Tag Archives: Theory

(wikipediaState capitalism has various different meanings, but is usually described as a society wherein the productive forces are controlled and directed by the state in a capitalist manner, even if such a society calls itself socialist.[1] Corporatized government agencies and states that own controlling shares of publicly listed firms, thus acting as a capitalist itself, are two examples of state capitalism. State capitalism has also come to refer to an economic system where the means of production are privately owned and the state exerts considerable control over the allocation of credit and investment. State capitalism is a term that is also used (sometimes interchangeably with state monopoly capitalism) to describe a system where the state is intervening in the markets to protect and advance the interests of Big Business. This practice is often claimed to be in sharp contrast with the ideals of both socialism and laissez-faire capitalism.[2]

Within Marxist literature, state capitalism is usually defined in this sense: as a social system combining capitalism — the wage system of producing and appropriating surplus value in a commodity economy — with ownership or control by a state. By that definition, a state capitalist country is one where the government controls the economy and essentially acts like a single giant corporation.[3] Friedrich Engels, in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, states that the final stage of capitalism would consist of ownership over production and communication by the bourgeois state.[4]

There are various theories and critiques of state capitalism, some of which have been around since the October Revolution or even before. The common themes among them are to identify that the workers do not meaningfully control the means of production and that commodity relations and production for profit still occur within state capitalism. Other socialists use the term state capitalism to refer to an economic system that is nominally capitalist, where business and private owners reap the profits from an economy largely subsidized, developed and where decisive research and development is undertaken by the state sector at public cost.[3]

This term is also used by some advocates of laissez-faire capitalism to mean a private capitalist economy under state control, often meaning a privately owned economy that is under economic planning. Some even use it to refer to capitalist economies where the state provides substantial public services and regulation over business activity. In the 1930s, Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini described Italian Fascism’s economic system of corporatism as “state socialism turned on its head.”[5] This term was often used to describe the controlled economies of the great powers in the First World War.[6] 

Origins and early uses of the term

The term itself was in use within the socialist movement from the late nineteenth century onwards. Wilhelm Liebknecht in 1896 said: “Nobody has combatted State Socialism more than we German Socialists; nobody has shown more distinctively than I, that State Socialism is really State capitalism!” [7]

It has been suggested that the concept of state capitalism can be traced back to Mikhail Bakunin‘s critique within the First International of the potential for state exploitation under Marxism, or to Jan Waclav Machajski‘s argument in The Intellectual Worker (1905) that socialism was a movement of the intelligentsia as a class, leading to a new type of society he called state capitalism.[8][9][10] For anarchists, state socialism is just state capitalism, hence oppressive and merely a shift from private capitalists to the state being the sole employer and capitalist. [11]

During World War I, taking as his cue Vladimir Lenin‘s idea that Tsarism was taking a “Prussian path” to capitalism, the Bolshevik Nikolai Bukharin identified a new stage in the development of capitalism, in which all sectors of national production and all important social institutions had come under state management; he termed this new stage ‘state capitalism.’ [12]

After the October Revolution, Lenin used the term in a positive way. In spring 1918, during a short period of economic liberalism prior to the introduction of war communism, and again during the New Economic Policy (NEP) of 1921, Lenin justified the introduction of state capitalism under the political control of the dictatorship of the proletariat to further central control and develop the productive forces:

Reality tells us that state capitalism would be a step forward. If in a small space of time we could achieve state capitalism, that would be a victory. (Lenin 1918)[13][14] 

Read more:

(anarkismo) This article responds to criticisms of the broad anarchist tradition inInternational Socialism, an International Socialist Tendency (IST) journal.[1] I will discuss topics such as the use of sources, defending revolutions and freedom, the Spanish anarchists, anarchism and democracy, the historical role of Marxism, and the Russian Revolution.

The articles I am engaging with are marked by commendable goodwill; I strive for the same. Paul Blackledge’s article rejects “caricatured non-debate”.[2] Ian Birchall stresses that “lines between anarchism and Marxism are often blurred”.[3] Leo Zeilig praises Michael Schmidt’s and my book, Black Flame: the Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism, as “a fascinating account”.[4]

It is important to note where we converge. The IST states it is for socialism from below through revolution. If Marx, Lenin and Trotsky are invoked here, it is because the “essence” of their works is taken to be “working class self-emancipation”.[5] The term “dictatorship of the proletariat”, Leo insists, means merely “the democratic defence of working class power” through “organs of self-organisation; councils, trade unions, communes etc”.[6]

Read More

( Duane Rousselle: Post-anarchism has come to mean different things to different people. In the anglophone world, Saul Newman has described a Lacanian/Stirnerian “post-anarchism,” Todd May has called for a practice-oriented “post-structuralist anarchism,” Lewis Call has described a time of “post-modern anarchism,” and Hakim Bey has called for a reinvention of traditional anarchist discourse in his 1987 essay “post-anarchism anarchy.” In my own research, I have noticed that there is a striking difference in the way post-anarchism has been conceived in the non-anglophone world. I would like to ask you a bit about what post-anarchism means for you and for your audience.

