Talk:Anarchism and Marxism

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I have started this page as discussed with User:Fifelfoo at Talk:Anarchism. Possible additions include:

  • developing a fuller section on the historical conflict between anarchists and Marxists;
  • developing a section on the ideological conflict between anarchism and Marxism;
  • a discussion of the common roots of modern anarchism and modern Marxism;
  • developing a section on the methodological similarities (dialectical materialism and class analysis) between Marxists and anarchists -- 'class struggle' anarchists in particular.

I think this could be a very useful and interesting article! --Sam 11:33, 28 Nov 2003 (UTC)

For the first sentence to be true ("Anarchism and Marxism are similar political philosophies which emerged in the nineteenth century"), wouldn't there need to be some leading Marxists, including Marx, who called anarchism and Marxism similar? Trotsky called anarchists cowards who "hide from power." Lenin publicly rejected anarchism with a specific eight-point program in 1905. Marx wrote with contempt of Stirner, Proudhon and Bakunin.
Given the anarchist thrust of the article, one imagines that the anarchist is like the annoying young tag-along in the circle of Marxist big kids, thinking he is part of the group even after he's been ditched. AECwriter 16:32, 24 November 2012 (UTC)AECwriter

From Anarchism:

Some critics of anarchism suggest that it is a rhetorical form, whereby individuals can cloak the pursuit of their own interests behind an interlocking web of abstract concepts. Some anarchists speculate that freedom is unconstrained desire. Marx suggested that this desire was the material basis of the Anarchy of the market. Both Marxism and some forms of anarchism use the fluid manipulation of concepts through historical materialism, which links ideas with their social basis. Hence these historical materialists dismiss the idea of freedom as unconstrained desire, arguing that it is a politics for those who do not know what they want. The prominance of the idea that freedom is unconstrained desire in the English-speaking world may explain the development of anarchism in the West into an identity politics, albeit with a dissident White identity.

This is nonsense, read the organizational platform of the libertariam communists, looks at the workers solidarity movement, the zabalaza anarchist communist federation. From the Bottom up is NOT empty rethoric, the key difference is the relationship between revolutionary militants and the masses, anarchists try to participate in popular struggles trying to lead them by example into organized action instead of imposing it upon them by the threat and use of violence. The organizations they build reflect this, that is why they advocate the voluntary association of workers in base assemblies and the free federation of workers via mandated spokepersons or delegates. They work and fight as equals not rulers. The same could be said of many marxists, however, when they accumulate enough power most abandon this way of doing things and build a hierarchical and bureaucratical rule OVER the working class.

By lumping anarchists with individualists you use an old chicanery, it is the same as lumping trotskyists and stalinists together and accusing both of defendind peaceful coexistance.

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 19:50, 2 Jul 2006 (UTC)

There's a section in Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto where they critique some anarchists who also considered themselves socialists. If I recall correctly, they also compliment these anarchists for being the most consistent in holding to the vision of socialism. I think it is also important to note that while Marx and Engels are monumental figures in communism/socialism and political philosophy in general, their ideas are not original. By this, I mean that communism/socialism preceded Marx and Engels. Let's not treat Marx's work like a biblical canon and ignore everything that came before him. -- Laaperitif — Preceding unsigned comment added by Laaperitif (talkcontribs) 18:30, 19 August 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I first created the Anarchist Objections to Capitalism page, then moved it per suggestion to Anarchism and Capitalism (someone has since decapitalized "capitalism", heh) -- there was a redirect from here to Anarchist Objections to Marxism but to be consistent I've redirected the redirects so that this is where the Anarchism vs. marxism (though mostly from the anarchist viewpoint) debate should unfold, as it did originally. Expand it! --albamuth 05:29, 31 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Improve it, please...[edit]

This article, from where I stand, lacks rigor and useful information.

--GTubio 07:33, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)

"Anarchism remained illegal in the Soviet Union from this period until its 1991 collapse." I can't find a date for when it was made illegal. Can someone provide, as this is probably important. Isiod 08:30, 30 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Shouldn't a (very) large part of this article be concerned with the historical relationship between Anarchists and Marxists? It's discussed on other pages, but not in detail, which is strange considering it's importance. I'm suprised the Spanish Revolution, the Ukrainian guerillas, Goldman and Berkman, Cuba, China and so on hasn't come up.

