The ACG rejects identity politics but “accepts” a democratic secular state of Israel

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Since we wrote about the elements that were to found the Anarchist Communist Group (ACG) in February 2018 [[1]], this organisation has gone through a process of defining its course and determining its programme. Its main objective was to turn away from the domination of identity politics, as had developed in the Anarchist Federation and in the anarchist milieu in general, and to return to the class struggle as the fundamental basis of its activities. After the group was founded it made some steps, as it said, “to break with the swamp of traditional anarchism” [[2]] and in the direction of class positions.

In June 2018 it took the initiative to start a campaign under the slogan “No War, but the Class War” (NWBCW). Other participants in this initiative were also the Guildford Solidarity Group and an organisation of the Communist Left: the CWO. At the inauguration of this campaign these three groups organised a joint meeting in London. In the year thereafter the ACG organised different public meetings on the subject of which some were organised together with the CWO, as in January and April 2019. [[3]]

On different occasions it defended the class struggle as the only solution for the liberation of all those who are subjugated to oppression by capitalism, as was the case when an ACG member gave a presentation at a Rebel City Collective meeting at the Anti-University in London in June 2018: “Though the fight against oppressions may take priority for those oppressed at different times, ultimately they will only achieve full liberation as working class women or people of colour when classes are abolished” [[4]].

Having said this we also must establish that the attempts of the group to leave the anarchist swamp behind has not really succeeded, since there are too many points on which it has not been able to make any significant progress towards communist positions. One of the striking examples is the way it wants to solve the problem of the anti-Zionism in the article “Identity politics and anti-Semitism on the left” [[5]].

The left and anti-Zionism

For a number of years there has been an intense campaign against leftist groups and individuals in Britain who defend an anti-Zionist position. The campaign has been directed in particular against the left wing in the Labour Party which was openly accused of anti-Semitism. In response to this campaign certain anarchists decided to take the side of the Labour Party.

In 2016 “Winter Oak”, an anarchist group that is particularly concerned with ecology, did not yet openly take the side of the Labour Party but warned against “a toxic new ideological weapon [that] has been unleashed by the capitalist system (…): the witch-hunt accusation of “anti-Semitism”. This phenomenon has come to its head in the UK in recent weeks with fevered accusations of 'anti-Semitism' within Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, which seems to be regarded as dangerously radical.” [[6]]

David Graeber however openly defended the Labour Party against the smear campaign. In December 2019 he posted several messages on Twitter, targeting the reportage in The Guardian on institutionalized anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. “If you add up false with misleading, 90% of Guardian news articles on IHRA controversy [[7]] were designed to trick the reader into falsely believing Labour was institutionally #antisemitic. This was an historical crime against truth. Who were editors? They need to be shamed for this” [[8]].

While this is a real ideological campaign led by various bourgeois factions, this does not mean that anti-Semitism in the Labour Party does not exist. Corbyn and the Trotskyists indeed made and still make common cause with the most extreme Islamic gangs like Hamas and Hezbollah, and in doing so they act as “a vehicle not only of a more shamefaced anti-Semitism, but of its most open manifestations” [[9]]. The ACG is able to face this reality when it wrote that “many who support the Palestinian cause (…) seem genuinely unable to distinguish between criticising Israel and sowing hatred against a people” and that “left wing ideas of anti-Zionism have become increasingly colonised by anti-Semitic forms” [[10]].

Due to the intensity of this campaign, in Britain (and elsewhere), it has indeed become increasingly difficult to criticise the state of Israel without being accused of anti-Semitism. And every element or group that considers itself as part of the left in general – in contrast to the revolutionary communist left - is faced by this dilemma. In order to circumvent this dilemma, the ACG therefore decided no longer to speak of anti-Zionism. Instead it argues “that it is far safer to use more precise and unambiguous phrases like opposing the Israeli state, its policies, or its actions” [[11]].

According to the ACG “a problem arises when we see identities before we see relationships” [[12]], in other words: before seeing classes. If classes were put first and identities second one would, it seems, be freed from the problem of the identification of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Has the problem of the identification of both really been solved by this? We don’t think so. Identity politics, which is a trap for the working class struggle, as the AGC rightly admits, is persistent and more difficult to combat than the ACG thinks.

This is quite clearly shown by the article of the ACG in which it makes an appeal to help “the anti-racism movement in this country and worldwide” with the argument “racism, other prejudices, and systems of oppression, are so tightly linked that in fighting one of them, we also fight the others” [[13]]. Here the ACG puts race before classes again since it starts from the premises that fighting racism automatically means fighting capitalism. “Racism divides the working class against itself” [[14]], the ACG writes, and this is of course true, but it forgets that its support for anti-racism divides the working class as much. And the picture by the article, with its publicity for Black Lives Matter, a campaign that puts race above class, only underlines this.

