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CAFARD, Max. "The Article that Deserves to Die! "

Tuesday 28 October 2003

(A Few Comments on a New York Times Article on Anarchism)" [1]

RE: Anarchism’s most memorable slogan, coined by Enrico Malatesta of Italy, is ’’propaganda by deed.’’

REPLY: Propaganda by the deed was NOT a mere "slogan" of Malatesta but rather a tactic of instigating rebellion through assassination and terror. It has NOT been advocated by most anarchists, who prefer to leave terrorism to the state, which specializes in it.

RE: Bakunin was "a heavily bearded Russian insurrectionist who helped foment uprisings across Europe in 1848," and whose "motto was, ’The urge to destroy is a creative urge.’Unlike Marx, Bakunin did not justify his theory as science. He described anarchists as people who know what they are fighting against more than what they are fighting for."

REPLY: Bakunin did NOT foment widely "across Europe" in 1848 (he stayed mainly in central Europe). His so-called "motto" was a phrase he came up with in an article of 1842, long before he was an anarchist, and he didn’t repeat it often. He DID think of his theory as science. He certainly thought anarchists knew what they were fighting FOR and wrote thousands of pages about it, including statements of principles and anarchist catechisms. He DID have a big beard!


RE: Anarchism reached critical mass as a revolutionary movement only once, during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39.

REPLY: It was largest then, but had long been a major mass movement in Spain. Revolutionary anarcho-syndicalism has also been a major force in the labor movements of France, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and other countries.

RE: "Anarchists . . . have also attacked the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund because these are seen as superseding national governments."

REPLY: The power of national governments is not really the thing dearest to the hearts of anarchists.

RE: "’For the first time since the 1960’s we are actually putting thought into action,’’ said John Zerzan, a leading anarchist thinker who lives in Eugene, Ore.

REPLY: I defer to local authorities, but many of us outside Eugene have not stopped putting thought into action over the past 30 years.

RE: ’’We are succeeding because the liberals failed,’’ he said. ’’We are less polite.’’.

REPLY: The liberals DID fail, but we are NOT succeeding yet, and we will NEVER do so because of what liberals do or do not do. Also, we know how to be much more radically polite than liberals do when we feel like it.

RE: "the computer and the Internet atomize society, create new divisions of labor, demand ever more efficiency and consume ever more leisure time. To cope with the increasing strains of our technology-driven society, alienated people by the millions are resorting to drugs like Ritalin and Prozac."

REPLY: True. Here I am atomistically sitting at my computer, typing away as efficiently as one possibly can with one finger, watching my leisure time slip away into the machine, desperately trying to cope, gulping down handfuls of Ritalin and Prozac.

RE: "Murray Bookchin, an 80-year-old Vermont-based social theorist who calls himself a communalist . . . says some anarchist groups have taken the ecological message too far, becoming misanthropic nihilists . . . ."

REPLY: I’ve met many hundreds of anarchists and never come across any (much less whole "groups" of them) who could be fairly described as "misanthropic nihilists." I’ve also met Murray Bookchin, who gives the distinct impression of being a misanthropic dogmatist.

RE: "’Just when there is rising interest among young people,’ Mr. Bookchin said, ’we are shooting ourselves in the foot.’"

REPLY: I once saw Mr. Bookchin drop his handgun while showing it off to somebody in the Goddard College cafeteria. I’m not surprised that he finally shot himself in the foot.

Yawz trooly,Max Cafard

[1These comments were sent to a young anarchist who forwarded to Max an article that appeared on the New York Times of May 8, 2000 .