ASR 68 (Fall 2016)

68-cover2. Editorial: Rebuilding a Revolutionary Labor Movement
4. Obituaries: Jack Grancharoff and Bob McGlynn
5. Wobbles: Trusting Hillary, Economy Booming – For the Top 5%, Unaffordable Healthcare, $15 for Campaigners? …
7. International News: Chileans Protest, Ukrainian Miners, Indian general strike… compiled by Michael Hargis
9. Articles: Che Guevara’s Authoritarian Vision by Wayne Price
12. Socialists and Workers: The 1896 London Congress by Davide Turcato
14. International Congresses and the Congress of London by Peter Kropotkin
17. The Spanish Revolution of 1936  by Vadim Damier, translated by Malcolm Archibald
19. The Anarcho-Syndicalist Genesis of Orwell’s Revolutionary Years by Raymond Solomon
22. Two New Books on Spanish Anarchism Review essay by Jeff Stein
24. Reviews: In Defiance of Boundaries: Anarchism in Latin American History Review by Martin Comack
25. Contemporary Anarchist Studies Review by Chad Anderson
27. China on Strike Review by Jon Bekken
28. Left of the Left: My Memories of Sam Dolgoff Review by Peter Cole
30. Kropotkin: Reviewing the Classical Anarchist Tradition Review by Iain McKay
30. Ludlow and Its Aftermath  Review essay by Jon Bekken
31. Individualism versus Egoism Review essay by Iain McKay
34. Reviewed Briefly, Letters

Should the Left Call for a Third Party?

by Wayne Price, ASR 67

There are a number of radicals who reject the “two-party system.” These are socialists (of various sorts) and left-liberals who do not accept the anarchist goal of abolition of the state as well as capitalism. But the Leftists I am writing about agree with anarchists that it is a mistake to support the Democratic Party and its politicians and organization (the modern Republican Party is not an attraction for Leftists). They agree that the Democrats, like the Republicans, are agents of the big business owners; that the Democrats support capitalism as a system; that they support the imperialism and war-making of the national state; that, while the Democrats play lip service to the danger of climate change, they actually support policies which will lead to ecological catastrophe; that in practice they are actually supporters of racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression. (I am not going to argue for these controversial propositions at this time.)

Such radicals and left-liberals are aware that the Democrats serve to draw in popular movements, co-opt their leaders, and kill off their militancy. Therefore these militants do not organize for votes for any Democrat, even in the very unusual situation when a Democrat calls himself a “democratic socialist.” Instead they seek to build a new, third, party to run in elections.

I am not discussing what individuals may do on election day, as individuals without a movement. Whether one person votes or doesn’t, and for whom, does not really have much effect (if the individual is allowed to vote, and even if that vote is counted).  What matters is what radicals advocate to be done by large numbers of people: the unions, the African-American community, organized feminists, the environmental movement, the LGBT community, immigrant associations, and so on. These groupings (which are the base of the Democratic Party) are potentially very powerful, if they would act together.

Rejecting the two-party system, anarchists instead propose non-electoral mass action. Anarchists advocate union organizing, community organizing, strikes, marches, demonstrations, civil disobedience, rebellions, military mutinies, and a general strike. They call for sit-ins and occupations of factories, of other workplaces, schools and universities, city centers, and transportation hubs. It was just such militant methods which won union rights and public benefits in the ’thirties, which overthrew legal racial segregation in the ’sixties and won certain other gains for African-Americans. Such methods were used to oppose the Vietnamese war in the ’sixties and ’seventies. The modern LGBT movement began with the Christopher Street “riot” and was advanced by ACT-UP’s civil disobedience, among other events. Gains for women were won in the context of these upheavals and mass radicalization.

However, these non-anarchists, while not necessarily against direct actions, focus on building a new popular political party.  Some of them, often from a Trotskyist background, see this as a proposal for a Labor Party based on the unions, as in Britain and Australia. Others are for a vaguer “Workers’ Party” or something similar. Some raise both. For example, the slogans “Fight for a Labor Party!” and “For a Mass Party of Labor!” appear in a pamphlet distributed by the (Trotskyist) Workers International League. (Woods 2011)  Others just focus on building some sort of general new party – class-content not specified.  Michelle Alexander  (who has led in exposing the attack on African-Americans through mass incarceration) wrote, “I am inclined to believe that it would be easier to build a new party than to save the Democratic Party from itself.” (Alexander 2016)

Past Efforts

In any case, it is accepted that the new party would not be a revolutionary party, at least at first, if ever. Many – perhaps most – working people hold views to the left of the conventional party politics. They are for taxing the very rich, fair trade between countries, guaranteed jobs, free community colleges, equal pay for women, prevention of climate change, and other causes. But the people do not (yet) see this as implying a social revolution. If a new party runs, not just to make progressive propaganda, but to get elected, it cannot advocate revolution – that is, it cannot tell the truth about what is really needed to save the world.

Back in 1968, some militants tried to create “a broad third-party movement of the left.” (Draper 1972; 118) This was the attempt to build a national Peace and Freedom Party.  Its rationale was explained by a leading advocate (another sort of Trotskyist):  “The ‘revolution’ that is on the agenda for Peace and Freedom today is not yet overthrowing the whole System, but something a little more modest for the day: viz. overthrowing the two-party system.” (132) This effort failed.

In 1972, over 8,000 African-American militants went to Gary, Indiana, for a “Black Political Convention.” They seriously discussed forming an independent Black party. But this was defeated by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and other establishment-oriented Black leaders.

An attempt to build a movement for a labor party began in 1991. Labor Party Advocates was supported by a number of union officials, who were dissatisfied with the Democrats, and by members of various socialist organizations. At one point it even tried to declare itself a real “Labor Party.” But the union officials just wanted to pressure the Democratic politicians on whom they relied, not to actually break with them. And so the organization failed.

Since then there have been other attempts to build a new party (one effort calling itself the New Party). Many U.S. radicals were inspired by the election in Greece of the Syriza Party and the growth in Spain of Podemas (although the recent failures of Syriza may have had a negative impact).  In November 2013, Kshama Sawant of Socialist Alternative (Trotskyists) was elected to the Seattle City Council, with support from unionized workers. Sawant and her group have campaigned for some sort of independent party of the left. The group around The North Star website, led by Louis Proyect (and initiated by the late Peter Camejo) has also been advocating independent political action – a new party of the left.

In May 2015, there was a conference, “The Future of Left/Independent Electoral Action in the United States.” It was attended by members of Socialist Alternative, Solidarity (Trotskyist), the International Socialist Organization (ditto), The North Star, the radical wing of the Green Party (such as Howie Hawkins), the Peace and Freedom Party (California), the Vermont Progressive Party, and others. About 200 attended. No solid organization came out of it.

In New York State, unions and others back what is called the Working Families Party. Unlike other states, New York permits cross-endorsements, so the WFP can get enough votes to keep its ballot line by endorsing Democrats. In the last election it endorsed Governor Andrew Cuomo for re-election despite his terrible record. The WFP probably should not be regarded as part of the third party movement.

At this time, the most successful “new party” is the Green Party.  While its platform holds many good points, it is not actually anti-capitalist. For example, it says, “We must change the legal design of corporations so that they generate profits, but not at the expense of the environment… We must compel [corporations] to serve human and environmental needs.” (Green National Committee 2014; IV Economic Justice and Sustainability) So, in their green society there would continue to be profit-seeking corporations competing on the market, but they would be better regulated. This is a liberal image of an improved capitalism.

The Green Party has run several presidential campaigns, most notably when they endorsed Ralph Nader (including 2000, when he was accused of costing Al Gore the election). They have run gubernatorial campaigns. (Recently they got 5 percent of the vote in New York State against Gov. Cuomo, who was so bad that even the teachers’ union could not endorse him – while the Republican had no chance of winning). The Greens’ membership includes liberals (Roseanne Barr offered to run as their presidential candidate), Trotskyist socialists, people with “Green” politics (whatever that means to them), and others. In the New York gubernatorial campaign their candidate was Howie Hawkins, who used to be associated with the anarchist Murray Bookchin. Their candidate for lieutenant governor was Brian Jones of the ISO.

The Greens and other such parties have also won seats on city councils. For example, in California the Richmond Progressive Alliance (which includes Greens) has won elections for mayor and city council. In the U.S. “federal” system, local government is the most democratic and the easiest to get elected to. It also has the least power.

However, the movement for a viable, left, third party has been torn by Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. Sanders calls himself a “democratic socialist,” even though he does not actually advocate socialism. He does not propose expropriating any capitalists or creating a cooperative, democratically planned, economy; his model is the capitalist welfare-state of Denmark.  He has a liberal program, if one to the left of all other politicians. And he is running within the Democratic Party.  It is doubtful that he can win the nomination, let alone the election. If elected, it is impossible that he could carry out his program – let alone socialism. But it is significant that he has been drawing a large and excited following, especially among young people.

The Left groups which usually get involved in the Democratic Party, such as the Democratic Socialists of America, have thrown themselves into Sanders’ campaign. But many who might otherwise support a third party are also arguing for Bernie. Many of the Greens’ members are attracted to Bernie. Certainly it has become impossible to build much of an independent political organization so long as Sanders appears to be showing that it is possible to run inside the Democrats. Whatever Sanders is thinking personally, the effect of his campaign (like that of Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Jesse Jackson or Dennis Kucinich before him) is to draw potential opposition forces into the establishment Democratic Party. There is a possibility that some of his present supporters may become disillusioned by the whole process, and, rather than being burned out (so to say) may become revolutionaries. We will see.

Leaving the Sanderistas alone for now, let me focus on those who still want to build a third party of the left – if not now, then as soon as possible.

Building a Third Party is Impractical

First I will consider the most immediately practical issue. It would be very difficult to build a new party. Building an electoral machine and running in elections costs a great deal of money, as everyone knows. By definition, the capitalists have much more of it than the rest of the population. Sanders has been able to draw on lots of small donations – but he is running inside a major party, in a one-shot-deal (that is, he is not trying to create an ongoing mass organization). He still has much less than Ms. Clinton, let alone his Republican rivals, if we count PACs and Super-PACs, which he has rejected (the rich would not donate to him anyway).

It also requires a lot of people, especially for maintaining an ongoing organization. The working class and other oppressed people do have lots of people (much more than the “one percent”).  But the Democrats and Republicans start at least with fully staffed organizations while new parties must start from scratch.

It has been possible to start new parties in Europe and elsewhere for reasons which do not apply in the U.S. Other countries have proportional representation, so that a minority party which gets five percent of the vote gets five percent of parliamentary seats. Or they have second round voting:  people may vote for their preferred minority party, without feeling that they are “wasting their vote.” There will be a second round of votes, with only the largest two or three parties competing. Only a few places in the U.S. have second-round voting.  There are other advantages which non-U.S. parties have and U.S. citizens do not.

