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Just Books Publishing has produced this edition of Gregori Petrovich Maximoff’s Constructive Anarchism to mark the 100th year of existence of the Anarcho-Syndicalist International Workers Association – founded in Berlin in 1922.
Available in its entirety for the first time since 1952, Maximoff’s book is largely informed by direct involvement in the anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist movements in Russia before and during the 1917 revolution. He witnessed first-hand the crushing of the revolution, not by international capitalism, but by the Bolshevik seizure of state power. Maximoff explores the development of international anarchism in the period since WWI before putting forward his vision of a practical and constructive anarchism. In doing so, he examines the origins of anarchism in the period of the First International, its role in the Russian revolution, and the formation and early development of the Anarcho-Syndicalist international, the International Worker’s Association. He deals crucially, and critically with the conclusions reached by Makhno, Arshinov, Mett and others in the Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists (The Platform). This edition includes The Reply and The Platform, as Constructive Anarchism is primarily a historical defence of Anarcho-Syndicalism against both ‘Platformism’ and ‘Synthesist’ anarchism. The Reply was authored by a group of Russian anarchists in exile and represents a response to it by synthesist anarchists.
None of the documents presented here are ‘perfect’ in their analysis or content, rather they represent valuable historical documents in their own right. The debate over anarchism and organisation seems to remain doggedly unresolved, particularly in periods of splits, division, and low levels of class struggle. Yet the choice facing us is a stark one between destroying capitalism or facing destruction by it. The story of Constructive Anarchism as practiced by the IWA-AIT does not end with Maximoff’s book. It has continued over 100 years and continues to this day.