International Journal of Anarchism

ifa-Solidaritet - folkebladet - ISSN 0800-0220 - electronic issues ISSN 1890-9485 since 2009 - no 1 (42) editor H. Fagerhus

Bulletin of the Anarchist International

Anarchism and borders

By A. Quist, J. Moreno and G. Johnson 22.12.2007 - Updated

The states' and national borders as we see today are perhaps not always optimal anarchist. But are anarchisms really without borders? The following is an answer to this question.

The basic unit in most anarchisms is the commune. For a society close to the anarchist ideal, Kropotkin suggests: "The "Commune" is no longer a territorial agglomeration; but...a synonym for the grouping of equals, knowing no borders, no walls. The social Commune... will cease to be clearly defined. Each group of the Commune will necessarily be attracted to similar groups of other Communes; they will group together, federate with each other, by bonds at least as solid as those tying them to their fellow townsmen; (they will) constitute a Commune of interests, of which members will be diseminated through a thousand cities and villages. Each individual will find satisfaction of his needs only in grouping together with other individuals (that) have the same tastes and living in a hundred other Communes." [From "Words of a Rebel", quoted by P. Berman in "Quotations from the Anarchists", New York, 1972, p. 171.] " In a society developed on these lines, the voluntary associations which already now begin to cover all the fields of human activity would take a still greater extension so as to substitute themselves for the state in all its functions." [From "Anarchism", by Pjotr Kropotkin, The Encyclopaedia Britannica , 1910.]

But although not necessarily a limited geographical area, the commune is not borderless. There will be some persons that are members, and some that are not. Other anarchists, as, say, Proudhon operates with a commune based on municipality.

"[Anarchy] ... the ideal of human government... centuries will pass before that ideal is attained, but our law is to go in that direction, to grow unceasingly nearer to that end, and thus I would uphold the principle of federation. [2] ...it is unlikely that all traces of government or authority will disappear... [3] By the word [anarchy] I wanted to indicate the extreme limit of political progress. Anarchy is... a form of government or constitution in which public and private consciousness, formed through the development of science and law, is alone sufficient to maintain order and guarantee all liberties...

The institutions of the police, preventative and repressive methods officialdom, taxation etc., are reduced to a minimum... monarchy and intensive centralization disappear, to be replaced by federal institutions and a pattern of life based upon the commune [i.e. municipality]. [4] Since the two principles, Authority and Liberty, which underlie all forms organized society, are on the one hand contrary to each other, in a perpetual state of conflict, and on the other can neither eliminate each other nor be resolved, some kind of compromise between the two is necessary. Whatever the system favored, whether it be monarchical, democratic, communist or anarchist, its length of life will depend to the extent to which it has taken the contrary principle into account. [5] ... that monarchy and democracy, communism and anarchy, all of them unable to realize themselves in the purity of their concepts, are obliged to complement one another by mutual borrowings.

There is surely something here to dampen the intolerance of fanatics who cannot listen to a contrary opinion... They should learn, then, poor wretches, that they are themselves necessarily disloyal to their principles, that their political creeds are tissues of inconsistencies... contradiction lies at the root of all programs. [6] ... writers have mistakenly introduced a political assumption as false as it is dangerous, in failing to distinguish practice from theory, the real, from the ideal... every real government is necessarily mixed... [7] .. .few people defend the present state of affairs, but the distaste for utopias is no less widespread. [8] The people indeed are not at all utopian... they have no faith in the absolute and they reject every apriori system... [9]" By Pierre Joseph Proudhon: 2. Woodcock, George. P.J. Proudhon , p. 249; 3. Selected Writings p. 105 ; 4. Ibid 92; 5. Ibid 103; 6. The Federal Principle, p. 21; 7. Ibid 21; 8. op cit 56 ; 9. General Idea of Revolution in the 19th Century , Freedom, 1927, p. 76. From Basic ideas of Proudhon.

The Oslo Convention declares: "The general idea is that the people really concerned of a case should be the ones that decide, in a horizontal way, alone in individual matters, two toghether in bilateral matters, three toghether in trilateral matters, etc., local matters decided locally, regional matters regionally, and general cases for a whole society (say a country) decided by all members of society together (preferably with general consent, based on a consensus-culture, with negotiations etc)."

Thus, it is quite reasonable to organize the geographical communes on national level, i.e. with country borders. Say, if the communes in Norway, on national level decides something that (only) concerns all Norwegian communes, the nation and country, it will be authoritarian if Russia, China, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia or Iran or other countries, or the rest of the world in general, are meddling in these purely Norwegian national affairs.

Furthermore, internationalism is a basic anarchist principle, see What anarchists are against and what they are for. The basis for internationalism, as opposed to nationalism, is never the less national geographical units, nations, countries. The Anarchist International AI/IFA has thus the following general principle, one anarchist federation in each country. International decisions, matters concerning all federations and members directly and concrete, are taken by the Anarchist International. But many decisions are taken on national level, based on the general anarchist principle of autonomy, etc. The countries will thus have borders also in an anarchy of high degree, although perhaps not as strict as the national borders of today.

The slogan "no borders" is basically a marxist communist idea, not anarchist. We all can imagine how the world would have been with a world wide communist Soviet (i.e. workers' council) SSSR/CCCP-like empire or something similar based on communes. Overpopulation and lack of birth control, and often totalitarian ultra-authoritarian regimes, in less developed countries, also are strong arguments for borders, and border control. Demands of more "lebensraum" and invasion from overpopulated areas are not anarchist. As indicated above, even in a world with anarchy of a high degree in all countries world wide, there would still be national borders, but maybe perhaps not as strict as today.

