H. Oakley, “Liberty through Anarchist Communism” (1919)

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“Anarchism is the philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made laws; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence and are therefore harmful as Well as unnecessary.”—Emma Goldman.


Printed by J. A. Slade, 132, Kingston Road, Merton Park, S.W., and published by the Propaganda Group, 127, Ossulston Street, London, N.W.

Liberty and Anarchist Communism.

The Anarchist Communist together with Socialists generally, ‘declares it to be the function of the working class to take over the means of life, i.e., land, mines, railways, etc., and that these should be worked and used for the benefit of ‘each and all, and not for the few, as is now the case, with excessive opulence one end of the scale and mere subsistence or extreme poverty at the other.

That the present capitalist state has outlived its time and should be immediately replaced by a system of society whereby the exploitation of man by man should cease; where the fullest liberty to the individual shall be permitted and allowed natural development, and that the child of to-day and the future shall not be handicapped and fettered by the laws that all governmentalists of whatever age and opinion, have considered necessary for the so-called well being of the citizen and stability of society.

The Anarchist Communist also affirms that not by any system of parliamentary representation can the emancipation of the working class be achieved; too often the sending of a Labourite or Socialist to the House in order that bad and de- grading conditions of existence shall be ameliorated ends by the constitutional machine grasping your would be saviour in its claws and making him a subservient tool in the hands of the exploiting class—thus are the workers continually floundering in a hog of parliamentary controversy as to who should and could “represent” them efficiently, and, while this chloroform of “exercising your will by constitutional means” keeps the workers stupefied and impotent, industrial and economic slavery continues with vigour.

At best conditions are only eased in order to prevent the workers from forcing an industrial upheaval and kicking over the traces.

That the exploiting class fear not the entry of workers’ “representatives” into Parliament, nor even a Labour government, is proved by the support some members give the ruling caste to laws that operate against the people such as the Military Service Acts, Registration Act (the prelude to the Conscription Bill which was supported by labour bodies) etc., then contrast the “doormat” incident when displeasure was incurred and ask yourself whether the exploiters “fear” your so-called “power by constitutional means.”

Note the “Labour government” of the future and its component parts consisting of ex-members of the Unionist, Liberal and Radical parties, and even an Earl is reported as having joined the ranks of the labour movement—these are certainly not proletarians however sincere they may be, therefore, the infiltration of interests into the ranks of the working class movements diametric- ally opposed to those of the workers, nullifies the action of the latter by reason of the respectable and reputable associations in its midst.

Need we remind you of the so-called liberties that were your privilege and which have been so ruthlessly destroyed—freedom of speech, freedom of press, etc. Note the operations of D.O.R.A., with orders in Council, and then sum up the full benefits derived from constitutional legislation.

Further, how can such constitutional representation and its method of procedure be satisfactory when a majority of one will return a member? and what about the minority who are not represented?

That your emancipation from present day conditions will not be achieved by delegating to another the right to sit in the House and impose laws for your obedience thereto is not only shown in the foregoing but should be amply proved by a little enquiry from one’s memory of past records, deeds and events of the politicians.

The parasitic class do not fear even the “class-conscious” members who may “sit” in the House, in fact have we not witnessed the readiness of the Allied Powers to treat with the Kerensky government of Russia and the present socialist-bourgeoise government of Germany, but, contrast the different attitude towards the Bolshevik regimé of Russia and Hungary, then ask yourself why the difference plus hostility to the two last named?

Let us tell you that it is because the cancer of capitalist society has been first pierced by the scalpel of the proletariat of Russia, to be ultimately removed by a surgical operation performed by the workers of the world; the seizure of the land and the wresting of the economic power from the hands of the recent exploiters is the reason of the hostility of other countries towards the Soviet regimé, because these constitute the fundamental bases upon which present day society rests, and all laws have for their primary object the safeguarding of this power in the hands of the ruling class. No amount of “drastic legislation ” against this class will alter affairs, the way is obvious, the power is yours.

