Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.
“What is the key to understanding ethics from a Jesus perspective?
The single most important question anyone can ask is: ‘What kind of person do I want to be?’
This question insists that we reach deep inside ourselves and dream.
Like most people across the globe we dream of being free; free within ourselves to achieve our full potential, free to express ourselves in a way that is true, and free from injustice.
Anarchists are one group of people who have endeavoured to live this dream.
We have seen they believe that each individual should be free to live their lives out of an inner sense of justice and kindness, and that law, in the way it imposes other people’s desires upon us, is essentially exploitative.” (i)
(What is below is an extract from this document)
These ideas have not just been plucked out of thin air. They have been developed by millions of people throughout the last few hundred years as they have fought back against the exploitation they have faced. This tradition of resistance often, but not always, described itself as communist. Anarchist communism is a living working class tradition that has worked in ways large and small throughout the history of capitalism. It does not come out of the abstract ideas of a few intellectuals but from the concrete actions of millions of people.
For many, the word communism is associated only with the tyranny of Soviet Russia or so-called Communist China. These societies were and are some of the worst tyrannies the world has ever seen, killing millions of people through famine, war and execution. As anarchists we don’t forget the prison camps, the slave labour, the unjust trials and executions – indeed anarchists were often the first people to suffer these attacks.
However, unlike the press who use the example of ‘communist’ Russia to claim that revolutionary change is impossible, anarchists also refuse to forget the example of the millions of ordinary people who fought against tyranny in Russia and all over the world in the name of true communism. These people organised themselves, without leaders, into groups that used direct democracy, meaning that everyone had an equal say in how things were run. They used direct action against first the state and capitalism, and then against the new Soviet tyranny.
The true communism that they fought for is the extension of these ways of working into every aspect of life. The communist slogan ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their need’ sums up the idea. Nobody should be short of anything that they need. Individuals receive goods and services because of how much they need them, not because of how much they can pay or how much they deserve them. People give back to society, through the work they do, according to what they want and are able to do. Everyone will have the chance to do interesting and creative work, instead of just a minority while everyone else is stuck with boring drudge work.
This society would be organised through local collectives and councils, organising themselves to make the decisions that need making and to do the work that needs doing. Everyone gets a say in decisions that concern them. We believe that in fighting for this kind of future we are fighting for the full freedom and equality of all. Only this will give everyone the chance to be whatever they can be.
It is the many examples of people organising and resisting in this way that we call the communist tradition. The workers councils of revolutionary Spain, Germany, Russia, Hungary, France, Mexico and on and on and on are the many examples that we look to when we think about how we can free ourselves and fight capitalism. Time and time again the world has seen ordinary people using direct action, self organisation and direct democracy to build new societies and lives for themselves. It is the ideas and successes of these people that we try to build on in today’s fight against exploitation.
Anarchist communism is more than an abstract vision of the future and it is more than a nostalgia for the revolutionary movements of the past. It is a living working class tradition that lays the foundations for the future society in the here and now. Everything we will be after capitalism we must learn under it and through the fight against it. The revolution is not and never can be a blank slate – that way lies the corpses piled up by ‘revolutionary’ terror in France and Russia and China and on and on and on. Instead, revolution must be built out of the materials to hand by people alive today. (ii)
BM Anarfed, London, WC1 3XX, UK
info @ afed.org.uk
(i) Moules, N. “Fingerprints of Fire, Footprints of peace” Circle books (2012)
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