July 31, 2006

ACLU targets Orlando ban on feeding of homeless

by Barbara Liston
Fri Jul 28, 5:47 PM ET

ORLANDO, Florida
The American Civil Liberties Union said on Friday it may challenge on religious grounds a new ordinance in Orlando banning the feeding of homeless people in downtown parks.

"The city is not going to be able to interfere with church groups and religious groups who are fulfilling their mission of feeding the homeless," said Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida ACLU.

"There may be other grounds on which the law may be vulnerable, but that one -- interference with freedom of religion -- seems to me to be the absolute clearest," he said.

The ordinance, passed on Monday, specifically bans regular feeding stations in parks within a 2-mile (3.2-km) radius of Orlando City Hall, where the city is undergoing a renaissance of new condominiums, office buildings and university campuses.

Simon said challenges to similar ordinances in places like Las Vegas had been most successful when focused on religious rights.

In a statement on Friday, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said, "The city's approval of this ordinance is not about whether or not to feed the homeless but instead where."

Dyer noted the city had set up tables, benches and portable toilets in a vacant lot a couple of blocks away from Orlando's Lake Eola Park specifically for homeless feeding stations. The lot is within 2 miles of City Hall but outside the banned park area itself.

Before filing a lawsuit, the ACLU is organizing a coalition of churches and other charitable groups, including the First Vagabond Church, to attempt a settlement with the city.

Barry said the coalition, Stop The Ordinance Partnership, would propose at a meeting on Monday that the city rescind the ordinance and create a facility where the homeless can drop in for meals, showers, medical care and other needs, thereby lessening the appeal of feeding stations in the park.

Homeless feedings at Lake Eola Park continued this week despite the ordinance when the group Food Not Bombs found a loophole and served casserole out of a van parked at the curb.

Congolese vote in historic peace poll

David Lewis in Kinshasa
July 30, 2006

MILLIONS of Congolese will vote today in historic elections aimed at ending years of war and chaos in the heart of Africa and protected by the world's biggest UN peacekeeping force.

From the crumbling capital Kinshasa through the thick jungles of the Congo river basin and the mist-shrouded peaks of the east, Congolese will participate in their first free elections in more than 40 years.

Schools, churches and tents in Democratic Republic of Congo will be transformed into 50,000 polling stations for more than 25 million voters.

Over 17,000 United Nations peacekeepers, backed by 1,000 European soldiers recently dispatched to the country, will try to ensure voting can take place across the former Belgian colony the size of Western Europe.

Those voting in Congo's lawless east will do so amid continued fears of attack by rebels while complaints over irregularities and an opposition boycott have already raised the spectre of violence and a rejection of the results.

"Everyone wants to go and vote to finish this for once for all," Godefrod Shimatsu, a 47 year-old secretary, told Reuters in Kinshasa.

Sunday's elections are the culmination of a three-year peace process which ended Congo's last war, a 1998-2003 conflict that sucked in six neighbouring countries and killed 4 million people, mostly from hunger and disease.

The vote is being billed as a test of democracy in Africa, in a country blessed with enormous mineral wealth that has known little but war and dictatorship since independence in 1960.

After decades of the late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko's rule, attempts at introducing democracy began in the early 1990s. However, two wars during the last decade have torn Congo apart.

"We (will) elect the president and he will be there for five years. Our fathers did not live long enough to see this. As their children, we have a chance to witness this," Mr Shimatsu said.

Incumbent President Joseph Kabila heads a list of 32 people, including former rebel chiefs, sons and a daughter of previous presidents and a Harvard-trained doctor, in the race for Congo's top job.

With more than 9700 others bidding for the 500 seats in the post-war parliament, many first-time voters will face ballot papers as thick as phone books.

Officials scrambled overnight to deliver voting materials to the furthest corners of the vast nation, using planes and helicopters, canoes, porters and even donkeys.

World leaders urged the people of Congo to vote peacefully.

"The (African Union) congratulates the Congolese people for their patience, courage and faith in the future, which they have shown during long periods of war and the three years of transition," the AU said in a statement issued Saturday.

The 53-nation group called on the Congolese to turn out in large numbers and vote peacefully.

However, the led-up to the polls has been marred by violence with riots erupting earlier this week in the capital while six people were killed during campaigning on Thursday.

July 30, 2006

9/11 Truth Conference on CSPAN TONIGHT!

CSPAN 8PM EST tonight

Cspan's schedule now confirms that the L.A. panel discussion on 9/11 will be broadcast Saturday night (TONIGHT!!) at 8 p.m. EST. This is the main CSpan channel, not book tv or another, less-viewed, channel (even David Ray Griffin's talk wasn't broadcast on the main CSpan channel).
Cspan's schedule now confirms that the L.A. panel discussion on 9/11 will be broadcast Saturday night at 8 p.m. EST. This is the main CSpan channel, not book tv or another, less-viewed, channel (even David Ray Griffin's talk wasn't broadcast on the main CSpan channel).

Webster Tarpley has this message to the 9/11 truth movement (via email):

Dear Friends --

The Sunday panel discussion from the Alex Jones Los Angeles conference will reportedly be telecast on C-SPAN this coming Saturday evening at 8pm and 11pm eastern time.

This discussion includes Alex Jones, Professor Steven Jones, Col. Robert Bowman, Professor James Fetrzer, and myself.

The mere fact that it has been scheduled pays tribute to the growing strength of our 9/11 truth movement.

I urge you to build the maximum audience for this important event, which represents our best opportunity of counteracting the escalation of the Middle East and North Korean crises towards thermonuclear World War III, by means a strong dose of 9/11 truth.

I call upon each of you to put aside other considerations for the next 48 hours and to mobilize all available forces to make this a turning point in world history. Let it be seen by 100,000,000 Americans, and we can turn the world back from the brink of the abyss.

Webster G. Tarpley

NATIONAL EXCLUSIVE: Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah Talks

Extra, Extra, Read All About IT!

NATIONAL EXCLUSIVE: Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah Talks With Former US Diplomats on Israel, Prisoners and Hezbollah’s. News you won't find on Australia's racist and bias TV.

The US government considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization, but several former former US diplomats sat down with the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, in Lebanon earlier this year. In a US national exclusive, we play excerpts of the interview, and speak to former US Ambassador and White House Terrorism Task Force Director Edward Peck, who took part in the meeting. [includes rush transcript]

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah is the leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Although the United States considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization, three former U.S. diplomats had a chance to meet with Nasrallah this past February in Lebanon. The diplomats were members of a delegation organized by the Council for the National Interest.

During the meeting, Nasrallah discussed Hezbollah’s strategy to free Lebanese prisoners being held in Israel. He also spoke about the origins of Hezbollah, and recounted an event that is back in the news this week—Israel’s bombing of a UN observation post in the southern Lebanese town of Qana in 1996 which killed 106 Lebanese refugees.

One of the retired diplomats who met with Nasrallah in February was Edward Peck - he joins us from our Washington studio. Edward Peck is the former U.S. chief of mission in Iraq and ambassador to Mauritania. He served as the deputy director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism in the Reagan administration.

Edward Peck. Former U.S. Chief of Mission in Iraq and ambassador to Mauritania. He served as deputy director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism in the Reagan Administration.

JUAN GONZALEZ: During the meeting, Nasrallah was asked about Hezbollah's strategy to free Lebanese prisoners being held in Israel. This was his response.

SHEIKH SAYYED HASSAN NASRALLAH: [translated] The only possible strategy is for you to have Israeli prisoners, soldiers, the soldiers as prisoners, and then you negotiate with the Israelis in order to have your prisoners released. Here, this is the only choice. Here, you don't have multiple choices in order for you to choose one of them. You have no multiple choices. You have two options, either to have these prisoners or detainees remain in Israeli prisons or to capture Israeli soldiers.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. One of the retired diplomats who met with Nasrallah in February is Edward Peck. When we come back from our break, he joins us in studio. Edward Peck, former U.S. Chief of Mission in Iraq and ambassador to Mauritania.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn to one of the retired diplomats who met with Hassan Nasrallah in February, Edward Peck. He is the former U.S. Chief of Mission in Iraq and ambassador to Mauritania, served as the Deputy Director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism in the Reagan administration. We welcome to you Democracy Now!, Ambassador Peck.

EDWARD PECK: Thank you, ma'am.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Can you describe this meeting you had with the head of Hezbollah in Lebanon? And then we'll talk about the content of what he had to say, because this was before the capture of the two soldiers, and he basically said this was the plan.

EDWARD PECK: Well, we were out there as international election observers in Gaza for the election, and then we traveled elsewhere through the area, to Israel, to the West Bank, to Jordan, Syria, and finally to Lebanon, where we met with Nasrallah. We had spoken already with senior officials in Egypt and for Hamas and Fatah and the presidents of Syria and Lebanon in an effort, which the Council for the National Interest was sponsoring, to get a feeling for the area, how it was at that time in January.

It was interesting to meet with him, because we had already met with leaders of Hamas and Fatah before and after the election was over in Palestine, and his point was a fairly simple one, I think. Talking to us, retired diplomats, Americans, his key concerns were essentially how to free his country from the domination, which he perceived, and how to go about building the nation up again, despite all of the things that had happened to it over the years.

So it was a logical, reasonable presentation. No screaming, no shrieking. You know, just an educated intelligent man talking about serious issues that he perceived. It was interesting in the sense that the projection of people like that in this country is of, you know, blood-soaked wackos, and there are some of those out there on all sides, but that certainly was not the case with him. He believes very strongly in what he’s doing, which is something that you want to think about as you deal with him, because he is intent on accomplishing the objectives that he believes are the right ones.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And this issue of using Israeli, capturing Israeli soldiers to, in essence, trade for Lebanese prisoners is not unheard of, actually. Didn’t Nasrallah negotiate a major prisoner release back in 2004?