Antón Fernández de Rota: To answer your question, Duane, I think that we can not avoid the place from where post-anarchism’s voices are heard. And that place is the Academy and its boundaries. Basically, post-anarchists understand to some degree that the collection of post-anarchists are related in one way or another with the University, with the Human Sciences, Philosophy and the Arts; many of us are university students – usually studying for doctorates. But there is also a reduction of the number of young professors born from the children formed within the crisis of the left, or, at least, during the boom years of “alter-globalization.” I do not cite the political trauma of the left by coincidence. Neither do I ignore that inside the anarchist milieu, the critics of “post-anarchism” have often reproached it for being limited to an academic phenomenon (or worse yet, a merely discursive movement, and a practice nothing more than textual, elitist, an elusive writing without any relevance or contact with the “street”).

My objective is not to argue. I also do not think that a polemical response is the best way to relate. Jürgin cited Foucault who dedicated a good part of his work to devising an ethics of the thinking subject. The polemicist, said Foucault, approaches the battle ready to debate; he does not have before himself a speaker with whom to seek the truth, but rather he has an adversary. In this fight, armed with the rights that authorize the war, the polemicist fights by suppressing the dialogue and annulling his counterpart. Paradoxically, far from putting an end to the word, what the polemic does is multiply it through debates wrapped in hostilities that become a repetitive performance – where time and again the same orders and the same phrases are exchanged. For the polemicist, the proper existence of the adversary signifies a threat that should be caught, but when the new adversary is consolidated in the demand of his space, the polemic functions like a ritual in which nobody listens and each speaks for his or her part by reaffirming his or her respective identities.

“Post-anarchists” have wanted to introduce new debates into anarchism. Post-anarchists have imported discourses, intending to create bridges between distinct traditions in order to elude the methods of the polemic. In this way, they have unfolded vectors that moved from the classical authors and from the large exploits and anarchist organizational experiences of the first third of the 20th century toward the “long sixties” and such authors as Foucault, Deleuze or Derrida. Post-anarchism has also offered a series of analysis on the contemporary transformations today’s social movements, where the content and the possibilities of anarchism are redefined. David Graeber speaks of anarchists with a little “a” to portray the thickness of the activist networks of the North American alter-global experience. A short time before the socialist Manuel Castells expressed it in the same terms, he considered that two powers were growing in the world: “new anarchism” (alter-global and post-Cold War) and “fundamentalism” (of the religion that was). Also Barbaric Epstein verified the increasing importance of the “anarchist,” in detriment of the political Marxists in the left in the USA. None of these authors are “post-anarchist,” but all these ideas agree broadly speaking with the general lines of its political diagnosis. The questions that emerge here do so with a certain optimism and are of vital importance for the anarchist tradition and the left in general: Has the Era of Revolutions happened already? And if it is so, what alternative is there to the 19th century logic of reform/revolution? Has the old political subject and the forms of its political organization arrived at its end, and if it is so how should the subject, politics, and the relation that occurs among both be thought? Is there a “beyond” to the crisis of the left and the prison of the “politics of identity” exist?

Post-anarchism, as a chiefly academic phenomenon, appeared to promote these types of questions. Likewise, it arose as a reaction from this discomfort. Eluding the polemic does not signify yielding to complacency. The discomfort has to do with the evident desertion of “expert thought” from the rows of anarchism. Post-anarchism has wanted to rectify this problem through the actualization of theory. It remains to be seen if this is the best approach. There still lacks a thinking through of the implications of the role of the academic.

This is part two of an ongoing conversation about post-anarchism with Jürgin Mümken, Süreyyya Evren, and Anton Fernendaz de Rota. It has been translated from Spanish to English by Jake Nabasny with adaptations by Duane Rousselle


( Writing in The American ConservativeWilliam Lind bemoans the tendency revealed by current upheavals in the Middle East. “[T]he worst possible outcome … is the disintegration of states and their replacement either by statelessness — as we see in Somalia — or by fictional states, as in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

But what’s so bad about that? Let’s look at a couple of Lind’s objections:

“Within the territories that were formerly real states,” he writes, “power devolves to many non-state entities.”

Color me clueless, but isn’t that exactly what “limited government conservatives” usually claim to be for?

Isn’t that, in point of fact, precisely the goal Lind himself pursued as Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation? That institution’s “Declaration of Cultural Independence” swears off state politics and commits its adherents to “the creation of a complete, alternate structure of parallel cultural institutions.” Moreover, those “parallel cultural institutions” are of a specifically “Judeo-Christian” variety. But these days Lind lists, among his fears, the possibility that power will devolve to “religions and sects.”

