An Anarchist FAQ blog

Last updated 22 February 2024

An Anarchist FAQ version 15.6 released (22/02/2024)

22 February 2024

An Anarchist FAQ (AFAQ) is now at version 15.6. This release is a revision of the appendix refuting the various Leninist accounts of the Spanish Anarchist movement and key episodes in its history.

An Anarchist FAQ version 15.5 released (27/11/2023)

27 November 2023

An Anarchist FAQ (AFAQ) is now at version 15.5. This release is a revision of the appendix on how Bolshevik ideology negatively impacted upon the Russian Revolution.

Anarchists and Unions

01 May 2023

A summary of revolutionary anarchist views on unions and their key role within anarchist theory and practice. It recounts the ideas of Micheal Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin, Errico Malatesta and others on the need for collective struggle in the labour movement to create an anarchist society and for anarchists to work within unions for libertarian ends. Revolutions are mass movements and active participation by anarchists in popular movements like the labour movement is how libertarian ideas spread, turning anarchism from a mere idea to a reality.

Comments on “Friedrich Engels on state socialism”

15 January 2023

A critique of an academic article which discusses “Friedrich Engels on state socialism” as an example of a wider problem with Marxist historical analysis, namely that it often amounts to little more than wishful thinking bolstered by cherry-picking quotes. It shows that Engels was very much in favour of state socialism and any apparent opposition to it is due to defining “state socialism” in a very limited and specific manner. Moreover, looking at the texts quoted in the article shows the weakness of many of the claims made in it.

The London Congress of 1881

14 December 2022

An analysis of the infamuous International Socialist-Revolutionary Congress held in London between 14-20 July, 1881 which indicates that many of the delegates -- including Peter Kropotkin -- were raising the necessity of anarchist involvement in the labour movement rather than fixating on "propaganda by the deed". Looking at the reporting in Le Révolté at the time, a different picture emerges than that usually painted by historians -- particularly non-anarchist ones.

An Anarchist FAQ version 15.4 released (17/03/2020)

17 March 2020

An Anarchist FAQ (AFAQ) is now at version 15.4. This release is a revision of the appendix on a critical event during the Russian Revolution, the Kronstadt revolt of March 1921, its importance, what it tells us about Bolshevism as well as refuting the various Leninist attempts to justify its repression.

An Anarchist FAQ version 15.3 released (26/11/2019)

26 November 2019

An Anarchist FAQ (AFAQ) is now at version 15.3. This release is a revision of the appendix on refuting the various Leninist arguments which seek to explain the failure of the Russian Revolution in terms of "objective factors":

An Anarchist FAQ version 15.2 released (19/07/2019)

19 July 2019

An Anarchist FAQ (AFAQ) is now at version 15.2. The main part of this release is a slight revision of the appendix on refuting the various Leninist accounts of the Spanish Anarchist movement and key episodes in its history. The changes are mostly improving various references, indicating page numbers where possible of works previously referenced by URLs. However, a few new passages have been added here and there in anticipation of its full revision later.

The Symbols of Anarchy, revisited

9 March 2019

We included an appendix on “The Symbols of Anarchy” in An Anarchist FAQ which covered the two main flags of Anarchy, the black and the red-and-black. Later, we blogged about “The Red Flag of Anarchy” and how the likes of Proudhon and Bakunin associated themselves with this iconic embalm of labour and socialism. Here, we add new material.

An Anarchist FAQ version 15.1 released (31/05/2018)

31 May 2018

An Anarchist FAQ (AFAQ) is now at version 15.1. The main part of this release is a revision of the appendix on the various oppositions within the Bolshevik party

An Anarchist FAQ after 21 years

19 July 2017

For reasons too unimportant to discuss here, the 20th anniversary blog for An Anarchist FAQ (AFAQ) ended up on my personal blog rather than AFAQ’s “official” one. Now I correct this by reposting it here as well as taking the opportunity to preface it with a few comments to mark 21 years since AFAQ was officially launched.

