Comments on AFAQ 2: Who do anarchists see as their “agents of social change”?

An Anarchist FAQ, published by AK Press, is too colossal, too intimidating to ‘review’, I have never read it. I doubt anyone ever has, apart from the editors and proof-readers who truly deserve some kind of medal. But I sometimes leaf through it, especially now that I claim to write ‘anarchist reviews’ which are really just my personal opinions, and I feel I sometimes need more insight on ‘what anarchists think of this’ (usually though, I just ask a couple of anarchists who care about whatever issue I’m writing about and that’s all). AFAQ is sometimes very English-speaking world oriented, and it is also geared towards a Trotskyism vs. Anarchism debate, because the people who frequently ask those Frequently Asked Questions are frequently Trotskyists. And really they are rhetorical questions aimed at making us maieutically realise the awesomeness of the vanguard leaders, and that is why I have so much admiration for people who actually answer them.


Anyway, as I started my quest to show that there are important convergences between anarchism and value critique, I was confronted with two over-simplifications: on the one hand, anarchists saying that value critique was post-marxist and rejected class struggle altogether, on the other hand supporters of value critique saying that anarchism had the same approach as orthodox Marxists when it came to the centrality of the class-struggle and the proletariat as revolutionary agent. The truth is, both currents agree on Marx’s analysis of class, capital and class-struggle within capitalism, and both disagree with traditional Marxist interpretations of how to break from capitalism.

I was wonderfully relieved to see that the question of anarchism’s view on class struggle and its link to social change was mapped to some extent by AFAQ H.2.7 “Who do anarchists see as their “agents of social change”?” (link here: ). I think this answer needs to be completed and made more actual (a large part has to do with establishing that Bakunin did indeed want the IWA to be a mass organisation of most of the proletariat. Establishing historical facts is good, but I think it is fair to say that is no longer the case of most anarchists, as it is no longer even the case of all members of the IWA afaik).

After this discussion, we will expose briefly the value critique view on the proletariat, class struggle and social change. To simplify, class struggle exists, it is often good, but it does not necessarily lead to emancipation for all, we need to emancipate ourselves not only as workers in the capitalist mode of production, but also as subjects in commodity society.

Eventually, I hope to show that both positions, if not identical, have a certain number of things in common.