But let’s return to the question of anti-Zionism. In its attempt to avoid the use of this word, another problem has arisen: that of the acceptance of the state of Israel if only it would be “a secular, non-discriminatory, democratic state”, since “states exist, and we need to work within the reality we have before us” [[15]]. What is the meaning of this statement, which is indistinguishable from the programmes of the anti-Zionist left? Have anarchists not always tried to reject and combat the bourgeois state as a repressive organ in the service of the ruling class?

In the ACG’s more general writings, there seems to be no confusion on this point. “The State is the means by which the ruling class retains and enhances its power” [[16]]. “Any economic system based on wage labour and private property will require a coercive state apparatus to enforce property rights and to maintain the unequal economic relationships that will inevitably arise” [[17]]. But, if this is really the ACG’s conception of the state, it has to explain at least how it reconciles its anti-state position with the phrase that in the case of Israel “a secular, non-discriminatory, democratic state” is “acceptable”?

The question of identity politics cannot be solved by expelling it through the front door only to let it slip in through the back. Even above the article, in which the ACG says that it prefers no longer to use the word Zionism, there is a picture of a billboard with the slogan: “Confront Zionism, Boycott Israel”, signed by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. This whole trick with the word Zionism doesn’t bring the group one step closer to the internationalist position it claims to defend. On the contrary, it is still submerged in the international campaign that forces each and every one to support or reject the “legitimacy” of the Zionist state.

The difficult path of internationalism

Ten years ago we wrote about internationalist anarchism. And we defended the internationalist tendencies within anarchism as an expression of proletarian internationalism. Today we think that a group as the ACG globally defends internationalist positions. But this position is not clearly and solidly established and based on a working class approach: on the proletariat as the class that can only emancipate itself by emancipating the whole of the non-exploiting world population from the scourge of exploitation and repression by means of a worldwide revolution.

That’s why we also underlined that “The anarchist movement (...) remains a very heterogeneous milieu. Throughout its time, a part of this milieu has sincerely aspired to the revolution and socialism, expressing a real will to finish with capitalism and exploitation. These militants have effectively placed themselves on the terrain of the working class when they affirmed their internationalism and dedicated themselves to joining its revolutionary combat.” But “deprived of the compass of the class struggle of the proletariat and of the oxygen of discussion and debate with the revolutionary minorities it produces, elements trying to defend class principles were often trapped in the intrinsic contradictions of anarchism” [[18]].

And this is exactly what we see today with the ACG. It is not able to defend a consistent internationalist position. We can see this with their position “accepting” a secular democratic Israel. But it can also be seen, for example in its statement regarding the invasion of the Turkish army and the situation around Afrin: “An Internationalist Position”.

The statement starts with a clear denunciation of the different bourgeois factions in the imperialist conflict. “As anarchist communists we do not support any faction in an inter-imperialist war (...). We also do not support nationalist political parties who have the goal of establishing new States, no matter how libertarian the rhetoric may be. There may well be examples of self-organising in areas of Rojava but (…) it is not a move towards genuine self-organisation if you are able to do it because the great leader has said that this is what you should do” [[19]].

So far, so good, but then the ACG pulls a rabbit out of its hat as it ends this statement with the words: “the situation is very complicated and (...) we do not then support uncritically the nationalist parties such as the YPD, which have assumed the leadership of the resistance” [[20]], which at least seems to imply that it 'critically' supports nationalist parties such as the YPD; despite the fact that it also characterizes this party in the same article as “one of high-disciplinary and authoritarian political parties” [[21]].

Support for the “lesser evil” leads to the abandonment of internationalism

For the ACG there is supposedly no such thing as the “lesser evil” “No faction of the capitalist class is worth supporting and none is “a lesser evil”!” [[22]]. But, from our experience, we know that anarchism very often ends up choosing the “lesser evil”. If the Kurds are attacked by Saddam, there are anarchists who consider the Kurds the lesser evil and supports them – especially if they advertise an ideology of “democratic confederalism” and talk about a “Rojava revolution”. If the Catalans rise up against the authoritarian regime of Madrid in 2017, there are anarchists who consider the Catalans the lesser evil and tends to support them.

A clear example of this policy of the “lesser evil” is shown by the article, recently published by a group in the Philippines on the website of the ACG without any criticism, called “Philippines: call for international solidarity”. This article concludes with a slogan that says: “Fight for social justice! Fight fascism and state sponsored terrorism!” [[23]] Moreover, above the article there is a picture on which one can read “Destroy fascism”. The ACG claims to defend the struggle of the proletariat on its own class terrain, but this slogan has nothing to do with the working class struggle and only deflect the workers away from their class terrain. The slogans make an appeal to fight for democracy in general which, in the end, means nothing else than bourgeois democracy. This is a trap for anarchism which goes back to its policy of the 1930’s.

