For a Libertarian Communism
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Daniel Guérin addressed himself to younger people “alienated from ideologies and ‘isms’ shorn of any meaning by an earlier generation” and particularly from “socialism, which has so often been betrayed by those who claimed to speak in its name, and which now provokes an understandable scepticism.” In this collection of essays, written between the 1950s and 1980s and published here for the first time in English, Guérin not only provides a critique of the socialist and communist parties of his day, he analyzes some of the most fundamental and pressing questions with which all radicals must engage. He does this by revisiting and drawing lessons from the history of the movement from the French revolution, through the conflicts between anarchists and Marxists, to the social revolution of 1968. These are not just abstract theoretical reflections, but are informed by the experiences of a lifetime of revolutionary commitments.
Daniel Guérin was a prominent member of the French left for half a century. He published The Brown Plague in 1933 and Fascism and Big Business in 1936. His controversial, libertarian Marxist interpretation of the French Revolution, Class Struggle in the First Republic, 1793–1797 was judged by his friend C.L.R. James to be “one of the great theoretical landmarks of our movement”. Mitchell Abidor is the principal French translator for the Marxists Internet Archive. His translations include Anarchists Never Surrender, Voices of the Paris Commune, and Death to Bourgeois Society. David Berry is currently a senior lecturer in politics and history at Loughborough University, UK. His publications include A History of the French Anarchist Movement, 1917–1945, New Perspectives on Anarchism, Labour and Syndicalism, and Libertarian Socialism. He is currently preparing a biography of Guérin.
"Over six decades Daniel Guérin had a record of willingness to cooperate with any section of the French left that shared his fundamental goals of proletarian self-emancipation, colonial liberation, and sexual freedom. He was a vigorous polemicist but saw no fragment of the left, however obscure, as beneath his attention. He was also typically generous, never seeking to malign his opponents, however profoundly he disagreed with them. He was always willing to challenge orthodoxy, whether Marxist or anarchist. Yet behind the varying formulations one consistent principle remained: ‘The Revolution of our age will be made from below—or not at all.’" —Ian Birchall, author, The Spectre of Babeuf, Sartre Against Stalinism and A Rebel’s Guide to Lenin "Guérin provides an eloquent history of libertarian socialist practice that is not just insightful but also an exemplary display of straightforward writing, passion, and balance. The book is highly valuable as a history of thought and action, to be sure, but, even more important, as an exploration of issues and ideas directly relevant to today’s world." —Michael Albert, author, Parecon: Life after Capitalism"With the continual debasing of ‘libertarian’ to mean free-market capitalist, the publication in English of Daniel Guérin‘s classic For a Libertarian Communism is very welcome. It shows why Guérin was one of France’s leading libertarian thinkers and activists, for it discusses what remain the key issues for socialists of all schools. His deep knowledge of both anarchism and Marxism makes this book essential reading for all radicals: Marxists will get their false notions of anarchism challenged while those interested in anarchism will see that it is libertarian socialism rather than some incoherent lifestyle choice.” —Iain McKay, author, An Anarchist FAQ, Property Is Theft! A Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Reader, and Direct Struggle Against Capital: A Peter Kropotkin Anthology"Daniel Guérin is the creator of a unique synthesis between Marxism and anarchism: libertarian communism. His reflections are more than ever relevant for the 21st century." —Michael Löwy, author, Ecosocialism: A Radical Alternative to Capitalist Catastrophe