Title: The Demise Of Love & Rage
Subtitle: What Happened?
Author: W.E.B
Date: 2003
Source: Retrieved on 2020-04-06 from libcom.org
Notes: Published in The Northeastern Anarchist Issue #6, Winter/Spring 2003.

      Nature of Capitalism

      Capitalist Dynamics

      Nature of the Authoritarian System

      The State and Reform

      National Liberation


      Authoritarian Left Ideologies

      Organizing Methods


While interesting from a historical point of view, we disagree very strongly with some parts of the article, in particular the section on national liberation, which amonst other things states: “L&R’s support for [national liberation] struggles represented a real advance in the anarchist movement.”

The following article is a revised version of an unpublished paper originally written in November 1998. Although two of the three groups mentioned are now defunct, the issues raised in the Love and Rage factional struggle are still quite relevant to the anarchist movement today.

The Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation dissolved into two groups at a brief final conference in May 1998. One group became Fire by Night; it also dissolved sometime later. The other group became the nucleus of The Utopian anarchist journal, which continues to publish. The purpose of this article is to draw out the lessons from the successes and failures of Love and Rage (L&R) during its nine years of existence.

Despite its ultimate dissolution, Love and Rage did have successes. The first is that it lasted as long as it did. Dozens of other anarchist organizations, some rather large, had much shorter lifespans. Second, L&R established a legitimate pole within the anarchist movement for supporting national liberation struggles. On this question L&R caused a lot of controversy in a movement which had been traditionally hostile or abstentionist. Third, Love and Rage re-established a pole within the movement for participating in mass struggles and raising revolutionary politics. This was in contrast to strategies which were popular at that time like building “Temporary Autonomous Zones”. Finally, L&R also re-established the idea of building an international anarchist organization, as opposed to the cultural and localistic orientations of many groups of the 1980’s. Here again L&R caused a lot of controversy, with its opponents labeling the group ‘crypto-Leninist’ and worse.

The members of Love and Rage agreed on the points listed above. But this agreement obscured deep differences. These differences were reflected in the fact that in its entire existence, Love and Rage never drafted a comprehensive statement of aims and principles.

The failures of Love and Rage were rooted in these differences. The latter in fact represented a split between those who wanted to address the problems of anarchism from within anarchism and those who wanted to adopt the methods and outlook of authoritarian ideologies; in particular, Marxism and Maoism. Stripping away the ‘isms’, the split in L&R also represents the difference between those who proceed from a vision of liberating humanity through its self-organization, and those who would re-enslave it in the name of freedom by building themselves into a ‘scientific’ and ‘revolutionary’ elite.

It is this difference, between authoritarian Marxism, Maoism and Social Democracy on the one hand, and the self-organization of people into a self-governing society on the other, that ran through every aspect of the internal struggle in Love and Rage. The questions in that debate revolved around the nature of capitalism and its dynamics, the nature of the authoritarian oppression we face, and the attitudes we should take toward the state and reformism. They also revolved around national liberation, racism, authoritarian Left ideologies and organizing methods. And finally, it should be said that the debate over these topics was often murky and tangential because of a disdain for theory which ran through much of the membership of L&R. I shall take up each topic in turn.

Nature of Capitalism

Capitalism is the rule of capital and its agents over those who do the actual work to produce its wealth. Traditionally it has been organized through markets: Adam Smith’s ‘Invisible Hand’ allocated the goods and services produced (and made the holders of capital wealthy). However, the allocation of the social product also could be, and has been, organized by the state. This difference is unimportant as to the nature of the system: a small number of people still control the means of production while the vast majority, who have no power, do the work.

Love and Rage had a tendency to identify capitalism with market capitalism. It did this by equating capitalism with ‘neo-liberalism’. L&R newspaper ran numerous critiques of the latter. An article in the internal bulletin flatly defined neo-liberalism as modern capitalism. ‘Neo-liberalism’, however, is nothing more than old-fashioned market capitalism, an idea which regained popularity among capitalists as their statist economies stagnated in the 1970’s. All of L&R’s articles described how neo-liberal privatization and cutbacks in social services have created twin poles of misery for many and wealth for a few all over the world. That is precisely what markets do.

The view that the ills of capitalism are represented by the market has also been the view of Marxists and social democrats for decades. Their remedy of state “planning” and control has been their program to gain power for just as long. These measures might sand off some rough edges from capitalism, even change its form, but they do not alter its substance. The ultimate expression of this program is state capitalism, in which the government owns all the means of production.

