Letter: Alternative to market
In your review of David Ramsay Steele’s book From Marx to Mises (June issue), you mention his citation of a non-market, anti-centralist model of society, that is “anarcho-communism”. You seem to accept his view that lack of central planning leads to local autarky and that anarchist communists advocate this. This is certainly not the case. We believe that much can be decided on a local level through a system of neighbourhood and workplace councils, but that there is a need for coordination of areas on a regional basis, right on up to a global level—to determine what is produced and how much, for example, to satisfy the needs of the population of the whole world.
In the same issue you ask if “anarcho-communists feel comfortable being grouped with these people” (that is people like Ayn Rand etc). Well, the answer is, we do not. We in the Anarchist Communist Federation have consistently argued that anarchism is based on class-struggle, and as a movement had its origins in the First International, a working class organisation. We have always dismissed descriptions of Ayn Rand. Tolstoy. Stirner and so on as “anarchist” (descriptions which they never used themselves) as inaccurate and misleading.
Glad to see you agree with us that the alternative to the market is not some impossible return to local self-sufficiency but common ownership with real democracy local to global. Not that we did any more than record, without discussing its accuracy, Steele’s claim that Kropotkin stood for “local autarky”.