Or is that all worthy of it's own page, or does such a page already exist? --Ragnor Ironpants 16:40, 17 August 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There is a lot of information about the split of the First International, which was primarily a fight between Marx and Bakunin, I believe. However I do not have the background to elaborate on it. --albamuth 20:58, 22 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Changes to "understanding of class" section[edit]

I made a number of revisions:

There was a half-paragraph discussing the consequences of the supposed fact that no Marxist revolution has been led by workers, which I removed in its entirety. Not only is the premise false - the Russian revolution for one was led by the Bolsheviks a clear majority of whom, by that point, were workers - but there were several major inaccuracies in the following discussion, e.g. identifying the "labor aristocracy" thesis as a basic tenet of Leninism when it is highly contested.

I added a very brief discussion of the Marxist position on the relation between class and other oppressions, and the criticisms of it. I also added a very brief discussion of Marxist positions on inevitability, and the famous Luxemburg phrase.

I removed "agricultural workers" from a list of non-working-class groups, because agricultural wage-laborers, in contrast to peasants, are working-class by the Marxist definition. A related problem in the sentence below I could not solve, and would appreciate help with:

Key differences thus include the fact that Anarchists do not differentiate between peasants, lumpen, and proletarians and instead define all people who work for wage labor as members of the working class, regardless of occupation;

This is self-contradictory. Peasants, by definition in the standard use of the term, do not work for wage labor. They own land or rent it and live by eating or selling the crop they grow. I am not an anarchist, and I do not know whether anarchists usually believe that peasants are not workers or whether they believe that some people who don't work for wage labor are still workers, but one or the other must be the case.

An aside - there's a general pro-anarchist and anti-Marxist bias in this article. I'm not going to try to correct all of it, just noting the fact. Kalkin 00:35, 20 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Also, it has a clear pareconist view, wich is not the position of many in the anarchist movement (to wich pareconists contestedly belong).

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 19:50, 2 Jul 2006 (UTC)J

Just a note, there is a tendency in this article and on this talk page to conflate the worker-coordinator-owner class theory with Parecon because the Pareconists have been the most vocal with it in the west. that's a false conflation, however. it actually originated with dissident anti-soviet activists in the ussr who wanted to keep socialism but overthrow the dictatorship, they were sort of post-marxist-but-not-necessarily-anarchist in orientation. Unfortunately, i don't have a citeable source for this. One of my Profs grew up in russia and was a party member there until he got a book from a friend which was circulating in the underground press and which made this argument. as he tells the story reading this book and realizing a second revolution would be needed to save socialism from the dictatorship was a major part of the process that led to him eventually fleeing to the west. i think it's still appropriate to list this theory primarily relevant to anarchists, however, because i don't know of any marxist organizations that have picked it up and i've heard it thrown around quite a lot in anarchist circles lately, not just by pareconists. just a random tidbit that might be of interest... if anyone who speaks russian wants to look for the original work on the topic that'd be awesome, my searches in english thus far have (predictably) turned up precisely nada. Anarchocelt 20:56, 12 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

See the article New Class for Soviety-style society inspired concepts of a managerial class, as developed by communists. Fifelfoo (talk) 03:18, 15 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

state section = POV[edit]

The section describing views of the state is seriously biased towards anarchism/against Marxism. There are a number of language-strength issues, and space allocation issues, and there is a tendency to conflate all Marxist views with Leninism, or even with Stalinism - Marxists of course agree that the state is an instrument of class rule (contra this article, so do some anarchists), but have widely varying views on its relationship to the revolutionary process. I don't have time to fix it at the moment but I'm putting the POV tag until I do. Kalkin 05:46, 8 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Other axes of oppression[edit]

I cut the following paragraphs:

The Marxist class analysis has consequences for how Marxists relate to the liberation movements of groups such as women, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities, and cultural minorities (such as homosexuals). Marxists support such liberation movements, not only because they are worthy in and of themselves, but also on the grounds that they are necessary for a working-class revolution, which cannot succeed without unity. However, Marxists believe that attempts by oppressed people to liberate themselves will fail to achieve their full aims unless they are organized along class lines, because the bourgeois within each oppressed group will beyond a certain point betray its struggle, and because under capitalism, social power rests at the point of production.
Anarchists and others criticize Marxists for giving class priority in this way and in explaining the causes of historical change, arguing that to do so denigrates other oppressions, which operate with their own independent dynamics. Anarchists see all liberation movements by oppressed people as fundamentally legitimate, be they "proletarians", "peasants", or others, without needing to fit these movements into a predetermined schema for revolution. However, this position is not the only one throughout the anarchist movement, many anarchists believe that single issue struggles are extremely limited in their scope altough they participate (as Marxists do) in them, trying to advance their positions and methods in an anarchist way.