Capitalist Dynamics

State capitalism is a 20th century phenomenon. It has arisen in a period of capitalist decay. Prior to this capitalism had gone through a long epoch of expansion in which it raised the productive forces and gave rise to democratic institutions, at least for a few in Europe and North America. During this period capitalism expanded by subjugating the non-capitalist sectors outside Europe and the Europeanized parts of the Western Hemisphere.

By approximately the turn of the 20th century, however, capitalism had the entire world divided up, and for the first time a new dynamic became dominant. Now sectors of the capitalist world could expand only at the expense of other sectors. This is not to say that capitalism didn’t continue growing by increasing the rate of exploitation of its workers, as it had done before. What was new was that it had no non-capitalist worlds to conquer. Thus, in the 20th century capitalist wars became world wars; and for those periods when there was no war, capitalism for the first time brought a permanent war economy with nuclear weapons. This continues to waste vast resources today. And instead of democracy in the Europeanized sectors, capitalism in the 20th century brought fascism, state capitalism, and state-planned genocide. The non-Europeanized sectors fared even worse.

This is also not to say that capitalism cannot ever raise the productive forces and fulfill its democratic promises. What it does mean is that capitalism can only do this on a limited and episodic scale. For example, the market capitalist expansion of industry and democratic institutions outside Western Europe and North America in the last decade comes on the heels of the collapse of the state capitalist sector.

The observation that capitalism has gone through periods of expansion and decay caused controversy before Love and Rage broke up. Wayne Price, a member of the future Utopian nucleus, originally outlined the two epochs briefly in a response to a muddled article in the L&R internal bulletin by Chris Day (‘Stakes is High’). Day was perhaps the principal theoretician and maneuverer of the future Fire by Nighters. He jumped on this idea in an internal bulletin article, ‘Neither Trotsky nor Mao’. Day tried to paint Price as a Marxist: that for him to hold the idea that capitalism has epochs necessarily meant that he also had to believe the Marxist notion that all of human history is driven by class struggles; and that the capitalist class had a progressive mission in its time to raise the productive forces and push forward the idea of human freedom.

Day’s argument, however, is false. Tracing the rise and fall of a social system does not make one a Marxist. Nor does it mean that capitalism had a ‘mission’ or played a progressive role in human history. No matter what its positive accomplishments, a system which was founded on slavery in the West and serfdom in the East cannot necessarily be called ‘progressive’.

Moreover, the denial of an epoch of decay also characterizes Social Democracy. That is, if the social democrats are to sell their program of reform, they must also convince people that the reforms will last. Such a vision is increasingly illusory in this age when even U.S. Social Security, civil service protections, and the right to see a lawyer are under attack.

Nature of the Authoritarian System

For anarchists oppression comes from a single, multifaceted authoritarian system. Racism, sexism, class, agism and ethnocentrism, oppression by the state, and the destruction of nature are all inextricably tangled together. This does not mean, however, that they are conceptually indistinct. Nor does it mean that all the cracks in the system are the same size. But the idea of a single authoritarian system is quite different from Marxism, which views the class struggle as the primary one which also is the driving force of human history.

It is also quite different from that of Chris Day. Again replying to Wayne Price, he argued in the L&R internal bulletin (‘More Than Apparent Privileges’) that the different subsystems of oppression had their own ‘semi-autonomous character and logic’. He conceded that they were related, but made it clear that his starting point was their independence.

This is also not a new idea for Day. It lay behind the argument in his 1994 ‘Reprole Document’, which held that Love and Rage should abandon its outlook of speaking on behalf of all humanity and become instead an organization representing ‘re-proletarianized youth’. That is, L&R should only base itself on the oppression falling on this narrow and overwhelmingly white group.

The idea that oppressions are separate is also characteristic of social democrats and Stalinists. They argue that ‘socialism’ can only be won in distinct stages. First, there must be a bourgeois-democratic (or ‘advanced democracy’) stage, and only later (that is, never) a revolutionary and socialist leap. The separation of oppressions is also a hallmark of nationalists. Many will hold, for example, that Black people can win their freedom while capitalism still stands. Or even that they can win their liberation through capitalism. The conception is ready-made for those who equate ‘revolution’ with maneuvering themselves into state power.

The State and Reform

The idea of separate oppressions emerges most clearly in the future Fire by Nighters’ attitude toward the state. For anarchists the oppression of the state is tied up in the whole tangle of racist, sexist and class chains which constitute the modern authoritarian system.