That there is some fear for the existing state of society may be judged from the methods adopted by the governments; take the recent developments for feeling “the pulse of the troops” in case of strikes and for Russian intervention—the spies in the shops stewards movement—the deportation of persons suspected of Bolshevik tendencies, the arrests and their results for publishing leaflets concerning the blockade and its effects on the “ enemy” children; all tend to show the fear of the light of truth and reason breaking in upon you.

The imprisonment of leading Anarchists and Socialists in “ the land of the free ” just across the pond, for speaking against the War, etc., and ask why such should happen, and how possible, but by your apathy and the doping effect of the parliamentary fetish.

Fellow workers, all governments rest upon violence, and each pass laws legalising acts of oppression, etc., and never fail to use, when considered necessary, all the brute force at their command to suppress the needful aspirations of your class; further, while demanding of you respect and obedience to their laws, never hesitate to shuffle round these laws by ambiguous phrases, when it is in their interest to do so.

Your interest lies in improving your crafts and industries to which you belong, and to unite in your industrial organisations together with the agricultural workers, eventually becoming masters of your own lives and destinies, which will happen as soon as you will it.

You have no need of governments regulating your lives and ordering you to tamper with your clock as against the sun’s time; it is possible for you to organise production and distribution on such a mutual basis for the benefit of all: it is within your power to organise real education for old and young alike whereby the ideals, aspirations and feelings of humanity shall be raised to a high moral plane—where the slaughter of man by man shall cease, and the spectre of poverty and shadows of the prison walls shall be no more. Remember the motto “If you want a thing-done, do it yourself,” therefore do not relegate to others that which you should do.

While sympathising with every effort on the part of the workers to better conditions, believing it to be animated by a dim consciousness of the need to resist economic pressure and a desire for greater liberty, the Anarchist Communist strictly adheres to his advocacy, that emancipation can only be achieved by industrial action, and, therefore, a social revolution, forced industrially, is in accordance with his line of action.

It is impossible to actually lay down a definite programme because to do so would fetter the future as we are now shackled by old laws of past ages. Again, it would depend upon the cause of the revolt, such as the economic conditions prevailing at the moment, and numerous other factors unforseen, but that a mass rising would tend to develop into a social general strike (or even arising from such) is certain; further, that a form of syndicalism would probably result in order to aid the revolt through its transitory period. Many Labour Leaders and self interested Methusalahs would bid the workers return to their slave compounds again while they negotiated “constitutionally,” but these must and would be ignored because of their antique and fossilised conceptions and methods that lag far behind the ideas and aspirations of the rank and file.

Again, the Anarchist by using the word Revolution by no means implies that there should be a violent conflict in which blood will flow; on the contrary, his support of the general strike as a weapon for the workers is also intended to obviate bloodshed; but there is the great probability that the landowning and capitalist class will not give in without a hard struggle, therefore it is from their side that the first signs of violence would be seen, and as proof of such one need only refer to the recent strike for a 40 hour week at Glasgow when an armed force was hurried to the spot with barbed wire, machine guns, tanks, etc., as accessories in preserving “law and order.”

On its constructive side Anarchism aims at the abolition of all exterior authority over man, believing that with full liberty and facilities for human beings to develop their mental and moral faculties, the individuality of each member of the genus will not only stand out as a dominant factor in the future, but that the high moral plane whereby everyone can be a law unto himself will be attained and the acme of freedom reached.

The quotation from Herbert Spencer is very applicable to the above, viz.: “that every individual has a right to do as he wills providing he infringes not the equal freedom of another individual.”

The workers on seizing the economic power and by destroying this effete governmental fetish, will make this possible, for it is, of necessity, vital to governmentalists that the standard as desired by Anarchists shall not be made practicable, for as soon as individuality asserts itself laws and even physical force is of no avail, as was proved by the C.O.’s during the late war. There are in the ranks of the workers to-day individuals gifted with abilities capable of being used to advantage, and there is no need to fear that the various branches of production necessary for life’s maintenance would be so disorganised by the elimination of the parasitic class that suck the blood of the proletariat. These individuals from the working class would not sit as a governing body however, and in cases where special knowledge was needed, would act only in an advisory capacity.

