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Anarcho-Communism, or Libertarian Communism, is a political ideology related to Libertarian socialism. However, the terms Anarcho-Communism and Libertarian Communism should not be considered synonyms for libertarian socialism. Anarcho-Communism is a particular branch of libertarian socialism.
Anarcho-Communism was first formulated in the Italian section of the First International, by Carlo Cafiero , Errico Malatesta, Andrea Costa and other ex-Mazzinian Republicans. Out of respect for Mikhail Bakunin, they did not make their differences from standard Anarchism explicit until after the latter's death. In 1876, at the Florence Conference of the Italian Federation of the International (which was actually held in a forest outside Florence, due to police activity), they declared the principles of Anarcho-Communism, beginning with:
- "The Italian Federation considers the collective property of the products of labour as the necessary complement to the collectivist programme, the aid of all for the satisfaction of the needs of each being the only rule of production and consumption which corresponds to the principle of solidarity. The federal congress at Florence has eloquently demonstrated the opinion of the Italian International on this point..."
The above report was actually made in an article by Malatesta and Cafiero in the (Swiss) Jura Federation's bulletin later that year.
In anarcho-communism, profit no longer exists. Not only that, but goods are given away as gifts in the certainty that others will also give products back (in an industrial setting, this would occur between worker syndicates as well as between individuals). If one syndicate does not share their products, they will not receive resources from other syndicates, making it in their best interest to share.
Anarcho-communism also advocates the abolition of work in the sense of wage slavery, and recommends worker self management to improve working conditions, increase efficiency, and make working enjoyable.
Anarcho-communism emphasizes the collective experience as distinct and important in the pursuit of freedom. All forms of Anarchism recognize the experience of collective identity to some extent, but the Anarcho-Communists, starting with Peter Kropotkin and extending out through Alexander Berkman, Nestor Makhno, and many others recognized that there was more to experiences which were less individualistic than meets the eye.
Implicitly, the Anarcho-Communists followed a Kantian scheme of classification: like Kant they divided life into its individualistic parts, which have a parallel with Kant's Pure Reason, and the less obvious parts of life which characterize our relations to one another, which parallels Kant's Practical Reason. To put it bluntly: no matter how autonomous we might be to ourselves when we're alone, once we start interacting with the world and with other people our change in circumstance calls for a different perspective.
This follows from our biology. The parts of life that Kant singled out in his work on Practical Reason are generally not well understood. How does the experience of work actually feel? What do we actually think when we work? Because of some sort of biological limitation when people deal with these aspects of life they tend to resort to using obscure and abstract metaphors and analogies to explain what they're talking about.
This is where the difference between Anarchism and Anarcho-Communism shows up most clearly: the Anarcho-Communists have taken on these hard to explain aspects of life, have desired to understand them, and have integrated strategies for liberation involving these aspects of life into their overall point of view.
The catch with these aspects of life is that while mental liberation might be amazing, becoming aware of the collective substructure of life and society leads to deeper liberation than is commonly thought possible.
So in this respect the Anarcho-Communists see themselves as pursuing a fuller definition of liberation than other anarchists.
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