From the Archives: Critique of State Socialism


We’re pleased to present Cienfuegos’ Critique of State Socialism as part of our “From the Archives” series. Originally produced by anarchists in Belfast in 1981, this comic juxtaposes Bakunin’s critique of statist revolutionary movements with the events that subsequently confirmed it. Please print these out, staple them at the side, and share them far and wide!

Click here to download PDF [25 MB].

Anarchists have long argued that all statist approaches to social change are doomed to authoritarian results. This comic illustrates how Bakunin’s critique of state socialism, composed a century and a half ago, was borne out by the events of the 20th century.

Just as Bakunin’s concerns about power-hungry socialists and communists proved prescient, this comic retains its value today, when new politicians and parties are attempting to co-opt popular movements. We should never forget the hard-learned lessons of the Russian Revolution and the Spanish Civil War: those who would wield state power, whether in the name of the people or any other abstraction, can only be obstacles to liberation, if not actual foes of it.

Readers who lack context for 20th century history may find some passages a little perplexing—who was Oswald Mosley, exactly? But if nothing else, this comic provides points of departure to learn about many of the most fascinating and pivotal events of that era. There are plenty of other sources out there, should you wish to learn more about any of these!