EDWARD PECK: Yes, and the Palestinians and the Israelis and the Lebanese, Hezbollah and Israelis have negotiated prisoner exchanges before. As I think you're aware, the Israelis have been holding a number of Lebanese as prisoners that they kidnapped from Lebanon, which is one of the contentious issues that upsets the folks on the northern side of that border.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, he was very clear, Nasrallah, saying the only possible strategy is to have Israeli prisoners and soldiers as prisoners, and then you negotiate in order to get your prisoners. This is the only choice. You don't have multiple choices in order for you to choose. You have the two options, either to have your detainees remain in Israeli prisons or to capture an Israeli soldier.

EDWARD PECK: Yeah, and it’s called a bargaining chip. It’s kind of a demeaning phrase, but if you've got some, and we've got some, then perhaps we can make an exchange. And that has indeed happened before. One of the things that concerns me, of course, is that I am not convinced that it’s the capture of those two soldiers, which has provoked this horrific Israeli response. I believe they were looking for an excuse, and there it was, and this is what’s happened since.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let's go back to this videotape that we have gotten a copy of. During your meeting with Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, he also discussed the founding of Hezbollah.

SHEIKH SAYYED HASSAN NASRALLAH: [translated] You know that in the year 1978, the Israelis invaded South Lebanon, and the UN Security Council issued or passed the Resolution 425. They requested that the Israeli forces immediately withdraw from South Lebanon, and the Israelis did not. On the contrary, in the year 1982, they invaded more Lebanese territory. They even occupied the capital, Beirut. Mr. Sharon was the defense minister then.

Between 1978, 1982, up ’til the year 2000, the international community did nothing to help the Israeli occupation forces out of Lebanon, nor did it, meaning the international community, do anything to prevent these aggressions on Lebanon. There was a resolution called 425, but it was put on the shelf. We, as Lebanese, were left to face our fate.

Lebanon is a small country, weak, an army with very humble capabilities. What is first is that the people is torn as a result of the civil war, while facing the strongest army in the Middle East, meaning the Israeli Army. Not only the international community, specifically the U.S. administration, did nothing, there's also the Arab League, the OIC, Organization of Islamic Countries, nobody did anything.

We are a group of Lebanese youth. We took the decision that we needed to confront and resist the occupation. The resistance which we have established, when we started with it, I was -- our ages, he’s talking about the ages of the young who took part in this -- I was 22 years old then. The oldest among us was 27 years old, because those who were over 30 then believed that it was impossible to defeat Israel. They viewed themselves as sage, as wise people, and they viewed us or considered us as the crazy youth.

AMY GOODMAN: Hezbollah founder Hassan Nasrallah, speaking with a group -- leader, not founder -- speaking with a group of U.S. diplomats, including Ambassador Edward Peck, who joins us in our studio in Washington. Juan?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Ambassador, he mentions there this UN Resolution 425, which obviously is almost ancient history, forgotten in current crisis. But Israel is constantly mentioning UN Resolution 1559, and there are some, including Hezbollah, who believe that that resolution doesn't really apply to Hezbollah, per se. Could you explain that and the differences of opinion about even this latest resolution?

EDWARD PECK: Well, let me start with saying that people in the Middle East, for obvious reasons, find it sort of ironic that Israel is now insisting on the implementation of 1559, whereas, as Nasrallah said, they ignored this earlier Security Council resolution demanding that they remove themselves from South Lebanon for 20 years, that that’s called selective morality. Everybody practices that, but it kind of cuts the ground up from under your stance if you think that only certain Security Council resolutions should be enforced.

Hezbollah, the problem we face -- the problem the Lebanese government faces is that Hezbollah is a political party, as you’re aware, that does a lot of things in the humanitarian and social field, which is good, and does some things in the military field, which certain people consider to be not good. And the Lebanese government, which is weak and riven, as you know, by the many, many sectarian groups and the differences that they have religiously and socially, is in no position whatsoever to take on Hezbollah. That would be a civil war. And while Israel does not mind necessarily seeing that happen, would like very much to have Hezbollah go away, there’s no way in the world, as far as I can tell, that the Lebanese would even consider undertaking this. And this was made clear to us by the leaders of the Lebanese government with whom we also met on that trip.

AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador Peck, did you have any inkling, when you met with Nasrallah, after talking to him, that something was imminent, that some kind of action was going to be taken?

EDWARD PECK: No, ma'am. Certainly not from that meeting. But those of us who have lived in and worked on that part of the world for a long -- well, for any length of time recognize that eventually there’s going to be some kind of an explosion, to use the phrase correctly, because the situations like that, just they're rumbling. They’re like, you know, semi-nascent volcanic eruptions. Something is going to happen. But certainly, there was no indication at that moment that I detected, nor my colleagues either, that something like this was going to transpire.

And it’s worthwhile noticing, by the way, that what some people call the disproportionality of the Israeli reaction -- if I could, I have a piece of paper here I would like to quote from, if I may, because this discussion comes up so many times. In 1985, when I was the Deputy Director of the Reagan White House Task Force on Terrorism, they asked us -- this is a Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism; I was the Deputy Director of the working group -- they asked us to come up with a definition of terrorism that could be used throughout the government. We produced about six, and each and every case, they were rejected, because careful reading would indicate that our own country had been involved in some of those activities.

After the task force concluded its work, Congress got into it, and you can google into U.S. Code Title 18, Section 2331, and read the U.S. definition of terrorism. And one of them in here says -- one of the terms, “international terrorism,” means “activities that,” I quote, “appear to be intended to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.”

Yes, well, certainly, you can think of a number of countries that have been involved in such activities. Ours is one of them. Israel is another. And so, the terrorist, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. And I think it’s useful for people who discuss that phrase to remember that Israel was founded by terrorist organizations and terrorist leaders, Menachem Begin, who became statesmen and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize. And Nasrallah may not be the same kind of guy, but his intentions are the same. He wants to free his country from domination by another.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go back to the videotape. Nasrallah also mentioned an event that’s back in the news this week, and that’s Israel's bombing of a UN observation post in the southern Lebanese town of Qana in 1996. In that attack ten years ago, about 106 refugees were killed.

SHEIKH SAYYED HASSAN NASRALLAH: [translated] Between the years 1985 and the year 2000, we went on with the resistance. There was, for example, the Qana massacre. You’ve heard about that. The UN Security Council did not to condemn the Qana massacre, due to the U.S. veto. In other words, our experience with the international community, first, it does not protect us, meaning it does not prevent Israeli aggressions on Lebanon. And even after the aggression takes place, they do not even condemn the aggressor. On the contrary, they condemn the victim and regard those who defend themselves as terrorists.

AMY GOODMAN: Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, speaking with U.S. diplomats in February, among them, Ambassador Edward Peck, who is the former Deputy Director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism in the Reagan administration, joining us in Washington. You were meeting with Nasrallah, as, of course, the occupation and the war in Iraq continued. What effect was that having on him? How did he describe that?

EDWARD PECK: I don't remember directly, but one of the things that we spoke -- I have to tell you that we spoke to so many interesting people, interesting in the sense of having things to say that we needed to hear, that I would have to remind myself. But I think it’s important for Americans to try to understand that those dots are connected. There is, in the minds of the people in that part of the world, at the very minimum, a connection between Palestine, West Bank and Gaza and Lebanon and Iraq and Afghanistan and the threats against Syria and Iran. And Nasrallah, who is an educated man, is certainly aware that these things are indeed linked, and he probably, and I have to -- I’m open to correction -- he probably implied that there was a direct connection between what America's involved in in Iraq and the American concerns with the security and safety of Israel at any cost.

JUAN GONZALEZ: In your opinion as a veteran diplomat, what is the impact of these United States actions in the world at large, especially in the Arab world? How is our standing in the eyes of the Arab world developing, especially now in this latest Lebanon situation?

EDWARD PECK: Well, the latest situation is merely, you know, further indications of the sorts of things that they had already come to believe. There are facts and there are facts, and then there are perceptions, and perceptions are the only reality. And the perceptions, in the minds of an awful lot of people in the Arab world and Europe and elsewhere, reflects the loss of American prestige, credibility, respect, as we go on doing things, which seem in the eyes of others to be irrational and unjustifiable.

And now, when we have stepped up and say -- you know, the first thing that you do in any struggle anywhere in the world is try to get a ceasefire so you can work on solving or trying to solve underlying problems. And then the United States says, “No, no. No ceasefire. Let's let them go on bombing and killing.” I think that the damage to us is not only vital, I think it is going to have a lasting effect on our relations with the rest of the world commercially, socially, culturally, in every way imaginable.

AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador Peck, the way the Western media deals with al-Qaeda, with Hamas, with Hezbollah, is sort of basically massing them all together. You have been meeting with people individually. What is your sense? I mean, the latest news, al-Qaeda releasing a new recording urging Muslims to attack Israel and its allies over the ongoing attacks in Lebanon and Gaza. What is your sense of where they agree and disagree and how much they work together?

EDWARD PECK: I guess it’s the sort of thing that you could see -- it's a clumsy analogy, but it’s the sort of thing where Democrats and Republicans will work together towards the achievement of an objective that they both see desirable, and as soon as that is over, they’ll go back to squabbling again.

And I think that that’s the sort of thing that applies with any political, economic, military operation, so that Hezbollah and Hamas, which are from different sects, different sections of Islam, are perfectly prepared, for example, to take money and arms, if they can get them, from Iran. But they have no desire, certainly in the case of Hamas, to become a Shiite-dominated fundamentalist government. It’s in the same way that we provide arms and money and so forth to Israel, but Israel certainly does not do our bidding, as we have seen many times, especially since we don't ask them to do much.

