of a leader or capital (p247).
These accounts of successful strategies employed by anarchists are encouraging for anarchism. However, despite their successes, these societies all eventually lost. Therefore, there are no accounts of whether anarchism in the face of state aggression, is able to sufficiently defend itself.
Moreover, these works are largely historically based, and although potentially informative, alone, they don’t meaningfully answer the question about how well an anarchist society could defend itself. I am analysing anarchism’s defensive capabilities in the abstract. This is therefore a theoretical rather than historical research. Therefore, although potentially useful, the writing directly addressing this topic cannot provide sufficient findings.
The paucity of work directly addressing this topic and the broad theoretical nature of the research means this research will be more similar to an extended theoretical essay rather than a traditional research. This will provide a more open structure, allowing me to fully address this issue, despite the broad theoretical scope and lack of direct source material. Therefore, the research will be structured as follows:
Part 1: Needs
I will first define anarchism as the dismantling of illegitimate hierarchy in pursuit of equality and freedom, and assert Kropotkin’s mutual-aid principle as a practicable means of achieving freedom and equality. This will lead me to argue that anarcho-communism acts as an example of a society which successfully dismantles hierarchy based on freedom and equality, therefore justifying anarcho-communism as the basis for an established anarchism.
I will then pose the issue that historically, anarchism has failed to defend itself against aggression, contrasting this with the successes of what I will call authoritarian-communism, therefore arguing that for anarchism to be considered a viable revolutionary practice, anarchism must prove at least as defensible as authoritarian-communism.
To establish how an anarchist society would coordinate against aggression, I will then outline the institutional framework of an established anarchism as bottom-up decentralised direct-democratic institutions based on free association. I will show how this is implemented in industry through industrial committees and apply this framework to defence, therefore establishing the Mutual-aid Militia (MAM’s), defence forces based locally on democratically appointed commanders, and large-scale operations being coordinated by strategic committee. This will establish the organisational forms available to anarchism and indicate what must be achieved to defend the society, namely: repelling the enemy and the preservation of these anarchist social relations.
I will then argue that because anarchism must prove at least as defensively viable as authoritarian-communism to be considered sufficiently defensible, anarchist structures must be analysed in isolation against authoritarian-communism to determine what strategic impacts both these structures have on a society. Anarchism will be compared with authoritarian-communism based on Gray’s 17 core strategic dimensions. Therefore anarchism, in the context of military defence, must prove just as, or more advantageous than authoritarian-communism in regards to all these dimensions to be considered defensively viable. I will then outline how advantage or disadvantage will be established, arguing that because of the paucity of direct evidence, the analysis will be open to a variety of evidence, while allowing for a degree of interpretation to ensure sufficient analysis.
Part 1 will therefore answer the first question. Anarchism needs to repel invaders and preserve its institutions. To be sufficiently capable of this, anarchism must prove that within Gray’s 17 core dimensions, it is either just as, or more advantageous than authoritarian-communism when defending a society against aggression.
Part 2: Capabilities — Analysis
Part 2 will outline each strategic dimension and I will from this, interpret what defensive success regarding each dimension entails. Based on the social structures of anarchism and authoritarian-communism, I will describe which strategies can best be used by each social structure, whichever social structure is most capable of successful strategy is granted the advantage in that dimension. Following analysis of the dimensions, I will summarise the findings in the discussion chapter, therefore allowing me to determine whether anarchism indeed succeeds in comparison to authoritarian-communism, therefore determining whether anarchism is capable of sufficient defence and therefore answering the second question.
If anarchism proves successful, I will address why the historical record doesn’t reflect this, therefore allowing for a fuller account of anarchism’s defensive capabilities and therefore viability in this respect. I will then reflect on the significance of the research and how further study could build on the findings.
Part 1: Needs
Chapter 1: The established anarchist society
1.1: What is anarchism?
Anarchism is a political philosophy advocating a stateless society (Taylor; 1982; p1). States are political institutions which successfully claims a monopoly on legitimate violence within a given territory, meaning the state must be the only institution able to enact or sanction violence which is seen as legitimate (Munro; 2013). Other actors may commit violence within the state’s territory, but this violence must be seen as illegitimate.
Although Taylor (1982) maintains that a total monopoly has never been realised (p5), statehood can be assessed based on the extent to which such a monopoly is established. If a state cannot enforce its own laws or territorial integrity, it is considered it a failed state, whereas states that uphold their laws and integrity have established their sovereignty (Barma; 2017). The state’s essence is therefore the realisation of a violent monopoly. An anarchist society would therefore be a society whose means of violence are not monopolised, but redistributed among as much of the population as possible and doesn’t use violence to enforce decisions (Taylor; 1982; p7).
Defining anarchism as simply the rejection of the state only provides a skeletal and negative definition of Anarchism. However, beyond this negative definition, what qualifies as authentically anarchist is contested. I will address two definitions.
Marshall (1993), notes how it is usual for anarchists to see freedom as the absolute ideal (p36), whilst also holding equality as an important goal (p48) whilst also being concerned with individuality (p50). From this framework one could identify anarchism as the complete freedom and equality of individuals. Chomsky (1995) sees Anarchism as the process of dismantling illegitimate hierarchy.
The first definition is far too impracticable to be useful.
Although the idea of complete equality and freedom is useful because it introduces an ethical element to anarchism, such a definition isn’t practicable. Humans are social beings and must interact, which means being subjected to the actions of others. Kropotkin held that complete individual freedom is impossible, but individuals can become more meaningfully free when they engage in a collective spirit towards the whole society (Miller; 1976; p197). Therefore, alone, humans would live impoverished lives, making the impositions of others necessary. However, this makes absolute freedom impossible because we are subjected to the other. Moreover, the focus on individuals ignores collectivist theories; humanity’s social need raises doubts of our freedom being found under pure individualism, making this definition both impractical and unsuited to human wellbeing.
Chomsky’s definition is much more useful because it is more practicable. Whilst holding freedom and equality (both important anarchist principles), as an ethical guide, anarchists can then determine which hierarchies should and shouldn’t be dismantled. I therefore have a practical and ethical framework for an established anarchist society. Anarchism will be defined as the process of dismantling illegitimate hierarchy with freedom and equality as guiding principles. This definition will then shape the essential aspects of an established anarchist society.
If anarchism is practicable, I must ground its structure in what humans have created when free of centralised authority; these real world structures will then indicate what is possible for an established anarchism.
According to Kropotkin (1902), humans have historically utilised mutual-aid when organising without centralised authority (p.xiv-xv (introduction)). Mutual-aid is an evolutionary principle which holds that the most successful species are cooperative; when individuals in the same species put collective needs over themselves, the collective prospers, because there is less competition over resources. Therefore, cooperation is more efficient for survival (Goodwin; 2010; p111-114). Successful species therefore usually form cooperative societies, these societies are distinct social ontologies, not reducible to the sum of the interests of the individuals (Goodwin; 2010; p115-116).
This irreducibility is because societies follow complexity theory, forming what I will call “complex systems”. Complex systems are holistic phenomena, meaning they are observable as functioning wholes and therefore may not be explainable through reductive/mechanical scientific methods (Goodwin; 2010; p108-109). This is because the individual’s cooperative behaviour isn’t based on enlightened self interest; their interests are directed towards the collective itself (Goodwin; 2010; 114), meaning mutual-aid societies have an independent collective identity.
These societies find their highest level of size and complexity amongst humans. Mutual-aid societies range from the hunter-gatherer level, to the medieval guild cities (Korpotkin; 1902; p.xv (introduction)), demonstrating that mutual-aid can be practiced even on a large complex scale.
These societies were largely or entirely self governing (Korpotkin; 1902; p132), with decisions made based on differing forms of collective consensus. These could be direct-democratic institutions such as the folkmote (Kropotkin; 1902; p126), where the society would gather and deliberate on issues collectively. Societies would also appoint judges and arbiters who made deliberations but had no enforcing power other than the moral authority of the commune (Kropotkin; 1902; p130-132), therefore requiring a collective understanding of morality. Because decisions were made collectively or necessitated collective consent, these communities were fully engaged in their own organisation, making these societies remarkably free.
Although less technologically developed mutual-aid societies were only collectively free, having very strict rules on individual conduct, these rules were based on general understandings of what is beneficial for all and mostly followed voluntarily (Kropotkin; 1902; p112), making these rules often necessary and legitimate.
Moreover, as mutual-aid societies grew, the complexity and affluence they achieved afforded much more individual freedom, with the guild cities giving “full liberty of expression to the creative genius of each separate group of individuals” (Kropotkin; 1902; p186). Therefore, although some un-freedom can be observed for individuals, this was due to perceived necessity. When individual freedom was viable for the society, it was embraced; both individual and collective freedom are achievable in mutual-aid societies.
Moreover, these communities usually owned property collectively. According to Kropotkin (1902), humans throughout history organised largely based on communist principles (p313). Individuals were expected to contribute what they could to the whole society. In some tribes, if someone obtains food, they are expected to shout three times to offer to share before they could eat (p112). Moreover, if members had certain needs, they were met without the expectation of direct reciprocity. In certain villages, pregnant women and the sick had privileged access to things like meat (p144) because of their needs. Serving the needs of all first therefore means these societies were very equal.
Moreover, as discussed, mutual-aid societies were also stable, typically lasting hundreds of years before being destroyed by states. Therefore, mutual-aid achieved high levels of equality, freedom and stability, making mutual-aid a successful means of organising society without a state.
Therefore, according to Kropotkin, free and equal, humans are capable of creating large, complicated and cooperative social structures based on free and equal association independent from state coercion. Moreover, modern evolutionary biologists’ and anthropologists’ work have validated Kropotkin’s assessment (Anarcho; 2008). For example, Dawkins (2006) asserts that altruism at the individual level can be a means of a gene maximising its interests (p.viii(introduction), exactly Kropotkin’s argument. Graeber (2004) has also demonstrated that there exist many varieties of human societies, ranging from fully authoritarian, to aggressively libertarian (p53-54).
This gives contemporary validation to Kropotkin’s theory that human society has heavily relied on cooperation rather than competition. Although Graeber also records authoritarian human societies, this doesn’t invalidate mutual-aid; Kropotkin (1902) maintains that cooperation is innate in humans, but self-assertion of individuals is still present (p294-295). Cooperation is therefore very possible and much more successful for survival than hierarchy. The presence of libertarian human societies attests to mutual-aid’s possibility, while modern evolutionary biologists’ assertions regarding altruism’s evolutionary importance, supports mutual-aid’s success. Therefore, mutual-aid can be used as a model for a successful practicable anarchy.
I defined anarchism as the dismantling of illegitimate hierarchies in pursuit of equality and freedom, and found that when free from the state, humans, when organising equally and freely, utilise mutual-aid principles. Because, as mentioned, mutual-aid has meant humans have largely governed under communist principles, an established anarchist society would therefore be anarcho-communist.
