Monday, September 13, 2010


Some time ago Molly announced the initiation of the international '2010 Anarchist Survey', carried out by South African comrades. The results are now in in the '2010 Anarchist Survey Report', and what is contained there is quite interesting. The results are skewed by two things. One is that the survey was only available in English. As the authors noted this led to rather unrealistic results because of the small number of respondents from Spain, South America and Italy (and Molly might also add France). The preponderance of North American responses (56.6%) is hardly representative of worldwide anarchism. Never mind Barcelona or the close to 2 million people who have voted for the Spanish CGT as their union reps in Spain. It is entirely possible that there are more anarchists in the city of Madrid than in all the NA continent, and Madrid is hardly a fertile ground. It is also entirely possible that the number of anarchists in Paris equal half of the North American total. the survey is also skewed by the fact that the American "anarcho-capitalists" got wind of the project and "called out the troops" to try and swamp the survey. No matter what its importance in the USA where "libertarians" (of which the anarcho-capitalists are a faction, not necessarily approved of by other libertarians) vastly outnumber "real anarchists" this sort of "anarchism" is even more an American product than fundamentalist Christianity is.

The authors of the survey collected 2,504 responses which is, of course, infinitely better than other efforts in this direction. Given the limitations of the survey which is basically a survey of those who speak or understand English and ignoring the majority of anarchists in the Spanish speaking world, the results are quite interesting, and I highly recommend a visit to the site. Some things that surprised me. 56.6% of anarchists profess an indifference to religion rather than a commitment to atheism. Only 27% of respondents felt that "anarchists should be atheists". Also, to my great delight and the contradiction of the general view of anarchism, almost 2/3rds (63.5%) of respondents identified themselves as "omnivores". What this means is that, despite great propaganda effort (enough effort to give a false impresion to the general public) , the subculturist wing of anarchism has not been able to impose its views on a large number of people who have come to anarchism either totally outside a subculture or via rejecting part of its badges of identity. This bodes well for anarchism in its outreach to ordinary people as the less cultish baggage you carry the better. All matters of dress, diet, music choice, philosophical belief (religion) and a great number of other ephemera have no place in the central concerns of anarchism.

So...have a look at the survey results.


Larry Gambone said...

One problem with the survey was the imprecise nature of class. I doubt if 43% of anarchists came out of small shopkeeper environments (43.8% "lower middle class." What they probably meant by this is white collar workers like teachers, govt employees etc. Adding this to the total listed as "working class" , a whopping 72.9% of anarchists come from working backgrounds. Actually, it doesn't surprise me.

Interesting what people thought were problems for anarchism - A caps, Primmies, sectarianism and lifestylism are the top four. Also the survey shows a real hostility toward sectarianism - Only 16% thought that anarchists should not work together and only 18.5% thought that they would never work with Marxists. All of this shows a high level of maturity, and this from a survey skewed toward the LEAST mature section of the movement - ie N. America!

mollymew said...

As far as I could make out the people who ran the survey were trying to do an "oil and water" mix by using a "relationship to production" class model alongside of and mixed into a typical american sociological model of class as income levels. I admit I had a hard time understanding exactly what they were referring to, but I suspect that such a shotgun marriage automatically results in confusion.

I have still to read the whole report, but i have to say that I found it interesting.

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