The ACG does not consider the ministers of the CNT-FAI in 1936-1937as real anarchists and writes that their antifascist policy “paved the way for World War II.” [[24]]. But how does the ACG explain then what happened after 6 October 1934 when Luís Companys had declared an independent Catalan State in a Spanish Federal Republic? For after this proclamation was suppressed by the Spanish army and the Catalan government was arrested, the CNT issued a Manifesto in which it put “itself forward as the best rampart against fascism and insists on its right to contribute to the anti-fascist struggle. Against the whole tradition of the CNT and against the will of many anarchist militants, it abandoned the terrain of workers’ solidarity to embrace the terrain of anti-fascism and ‘critical’ support for Catalan nationalism.” [[25]]

In World War II this same anti-fascism lured the anarchists into the orbit of the Allied countries. Anarchists formed anti-fascist combat groups all over Italy to defend the “lesser evil” against the regime of Mussolini, even in honour of Malatesta who had never betrayed internationalism: “In Genoa, anarchist combat groups operated under the names of the ‘Pisacane’ Brigade, the ‘Malatesta’ formation, the SAP-FCL, the Sestri Ponente SAP-FCL and the Arenzano Anarchist Action Squads. (....) Anarchists founded the ‘Malatesta’ and ’Bruzzi’ brigades, amounting to 1300 partisans: these operated under the aegis of the ’Matteotti’ formation and played a primary role in the liberation of Milan” [[26]].

The examples above show clearly that, in the practice of everyday struggle, it is not so easy for an anarchist organisation to maintain its internationalist position. And the main reason for this failure is that anarchism. and even anarchist communism, don’t have a clear understanding of what the proletariat is and a historical method for clarifying its tasks in particular historical epochs. Without such a method it is impossible to develop a solid, universal and coherent political programme, as has been developed in particular by the organisations of the communist left. We will return to this in another article.

Dennis, July 2020



[[1]] “Reflections on the split in the Anarchist Federation”; ICCOnline, February 2018

[[2]] “Standing at the Crossroads”; ACG, May 7, 2019

[[3]] The NWBCW group seems to have ceased to exist. In the last year there hasn’t been any common activity and the article of the ICT “US/Iran Rivalry: What No War But the Class War Really Means” ( makes no reference to the project or to the ACG. In another article we will come back to this initiative.

[[4]]” Is Class Still Relevant? An Anarchist Communist Perspective”; ACG, June 24, 2018

[[6]] “Witch hunt: anti-Semitism smears are ideological warfare”; Winter Oak; April 2016

[[7]] This controversy was about the fact that Labour initially refused to accept the definition of ant-Semitism developed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

[[9]] “Labour, the left, and the ‘Jewish problem’”, ICCOnline May 2016;

[[10]] “Identity politics and anti-Semitism on the left”; ACG, May 28, 2020

[[11]] Ibid

[[12]] Ibid

[[13]] “Black Lives Matter: two fights for racial equality”; AC, June 26, 2020;

[[14]] Ibid

[[15]] “Identity politics and anti-Semitism on the left”; ACG, May 28, 2020

[[16]] “Is Class Still Relevant? An Anarchist Communist Perspective”; ACG, June 24, 2018

[[17]] Anarchist Communism – an Introduction; ACG, November 13, 2017

[[18]] “Anarchism and imperialist war (part 2): Anarchist participation in the Second World War”; World Revolution no.326, July/August 2009;

[[19]] “Afrin: An Internationalist Position – ACG Statement”; April 3, 2018

[[20]] Ibid

[[21]] Ibid

[[22]] “Two Meetings at London Radical Bookfair 2/6/18”; ACG, May 23, 2018

[[24]] “The last attempt to re-assert the interests of the working masses took place during the Maydays of 1937. The CNT and FAI, with its ‘anarchist’ ministers to the fore, called off the escalating class war and the Spanish revolution was dead. The dissident CNT-FAI militants, the Friends of Durutti, summed it up saying that ‘democracy defeated the Spanish people, not fascism’. Antifascist Spain had destroyed the Spanish revolution and paved the way for World War II.” (In the Tradition: Where Our Politics Comes From; ACG, November 14, 2017

[[25]] “Anarchism fails to prevent the CNT's integration into the bourgeois state (1931-34)”; International Review no.132 - 1st quarter 2008;

[[26]] “Anarchism and imperialist war (part 2): Anarchist participation in the Second World War”; World Revolution no.326, July/August 2009;


Polemic with The Anarchist Communist Group