1920s >> 1926 >> no-264-august-1926

“Anarchist fundamentals”

We recently replied in these columns to a Deptford correspondent (Mr. Beer). He has since sent us a letter which would fill a page and a half of this journal. His rejoinder does not answer our objections to the so-called Anarchist case. We will briefly deal with Mr. Beer’s “points.”

He accuses us of favouring bureaucracy in spite of the fact shown by us that Socialism means a class-less society where wealth is owned in common, thus destroying the basis of bureaucracy.

Mr. Beer denies that physical force users and advocates are anarchists, and suggests that the persons who resort to individual violence are half-wits. Anarchism, he claims, deprecates violence. Every anarchist has his own definition of anarchism, and it is easy to dodge hard facts of anarchist history by saying that all the well known opponents of government were halfwits and not Anarchists. On the question of taxes, Mr. Beer claims that because the worker buys beer, tobacco, tea, etc., he therefore pays for government. The arguments advanced by us on this question are ignored, so we will again repeat that as the workers receive just enough to live upon (on the average) the working class cannot pay for governments. The cost of running the government machine comes out of the surplus stolen by the employers. Hence the property owners struggle to reduce taxation. Taxes are the slightest element (if any) in prices. Prices are based in the ultimate upon the value of the articles, determined by the labour which is expended upon them.

Mr. Beer calls Socialism a huge monopoly but he carefully evades the point that it is a monopoly held by all the workers in common. A monopoly dictated by the needs of modern production and the failure of private ownership.

Mr. Beer talks of the products of labour going to the State under Socialism. He evidently does not know that the State is a machine arising from class ownership and private property, and therefore the State dies out with the death of property divisions. He again talks of the product of the individual’s labour in spite of the cooperative nature of large scale industry. He confuses the measuring of the time spent by the individual worker with the result of his work merged into the associated labour.

Mr. Beer is no exception to the rule that Anarchists will not face the necessities of industrial evolution.

No Anarchist has yet attempted to explain how co-operative production demanded by modern machinery can be reconciled with individual ownership and control.

A. Kohn.

(Socialist Standard, August 1926)

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