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Authoritarian Anarchists

It may seem to be a contradiction in terms, but is seems like a lot of people who call themselves "anarchists" are really extreme authoritarians - or they're crypto-Leftists trying to sucker people into their organizations using anarcho-speak. Here are a few articles from various places about this phenomenon.

We anarchists are forever pointing out the weaknesses and contradictions of the political movements with which we are in disagreement with. Trotskyists, as one example, we brand as authoritarians. Now, this may well be true in terms of politics yet, as far as the individual goes, it is another matter. In my more than twenty years in the movement, I have never met any Trots quite as authoritarian as some so-called anarchists, and as far as slander-mongering goes, they could teach the Leninists a thing or two. The connection between one's politics and one's personality can be very peculiar, especially in the case of the authoritarian anarchist. This unfortunate individual likes to dominate others, but not be dominated himself. They are soon forced out of hierarchical structures, which might seem their natural home, but the desire to dominate is so strong that the alternative, individualist anarchism, gives no satisfaction. They must have an audience, even if only ten people. Their insecurity is so great that all challenges and differences of opinion are turned into "matters of principle", for fear makes them extremely intolerant.

Anarchist groups present an outlet for their personality disorder. Upon joining an organization, they immediately begin to manipulate the consensus procedure, a task at which they are masters. Through aggressive behaviour and the wearing down of opponents in long drawn-out meetings, they forcethe group to adopt their positions. Those who challenge their authority eventually drop out and the remaining members are a mixture of yes-men and those who admit, "Yes, he is an arsehole, but..." Authoritarian anarchists are very energetic and so make themselves indispensable, hence many people grudgingly tolerate them.

Should the group last long enough, they eventually become anarchist gurus, and their opinions and prejudices begin to have some weight within the movement. Since they are intolerant know-it-alls, those who dare to disagree with them are treated as enemies to be suppressed by any means, fair or foul. As conflict develops, their defensiveness becomes more and more apparent, opponents are branded as revisionists, agents of the state, opportunists, etc, and the diatribes tend to exhibit an ever greater degree of hysteria and paranoia. All the unnecessary conflict and hostility they generate cause the average person to consider anarchists to be fools quarreling over nothing. Whenever I have described some of the antics that go on to non-aligned people, they usually respond, "Sounds like a lot of bloody loonies! Why do you waste your time on them?"

What can we do about these emotionally ill individuals that are attracted to our movement? One approach we have taken in the IWW is not to play their game. There was an individual who used to find just about any excuse to cause disputes. He would attack some individual or group, other members would rise to the bait, and a terrific row would ensue. Finally, we decided to not allow personal attacks in IWW publications and began ignoring his ranting and raving. Soon this person was isolated and the number of quarrels died down considerably. Of course, in a small group it is much harder to deal with this problem, but it would be a step in the right direction not to tolerate people who abuse consensus and not be so liberal about confronting manipulators and sectarians. For years now I have been hearing that "the personal is political", so it's about time the existence of the authoritarian anarchist became a matter of importance. We do not put up with sexism or racism, why then, should we allow this kind of aberration?

On the other hand, tolerance of opinion, should become an anarchist virtue. Many of us come out of hierarchical leftist backgrounds where tolerance is considered a dirty word, and this is an authoritarian attitude we have yet to relinquish. Intolerance creates a perfect climate for the authoritarian anarchist and they tend to shun groups noted for their openness.

At a political level, we must see that our common goals, (abolition of the state, capitalism and authoritarianism) and our common means, (the action of the people and not some elite) are what should unite us, and that differences of opinion on other matters should be the subject of comradely debate. We are not vanguardists struggling with each other to see who will be the dictators of some future "workers' state". Why not look upon our movement as a bunch of friends trying to help ourselves and others out of a bad situation? Perhaps, with such an attitude, the authoritarian anarchist will not be attracted to us in the first place. Perhaps we may even be able to help those we are already stuck with.

--- from FREEDOM July 1988 (FREEDOM PRESS, London UK)


Re: Authoritarian Anarchists

This is a great article that addresses what seems to be a common problem in radical movements -- presence of emotionally disturbed people. I am afraid this problem doesn't just plague anarchists and anarchist groups. I have been involved in a variety of progressive organizations, many of which had problems with people with personality disorders joining and often doing considerable damage. Psychological pathologies are largely socially conditioned, and we, as a society, have to devise constructive ways for people affected by them to live their lives. In the US, where the social safety net and healtcare infrastructure are poorly developed, this seems to be a particular problem.

The authoritarian personality disorder is particularly strongly manifested in a society dominated by hierarchical structures and authoritarian modes of social interaction. This is why we have to watch out for them. To this end, we must use our own "light of reason" to scrutinize claims, especially extreme claims, about people and events that promise to divide movements and destroy the possibility of a meaningful progressive change. Only by employing common sense and logic can we escape the curse of authoritarianism.

Re: Authoritarian Anarchists

trollbait as usual.

Thank you Alex for being intellegent enough to answer this reasonabley while having the cognition to at the same time nail the real reasons it was posted.

Re: Authoritarian Anarchists

I love how Anaon tolls for flame wars and then accuses others of his own behavior. How lame is that? Pretty fucking lame.

Re: Authoritarian Anarchists

Why are the mods not deleting all this trolling and flamming?


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