The linkage of America with Israel with this perceived war on Islam is, to me, deeply concerning, because history has shown that you can build tremendous pressures of that kind, especially in societies which tend to be less developed than our own, which tend to be less well educated than our own in many cases, and which become -- you know, they're more traditional than we are, and you can generate an awful lot of anger and resentment, which we have succeeded in doing.

AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador Peck, I want to thank you very much for being with us, former ambassador to Mauritania.

EDWARD PECK: Sorry to talk so much.

AMY GOODMAN: No. Thank you very much for speaking with us, speaking with us from Washington. Former White House Task Force Deputy Director on Terrorism in the Reagan administration.


ALF Liberate Goats from British Military Labs

The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) have broken into a military research centre and taken a group of goats that were due to be part of painful experiments.

According to a communiqué released by the individual cell responsible: "How many times have we heard that a job is impossible? That’s exactly what we thought when we heard about diving experiments being carried out for the navy by QinetiQ at the Centre for Human Sciences. Experience however has taught us that where there is a will, there’s a way."

Nine members of the ALF each took a goat and made off across a golf course to a waiting van. The group said it decided to take action after having received information that the animals are used for decompression tests by QinetiQ, which runs the Centre for Human Sciences.

"We had a tight time-scale, as reconnaissance had revealed this to be a busy area, surrounded by military bases. The difficult decision had been taken to only bring in one removal van, as loading any more in this area was going to bring it on top. Once dusk had settled we went to work, cutting through the perimeter fence of the ex-MOD base. Within minutes we had gained access to the goat enclosure and began rounding up the smaller animals."

The communiqué goes onto to say that "the nine beautiful young goats all made it safely to their new homes, where they can live out the rest of their natural lives free from a crushing death in the hyperbaric chamber."

The chamber is used for marine research. It simulates the decompression divers go through at varying depths and can result in the goats suffering from the bends, the effects of which include joint pain, visual disturbances, loss of balance, breathing difficulties, paralysis and death. A spokeswoman for QinetiQ said the tests it carries out are under strict guidelines from the Home Office.

However the communiqué states that "QinetiQ say that the tests are vital to help with submarine disasters, and other deep water emergencies. An example they give is of the Kursk, a Russian submarine which tragically sunk in 2001. QinetiQ claim that they gave ‘useful’ advice to the Russians. Despite the advice, all 118 people on board the Kursk died. The effects of compression and decompression are well known and documented.

"Ascending from deep sea too rapidly causes decompression sickness (or the “bends”) which can be fatal. The experiments being carried out by QinetiQ are sickening repeats, which have been going on for decades. As the French navy now use computer simulations and human trials it is high time the British MOD came out of the dark ages and began using ethical and reliable science. We call on QinetiQ to halt these experiments and hand all surviving animals over to suitable animal protection groups."

The communiqué ends by dedicating the action to Gari Allen, the long time animal rights campaigner and former ALF prisoner who recently died.

July 29, 2006

Malatesta’s Anarchist Vision of Life After Capitalism

by Wayne Price

The Anarchist Method

Anarchism has been challenged for its supposed lack of vision about post-revolutionary society. In particular, Michael Albert challenges the great anarchist Malatesta. Actually Malatesta did have a post-capitalist vision. it was not a formal model but a set of ideas which were to be developed through experimentation, flexibility, and pluralism. The highpoints of his political life are outlined. His ideas are contrasted with that of other great radicals.


One of the most prominent attempts to present a model for a post-capitalist society has been the theory of Parecon (“participatory economics”). One of its two founders, Michael Albert, has written a new book (2006) with the subtitle of “Life Beyond Capitalism.” Among other topics, he criticizes anarchists for their lack of a vision of what institutions a new society would have. Anarchism “...often dismisses the idea of vision, much less of providing a new political vision, as irrelevant or worse.” (p. 175) He makes the same charge against the Marxists, even the “libertarian Marxists or anarcho marxists...[who are] the best Marxism has to offer.” (p. 159) In my opinion, there is truth in this accusation, especially for the mainstream Marxists, but also the libertarian Marxists and even anarchists. At the same time, it is exaggerated. His appreciation of the positive proposals of anarchists and other libertarian socialists is clouded by a desire to see fully worked-out programs for a new society, such as his Parecon, which leads him to ignore valuable, if less detailed, antiauthoritarian proposals.

For example, Albert refers to the great Italian anarchist, “Errico Malatesta tells us...that what anarchists want, ‘is the complete destruction of the domination and exploitation of person by person...a conscious and desired solidarity.....We want bread, freedom, love, and science--for everybody’. Yes, yes, but how?” (p. 176) So Albert challenges Malatesta. “Yes, yes, but how?” Well, how did Malatesta believe that everybody would achieve “bread, freedom, love, and science” in an anarchist society? That is my topic here. As I will show, he did not have a developed blueprint, but he did have an approach to developing anarchist institutions--the anarchist method.
Who Was Malatesta?
But first, who was Errico Malatesta? Born to a middle class Italian family in 1853, he made his living as an electrician and mechanic. He personally knew Michael Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin, but unlike either he lived to see the rise of fascism. He was imprisoned many times and sentenced to death three times. Due to political persecution in italy, he spent over half his adult life in exile. He lived in the Middle East, in South America, in the United States, and, for about 19 years, in Britain. Dying at 79 in 1932, he had spent his last years under house arrest in fascist Italy.

As a young man, he participated in a couple of fruitless little uprisings, attempts to spark peasant rebellions without first being assured of popular support. (Pernicone, 1993) He abandoned that for a more thought-out approach, but he never ceased being a revolutionary (unlike Michael Albert who does not seem to believe in revolution). He criticized those anarchist-syndicalists who believed that a revolution could be won nonviolently, by “folding arms,” just through a general strike. The capitalists and their state could not be beaten, he insisted, without some armed struggle. Because he was an advocate of popular revolution, however, he did not support the bomb-throwing and assassination tactics (“attentats”) of anarchist terrorists . (Malatesta, 1999)

To Malatesta, “There are two factions among those who call themselves anarchists...: supporters and opponents of organization.” (1984, p. 84) These differences continue to this day. Malatesta was a pro-organizationalist anarchist. Aside from disagreements with anti-organizationalist anarchists such as individualists, this was also the basis for his dispute with the anarchist-syndicalists. In the international anarchist conference of 1907, he debated the French anarchist Pierre Monatte (1881--1960). Monatte argued that anarchists should stop concentrating on small-group propaganda, putting out small newspapers and pamphlets, and should get into the work of building unions (syndicates) with other workers. Malatesta was not against building unions. In Argentina, he participated in building the Bakers’ Union, one of the first labor unions there. But he opposed any tendency to dissolve anarchists into mass organizations. Effective unions had to include workers with all sorts of politics--revolutionary and reformist, statist and anarchist. And effective unions had to concentrate on winning reform struggles for better wages and conditions through bargaining with the capitalists--at least in nonrevolutionary times, which was most of the time. Therefore he insisted that revolutionary anarchists should also form specific organizations of anarchists only, to raise anarchist politics inside and outside of unions.

With hindsight, it is clear that Monatte was right about the need to join and build unions. The anarchist militants greatly expanded their influence among the workers through this work in several countries. However, Malatesta was also right. This became clear as the French unions which the anarchist-syndicalists had worked to build became dominated by hardheaded “practical” officials. Then when World War I began, these union leaderships became supporters of the imperialist war. (Monatte opposed it and remained a revolutionary.)

Today we pro-organizationalist anarchists, calling ourselves “platformists” or “especifistas,” agree with Malatesta about the need for two types of organizations: the mass organization and the narrower revolutionary organization with more political agreement. Even many (but not all) of today’s anarchist-syndicalists would agree. Malatesta did reject the specific draft proposals of the Organizational Platform of Libertarian Communists, written by Makhno, Arshinov, and others, which has since inspired the platformist tendency among anarchists. I will not review the discussion between Malatesta and the original platformists. Whether he was right or wrong on this issue, Malatesta continued to support a pro-organizational position.

When the First World War broke out in 1914, Kropotkin and a few other well-known anarchists supported the Allied side. Despite his long friendship with Kropotkin, Malatesta denounced this stance, calling its supporters “pro-government anarchists.” (Trotskyists like to throw in our faces that Kropotkin supported this imperialist war. True, but so did most of the Marxist parties and leaders at the time. For example, George Plekhanov, founding father of Russian Marxism, supported the war. Unlike the world’s Marxists, however, the majority of anarchists were in revolutionary opposition to it. )

Malatesta’s last battle followed his return to Italy. As an editor of revolutionary publications, he worked with other anarchists and the anarchist-syndicalist unions. They tried to form a united front with the Socialist Party and the Communist Party and their unions to beat back the fascists, through self-defense, confrontations, and political strikes. But the Socialists and Communists would not cooperate with the anarchists or with each other (the Socialists signed a peace pact with the fascists at one point and the Communists were in a super-sectarian phase under the leadership of Bordiga). And fascism came to power. (Rivista Anarchica 1989)
The Anarchist Method
All his adult life Malatesta identified with the tradition of libertarian (anarchist) communism. This was his goal, a society where all land and means of production were held in common and there was no use of money. Everyone would work as well as they could and would receive what they needed from the common store of products (“from each according to ability, to each according to need”). “Free associations and federations of producers and consumers” (1984, p. 17) would manage the economy “through an intelligent decentralization.” (p. 25). This would provide economic planning from below. His economic vision went along with the goals of abolition of the state, of national borders and nationalist passions, as well as with the “reconstruction of the family” (p. 17) and the liberation of women.