This crummy multiple-axes-of-oppression argument is in fact often lobbed against Marxists, but in my experience more often by liberals than by anarchists. In fact a lot of Anarcho-Syndicalist and -Communist groups are a lot more rigid in their adherence to class-only analysis than Marxist parties. In absence of any citations, I'm cutting. Bacchiad 13:19, 3 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm putting it back. I've heard it from anarchists personally, but better, I've got a citation. Michael Albert, certainly one of the most prominent anarchist theorists, makes precisely this criticism in his debate with Alex Callinicos here.

Please note that many anarchists (historically, both well known militants as well as organizations) disagree with Alberts. That is why I added: "However, this position is not the only one throughout the anarchist movement, many anarchists believe that single issue struggles are extremely limited in their scope altough they participate (as Marxists do) in them, trying to advance their positions and methods in an anarchist way." I would also like to add at the end "towards classist and revolutionary positions" If you agree, add it.

You can check to see that class struggle anarchists, anarchocommunistss and plataformists share this view, and that they have been the majority of anarchists (the CNT in the thirties in Spain, the FORA in the first decades of the twentieth century in Argentina, and many more). Its numerical, political and historical weight should not be ignored (we are talking about hundreds of thousands of adherents and many important insurrections). —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 03:48, 5 Jul 2006 (UTC)

I'll take your word for it; your changes are fine.
I'm a Marxist, myself, and therefore know more about Marxism, and therefore have primarily edited the article to improve its description of Marxism. Before I started, it essentially equated Marxism with a Stalinoid caricature of Leninism. I noticed that it seemed to equate anarchism with the theories of Michael Albert, but I thought maybe some of his coordinator stuff was just more traditional among anarchists than I knew. I'm glad you've been working on correcting that. Kalkin 04:20, 7 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In Latin America is to the best of my knowledge, non existant (Parecon, anarchism is a growing movement and many of its methods and ideas have influenced social movements -unemployed workers movements, workers organizations in general-, altough without the clarity and coherence that they could). —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 15:17, 14 Jul 2006 (UTC)

"I am not a Marxist"[edit]

I don't understand how this was a rejection of determinism? I found the full quote to be "If this is Marxism, than all I know is that I am not a Marxist." But this doesn't illuminate the point any more for me. Cheers, Tompsci 23:37, 30 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

For example, shortly before he died in 1883, Marx wrote a letter to the French workers' leader Jules Guesde and to his own son-in-law Paul Lafargue, both of whom claimed to represent Marxist principles, in which he accused them of "revolutionary phrase-mongering" and of denying the value of reformist struggles[1] . Paraphrasing Marx: "If that is Marxism, then I am not a Marxist". As the American Marx scholar Hal Draper remarked, "there are few thinkers in modern history whose thought has been so badly misrepresented, by Marxists and anti-Marxists alike.

From the page on Marxism, this quote doesn't really say anything explicitly about determinism, am I missing something? Cheers, Tompsci 15:49, 12 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is old, but... the quote has been read as a rejection of "Second International" Marxism, which included determinism. That's disputed, of course. I don't have time to try to reword it right now, and the article has much larger problems; the section on nationalism and indigenous peoples is really terrible. It seems to have been written by an anarchist who doesn't know much about Marxism, has some very strange ideas about the history of the USSR and its foreign policy, and has some trouble with English. Kalkin 00:35, 25 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This page is messed up needs a complete overhaul[edit]

Almost nothing in this page is factual, its a completely biased argument against and distortion of marxism. This isn't your high school class project this is an encyclopedia. There is no Neutral Point of view.