Anarcho-communism advocates a stateless society where all is owned collectively (Kropotkin; 1913; p34) and individuals organise based on free agreement. Collective ownership mean individuals necessarily work in the interests of the collective because the fruits of individual labour become the property of the collective. Free agreement means that individuals associate voluntarily, absent from central authority when organising (p172), rather than through centralised coercion.
Because association isn’t centralised, individuals associate directly through de-centralised, local organisation (Miller; 1976; p193). This local organisation, being based on common ownership, could then be federalised (Mashall; 1993; p8) if associates strive for larger scale organisation.
Because everything is owned collectively, this free agreement doesn’t mean total individual freedom. Because everything belongs to everyone, there are limits on how one can behave towards the society’s possessions. For example, one can’t demolish a factory if the collective doesn’t consent because the collective has an equal claim to said factory.
Therefore, anarcho-communism emphasises collective freedom and wellbeing over individual freedom. However, through collective association, individual freedom and development is still important because this creates more responsible and sociable members of society, what Kropotkin calls “communist sociability”. This develops sociable individuality, which is richer and more meaningful than the more isolated egoistic individuality of capitalist society. (Miller; 1976; p197).
This collectivist anarchism aligns with mutual-aid principles. Free from centralised authority, humans tend to associate collectively based on communist principles as discussed. Therefore, collective ownership suits human’s cooperative and altruistic tendencies. An established anarchist society needs practicable structures, because anarcho-communism is compatible with the highly practicable mutual-aid principle, anarcho-communism becomes a suitable form of anarchism due to this practicability.
Moreover, mutual-aid as the practical foundation for an established anarchism mean anarcho-communism provides freedom and equality by dismantling hierarchies. Anarcho-communism dismantles the hierarchy of centralised states, but also the hierarchies created by capitalism and private ownership, which in practice have created massive inequality (Hodgson; 2016) and what Chomsky (2000) describes as private tyrannies, in the form of private capitalist firms. Therefore, anarcho-communism succeeds in dismantling important illegitimate hierarchies.
However, the collectivist principles of mutual-aid place the collective above the individual, this is a hierarchy. However, the collective, as we’ve discussed, is also an important social ontology; the individual being more important than the collective would also be a hierarchy. Therefore, which hierarchy is more legitimate?
Marshall (1993) states that a core anarchist principle is to reject all forms of external government (p.xiii (introduction)). Therefore, if when organising free from centralised power, humans collectivise, based on anarchist principles this hierarchy must be justified. Achieving individualistic structures would require external coercion because without it humans collectivise; if anarchists believe in humans’ ability to self organise, they must believe in collectivism.
Therefore, anarcho-communism is a practicable and justifiable form of anarchism, therefore justifying anarcho-communism as the model for an established anarchist society.
Chapter 2: Problem of defence
Although anarchist societies have historically achieved internal stability, because anarchist societies are usually destroyed by state conquest, anarchism seems vulnerable to state aggression. Moreover, because anarchist theorists haven’t addressed this issue sufficiently, anarchism’s vulnerability to conquest remains a large obstacle to anarchism’s viability. If anarchists can’t defend themselves, because anarchist societies have often faced military aggression, the survivability of anarchism would be highly doubtful.
Anarchism is often considered a revolutionary philosophy, especially given the radical demands intrinsic to establishing anarchist society which would mean the powers of state and capital wouldn’t allow it (Berkman; 1942; p44-45). However, Marxism’s central critique of anarchism as a form of revolution, is that because anarchism rejects the state it can’t survive because the state is necessary to guard against counter-revolution (Engels; 1974/; p105). Heeding his warning, in 1917, Lenin seized the state and established central control through the state (Zurbrugg; 2014; p31-32) to ensure central control of the revolution. The USSR survived until 1991 (Aron; 2011), much longer than the Ukrainian anarchists within the USSR (Marshall; 1992; p475); the anarchists endured for a time, but they were soon crushed by state power.
Moreover, the communist nations which have survived, Cuba, China, Vietnam, Laos and North Korea (Porzuki; 2010), are all authoritarian states under one-party rule (Cote; 2013, Guardian; 2016). Lenin (1999/) himself attributed the success of his revolution to the ‘iron discipline’ his party imposed (p30). Given the relative success of authoritarianism compared to anarchism regarding survival, if a communist revolution is desirable, it seems this ‘iron discipline’ is necessary to guard revolution against violent aggression. I will call the tactic of imposing a centralised authoritarian state to protect revolution, authoritarian-communism.
However, although authoritarian-communist states have managed to survive aggression, less can be said beyond this point. Although, authoritarian-communist societies were able to make huge strides in industrialisation as in the USSR (Milne; 2006), and Cuba met the basic needs of their population (Philips; 2012) despite the US embargo (Perez; 1997; p250-251), socialism requires that ‘the means of production’ (MOP) be handed to the workers (Chomsky; 1986).
These states kept MOP under state ownership as happened with Cuba and the USSR (Chomsky; 1986, Rosen; 1969) or have become capitalist as happened with Laos and China (Fuller; 2009, Holmes; 2015). It is therefore difficult to describe any of these societies as even socialist, let alone communist. Lenin himself repealed all worker control when he disempowered the soviets (Chomsky; 1986), bringing them under centralised control (Zurbrugg; 2014; p31-32). Lenin even admitted that his industrial policy was a form of state capitalism (Zurbrugg; 2014; p17). Therefore despite achieving survival, these societies have fallen far short of being viable methods of achieving communism.
On the other hand, in anarchist Spain, the workers themselves seized the means of production, although usually the more privileged workers such as technicians, office workers and union activists often maintained more power (Casanova; 2004; 141), achieving voluntary collectivisation of industry and agriculture (Marshal; 1993; 463), often abolishing money entirely (Bolloten; 1991; p66), demonstrating that a modern communist society can be achieved through anarchism.
Revolutionaries are therefore left in a quandary, do they advocate for a society which achieves ideals of equality and freedom, but is likely doomed to be destroyed when invaded? Or compromise when needed, and embrace social structures which will likely ensure survival, but have consistently failed at achieving of the revolution’s ideological aims?
This problem can be mitigated if anarchist societies can effectively defend themselves. Given that we have shown that anarchism can create communist social relations, demonstrating that anarchist society can survive counter-revolutionary aggression, would then provide a social theory which is both defensible and can achieve its ideals.
However, if anarchism cannot withstand this criticism, anarchism in modern times would be highly discredited, as it would be unachievable.
Therefore, justifying an anarchist society’s defensive capability is essential for the continuation of anarchism as a meaningful form of revolutionary social theory. However, if anarchism can be shown to be defensible it will provide a vital rebuttal against one of the most neglected and possibly most powerful criticisms of anarchism, making addressing this problem, a vital component in defending anarchism as a viable revolutionary theory.
Because authoritarian-communism is a strategy which has proven relatively successful at defending itself against aggression, anarchism would therefore be defensively viable if it can prove more, or just as defensible as authoritarian-communism. Therefore to demonstrate anarchism’s defensibility, I will analyse whether anarchist structures can be at least as defensible as authoritarian-communist structures.
Chapter 3: Anarchist institutions
3.1: Coordination under anarchism
To determine what strategies are available to anarchism, its institutional forms must be elucidated, this will determine how anarchism organises, and therefore what is possible under anarchist structures. I will begin by outlining the economic organisation of anarchism and apply this model to defence forces.
An established anarcho-communist society’s economic structure would be based in common ownership of MOP, namely land, natural resources, factories etc, and organised politically, based on voluntary association governed by mutual-aid principles. Collective ownership means industry would be organised collectively and principles of free agreement means these industries would be run direct-democratically. To facilitate direct-democracy these collectives are decentralised with production being locally based.
Although association is localised, larger scale anarcho-communist organisation would be possible through federalisation, this can be achieved through worker committees. Different communities appoint their own delegates to create advisory committees in order to coordinate larger-scale organisation (Berkman; 1942; p72-73).
These committees have no power beyond those granted by the local communities; committees advise on coordination and collaboration, but have no enforcing power. Committees could then collaborate with other committees of the same nature by creating their own larger committees (Murphy; 2006/). These committees could then be formed at as large a scale as desirable meaning no upper limits to cooperation. However, these committees, no matter how large, still have no independent authority; they still only operate based on consent from below. Therefore, large-scale organisation can be achieved without the need for centralised authority, therefore making these structures compatible with anarcho-communism.
Conversely, military structures have historically been hierarchical command structures where power is concentrated at the top with strict discipline and obedience demanded from those below. These structures are diametrically opposed to anarchism’s decentralised and democratic nature, embracing elements of command structures has therefore been problematic for anarchists.
For example, although there was some democratisation of the anarchist forces in Cataluña (Marshall; 1993; p461), and Ukraine (p474), in Ukraine, because the army wasn’t directly accountable to the population, it often behaved dictatorially, like a band of warrior chiefs (p474). This would have antagonised the society it was supposed to protect as they had established aspects of communal self rule (p473-474). In Cataluña, after the anarchist leaders allowed anarchist militias to be brought under the central control of the government, the anarchists were greatly demoralised (p465), this would have harmed the war effort given the importance of morale. It also marked the end of the revolution, causing the revolution to survive for less than a year (465–466).
The centralised nature of militaries clearly harms combat effectiveness and general ability to defend a society when adopted by anarchists and should therefore be avoided. Moreover, anarchist forces must be answerable to their communities, thus preventing militias from becoming antagonistic towards the society as a whole, while keeping power in the community’s hands. Structures more compatible with anarchist principles must therefore be established.
3.2: Mutual-Aid Militia
The method of decentralised large-scale organisation in industry previously discussed, can be applied to defence forces. I will call these decentralised forces, Mutual Aid Militia (MAM). Engel’s (1974/) asserted that anarchism was impossible because complex organisation requires coordination, which in turn requires authority (p102-104). This logic applies to fighting forces because to fight as a whole, fighters need to strictly coordinate action, which implies the need for a command structure. However, Engels’ assertions are based on misrepresenting anarchism. Anarchism rejects political authority, but not authority of expertise. Bakunin (1999/) differentiates political authority which is imposed by an external agent, and the authority of “specialists”, whose expertise is followed by choice and reason. Commanders can coordinate forces, but this role isn’t un-anarchist unless they are imposed coercively.
If commanders are given decision making capabilities through appointment by the collective, the fighters themselves recognise the need for the expertise and coordination commanders provide. Therefore, the role is justifiable under Anarchism. Therefore, much like in Cataluña, militia-fighters would appoint their own commanders (Marshall; 1993; p461).
Directly appointing commanders will be implemented whenever feasible, with smaller units combining to appoint higher ranking officers. However, the fact that large-scale decentralised organisation under anarchism seemingly requires appointing committees at a certain level, highlights that direct-democracy isn’t practicable once coordination becomes large enough. Therefore militia structures need to create their own committee structures for larger scale coordination.