However, over time he came to be critical of some anarchist-communist thinking, which he found too simplistic. He criticized “the Kropotkinian conception...which I personally find too optimistic, too easy-going, too trusting in natural harmonies....” (1984, p. 34) He continued to believe in communist anarchism, but in a more flexible fashion. “Imposed communism would be the most detestable tyranny that the human mind could conceive. And free and voluntary communism is ironical if one has not the right and the possibility to live in a different regime, collectivist, mutualist, individualist--as one wishes, always on condition that there is no oppression or exploitation of others.” (1984, p. 103)

Malatesta warned against believing that we have the Absolute Truth, as do religious people or Marxists. “One may, therefore, prefer communism, or individualism, or collectivism, or any other system, and work by example and propaganda for the achievement of one’s personal preferences, but one must beware, at the risk of certain disaster, of supposing that ones system is the only, and infallible, one, good for all men, everywhere and for all times, and that its success must be assured at all costs, by means other than those which depend on persuasion, which spring from the evidence of facts.” (1984, pp. 27--28)

His goal continued to be free communism, while understanding that others believed in “collectivism,” that is, common ownership but rewarding workers according to how they work (Parecon includes a version of this), or “individualism,” that is, as much individual ownership and small scale production as possible.

After a revolution, “probably every possible form of possession and utilization of the means of production and all ways of distribution of produce will be tried out at the same time in one or many regions, and they will combine and be modified in various ways until experience will indicate which form, or forms, is or are, the most suitable. In the meantime, the need for not interrupting production and the impossibility of suspending consumption of the necessities of life will make it necessary to take decisions for the continuation of daily life at the same time as expropriation proceeds. One will have to do the best one can, and so long as one prevents the constitution and consolidation of new privilege, there will be time to find the best solutions.” (1984, p. 104)

Is it likely that every region and national cultures will chose the exact same version of libertarian socialist society? Will every industry, from the production of steel to the education of children be managed in precisely the same manner?

“For my part, I do not believe there is ‘one solution’ to the social problems, but a thousand different and changing solutions in the same way as social existence is different and varied in time and space. After all, every institution, project or utopia would be equally good to solve the problem of human contentedness, if everybody had the same needs, the same opinions, or lived under the same conditions. But since such unanimity of thought and identical conditions are impossible (as well as, in my opinion, undesirable) we must...always bear in mind that we are not ...living in a world populated only by anarchists. For a long time to come, we shall be a relatively small minority....We must find ways of living among nonanarchists, as anarchistical as possible....” (1984, pp. 151--152)

This would be true not only now but even after a revolution. We cannot assume that even when the workers have agreed to overthrow capitalism, they would agree to immediately create a fully anarchist-communist society. What if small farmers insist on being paid for their crops in money? They may give up this opinion once it is obvious that industry will provide them with goods, but first they must not be coerced into giving up their crops under conditions they reject.

“After the revolution, that is, after the defeat of the existing powers and the overwhelming victory of the forces of insurrection, what then? It is then that gradualism really comes into operation. We shall have to study all the practical problems of life: production, exchange, the means of communication, relations between anarchist groupings and those living under under some kind of authority....And in every problem [anarchists] should prefer the solutions which not only are economically superior but which satisfy the need for justice and freedom and leave the way open for future improvements....” (1984, p. 173)

It is precisely this flexibility, pluralism, and experimentalism which characterizes anarchism in Malatesta’s view and makes it a superior approach to the problems of life after capitalism.

“...Only anarchy points the way along which they can find, by trial and error, that solution which best satisfies the dictates of science as well as the needs and wishes of everybody. How will children be educated? We don’t know. So what will happen? Parents, pedagogues and all who are concerned with the future of the young generation will come together, will discuss, will agree or divide according to the views they hold, and will put into practice the methods which they think are the best. And with practice that method which in fact is the best will in the end be adopted. And similarly with all problems which present themselves.” (1974, p. 47)

Malatesta stopped calling himself a "communist," partly for the reasons given above, while continuing to declare that libertarian communism was his goal. The other reason was that the Leninists had effectively taken over the term (with the help of the capitalists, who agreed--insisted-- that this was what "communism" really was). “...The communist-anarchists will gradually abandon the term ‘communist’; it is growing in ambivalence and falling into disrepute as a result of Russian ‘communist’ despotism....We may have to abandon the term ‘communist’ for fear that our ideal of free human solidarity will be confused with the avaricious despotism which has for some while triumphed in Russia....” (1995, p. 20) If this was true in the 1920s, it has become much more true by now, after about 80 years of Leninist/Stalinist rule under the banner of Communism. Unfortunately, the term “communist” may have a negative impact (setting up a barrier between us and many workers) due to its history. This will vary from country to country, however. Instead, Malatesta preferred the vaguer and more generic title of “socialist-anarchists.” (1984, p. 143)
Related Views
Others have pointed to the flexible and experimental approach as central to the anarchist program. For example, Paul Goodman, the most prominent anarchist of the 60s, wrote: “I am not proposing a system....It is improbable that there could be a single appropriate style of organization or economy to fit all the functions of society, any more than there could be--or ought to be--a single mode of education, ‘going to school,’ that suits everybody....We are in a period of excessive centralization....In many functions this style is economically inefficient, technologically unnecessary, and humanly damaging. Therefore we might adopt a political maxim: to decentralize where, how, and how much [as] is expedient. But where, how, and how much are empirical questions. They require research and experiment.” (1965, p. 27)

Goodman had many insights. However, he was a reformist--in favor of gradualism now, while Malatesta only advocated “gradualism” after a revolution. Like Bakunin, Kropotkin, and Marx, Malatesta was a revolutionary. Similarly, Goodman advocated a “mixed system,” similar to (his image of) the Scandinavian countries, which included both capitalist corporations and cooperatives. But Malatesta was only for a “mixed system” which did not include exploitation. It might include various forms of producer and consumer cooperatives and federations, as well as individual workshops or farms, perhaps, but not capitalist enterprises which hired wage labor.

Anarchist experimentalism may seem to resemble the Marxist concept of a post-revolution transitional period. This was first raised in Marx’s “Critique of the Gotha Program.” (1974, pp. 339--359) He expected society after a revolution to still show the bad effects of coming out of capitalism. This would be “the first phase of communist society,” to be followed eventually, when production has increased sufficiently, by the “more advanced phase of communist society.” (Marx, 1974, p. 347) (For reasons known only to him, Lenin was to call these phases “socialism” and “communism.”) Politically this transition would take “the state...form of a revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.” (p. 355) Unlike Parecon, Marx was clear that the “first phase,” precisely because it could not yet implement full communism, was following bourgeois norms. Unlike Parecon, he expected it to develop into free communism. (This might happen by the expansion of free-for-all services as society became more productive).

Whatever the virtues of this set of ideas, they have been used by Marxists to justify Leninist-Stalinist totalitarianism--since, after all, we cannot expect post-revolutionary society to immediately fulfill the libertarian-democratic goals of classical communism. This was not Marx’s intention; by the dictatorship of the proletariat he meant something like the Paris Commune. But that is how the "transitional period" concept has been used by Marxist-Leninists.

Both Marx and Malatesta believed that it is not possible to immediately leap into a completely classless, moneyless, noncoercive, nonoppressive, society. However, Marx’s concept, despite its insights, was rigid, stating that the lower phase of communism would be thus-and-so (as laid out in “The Critique”), which would come to pass in the course of the Historical Process. Malatesta preferred to make suggestions while leaving things open to pluralistic experiment. Also, Marx included a belief that some form of the state will be necessary--instead of thinking about how working people will be able to provide social protection without the bureaucratic-military machinery of a state. (Malatesta advocated a popular militia.)

According to Bakunin’s friend, James Guillaume, Bakunin’s economic goal was libertarian communism, but he did not believe it could be immediately and universally implemented. “In the meantime, each community will decide for itself during the transition period the method they deem best for the distribution of the products of associated labor.” (Guillaume, 1980, p. 362) This is very similar to Malatesta’s approach.

To return to Michael Albert’s challenge to Malatesta, “Yes, yes, but how?” Malatesta did not have a worked-out model for what anarchist socialism should be immediately after a revolution. He did not believe in such an approach. Yet he was not for “anything goes.” He advocated that working people take over the means of production and distribution and organize ourselves to run them directly through free association and federation. It was just such a self-managed society which would be capable of an experimental and flexible method. However, this was “always on condition that there is no oppression or exploitation of others.” He was not against speculations or programs, so long as they were presented with a certain modesty and willingness to see them change in practice. He might have appreciated Parecon as a set of ideas for after a revolution, although not as a completed blueprint for what must be done. His goal was libertarian communism, but he was willing to see progress toward his goal go through various paths.

Jesus is in my computer

by MickeyZ
Question #1: How many of you believe in the whole virgin birth/god-sent-his-son-to-save-us theory?

Question #2: How many of you believe in UFOs?

Sit tight...I'm going somewhere with this.

So, if you believe there's life on other planets and you believe there's a god who sent his son to earth, who did this god send to the other planets to save them (assuming those planets are also chock full of sinners)? Is Jesus rocketing all over the solar system or does G-d have other kids? Better question: Is the Almighty doing the whole virgin birth thing on other planets or is someone actually getting laid out there in the universe?

Here's the best question of all: If an omnipotent god wanted to spread his message and save his people, why did he send his son to Bethlehem in the Year Zero? Call me crazy, but I'm thinking if he set up Jesus in a Times Square office with a laptop and a wireless connection, well...you get the idea. Let's face it, dumping the messiah into a manger in a small town in Palestine some 2000 years ago ain't exactly the type of decision an omnipotent being would make. I mean, I'm reaching more people on-line in one day than Jesus met in his entire life.

Hmm...that gives me an idea.

What if I told you (and anyone who'll listen) that Jesus was talking to me through my computer? You know the drill, a suburban housewife claims to see Jesus in her toaster and the Mel Gibson crowd lines up outside her door for miles just to see it. Funny how it works, huh? America is blowing up babies in Iraq but Jesus chooses to appear in a kitchen appliance in Levittown. Talk about "mysterious ways."

