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Postscript: the insurrectional perspective

by Alfredo M. Bonanno Wednesday, Aug. 01, 2007 at 1:15 PM

More than a year has passed since we finished the second issue of our journal Dissident, which introduced insurrectional anarchism in Sweden. We chose to introduce the insurrectional perspective because we think it brings us valuable insights and experiences. These include the critique of organisational fetischism and activism, the shift of perspective from the mass to the active minority, and the importance of projectuality. Some critics, mostly syndicalists, unfortunately interpreted the insurrectional perspective in absolute terms. This text aims to answer those concerns and move the discussion forward.

More than a year has passed since we finished the second issue of our journal Dissident, which introduced insurrectional anarchism in Sweden. We chose to introduce the insurrectional perspective because we think it brings us valuable insights and experiences. These include the critique of organisational fetischism and activism, the shift of perspective from the mass to the active minority, and the importance of projectuality. Some critics, mostly syndicalists, unfortunately interpreted the insurrectional perspective in absolute terms. This text aims to answer those concerns and move the discussion forward.

Following Killing King Abacus and others, we formulated the insurrectional perspective on the basis of three central principles: 1) permanent conflictuality; that the struggle should never turn to mediation, bargaining or compromise, 2) autonomy and self-activity; that the struggle should be carried out without representatives and “specialists”, and 3) organization as attack; that the organization should be used as a tool in the attack against state and capital, and not be a goal in itself. What this means in its most essential and concrete way is this: to take and keep the initiative. That’s the insurrectional perspective in the class struggle.

This perspective must be put into context. The starting point of the insurrectional perspective has always been the active minority, as opposed to the mass. This is because the “relationship with the mass cannot be structured as something that must endure the passage of time, i.e. be based on growth to infinity and resistance against the attack of the exploiters. It must have a more reduced specific dimension, one that is decidedly that of attack and not a rearguard relationship.” (Bonanno) The exploitation and subsumtion of our daily lifes is a power-relation in constant change—both on the grassroot level and in general social structures. It is a power-relation based on speed, which means that those who have the initiative, also are in control. Therefore, our emancipation must constantly be re-conquered, by the taking and keeping of initiative. This permanent conflictuality means that we must be prepared to take quick decisions and not be tied up by rigid structures. The self-organization then, has to take on an informal character, because it can’t be dependent on outside forces; to wait for others to represent you means that the initiative gets lost.[1] We use the concept of the affinity-group to refer to this initiative-based, flexible, and often completely informal and invisible association of determined and active persons. In practice the affinity-group is based on discussion, personal bonds, mutual understanding, and revolutionary, practical solidarity. The affinity-group cannot be applied in a normative way, because it must always be based on initiative and not on unpersonal structures. It’s not an organizational form, but a strategic perspective to be practiced.[2]

The insurrectional perspective aims for the generalization of the uncontrollable class struggle, that is: communization. Communization put into practice simply means that people take control of their own lives. This is the production of communism; simultaneous but heterogeneous processes that strive to move beyond capital by dissolving its logic and making its forms of communion, interaction and meaning obsolete. However, we can see that communization has two levels or dimensions: one internal and one external.[3] The internal movement is all the ways we refuse work, control and discipline. This could manifest itself in everything from loitering, sabotage, strikes, and riots, to migration, uprisings and revolutions. The external dimension, on the other hand, cerates the spaces where relations other than those of capital is produced, i.e.”outsides” of the capitalistic totality. “They are the rooms and outsides that give human beings access to future communities and coming worlds.” (Marcel). The relation between these two levels is complex. They interact and relate in dynamic ways; communization is neither a simple movement towards communism through the mediating actions of “revolutionaries” and organizations, nor a strict division between struggles, were all forms of activity not related to the production of “outsides” should be condemned. These problems are best understood by the sober analysis of concrete occurrences and by continued theoretical practice; in other words, by asking oneself “where are we going?”

The question of how we move from insurrection to revolution is not then, from this perspective, about how we get more supporters, how we organize bigger demonstrations, fight for more rights and higher pay, administrate more of the social production, take more seats in the parliament, expand democracy, and so on. A realization of communism through a irreversible communizing process has more to do with the possibility of simultaneousness. This means that different struggles are in phase with and strengthen each other. The conscious participation in this communizing process, the active call for a potential outside, is what we, following the insurrectional anarchists, call projectuality. We want to continue to develop this perspective on class struggle, capital and communism by giving concepts such as communization, simultaneousness, outside and projectuality central places in our theoretical practice. These concepts are far from complete, of course. They are theoretical choices and practical experiences demanding extensive analysis. The Batko group is continuously working on the development of these theoretical perspectives, with the constant ambition of avoiding stale categories, labels or predictable ideological positioning.[4]

The Batko Group, Juli 2007.


1. However, it is important not to trap oneself in the dichotomy between formal and informal organization. The form is always dependent on the capacity of initiative. Formal structures can sometimes be used, as long as the initiative is kept. It should also be stressed that passivity also can be a way of keeping the initiative.

2. See Proletarian management by Kämpa Tillsammans!

3. We take this typology of communization from Marcel’s The Communism of Attack and the Communism of Withdrawal, riff-raff 7. See also Attack/Withdrawal, riff-raff 8.

4. We are not alone in this endeavor, of course. In future projects we will publish forthcoming contributions to the discussion.

For further reading you can visit our website at:

Reading the foreword is an excellent complement to this text:

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