Therefore, once these direct-democratic units require larger scale coordination, each unit can elect a delegate(s) to represent them, delegates would then form a strategic committee, this committee will then advise on larger scale strategy. Delegates could also appoint their own commander amongst themselves within committees when quick decisions need to be made. When even larger coordination is needed, committees can coordinate with other committees to form higher order committees. Much like workers committees, higher order committees can expand to as large a scale as needed, allowing for coordination on as large a scale as needed.
Committees, even their commanders, being appointed to advise on coordination, don’t have the same powers as the unit commanders as they aren’t as directly accountable given the limits of direct-democracy. Therefore, unit commanders retain autonomy on whether to heed the advice of the committee, therefore maximising the power of the troops on the ground by delegating autonomy to the most accountable agents.
It follows however, from their role as larger scale coordinators, that committees occupy a position where they can comprehend events on a larger scale. Therefore, they are in a better position to determine whether to scale up coordination. Therefore, the committees have the freedom to form larger committees, given that they are in the best position to make a sound judgement regarding this. However, this ability doesn’t translate to a centralisation of power; committees don’t have ultimate power of command, as discussed, the directly appointed unit commanders retain this role and maintain the power to ignore these committee, therefore allowing for effective large-scale coordination without creating centralisations of power.
Because I have outlined structures where large-scale coordination is enabled whilst retaining bottom-up power, I have outlined combat structures which both adhere to anarchist principles whilst enabling the scale of coordination needed for effective defence while avoiding the problem of forcing fighters under central control as was found in Cataluña.
However, these militia must also be accountable to the community to prevent them from repeating the chieftain behaviour as in Ukraine. Luckily, because under anarcho-communism all is owned collectively, the means militia have of fighting is in the hands of the population at large. Fighters need guns and bullets and vehicles etc to fight. It follows that the society who owns these things must permit use of these resources in order for forces to fight. Therefore, it follows that to fight, these militias must gain the consent of their local communities. If the militia then misbehave, their power to fight can be revoked, mitigating the issues found in Ukraine.
3.3: What constitutes survival?
Now the anarchist societies defence structures are outlined, I will determine what successfully defending the society entails. This research examines an anarchist society’s ability to survive external aggression, this assumes scenarios where the society is being invaded by outside forces which threaten to destroy the society. Because historically, anarchist societies have been destroyed by states imposing sovereignty, I will assume the aggressor is a state imposing state rule over the anarchist society.
Anarchism has been defined as a stateless social structure which dismantles illegitimate hierarchy in pursuit of freedom and equality. Therefore to survive aggression, an anarchist society must retain its independence from external state control (conquest). It must also resist developing authoritarian structures internally; even if anarchists repels the aggressor state, if anarchists must develop authoritarian social relations to achieve this, thus dissolving the libertarian institutions discussed, the society has ceased to be anarchist, meaning the anarchist society still hasn’t survived.
Therefore, an anarchist society only survives aggression when it has:
Repelled the invasion,
Preserved it’s social structures.
Chapter 4: How to assess anarchist defence
4.1: Isolating anarchism
Now that anarchism’s survival criteria are established, I must determine how to assess anarchism’s ability to meet these criteria. I previously established that anarchist societies would prove defensible if they were capable of being equally as defensible as authoritarian-communism. I am also discussing anarchism in a generalised theoretical sense. Therefore examining both anarchism’s and authoritarian-communism’s impact on defence strategy, means examining both these structures in isolation, abstracting them from other determining factors which could impact strategic performance.
This is necessary because as Howard highlights, military success is determined by many factors including logistics, operational, technological etc, which are separate from social factors (Baylis & Wirtz; 2002; p5); any of these factors could have caused the defeat of previous anarchist societies. To determine whether it was anarchism itself which doomed these societies, the impact of social structure on defence must be examined separately from these other potential factors. Examining how each of these social structures in-and-of-themselves contribute to defensive strategy will therefore allow me to determine which social structures facilitate better strategy, and therefore which holds the most defensive advantage.
Comparing anarchism and authoritarian-communism in every possible context is impossible, to have a comprehensive account of how these social structures compare, I must establish in a broad theoretical manner, the fundamental factors which determine strategic success in any and every conflict. Examining how both anarchism and authoritarian-communism contribute to these fundamental factors will allow me to determine in a broad generalised sense, which social structure best guarantees defensive success.
4.2: Core dimensions of strategy
Gray (1999) outlines 17 core dimensions for strategic success in any and every military conflict (p17). He then splits these into three categories, people and politics, war preparation, and war proper (p24). Considering the sweeping claim that these dimensions cover every conflict, Gray’s theory that there are core strategic dimensions to every conflict could be questioned, however, due to restrictions, I will not be able to support his theory directly.
However, using a theoretical model which asserts core dimensions of strategy allows for the broad and generalised criteria required to sufficiently address the research questions. I will therefore assume the veracity of Gray’s theory of core strategic dimensions. Other notable theorist on strategy have included, Sun Tzu and Clausewitz (Stevens & Baker; 2006; p27-29), meaning there are multiple frameworks to chose from. However, I chose Gray’s theory because he comes from a contemporary context, allowing his theories to be better applied to a modern context. Moreover, his 17 dimensions are very comprehensive whilst also being manageable within the research’s constraints.
These 17 dimensions are as follows (Gray; 1999; p24):
People and Politics; People, Society, Culture, Politics, Ethics.
War Preparation; Economics and Logistics, Organisation, Administration, Information and Intelligence, Strategic Theory and Doctrine, Technology.
War Proper; Military Operations, Command, Geography, Friction Chance and Uncertainty, Adversary, Time.
To determine which social structure is superior regarding each dimension, I will first briefly describe the nature of the dimension and then interpret from this description, the general requirements needed from these structures to best guarantee strategic success in a defensive context. I will then examine how each structure responds to this need. Whichever structure best contributes to effectiveness in a given dimension, enjoys a strategic defensive advantage in regard to that dimension.
As discussed, anarchism has two survival criteria, 1) independence from external states, 2) maintaining anarchist structures internally. Because authoritarian-communism requires the establishment of a sovereign centralised state, it shares the first criterion but not the second, to preserve its structure, it must instead retain state rule over the society. Both social structures therefore have different imperatives when ensuring their own survival.
Therefore, I will address each society’s ability to ensure its internal structure (criterion 2) and how this impacts defensibility, when examining politics, as this dimension is well suited to this issue. Otherwise, each social structure’s ability to retain its internal structure will be assumed because if an anarchist society is indeed capable of for example, effective organisation aimed at repelling invasion, it will be because the organisation is done through anarchist structures, which assumes the structures survival and likewise for authoritarian-communism.
Moreover, if when defending a society, anarchist structures are more effective at repelling invasion, there is no reason to assume authoritarian structures will emerge in response to aggression because it will only harm the war effort if the society opts for less advantageous social structures. Therefore, success in criterion 1) implies success in criterion 2). Therefore, the other dimensions will only focus on effectiveness in criterion 1).
Therefore, the other dimensions will only focus on each structures’ ability to effectively repel an aggressor. Therefore, what is needed to effectively perform in these dimensions remains very simple, because all that is needed is the ability to ensure a strong defensive response through the already existing social structures.
For example, regarding people, each structure must guarantee a healthy population (Gray; 1999; p26-27) to ensure a strong defence, whichever structure is best suited to meet this need, has the advantage.
Which factors determine success is contextual, in one conflict geography might be the determining factor, in another, it may be organisation; for anarchism to be a strategically advantageous social structure in a general sense, it must at least match authoritarian-communism in all dimensions. If anarchism has advantages regarding some dimensions but disadvantages elsewhere when compared to authoritarian-communism, it is only a viable social structure in certain contexts, making generalised conclusions impossible. Therefore, for anarchism to be considered generally as viable or even superior to authoritarian-communism regarding defence, anarchism needs to be either advantageous or at least match authoritarian-communism in all 17 dimensions.
Therefore, if anarchist structures beget either advantages or matches in all categories, because these dimensions cover all conflict, I can conclude that anarchist structures are in general more defensively advantageous than authoritarian-communist structures, whilst consistently matching authoritarian-communism would mean anarchism was simply as defensible. Because authoritarian-communism’s level of defensibility acts as a benchmark for adequate defence, if anarchism achieves the results discussed, it will prove generally defensible.
4.3: What will determine strategic advantage?
As discussed, anarchism’s defensibility is a largely neglected topic; confirming evidence will therefore be sparse. I must therefore utilise whatever analytic tools are available. This could include historical evidence, theoretical reasoning, relevant social studies; ultimately using any tool available to reach conclusive findings.
For example, if structures exist which are compatible with one of the social structures and provide important information relevant to one of the dimensions, this will inform the research. For example, worker owned industry is compatible with anarchist organisation because they share the features of collective ownership of MOP (Herbst; 2012), these structures could be used if they inform strategic advantage for anarchism in any relevant dimension.
This accommodating approach means objectively quantifiable results will be largely unavailable, it follows that a degree of interpretation must be utilised. However, this method will then give the most comprehensive account possible given the paucity of existing evidence, allowing me to conclude the research much more fully, therefore making up for the unavailability of quantifiable certainty.
Part 2: Capabilities — Analysis
Chapter 5: People and politics
A healthy population is required to ensure they sustain the war effort, this doesn’t just mean having enough people, but also ensuring the people are healthy (Gray; 1999; p26-27). Therefore, for effective defence, the social structures must be able to ensure the wellbeing of the population.
Anarchism would be organised around mutual-aid principles. As discussed, mutual-aid has been the strategy used by the most numerous and successful species in ensuring their survival. Kropotkin observed how cooperation through mutual-aid ensured the survival of many species through serious hardship. The most advanced human mutual-aid societies, such as guild cities, shortage was dealt with effectively meaning starvation was unheard of (Kropotkin; 1902; p182). Therefore, mutual-aid by design, ensures the sustenance of as healthy a population as possible. Because anarchism would use mutual-aid as its societal foundation, anarchism would be adept at maintaining a healthy population.
Conversely, although authoritarian-communism has often historically achieved high human development, for example, despite Cuba’s isolation, it enjoys a very high human development index (Farber; 2015), populations have often been neglected for development which benefits the interests of centralised authority. In the USSR in 1932–33, as a result of Stalin’s forced collectivisation and industrialisation, millions of peasants starved (Goodman; 1986). This demonstrates that while both structures are designed to ensure collective wellbeing, authoritarian-communism has a tendency to neglect this issue when the interests of the state conflict with the wellbeing of the population, while anarchism exhibits no such deficiency, giving the advantage to anarchism.
War is carried out through social institutions (Gray; 1999; p27-28), these social institutions comprise the society and must support defending the society in order to repel an invasion. Anarchism as discussed has numerous autonomous and interconnected institutions, assessing how each one and the free individuals within them would react to aggression is impossible given the research’s constraints.