Anyway, if I were persistent enough and sincere enough, it just might work. (Believe me...after 12 years of Catholic school, I can talk the talk.) Imagine this: I get the "700 Club" viewers to buy into my story that the son of god is chatting with me through my computer. Then, once the Jesus freaks are on my side, the politicians can't fuck with me. Nobody challenges a prophet, right? (Ain't that so, Mr. Koresh?)

That's when the fun begins. Once I achieve prophet status, I get myself interviewed by Larry King and "60 Minutes" and Oprah and I tell the world that Jesus is not exactly thrilled with landmines, depleted uranium, and daisy cutters. The IMF and WTO and World Bank and NAFTA? All the work of the devil. Stuff like strip malls and strip mining: positively satanic. In fact, capitalism was created in the depths of hell right alongside the U.S. military budget and Bill O'Reilly.

Imagine how famous I'd be. Maybe then, I'd finally write a book that sells.

So, whaddya think?

Mickey Z. is can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.

Canada, Ottawa, ANARCHIST DISCUSSION: Work and Power - Aug 6

Date/Time/Location == Sunday, Aug 6/2006 @ 1:30pm

Jack Purcell Community Centre (near Elgin and Gilmour)

Description == Under the capitalist system, people have varying amounts of power
based on their role in the economy. A tiny minority (i.e. the capitalist class)
controls most of the wealth and power while the majority of people (the working class)are forced to sell their labour in order to survive. Many in the working class who are unable or unwilling to work are marginalized and live in dire poverty. This class hierarchy is not only present in the workplace, it plays out everywhere in our society.

We will also explore the how class domination and other forms of oppression such as sexism and racism interact.

The Anarchist Discussion Group meets every second Sunday afternoon. We are
local Ottawa activists and community members who share an anti-authoritarian
and anti-capitalist viewpoint. We are involved in diverse struggles and
believe in the importance of maintaining a link between theory and practice.
Discussions are based on readings, presentations or short films. If there
are readings, they are optional and will be summarized at the beginning of
the discussion. Printouts of readings are available from OPIRG at U of O.

All are welcome. Accessible! Child-friendly!

Contact a_ottawa@mutualaid.org for more information.

July 28, 2006


Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.

There's nothing you can do that can't be done.

Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.

Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game

It's easy.

There's nothing you can make that can't be made.

No one you can save that can't be saved.

Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be in time

It's easy.

All you need is love, all you need is love,

All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.

All you need is love, all you need is love,

All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

There's nothing you can know that isn't known.

Nothing you can see that isn't shown.

Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.

It's easy.

All you need is love, all you need is love,

All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

All you need is love (all together now)

All you need is love (everybody)

All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

July 27, 2006

Israel to establish 'killing zone' on Lebanon border

With many Lebanese civilians still hiding in their homes in refugee camps and villages in southern Lebanon, afraid to flee after hearing of convoys of evacuees being hit by Israeli airstrikes, Israeli military officials announced that they are establishing a 'kill zone' across many of those villages, in which anything that moves will be killed.

"We have no other option ... We will have to build a new security strip, a security strip that will be a cover for our forces until international forces arrive," Amir Peretz, the Israeli defence minister said on Tuesday.

Peretz said Israel would maintain control of the security zone by firing at anyone who enters it. Israeli government sources estimated a zone 3-4km in width. Western diplomats briefed by Israel said it could be as wide as 5-10km in some places. Israeli officials have previously stated they plan to "push Hezbollah 20 km back from the border".

The Israeli military has a history of 'killing zones', particularly in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, where several kilometers full of Palestinian homes were flattened by Israeli forces over the last three years to create a 'buffer zone' along the Gaza-Egypt border.

Thirteen-year old Iman al-Hams was one of hundreds of Palestinian victims of the "killing zone" -- in June 2004, Iman was shot while cowering behind a stone in Rafah refugee camp. The soldier who shot her had positively identified her as a child before she was shot, and then was shot multiple times to 'confirm the kill', according to the Israeli military transcript of the incident. The commander who gave the order to kill said, "anything that moves in this zone, even if it's a three year old, must be shot", and was later promoted and compensated $15,000 for the incident.

As many as 80,000 residents of southern Lebanon have been unable to evacuate, local sources reported, and many are seeking refuge in local hospitals and even in Palestinian refugee camps, trying to avoid the constant Israeli bombing, particularly now that the Israeli military has promised to kill "anything that moves".

"The most difficult thing to think about is that our children could be killed. So many children have been killed already. But we are too afraid to leave", said a local woman living in Tyre, in southern Lebanon, on Tuesday.

Nearly 400 Lebanese people have been killed by Israeli attacks over the last 14 days, 90% of them civilians, over 130 of them children, according to the Lebanese government. In the same time period, 17 Israeli civilians have been killed by Hezbollah rockets into Israel, three of them children.

Support Josh Wolf!

Journalist Faces Jail Time for Resisting Grand Jury Subpoena

Contempt Hearing Tuesday August 1

Where: Federal Building; 450 Golden Gate Ave. San Francisco
When: August 1, 2006

9:00 AM Civil Contempt Hearing

Josh Wolf's civil contempt hearing was continued until Tuesday August
1st. He still faces over a year in jail for refusing to testify or
turn over video out takes to a Federal Grand Jury investigating a
July, 2005, anti-G8 demonstration. At Josh's last hearing over 30
supporters, family and press filled the courtroom. Judge Alsup (in
contrast to his last performance) was less abrasive and we feel this
is due to the large turn out in the courtroom. This is why we are
continuing our call for supporters to attend his upcoming hearings.

Josh faces more than a year in Santa Rita Jail for simply exercising his
constitutional right to remain silent, while standing up for freedom of
the press. This is one of several grand juries being convened across
the country to harass, intimidate and collect information on political
activists and their supporters.Please spread the word and attend
Josh's hearing. Let's have another show of solidarity and support for



July 26, 2006

Two more for The Coast of Utopia

Jason Butler Harner and Amy Irving have joined the cast of Lincoln Center's upcoming production of Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia. Harner will play Ivan Turgenev and Irving will play two roles; Varvara Bakunin and Maria Ogarev.

They join the previously announced Billy Crudup, Ethan Hawke, Brian F. O'Byrne, Josh Hamilton, Richard Easton, Jennifer Ehle, David Harbour, and Martha Plimpton.


Beginning in mid-19th century Russia during the repressive reign of Tsar Nicholas I, Tom Stoppard’s sweeping epic spans a period of thirty years as it tells the panoramic story of a group of Russian intellectuals, headed by the radical theorist and editor Alexander Herzen, the novelist Ivan Turgenev, the literary critic Vissarion Belinsky and the aristocrat-turned-anarchist Michael Bakunin, who lead a band of like-minded countrymen in a revolutionary movement in which they strive to change and fix a political system by using their minds as their only weapon.

The series was first seen in 2002 at London's National Theatre.

For The Coast of Utopia tickets visit www.lct.org.

At the shrine of the soul of power

by Noam Chomsky
Jul 25
The operative principle is illustrated throughout history: policy conforms to expressed ideals only if it also conforms to interests. The term “interests” does not refer to the interests of the US population, but to the “national interest” — the interests of the concentrations of power that dominate the society.

In the article, Who Influences US Foreign Policy?, published last year in the American Political Science Review, the authors find, unsurprisingly, that the major influence is “internationally oriented business corporations”, though there is also a secondary effect of “experts”, who, they point out, “may themselves be influenced by business”. Public opinion, in contrast, has “little or no significant effect on government officials”.

One will search in vain for evidence of the superior understanding and abilities of those who have the major influence on policy, apart from protecting their own interests.

The great soul of power extends far beyond states, to every domain of life, from families to international affairs. And throughout, every form of authority and domination bears a severe burden of proof. It is not self-legitimising. And when it cannot bear the burden, as is commonly the case, it should be dismantled. That has been the guiding theme of the anarchist movements from their modern origins, adopting many of the principles of classical liberalism.
Full Article:

IT IS a challenging task to select a few themes from the remarkable range of the work and life of Edward Said. I will keep to two: the culture of empire, and the responsibility of intellectuals — or those whom we call “intellectuals” if they have the privilege and resources to enter the public arena. The phrase “responsibility of intellectuals” conceals a crucial ambiguity: It blurs the distinction between “ought” and “is”. In terms of “ought”, their responsibility should be exactly the same as that of any decent human being, though greater: privilege confers opportunity, and opportunity confers moral responsibility.

We rightly condemn the obedient intellectuals of brutal states for their “conformist subservience to those in power”. I am borrowing the phrase from Hans Morgenthau, a founder of international relations theory.

Morgenthau was referring, however, not to the commissar class of the totalitarian enemy, but to western intellectuals, whose crime is far greater, because they cannot plead fear but only cowardice and subordination to power. He was describing what “is”, not what “ought” to be.

The history of intellectuals is written by intellectuals, so not surprisingly they are portrayed as defenders of right and justice, upholding the highest values and confronting power and evil with admirable courage and integrity. The record reveals a rather different picture. The pattern of “conformist subservience” goes back to the earliest recorded history. It was the man who “corrupted the youth of Athens” with “false gods” who drank the hemlock, not those who worshipped the true gods of the doctrinal system.

A large part of the Bible is devoted to people who condemned the crimes of state and immoral practices. They are called “prophets”, a dubious translation of an obscure word. In contemporary terms, they were “dissident intellectuals”. There were also intellectuals who were greatly respected in the era of the prophets: the flatterers at the court. The Gospels warn of “false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits ye shall know them.”

The dogmas that uphold the nobility of state power are nearly unassailable, despite the occasional errors and failures that critics allow themselves to condemn.