Could you be more specific? I wasn't involved in writing the article, but found it interesting, Tompsci 12:10, 5 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I didn't make the original comment, but I agree with it. For the record:
  • Almost nothing is directly sourced.
  • The discussion of theory is rambling and without logical structure, appearing to consist entirely of sections thrown in separately by random persons, each of whom thought she had found the decisive argument for Marxism or anarchism, which needed its own unique paragraph-long exposition.
  • There's no flow to the article, nor is there any consistency in its implicit definitions of anarchism and Marxism.
  • Most of the history, especially of the Russian Civil War, is written from a decidedly anarchist perspective.
  • Through the article there are a helluva lot more quotes from anarchists, mostly Bakunin, than Marxists.
  • The whole section on indigenous peoples makes no effort to hide its anarchist point of view.
Kalkin (talk) 18:42, 13 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Given that this is a subsection of a larger whole, a series on Marxism, it would seem odd if the anarchist perspective was not emphasised. For Marxists, "unbiased" and "neutral" apparently means the omission of all viewpoints unfavourable to Marxism. If this entry was made neutral in the sense that Marxists define neutrality, there would be no mention of indigenous people or industrialisation, for instance. I think Graeber's distinction between Marxism and Anarchism is spot on in the sense that Marxists really do seem to avoid ethical discussion (about real human beings) and instead concentrate on tinkering with theories and alienated abstractions. Ilmateur (talk) 14:39, 8 November 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

NPOV dispute[edit]

I've come to this article from the backlog of articles with NPOV disputes. I have some comments:

  • Articles to be expanded? Hmm. The article reads like an essay that someone has padded out to reach a set word count, or as if the author was going to get credit for each aspect of the A./M. relationship s/he could think of.
  • There's no point in tagging every single section as NPOV. Why not tag the whole article and remove the section tags. Are you really arguing about the Further reading?
  • If the article were referenced properly, i.e. sentence by sentence, then the NPOV issues could be resolved.
  • Why not agree on a To-do list, and then start working through it?

This is meant in a friendly way. Your efforts with the article are appreciated. Itsmejudith 20:17, 10 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


As written, this article covers very little of the common history of anarchism and Marxism; it doesn't cover the linked origins of the two movements or the split between Proudhon and Marx. What can we do about this? Jacob Haller 18:10, 16 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Someone changed my phrase "small-scale terrorism" (followed later by a reference to "propaganda of the deed") to "propaganda of the deed". For the record, "terrorism" is the most technical and accurate term, here. It's "propaganda of the deed" that's more subjective. But I understand that "terrorism" has become such a distorted term in the modern world (particularly here in the US) that some (the one who changed it or the readers) might not even know what it means anymore, so I'll relent. --MQDuck 17:06, 7 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, the term's usually used to refer to "the other side's actions," but where applied consistently, it is often used to refer to military attacks on uninvolved civilians. Politicians, the main targets of PotD, have more responsibility for their government's actions than soldiers or mercenaries do, so I'm not sure how people could consider them uninvolved civilians. Jacob Haller 18:47, 7 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


It seems to me that many references of conflict between the Anarchist and Marxist seem to be using the USSR under Stalin as example. Can we really call Stalin a Marxist? He did not follow the teachings of Marx, so I think those examples are unfounded and misleading to an uninformed reader. FrankPalmerWhite 12:24, 16 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Working Class movements?[edit]

The opening paragraph states: As working class movements Marxism and anarchism have been sometime allied and sometimes opposed groups. Is that really - both movements were started and largely dominated by middle (and upper) class intellectuals - neither can truely be described as "working class"! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:32, 9 June 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A simplistic stereotype. Both movements, particularly Marxism, have had a history of working class involvement, particularly in industrialised Western nations with an established proletariat, much as the efforts of Marxism in these has often over-shadowed by Marxism originally unindustrialised nations in the eyes of popular history. In the Cold War era, granted, the movements were often lessened in significance, meaning that only middle-class academics remained as significant spokespersons, but that only represents the last third of the history of each movement, nor does it imply that they actually became middle class movements. Furthermore, both movements have always aligned themselves with the working class and sought to further what they see as the cause of the working class cause, and did so in contradiction to middle and upper class privilege, so the personal origins of certain member is not relevant in describing the movement as a whole, nor does it describe any innate property of the movement. Traitorfish 05:01, 18 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"A simplistic stereotype. Both movements, particularly Marxism, have had a history of working class involvement," you commit the same fallacy here, completely subjective, I could argue the same for anarchism easilly, all the anarchist revolutions were leaderless for one thing, how can you be more working class then that (as opposed to the hierachal bolsheviks)? (talk) 05:31, 13 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The origins of both Marx (Marxism) and Bakunin (anarchism) are one and the same. The origin of both can be traced to the extremist wing of the Socialist movement of the first half of 1800s. This extreme wing was led de facto by Prodhon, and hovered around the Communist movement in terms of ethical principles--abolition of private property, and "from everyone according to his ability, to everyone according t his needs." This extreme wing suffered a split as Marx, another extreme Socialist, and Engels deciding to join the organisation of the Communist called League of the Just. The Prodhonists did not join the Communists but evolved in time as Communists themselves, and Bakunin came to the leading position. By the time, the Communist League was dissolved, and Marx and his followers became an independent loose grouping. When the International Wokingmen's Association was formed, Marx group was a leading constituent of it, and then the Bakuninist anarchists also joined in. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:51, 21 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

quote from graeber[edit]

The following quote reduces and simplifies the two, no?