But if one holds to the idea of distinct oppressions, then the state becomes an independent annoyance. For example, Day argued in his ‘Reprole Document’ that the basic civil rights of women and gay and lesbian people can be won under capitalism. Aside from being nonsense in an epoch of decay, it implies that the state’s ‘semi-autonomous’ oppression might somehow stand aside while women and gays and lesbians achieved their liberation. It is unknown what Day was thinking when he wrote this, but the idea that the modern authoritarian state would tolerate the breakup of the enforced nuclear family, free access to contraception and abortion, full and open sexuality for all, and equal pay for all is something that even most liberals wouldn’t assert.

Moreover, if capitalism is equated with ‘neo-liberalism’ — that is, market capitalism — then the state may not be oppressive at all! That is the view of social democrats and liberals, who have argued for decades that ‘planning’ and government regulation can soften the doleful effects of markets gone wild. (This is true to some extent, but only at a cost of causing still other and bigger problems; nor will government regulation eliminate the problems of capitalist markets altogether, let alone bring about human freedom). Future FbNer Brad Sigel brought this out most clearly when he wrote in ‘My Thoughts on the Debates in Love & Rage’.

And more so than other anarchists, Love & Rage members acknowledged that there are serious deficiencies in anarchist ideas on how to run a complex society like ours without having some sort of bureaucratic structures that are to some degree separated from or alienated from the people as a whole.

Sigel’s statement represents an elitist point of view. Certainly anarchists (and everybody else) will face enormous problems in making a post-revolutionary society function. But Sigel — together with the others who went on to form Fire by Night — did not start from the point of promoting the self-organization of people. He concedes the ‘necessity’ of having ‘alienated’ and ‘bureaucratic’ structures from the beginning.

Day went one step further. In ‘The Historical Failure of Anarchism’, he described a revolution which occurred in one country and still faces the world market. In such a situation, Day argued that the ‘replacement of the old state apparatus with a new ostensibly revolutionary state is necessary’ to secure the ‘accomplishments’ of his vision of a revolution (emphasis added). ‘Worse’, Day elaborated, ‘the administrative apparatus of the revolutionary regime, whether it is called a ‘workers state’ or a ‘federation of free collectives’ is the body that must do the exploiting’.

Certainly an anarchist revolution in one country would face the same world market which Day described. But the self-organized people deciding for themselves to make sacrifices is an animal of a wholly different species.

Moreover, as an addendum to his ‘Historical Failure of Anarchism’, Day also called for the creation of a regular ‘revolutionary army’ implicitly modeled on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. The PLA, of course, had nothing to do with carrying out a directly democratic revolution in China, but instead was the military instrument establishing state capitalism.

In a revolutionary situation the capitalists and their allies will promise anything in order to hang on to power. The pressures on anarchists will be very great. In 1936 Spain, for example, the capitalist People’s Front promised to free the thousands of anarchist prisoners who rotted in the old regime’s jails. It is precisely at such moments that anarchists must have supreme confidence in the self-organization and power of the people and not take responsibility for the repressive measures that the state and the reformists inevitably will carry out.

Day gave a clear indication of where he and his co-thinkers will go when he wrote about the Spanish Revolution. He devoted hundreds of words over three separate articles to criticizing the Spanish anarchists for failing to build an army like the PLA. But coordinating the revolutionary militias was only a piece of the Spanish anarchists’ overall lack of a revolutionary strategy. The central failure in that non-strategy was that in the midst of the workers and peasants seizing the land and the factories and forming their own militias to fight the fascists, the anarchists joined the government. On this point Day is silent.

For Love and Rage this question of reform vs. revolution, the state vs. the people, played itself out during the Detroit newspaper strike. In the summer of 1996 hundreds of strikers and their supporters fought cops, scabs and gun thugs in battles to shut down the papers. The union bureaucracy, naturally, was uncomfortable about this, preferring to rely for support on the courts, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Democratic Party. In this context Detroit Love and Rage issued a leaflet which, among other things, called for a general strike in Detroit to defend the newspaper strikers. Like the union bureaucrats, the future Fire by Nighters didn’t like this leaflet. They tried to keep it from being reprinted in L&R newspaper, calling it ‘sectarian’, despite the fact that mass meetings of hundreds of strikers and supporters in Detroit had already voted for the same thing. As the song goes, ‘Which Side Are You On?’