A prevailing truth was expressed by US president John Adams two centuries ago: “Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak.” That is the root of the combination of savagery and self-righteousness that infects the imperial mentality — and in some measure, every structure of authority and domination.

We can add that reverence for that great soul is the normal stance of intellectual elites, who regularly add that they should hold the levers of control, or at least be close by.

A common expression of this prevailing view is that there are two categories of intellectuals: the “technocratic and policy-oriented intellectuals” — responsible, sober, constructive — and the “value-oriented intellectuals”, a sinister grouping who pose a threat to democracy as they “devote themselves to the derogation of leadership, the challenging of authority, and the unmasking of established institutions”.

I am quoting from a 1975 study by the Trilateral Commission — liberal internationalists from the US, Europe and Japan. They were reflecting on the “crisis of democracy” that developed in the 1960s, when normally passive and apathetic sectors of the population, called “the special interests”, sought to enter the political arena to advance their concerns.

Those improper initiatives created what the study called a “crisis of democracy”, in which the proper functioning of the state was threatened by “excessive democracy”. “To overcome this crisis, the special interests must be restored to their proper function as passive observers, so that the “technocratic and value-oriented intellectuals” can do their constructive work.

The disruptive special interests are women, the young, the elderly, workers, farmers, minorities, majorities — in short, the population. Only one specific interest is not mentioned in the study: the corporate sector. But that makes sense. The corporate sector represents the “national interest”, and naturally there can be no question that state power protects the national interest. The reactions to this dangerous civilising and democratising trend have set their stamp on the contemporary era.

For those who want to understand what is likely to lie ahead, it is of prime importance to look closely at the long-standing principles that animate the decisions and actions of the powerful — in today’s world, primarily the US.

Though only one of three major power centres in economic and most other dimensions, it surpasses any power in history in its military dominance, which is rapidly expanding, and it can generally rely on the support of the second superpower, Europe, and Japan, the second-largest industrial economy.

There is a clear doctrine on the general contours of US foreign policy. It reigns in western journalism and almost all scholarship, even among critics of policies. The major theme is “American exceptionalism”: the thesis that the US is unlike other great powers, past and present, because it has a “transcendent purpose”: “the establishment of equality in freedom in America”, and throughout the world, since “the arena within which the US must defend and promote its purpose has become worldwide”. The version of the thesis I have just quoted is particularly interesting because of its source: Hans Morgenthau. But this quote is from the Kennedy years, before the Vietnam war erupted in full savagery. The previous quote was from 1970, when he had shifted to a more critical phase in his thinking.

Figures of the highest intelligence and integrity have championed the stance of “exceptionalism”. Consider John Stuart Mill’s classic essay, A Few Words on Non-Intervention.

Mill raised the question whether England should intervene in the ugly world or keep to its own business and let the barbarians carry out their savagery. His conclusion, nuanced and complex, was that England should intervene, even though by doing so, it would endure the “obloquy” and abuse of Europeans, who would “seek base motives” because they cannot comprehend that England is “novelty in the world”, an angelic power that seeks nothing for itself and acts only for the benefit of others. Though England selflessly bears the cost of intervention, it shares the benefits of its labours with others equally.

Exceptionalism seems to be close to universal. I suspect if we had records from Genghis Khan, we might find the same thing.

The operative principle is illustrated throughout history: policy conforms to expressed ideals only if it also conforms to interests. The term “interests” does not refer to the interests of the US population, but to the “national interest” — the interests of the concentrations of power that dominate the society.

In the article, Who Influences US Foreign Policy?, published last year in the American Political Science Review, the authors find, unsurprisingly, that the major influence is “internationally oriented business corporations”, though there is also a secondary effect of “experts”, who, they point out, “may themselves be influenced by business”. Public opinion, in contrast, has “little or no significant effect on government officials”.

One will search in vain for evidence of the superior understanding and abilities of those who have the major influence on policy, apart from protecting their own interests.

The great soul of power extends far beyond states, to every domain of life, from families to international affairs. And throughout, every form of authority and domination bears a severe burden of proof. It is not self-legitimising. And when it cannot bear the burden, as is commonly the case, it should be dismantled. That has been the guiding theme of the anarchist movements from their modern origins, adopting many of the principles of classical liberalism.

One of the healthiest recent developments in Europe, I think, along with the federal arrangements and increased fluidity that the European Union has brought, is the devolution of state power, with revival of traditional cultures and languages and a degree of regional autonomy. These developments lead some to envision a future Europe of the regions, with state authority decentralised.

To strike a proper balance between citizenship and common purpose on the one hand, and communal autonomy and cultural variety on the other, is no simple matter, and questions of democratic control of institutions extend to other spheres of life as well. Such questions should be high on the agenda of people who do not worship at the shrine of the great soul of power, people who seek to save the world from the destructive forces that now literally threaten survival, and who believe that a more civilised society can be envisioned and even brought into existence.

Tel Aviv: Several thousand demonstrate against the war

Israel, Tel-Aviv, Demonstration against the war

Few thousands people of the coalition against the war from al over the country converged in the municipality square, at Saturday evening. People carried flags, banners, and placards. Leaflets were distributed including the three picture placards distributed by anarchists. in them one picture is of young girls writing "addresses" on canon shells to be soon fired; the second of a heavy cannon firing and such shells near it; the third was of two children killed by such canon shells.

An organized contingent of anarchists arrived with black flags, flags with the big anarchist A, banners, and placards. After a while, there started a march owards the Sinematec - clogging the main street. Along the march slogan were chanted. The two hundred anarchists were very lively: chanted, singed, danced, run from time to time, and lot of rhythmic noise.

At the end of the march the Sinematec square was too small for the big crowd. During the speeches carried there people started to disperse.

July 25, 2006

How can we stop all this crazyness, Ajax?

christ, who knows, we're deep in the grip

of these fascist pricks and getting their

claws out is going to be no easy task.

I would say the first step is to become

awakened to the situation we are in

and to become aware of the brain washing

you are subject to everytime you turn on

a TV set.

When I say fascist media proganda brothels

I'm not trying to be cute, it's the truth,

they're everywhere, on every channel and

they try to scrub your brain clean 24/7.

Accept a few basic truths and be aware of them

in you daily life:

1) Truth and the knowing of it is good.

2) There are those who wish you to be their

slaves to satisfy their greed for riches

and power.

3) To question authority is the duty of

a thinking person.

4) Do not allow newspeak to define your view

of the world, death is death, suffering is

suffering, those trying to destroy your

life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

are doing just that regardless of the

newspeak they try to use to convince you


Trust in well founded examples of good and evil,

good is kind, generous and empathatic to others

evil is cruel, greedy and uncaring, regardless

of what it says or what names it gives its


Choose good and know what is evil.

5) The enlightened person walks in today's

world very much alone, be brave and

walk enlightened in this world around you

because it's the Cool Hand Luke

thing to do.

Posted by: Ajax at July 24, 2006 08:43 PM

July 24, 2006

Unions and Israel: A letter from a rank-and-file unionist to CAW's President

by Joe Emersberger and Buzz Hargrove
July 23, 2006

To Buzz Hargrove (President of Canadian Auto Workers)
July 19, 2006
Israel has killed nearly 300 Lebanese civilians and displaced half a million. It has been given cart blanche by the international community - including Harper's government - to kill as many people as it likes.

The corporate media has sold people on the lie that the crisis originated with the capture of a single soldier by Hamas militants based in Gaza. As always, Israeli expansionism is ignored and it is depicted as acting in self defence..Israeli strikes killed scores of civilians in Gaza in the weeks prior to the capture of the Israeli soldier. The day before his capture Israel kidnapped two civilians from Gaza. Worse, since 2000 Israel has implemented a murderous siege on Gaza that has tripled malnutrition among children according to conservative sources such as the UN and the World bank. It is important to note that Israel's economic strangulation precedes both the election of Hamas and the so called "withdrawal" from the Gaza.

It is worth remembering that Israel funded Hamas during its early days to undermine the PLO. Israeli policy has consistently placed expansionism above security. Contrary to much fantasy that has not changed in recent years.

Please reconsider your stand on CUPE's call for economic sanctions against Israel. The labour movement should be taking action.

Joe Emersberger Local 1498



The Spanish Anarchists, Through A Participatory Lens.

by Dave Markland
"The Spanish Revolution". Among today's anarchists and radical activists, those three words alone have the power to conjure visions of triumph and heroism. Maybe you picture a group of enthusiastic CNT militia members crammed onto the back of a truck repainted black and red, fists raised in solidarity with their well-wishers who line the streets of Barcelona; some think of George Orwell, shot through the neck while fighting the fascists on the Aragon front; others think of Ernest Hemingway, pissed drunk at a cafe in Madrid, slurring through some rant about hunting or booze; or maybe you emotionally sing the strains of the anarchist battle hymn 'Las Barricadas'. (Embarrassingly, my version always ends up sounding like the 'Imperial March' from Star Wars.)

We all know the story (roughly, anyway): Franco, Morocco, July 19th, CNT militias, the POUM (pronounced "poom"), Stalin, the UGT, the PSUC (aptly pronounced "pee-suck"), Durruti, the International Brigades, and the Falangists (usually pronounced "fascists"). Yet this list covers only the military and political aspects of the struggle. Behind the lines, in Republican-held zones, blossomed the social revolution: agrarian collectives and syndicalised industry. This, too, is fairly well-known amongst anarchists, as is the fate of these admirable accomplishments. (Here, phrases like "Communist treachery" and "Stalinist counter-revolutionaries" are useful.)

But what were these collectives and self-managed factories actually like? How was work organised and carried out? How was consumption organised? More to the point: What can the experiences of the Spanish comrades teach us about goals, vision, tactics and strategies? That is, before we adopt pages from the anarchist play book, we would do well to critically examine the contexts and outcomes of those plays.