This has something to do with decentralization and autonomy, two basic anarchist principles, see What anarchists are against and what they are for. Anarchism is about self-management and self-administration. "Anarchy" doesn't mean "without coordination, management, administration, etc.". Anarchy is management, coordination and administration etc. without ruling and thus without rulers. A "world commune", one commune for the whole world in general, or communes organized in one unit for the whole world, will be nearly impossible to self-manage & self-administrate, it will be bureaucratic, certainly not efficient and fair, and thus not anarchist. Two basic anarchist principles are efficiency and fairness.

Remember the ABCDE-protest-action, supported by libertarians and semilibertarians at large: "1. No to World Bank support to dictatorship and neoliberalist agriculture in the 3rd world for export to OECD countries, making increased starvation and death among poor people. 2. Yes to a new world order of anarchy, as proposed by Bakunin already in the 19th century, including increased birthcontrol. We gotta change the world now! - The ABCDE-Conference, World Bank, UD, etc. should take into account that this resolution is backed by close to 100% solidaric consent from the anarchist and more or less libertarian international's grassroots-organizations world wide." Also remember Antimilitarism - an anarchist approach - IJA 2 (38) in this context.

A condition for world wide anarchy of a high degree, i.e. commune/communist Anarchism (that must not be mixed up with the opposite, Communism, a form of marxism), in each country, is a.o.t. about optimal size of the populations, not maximal or overpopulation. Optimal population in each country means more than just decent living for a countrys' people, seen as a class as opposed to the superiors economical and/or political/administrative, i.e. in income and/or rank.

Say, in the Anarchy of Norway, the population is already about optimal size, and more than quite marginal immigration should be avoided. However the Anarchy of Norway should of course take libertarian human rights considerations, as, say, regarding a limited number of United Nations' quota refugees, but within the framework of about optimal population. The Anarchist Federation of Norway, AFIN, is also of course against immigration of ultra-authoritarians and extremists, be it marxists, liberalists, fascists; ochlarchists, monarchists, oligarchists, polyarchists, plutarchists, matriarchists, patriarchists, hierarchists etc., i.e., political/administrative and/or economical, significant. AFIN goes for real libertarian immigrants, and not too many, and of course not ultra-authoritarians and extremists falsely posing as anarchists, say, fascists and ochlarchists in disguise. Extremist and ultra-authoritarian wannabe immigrants and asylum seekers, i.e. neonazis, muslim hierarchists, etc. - shall OUT. AFIN requires a tightening of the regulations. This policy of AFIN has of course no connection to nationalism, xenophobia, discrimination or racism, which anarchists are strongly against.

The question of reaching approximately optimal population is mainly a national question, that should be solved in each country world wide, see IJA 4 (31), chapter IX. and Idédugnad chapter IX. A similar policy as AFIN's is valid for several of the 25 most libertarian countries in the world, and perhaps more. However some countries may have significant less than about optimal population, and should thus allow for significant immigration. Russia, with decreasing population, and perhaps USA and Canada, may be examples of countries with less than about optimal population, and may thus be open for some immigration. Based on estimates of about optimal population in each country we may estimate an approximate number of optimal world population. GAIA, mother earth, our material planet, is perhaps already overpopulated, we are perhaps over the limit already?

The optimal population is dependent on the technology broadly defined, real capital, i.e. nature and produced real capital -- and labor -- also taking into account environmental issues, and the productive mix. The optimal population may thus increase over time if the technology is improved. But if the population grows too fast, compared to the technology development, we are on the wrong track - going into the population trap. GAIA, mother earth, our material planet, with its human population, is probably for the moment going fast into the population trap. May we get out of it without large scale death by hunger and hunger relateded illnesses, terrorism and war? That depends on the population policy world wide. Birth control is politically decided, manmade, and anarchists fight for optimal population world wide in a dynamic perspective. Authorities and others acting against optimal population must be stopped. Borders are necessary means in this struggle, as proved beyond reasonable doubt above. Countries with about optimal population, with clear borders and optimal population policy, say, as the Anarchy of Norway, serve as good examples to follow.

Are anarchisms really without borders? The answer is NO! "No border(s)" campaigns are typically marxism, including communism, may be liberalism or fascism, practically certain not anarchism and anarchist! "No border(s)" is not an IFA-anarchist principle!!! Anarchists say a clear NO to "No Borders".

Resolution, decided with general consent, by:
The International Anarchist Congress
The 11th Anarchist Biennial 27-28.11.2010
International Congress-Seminar on Anarchism
The AI/IFA network represents more than 50 000 anarchist world wide
To see the Website of the Congress - Click here!

The electronic issues of the International Journal of Anarchism are updated every time there are significant more informations about the different events and cases. But unless special cases, they are not redistributed by e-mail when they are updated. Also the IAT and other pages are updated almost every day. Thus, to be updated on the news and comments about anarchy, anarchist(s) and anarchism in different connections, it is necessary to visit the AIIS-web sites every day.

Articles to IJA may be written in any language, and should be provided with an English summary. If the article is short and written in English, the summary can be omitted.

Feel free to forward this issue of IJ@ to people or organizations you think may be interested in anarchy, anarchist(s) or anarchism, but include ifa@anarchy.no when you are forwarding, and don't use blind copies, so possible double distribution may be avoided in the long run. It's a small world.