The revolution would be successful inasmuch as the great mass of the people being drawn into the vortex by discontent, would be compelled by nature’s first and fundamental law—self-preservation, to spontaneously meet in localities for the purpose of constructing society on a sound basis, the guiding principles being Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. These meetings would decide that the first need of the people food——must be met, and the basic organisation for such would be laid, capable of greater improvement gained by experience, etc.

As proof that the people would do this and undertake the work of production, is seen by the fact that during the late war individuals cultivated all kinds of lands with avidity, and moreover, worked hour after hour, day by day, barely resting for meals. Another obvious proof is that the operation of nature’s first law aforementioned would be the chief motive force. Contrast the person who worked an allotment for his own benefit (after paying rent) with the lack of zeal the same individual would show when working for a master—how he considers it a pleasure to hasten home from his work but a disgrace to run to the workshop where his energy is sapped, and two thirds of the result of his labour is filched from him. It is here where he is robbed-it is the place where it must be stopped. Obviously then there is no doubt that the people will successfully overcome the food question; and now as to housing.

There is no need to refer but casually to the squalid conditions of some humans and their so called homes, nor to those nomads who frequent the casual wards of the workhouse and never rise to the position of obtaining £400 per annum.

The government do not hesitate to commandeer hotels, large houses, etc., for the purpose of waging war and destruction, then, cannot and would not the workers do the same for social purposes and house those poor people who live in hutches, fairly decently for once, until the results of the workers’ revolution shall be sufficiently consolidated to enable them to build mansions that shall be hygienic and capacious, and containing baths and other improvements that will lessen the drudgery of the household?

This would be done, and would be more justifiable than for the purpose referred above, further, we feel certain that as the people acquiesced in this taking over the hotels, etc., for such a low and barbarous purpose as war is, the people would acclaim aloud the necessity and right to do so when it is in their own interests.

Then as to the drainage and dust question: Anarchists know that the first law of nature will again be the dynamic force impelling the people to attend to this need, for they will realise that the stench resulting from absence of flushing and cleansing will breed disease in their midst.

It will be useless to carry on producing and socialising for physical and mental needs unless healthy surroundings are fostered, otherwise death will grip the masses as mercilessly as did the capitalist class when the war for that much misunderstood and abused word, Freedom, was started. Thus are we certain that the imaginary difficulties of the people will be overcome, readily and effectively.

There will be less work for the medicos by reason of the abolition of adulterated foods, the lessening of the hours of labour, the number of town workers of to-day who will readily journey to the lands where the notices, “Trespassers will be prosecuted,” shall have been burnt-all these will add to the chances of better health and longevity of life. Free access to all branches of science should and would be the right of the people—religious freedom a right that Anarchists hold should not be denied, but that the progress of any creed or sect should depend upon the morality and practice of the said creed. Money would be abolished in order to prevent the employing of a person for profit or to allow of idleness—the fact of a human being amongst us would be the guarantee for to live in return for services, not as now where it depends upon one’s ability to find an employer who grants work and profits by your disinheritance and its resultant slavery. That governments and laws fail to prevent crime is another fact Anarchists would emphasise. Most crime is regarded as being committed against property (produced by economic causes in most cases) and with the abolition of private ownership these would necessarily diminish and cease.

If by law man was made “better” how comes it that we are troubled by more laws, lawyers, M.Ps., prisons, warders and above all criminals?

Think it out for yourselves, read our papers and books; know yourselves and your power by organisation. Be not frightened by the bogey of the capitalist press that Anarchism is a doctrine of bomb throwers—It is a Lie—the christian civilized governments have just proved it after four years of war and still remind you of it by example as in Russia to-day. “ He who would be free must first strike the blow,” it rests with you: which do you prefer, Freedom or Slavery?

Should you agree ‘with this pamphlet and would learn more of the philosophy of Anarchism read



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About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.