No doubt many readers are familiar with the question of anarchist participation in the Republican government. Another well-worn argument concerns military tactics and strategy, as well as wider concerns about hierarchical discipline and militarization of the militias. These will be set aside to pursue the narrower issue of the economic accomplishments of the Revolution.

And we shall see, not surprisingly, that these revolutionaries deserve credit and unbridled respect for the incredible advancements they made in libertarian economic organisation. However, we shall also see that some of their actions and institutions need to be rejected -- and in fact they have been rejected by many anti-authoritarian activists who have come since. Indeed, entire movements (like the women's movement) have emerged to address injustices of a type to which the Spanish Revolution was not immune. The purpose of the present essay is to help illuminate those troublesome features of the Spanish accomplishments. In so doing, I rely on a set of insights and analyses which will be familiar to anyone acquainted with participatory economics (Parecon)*, which I think can be fairly described as a modern anarchist economic vision. To expropriate a line from the bard: I have come to praise anarchism, not to bury it. Thus, we shall begin with a short description of the revolutionary economy, followed by a discussion of various lessons which can be drawn from the Spanish experience.

Agrarian collectives:

The Workers' Committees which arose locally throughout Spain, and which took up arms to defeat the right-wing revolt, soon found themselves the only organised social actors in large parts of Republican Spain. Wealthy landowners having fled or been killed, the Committees held general assemblies in villages in order to redistribute land. At these meetings the anarchists generally advocated for collectivisation and many of their neighbours responded with enthusiasm. Those families who did not want to join the collectives, called individualists, were each allotted family-sized plots which they then worked without hired help. (Collectivists generally respected these dissidents and hoped that the positive example of the collective would win them over; often that was indeed the case.) Meanwhile, collectivists pooled their personal possessions -- such as money, work animals and tools -- and set to work on the liberated land in crews of five to ten workers. Work assignments were decided by a council of elected delegates and work days were the same duration for everyone (usually eight or nine hours).

Initially, these newly-formed collectives abolished money and in its place consumption was reorganised according to the long-held vision of anarchist communism. This can be described as "to each according to their need", or perhaps more accurately "take what you feel you need". In any case, the demands of the Civil War soon revealed this approach to be irresponsible. Consequently, in an effort to provide more supplies for the militias (and also to stop instances of cheating) a rationing system was typically introduced. This centered around a uniform daily wage denominated in pesetas (which was not redeemable for the official peseta of Republican Spain). Adjustments were made according to a worker's family size. For example, an unmarried collectivist might get 10 pesetas a day; a married couple 17 pesetas, plus 4 pesetas per child. Additional measures were taken to ensure that those villagers who were unable to work received credits also. All of these guaranteed wages were earmarked in advance for several types of consumer product. Thus, every week families received a week's worth of grocery credits, a week's worth of clothing credits, a week's worth of credits for wine, etc. Credits could be saved from week to week if necessary to purchase a valuable item, though they were not transferable to other types of goods or to other people. In this way, individual differences in consumption desires were accommodated, though this was decidedly limited in scope as there were scarcely twenty different items to be bought in most places, owing to a long-standing lack of economic development.

Many villages had some level of light industry -- olive presses, flour mills, bakeries, sandal factories, construction, and so on. These operations were frequently integrated with the collective, and all the workers therein receiving equal consumption rights. With the village economy integrated in this way, both production and consumption were socialised. Elected (and recallable) councils dealt with finding outlets for the village's surplus goods as well as purchasing things the collective required but which were not produced locally. In addition, these councils took care of rationalising existing workplaces while also establishing new industries if needed. Amazingly, all this was done while organising supplies to be sent to the militias at the front.

So, we have seen that the anarchist collectives eventually rejected the model of anarchist communism, expressed in the slogan "From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs". Each worker took on an equal share of the work to be done, and there were, in effect, punishments if one did not perform one's duties. These ranged from social disapproval to expulsion. And, as we have also seen, consumption was more or less equally allotted. While this system was austere (and the pressing needs of the war certainly justified that), it wasn't unfair. Fairness was ensured through the Workers' Councils, where collective members could voice their differing needs and preferences or explain unique circumstances which might justify adjustments to work load or consumption.


Meanwhile, in the more industrialised areas of Republican Spain, like Barcelona, revolutionaries faced a different set of circumstances. Capitalist owners of industry were expropriated and Workers' Councils established self-management in many anarchist-influenced workplaces. However, it was immediately clear that use of the official Spanish currency could not be abolished, as it was essential to the highly commerce-oriented role of industry. The official currency was still in use in large parts of Republican Spain, where the revolution hadn't taken hold (the Basque region, for example). These areas, as well as foreign countries, constituted the market for industrial production

Despite this obstacle which hampered the advancement of the economic revolution, tremendous strides were made in the advancement of workers' control of industry. Elected and recallable Workers' Councils took over the functioning of vast swaths of industry. The full value of their labour accrued to the workers along with decisions over investment, marketing and planning. And, initial steps were taken toward integrating the rural collectives with urban industries. This step was necessitated by the Republican government's deliberate withholding of raw materials and currency -- an attack which focused on those factories which did not produce badly-needed weapons. Thus, in response, the desperate industrial Workers' Councils intensified their efforts to barter their products for those of the rural agricultural collectives, thus sidestepping the market.


While the spirit of spontaneity was strong in the Spanish anarchist movement, there was an underlying commitment to preparation and planning which long preceded the Revolution's successes. The years before the Revolution saw a virtual cottage industry of anarchist vision, whose stand-out text was Diego Abad de Santillan's After the Revolution. Gaston Leval comments: "The new form of organisation had already been clearly thought out by our comrades when they were engaged in underground propaganda during the Republic" (145).** And, if planning and pre-figuring was normal, anarchists were not shy about modifying and changing their goals as circumstances required. Leval, again: "If the pragmatic methods to which they had to have recourse may appear to be insufficient, and sometimes unsound ... the development tending to eliminate these contradictions was taking place rapidly ... and progress was being rapidly made towards unifying and decisive improvements." (198). Developments and innovations were unfolding well into the period of collectivisation and anarchists didn't hold back in sharing their insights and solutions: "In July 1937, 1000 members of the Levante Collectives had been sent to Castile to help and to advise their less experienced comrades. As a result.... great strides were made in a minimum of time." (183). All this points to the self-critical, pragmatic aspect of the movement, as well as the importance placed on insights derived from anarchist vision: "The need to control and to foresee events was understood from the first day" (193).


Virtually all contemporary observers were struck by the ability of the anarchists to harness and propel the tremendous outpouring of solidarity and sacrifice exhibited by the workers. Throughout revolutionary Spain, common people made great efforts with their bodies and minds, motivated by nothing more than a desire to see the revolution carried through. Certainly some of this solidarity stems precisely from the threat of a totalitarian state should the war be lost. However, it is clear that the accomplishments of the revolution spurred efforts of such great enthusiasm that propaganda was often thought to be redundant.


In considering the divvying of work it is obvious that rural collectivists made efforts to balance the onerousness of jobs, thus not overtaxing people's enthusiasm. That is, solidarity was not over-exploited so as to make the most enthusiastic people work the most distained jobs. Instead, efforts were made to share the more difficult tasks. In Mas de las Matas, peasant labour crews were organized into work crews which aimed to balance time on easily worked land with time spent working in more difficult conditions (138). Meanwhile, in syndicalised industry, there was further concern for countering capitalist tendencies toward de-skilling workers; thus Leval reports on plans among Barcelona's industrial workers to send workers to technical schools "so that they do not continue to be, as has been the case hitherto, simple mindless cogs in a machine" (262).

Democratic economic planning:

Once collectives had been established and federated with the goal of integrating their economies, the possibilities for large-scale economic planning arose. This was accomplished through workers' councils and regional committees. Typically, elected (and recallable) administrative commissionaires made decisions on production and consumption. These decisions could be made on a local level if the affected population was localised, or it could be at a higher-level council such as Valencia's regional council deciding to build a new juice factory to meet demand summed at a regional level (156). The extent and nature of this planning procedure was well illustrated in Castellon de la Plana, a large town of 50,000: "Every month the technical and administrative council presented the general assembly of the Syndicate with a report which was examined and discussed if necessary, and finally approved or turned down by a majority. Modifications were introduced when this majority thought it of use" (303).

Economic rationality:

Collectives faced pressures on all sides: many of the able-bodied were with the militia, plus these localities were attempting to provision those same fighters. All this created an urgent need to get the most production out of the existing inputs of labour, physical plant and raw materials. Consequently, great strides were made in rationalising and taking advantage of economies of scale. Throughout the reports on the agricultural collectives, redundant workplaces are eliminated. In one locale, four bakeries operated where there had been six before the revolution (94). In Aragon, the labour force was integrated above the local level, so that neighboring collectives would borrow and lend members as needs arose. Leval reveals the extent of this integration: When farming villages were approached by representatives from revolutionary areas outside Aragon, "the reply they got was, 'Comrade, what we have here does not belong to us; you must get in touch with the secretariat of the regional Federation in Madrid.' ... for it was understood that respecting decisions taken ensured the success of the whole enterprise." (186)

We have thus far seen that the Spanish anarchists had vision. They had dynamic goals, flexible strategy, and sought useful methods of analysis. They also fostered tremendous enthusiasm and solidarity. And they wisely re-organized their workforce and resources for maximum efficiency while instituting some level of democratic economic planning which included production, consumption and even, to some degree, investment planning. But, from the writings available to us, it is clear that certain problems arose alongside the new revolutionary institutions. Some of these were noticed, and remarked upon, by the anarchists themselves. Others did not overly trouble contemporary observers.