The U.S. has a bizarre political system, especially given its boast of “democracy.” This makes it almost impossible for a new party to do more than to win an election here and there – if it wants to actually take over the whole government democratically.

At the national level, elections to the House of Representatives are grossly distorted by gerrymandering (also known as “incumbent protection”). The Senate has two senators from each state, no matter their size (so that Rhode Island and California each have two senators), elected for six-year terms.  The president is elected through the infamous Electoral College; all the electors of each state go to the majority candidate, no matter how large the minority vote (so that Democrats in Texas or Republicans in New York may as well stay home on election day). Judges at the national level are appointed, not elected – for life. This does not count the local levels with their corruption, legal distortion, gerrymandering and voter suppression. This is before looking at the effects of money (legal and illegal), advertising, manipulation of the media, racist laws, and so on.

The “founding fathers” of the U.S. knew exactly what they were doing (even if they did not predict the rise of parties). They did not want the “mob” to rule (“democracy” as they saw it).  This would threaten their property. The people might break up big landed estates or create cheap money so they could pay off their creditors. But the founders did not want one-person rule either: a new king, or a dictator such as Oliver Cromwell. They wanted a “republic” where their class could maintain its wealth – a government which would settle disputes within the ruling class, make decisions, and keep the “mob” in its place. Despite changes, the system has continued to do that up to this day.

Supporters of new parties argue that some previous third parties made significant impacts. They refer to the Peoples or Populist Party and Debs’ and Thomas’  Socialist Party. This claim has truth to it, but these parties did not establish themselves nor change the system. The one time a new party was successful was the one time when the system came apart. Lincoln’s Republican Party did destroy the Whig Party and temporarily split the Democrats, in the process of getting elected. But the country was in turmoil over slavery, sections of the ruling class (slave owners and capitalists) could not find agreement, and a civil war was around the corner. Similar upheavals may yet occur in the modern U.S., but they have not yet.

This makes a successful new party unlikely in the near future.  Is this how the U.S. Left should spend its limited human and financial resources?

A Classless (Capitalist) New Party?

As can be seen, many of those advocating a new or third party are not concerned with its class composition or class program. Like the Green Party, they may propose major improvements in the environment; worker rights; anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-homophobic policies; and general improvements in society. But they do not propose to change the economy from one owned mostly by what Sanders has called “the billionaire class” to one collectively owned and democratically managed by the working class and oppressed. Their program is left-liberal, but not anti-capitalist.

Similarly, such third party advocates want to attract people of all classes, from farm workers to dentists and, if possible, “progressive” businesspeople. Of course, they would like the support of working people (non-supervisory workers and their families make up 80 percent or so of the population, after all). Similarly they are for unions, but not as the single biggest (even now), most potentially powerful, organization of the working class.  They have no special approach to workers as workers and no special hostility to capitalists as capitalists.

In brief, what this trend proposes is a third capitalist party.   But the U.S. already has two capitalist parties and does not need a new one. Nor are progressive people likely to put money and effort into creating another capitalist party, when they can work within one of the existing ones.  Despite its initiators’ best intentions, such a third party would be under the immense pressure of the capitalist system to maintain that system. Once committed to maintaining this system (or at least, to not changing the system), it will be unable to resist the logic of the beast. I assume the supporters of this classless approach do not believe that capitalism is a central cause of climate change, economic crises, wars and oppression. They are wrong. Without getting rid of capitalism, we cannot get rid of these terrible evils.

A “Workers’ Party”?

The original motivation of Marxists was not to build a new, third, capitalist party.  Quite the opposite:  it was to break the workers away from the capitalist parties (such as the British Liberal Party, in Marx’s day). It was to enhance working class self-organization and self-assertion against all capitalist parties.  Marx wrote, “Even when there is no prospect whatsoever of their being elected, the workers must put up their own candidates in order to preserve their independence.” (quoted by D’Amato 2000) And Engels declared, “In a country that has newly entered the movement, the first really crucial step is the formation by the workers of an independent political party, no matter how, so long as it is distinguishable as a labor party.” (quoted by D’Amato 2000)

This was the one major practical dispute between Marx and the anarchists in the First International. Marx wanted every local group of the International to foster independent electoral action. The anarchists were opposed. Marxists, then as now, accused the anarchists of being “political indifferentists” and “anti-political.” In truth they were only anti-electoral. They were not against mass strikes and demonstrations which pressured the state. They were against spreading false confidence that workers could make real gains through getting elected to the government.

By now the historical “experiment” of forming workers’ electoral parties is over. The Labor parties, Social Democratic parties, Communist parties and Green parties have all had their day in Europe and elsewhere, with little to show for their elections. It seems peculiar to advocate a U.S. Labor party, given the reactionary, pro-imperialist, history of the British and Australian Labour parties.   Most recently, there are the disastrous examples of the socialist parties elected in Venezuela (Chavez’ Bolivarians), in Brazil (Lula’s Workers Party), and most recently in Greece (Syriza, a real failure).

Sticking to Marx’s class approach should lead to socialists rejecting votes for Democrats but also for third-capitalist parties such as the Green party. Unfortunately, there is likely to be little real difference between a third capitalist party and a new “labor” party.

In a time of crisis, when masses of people are angry, radicalizing, and rebellious, the “leaders” of the workers will try to run around to get in front of them, in order to lead them into safe and respectable activities (such as going to the election booths every few years). The left wing of the union bureaucrats will split away from the Democrats, and so will the liberal politicians, the preachers, the pundits, and the middle class “leadership” of all the movements (women, environment, African-American, etc.). They may call their new party a “workers” party or a “labor party,” but they may just as well call it a “green” party or a “citizens” party.

Advocates of a “labor party” admit,

The assumption must be, given the political level of the American working class, that…such a labor party would be launched under thoroughly reformist leadership and program, with revolutionary socialists acting as a critical left wing at best…. If American labor formed its own party… then there can be little doubt that the candidates it would run… would be as individuals not much politically different from liberal Democrats today. The difference would not be in the man but in the movement. (Draper 1972; 124–125)

But I am arguing that a “movement” for an electoral labor party would not, in practice, be much different from a movement for a new capitalist party – no more than the “man” would be different from other, reformist, men and women. If it showed any signs of vitality it would immediately attract all sorts of liberal mouthpieces, professional bureaucrats, and leftist charlatans, right along with the union officials, all comprising that “thoroughly reformist leadership.”

In the coming time of crisis and rebellion, revolutionary anarchists do not want to let the politicians mislead the workers and others into conventional politics. Anarchists will do their best to prevent the limitations of the movements by electoral parties – to inspire popular militancy.

Revolution or Reform

If there is one thing on which Lenin and Trotsky agreed with the anarchists, it was that the existing (bourgeois) state could not be used to make fundamental changes – that it would have to be overthrown, smashed, dismantled, and replaced by alternate institutions. (Lenin and Trotsky advocated a new “workers’ state,” while anarchists are for federations of popular councils and associations.) Lenin would quote Marx’s conclusion from the 1871 Paris Commune rebellion, “The working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes” – a statement which Marx and Engels were to attach to their next introduction to the Communist Manifesto. (Marx 1992; 206) Unlike anarchists, Lenin and Trotsky were for running in elections as platforms for revolutionary propaganda. But they denied that it was possible to use elections to take over these states.  So they said, many times.

Yet here we have all these Leninists, Trotskyists and other Marxists who want parties to run in elections without saying that a revolution is necessary. Presumably some of them do not believe that such electoral action can lead to laying hold of the ready-made state machinery and wielding it for the purposes of the working class. Yet they do not say so, nor fight to include such ideas in the party’s platform. Other socialists and Greens probably believe that the “ready-made state machinery” can be used for the good of all – that is, they are sincere reformists. But what are the supposedly revolutionary socialists doing? Are they deliberately lying to the voters?

To repeat: however democratic it appears, the U.S. government was designed so that the working people could not take it over. In any case, the ruling capitalist class is not so attached to democracy as to let the U.S. population vote in a government which would take away its wealth and power, its factories, offices, banks, mansions, private jets, islands and politicians. Faced with such a threat, the capitalists will resist tooth and claw, to the bitter end. (As the Southern slave owners did when Lincoln was elected.) They will whip up race hatred, organize fascist private bands, cancel elections, organize a military coup, or do whatever it takes to “save civilization,” as they see it. They must be disarmed and removed from power.

The workers and oppressed are the big majority of the population, with their hands on the means of production, transportation, distribution, and communication. The ranks of the military are the daughters and sons of the working class who will not fire on their families if approached by the people. A revolution might be fairly nonviolent, if the working people are united, courageous, and self-organized. And if they do not let down their guard by holding illusions in elections.

Right now almost no one, beyond a marginal few, is for a revolution (of any kind). Most people know that something is wrong with this system but have no idea what to do about it. Yet more people can see the possibility of a general strike in a major city than they can see any hope of organizing an alternative to the Democratic Party. And one such mass strike, shutting down a city, would shake up the political consciousness of millions. The whole of U.S. politics is organized so that ordinary people, the workers of every category, do not realize what a terrific power they have if they would use it. Even now, people can see the use of militant mass actions, if radicals were organized to raise such ideas. This talk about forming new electoral parties is a diversion, something which takes us away from really fighting the power.

In brief, an attempt to build a new national party would be extremely difficult, would be reformist in its program, would be another capitalist party, and would serve as a barrier to independent mass movement. Independent mass actions and struggles are what anarchists advocate, to build a movement which might culminate in a popular revolution.


Alexander, Michelle (2016, Feb. 10). “Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote.” The Nation.

D’Amato, Paul (2000).  “Marxists and Elections.”  International Socialist Review. Issue 13, August-September 2000.

Draper, Hal (1972). “The Road Forward for the California Peace and Freedom Party.” The New Left of the Sixties (ed. Michael Friedman). Berkeley CA: Independent Socialist Press, pp. 118-138.

Green National Committee (2014). Platform.

Marx, Karl (1992). “The Civil War in France.” The First International and After: Political Writings: Vol. 3 (ed. D. Fernbach).   London: Penguin, pp. 187-236.

Woods, Alan (2011).  An Introduction to Marxism and Anarchism. London: Welred Books.


Excerpted from the statement of principles adopted by the International Workers Association at its (re)founding conference in 1922:

I. Revolutionary Syndicalism, basing itself on the class struggle, seeks to establish the unity and solidarity of all manual and intellectual workers into economic organizations fighting for the abolition of both the wage system and the State. Neither the State nor political parties can achieve the economic organization and emancipation of labor.