National Liberation

National liberation is not only formal political independence from imperialism, but also economic independence. Carried out conscientiously, national liberation would raise the productive forces in the country, free the peasantry, and promote a flowering of democratic institutions. This is something which a traditional market capitalist class, tied as it is to international imperialism, is incapable of doing. Even in South Africa, which already had well-developed productive forces, the government, which was born out of a long struggle against imperialism and racism, has already junked even the reform program of its own Freedom Charter.

Most Marxist-Leninists would agree with this analysis. They hold that only the working class can carry through a program of national liberation. In particular, they aver that only their Marxist-Leninist party claiming to represent the working class can do the job.

This also is false. A Marxist-Leninist revolution may be able to win national independence and raise the productive forces, but no one is free. What the Marxist-Leninists really establish is a state capitalist regime in which the new ruling class rearranges its bargain with the people. Instead of the rule of the market and formal democracy, instead of wealth for a few and misery for the many, the state capitalists contract for a little less wealth (but no less, and probably more, power) for the few, a little less misery for the masses, and no freedom whatsoever.

This is not to say that anarchists should not support national liberation. As stated, L&R’s support for such struggles represented a real advance in the anarchist movement. Only if oppressed peoples can throw off their imperialist bindings can they see clearly that they need to go on and do away with their own home-grown rulers, too.

But it came as a surprise when Marxist-Leninist ideas bubbled up like flatulence inside Love and Rage. Writing in ‘Stakes is High’ and ‘The Historical Failure of Anarchism’, Day went to great lengths to ‘prove’ that the Chinese Revolution of 1949 ‘of necessity’ had to be state capitalist. That is, because of the economic backwardness of China, the huge numbers of peasants, the tiny size and ‘immaturity’ of the working class (the same class which carried out several years of general strikes and organized its own defense squads twenty years earlier), the Chinese Revolution had to stop at the capitalist stage. Or carrying the logic one step further: the Chinese Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army had to stop the revolution at the state capitalist stage.


From the beginning Love and Rage was influenced by an analysis of racism and white supremacy based on the theory of white skin privilege. Noel Ignatiev, one of the originators of the theory, even joined the organization for a brief period in 1994. The final issue of L&R newspaper cites differences around the theory as one of the central reasons for the breakup of the group. In Day’s words:

“Briefly stated, that analysis holds that a cornerstone of white supremacy (and therefore the whole edifice of authoritarian social relations) in the U.S. and elsewhere is the system of white racial privileges that gives to even the poorest or most oppressed white people certain concrete benefits or preferential treatment that tie them to the system as a whole.” (‘Thoughts on Multi-Racial Organization’)

On its face there is nothing wrong with the statement. The present authoritarian system really does give all European-descended people certain real privileges, given the structure of the system as a whole. But the analysis is essentially ahistorical. Nowhere in any of the L&R writings on white skin privilege is there even a hint that the entire authoritarian system goes through periods of breakdown crises in which the privileges of ordinary white people are threatened also. The logic of this static analysis reached a ludicrous low point just before L&R disintegrated. At that time future FbN folks proposed that the standard of living of the white workers in the imperialist countries would have to be lowered ‘big time’. That is, not only do the corporate bosses want to suck you workers dry — we do too! And nowhere do they mention their attitude toward the standard of living of the enormous middle class of the imperialist countries.

When the system does break down, white workers can (but certainly not always) realize that their privileges are indeed insignificant. They can join with everybody else in building a united struggle for everyone’s benefit. This happened in the ’30’s with the building of the CIO — a mass, mixed organization — and earlier with the United Mine Workers and the IWW. That those organizations did not directly confront racism as a system in itself did not help the struggle against it. The CIO’s slogan was, in effect, ‘Black and White, Unite and Fight!’, and it sanctioned segregated locals in some of its unions. The IWW ‘made no special demands’. The point here, however, is that the privileges of white workers are both real and insignificant when considered against the dynamics of the entire authoritarian system. And when laid out against the necessary alternative of a revolutionary, cooperative and democratic system, those privileges are insignificant indeed.

One further point: the future FbNers never considered that while all people of European descent may get certain privileges from the present system, that white workers are worse off than they would be without racism. If white workers can get the credit and buy the house in the neighborhood that Black people are denied, they can most certainly get more credit, and a better house in a better neighborhood, without the existence of racism. Many scores of years ago thousands of white workers and farmers in the U.S. opposed slavery in part because it was a threat to their own standard of living. There was a reason for that.

