Comment about Issue 1

Over the last two decades anarchism has returned from the edge of extinction. At a time when the rest of the left has been in decline anarchism has grown, re-establishing itself in country after country. However anarchism as a movement has never had a significant foothold in any of the English speaking countries (ES). There were movements in the USA and London around the turn of the century but both of these were limited to the immigrant community and failed to survive after World War I. Now that the authoritarian left has collapsed, the alternative that anarchism offers should be more attractive than ever. However because of the perceived weakness of anarchist theory, and the fact that in the ES those using the label 'anarchist' are commonly anti-organisational and counter-cultural in outlook, anarchism is not yet looked at seriously by those seeking alternative politics.

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This article first appeared in Red & Black Revolution No 1.
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Contents of
Issue 1

(October 1994)


The Left: Ashes to Phoenix

The Left: Time to be constructive!

Lessons of Trade Union Fightback

Freedom & Revolution

Marx & the State

Syndicalism : Its strengths & weaknesses

Review: Grassroots democracy




In addition many of the small anarchist groups that exist are going through a mini-crisis. For too long they have seen themselves solely as an opposition to the rest of the left, a voice in the wilderness. There has been no real thought of how to become the major organising force for revolution. This has generated a lack of seriousness reflected in sloppy politics and the absence of co-ordinated intervention in struggles.

These are the audiences we are seeking to address in this new publication, Red & Black Revolution. We will be talking about the sort of politics the left needs in order to succeed in changing the world. We will be arguing for anarchism with those looking for a new direction for the left. We will be advocating a particular tendency in anarchism, most commonly called 'Platformism' after the 1926 publication The Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists. We will be discussing our concrete experience of campaigns in Ireland, experiences we feel have lessons for activists everywhere. We will be bringing in-depth features on the international movement, that will attempt to give a flavour of the broader picture of the anarchist movement. Through the combination of this work we hope to encourage a new direction not only in left politics in the ES but also of anarchist politics.

In this issue we look at the state of the left today, why it is in this state and how to get out of it. Describing the crisis of the left is the easy part and has been done elsewhere by ourselves and others. Uprooting the causes beyond the superficial ones is more difficult. We identify the cause in the authoritarian practise and theory of the left. Freedom is identified as a key concept much neglected by the left but one that is central to change. The right has managed to appropriate the buzzwords of freedom, choice, and democracy despite the fact that these are things few of us encounter in our day-to-day lives. For the left to reclaim them it is first necessary to demolish the 'free world' edifice constructed by the right. We start this process by examining the role of parliamentary 'democracy' in the developing world.

A movement capable of overthrowing capitalism is yet to be built. But there are movements arising or continuing that incorporate some of the necessary features. These are powerful indicators of the possible. Anarcho-syndicalism represents perhaps the oldest surviving example available. The rebellion in southern Mexico would seem to represent the most recent. We also look at an attempt to challenge the domination of Irish trade unions by bureaucratic deals. It is by understanding the potential and also the problems of such movements that we can begin to see what is required.

So welcome to a new publication. We hope you find our work useful, we don't claim to know all the answers, rather we are exploring with you the possibilities of change. Change is our goal, not just of the left but of the world.


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