II. Revolutionary Syndicalism maintains that economic and social monopolies must be replaced by free, self-managed federations of agricultural and industrial workers united in a system of councils.

III. The two-fold task of Revolutionary Syndicalism is to carry on the daily struggle for economic, social and intellectual improvement in the existing society, and to achieve independent self-managed production and distribution by taking possession of the earth and the means of production. Instead of the State and political parties, the economic organization of labor. Instead of government over people, the administration of things.

IV. Revolutionary Syndicalism is based on the principles of federalism, free agreement and grass roots organization from the base upwards into local, district, regional and international federations united by shared aspirations and common interests. Under federalism, each unit enjoys full autonomy and independence in its own sphere, while enjoying all the advantages of association.

V. Revolutionary Syndicalism rejects nationalism, the religion of the State, and all arbitrary frontiers, recognizing only the self-rule of natural communities freely enjoying their own way of life, constantly enriched by the benefits of free association with other federated communities.

VI. Revolutionary Syndicalism, basing itself on economic direct action, supports all struggles not in contradiction with its principles – the abolition of economic monopoly and the domination of the State. The means of direct action are the strike, the boycott, the sit-in, and other forms of direct action developed by the workers in the course of their struggles leading to labor’s most effective weapon, the General Strike, prelude to social revolution.

The $400 Question: Getting by after 50 years of economic stagnation

from ASR 67

The $400 Question

by Jon Bekken

The Federal Reserve Bank’s annual “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households” (released in May 2016) reports that 31 percent of Americans say they are “just getting by” or “struggling”; 22 percent have been forced to take a second job; and 46 percent would be thrown into financial crisis by an unexpected expense of just $400 – forced to borrow money (likely from a payday lender, at usurious rates) or sell something. This, the central bankers report, represents improved economic well-being.

Fifteen percent of the U.S. population is officially poor, and in their new book, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer report that nearly 1.5 million American households receive less than $2 a day in cash income. That figure has nearly doubled since 1996 – the year Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress agreed on a major welfare “reform” bill that tied cash benefits to strict work or training requirements and limited how long benefits could be received.

Pundits and polytricksters proclaimed the reforms a wild success. Many people did get jobs, typically part-time gigs that paid wages too low to support even a single person with any measure of comfort. Because there aren’t enough jobs at the bottom of the labor market to go around, it’s difficult to find full-time jobs, and even more difficult to pair one part-time job with another given the rise of just-in-time scheduling.

As corporations have consolidated, increasing the dominance of  handful of players in most industries, the newly empowered bosses have slashed wages and benefits – pocketing much of the savings for themselves, but also passing it along in the form of higher profits. In transportation and warehousing, for example, the 50 largest firms increased their share of industry revenue by 11.4 percent over the last 15 years, and slashed the share of income going to workers by 7.6 percent. In health care, where concentration rates declined slightly, workers saw an extremely modest 1.8 percent increase over those 15 years. So the better off the bosses are, the worse off the rest of us – at least in relative terms.

“Party Like It’s 1973.” That’s how Business Week headlined a May 2016 piece heralding the return of prosperity, as indicated by the fact that first-time unemployment claims had fallen to their lowest level since November 1973. Actually, they hadn’t: as the graph that followed showed, the current figure is 2.1 million, compared to 1.8 million in 1973. A series of statistics meant to reassure us that times are good followed; all making 1973 look good. The official unemployment rate is higher (though it’s since fallen to 1973 levels, but only because millions of people have given up looking for work), payroll growth was twice as strong in 1973, inflation-adjusted hourly wages were higher, and annual GDP growth was two-and-a-half times higher.

This is I suppose encouraging news for mainstream economists, but it reinforces the point made in ASR 64 about how workers are no better off today than we were 50 years ago. We said it a year ago, and now Business Week concedes the point. They seem to think this is a good thing, but while we’re invited to wax nostalgic for 1970s salaries and fashions (don’t even think about the benefits) the bosses are reveling in the Roaring ’20s, with unprecedented income disparity and so much money rolling around that some parasites can think of nothing better to do with their stolen wealth than to eat it (in the form of gold sprinkled on their food – it’s flavorless and has no nutritional value [quite the opposite], but makes a statement of a sort).

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says workers have set a new record for the percentage still working in our not-so-golden years. Some 20 percent of people aged 65 and up are still working, the highest level since they started counting many decades ago. (The proportion would likely be much higher were it not for those forced to take early retirement during the great recession, and now unable to claw their way back into the labor market.) A Bloomberg report conceded that the main reason workers are postponing retirement is simply that they can’t afford it, but ended on the cheery note that maybe retirement just isn’t as much fun as it used to be. And, of course, if you had to refinance your home to keep afloat, lost your pension in the recession, and face the prospect of privatized Medicare, retiring may well not look too attractive. But a study by the Employee Research Institute found that while overall satisfaction with retirement is indeed declining, the wealthier you are the more you enjoy retirement. Indeed, the super-rich find retirement so much fun that some are starting in their 40s.

Payday lenders and other “nontraditional” financial services firms see opportunity in all this, of course. Once limited to pawn shops, credit cards and high-interest mortgages, there are now a host of financial instruments designed to part the unwary from their money – and steal their cars, homes and paychecks (or at least anything the cops didn’t seize first through asset forfeiture and high-fee probation programs) in the process.

Rather than adopt measures that would get the government out of the union-busting business, the Obama administration is proposing regulations on the industry that would take effect next year: making sure borrowers are able to pay off a two-week loan in two weeks, that loans can’t be endlessly rolled over to generate new fees, and that a borrower can’t take another payday loan if he or she paid one off less than 30 days ago. (This, of course, would do nothing to address the desperation that forced workers to turn to the loan sharks in the first place; it will simply incentivize the vultures to find new schemes to take advantage of them.)

And many are desperate indeed. Average U.S. life expectancy has dropped in recent years, driven by drug overdoses and suicide. As income has stagnated and the cost of living has continued to climb, many workers have slipped into debt. One study says the average U.S. household with credit card debt is now $15,762 in the hole, with no conceivable way of digging out. (Add in car and student loans, and there are lots of workers who couldn’t clear their debt in five years even if they devoted 100 percent of their income to debt payments.) And since the average household with debt pays $6,658 in interest per year, they inevitably fall deeper into debt with each year that passes.

In today’s mail I see an appeal from Habitat for Humanity which begins, “Did you know there is no county in the entire United States where a family with two minimum wage incomes can afford to pay the rent? Not one!” Some of these families are homeless, others couch surf, a lucky few live in (often dilapidated) public housing, and many are crowded into tiny apartments, always a step or two from eviction. If they manage to find a place where they can manage the rent, it’s probably run-down, likely poisoning their children with lead paint, in a dangerous part of town, far from jobs and quality food and decent schools. Financial catastrophe is always knocking at the door – a couple days home from work sick (or with a sick kid), a car repair, an emergency room visit or a dental bill. That leads to the $400 question.

As organized labor has collapsed, an extreme individualism has stepped in as the alternative – a go-it-alone perspective narrowly focused on getting an education or specialized training, going to where the jobs are (what does it matter if you have a family?), and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. Of course, there’s no support to make this possible, and growing numbers of our fellow workers find themselves mired in an economy of contract work, low pay, and few, if any, benefits.

We are told that our problems are individual failures, and our successes the result of hard work or, perhaps, a reward from god. But hard work has nothing to do with it. Very few of those pulling down million dollar salaries work anywhere near as hard as the low wage workers whose labor supports them. Developing skills or getting an education only helps you get ahead as long as the boss can’t find a way to outsource or automate the work, and even then only as long as those particular skills are in short supply. Many of those who were persuaded to get degrees in information technology, for example, find themselves on the industrial scrapheap as soon as a new software program comes along or the boss finds workers (perhaps halfway across the globe) who can do the work for half the cost.

The occasional wage slave can escape, but for workers as a whole our lot is simply to toil and to die. Escape is possible, but only if we work together to make it happen. Our problems are not individual problems; they are the inevitable result of our present social and economic arrangements. The solution also is not individual – it will require organization, concerted action, solidarity. Until we come together to make a new world, too many of our fellow workers will remain $400 from financial catastrophe.

Editorial: The Anti-Fascist Dilemma

According to game theory, the Prisoners’ Dilemma is a tool often used by the police to get suspects to inform on one another. The two prisoners are kept in separate cells and questioned where they are unable to hear what the other says to police. Each is told that their friend has already spilled the beans and admitted guilt as well as accused the other of being an accomplice. The “good news” is that a deal is being offered to get a reduced sentence for the crime, if the prisoner being questioned admits guilt and tells the police who else was involved. What the prisoner does not know is if the police are lying just to get a confession. The prisoners’ dilemma is whether to trust the police and assume their accomplice has already sold them out, or take a chance that their friend has remained silent, in which case both prisoners go free. More often than not the prisoners assume the worst case, one or both rat on each other, and both go to jail.

The left in the United States has been confronted with an electoral version of the Prisoners’ Dilemma in the form of the presidential contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Trump may or may not be a fascist in the mold of Hitler or Mussolini, but one certainly can’t tell from his rhetoric. Trump has threatened to deport millions of undocumented men, women, and children, without regard for how many years they have lived or worked in this country and how many children may be separated from their parents. Trump has threatened to kill the families of Muslim insurgents in Iraq and Syria. Trump has threatened to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Trump has applauded and encouraged racist thugs to attack protestors at his rallies. Trump has made threats against women who have had abortions, as well as their doctors. Trump refused to repudiate the endorsement of David Duke and the KKK with the claim that he did not “know who they are.” Trump is the brutal cop threatening to throw his prisoners into the deepest darkest dungeon.

On the other side of the bargain is Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is no fascist, but neither is she a friend to working people. Clinton was an unofficial member of her husband’s presidential administration. Bill Clinton fast-tracked NAFTA, which devastated the unions in this country, particularly good-paying jobs in manufacturing. Bill Clinton ended Aid to Families with Dependent Children, resulting in increased poverty among children and women. Bill Clinton deregulated Wall Street and the banks, which made possible the great recession, the loss of millions of working class homes, and the devastation of pension funds. Clinton passed mandatory sentencing laws that resulted in thousands of black men being incarcerated for drug offenses by a judicial system that targeted them due to race. Hillary was her husband’s principal advisor and she had her hand in all of this. As Secretary of State under the Obama administration, she supported the military coup in Honduras, the wars in Libya and Syria, and enabled the TPP by turning the trade negotiations over to corporate lobbyists. Clinton is the “good cop,” the “plea bargain,” the neo-liberal alternative to Trump’s neo-fascism.