However, as discussed, although anarchism functions through free association, its reliance on mutual-aid makes anarchism a complex system; the connections within the society form a coherent whole which can be observed as a totality. We can therefore observe how anarchist societies as a whole would respond to aggression without needing to explain the sum of its parts.
Mutual-aid/non-state societies respond to aggression with resistance in many different contexts. Tribes in Europe formed confederacies for mutual defence (Kropotkin; 1902; p112), guild cities hired militia for self-defence (p180-181). We can therefore assume that an anarchist society as a whole would resist aggression.
Moreover, resistance from decentralised non-state societies has often been very difficult to crush. The Aztecs, being a centralised authoritarian society were crushed very quickly by the Spanish; their ability to fight was destroyed following the capture of their leader. Because their institutions relied on a very small set of leaders, the society was vulnerable when leaders were eliminated, therefore making resistance through centralised leadership a liability.
Conversely, the Mapuche organised in a decentralised, self-governing manner and void of such liable leaders, were able to keep fighting for 300 years. Their decentralisation was a huge benefit because the society as a whole could support the resistance; the whole society (complex system), had to be crushed as opposed to a select few leaders. Because anarchist structures rely on these decentralised complex systems, their institutions’ ability to sustain resistance are much greater.
By comparison, authoritarian-communism is defined through centralisation of power, this would therefore make authoritarian-communism vulnerable to the elimination of their leaders. Moreover, centralising power under state control has historically meant eliminating community owned self-governing institutions, such as when Lenin disempowered the worker-controlled soviets. This then eliminates the same self-governing decentralised relations the Mapuche utilised to sustain such a prolonged resistance. This means that authoritarianism requires the construction of highly vulnerable social institutions and the elimination of institutions capable of strengthening the society.
Therefore, anarchism, being based on decentralisation, creates institutions capable of less vulnerable, sustained resistance, whilst authoritarian-communism means the elimination of these advantages in pursuit of power. Therefore, anarchist social structures have a strong advantage when creating institutions which support defence.
All strategic behaviour is entrenched in a cultural context, culture being the values and attitudes which inform strategy (Gray; 1999; p28-29). Culture therefore influences strategic behaviour; this influence creates a strategic culture (p129). Strategic culture therefore frames how a society interprets strategy . Therefore, for an effective defence, a society’s strategic culture must be capable of influencing good strategic decisions.
Authoritarian-communism has been largely shaped by Marxism-Leninism, and has therefore had a huge impact on the Soviet Union’s culture and strategic behaviour (Gray; 1999; p143). Marxism-Leninism’s rigid understanding of history lead the Comintern to initially view fascism as simply a stage of capitalism. The Comintern used this as a means of attacking social-democrats whilst assuming that fascism would collapse by itself through its own contradictions. This meant the USSR failed to articulate a mass line against capitalism by alienating potential allies (Kitchen; 1976; p1-11). This contributed to the USSR’s failure to adequately prepare for fascist aggression, supporting Gray’s (1992) claim that Russia’s strategic culture nearly caused the USSR’s collapse in 1941–42 (p147). This demonstrates how the ideological rigidity produced by authoritarian-communist culture can lead to serious strategic disadvantage.
In contrast, some anarchist cultures exhibit remarkable strategic flexibility entrenched in cultural practice. Certain upland south-east Asian cultures utilised practices which were designed to resist state power (Scott; 2009), from shifting cultivation (swiddening) in agriculture, which helps people evade state control because sedentary agriculture helped bring populations under state control (p77-78), to mythologies cautioning the dangers of centralised power (p176-177), to maintaining a society’s linguistic differences from a nearby state or event adopting linguitic differences to maintain distance from states (p173-174). These practices demonstrate how none-state societies can invent ingenious strategies of state avoidance directly through an anti-state culture, demonstrating notable strategic adaptation through culture itself as opposed to the dangerous rigidity governing authoritarian-communist culture. Therefore, anarchism can create a more advantageous strategic culture than under authoritarian-communism.
War is a political tool, meaning it is used to achieve policy (Gray; 1999; p29-30, p55); a war is harder to win when fought in pursuit of difficult policy. Therefore to be strategically effective, the policy goals of defending a society must be as realisable as possible.
Both social structures share the first policy goal of repelling invasion. However, authoritarian-communism must also impose its own sovereignty. Authoritarian-communism is a revolutionary and therefore liberator movement; it must achieve certain liberations such as achieving some economic and gender equality (Zurbrugg; 2014; p21, p26), whilst also suppressing the population under authoritarian rule.
This is difficult to balance because revolutions as Chomsky (2012/) states, are generally spontaneous and libertarian, making mobilising through ‘iron discipline’ difficult because the population is likely imbued with a libratory spirit. Lenin faced two rebellions seeking further freedoms, the Ukrainian anarchists as discussed previously, but also the Kronstadt rebellion, sailors integral to the revolution who mutinied in demand for democracy (Marshall; 1993; p476-477). This demonstrates how revolutionary authoritarian movements create contradictions, simultaneously fostering libratory feeling which are then suppressed. This as seen provokes rebellion, therefore fostering internal disunity. This disunity forces the state to lose cohesion and spend energy crushing rebellions, which then makes defending the society from potential external threats harder, because the state has less energy and resources committed to external defence, thus harming the state’s defensive capability.
Anarchist societies such as Cataluña also saw internal political moves harm the society, as discussed the CNT leaders collaboration with the state virtually destroyed the revolution. However, this was due to the CNT leaders collaborating with state power and therefore failing to be consistently anarchist. The provocation and then suppression of rebellions by the Soviet state was entirely consistent with authoritarian-communism’s contradictory roles of liberator and suppressor, making internal strife much more intrinsic to authoritarian-communism than to anarchism.
Anarchist societies conversely, must resist internal state formation, which many anarchist societies deal with effectively. Anthropological studies show that in non-state societies, power-seeking behaviours where members attempt to establish power over the society do exist, but that the societies are capable of responding to this quickly and effectively. One account documents how a Pygmy tribal member attempting to gain privileged access to resources and chief status is halted and the society democratically decides to punish him. Not only is this behaviour dealt with quickly and effectively, this behaviour is rare for this society (Johnson; 2015).
The fact that these society rarely face these internal threats, yet can deal with them so effectively when they arise, shows why mutual-aid societies lasted for centuries and required external state conquest to destroy them.
Anarchist societies therefore enjoy much more internal stability than authoritarian-communism, making anarchism’s secondary goal of retaining internal social structure more achievable than under authoritarian-communism, which suffers inherent internal contradictions not shared by anarchism. Therefore in respect to when policy goals differ, anarchism’s imperatives are less demanding and therefore more achievable, giving anarchism the advantage regarding politics.
For a war to be won, it helps if the population are ethically motivated to support it (Gray; 1999; p30-31). Therefore, to defend a society, the population must be ethically motivated in defending the social structures under attack.
Mutual-aid principles have historically been the main way humans have ensured the survival of the collective, being essential during crises such as droughts or famines. Kropotkin also observed how mutual-aid societies are often governed by strict moral codes aimed at supporting the society. For example the Aleoutes always feed their children first during protracted scarcity and are not inclined towards theft (Kropotkin; 1902; p99-100). The evolutionary success of mutual-aid through strong moral conviction towards ensuring society’s survival during crisis, (for example how the guild cities managed to prevent famine during shortages), indicates that a society governed by these principles would be highly motivated when resisting such an extreme existential threat such as invasion. Mutual-aid would therefore be an ideal moral force in motivating the population to fight for its survival. These advantages, because anarchism would be based on mutual-aid, would also benefit anarchists.
High motivation and ethical conviction has also been observed in anarchists by Hobsbawm (2007), believing they shown ‘deeply moving idealism and heroism’ (p112). This also suggests that when defending a society against a state, anarchists would show remarkable moral conviction.
Authoritarian revolutions often saw very high popular support. The Vietnam war could have only been won if the fighters had the support of the population (Hobsbawm; 2007; p226-227). If support was lost, the peasants could have informed the USA of the Vietnamese locations (p226), and they would have been destroyed. However, authoritarian social relations implicitly indicate a lack of needed morale.
When fighting to secure Bolshevik power in the Russian civil war, Trotsky (1920) described humans as naturally lazy, requiring coercion to force the population to work. Conversely, mutual-aid societies lacked the need for centralised control to motivate individuals. Folkmotes, for example only enforced decisions based on their moral authority (Kropotkin; 1902; p131), not needing coercion to motivate its members to obey their decisions. Therefore, Trotsky requiring coercion to motivate the population demonstrates a lack of popular support; if the population fully supported the war effort, they would be motivated enough not to appear so lazy that they needed coercion. Ultimately, this contrast highlights authoritarian-communisms’ ethical shortcomings.
If self-governing humans don’t need centralised force to motivate them to support a cause, the need for coercion highlights the lack of support that a cause enjoys. Therefore, if it is necessary to achieve “iron discipline” before a cause is achieved, that cause mustn’t enjoy as much ethical support as causes where force isn’t needed to achieve them. Therefore, calls for authoritarianism to achieve revolution implicitly admit that said revolution lacks a certain amount of ethical support which anarchist societies can readily rely on.
Anarchist societies can therefore expect more ethical support than authoritarian-communist societies, because authoritarian-communism feeling the need to resort to coercion to achieve its goals, implies an ethical deficit. Anarchism as discussed, has exhibited high levels of ethical conviction, motivating the society to pursue its goals without coercion. Therefore anarchism enjoys an ethical advantage.
Chapter 6: War Preparations
6.1: Economics and Logistics
To support a war, the economy must be productive enough to materially support the effort (Gray; 1999; p31-32), these materials must then reach their needed destination. Therefore, social structures must support a productive economy with logistical efficiency.
Regarding economics, some studies show worker owned industries are often more productive than under traditional structures (Chen; 2016, Dolack; 2016, Harvey; 2016, Logue & Yates; 2006). Because anarchism has achieved worker ownership of the means of production, this would explain why the voluntary collectives in anarchist Spain, who achieved worker ownership, increased production both in industry and agriculture (Dolgof; 1974; p6), demonstrating that anarchist structures are beneficial to economic productivity.
As discussed, authoritarian-communism has historically failed to achieve worker ownership of industry. Moreover, worker-ownership was prevented when Lenin brought the workers councils under centralised state control. The fact that these structures of worker-ownership were disempowered in pursuit of centralisation, indicates that not only has authoritarian-communism historically failed to achieve worker control, its need for centralisation of power make authoritarian-communism intrinsically hostile to worker-ownership. Therefore, authoritarian-communism cannot enjoy the advantages gained through worker-owned structures.
Moreover, after 10 years under centralised Soviet rule the workers were observed to be ‘docile, backwards and incapable of action’ (Zurbrugg; 2014; p27), demonstrating the comparative failures regarding industrial effectiveness under authoritarian-communism. Moreover, the forced agricultural collectivisation under Stalin failed to produce the grain needed to feed the whole population as discussed whereas comparatively, guild cities faced shortages but famine’s were avoided. This demonstrates how economic output is greatly aided by anarchist structures and can be greatly harmed by authoritarian-communism.