160 Years of Libertarian

17 May 2017

Many men, I know, speak of liberty without understanding it; they know neither the science of it, nor even the sentiment. They see in the demolition of reigning Authority nothing but a substitution of names or persons; they don’t imagine that a society could function without masters or servants, without chiefs and soldiers; in this they are like those reactionaries who say: ‘There are always rich and poor, and there always will be. What would become of the poor without the rich? They would die of hunger!’ - Joseph Déjacque (Down with the Bosses!, 5)

An Anarchist FAQ version 15.0 released (18/03/2014)

18 March 2014

An Anarchist FAQ is now at version 15.0. This release is a revision of the appendix replying to David McNally's attack on anarchism and defend of Leninism:

ASR review of An Anarchist FAQ

9 June 2013

“It is impossible to do justice to the 1,136 pages in these two volumes… It will serve as an invaluable reference to those unfamiliar with our ideas and our movement, or to those who have recently embraced anarchism but have yet to explore and reflect upon the tradition.” (Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, no. 59)

The Catalan CNT and the Asturias Uprising

23 July 2010

The activities of the CNT in Spain have been a source of much discussion due to its size and influence. Being the only nation in Western Europe where anarchism remained the largest influence on the labour movement, both anarchists and non-anarchists have studied the organisation and discussed its successes and failures. Unfortunately, as part of this process those opposed to anarchism (particularly Marxists) have spread numerous myths regarding the movement and specific events (most obviously, the social revolution of 1936).

Workers Solidarity review of An Anarchist FAQ

26 March 2010

"This is easily the most comprehensive FAQ on anarchist theory, history and practice available today . . . The writing is such that the reader can find him/herself drawn into the book quite rapidly. It explains complex ideas in a relatively simple manner . . . It is the go to guide for the curious and critical about anarchist theory, history, and practice."

Freedom review of An Anarchist FAQ

4 August 2009

“At long last [AFAQ] . . . has moved from the Internet onto the printed page . . . The prefix to the book is ‘An’ Anarchist FAQ. The collective is too modest. This is the place to go to find out about anarchist ides, theory and practice. It is accessible and based on sound research. Thoroughly recommended.” (Richard Griffin, Freedom, Vol. 70, No. 14)

The Internationale: Libertarian Anthem

14 July 2009

It often seems that libertarian influenced events and organisations have become irreversibly linked with Marxism. Thus the International Workingmen's Association (IWMA, or the First International) and the Paris Commune are associated these days more with Marx than Proudhon (or anarchism) even though it was the followers of the French anarchist who helped create the former and gave the latter its distinctive characteristics.

The Red Flag of Anarchy

29 June 2009

As discussed in An Anarchist FAQ's appendix on Symbols of Anarchy, anarchists at first used the Red Flag as their symbol of choice, with the Black Flag slowly replacing it over a period of many decades. Both flags, however, had their roots in working class struggle and protest, both were anti-capitalist symbols raised by working class people in revolt against exploitation and oppression.

Rothbard: "We must therefore conclude that we are not anarchists"

28 April 2009

An Anarchist FAQ spends some time explaining, probably in far too much detail given their small size and corresponding importance, why "anarcho"-capitalism is not a form of anarchism. Ironically, its founder Murray Rothbard once agreed!

AFAQ critique of a Marxist vindicated

24 February 2009

One of the aims of An Anarchist FAQ (AFAQ) is to refute common myths about anarchism, particularly those spread by those opposed to anarchism. Marxists of various sorts (mostly Leninists, but not solely that trend) seem to be incapable of discussing anarchism without distorting it.

Anarchy and panarchy

18 February 2009

When section F.7 on the history of "anarcho"-capitalism and its (non-)relation with anarchism was being written, there was a mention of "Panarchy" which simply did not fit easily into the sections.

The God Delusion and anarchism

27 January 2009

Most anarchists (although not all) will find Richard Dawkins' critique of god and religion in The God Delusion (Bantum Press, London, 2006) both admirable and timely. However, most would be surprised that any critique of god would fail to mention, never mind discuss, Bakunin's God and the State.

125 years of the black flag of anarchy

15 December 2008

As well as 2008 being the 150th anniversary of anarchist use of the word “libertarian” to describe our ideas, this year also marks the 125th anniversary of the association of the black flag with anarchism.

150 years of Libertarian

11 December 2008

This year, 2008, marks the 150th anniversary of the use of the word “libertarian” by anarchists.

Unfinished appendix on economics

25 November 2008

This is an unfinished appendix on classical economics (i.e., The Labour Theory of Value) and discussing its merits, particularly compared to neo-classical marginal utility theory.

AFAQ and Medieval Iceland

25 November 2008

David Friedman has produced a "critique" of what was formally section F.9 of "An Anarchist FAQ" (AFAQ). As main contributor to AFAQ, I think it is wise to make a few comments about his comments. As will be seen, Friedman's critique is more smoke than fire, misunderstanding certain words we use and significantly failing to address the issues the section raises.

Sorel and Syndicalism

13 November 2008

This paragraph was dropped from section H.2.8: What is the relationship of anarchism to syndicalism? as it was not totally relevant (and section H was long enough as it was!). Also, Stack's statement was based on personal experience (hearing him) rather than being in print. Still, it is a relatively common myth so here it is in the blog.