Title: Anarchy and Communism
Author: Le Drapeau Noir
Date: 1883
Notes: Translated from the French original of the article in ‘Le Drapeau Noir’, September 16, 1883, Lyon, France

In thinking of the contradictory discussions that these two names bring up, we think that we aren’t engaged in any bad labour by tackling this question head on.

First of all, what does anarchy mean?

For some, it is the struggle, the disorganization and the destruction of an existing society, while others give it the meaning of living without a boss and without authority. For us, we accept both, but we place them in their respective order.

So currently, we anarchists, in order to arrive at the annihilation of all authority and the suppression of the bosses, we struggle against the tyrannical and governmental oppression, we apply ourselves toward the destruction of speculator organizations, capitalist exploitation, in order to arrive at the goal that we propose to reach, that is to say, to communism; we are thus anarchists, since we employ these means, and we won’t be after, since by these very same means we will arrive at the suppression of authority.

This is where the contradiction we mentioned above comes in, and here’s why.

Some revolutionary socialists, among them the most militant, claim that libertarian communism cannot exist. We, on the other hand, find it so admissible that it is impossible to refute; anarchist means which are used before and during the Revolution, tending to the regeneration of the whole society, that is to say, to the incontestable equality of each individual, will be necessary for us to centralize all economic elements, so that each one can draw from them an equal share. Therefore, as soon as there is a common cause and a common interest, communism substitutes itself for anarchy and we become, without any transition, communist-anarchists.

Often, the objection is that communism creates authority, that everyone should be free to work either individually or communally.

Certainly, we are of the view that each must be free to labour alone and at any kind of labour, but in any case, as it is recognized that anarchy can only exist with the abolition of money and the removal of the wage, by internationalizing the whole world and destroying the borders, it is therefore of general necessity that the labour done either communally or separately, returns at a given moment to a communal place, designated in advance for free exchange, import or export. It is materially impossible that an individual practicing any trade, or even several trades, can be self-sufficient by free exchange, for, let us admit that if he is a shoe-maker, even a locksmith and a carpenter all at the same time, these three trades, although quite different, will not suffice for the needs of his existence, for, if he exchanges his shoe-making for clothes, his lock-smithing with a tailor, and his carpentry with a hat-maker, he will still lack the things most necessary for his life. He would still have to find a way to exchange his products with those who can provide him with what he needs.

And so, we can only arrive at a practical result by centralizing the labour of each in communal stores, either for the consumption of the country, or for the reciprocal exchange of the different parts of the globe. We are thus forced to recognize that each individual, while remaining totally free in his actions, can only act in common, and by this very fact becomes a libertarian communist. But this in no way takes away his title as anarchist, since he acts under no pressure, without any influence, and his labour is freely done without commandment and without the need to undergo any authority.

We can therefore conclude that communism and anarchy are linked to each other, and if today we are simply anarchists, we will undoubtedly become, after the revolution, anarchist-communists.