Conversation With An Anarchist

Democracy, Authoritarianism & Revolution

International Bolshevik Tendency


In October 2011 Josh D., an IBT supporter in Toronto, received an email from an anarchist comrade asking if we were aware of a January 2006 piece entitled, “Why an Anarchist Organization is Needed… But Not a ‘Vanguard Party’.” The article, by Wayne Price of the Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists (NEFAC, now known as Common Struggle), sought to defend “Platform anarchism” against the charge that it is little more than closet Leninism. Platform anarchism takes its name from the 1926 Platform launched by several prominent anarchists including Nestor Makhno, Peter Arshinov and Ida Mett. In his article, Price refers several times to our 2002 pamphlet, “Platformism & Bolshevism,” which he describes as the “only extended work by Leninists on the subject.”

We pointed the comrade to “Anarchist Organization and Vanguardism: In Defense of Leninism,”; a response to Price which was published in 1917 No.29 (2007). A few days later she sent the following response:

“Hello again! Thanks for the link. I just finished reading the article. My intention while reading was to be open minded enough to allow myself to be convinced if the evidence and arguments were worthy, but I did not find myself convinced overall, despite there being overlap in agreement. As I read the article, I wrote comments in response to particular quotes. I wrote them in the form of a letter to you, but they were mostly to sort out my own thoughts on what I was reading. I’m sharing them with you in case you’re interested. I say many things you will find contentious, and I hope you don’t feel sucked into an argument. If you want to write back countering the things I have written, I would welcome your comments, and I’m sure I would learn from them…”

Reprinted in the main part are the passages she selected from our article (which we have appended in its entirety in the printed pamphlet), her commentary and our comrade’s response. We have also appended several chapters from H. G. Wells’ 1921 book, Russia in the Shadows, with his observations from a visit the previous year.

International Bolshevik Tendency

January 2012