“Internally, war becomes a permanent condition,” he warns. To which I can only reply, “was it not ever so?” Hobbes’s “war of all against all,” if ever that war truly raged, didn’t end with Leviathan’s appearance on the scene. The modern state merely armed the political class at the expense of the productive class, then proceeded to systematize the slaughter and — with spectacular exceptions like Hitler’s Holocaust, Stalin’s reign of terror, Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Pol Pot’s “Killing Fields” — regulate its domestic intensity to a more bearable and sustainable level than that of all-out war between states.

It’s questionable, though, whether the “war of all against all” ever took place, at least at any thing like the level of horror Hobbes claimed. Lind invokes Somalia as a modern-day equivalent, but the most notable characteristic of Somalia is how peaceable the place is when foreign states and their domestic quislings aren’t trying to impose themselves in place of its loose non-state clan social structure.

The real nut of Lind’s objection to anarchy seems to be that “externally there is no one with whom other states can deal.” He treats this as a bug. I consider it a feature.

What kind of “dealing” takes place between states? The least onerous form of trade between states — the baseline — is a continuous barter, between their political classes, of wealth stolen from their productive classes.

From there, it only gets worse, up to all-out war that makes any conceivable stateless “war of all against all” look like a friendly game of flag football: Massive armies (cajoled or even conscripted from among the productive class, of course — if you’re looking for the political class, consult your directory of “undisclosed locations”) arrayed against each other, brandishing terrible weapons that only acolytes of the state could manage the psychosis necessary to imagine, or work up the hubris to invest the massive amounts of unearned wealth required to develop.

Do I really need a state to “deal” in my name? Here’s a little bit of that Judeo-Christian lingo for Lind:

“Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves …” (Isaiah 28:15)

That’s the bargain Lind proposes as a bulwark against good, clean anarchy. Thanks, but no thanks.


( Duane Rousselle: Post-anarchism has come to mean different things to different people. In the anglophone world, Saul Newman has described a Lacanian/Stirnerian “post-anarchism,” Todd May has called for a practice-oriented “post-structuralist anarchism,” Lewis Call has described a time of “post-modern anarchism,” and Hakim Bey has called for a reinvention of traditional anarchist discourse in his 1987 essay “post-anarchism anarchy.” In my own research, I have noticed that there is a striking difference in the way post-anarchism has been conceived in the non-anglophone world. I would like to ask you a bit about what post-anarchism means for you and for your audience.

Jürgin Mümken: In order to answer the question of what post-anarchism means to me, I must first of all discuss my ‘philosophical beginnings.’ While I was studying architecture during the end of the 1980s, I grappled with the problem of prison architecture. I was struck by Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. This was serendipitous for me because at that time in Germany, Foucault barely played any role in those discourses that occurred outside of philosophy.

In the 1990s, I began to bring together Foucauldian thought with anarchism. When, in 1997, my first article on this topic—“No Power for Anyone: Attempts at an Anarchist Appropriation of the philosophical project of Michel Foucault”—was published in an anarchist newspaper, I did not know about the analogous argument in the Anglo-American world. In this article I referred also to the method of deconstruction present in Judith Butler’s work. I called my approach a “deconstructive anarchism.” However, I now argue that this ought not to be a new anarchist trend, as I had formulated it at the time, but rather a form of anarchist thought with wide-reaching consequences in intercourse with the dominant categories and concepts of our time.

While doing research on the Internet I discovered the work of a student in Berlin, whose thesis was that I had in fact been carrying on the thought of Todd May. As I have said, I made recourse to Judith Butler’sdeconstructivism, elaborating that an anarchist society ought not to be identified through the absence of power but rather that it is founded upon a reversal of power relationships in accordance that no rigid state of authority be permitted to develop. At that point in time, I had just published my book Freedom, Individuality and Subjectivity: State and Subject in Postmodernity from an Anarchist Perspective but I had not yet heard of Todd May or Saul Newman. I began to research their work on the Internet and came upon the term “post-anarchism.” I considered (and then adopted) the term as my ‘label.’ Later I registered the website Today post-anarchism remains for me a label within, but increasingly tightly-bound with, the multifaceted approaches to the contemporary actualization of anarchist theory and practice.

However, I do not use the term “post-anarchism” to set myself apart from “classical anarchism.” Foucault, Derrida, Butler, Deleuze, among others, can help us to read classical anarchism again. For example, there are many new and interesting things to discover in Stirner and Bakunin. In the anglo-American world, the German and French approaches to post-anarchism are largely ignored, whereas May, Newman, Call and Day have had no real relevance in the debates in German.

To me post-anarchism means an actualization of anarchist theory and practice with help from the “post-structuralist toolbox.” The prefix “post” stands for challenging and rejecting some of the basic assumptions of classical anarchism, but not for the abandonment of anarchist goals. For me, post-anarchism holds fast to the goal of a classless and stateless society, the term only makes sense within that context.

This is part one of an ongoing conversation about post-anarchism with Jürgin Mümken, Süreyyya Evren, and Anton Fernendaz de Rota. It has been translated from German to English by Enkidu (enkidu[at] with adaptations by Duane Rousselle.