Anarchists were confronted by a similar choice, although with much higher stakes, in Spain in 1936. Spain, like the rest of the world, was in the grips of the Great Depression. Massive unemployment and wage cutting had brought on strikes and insurrections by the workers resulting in the arrest and imprisonment of thousands of militants, particularly members of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT. The anarchists joined the rest of the left in parliamentary elections and put liberals and socialists in power to stave off the right wing and to get amnesty for their own imprisoned comrades. What the right could not win at the polls, the fascists decided to take by force. On July 19, the Spanish Army revolted against the elected Republican government with the aim of creating a fascist dictatorship similar to the ones in Germany and Italy at the time. Anarchists were faced with a choice to either “go for broke” with a social revolution or support the Republic in a struggle against fascism. The leaders of the two major anarchist organizations, the CNT and FAI, chose the latter, but the Republic was defeated after three years of civil war and Spain was ruled by the fascists for nearly forty years.

Once again the left, the socialists, anarchists and liberals, have been confronted with the political version of the Prisoners’ Dilemma. Support Hillary Clinton, the “anti-fascist,” or do nothing and let the “fascist” Donald Trump take power. The leaders of the Democrats, the so-called “progressives,” have taken Sanders’ political revolution off the agenda. Good-paying jobs, economic equality, social justice, climate stability, all the goals of the left are just empty campaign promises that will be sacrificed to the neo-liberal agenda as soon as the election is over. Nothing will change.

There is a solution to the dilemma. If the left, the prisoners in this game, maintain solidarity and do not collaborate with the cops, do not snitch on one another, they will go free. As far as this election goes, it is too late. Hillary Clinton will most likely be elected, but the game is not over. President Clinton will quietly push her neo-liberal agenda, while demanding support from the left against “a vast right-wing conspiracy.” Just as was done during her campaign, the Democrats will continue to divide black against white, old against young, women against men, liberals against socialists, always with the accusation that somehow her critics just aren’t anti-fascist enough. Yet only by joining together against both the neo-liberals and the fascists can the people go free.

It is time we begin to do what Sanders did not do, build networks across the divisions within the working class. We must learn the lessons of the Spanish Civil War and not fall into the same trap. The revolution and the war against fascism are inseparable. Fascism has its roots in the economic authoritarianism of capitalism and the political authoritarianism of the State. Fascism relies on putting the blame for the failings of capitalism on racial minorities, non-conformists, labor unions, and the left.

Fascists are the bullies of the bosses. These bosses are the very same ones who are pushing the neo-liberal agenda. Only by building a mass movement whose aims go beyond stopping fascism and creating direct democracy in the workplace and the community can we end the threat of fascism.

Syndicalism in Norway

The following interview with Lonsslaven (Wage Slave) co-editor Harald Beyer-Arnesen was conducted October 17th. Lonnslaven is an independent anarcho-syndicalist journal published in Oslo, Norway. It has been extensively edited.

LLR: Could you describe the situation in Norway?

For many years, since the second world war, we have had a social democratic party in the government called the Labor Party – not all of the time, but most of the time. And you can say in one way that you have one big union in Norway, which is not completely true because you’ve got another one that’s pretty big. But most workers are in the union, and the great majority among them are organized in what is called L.O., the country organization, which has very strong ties to the labor party. This is a long tradition, from way back, because the labor party started before the L.O.

But we have a social democratic government at the moment, and have had for a long time, and the policies of this government are pretty right wing. Which is not surprising because of course they’re a government in a capitalistic system, and a capitalistic system that has grown more and more international. So they can’t in reality do so very much different that a conservative governments, because they’re of course pro-capitalism, though they want to have an icing.

What used to be a social security that people took for granted is slowly being taken away from people. Their life is much less secure, you have high unemployment, people can’t pay the rent for their apartments and are losing their apartments. Since the second world war that’s a new situation for Norway, and the same thing is happening in Denmark and Sweden. Since the war we had had this sort of deal between the government and the unions that there should be some sort of social security, and then we’ll be quiet. I’m not using this as a technical term, you still have social security benefits, but they’re cutting and cutting.

As more and more people lose their jobs they don’t feel very secure. And the social democratic party says that the methods they used before in the 40s and the 50s can’t be used now; they talk more and more in terms of markets, which have of course always been there. There’s more privatization, more talk that everything has to be profitable – also social services and things like that – and in general that people should work harder and crave less, while the employing class in reality is getting richer and richer. Which the social democratic government again says of course they must because they must have much more capital if they’re going to compete on a world basis.

Many old-time social democrats don’t recognize this language. Because even though the social democratic party has long been pro-capitalistic, if you don’t go way back in history, their language has always been different from the conservative party, but now they even begin to sound like the conservative party. So you have growing opposition among members of the labor party and sympathizers with the party who might have been members almost their whole life, because they feel that the leaders of the party have become leaders more for the rich than for the working class.

Much of this opposition is inside the unions. Within this opposition are also different left-wing groups. So this opposition is a very mixed group. It could even be people working for the conservative party, but the majority would be people that we could call left social-democrats…

LLR: What prospects do you see for syndicalism?

I think the prospects are greater than they have been for many, many years, for many reasons. One is that people aren’t as satisfied as they seemed to be before, which of course doesn’t make them anarcho-syndicalists but it can make them ask questions that they didn’t ask before and be more open to alternative ideas. At the same time that the system in Eastern Europe has crumbled, the old regimes — you can call them state capitalist, whatever term you choose, they certainly weren’t very pleasant — people are seeing that the capitalist system doesn’t function very well either.

They see what’s happening in Norway, they see what’s happening in Sweden, they see what’s happening all over the world. And they certainly see that the free market in Eastern Europe doesn’t function at all. Which gives anarcho-syndicalist thoughts an opportunity to spread. In general, I feel that people are more open to them now than they were before. Because of course we don’t have this Stalinist tradition, we didn’t slaughter all the people, we can say that we have always been for democracy — what we want is more democracy. The only one of these capitalistic rights we want to get rid of is the right of property. Freedom of speech we’re for, and always have been; it’s not just something we say now when it’s crumbling over there in Eastern Europe.

I think there is a potentiality if people who have these ideas – and they’re not so many, not many people in Norway call themselves anarcho-syndicalists – but if those people who do exist manage to work together, which doesn’t mean they have to agree with everything, but at least not waste their energy fighting between each other, I think you would have a slow growth. I don’t think anything will happen overnight. The people who will be interested in these ideas in the beginning will be “impure”; they won’t accept at once all our dogmas, all our proofs, because understanding both this society and the future and the history takes time.

Anarcho-syndicalist groups for a long time will be a small minority in Norway, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to spread ideas and practices that tend to point in our direction. And in reality it’s not the most important thing what people call themselves, but what they do. So if you can get more people to use direct action methods that point to a better society when they can see that what they do is not just to some extent points to a future and gives them at least for a short time they obtain something. I think those things are important. The spreading of ideas is more a long process, but spreading ideas is important for doing these concrete things, they sort of work together.

LLR: Your paper is called the Wage Slave. Could you explain how it began?

A couple of us had worked with the Norwegian Syndicalist Federation making a couple of papers together with them. Then came a discussion of what the next issue should contain and we found out that we wanted different things. So instead of quarrelling about that, it was better to part as friends and they make their thing and we make our magazine.

Broadly, we want to create in Norway a space, a social space for libertarian views and ways of looking at things – propaganda, but propaganda that doesn’t just repeat old truths. So although we call it an anarcho-syndicalist paper, it’s open to different kinds of anti-state socialism. The magazine’s subtitle is “For the abolition of wage slavery and anarcho-syndicalist ideas and action,” which is not an exact translation from Norwegian because the word we use for action has a slightly different meaning, it means more practice.

We try to do half and half theoretical stuff and more concrete struggles. But the perfect article for us is one that takes a concrete struggle and from that derives the theory — you don’t separate the two things. We have written very little about strikes in Norway, but there’s a reason for that. To say that there was a strike, which most people know from before, we don’t find very interesting. If something special happens which means that this isn’t just one of those ordinary strikes – almost like a ceremony, you know what will happen before it begins and no one could really care that much because they know they will get this 50 or something and it’s all organized from above. But, we’re always looking for strikes or struggles that go a little further than this. Like the strike in Melbourne in January 1990, I think, where the people working at the trams said, “Well from today the trams run free.” And they took over the whole tram system. That sort of gives a direction that says much more than all those little strikes that go on. So we are looking for strikes and struggles with qualities that point in the direction we want to go. And then its much easier to pin the theoretical thing to it — it’s much easier to communicate that way.

We think its important that, if you want to change the society, you must understand it too. Which means that we also print stuff that some anarchists might think a little bit far out. For example, we would include thoughts from the Situationists, because we feel some of the stuff, not all of it, shows how many left-wing groups sort of become a part of the establishment – become one more commodity that doesn’t really threaten the society. Especially the so-called punk groups — I use punk in a very wide way — which tend to think that if there are a few people out there in the streets fighting with the police, which is of course making a lot of pictures for television, that they’re really changing things by doing that, besides maybe getting us more police. They tend to believe that if you’re seen you change things — if things are spectacular you change things — but they seem to become just like another movie. It can be very amusing…

In the longer run we would also like to, together with NSF or anyone else that stand for the basic fundamental things that we stand for, do some practical work too. It could be in support of strikes and things like that, to have more concrete influence on the working-class struggles in Norway in a small way — basically trying to use direct action methods which would be some kind of propaganda by the deed, but not in the sense of bombs. What I mean is direct action, where there’s a direct connection between what you do and what you attain. You don’t go calling to the government, saying “can’t you please change this.” You try to change it directly. I think that also would help people better understand what we write.

LLR: Could you give us a sense of what the NSF is doing?

I’m not a member, and they should really talk for themselves. The NSF prints information about anarcho-syndicalist tendencies in the workers movement earlier in Norwegian labor history – anarcho- syndicalist ideas had some influence in the early labor movement in Norway, though they never grew as strong as they did in Sweden, but very few people knew this. If you look back at the 20s the ideas that were put forth were much more radical than you would find today. So they give a historical approach, and then put forth how they believe that you can build a more democratic union; not that they believe that they can make the L.O. an anarcho-syndicalist organization, but they hope to at least move the rank and file movement in that direction, and more power down to the shop floor.

Many people are getting tired of the union bosses up very high, who don’t think to give them anything. And not only by so- called left wing people, but in a situation where you’re getting much more unemployment in Norway, you’re getting less social benefits and so on, people tend to expect more of the union, that they should do something, which the union bureaucracy of course doesn’t do.

