Loughborough University
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Towards a libertarian communism: a conceptual history of the intersections between anarchisms and Marxisms

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posted on 2013-04-29, 08:52 authored by Saku Pinta
The objective of this thesis is to provide a theoretical analysis and conceptual history of the most significant instances of convergence between 'anarchist' and 'Marxist' political ideas and practices, circa 1872-1963. This study will be conducted with two key aims. First, reassessing some of the dominant claims of a dichotomous relationship between the anarchist and Marxist traditions. Second, with a view towards determining if moments of convergence exhibit sufficient continuity and coherence to be considered as a distinct ideological current or sub-variant within the broader socialist tradition, or what has sometimes been referred to as 'libertarian socialism' or 'libertarian communism'. I argue that the communist, anti-statist, and anti-parliamentary currents in the international working-class movement expose a neglected sphere of commonality which demands closer investigation. In part one, “Convergences and Divergences”, I problematise the dominant interpretations of the relationships between anarchism and Marxism as hostile and irreconcilable ideologies. Employing the 'morphological' approach to ideologies, I then recast this debate as an interplay between two core political concepts: the 'libertarian' critique of hierarchy and authoritarianism and the 'communist' critique of the capitalist mode of production and alienated labour. Part two, “Beyond the Red and Black Divide”, examines the intersections of the libertarian and communist critiques through three case studies. In the first case study, the 'Chicago Idea' movement of the Haymarket Martyrs is examined as an instance of anarchist/Marxist synthesis – one of the ideological precursors of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union. Case study two examines ideological innovations which emerged in response to the Russian Revolution (1917-1921) and Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) through an analysis of the Makhnovist-platformist, council communist, and the 'Friends of Durruti' group conceptions of revolutionary organisation. The final case study examines the post-war evolution of the Socialisme ou Barbarie, Johnson-Forest Tendency, and Solidarity groups from Trotskyism to 'libertarian socialism'



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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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