Logistics also benefits greatly from decentralised networked relations; modern logistics firms have usually embraced network organisation. Rather than compete with other firms within a supply chain, firms have decided to collaborate, sharing information which increases innovation. This then increased competitive advantage and performance through learning from best practice (Chapman et al.; 2002; p366-368). Learning from other’s practice necessitates decentralisation; when organisation is centrally controlled, practice is homogenised. Therefore new, better practices are less likely to emerge under centralisation. Therefore, these benefits couldn’t be achieved under the hierarchical centralised structures of authoritarian-communism.
However, Spanish anarchists exhibited similar collaboration between experts and workers. Both consulted one another when proposing project ideas, sharing information the others lacked (Zurbrugg; 2014; p24), to determine the best approach. This demonstrates how anarchists can also achieve this form of network collaboration and therefore demonstrates the advantages of anarchism regarding logistics.
For effective armed forces, effective day-to-day management of resources and people is required (Gray; 1999; p34-35). Therefore, for effective defence, social structures must create effective administrative structures.
Within industry, administrative systems based on collective decision making have attracted interest because of their potential to mitigate efficiency problems related to traditional capitalist hierarchies (Cheney et al.; 2014; p595). For example, collaborative leadership, where workers are active in management, has shown promise for organisations facing scarcity (p596). This is very important for militia, as they need to manage resources efficiently to support a war effort.
Social leadership, where managers are appointed by workers, allows for the selection of managers who work towards the collective’s interests. This ensures more ethical leadership, which then promotes a sense of satisfaction and meaningfulness; and increases ‘psychological ownership’, where workers feelings of “efficacy, accountability and belongingness” increases their effectiveness through motivation (Cheney et al.; 2014; p595-596). The MAM’s, who like the Spanish anarchist militia, collectively appoint leadership, have a suitable structure for adopting this practice. MAM’s could therefore appoint other leaders such as trainers and other administrators in a similar fashion to create better motivated and more effective and efficient forces.
Therefore, anarchist structures could easily utilise these advantageous administrative models. Authoritarian-communism however, because of its centralised nature, must rely on the less effective authoritarian management models. Lenin implement Taylorist labour relations, empowering the managers and disempowering workers (Zurbrugg; 2014; p27), which then contributed to the ineffectiveness of the Soviet workforce previously discussed. Therefore, because anarchism can utilise more effective administration, anarchism gains the advantage in this dimension.
Relying on the genius of individuals means strategy could be compromised by individual incompetence (Gray; 1999; p33-43). Therefore, strong institutional structures are needed to act as a check on this individual incompetence. Therefore, effective defence requires structures which ensure ineffective members are checked.
This institutional fool-proofing is aided by MAM’s collective power; when leaders are incompetent, MAM’s can remove them. However, authoritarian structures by definition centralise power into fewer hands, ensuring the strategy is much more reliant on the abilities of individuals. For example, when Stalin, against the advice of his generals, failed to properly prepare for a German attack; when Germany attacked in 1941, Russia suffered massive military losses. Stalin then retired to his room for three days (Admin; 2011). The USSR was forced into disaster and then left leaderless.
This demonstrates authoritarianism’s extreme vulnerability regarding individual incompetence, therefore anarchist structures hold organisational advantage because anarchism does not share the extreme disadvantages of authoritarianism-communism.
6.4: Intelligence and Information
Intelligence is important to a war effort (Gray; 1999; p35). If a military can attack without warning, the enemy will be ill prepared to respond, making success more likely. Conversely, if one gather’s intelligence on the enemy, they can effectively prepare for attack or attack them at their weakest. Therefore when defending against invasion, one should conceal their activities and uncover the intentions and abilities of the enemy.
The democratic nature of anarchism implies higher transparency which makes secretiveness difficult because more people are privy to more information. However, within mutual-aid societies can social rules which can strictly govern behaviour when the need arises, as seen in Kropotkin’s observations of Aleoutes. These strict social rules are found amongst hunter-gatherers, smaller intimate groups. Therefore secretiveness could be achieved within smaller MAM units.
Although larger scale operations may be more difficult to conceal for anarchists, these disadvantages are balanced by the ability of decentralised organisations to be very difficult to predict. Al Qaida has planned attacks through a ‘complex constellation of different groups’ and cells are often forged through kin relationships and friendship (Ranstorp; 2005; p41), namely horizontal free agreement, this can make them very hard to monitor (p41) due to their complex decentralised structure.
MAM’s can imitate these structures, relying on horizontal unit-to-unit planning because smaller units retain autonomy, therefore, as under Al Qaida, MAM’s would be difficult to predict. Because authoritarianism relies on centralised control, this type of evasive networking is not as much of an option. Therefore, although authoritarian-communism could possibly secure traditional top-down secrecy through discipline, anarchism can achieve alternative forms of effective secrecy unavailable to authoritarian-communism.
Therefore, both structures have their advantages and disadvantages, yet none are clearly superior. On balance, anarchism at least doesn’t exhibit any clear disadvantages compared with authoritarianism regarding secrecy.
Regarding accessing enemy secrets, decentralised grassroots ‘Hacktivist’ groups such as anonymous, mainly teenagers or unemployed individuals, have executed numerous raids on large US corporations and the US government (Caldwell; 2015; p12-13), including leaking around 4,000 documents from the US census bureau (Huffadine; 2016). This means that non-hierarchical groups of relatively ordinary individuals were able to gain hidden information from the most powerful state in the world. This highlights how anarchist structures would be more than capable of retrieving information about the enemy, showing no clear disadvantage for anarchism.
Therefore, regarding both secrecy and espionage, anarchism has shown capability at executing both effectively. Therefore appearing to show no sign that anarchism is clearly disadvantaged compared to authoritarianism.
Technology is an important dimension of strategy (Gray; 1999; p37-38); access to equipment which increases military effectiveness through intelligent design generally aid’s strategic effectiveness. Therefore, when defending a society, the society should be able to invent technology which best aids defensive capability. To this end, society’s social structure would benefit from facilitating technological innovation.
Mason (2015), states that information-based businesses function best under network structures. For Mason, ‘cooperative, self-managed, non-hierarchical teams are the most technologically advanced form of work’ (p287), whereas hierarchy stifles innovation. Hierarchical management means managing people, ideas and resources for a planned outcome (p287). This limits exploration within the confines of the planned outcome.
The absence of strict planning allows networks to creatively explore new possibilities, which allows for new and unplanned innovations, therefore making networks highly innovative. The structures which encourage the most technological innovation are indeed decentralised, non-hierarchical cooperative structures, matching anarchist structures perfectly.
Moreover, networks are problematic for authoritarian-communism because they ‘disrupt everything above’ (Mason; 2015; p288), meaning they would undermine authoritarian-communism’s hierarchy. This explains why Lenin embraced Taylorism despite the innovation issues with hierarchies; networks would have been a threat to centralised power. Therefore, despite their advantages, networks are dangerous for authoritarian-communism. Therefore, anarchist structures are better suited to embracing structures which facilitate innovation and can therefore better guarantee a technological edge, again giving a strong advantage to anarchism.
6.6: Strategic theory and doctrine
Strategic theory is the ideas which guide and inform strategic behaviour (Gray; 1999; p35-36). To defend against aggression, the society must have structures conducive to the creation of effective theory. This would require the facilitation of innovation so that the best theories are enacted. As discussed, network structures facilitate greater innovation in the economic sphere, and networks are best utilised by anarchism. Therefore, anarchism would facilitate the most innovative theories, making anarchism more of an asset for effective strategic theory.
There is also a need for effective doctrine. Doctrines are the beliefs that frame strategy by establishing what to think and do (Gray; 1999; p36). For effective defence, doctrine must frame a strategic outlook which encourages effective theory and practice. I have already discussed how Marxist-Leninist dogma restricted the strategic outlook of the USSR to the extent that they failed to appreciate the threat of NAZI Germany. This not only permeates through culture, but applies more so to doctrine; Marxism-Leninism was a belief structure which as discussed ultimately shaped USSR strategy. Therefore, for the same reason Marxism-Leninism restricted strategic culture, it restricted Soviet doctrine. This once again demonstrates how the ideological rigidness of authoritarian-communism is a strategic liability.
In the same vein, the advantageous cultural practices of some anarchist societies which demonstrate an effective strategic culture, can be easily applied to strategic doctrine, because these cultural practices can also be seen as beliefs and values which guide action, making anarchism once again advantageous and authoritarian-communism a liability.
Chapter 7: War Proper
7.1: Military operations
For any successful execution of war, fighters must fight well (Gray; 1999; p38-39). The performance of the Spanish anarchists noted by Marshall and Dolgof provides evidence that anarchist structures can create better fighters than if they were under authoritarian structures.
Moreover, contemporary military sociologists highlight the need for flexible forces to respond quickly to rapid changes in combat situations. Proposals to achieve this have included reducing hierarchy (Dedenker; 2003; p415, Bjørnstad & Lichacz; 2011). This means creating network structures which reducing long chains of command (flat structure), and giving lower ranks more autonomy (decentralisation). Not needing to seek permission from a long chain of superiors permits more efficient information sharing, meaning fighters can achieve faster responses. Lower-rank autonomy means those more immediately involved in combat with access to on-the-ground intelligence, can make higher quality responses. Units would achieve faster, better suited responses, making the forces more flexible and therefore more effective (Bjørnstad & Lichacz; 2011; p316-318).
This proposal was tested in training exercises, researchers gave various units questionnaires asking scaled questions on how the test subjects perceived a given exercise. Namely, how flat, decentralised, flexible and effective were each exercise (Bjørnstad & Lichacz; 2011; p319-323). The results were measured and compared and both flat structure and decentralisation related positively to flexibility and effectiveness (p323-326). The links between decentralisation and flatness, and effectiveness were almost entirely mediated through flexibility (p326-327), indicating that flatness and decentralisation ensures effectiveness through flexibility.
Another similar study measuring the relationship between decentralisation and flatness, and flexibility further supported these findings, reporting a relationship between flatness and flexibility, and a stronger positive relationship to decentralisation and flexibility (Bjørnstad & Lichacz; 2013). This provides evidence that reducing hierarchy and decentralisation make forces more effective through flexibility.
However, traditional military structures as discussed, are centralised and hierarchical, indicating difficulties in adopting these new structure. Recently, instead of embracing these new processes militaries have maintained centralisation (Bjørnstad & Lichacz; 2013; p778). Therefore, authoritarian structures are unlikely to utilise these advantages.