So within this movement the NSF tries to spread anarcho- syndicalist but also more democratic ideas. Although much of this opposition, as far as it’s organized, is organized by union officers at the local level, shop stewards and leaders of the local union and so on. So the organized part of it is not really a rank and file movement, although they have sympathy. They try to bring more democracy into the unions, but also to distribute anarcho- syndicalist ideas….

LLR: What role do you see for international solidarity?

I take it as obvious that capitalism can only be fought globally. For example, Norway has always been a big shipping nation, and since shipping is international by nature Norwegian ships recruited sailors from all parts of the world. Ten years ago, Norwegian shipowners decided that Norwegian sailors were too expensive, so they began flagging out to evade their agreements with the sailors’ union. Now only the captain and top officers are Norwegian – the rest are from India, the Philippines, etc. There is an apartheid system on these boats. The union fought for laws, but didn’t succeed. Now it’s almost impossible for Norwegians to get jobs on Norwegian boats. The reason is because the sailors never fought an international fight — they accepted that the wages of foreign sailors should be lower. If you really have an international trade, than the only answer is to organize internationally.

Today all industry is like ships that sail the oceans with an international crew, and the only way to fight is to make the fight global. That’s why you got unions in the first place — to keep workers from being pitted against each other. First they were local, then national. Now unions must be global.

In the past century, the social contact of activists around the world was much greater than it is today. Even though information is exchanged, the personal aspect is neglected. Its much easier to understand solidarity when its real people, rather than just some number or name. Workers should be encouraged to visit unions around the world to build personal ties, perhaps as part of their vacations. Rank and file workers, not union leaders. It could be fun, too.

LLR: Today many socialists, and some anarchists, say we have to rethink our approach to markets; that some form of market or voucher system may be necessary to avoid the bureaucracy of centralized planning…

Market socialism is nonsense — no sense, it does not make sense. Labor vouchers are a primitive form of money, to call it by another name doesn’t change the reality. Vouchers raise a basic question: Who is going to control? The only reason for vouchers is that we don’t trust people, that somebody has to make sure that each gets his fair share and decide what that is.

Money also means that somebody has to give the products a price, which means for example that you count labor hours. But that doesn’t really say anything because one person can create a thing in four hours, another eight, it depends on the machinery you use which means that you always are dependent upon thousands of other people even to produce the most simple things.

These labor vouchers are a very primitive form of money and they’re not very practical. If you want a pair of shoes, you have a voucher for a pair of shoes, and then you want something else you need another piece of paper. People would very quickly find out that you have to have something that can be exchanged for everything; if not you really get a bureaucracy, it would be much worse than you had in the Soviet Union. If somebody is going to sit somewhere and write out notes for all the possible things that people can buy, and how are they going to count all the things that do exist?

The use of money also implies that you don’t see things as a whole. If you’re going to make a house you need nails, you need a hammer, you need a lot of tools. They’re a lot of people involved in this. If you are going to have nails you have to get iron from somewhere. Someone made the hammer, what did he make the hammer from? What equipment did he need to make the hammer? Who made the equipment that made the equipment that made the hammer? Then you have to eat of course, and who grew the food. From the beginning you have a lot of people involved. If you were to do all these things yourself, even if you worked 24 hours for the rest of your life you probably wouldn’t ever build the house.

And anyway, if a socialist or anarchist society, whatever you call it, is a society where people control their own lives, that means that they also have to control what they produce and what they produce must be directly related to their needs. Which means that you don’t begin with the production, you begin with the needs. People have to define their needs, and then find out how they will satisy these needs. While money implies that you go the other way around.

Money is based on social and geographical isolation between people, and isolation between their needs — it’s based on isolation and it also perpetuates it. It’s difficult to use money in any human sense. If you visited a friend and had to pay for a cup of coffee it would be a different relationship at once. The extent and ease of travel today makes money even more ridiculous. Neighbors always helped one another out without pay. Through communication people talk with each other and make agreements, not by counting but in meeting each other’s needs.

The work and creativity of others to a large extent is our freedom — it gives us more possibilities than if we do everything alone. Freedom means possibilities if it has any meaning at all. If people can’t see that their needs are interconnected it’s not possible to build a socialist society. A socialist society is not just a technical organization – it’s based on human beings, and on human beings controlling their own lives. Without that it’s not socialism.

Editorial: The Scourge of Nationalism

from LLR 14

Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all others. The inhabitants of the other spots reason in like manner…

— Emma Goldman, Patriotism

As we go to press, Croatians, Serbians and Bosnians are engaged in full-scale war. Russia is threatening action against Estonia unless it stops discriminating against ethnic Russians. Border disputes are flaring throughout the former Soviet empire as nationalists try to carve out their own, ethnically-pure nation states.

Thus, we see the “national independence” movements move from the Third World to eastern Europe. Nationalism is not, of course, a new phenomena. But today “civilized” warfare has advanced to the point where entire cities can be levelled in a matter of hours, and tens of thousands slaughtered in mere minutes.

War is tragic enough even when necessitated (as, for example, during the Spanish Revolution) by workers’ self-defense. But its devastation is all the more tragic resulting from the empty chimera of nationalism. There is, at root, no such thing as a nation — nationalism is an empty construct that serves both to conceal internal oppression and to define the vast majority of the world’s population as outside the realm of human solidarity.

As Jose Marti noted, “To change the master is not to be free.” Throughout the Third World, nationalism has served as the vehicle for a new set of masters to take control — but there is no evidence that the majority of the population has benefitted thereby. Nor have the nationalist revolutions in the Soviet Bloc benefitted most workers (as evidenced most recently in Lithuania where voters have ousted the nationalists and returned the former communists to power — not that there is any reason to believe their oppressive yoke will be any lighter).

The nation-state is not a natural community. Rather, nationalism is the political theology of the state — a doctrine evolved to justify all manner of outrages against external and internal threats to the state’s (or the aspiring state’s) interests. Self-determination has nothing to do with it.

Thus, Serbian nationalists relocate Croatian and Moslem populations to concentration camps (when they don’t execute them outright) in order to create ethnically homogenous territories in which to construct their new nation-state.

Indonesian generals massacre residents of East Timor who wish to set up their own nation-state, in the name of preserving the unity of the Indonesian nation (itself a colonial construct devised to simplify administration of far-flung islands).

In the name of nationalism, the U.S. and its allies felt no compunction about massacring Iraqis. In turn, Iraq’s leaders appeal to nationalism to mobilize support for their attacks against the Kurds (whose nationalist “leaders” in turn use their armed forces to suppress efforts by workers to take control of their workplaces).

The anarchist alternative to nationalism, as Sam Dolgoff notes in “Third World Nationalism and the State” (available from LLR), is a libertarian, stateless federation of various peoples with all other peoples of the world. We reject the artificial national boundaries imposed by capitalism and the state to segregate and divide the workers into hostile camps.

Our freedom, our ability to realize our capacities and pursue our desires, can only be realized when we reject nationalist efforts to paint our fellow workers in different parts of the world as “other” — as people whose aspirations and needs are less important or less legitimate than our own. It is time to more beyond international solidarity, with its implicit notion that national boundaries retain some meaning or legitimacy, towards a global solidarity of people struggling to realize our common humanity, and the freedom that we can truly enjoy only when it is extended to all.

Editorial: The Business Unions Can Not Be Reformed

from LLR 22

Shortly before we went to press Teamsters president Ron Carey stepped down amidst a growing scandal about his administration’s embezzlement of union funds to finance his re-election campaign. Carey was elected atop a reform slate heavily backed by Teamsters for a Democratic Union, which waged a long struggle to rid the Teamsters of mob control and undemocratic rule by a handful of bureaucrats who lived lavishly off the Teamsters treasuries. The Carey-TDU slate took charge of the union with the backing and under the aegis of U.S. government-appointed trustees; today the government has withdrawn its sponsorship and a government-appointed former FBI agent once again has full control over union finances. (We discussed at some length Carey’s at-best mixed record as a labor reformer in LLR #20, and critiqued TDU’s strategy and limitations in #15.)

No worker should feel the slightest sympathy for Ron Carey and his cronies. Carey is a life-long union bureaucrat who has not hesitated to use his bureaucratic power to stifle dissidents and to centralize power into his own hands. Where mobster-run locals backed Carey’s administration, he proved more than willing to turn a blind eye to their assaults upon not only the rights but also the bodies of their members. And when he found himself falling behind in his re-election campaign against the Jr. Hoffa forces (Hoffa was lavishly funded by the corrupt local piecards hiding behind his name, and much of his money was almost certainly stolen from union coffers as well), he did not hesitate to raid the Teamsters treasury of what authorities report was at least $735,000 – laundered through a variety of labor and “progressive” organizations en route to Carey’s re-election campaign (though much of the money appears to have been skimmed off in the process).

The scandal continues to spread. Citizens Action has had to close its national office, and the head of the “progressive” telemarketer Share has stepped aside and may yet be moving to a federal jail cell. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney is so far rejecting pressure to dismiss AFL Secretary-Treasurer Rich Trumka (the darling of the labor reform set); $150,000 of Teamsters members’ dues reportedly passed through Trumka’s hands as part of the scheme.

Carey has been barred from running for re-election, and forced to step down from his post. He may yet be expelled from Teamsters membership by a government-controlled review board and/or prosecuted for embezzlement of union funds. The Teamsters “reform” forces are in disarray, desperately searching for some other union bureaucrat who might stand a chance against Jr. Hoffa in next year’s election (though reformers are asking the government to ban Hoffa from standing for office as well). Indeed, the “reformers” don’t seem to recognize what has hit them. Shortly after the scandal broke, but before Carey was disqualified, TDU cochair Mike Ruscigno told Labor Notes, “This is our chance to drive a stake through the heart of the old guard.” And the bankruptcy of the “labor reformer’s” strategy of trying to revitalize and reform the unions by capturing the top offices, relying on the government to lend a hand, is ever more clear.

Ironically, much of the labor “left” is supporting Carey. The once-Trotskyist Workers World Party had practically elevated Carey to the status of a class war prisoner, claiming that his removal is in retaliation for the Teamster’s “victory” in the United Parcel Service strike. (For a critique of the UPS settlement see the October 1997 Industrial Worker, their December issue had a detailed account of the Carey scandal and its causes.) The Association for Union Democracy, which long supported rank-and-file Teamsters in their battle against precisely this sort of abuse of power and looting of union funds, labelled Carey’s election “probably the most democratic in the recorded history of the labor movement.” (The IWW holds more democratic elections every year.) Even those who criticize the Carey campaign’s theft of union funds typically portray it as an aberration — a tragic and ironic episode in Carey’s quest to reform the Teamsters union ignoring the fact that this looting was possible only because rank-and-file Teamsters have little more control over “their” union than they did when it was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mafia.