Day and others defend the theory of white skin privilege as central to building a multi- racial organization. In fact, if anything, it is an impediment to building such a group. This is not due to the fact that white people in the present system don’t have the privileges that Day describes. Rather, it’s the point of view of the theory, that it’s addressed only to white people; it has nothing to say to anyone else.

What it says to white people desiring to build a multi-racial organization is that before you do anything else, you must first acknowledge your privileges and renounce them. OK, then what? Clearly, it implies that the next step is to try to get other white people to do the same.

There is nothing wrong with this in itself, but it doesn’t go very far. As stated, it says nothing to anybody who isn’t white. And carried to its logical conclusion, you get existential acts of individual resistance to white supremacy; or the ‘whites organize only in the white community (whatever that is)’ line which Prairie Fire used to advocate. Or it says nothing concrete at all. At the January 1995 demonstration to free Mumia Abu-Jamal in Harrisburg, a couple of people brought by L&R carried signs reading “Abolish the White Race!’ Fine sentiment, but almost no one understood it.

There is also an unintentional elitism in the logic of the theory. As Love and Rage disintegrated one of the foremost advocates of the theory proposed that members of the organization ‘not interfere’; that is, not publicly comment on, issues within the Black community. But members of the community know that some of us who were in L&R in fact do have opinions about all kinds of things that interest them. If we remained silent, they would have rightly thought that either we were hiding something or that we considered them too ignorant to discuss such issues with them. Are Black people incapable of considering our views together with those of other forces in the community?

Authoritarian Left Ideologies

Both sides in the debate admitted that anarchism had problems with its theory and practice. But the group which became the nucleus of the Utopian believed that the problems could be solved within the framework of anarchism. The other side thought otherwise. They reached into Marxism, Leninism and Maoism for answers, and the problems started there.

Marxism is inherently authoritarian. It is a total philosophical-social-political-economic-historical system of thought. For Marxism, in what it calls ‘science’, the class struggle has been the driving force of human history. In its view, the historical task of history’s latest phase, capitalism, has been to increase the productive forces and bring forth the idea of democracy. But since capitalism also is a class system, the working class would inevitably overthrow it and establish its own state, the dictatorship of the proletariat. The leaders of this state; that is, in modern times, the Leninist party, would rule armed with their supposedly superior scientific knowledge in the name of the workers. It is both this state-rule and the rulers’ view that they embody the next stage of human history which makes Marxism authoritarian.

On the other side, some future FbNers agreed that Marxism is authoritarian. However, some were not sure, and others declared themselves in fact to be Marxists. Most thought the whole question to be irrelevant, but more on that later.

This jumble is not surprising because, despite Day’s protestations, his writing on the subject itself is a model of mud. Day’s point of view is clearly is outside anarchism. For example, in ‘Stakes is High’ he wrote that he is interested in ‘infusing the anarchist movement with something like the standards of rigorous investigation and argument that exist fairly broadly within Marxism’. And later, ‘Marxism is simply unrivaled in the depth and variety of critical analysis it has produced’. Finally, Day’s view that the Chinese Revolution ‘of necessity’ had to be capitalist also reflects not an anarchist view of history, but a Marxist historical-deterministic one, and a crockeryheaded one at that.

In the European late Middle Ages those who argued that the earth was the center of the universe were confronted with an increasing array of evidence undermining their belief. In particular, those who held that the sun was the center of the solar system could better explain anomalies in the orbits of the planets and moons. But not to give up, the earth-centrists countered that what was really happening was that these heavenly bodies’ orbits were going through ‘epicycles’ and even ‘epicycles within epicycles’.

While the ideology of Marxism has a penetrating critique of the development of capitalism, it is wholly unable to come to grips with those countries in which societies have been established in its name. The anarchist critique of these state capitalist regimes is far more lucid than what Marxism has produced. For example, Trotskyism has for decades been driven by fights over which countries represented ‘degenerated’, ‘deformed’ or ‘healthy’ workers’ states. Stalinism and Maoism have had years of struggles over ‘revisionism’ and ‘capitalist roaders’. All of these epicycles obscure the real picture: in none of these societies do the organized people have power; in all of them the state has established an authoritarian capitalism under its control. (In many of the states there weren’t even revolutions; the Red Army marched in establishing a ‘workers’ state’ without the workers).

