4.2. Political Struggles and Social Struggles

Anarchist Communists believe that the revolution must be a social revolution, that it must overturn the property relationships of bourgeois society. Responsibility for the abolition of private property and its replacement with collective ownership must be fully taken on by the proletariat, which must itself begin to manage production, distribution and services. Communist society can only be self-managing and federative or, as is often said, decision-making power must be exercised from below. With this in mind, the day-to-day struggles which we are involved in within the present capitalist society serve a variety of purposes. First of all, they help build the proletariat's fighting power, its mass organization whose forms presage the future instruments of management. Secondly, even the conquest of "crumbs, which though tiny are always good to eat, (...) will increase the workers' well-being and therefore improve conditions, even intellectual conditions" (Fabbri). Lastly, anything that the struggle snatches from the bosses, which limits their freedom to do as they would wish, is a conquest which must be won and defended. In this sense, Anarchists are "reformers" (to use Malatesta's word) but not reformists, as they do not believe that a free and equal society can be built little by little, step by step. What can be built by degrees and will help the chances of a successful revolutionary rupture, is the will to fight and the class consciousness of the exploited. Anarchism is "gradualist" (another of Malatesta's expressions) in other words, not because it envisages a gradual passage from Capitalism to Communism, but inasmuch as it believes in the gradual construction of revolutionary proletarian organization which is conscious of the fact that the satisfaction of its historical needs rests entirely and solely in the hands of the proletariat itself.

In all of the above there is no room for political struggle, for taking control of the State apparatus with the aim of using it as a vehicle for social change, for two good reasons. The first is that the State is a superstructure of bourgeois society and, as such, is unsuitable for a communist transformation (if anything, its survival reproduces bourgeois society, as we will see further on). Secondly, the political road envisages delegation, without any possibility of control, to the (often self-proclaimed) vanguard which then loses itself in the meanderings and traps of the capitalist social apparatus and deprives the proletariat of its role as protagonist of its own emancipation, which rightly belongs to it. It could also be added that the political struggle diverts the hopes of emancipation towards inappropriate paths, deceiving the masses into imagining that emancipation can be brought about by the powers-that-be rather than won through social struggle.

This point sharply divides Anarchist Communist theory from Marxist theory (in almost all its forms). Marx and Engels' political revolution, and before them that of the Jacobins, Gracchus Babeuf and Louis-Auguste Blanqui, envisages a political struggle, the consequences of which we have seen in all the political revolutions which have taken place to date, where the dominant class has simply reappeared. Social revolution, the only revolution which can truly emancipate the exploited, requires social struggle.

4.3. The Role of the Vanguard