Building a fighting labor movement can not be accomplished by capturing positions in the union bureaucracy. While it is much easier to gain union office than to build genuine working-class organizations, boring from within the business unions makes sense only if one assumes that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with them – that with a change of officers or a little tinkering with their bylaws, they could be transformed into effective working-class organizations.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Business unions are organized not to prosecute the class war, but rather to smooth over disputes. They are dues-collecting machines whose continuity and stability rely upon a passive membership. Anarcho-syndicalists recognize that no lasting gains can be wages within this framework – instead, what is needed is a fundamentally different unionism based upon the workers ourselves, organized at the point of production. Electing better bureaucrats accomplishes very little. We need to build rank-and-file organizations on the shop floor, relying on direct action and self-organization to improve our conditions, and to lay the groundwork for a fundamental transformation of our unions and our society.

Anarchism in Ukraine, 1980s and 1990s (A Glossary)

This glossary of activists, organizations and publications was compiled to supplement the history of Ukrainian anarchism published in ASR 67:

Anarchiya. Newspaper, central organ of the Revolution Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists (RKAS). Published in Donetsk from 1993 to the present. First editor was Sergei Shevchenko. Numbering of issues was re-started several times; altogether about 100 issues have been published. Circulation: 1,000 – 5,000 copies.

Anarcho-Communist Revolutionary Union (AKRS). An anarchist organization of the perestroika period. Formed in 1988–1989. In contrast to most of the anarchists of the USSR during those years, AKRS adhered to the leftist (communist) ideals of traditional anarchism and oriented itself towards realizing them by violent, revolutionary means. Its organs were the newspapers Chernoye znamya [Black banner] (Leningrad, 1989–1990) and Solidarnost’ [Solidarity] (Moscow, 1989–1991). It broke up in early 1991 when the majority of activists shifted to Trotskyism (Leningrad) or “anarcho-capitalism” (Moscow), although small, isolated cells of AKRS persisted somewhat longer. Its successor twas the Federation of Revolutionary Anarchists (FRAN).

Anarcho-Syndikalist. Central informational and theoretical organ of RKAS. Published in 1994–2003 in Donetsk and Dnepropetrovsk. Editor Sergei Shevchenko, then Anatoliy Dubovik. Published 34 issues. Circulation 200–300 copies.

Anisimov, Yuriy (1962–2002).  Journalist, poet, writer from Zhitomir. Took part in the dissident movement, was persecuted by the KGB. Organizer of the Zhitomir anarchist union, a member of KAS, KAU, IWA-AIT, editor of the newspapers Cherniy Internatsional [The Black International] (1989) and Predtecha [Harbinger] (1990), director of the news agency Nestor and the bulletin of the same name (1991–1993). Remained an anarchist until the end of his life.

Association of Anarchist Movements (ADA). Federation of anarchist organizations of the USSR and countries of the former USSR. Created in the summer of 1990 as an alternative to KAS. Composed mostly of adherents of anarcho-individualism. Main published organs – the newspapers Noviy cvet [The New light] (Leningrad–Petersburg, 1989–2006), Gazyeta saratovskikh anarkhistov [Newspaper of the Saratov anarchists] (Saratov, 1990–1992), Byulleten’ An-Press [An-Press Bulletin] (Leningrad–Petersburg, 1990–1993), Vintovka [Rifle] (Petersburg, Yaroslavl’, 2003–2006), and others. In the 1990s was the most important anarchist formation in the ex-USSR. Affiliated for a time with the International of Anarchist Federations (IAF-IFA). Formally still exists.

Biocosmism. A philosophical doctrine aspiring to the complete liberation of the individual, which sets as its tasks the achievement of personal immortality, free movement through space, and the resurrection of all the dead. Claims to be scientific, but has much in common with mystical-occult teachings. In 1918–1919 the poet Aleksandr Svyatogor began to promote the ideas of biocosmism, and in 1920–1922 headed the organization “Creator of Russian and Muscovite Anarcho-Biocosmists.” The Soviet authorities rendered unofficial support to the “Creator,” using Svyatogor and his disciples to discredit and liquidate the anarchist movement.

Borzykin, Mikhail Borisovich (1962–). Musician poet, leader of the rock group “Televisor” (c. 1984). During perestroika one of the main figures of the rock underground, author of socially acute revolutionary songs (“Your papa – the fascist,” “A Fish rots from the head,” “Out of control”), leader of a protest action against Soviet censorship. One of the few rock musicians of the former USSR to remain independent of show business and the state, a regular participant in anti-government demonstrations of the 1990s – 2010s.

Bunt – delo pravoye [Insurrection is a just action]. Newspaper, organ of the Cherkassy anarchist union. Successor of the newspaper Makhnovets. Editor: Nikolay Ozimov. Published one (?) issue in early 1991.

Cherkassy Anarchist Union of Youth. Anarchist group in the city of Cherkassy. Existed 1993–1994. Membership: around 10 – 15. Subjected to constant pressure from right-wing nationalist groups, which led to its dissolution.

Chornaya subbota [Black Saturday]. Newspaper, organ of the Confederation of Independent Trade Union of the Zaporozhye Region. Published in 1990 by members of the Zaporozhye branch of KAS. Editor: Artur Grigoryan. Four issues.

Chornaya znamya [Black Banner]. Newspaper, organ of AKRS. Published in Leningrad from August 1989 to August 1990. Editor: Dmitriy Zhvaniya. Twelve issues. Circulation: up to 3,000 copies. First issues played an important role in establishing the anarcho-communist movement in the USSR. In the summer of 1990, the leaders of the AKRS began a process of evolving towards Trotskyism which was reflected in the content of the newspaper. In the autumn of 1991 the remnants of AKRS attempted to revive Chornaya znamya under the editorship of Viktor Shchepotov, but were able to publish only one issue.

Chorniy Internatsional [Black International].  Newspaper, organ of Zhitomir anarcho-syndicalists. Published in Zhitomir in late 1989. Editor: Yuriy Anisimov. Three issues published with a circulation of 500.

Committee of Ukrainian Anarcho-Nationalists (KUAN). Group of Kievan anarchists. A breakaway from the extreme right-wing National-Democratic Party of Ukraine. In 1991 it consisted of two members (Yuriy Dokukin and Oleg Novikov). Concerned itself exclusively with hoaxing; both members had the reputation of being provocateurs. In the same year the group transformed into the “Front of the Anarcho-Revolutionary Avantgarde.”

Communist Union of Anarchists. Underground group of students of the history faculty of Dnepropetrovskiy National University. Membership of 10–12 people. Liquidated by the KGB in 1979. Practically all members gave a signed statement breaking with anarchism and the repression they were subject to was limited to expulsion from the university and the Komsomol. Strelkovskiy was sent for compulsory psychiatric treatment. Two or three former members of the Union took part in the anarchist movement during perestroika.

Confederation of Anarchists of Ukraine (KAU). Ukrainian anarchist organization of the perestroika period. Considered as the successor of the organization of the same name during the Russian Revolution of 1917–1921. Created in May 1990 as a regional organization of KAS. Printed organ: the newspaper Predtecha (Zhitomir, 1990). Maximum membership: 500. Dissolved around 1993. Attempts to resuscitate KAU occurred in 1994–1995.

Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists (KAS). First legal organization of anarchists of the USSR, created during perestroika in 1988–1989. Main publications: magazine: Obshchina [Commune] (Moscow, 1987–1993); newspapers: Volya [Liberty] (Moscow, 1989–1991), Nabat [Tocsin] (Kharkov, 1989–1900), Golos truda [The Voice of labour] (Novosibirsk, 1990–1991), Rabochiy [The Worker] (Seversk, 1993–1995); bulletin: KAS–KOR, then KAS–Kontakt (Moscow, 1990–1993), etc. Up until the spring of 1990 included the vast majority of anarchists of the USSR. Maximum membership – in the 3,000–5,000 range. In 1992–1995 quickly lost influence and virtually disappeared. Today small groups of anarcho-syndicalists in Siberia operate under the name KAS.

Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of the Zaporozhye Region. Regional trade union organization of the reformist type common in Western democracies, i.e. not anarcho-syndicalist, but still independent of the official Soviet state system. Created in early 1990 on the initiative of members of the Zaporozhye branch of KAS. Leaders: Artur Grigoryan, Dmitriy Dundich, and others. Printed organ: the newspaper Chornaya subbota [Black Saturday] (Zaporozhye, 1990). Maximum membership: 5,000 – 6,000. Dissolved at the start of the 1990s.

Damier, Vadim Valer’yevich (1959–). Moscow historian. As a young man he was drawn to Maoism. During perestroika he became an anarcho-communist, joined KAS and AKRS, and later was a leader of the Initiatives of Revolutionary Anarchists and the Confederation of Revolutionary Anarcho-Syndicalists. Editor of many anarchist publications.

Delo Truda [The Cause of Labor]. Newspaper, “the organ of Dnepropetrovsk anarchists.” Published “without official permission” from the end of 1988 till May 1990. Editor: Oleg Dubrovskiy. Number of issues published: 13.

Dokukin, Yuriy (1973–). Political adventurer from Kiev. In 1991 declared himself an anarcho-communist, organizer of the mythical “Front of the Anarcho-Revolutionary Avant-garde.” In the mid-1990s moved to the Maoists, leading a series of organizations which superseded one another: “Left Association of Youth,” “Revolutionary Communist Youth,” “Coordinating Council of the Labor Movement.” Had a reputation as a provocateur and blackmailer in the socialist movement. Ceased political activity at the start of the 2000s.

Dubovik, Anna Vladimirovna (1968–2005). Anarchist from Dnepropetrovsk, member of KAS, KAU, RKAS.

Dubrovskiy, Oleg Borisovich (1954–). Metalworker from Dnepropetrovsk. His anarchist propaganda among the workers dated from the late 1970s. Editor of the newspaper Delo truda (1988–1990). Starting in 1989, joined KAS, AKRS, FRAN. Organizer of independent unions and a strike movement. In 1994 he declared himself a Trotskyist, joined the “Socialist Labor Union,” collaborated with the “International Committee of the Fourth International” and the “World Socialist Web Site.” Since the start of the 2000s, has occupied himself with journalistic work as an independent anti-authoritarian Marxist.

Federation of Anarchists of the Donbas (FAD). Organization of anarcho-syndicalists of the Donbas, the eastern part of Ukraine. Created in 1990 as a regional organization of KAS and KAU. Composed of worker and student groups in Donetsk and other cities. Leader: Sergey Shevchenko. Published the newspaper Anarchiya starting in 1993. In 1994 FAD was instrumental in forming the Revolutionary Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists (RKAS); FAD remains to this day as the ideological-practical center of RKAS.