Moreover, studies of military (Vego, 2003) and civilian (Kvande, 2007) organisations indicate that retaining some authoritarian features while loosening others can create misalignment problems. ‘If the structure is changed from hierarchical to flat at the same time as the decision-making authority is centralized...’ (Bjørnstad & Lichacz; 2011; p318), the decision-making load on top management is liable to become too heavy and render the organization inefficient’. Maintaining authoritarian-communist structures means maintaining centralisation, indicating that the suggested network organisations would be unsuitable for authoritarian-communism. Therefore, authoritarian-communism likely wouldn’t benefit from network organisational models.
Conversely, MAM’s are highly well-suited to utilising these advantageous structures. MAM’s are by design, decentralised structures where autonomy rests at the smaller unit level. MAM’s are already flat, decentralised structures, allowing for the faster, high quality responses discussed, without the potential misalignment issues plaguing authoritarian-communism. Therefore, anarchist structures are able to fully utilise a more advantageous organisational model for combat effectiveness unavailable to authoritarian-communism. Therefore in terms of combat ability, anarchism enjoys the advantage.
Gray (1999) notes how the quality of command is an important dimension; effective leaders execute effective strategy. Social structures must therefore facilitate effective leadership able to exploit advantages and avoid harm when executing defensive strategy (p39-40).
Firstly, if command is to be effective, command must be followed by those they command. This may seem problematic for anarchist structures to achieve, given anarchism’s anti-authoritarian nature. However, as discussed, Orwell observed that the Spanish anarchist’s could have improved efficiency without sacrificing their democratic command structure, indicating the MAM’s similar strategy of collective appointment of commanders would retain unit cohesion, therefore, commanders would still be obeyed. Moreover, as discussed, in industry, leadership being collectively chosen increases senses of belonging and accountability, which motivates those being lead to support the organisation and therefore creates more effective leadership. We can therefore expect the same effects for MAM units.
Moreover, authoritarian-communism as Lenin proposes, requires iron discipline, strict obedience is required from the rank and file. This would clearly be required in a military context. Imposing this discipline means commanders must rely on coercion rather than the collective sense of ownership and accountability supporting less hierarchical organisations. This seems less efficient as fighters aren’t as motivated by a sense of ownership and accountability. Therefore, anarchist leadership would be both effective and more efficient than authoritarian-communism.
Leadership must also effectively exploit advantage and avoid harm. MAM’s, as discussed, would through network organisations, allow lower ranking commanders to make quicker and more informed decisions. Therefore, anarchist command would be more effective by allowing those in the best position to seize an advantage or quickly avoid disaster, to do so.
Conversely, when authority is too strictly imposed, higher level commanders who are more distant from the facts on the ground, are freer to ignore their better informed subordinates. We have already discussed how Stalin ignored his generals about Hitler’s war preparations meaning authoritarian-communism has exhibited these deficiencies. This can be very dangerous, as Gray (1999) notes, it is often vital that low ranking fighters educate their superiors on events for effective strategy to be realised (p44-45). Therefore, authoritarian-communism creates structures that obstruct a commander’s ability to seize advantage and avoid harm.
Therefore, not only can Anarchism establish cohesive leadership more efficiently than authoritarianism, it also facilitates command which effectively takes advantage of opportunities and avoiding harm better than authoritarian structures. Therefore, anarchism holds the advantage regarding command.
Geographic consideration greatly affect military considerations (Gray; 1999; p40-41). To defend against aggression, forces must be able to utilise the geography to their advantage. Geography varies drastically from mountains, to flat plains, fields, deserts marshes rivers and even oceans all play a significant strategic roles based on both their presence and positioning, but also their absence. There are also manmade factors to consider, such as cities, oil pipelines etc. An exhaustive account of how anarchist and authoritarian-communist structures respond to these variants within this research is impossible. I will therefore focus on two broad and significant geopolitical considerations anarchist and authoritarian-communist structures are able to effect, how infrastructure can be protected, and how well forces can execute guerrilla warfare.
Authoritarian-communist states have historically shown promise of rapid industrial development as discussed. However, because these states retain centralised authority, this means centralised industrial development where large cities become important industrial centres. This concentrated industry is easier to manage for centralised authority. However, this centralisation of industry would make these states vulnerable to targeted attacks because they present a concentrated target. This makes industrially developed authoritarian-communist states vulnerable to bombings, especially a nuclear attack. When used offensively, nuclear weapons are used for targeting concentrated industry to cripple a states military industrial capabilities (Hobsbawm; 2007; p235).
In contrast, anarchist societies are decentralised, therefore having decentralised industry. This would disperse industry, making targeted attacks which cripple industry much more difficult and resource intensive. This parallels why nuclear weapons were never used in Vietnam, as the peasant society was agrarian, which meant the country’s resources were dispersed (p235). Therefore anarchism’s decentralised structure allows for the development of industry which is much less vulnerable to attacks than under authoritarian-communism.
Guerrilla warfare is when irregular smaller units, using local support and the terrain (Guevera; 2006 ;p32), to their advantage, in order to engage in indirect conflict to exhaust a stronger enemy (Hobsbawm; 2007; p224-226). This makes using this technique effectively a great assent when defending a society. Many factors are important for guerrilla warfare but two are most worthy of mentioning, flexibility and local support.
Flexibility is important because small units must be able to quickly coordinate and execute attacks based on their own initiative (Guevera; 2006 ;p28). This allows guerrillas to repeatedly strike without warning and retreat before the enemy can respond, slowly exhausting the enemies political will to fight (Gray; 1999; p43). MAM’s are uniquely structured to achieve flexibility. As discussed, their effectiveness comes from how their bottom-up decentralised nature grants effectiveness through flexibility. Therefore anarchist structures are ideally suited to guerrilla combat, whereas as discussed, authoritarian-communism’s centralisation inherently clash with the need for flexibility.
Guevara states that popular support is vital; guerrillas rely on the population for supplies (Guevera; 2006 ;p95) and to help conceal their location as discussed. If guerrillas lose support, they risk losing the supplies needed to continue fighting and having their location known to the enemy. Guerrillas win through outlasting the enemy through avoiding direct combat, both of which are impossible to achieve when one loses their main source of resources and the enemy knows one’s location.
MAM’s only fight when the populace supports them. Therefore, MAM’s are more intimately accountable to the population, meaning MAM’s are less likely to antagonise those they rely on. Conversely, authoritarian-communism, being based in centralised authority, is much less accountable to the population, meaning decisions which lack popular support, are more likely to me made. Guevara (2006) emphasises the need to punish this who harm the peasants (p95), he may be corrent in this assessment, however this indicates that forces under authoritarian command are liable to commit these acts. Otherwise this would be less important to emphasise. Therefore, authoritarian-communism would be less capable of guaranteeing popular support, whereas through MAM’s, anarchist structures seem much more capable of guaranteeing this vital factor.
Therefore, based on the examples discussed, anarchist structures, because they are more capable of executing core requirements of guerrilla warfare (flexibility and ensuring popular support), indicates that anarchists would better utilise geography in combat. Moreover, because of their dispersed industry, anarchist infrastructure would also be much better protected. Therefore, anarchism gains the advantages when exploiting geography.
7.4: Friction, Chance, Uncertainty
In war, things often do not go as planned; a surprise attack or uncertain weather conditions, can seriously impede defence. Even if one plans as much as they can, information is never perfect and uncertainty is certain (Gray; 1999; 41). When fighting a war, social structures must facilitate adaptation to inevitable surprises.
MAM’s flexible structure accounts for this. When smaller units have more autonomy in the field, they are able to quickly change their plans and adapt when things go wrong. I have discussed how smaller units can make plans quicker and with richer information. Being more informed allows them to reduce uncertainty and be quick to respond to the unplanned. MAM’s can therefore adapt to their environment effectively and overcome friction. As discussed authoritarian-communism’s centrality prevents this same flexibility, and therefore authoritarian-communist structures will be slower and less effective when responding to the unplanned. Therefore, anarchism once again enjoys a strong advantage.
All war is fought against an enemy, whether a strategy is effective depends on how suitable it is against said enemy. Most importantly, the enemy is an intelligent wilful force, which responds to ones actions; ‘strategy can work today but fail tomorrow because it worked today’ (Gray; 1999; p42). To effectively defend against invasion, forces must therefore be able to respond intelligently to the invader.
The flexibility achieved by reducing hierarchy and centralisation, and the suitability of MAM’s in utilising these techniques, makes anarchists structures uniquely suited to responding to a responsive enemy. MAM’s flexibility means anarchists can adapt and change strategy very quickly, making anarchist forces difficult to quickly respond to. Because I assume an invasion by a state, the adversary will be hampered by the obstacles to achieving flexibility through reducing hierarchy previously discussed. The adversary’s comparative shortcomings regarding flexibility, and therefore adaptability, mean they will be at a disadvantage when fighting anarchist forces.
Anarchist structures would therefore often be one step ahead of the enemy. Moreover, because authoritarian-communism is inherently statist, it has the same inflexibility problems plaguing traditional militaries, making it not as suitable at dealing with a responsive enemy as anarchism. This therefore highlights another significant advantage for anarchism.
All strategy is governed by time, attacks can be too early or late. Geographical distance or rough terrain effects strategy because of the temporal delays this creates. Ultimately, time is a significant strategic factor (Gray; 1999; p42-43). Time is also ultimately far too expensive a topic to cover satisfactorily within the given limits. Therefore, I will simply examine which social structures best utilise time during a protracted defence because this is an important factor during defence; the defenders must therefore outlast an enemy’s attack to survive.
Gray highlights that time is on the side of irregular (guerrilla) forces in war, because they can avoid battle and outlast the enemy by sapping their political will (Gray; 1999; p43). We have already shown that MAM’s are a better means of engaging in guerrilla warfare because of their superior flexibility and popular support. It follows that they would then have a temporal advantage because their flexibility allows them to better avoid conflict and the increased support better sustains the forces. Therefore once again anarchism demonstrates its strategic superiority to authoritarian-communism.
Chapter 8: Discussion
8.1: People and Politics
The People and Politics chapter demonstrates how within all dimensions pertaining to the abilities of the population as a whole, anarchism proved more defensively advantageous in all five categories. This is because without the interference of the state, the population can directly pursue success in each of the categories, whereas to ensure state supremacy, authoritarian-communism often obstructs these efforts.
In people, because society without authority follows mutual-aid, ensuring collective wellbeing holds primacy, allowing the needs of the population to be pursued directly. Authoritarian-communism being statist, must put state interests first. This does not mean the state never cares for the population, but that this imperative is filtered through state interest. If state interests require that other issues are prioritised, the population itself could suffer, as demonstrated during the Soviet famine.
This statist prioritisation becomes more relevant for society because of the centralisation of power. This may ostensibly be so that the population can be mobilised to serve the common good. However, mutual-aid demonstrates how human society is already capable of action. This political centralisation actually limits the societies ability to sustain defence through the pursuit of securing centralised power.