Tom Wetzel writes that "Anarchists are clearer about the structures of control -- worker and community assemblies, and horizontal federations of these -- than about the principles of allocation or economic planning," Indeed, Abad de Santillan's book mentioned above spells out an array of structures for an anarchist economy -- workers' councils, federations, etc. -- but is silent on processes. This may strike modern anarchists as odd, accustomed as we are to efforts toward consensus decision making, gender balance and the like. Yet, observers of the Spanish collectives give scant attention to procedural questions, leaving the impression that issues of process were not a large part of the agenda of council meetings. There is, for instance, no indication that any collective was concerned about the possibility that women may not be properly heard at meetings, though concern was certainly voiced about the need for the collectives' assemblies to hear the views of (male) individualists who were not members of the collective. (It would, of course, be wrong to take this lack of evidence as proof that there was no concern for women's participation. However, the lack of recorded discussion itself strongly indicates that such issues were not given the same importance as they typically are given today.)

Gender, kinship and morality:

Modern students of the Revolution are immediately struck with Spanish anarchism's outdated response to the gender question. While the Revolution certainly ignited feminist struggle (which was completely ignored by Leval and other male observers), certain facts give an indication of how significant the obstacles were for women. For instance, women's wages in the revolutionary agrarian collectives were typically equal to half or three quarters of the wages of their male comrades -- a fact that is reported (repeatedly) without comment by Leval and other observers. Neither is there any mention of kinship institutions coming under scrutiny at collective meetings. In fact, the revolutionary economy of the villages was predicated on traditional families, as consumption was organised along the basic unit of the household. Unmarried women were for the most part expected to remain living with their parents as adults, and the economy reflected this and other traditional expectations. Souchy writes of the village of Beceite: "The gong sounds ... to remind the women to prepare the midday meal."

And the sexual revolution that often accompanies massive social upheaval is nowhere evident, particularly in rural areas. Indeed, in the town of Rubi, there was said to be an active effort to prevent sexual liberation among young people (Leval, 299). This doesn't seem that surprising when one learns that anarchists in many rural areas had been viewed as moral leaders in their communities, since well before the Revolution. In contrast to traditional economic and religious elites who led debased and debauched lives, anarchists had often advocated, and practiced, abstention around such sinful subjects as sex, booze and coffee. Indeed, Leval's comment about the town of Andorra generalises: "work was the major occupation...there was no place in the rules for the demand for personal freedom or for the autonomy of the individual" (125). I shall leave it to the reader to decide the proper attitude toward sexual liberation (not to mention caffeine), but suffice it to say that anarchists (and others) have long been at work attempting to overcome whatever short-comings the Spanish comrades exhibited on this subject.

Market behavior:

The attitude of Spanish anarchists toward markets is perhaps best described as ambiguous. On one level, it seems that Spanish anarchists had a long-standing aversion to markets. Gerald Brenan notes this opposition among pre-Revolutionary anarchists, citing their "condemnation of co-operatives, friendly societies and strike funds 'as tending to increase egoism in the workers'" (Brenan, 178). Similarly, several months into the Revolution, the workers of Valencia "realized that a partial collectivization would degenerate over time into a kind of bourgeois cooperativism" (Peirats, 125).

Yet, working against this was the fact that anarchists had a serious commitment to both village autonomy and worker/peasant control of the full value of the products of their labour. The result was that collectives sent all of their surplus goods to the cantonal capital where elected councils were responsible for bartering those goods with surplus goods from other collectives. Leval relates: "The profits from the sale of various commodities provided the municipal Council with the resources needed for other communal tasks" (288). Peirats' observations are germane: "Once the economic necessities of the collective itself were covered, the surplus was sold or bartered on the external market, directly or by way of confederal organizations" (Peirats, 141). "Barter was not rigorously regulated. In some places items were valued in terms of July 19th prices: in others, according to current prices in the free market. Among the Aragonese collectives there was not much control over what was exchanged" (Peirats, 143).

While it is evident that various councils did engage in planning, it is clear that once products had left the locality, they were exchanged with an eye toward maximising returns. While it is true that profits thus derived were often sent to the front or shared with less profitable collectives, this was not enough to overcome several negative effects of markets. And these negative effects were by no means unrecognised by the collectivists. Souchy reports on a dispute involving two collectives in Aragon, where one collective refused to pay the pre-Revolutionary rate for the electricity supplied by a neighboring collective. The electricity-producing collective insisted on the old rate, which entailed payment for workers' wages, plus profit on top of that. Unable to resolve the issue otherwise, the matter was taken to court.

Spanish anarchists thus sought, but did not achieve, the elimination of the market. This failure occurred partly because total collectivisation was not possible, but also partly because the anarchists lacked the theoretical tools to readily identify all the aspects of markets which undermine efforts at self-management, equality and solidarity. Thus the challenge for anarchists forming economic vision is to conceptualise the economy so as to highlight what needs to be created or abolished. Of course, Parecon is one answer to this challenge.

Red Bureacracy / Co-ordinator problems:

Attitudes toward gender issues aside, it is the Spanish revolutionaries' response to bureaucratic tendencies which is most surprising. Compared to today's anarchists, the Spanish anarchists had a considerable blind spot in regard to hierarchies arising from concentration of work skills, the role of experts, and the like. A few examples should illustrate:

Item: In Rubi: "The member with the highest professional experience was nominated as the technical councillor, with the task of supervising and guiding all the work on the various sites. And accountancy was put in the hands of the specialist deemed the most able" (297).

Item: In Alicante's syndicalised construction industry, "it was from among the employers that the site managers were selected". These former employers "had a greater sense of duty than that of the average worker, accustomed to being given orders and not to taking responsibilities". Perhaps it's not surprising that in this syndicate "it was not possible to put into operation at one stroke the absolute equality of wages" (307-308).

Item: In the industrial center of Alcoy: "A comrade whose ability for this kind of work was recognized was put at the head of the sales section. He supervised work in his section..." "The personnel of the whole industry was divided into specialties: manual workers, designers and technicians" (234-235).

Item: In Granollers: "The economic section of the commune set up a 'technical bureau' consisting of three experts, and which in agreement with the syndical Economic Council, steered the work of the industrial undertakings." This was the same town where technicians "considered themselves a class apart", according to Leval (287).

Item: Two comrades (one CNT, one UGT) "were in charge of the general secretariat" in Graus and were "also entrusted with propaganda" (97).

While there are some indications that for certain economic roles it was felt unwise for just one person to fill them (that of an "eminent doctor" for example [272]), the anarchists' response was typically to rotate the role in question. Otherwise, filling it with a reliable anarchist was evidently the back-up plan. (Thus, Souchy writes: "the Chief of Police was the well-known anarchist Eroles".) Yet another solution (this one out of the Parecon playbook) would be to work to eliminate all undesirable roles by redrawing their constituent tasks and spreading those tasks into balanced job complexes.

This blind spot concerning bureaucracy has its echoes down to the present and is well illustrated by Sam Dolgoff in his memoirs. Dolgoff, the late anarchist militant and veteran of the International Brigades, approvingly cites Spanish militia leader Buenaventura Durruti's own investigations into the alleged formation of a bureaucracy within the CNT's administrative offices. Durruti's findings are reported by his biographer:

"...the national headquarters of the CNT were not centralized. All the people working in the national headquarters and in the organization were employed, not by the National Committee, but were elected by and accountable to the plant assemblies. They were paid not by the National Committee, but by enterprises in which they were employed...."

Dolgoff comments:

"Both Augustin Souchy, who administered the Foreign Information Bureau of the CNT, and one of his coworkers, Abe Bluestein, of New York, told [m]e that everyone working in the National Headquarters from responsible officials to porters and maintenance workers were paid the same equal wages. Durruti and others who investigated were convinced that there was no bureaucracy in the CNT anywhere" (see Dolgoff).

At risk of belabouring a point, it is doubtful that many of today's anarchists would view such traditional work roles ("responsible officials" and "porters") as evidence of victory over bureaucratic tendencies. That this attitude existed among the Spanish comrades is perhaps understandable given that the Russian Revolution, which offers a litany of lessons about bureaucracy, was at the time very poorly understood in Spain, to say nothing of elsewhere. (However, Dolgoff, it should be noted, was writing in the 1980's.)

In closing, it bears repeating that the Spanish Revolution, as the high water mark of libertarian organisation, provides a host of lessons for today's anti-authoritarians. And, as we have seen, sifting through the Spanish experience for useful insights is in fact part of a long-standing anarchist tradition. So too is the promotion of anarchist vision. I hope this essay can help stimulate both of those tendencies.

* Readers unfamiliar with the Parecon model can find out more at: http://www.zmag.org/parecon/indexnew.htm

** [A note on sources: Primary documents (i.e. first-hand accounts) concerning the structure and dynamics of the Spanish collectives and syndicates are frustratingly small in number, though much of what there is has been translated into English. In all practicality, the works of Gaston Leval, Augustin Souchy and Jose Peirats represent all that is available for examining the Revolution's economic aspects in any detail. Leval's work is by far the best of the lot, and I make extensive use of it above. However, even Leval's work is beset with minor problems including a lack of detail on matters of procedure as well as in the quality of the English translation.]

(Unless otherwise noted, all page numbers refer to Leval.)

-Gerald Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth. Cambridge University Press, 1976 (first published 1943).
-Sam Dolgoff, Fragments: A memoir. 1986. (See excerpt online at:http://flag.blackened.net/liberty/dolgoff-controv.html)
-Gaston Leval, Collectives in the Spanish Revolution. Freedom Press.
-Jose Peirats, Anarchists in Spanish Revolution. Freedom Press.
-Augustin Souchy, With the Peasants of Aragon. (available online at: www.anarchosyndicalism.net)
-Tom Wetzel, "About Anarchism". ZNet, Aug. 29, 2003. Online at:

Dave Markland lives in Vancouver and is a member of the Vancouver Participatory Economics Collective. (http://vanparecon.resist.ca)