"Anarchist anthropologist David Graeber has distinguished the two philosophies as follows: Marxism has tended to be a theoretical or analytical discourse about revolutionary strategy. Anarchism has tended to be an ethical discourse about revolutionary practice."

I can't speak say anything about anarchism but marxism is much more than simply concerned with revolutionary practice. In four volumes of Marx's Capital, there is not a single section or chapter that outlines anything of that sort. marxist thought is applied to so many different fields including political theory, empirical economic theory, humanist studies, aesthetic theory, anthropology, archaeology, history, sociology, geography, etc. I think one of the LAST things marxism is, is a guide to or analysis of revolutionary practice or even about capitalist revolution in general. Most of Marx's writings and many marxists after him were concerned with critiquing capitalism, its organisation, structure, history, etc and not about things the working class have to do in order to overthrow the system. You could argue that a majority of marx's writings as well as marxist writings, from all sects, are not concerned with revolutionary strategy but rather with examining, analysing, evaluating and assessing the system, conditions and circumstances of different classes within it and so on. Even if you go ahead and cite Graeber, I think the quote should be supplemented with a reference to a body of literature that discusses theoretical/analysitcal marxist concern with revlutionary strategy. The only example I can think of, and it's not a very good one, is the International Workingman's Association and their internationalist rhetoric and support for global trade unionisation.

There are only 5 references in this entire article! Who is writing this article, I mean seriously. And there's not a single mention of the ideas of Proudhon? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:23, 20 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

marxists on the state[edit]

"Marxism has a unique definition of the state: that the state is an organ of one class's repression of all other classes. To Marxists, any state is intrinsically a dictatorship by one class over all others. Therefore, within Marxist theory, should the differentiation between classes disappear, so too will the state."

Too many sweeping generalisations in this article and a total neglect for the Miliband-Poulantzas debate. For such an important topic, very little effort seems to have been put into it all. Marxists do not say the state is intrinsically a dictatorship by one class over all others. This is ridiculous. You are confusing and mixing up a whole body of Marxist literature with different views on the state here. It was Miliband's argument which conceived the state as an instrument of the capitalist class. He held a voluntarist theory of class struggle which saw the only limits to the articulation of state power as residing in popular resistance. Nicos Poulantza, another Marxist which our author seems to have overlooked and mixed up with Miliband, argued the state has a degree of autonomy and specificity of the state in relation to both the economy and class actors (Clarke, 1991). Then there is the so called state derivation debate of the 70s which rejected both approaches, instead examining the 'internal relation' between capitalism and the state. Elmar Alvater sought to 'derive' categories of the political from analysis of the economy. Then there's the postmarxist structuralists (e.g. Michael Aglietta and Alain Lipietz) which advanced tte functionalist argument that a regime of accumulation required a corresponding mode of regulation in the interests of stable accumulation. And then theres the Parisian regulationists state theorists such as Bob Jessop and Joachim Hirch who sought to establish a relation between the relatively autonomous instances of the economic and political through the reformulation of state theory. There's also the poststructuralist Marxist turn of the 80-s -- neo-Gramscian school in International Political Economy (.e.g Robert Cox who sought to overcome economistic and structuralist marxisms through a gramscian inspired historicism and humanism. Then there's the open marxism which sees the state as 'arguably the site where the difference between structuralist and dialectical/criticial (that is 'open) Marxsism emerges mostly clear'y (Bonefeld et al., 1992, pp.xxi, xv).

I'd suggest reading the Elgar Companion of Marxist Economics (2012) and the chapter on the state for a brief overview. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:04, 21 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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As was written on this talk page a decade ago, the article remains unsourced, and its few references are primary/unreliable sources. The topic would need a complete rewrite, so I'm taking the bold move of redirecting it to an existing summary of the subject. Anyone is welcome to rewrite this article from scratch, though it would need to have reliable, secondary source references to meet the WP principle of verifiability. czar 16:58, 18 July 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]