Federation of Revolutionary Anarchists (FRAN). International organization of anarchists based on post-Soviet territory, successor of AKRS. Founded in January 1992, bringing together adherents of revolutionary-communist anarchism from Russia, Ukraine, and Belorus. Dissolved in 1994–1995. The successors of FRAN were RKAS (Ukraine) and the Confederation of Revolutionary Anarcho-Syndicalists (KRAS: Russia, Belorus), which are still in existence today.

Federation of Socialist Social Clubs (FSOK). Interregional non-government organization in the USSR. Created in August 1987 as a federation of groups and clubs of various socialist tendencies opposing the hegemony of the KPSS. Played a noteworthy role in the political life of the USSR in 1987–1988. One of the ideological centers of FSOK was the Moscow group Obshchina and its journal of the same name. Dissolved in the summer–autumn of 1988, giving rise to the Union of Independent Socialists (soon becoming the Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists), the Socialist Party, and a number of other organizations.

Fidel’man, Vladimir Igorevich (1965– ). Journalist from Kharkov. During perestroika was one of the leaders of the anarchist movement in Ukraine, a member of KAS and KAU, editor of the newspaper Nabat (Kharkov, 1989–1990), organizer of the Fighting Anarcho-Revolutionary Union (BARS). After 1992 broke with anarchism. Today – a well-known fantasy writer (under the pseudonym Vladimir Sverzhin), vice-president of the Ukrainian College of Heraldry, and an instructor for the International Federation of Karate.

Fighting Anarcho-Revolutionary Union (BARS). Organization of Kharkov anarchists. Created in early 1990 to defend civil society and oppose possible Jewish pogroms. Composed of former military personnel (including veterans of the war in Afghanistan), workers, and students. Leader: Vladimir Fidel’man. Dissolved in 1991.

Front of the Anarcho-Revolutionary Vanguard (FARA). Group of Kiev anarchists. Existed during 1991–1992, with two members: Yuriy Dokukin and Oleg Novikov. Occupied exclusively with mystification, both members of the group were known as provocateurs.

GKChP [State Committee on the State of Emergency]. Self-proclaimed highest organ of state power in the USSR, formed on August 18, 1991, with the aim of putting an end to “extremist forces that have embarked on the course toward liquidating the Soviet Union, ruining the state and seizing power at any cost.” Committee chair was Vice-President of the USSR Gennady Yanayev. Unable to control the situation, the Committee was liquidated on August 21–22 by supporters of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR led by Boris Yeltsin. Members of the GKChP were arrested and charged with attempting a coup d’état, but were amnestied in 1994.

Golos truda [The Voice of Labor]. Newspaper, “independent bulletin of the Agency of anarcho-syndicalists.” Published by RKAS in Donetsk in 1995–1996. Editors: Tatyana Nosach, Sergei Shevchenko. Around 20 issues published with a circulation of 500–1000 copies.

Grigoryan, Artur (1966–). One of the leaders of the Zaporozhye organization of KAS-KAU during perestroika. Organizer of the Confederation of independent trade unions of the Zaporozhye region and editor of its newspaper Chornaya subbota (1990). In the early 1990s he went into business and virtually dropped out of the anarchist movement.

Gulyai-Polye. Journal, organ of the Donetsk branch of KAS. Its only issue was published in October–November 1989, and was printed by hand on a duplicator. Editor: Sergei Shevchenko. Circulation: several dozen copies.

Il’erkin, Leonid Sergeyevich (1973–). Sociologist, journalist. Joined the organizations of KAS-KAU and AKRS in Dnepropetrovsk starting in 1989. Left the anarchist movement in 1991, worked as a public relations director, marketing expert, translator. In 2010 returned to political activism, belonged to RKAS for a while. Today a member of the Kiev Trotskyist group Borba [Struggle].

Initiative of Revolutionary Anarchists of Ukraine (IREANU). Anarcho-communist group from Kiev. Create in 1993 as a local branch of “Initiatives of Revolutionary Anarchists” in countries of the former USSR. Leader – Vladimir Zadiraka. Membership – not more than 20 people. Dissolved in the second half of the 1990s.

International Workers’ Association (IWA-AIT). Anarcho-syndicalist International, founded in 1922.

Internatsional’naya rabochaya assotsiatsiya (IRA) [International Labour Association]. Anarcho-syndicalist organization founded in early 1991. Originally composed of small syndicates, mostly representing journalists and other workers in the field of communications. Leaders: Vladislav Strelovskiy, Yuriy Anisimov. From 1994 active exclusively in Dnepropetrovsk, included two self-managed collectives of hairdressers. Dissolved in 1999 as a result of pressure from the authorities.

Inter-Regional Deputies’ Group (IRDG).  Fraction of deputies of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in 1989–1991, the first legal Soviet parliamentary opposition. Advocated reform of the Soviet system, especially the introduction of multiple parties and private property. Leaders of the IRDG were veteran dissident Andrei Sakharov and former Communist Party official Boris Yeltsin. In 1990 the IRDG became the basis of the “Democratic Russia” bloc, which received a plurality of seats in parliamentary elections; in 1991 Yeltsin became president of Russia. After the dissolution of the USSR, the IRDG and “Democratic Russia” broke into several parties.

Izvestiya RKAS [RKAS Report]. Information bulletin published by RKAS around the turn of the century (1990s–2000s).

Khadzhiev, Georgiy (1910–1990). Bulgarian anarcho-communist.

Kharkov organization of KAS-KAU. The most important anarchist organization of Ukraine during perestroika. Created in 1989. Leaders: Vladimir Radchenko, Igor Rassokha, Evgeniy Solov’yev, Vladimir Fidel’man. Published organ: the newspaper Nabat (1989–1990). Maximum membership: 100 – 150. At the beginning of the 1990s most of the leaders started to make careers in organs of government and broke with anarchism, after which the organization fell apart. Attempts to revive it were undertaken in 1993–1994.

Khmara, Stepan Il’ich (1937– ). Ukrainian nationalist. Participant in the dissident movement from the end of the 1960s. Persecuted by the KGB, served seven years in camps. During perestroika became one of the leaders of the extreme right-wing Ukrainian Republican Party. In 1990 elected a deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR. Today a member of the Ukrainian People’s Party.

Kinchev, Konstantin Evgen’yevich (1958–). Musician, poet, leader of the rock group “Alice” (c. 1984). In the 1980s wrote socially conscious songs, some of which were direct reflections of his anarchist views of those years (“Red on Black,” “Time to Change the Name,” “It’s All Rock-’n-Roll,” “My Generation”). Took to the barricades as a member of an anarchist brigade during the GKChP mutiny of 1991. Later became a supporter of Russian nationalism. Today a member of Patriarchal Council for Culture of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Kirichenko, Vladimir Nikolayevich (1948–). Teacher from Zaporozhye. Took part in the underground dissident and anarchist movement in the USSR starting in 1968. By the end of the 1970s was one of the key figures in distributing underground literature (“samizdat”) in Ukraine. From 1982 was subject to persecution by the KGB. Founder of the anarcho-mystical “World Brotherhood of Anarchists” (1988). Spent some time as a member of KAS (1989–1991) and RKAS (2007–2009. Today – a lecturer in the philosophy department of Zaporozhsky National University, and an anarchist by conviction.

Komsomol, All-USSR Leninist-Communist Union of Youth (VLKSM). Youth organization of the KPSS [Communist Party of the Soviet Union]. By the 1950s membership had become virtually obligatory for some categories of youth (students, members of the armed services), which soon resulted in the lack of any well-defined ideology for the mass of ordinary members. During perestroika members of the Komsomol formed the basis of opposition movements ranging from anarchists to Nazis, and senior officials of the Komsomol soon became the first post-Soviet capitalists.

Kostyenko, Dmitriy Gennad’yevich (1967–). Moscow sociologist and journalist. In 1989 became an anarcho-communist, joined KAS, then was one of the organizers of the “Initiative of Revolutionary Anarchists” and chairman of the “Studyencheskaya zashchita” [Student Defense] alliance. Pioneer of the “orange movement” in the USSR. Editor of the publications Velikiy otkaz [The Great refusal] (1990–1991), Chornaya zvesda [Black Star] (1992–1994), Noviy Nestor [The New Nestor] (1994–1996). From the mid-1990s was connected with Maoist groups, promoted the practice of Juche (the ideology of North Korea), joined the National Bolshevik Party, in connection with which he was accused of deliberately discrediting the anarchist movement and provocation. Ceased political activity at the start of the 2000s.

KPSS [Communist Party of the Soviet Union]. Name of the Soviet Marxist-Leninist party ever since 1952. The ruling and only legal party of the USSR until it was banned in 1991.

Kronstadt Revolt. Uprising of sailors of the Baltic fleet and workers of the city of Kronstadt against the Bolshevik regime in March 1921. Strongly influenced by anarchist ideas. Suppressed by the Bolsheviks with great brutality.

Krylov, Mikhail Alekseyevich (1966–). Miner-tunneller, union activist from Donetsk. From 1989 one of the leaders of the independent labor movement in the USSR. Head of the Donetsk Independent Union of Miners of Ukraine and the city strike committee during the general strike of miners in 1996. When the strike was crushed, he was arrested and sentenced to two years of prison, but was soon released under the terms of an amnesty. In the mid-1990s he sympathized with the anarchists and worked closely with RKAS. Today he continues to head the DNPGU.

Left Association of Youth (LOM).  Left-radical organization of Kiev, created in March 1993. Brought together supporters of various socialist tendencies from social-democracy to anarchism, with a predominance of Maoists and anarchists. Leaders: Vladimir Zadiraka, Vladimir Osipenko, Pavel Shidlovskiy. Despite its small membership (25 people), for a long time it was the most active left-wing organization in the capital of Ukraine. Dissolved at the end of the 1990s.

Makhnovets. Newspaper, “organ of the anarchists-makhnovists.” Published “without prior arrangement” in Cherkassy in 1988–1990. Editor: Nikolai Ozimov. Circulation: 500 – 3,000. Published at least seven issues.

“Memorial.” International association of non-governmental historical-research and human-rights organizations. Started in 1987–88 to study the history of political repression in the USSR, as well as arranging for material and legal assistance to the victims of repression and their descendants. During the first years of its existence, often served as legal cover for activities of opponents of the Soviet regime.

Nabat [Alarum]. Newspaper, organ of KAS. Five issues were published in Kharkov from the summer of 1989 till January 1990. Editors: Vladimir Radchenko and Vladimir Fidel’man. Circulation: 3,000–5,000 copies. Played an important role in the process of organizing the anarchists of Ukraine during perestroika.