Anarchist theory too has problems. Its traditional wooden attitude toward national liberation has already been mentioned. Anarchism also has difficulty analyzing the development of capitalism (the ‘epoch question’). And like the social democrats, Stalinists and ossified Trotskyists, anarchism also has problems mapping a way between its minimum and maximum programs. Marxism doesn’t distinguish itself on these questions, either. Therefore, it is the turn of anarchism to establish a framework within which to analyze these questions.

Organizing Methods

Different members of the FbN faction each at different times advocated ‘mass-line’ organizing methods. Derived from Maoism, ‘mass-line’ attempts to mobilize large numbers of people behind the leadership of an authoritarian vanguard party. While at the time all the future FbNers disclaimed vanguardism, this is no longer the case. Then and now the point of view which comes through their mass-line articles is one of how can people who consider themselves revolutionaries orient themselves to get masses of people to follow them?

By itself this sounds innocuous enough. We are, after all, revolutionaries. We want to build as big a base as possible among people for our revolutionary democratic ideas. So naturally we should build and participate in the mass struggle of the people. But what we have to remember always is that our ideas come first.

There is nothing vanguardist or elitist about this. Since the consciousness of the majority of the people in motion at this time is reformist, we constitute a small minority telling the truth as best we know it about the nature of the system and how to defend against it. In meetings we will lose on a lot of votes. Still, we patiently explain and continue to participate.

‘Mass-line’, however, is a different horse altogether. It is elitist in the sense that it instructs revolutionaries to hide parts of their program in order to lead (presumably) a larger number of people on a reformist basis, because that’s the level of present-day consciousness. The fact that one FbNer once told me that Mao always was out front in advocating the dictatorship of the proletariat changes nothing. Aside that I don’t believe that it’s true, even if it were, the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ really hides the fact that the real dictatorship is and always has been that of the Chinese Communist Party.

Day implicitly admits this deception in his ‘Multi-Racial Organization’ article when he wrote that ‘the development of people’s ability to think and act for themselves is more important than the immediate triumph of our particular line on this or that question’. This sounds very nice and democratic, but does it really mean that ‘our line’ can be an obstacle to the development of peoples’ ability to think and act for themselves? There should be no problem here: anarchists’ ‘line’ should always foster the development of self-organization.

My own view of ‘mass-line’ is that it is essentially the old social-democratic minimum program of what is feasible within the system (not what is necessary for the defense of working class people). This in turn is tied to the Leninist notion of the vanguard party being the leadership of the masses. Further, the Maoist groups also have, on paper at least, the old social-democratic maximum program — socialism, or the dictatorship of the proletariat (what Mao was supposedly upfront about). It is the lack of a connection between the minimum and maximum, except through the organizational form of the Maoist party itself, which has resulted in their veering — like China -between wooden sectarianism and outright reformism.

Rather than needing ‘mass-line’ to mobilize the masses, people will mobilize themselves for their own defense as the system breaks down and attacks them. At this stage they will likely follow reformist (or worse) leaderships because this is where their consciousness is. What anarchists need to do is participate in and build the defense while patiently explaining our program. That program must bridge the gap between the minimum and maximum programs. I believe it needs to be an anarchist transitional program.


While people have pointed to anarchism’s theoretical weaknesses, another serious problem exists in the anarchist movement, as it did in Love and Rage. This is a disdain for theory itself. In Love and Rage each side had a small core of people who wrote and argued about things. In the middle were a much larger number who didn’t see the point of it at all. This was also true in 1994 when Day wrote his ‘Reprole Document’ and proposed to change the name of the organization. Although these were confused pieces beginning the move away from anarchism, only two people wrote replies

I believe anarchism’s aversion to theory, however, is tied up with its positive traits. The first of these is direct action and activism in general. Anarchists frequently are on the front lines of struggles against authority. Even the more passive anarchists, who may prefer to build Temporary Autonomous Zones and such, are more concerned with ‘getting the work done’ than with discussing theory. The problem, which really is a good problem to have, is too much desire to do something without enough thought about where it’s going.

Second is a fixation on ‘process’ to the impediment of discussing the underlying issues. But this also reflects something else positive about anarchism. In particular, and unlike the historical deterministic Marxists, anarchists see a direct relation between means and ends. Both process and the underlying issues are important.

If anarchism is weak on theory, the answer is not to jump into the seemingly inviting theoretical arms of Marxism. Rather it’s to build up the theoretical side of anarchism. Both theory and practice are necessary.