Authoritarian-communism renders the populace further incapable of action by limiting its intellectual potential. Culture highlighted how the state’s need for control meant rigidly imposing a cultural framework which bound thought to an extent where the USSR failed to anticipate the threat of fascism, therefore endangering the society. Conversely, anarchist cultural expression in itself employed strategically ingenious methods of guarding against threat.
This popular suppression would explain the contrast between how motivated mutual-aid societies are compared with authoritarian-communist society. In ethics, Trotsky’s call for labour armies was based on a perception of a humanity drastically different from self organised society. This evidence highlighted how the need for authoritarianism implicitly concedes that the population is less motivated to action than they could be. This implicitly indicated that authoritarian-communism always suffers from a deficit in ethical motivation.
These findings highlight how the population under authoritarian-communism, because it requires imposing centralised authority, weakens the society by limiting its capacity to flourish and act, therefore making the population more vulnerable when under attack. By pursuing its own interests, authoritarian-communism inherently makes itself vulnerable in a way anarchist societie do not.
Authoritarian-communism further compounds these troubles by demanding political goals which are harder to achieve. Authoritarian-communism’s acts of suppression also antagonises the population it relies on, as demonstrated by the numerous rebellions the Soviets faced. Authoritarian-communism must repel an invader, but also maintain its control over this antagonised society, whereas anarchism’s historical stability means it is free to focus solely on repelling attackers. Therefore, authoritarian-communism inherently weakens the population whilst simultaneously requiring more from said population in order to survive. Therefore, the finding demonstrate how authoritarian-communism is a defensive liability in these respects.
8.2: War Preparations
The war preparations chapter demonstrates how the structure of anarchism permits superior organisational capacity within the MAM’s and in industry, while the restrictions discussed previously, prevent authoritarian-communism from utilising these advantages. Five dimensions proved advantageous to anarchism with a sixth merely matching authoritarian-communism.
Examining economics and logistics showed how anarchism allows for popular control which as discussed, enables anarchism to be more economically productive by mimicking worker-owned industry. Anarchism’s decentralised nature also allows anarchism to embrace network structures which facilitate better logistics. Conversely, authoritarian-communism’s centralisation and aversion to popular control, means these benefits are not available.
Moreover, in administration, anarchism, once again through popular control proved capable of more effective and efficient leadership models which better ensure good day-to-day management of the militia. This is once again unavailable to authoritarian communism, as authoritarian-communism requires hierarchical structures which preclude such models. Moreover in organisation, anarchism through these same leadership models proved capable of accounting for individual incompetence therefore better fool-proofing its organisations. This again is unavailable to authoritarian-communism as its centralised nature relies too heavily on the ability of a few, mirroring the issues found in society.
Anarchism’s ability to create non-hierarchical, cooperative organisation also allowed for superior innovation. Anarchism would facilitate more advanced technology and strategic theory, this once again being unavailable to authoritarian-communism due to its hierarchical nature. Moreover, the advantages discussed pertaining to strategic culture translated over to strategic doctrine; the same beliefs and values which permeate culture simultaneously impact doctrine, meaning anarchism enjoys similar advantages over authoritarian-communism.
The dimension disrupting this trend was information and intelligence. I suggested that anarchism’s anti-authoritarianism prevented it from traditional secrecy, and contradicting evidence was only forthcoming for smaller units, rendering anarchism unlikely to be as secretive on a large scale. However, this was mitigated by anarchism’s ability to better pursue non-traditional secrecy by imitating the networks Al Qaida utilises, meaning that effective strategies for concealing activities were still available. Moreover, the ability of amateurs in decentralised groups to infiltrate some of the world’s most powerful organisations, proved that anarchism would be more than capable of retrieving enemy information.
Because evidence which provides a comparison between authoritarian-communism and anarchism was not found, I was unable to compare the two structures as in other dimensions. However, because anarchism’s suggested problems can be mitigated by a highly effective, non-traditional solution, and that the successes of methods available to anarchism has managed to cause serious problems for Al Qaida’s enemies, provides strong reasons to infer from the evidence that anarchism would at least prove formidable in this regard. It is therefore safe to maintain that anarchism would not be disadvantaged overall in this regard, meaning the best conclusion to make in this dimension is that anarchism and authoritarian-communism would at least match one another.
When examining the social structures’ organisational capabilities, it can be concluded that anarchist models beget a plethora of advantages unavailable to authoritarian-communism.
8.3: War Proper
The war proper chapter continued the trend of consistent advantages for anarchist structures, showing that during combat itself, authoritarian-communisms structural necessities once again disqualify it from reaping the benefits available for decentralised structures.
This was first demonstrated through military operations. The Spanish anarchists proved better fighters than many hierarchical factions. Also, recent findings in military sociology support the superior effects of decentralisation and reduced hierarchy, on flexibility, and therefore effectiveness. Anarchism once again proved capable of embracing these structures due to MAM’s democratic bottom-up structure while authoritarian-communism would be inherently less capable of utilising these strengths given the inherent misalignment issues.
This increased flexibility would then make anarchism more capable of responding to the enemy as found in adversary, and also better equipped to deal with unplanned contingencies as was shown in Friction, Chance, Uncertainty.
The practice of selecting leaders, which gave the anarchist society better leadership in administration, also ensured the same benefits of motivation would give anarchist structures superior command compared to authoritarian-communism. Moreover, the bottom-up structure of MAM’s ensured that the best informed commanders were free to execute the most appropriate actions, which once again wasn’t available to authoritarian-communism.
I had to narrow my focus when tackling geography and time due to the various ways to address the question and the restrictions on this research. However, what I was free to focus on highlighted significant and noteworthy advantages for anarchism. Decentralisation of industry, not only protected anarchist society by ensuring its productive would be base difficult to disrupt, therefore better protecting industry, it also proved a very effective tool against the most destructive man-made weapons, nuclear weapons. This is significant because previously only under-developed agrarian nations enjoyed this advantage, indicating a trade-off between industrialisation and vulnerability. Anarchism provides both protection and development, making this a significant advantage over authoritarian-communism, whose centralisation guarantees such a trade-off.
Moreover, guerrilla warfare was very important because it provided an effective tactic against a stronger enemy. Anarchism’s ability to excel at two of the most significant aspects of this tactic (popular support and flexibility), not only provides anarchism with the means to defend itself against much larger foes, but advantages in geography, and also time because of the temporal advantages given to irregular troops.
Therefore overall, when comparing anarchism to authoritarian-communism, anarchism enjoys significant strategic advantages in 16/17 dimensions whilst being effective enough in the 17th dimension that disadvantage shouldn’t be assumed. Anarchism as a means of defensive strategy is just short of being completely superior to authoritarian-communism. Therefore, because authoritarian-communism acted as the benchmark for a defensible social structure, the findings show that anarchism far exceeds my established requirements for being suffinciently capable of defence against aggression.
8.4: Explaining the failures of anarchism, impact of the research and suggestions for further research
However, how can these findings be valid given the consistent failure of anarchism regarding defence?
Firstly, this study assesses comparative advantage, I inquired into whether when establishing an revolutionary society, should authoritarian or anarchist social relations govern the society when considering defence? Because I isolate the effects of social structure, I assess whether a single given society would be better off against invasion if they chose anarchism or authoritarianism. Therefore the research investigates whether for example, Anarchist Spain, would have had a better chance of survival if it were authoritarian. Therefore, the fact that it failed while other authoritarian societies succeeded is irrelevant.
Moreover, the finding provide indications of why these anarchists revolutions failed outside of an inability to fight due to limitations inherent to anarchism. Firstly, much like conflicting social relations can cause misalignment problems for networks, the fact that the Ukrainian’s and Cataluña embraced some authoritarian relations caused issues for their war effort. Makno’s antagonism of his population and the CNT’s collaboration with the state caused issues that wouldn’t have been possible in a consistently anarchist society. This is why imagining alternative combat structures were important, because they mitigate these issues.
Another issue is popular faith and support in anarchism. This study assumes a society where anarchism is fully established. This assumes the population already perceives anarchist tactics as viable. However, anarchism suffers a reputation as unworkable and ineffective. Those such as Hobsbawm perpetuate this assumption when they describes anarchists as hopeless and ineffective (p113); more damaging is how anarchists often contribute to this reputation. The paucity of anarchist work directly addressing defence is one way this happens. More significant is how anarchist revolutionaries like the CNT leadership, feel they must resort to authoritarian tactics, like allowing the anarchists to be brought under government control, to achieve their goals. If anarchist tactics are not trusted, they will not be implemented, and therefore will never be given a chance to succeed.
Conversely, authoritarian tactics enjoy a tacit support because they are assumed to work. Although Lenin emphasised discipline which implies coercing the populace regardless of their desires, however popular support as discussed can also be important. The state’s rule therefore requires some level of popular consent; the success of authoritarian tactics therefore indicates at least a tacit support. Combined with the previous findings, this indicates that the challenge anarchists face is in establishing a strong base of support, only then would anarchism have a chance to become a successful social movement. For anarchism to succeed it must therefore gain this much needed popular support and faith in its effectiveness, only then will the potential successes found in this research be realised.
Because anarchism has proved more defensible than authoritarian-communism in this research, whilst accounting for why this defensibility is not reflected in the historical record, it can be concluded that anarchism has proved to be highly defensible when established, and has therefore defended itself in this regard as a viable form of revolutionary praxis.
Because this research addresses a very neglected aspect of anarchism, the finding demonstrating anarchism’ defensibility clearly make a very large contribution to an important and neglected topic in anarchism. Following this, because the research focuses on anarchism and its interaction with neighbouring states, this research on anarchism directly contributes to international relations theory. This is very important, firstly, because it makes a contribution to an almost entirely neglected area of study within international relations theory (Prichard; 2011). Moreover, this contribution aims at a topic in international relations which is often the purview of realists (Baylis & Wirtz; 2002 ;p6), military strategy.
Therefore the research has made headway in establishing anarchist international relations theory as a body of though which can tackle issues often only addressed by mainstream international relations. Therefore, the research helps anarchism make a strong impact on the larger body of international relations thought. This impact is that because anarchism can prove defensively viable, that a fully anarchist society or even several could find a strong footing in international order. This would be a huge change in global order and provide a very strong challenge to more state centric international relations theories.
Moreover, because I addressed the issue of defence for anarchists in juxtaposition authoritarian-communist states’ failure to achieve socialism while anarchist Spain demonstrated remarkable successes in this regard, establishing anarchism’s defensive viability therefore allows this other advantage to pose a more serious challenge to authoritarian-communism.
Previously, it could be assumed that authoritarian-communism’s failures in creating true socialism was a necessary trade-off because otherwise the society couldn’t survive and therefore no gains could be made. Now that anarchism can demonstrate itself as more defensible that authoritarian-communism, this paradigm is disrupted, making authoritarian-communism appear as a much less viable option. Anarchism can be both defensible and communist, while authoritarian-communism can’t even claim greater defensibility. Therefore, this research provides a strong challenge to the viability of authoritarian-communist revolutionary theories.