Nestor. News agency founded in Zhitomir in early 1991 by members of KAS-KAU. Director: Yuriy Anisimov. In 1991–1993 published the news bulletin Nestor, dealing with news about the anarchist movement and social life. Around 300 issues were published.

Novikov, Oleg Anatol’yevich (1973–). Political adventurer, whose social activity began in the extreme right-wing National-Democratic Party of Ukraine. In 1991 declared himself an anarcho-communist, the organizer of the mythical “Front of the Anarcho-Revolutionary Vanguard” and the “Association of Anarchist Movements (Marxist-Leninist).” In 1992 moved from Ukraine to Belarus, took part in the creation of the Federation of Anarchists of Belarus and the Confederation of Revolutionary Anarchists. Had a reputation as a provocateur in the anarchist movement, and in 1996 was officially declared a provocateur by the German FAU. Today – chairman of the Green Party of Belarus, and a parliamentary opposition politician.

Novomirskiy, Yakov (1882–after 1936). Ideologue of anarcho-syndicalism in Russia.

Obshchina. Historical political club, then an historical-political association. Founded in September 1987 by students of the faculties of history and physics of Moscow University who were interested in socialist tendencies, anarchism especially, which offered an alternative to the official Marxist-Leninist ideology. Published a journal of the same name which made the club the center for bringing together similar groups from other cities of the USSR. In early 1989 the Obshchina group provided the basis for creation of the Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists (KAS).

Obshchina. Journal, organ of the historical-political association of the same name, then of the Moscow branch of KAS. Published from September 1987 till September 1993. Forty-nine editions came out, including three special issues. Editors were Vladimir Gubarev, Andey Isayev, Aleksandr Shubin, Vladlyen Tupikin, and others. The journal played an outstanding role in the establishment and development of the anarchist movement in the USSR.

Ozimov, Nikolay Mikhailovich (c. 1943–2005). Professional engraver from Cherkassy. From the early 1960s distributed anarchist leaflets and so subjected to systematic persecution by the KGB, resulting in several prison terms and forced psychiatric treatment. Carried on lengthy (up to 10 months long) hunger strikes, and became an invalid. In 1989–1991 joined KAS and KAU, edited the newspaper Makhnovets. In the early 1990s declared himself a wizard and healer, tried to create an anarcho-pagan sect “Volka Luna” [Wolf Moon].

Perestroika. [Rebuilding.] Period in the history of the USSR (1985-1991), during which top party leaders initiated a series of economic and political reforms which ended in the collapse of so-called “socialist bloc” and the USSR itself.

Pirumova, Natalya Mikhailovna (1923–1997). Soviet historian. Wrote studies of Herzen, Bakunin, and Kropotkin which were published during the Brezhnev era. Despite censorship and a superficial fidelity to the official ideology, her books provided a glimpse of libertarian thought. During the last years of her life, she called herself an anarchist and took part in demonstrations in memory of Kropotkin.

Predtecha. Newspaper, organ of KAS. Pubished in Zhitomir from April to August 1990. Editor Yuriy Anisimov. Three issues with a circulation of between one and two thousand.

Pryama diya. [Direct action.] Student organization in Kiev. Created in 1993, it was strongly influenced by anarchist and Maoist ideas. Dissolved at the end of the 1990s. A new left-radical student organization with the same name was started in Kiev in 2008 and is still in existence.

Radchenko, Vladimir (1964–). One of the leaders of the Ukrainian anarchists during perestroika, a member of KAS and KAU. Editor of the newspaper Nabat (Kharkov, 1989–1990). In 1991 was elected a deputy to the Kharkov oblast Soviet and soon broke with anarchism.

Rassokha, Igor Nikolayevich (1965– ). Historian and philosopher from Kharkov. One of the principal leaders of the anarchist movement of Ukraine during perestroika, a member of KAS and KAU. In 1991 became the assistant of the deputy chairperson of the Ukrainian parliament and left the anarchist movement. Today he is an associate professor at the Kharkov National Academy of Municipal Economy, and an advisor to the head of the Department of humanitarian issues of the Kharkov regional state administration.

Revolutionary Confederation of Anarchists-Syndicalists (RKAS). Organization of anarcho-syndicalists and anarcho-communists of Ukraine. Founded in October 1994. Printed organs: the newspaper Anarkhiya (Donetsk, published from 1993), the journal Anarkho-syndikalist (Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, 1994–2003), and others. Maximum membership: 200 – 250. Still in existence and  active in Ukraine, Georgia, Russia.

Revolutionary proletarian cells (RPYa). The first Trotskyist organization in the USSR. Created in the summer of 1990 on the basis of the Leningrad branch of the Anarcho-Communist Revolutionary Union. Leader Dmitriy Zhvaniya. Printed organs: the newspaper Rabochaya bor’ba [The Worker’s struggle] (1990–1996) and the bulletin Sotsialisticheskiy rabochiy (1991–1992). In 1991–1993 affiliated with the Trotskyist International Socialist Tendency. In 1997 joined the National-Bolshevik Party.

Rokotchistogoserdtsa [This portmanteau name emphasized a dual meaning: “Rock from the pure heart” and “Murmur of the pure heart”]. Newspaper. Pubished in Lugansk by members of a local rock club in 1990–1991. Devoted to the popularization of rock music, anarchism and Buddhism.

Rukh, “National Movement of Ukraine.” Ukrainian political organization. Created in September 1989 as a citizens’ movement in support of democratic reform in the USSR. Originally Rukh brought together adherents of very different views, from liberal communists to radical nationalists. Some anarchists also participated in starting Rukh. In 1990–1991 several organizations split from Rukh, after which it was transformed into a political party with a national-democratic line. Today it is the Ukrainian People’s Party “Rukh.”

Sakharov, Andrey Dmitrievich (1921–1989). Physicist, creator of the Soviet hydrogen bomb. In the 1960s he took up a position in opposition to the Soviet regime, becoming the best-known dissident and human rights advocate in the USSR. Nobel laureate (1975). During perestroika was considered the spiritual leader of the democratic opposition.

Shevchuk, Yuriy Yulianovich (1957– ). Musician, poet, leader of the rock group DDT (started in 1980). Son of Party bigwig, became a hippy at 15 and a staunch opponent of the Soviet regime. Persecuted by the KGB. During perestroika called himself an anarchist, and was a leading representative of socially-conscious rock music (the songs “Revolution,” “Time,” “Terrorist,” etc.). Later continued to perform songs on social themes, and remained one of the main figures of the Russian rock scene, but was no longer connected with the anarchist movement. Supports the democratic opposition to Putin’s regime.

“Solidarity” [Independent Self-governing Trade Union “Solidarity”]. Federation of independent-of-the-state unions opposing the ruling regime in Poland. Created in 1980, and carried on an active struggle for economic and social interests of the workers. After the introduction of martial law in December 1981, went underground. Legalized at the end of the 1980s and victorious in the parliamentary elections of 1989. The leader of Solidarity, Lech Wałęsa, became president of Poland and expedited the process of capitalist reforms.

Solov’yev, Yeveniy (1965–). A leader of the Ukrainian anarchists during the perestroika period, a member of KAS and KAU. In 1991 was elected a deputy of the Kharkov oblast Soviet and broke with anarchism. Subsequently worked as a lawyer. Today – a deputy of the Kharkov city Soviet and secretary of the environmental organization “Green Front.”

Sotsprof. Federation of independent trade unions of the USSR, then Russia. Created in April 1989. Originally called the “Federation of Socialist Trade Unions of the USSR,” bringing together supporters of various socialist tendencies, from “pure-and-simple” unionists to communists. Leaders: Sergey Khramov, Lev Volovik, and others. In 1991 transformed into the “Federation of Russian Trade Unions Sotsprof”; by that time left-of-center views dominated in the organization. In the 1990s participated in founding the Pan-Russian Confederation of Labor and the Russian Party of Labor. Still in existence.

Strelkovskiy, Vladislav Alekseyevich (1955–?). Photographer, later an unskilled laborer, from Dnepropetrovsk. While a student, organized the Communist Union of Anarchists (1978–1979). Constantly persecuted by the KGB. In 1989–1991 joined KAS, KAU and AKRS, then started the anarchist International Labor Association, which dissolved in 1999. Spent some time in RKAS. Disappeared at the end of the 2000s.

Tigra Nigra [Black Tigers]. Anarcho-communist group from Kiev. Created in 1996 by students of Kiev University. Leader: Maksim Butkevich. Around 20 members. newspaper Pereday dal’she [Go further] (1998). Dissolved in 1998 as a result of police persecution.

UVD [Dept. of Internal Affairs]. Police department; territorial branch of the Ministry of Internal Affairs; also known as the “militia.”

Ukrainian National Self-Defense [full name: Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self-Defense, UNA-UNSO]. Ukrainian radical right-wing party. Created in 1990–1991. Leaders in the 1990s were Oleg Bitovich, Dimitriy Korchinskiy, Yuriy Shukhevich, etc. Militarized formations of UNA-UNSO took part in many armed conflicts on the territory of the former USSR during the period 1991–2008. Today operates as a right-wing parliamentary opposition under the leadership of Shukhevich.

Ukrsotsprof. Federation of independent trade unions of the Ukrainian SSR. Created in 1990 as part of the “Federation of Socialist Trade Unions of the USSR Sotsprof.” In 1990–1991 anarcho-syndicalists exerted an appreciable influence in the organization. After the dissolution of the USSR carried on for some time independently. Ceased existence in the early 1990s.

Ukrainian SSR [Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic]. Quasi-state formation in the structure of the USSR. At the end of 1991 transformed into the independent state Ukraine.

Verkhovnyy Soviet [Supreme Soviet]. Highest legislative organ of the USSR; its constituent union and autonomous republics also had their own Supreme Soviets. These bodies were analogous to the national and regional parliaments of Western-style democracies.

Vosstayushaya Ukraina [Insurgent Ukraine]. Journal, organ of RKAS for promoting anarchism in youth sub-cultures. Editor: Sergei Shevchenko. Published in Donetsk in 2000–2001. Two issues printed.

World Brotherhood of Anarchists. Group of mystical anarchists. Started by Vladimir Kirichenko in Zaporozhye in 1988; affiliated with KAS for some time. Membership: around 10 people. Unsuccessfully tried to extend its activities to other cities of the USSR. Formally still exists.

Zhitomirskiy Anarchist Union (ZhAS). Organization of anarcho-syndicalists of Zhitomir. Created in 1989. Leader Yuriy Anisimov. Maximum membership – 20 people. Published the newspapers Chorniy Internatsional (1989) and Predtecha (1990). Dissolved in 1992–1993.