However, because this research assumes already established anarchist societies, the issue of establishing anarchism has been neglected. Building upon this research means analysing how to best secure the establishment of such societies in order for these defensively advantageous qualities of anarchism to be realised. This could be done by re-raising the issue touched on by Rossdale (2010) surrounding whether anarchists should emphasise resisting existing structures or building new ones (p486-492). The right balance regarding this issue could help anarchist societies gain a much needed foothold within international order.
Conclusions and limitations
I began by defining anarchism as the dismantling of illegitimate hierarchy in pursuit of freedom and equality, combining this with the mutual-aid principle to argue that an established anarchist society would be anarcho-communist. I then raised the issue that despite anarchism’s other successes, it has historically proved indefensible which is problematic when comparing it the more successful revolutionary strategy of authoritarian-communism. I therefore argued that for anarchism to be deemed a viable revolutionary theory, anarchism must prove at least as defensible as authoritarian communism.
I then elaborated on how anarcho-communist principles, when implemented institutionally create bottom-up decentralised direct-democratic institutions of free association and applied this model to defence forces, thus creating MAM’s. Once fully outlined I described how defending anarchism meant repelling invasion but also preserving its institutions.
Based on what was previously established, for anarchism to be defensible it must prove in isolation to hold as much or more strategic advantage as authoritarian-communism when comparing each structures’ strategic success in a defensive context when analysed through the paradigm of Gray’s 17 dimensions. I argued that anarchism would be defensible if it proved at least a match to authoritarian-communism in all 17 dimensions, outlining that advantage would be proven based on any available evidence supported by a degree of interpretation to secure a sufficient analysis.
The finding showed that in 16 of the dimensions anarchism proved more strategically advantageous which proving effective enough in intelligence and information to be considered at least a match to authoritarian-communism. This demonstrated that based on the analysis that anarchism when established is much more defensible than authoritarianism. Because authoritarian-communism acted as the benchmark for defensibility, the fact that anarchism exceeds this in all but one dimension means the findings provide considerable weight to the claim that an anarchist society could defend itself against external military aggression which therefore means in this respect anarchism has proved a viable form of revolutionary praxis.
A limitation of this research is firstly that because of constraints I was forced to limit my scope with notable examples being time, where I was only able to focus on a small aspect of the dimension because of its scope. The fact that I had to narrow my focus because of the size of the topic emphasises the need to focus on this dimension. This was further compounded with geography where once again because of constraints I had to narrow my focus to two subjects, guerrilla war and infrastructure, then narrow it again with guerrilla warfare to simply flexibility and time when there are many other issues worth addressing in that subject alone. This neglect could cause problems for the research as it may neglect important points which would alter the findings of this research. However, this doesn’t prevent the finding discussed from being significant.
Another limitation is the reliance on Gray’s theories of strategic dimensions as any issues with this theory would pose problems for the research finding. The research would have benefited from gaining the space to fully critically assess Gray’s theory to fully determine whether the theory was completely sound. However, given the finding achieved through this paradigm mitigates the heavy reliance on this theory.
Admin [author not named]. (2011). Stalin’s Breakdown. Available: www.historyinanhour.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Alexander, R (1999). The Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War, Volume 1. London: Janus Publishing Company . p254.
Anarcho [alias]. (2008). Mutual Aid: An Introduction and Evaluation.Available: anarchism.pageabode.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Aron, L. (2011). FEATURE Everything You Think You Know About the Collapse of the Soviet Union Is Wrong. Available: foreignpolicy.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Bakunin, M. (1999/). What is Authority?. Available: www.marxists.org. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Barma, N. (2017 [last viewed, date not given]). Failed State. Available: www.britannica.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Berkman, A (1942). A.B.C of Anarchism. 2nd ed. London: Freedom Press. p3-101.
Bjørnstad, A ; Lichacz, F. (2011). Exploring Network Organization in Military Contexts: Effects of Flatter Structure and More Decentralized Processes. Military Psychology. 23 (3), p315-31.
Bjørnstad, A, L. Lichacz, F, M, J. (2013) “Organizational flexibility from a network organizational perspective: A study of central predictors and moderating factors in military contexts”, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 34 Issue: 8, pp.763–783,
Bolloten, B, (1991). The Spanish Civil War: Revolution and Counterrevolution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina. p66.
Caldwell, T. (2015). Hacktivism Goes Hardcore. Network Security. 2015 (5), p12-17.
Casonova, J (2004). Anarchism, the Republic and Civil War in Spain: 1931–39. 2nd ed. London: Routledge. p99-158.
Chapman, Ross L., Soosay, Claudine and Kandampally, Jay 2002, Innovation in logistic services and the new business model : a conceptual framework, Managing service quality, vol. 12, no. 6, pp. 358–371.
Chen, M. (2016). Worker Cooperatives Are More Productive Than Normal Companies. Available: www.thenation.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Cheney, G. Santa Cruz, I. Peredo, A, M. Nazareno, E. (2014). Worker cooperatives as an organizational alternative: Challenges, achievements and promise in business governance and ownership. Organisation. 21 (5), p591-602.
Chomsky, N. (1986). The Soviet Union Versus Socialism. Available: chomsky.info. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Chomsky, N. (1995). Noam Chomsky on Anarchism, Marxism & Hope for the Future. Available: www.ditext.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Chomsky, N. (2000). Globalization and its Discontents Noam Chomsky debates with Washington Post readers. Available: chomsky.info. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Chomsky, N. (2012/). What Was Leninism?, March 15th, 1989 (.Available: www.youtube.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Cote, R. (2013). The Five Remaining Communist Countries. Available: www.therichest.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Dandeker, C. (2003). Building Flexible Forces for the 21st Century: Key challenges for the contemporary armed services. In: Caforio, G Handbook of the Sociology of the Military. New York: Plenum Publishers. p415.
Dawkins, R (2006). The Selfish Gene. 30th anniversary ed. New York: Oxford University Press. p.viii.
Dolack, P. (2016). Working Collectively Beats Working for a Boss.Available: www.counterpunch.org. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Dolgof, S (1974). The Anarchist Collectives. Quebec: Black Rose Books. p6-7.
Engels, F. (1974/). On Authority. In: Bean, B. Daglish, R. and Ryanzanskaya, S, W. Marx, Engels, Lenin: Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism. 2nd ed. Moscow: Progress Publishers. p102-105.
Farber, S. (2015). Cuba’s Challenge. Available: www.jacobinmag.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Fuller, T. (2009). Communism and Capitalism Are Mixing in Laos.Available: www.nytimes.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Gelderloos (2010). Anarchy Works. San Fanscisco: Ardent Press. p245-247.
Goodman, W. (1986). PUTTING PIECES TOGETHER FOR SOVIET FAMINE BOOK. Available: www.nytimes.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Goodwin, A. (2010) Evolution and Anarchism in International Relations: The Challenge of Kropotkin’s Biological Ontology, Global Discourse, 1:2, p107-126.
Gray, C (1999). Modern Strategy. New York: Oxford University Press. p1-152.
Graeber, D (2004). Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press. p53-54.
Guardian [author not named]. (2016). One-party rule best for Vietnam, says leader.Available: www.theguardian.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Guevara; E, C (2006). Guerrilla Warfare. New York: Ocean Press. p1-128.
Harvey, R. (2016). Changing our view of worker co-operatives.Available: www.thenews.coop. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Herbst, M. (2012). America’s ‘actually existing’ worker-owned capitalism. Available: www.theguardian.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Hodgson, G. (2016). How Capitalism Actually Generates More Inequality. Available: evonomics.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
HS (hierarchy structure) [author not named]. (2017). Military Command Structure. Available: www.hierarchystructure.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Huffadine, L. (2016). Could our Census be hacked? How ‘Anonymous’ leaked thousands of usernames, passwords and emails from the US Census Bureau last year. Available: www.dailymail.co.uk. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Johnson, E. (2015). Ayn Rand vs. Anthropology. Available: evonomics.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Kitchen, M (1976). Fascism. Hampshire: Macmillan. p1-11.
Kropotkin, P (1902). Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution. New York: McClure, Philips & Co.. p1-328.
Kropotkin, P (1913). The Conquest of Bread. London: Chapman and Hall Ltd. p1-297.
Kvande, E. (2007). Doing gender in flexible organizations. Bergen, Norway: Fagbokforlaget.
Lenin, V (1999). “Left-Wing” Communism: an Infantile Disorder. Australia: Resistance Books. p1-136.
Logue & Yates. (2006). Cooperatives, Worker-Owned Enterprises, Productivity and the International Labor Organization. Sage Journals. 12 (4), p686-690.
Marshall, P (1993). Demanding the Impossible: A history of Anarchism. London: FontanaPress. p.iv-700.
Mason, P. (2015). Postcapitalism. London: Allen Lane, pp. 280–289
Miller, M (1976). Kropotkin. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p181-199.
Milne, S. (2006). Communism may be dead, but clearly not dead enough. Available: www.theguardian.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Munro, A. (2013). State monopoly on violence. Available: www.britannica.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Murphy, J. T (2006/). The Workers’ Committee An Outline of its Principles and Structure. www.marxists.org. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Perez, L, A. (1997). Revolution an Response. In: Perez, L, A Cuba and The United States: Ties of Singular Intimacy. 2nd ed. USA: University of Georgia Press. 238–273.
Prichard, A. (2011). What can the absence of anarchism tell us about the history and purpose of International Relations?. British International Studies Association. 37 (1), 1647–1669.
Phillips, P. (2012). Cuba Sets a Global Example for the Achievements of Socialism. Available: www.globalresearch.ca. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Porzuki, N. (2010). Can you name the five remaining communist countries in the world?. Available: www.pri.org. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Ranstorp. M (2005) Al-Qa’ida — An expanded global network of terror, The RUSI Journal, 150:3, 40–43.
Rosen, J. (1969). Is Cuba Socialist? – Elite Runs the Show. Available: www.marxists.org. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017. (Transcription: Paul Saba. credited to: Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line)
Rossdale, C. (2010). Anarchy is What Anarchists Make of it: Reclaiming the Concept of Agency in IR and Security Studies. Millennium: Journal of International Studies. 39 (1), 483–501.
Scott, J (2009). The art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia. London: Yale University Press. p64-178.
Stevens, A. Baker, N. (2006). Making Sense of War. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. p27-29.
Taylor, M (1982). Community, Anarchy and Liberty. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p1-168.
Trotsky, L. (1920). About the organisation of Labour. Available: www.marxists.org. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Vego, M. (2003). Net-centric is not decisive. U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, 129(1), 52–57
Woods, A. (2011). The Spanish Revolution Betrayed. Available: www.marxist.com. Last accessed 1st Sept 2017.
Zurbrugg, A. (2014). Socialism and Strategy: A Libertarian Critique of Leninism. Anarchist Studies. 22 (1), p17-51.