Free association (Marxism and anarchism)

Free association (also called "free association of producers" or, as Marx often called it, a "community of freely associated individuals") is a relationship among individuals where there is no state, social class, authority, or private ownership of means of production. Once private property is abolished, individuals are no longer deprived of access to means of production enabling them to freely associate (without social constraint) to produce and reproduce their own conditions of existence and fulfill their individual and creative needs and desires. The term is used by anarchists and Marxists and is often considered a defining feature of a fully developed communist society.

The concept of free association, however, becomes more clear around the concept of the proletariat. The proletarian is someone who has no property nor any means of production and, therefore, to survive, sells the only thing that they have, their abilities (the labour power), to those owning the means of production. The existence of individuals deprived of property, deprived of livelihood, allows owners (or capitalists) to find in the market an object of consumption that thinks and acts (human abilities), which they use in order to accumulate increasing capital in exchange for the wage that maintains the survival of the proletarians. The relationship between proletarians and owners of the means of production is thereby a forced association in which the proletarian is only free to sell his labor power, in order to survive. By selling his productive capacity in exchange for the wage which ensures survival, the proletarian puts his practical activity under the will of the buyer (the owner), becoming alienated from his/her own actions and products, in a relationship of domination and exploitation. Free association would be the form of society created if private property was abolished in order to allow individuals to freely dispose of the means of production, which would bring about an end to class society, i.e. there would be no more owners neither proletarians, nor state, but only freely associated individuals.

The abolition of private property by a free association of producers is the original goal of the communists and anarchists: it is identified with anarchy and Communism itself. However, the evolution of various trends have led some to virtually abandon the goal or to put it in the background in face of other tasks, while others believe free association should guide all challenges to the status quo.


Anarchists argue that the free association must rise immediately in the struggle of the proletariat for a new society and against the ruling class. So they promote a social revolution to immediately abolish the state, private property and classes. They identify the state as the main guarantor of private property (through the repressive apparatus: the police, courts), hence the abolition of the state is their main target. Regarding free association, there is a difference between collectivist anarchists and anarchist communists: the collectivist anarchists (Mikhail Bakunin for example) argued that free association is to function as the maxim "From each according to his ability, to each according to his deeds". In contraposition the anarcho-communists (such as Peter Kropotkin, Carlo Cafiero and Errico Malatesta) argue that free association should operate as the maxim "to each according to his needs". Anarchist communists argue that remuneration according to work performed require that the individuals involved were subjected to a body above them to compare the various works in order to pay them, and that this body would necessarily be a state or ruling class, could even bring back wage slavery, that is the very thing against which anarchists are fighting. They also argue that if any work is done, it is necessary and important, there is no quantitative aspect to comparate between them, and that everything that is produced involves something essential to the contribution of all past and contemporary generations as a whole. Therefore, there are no fair criteria to compare a work with another and measure it to give all individuals their share. For the anarcho-communists, therefore, free association is possible only through the abolition of money and the market, along with the abolition of the state.[1][2]


The Marxian socialists and communists generally differ from anarchists in claiming that there must be an intermediate stage between the capitalist society and free association. But there are major differences between the various Marxists trends. The Marxist position about this transition period ranged from "the expansion of the means of production owned by the state" [3] to the clear statement that the state machinery can not be assumed by the workers, but destroyed.[4] Therefore, Marx's writings gave rise to three basic trends: democratic socialism, Leninism, and Libertarian Marxism. Democratic socialism (e.g., Eduard Bernstein and Karl Kautsky) argues that the advent of free association will come gradually through reforms made by representatives elected in a democratic state. Leninists (such as Lenin and Trotsky) argue that it will come only after reforms that they themselves make after taking power through a coup or political revolution. The content of these reforms, for both democratic socialism and Leninism, would be the transfer of private property into the hands of the state, which would keep the rest of society deprived of access to means of production, as in capitalism, but it would be used to fight the bourgeoisie and direct the society towards free association in the future.

Libertarian Marxists (e.g., Anton Pannekoek, Otto Rühle, Herman Gorter and Rosa Luxemburg) generally claim that the state can not be directed towards the free association because it can only act within the frame of capitalist society itself, leading towards state capitalism (i.e., capitalism in which private property is owned and managed by the state) which would seek to remain indefinitely, and never lead to free association. Most Libertarian Marxists claim that free association can only be achieved through the direct action of workers themselves, which should create workers' councils (which operate under direct democracy) to take the means of production and abolish the state in a social revolution.[5][6] However, Luxemburgists are not opposed in principle to short-term participation within the state and expansion of public-ownership[7] as long as the institution itself exists.


Socialists consider a free association the defining feature of developed socialism. A free association would displace the state apparatus in socialism; the role of this association would be to direct the processes of production and the administration of things. This is in contrast to the state in non-socialist and capitalist society, which is the government over people via coercive action.[8] The free association represents a coordinating entity for economic activity that is concerned with administrative decision-making and the flow of goods and services to satisfy demand.[9] Socialists consider this a defining element of mature socialism; however many socialists are of the opinion that such an arrangement will follow a transitional phase of economic and social development, such as market socialism.

Critical views

The anarchist and communist concept of free association is often considered utopian or too abstract to guide a transforming society.[10][11][12] However, it is valued by present trends such as the free software movement, and considered as a basic principle in the relationship between developers of free software.

Others reply to this critique by asserting that free association is not a utopia, but an emancipatory exigence which necessarily comes from the very material condition which is the proletariat (i.e., deprivation of property and a constant social struggle against the submission and deprivation that it causes, and that puts them against the state and capital). However, the trends that advocate a transition (especially social democracy and Marxism–Leninism) postpone it for a more or less remote future, pushing free association so increasingly in the background, in exchange for the task of establishing a transitional phase. And as the proletariat can have no interest in their own emancipation when it is postponed for the indefinite future, the search for a "transition" is necessarily a task that is not assumed by the proletariat themselves but by an intelligentsia or political professionals. This culminated in Stalinism (for example, the "socialist states" of Cuba, USSR, China) and the present social democratic parties, in which the concept of free association was virtually abandoned. In contrast, the present trends derived from anarchism and council communism understand the free association as the practical basis for the fundamental transformation of society at all levels, from the everyday level (search of a libertarian interpersonal relationship, critique of the family, consumerism, criticism of conformist and obedient behavior) to the level of world society as a whole (the fight against the state and against the ruling class in all countries, the destruction of national borders, support for self-organized struggle of the oppressed, attacks on property, support to wildcat strikes and to workers and unemployed autonomous struggles).


Since anarchists, some Libertarian Marxists (mainly the Situationists) and other libertarian socialists consider free association as an immediate task for introduction and maintenance of stateless socialism, most theorists of these ideologies have gone into great detail about how it will operate, unlike most Leninists and democratic socialists who tend to be more concerned with the "transition" than the final goal.

Some of most important works:

  • The Humanisphere - Anarchist Utopia (L'Humanisphère - Utopie anarchique, 1857), by the libertarian communist Joseph Déjacque. Complete text in French:[13]
  • The Conquest of Bread (1892), by Peter Kropotkin. Complete text:.[14]
  • New Babylon (1959–74), by Constant Nieuwenhuys. Complete text:.[15]
  • A World Without Money: Communism (1975–76), by the French group Friends of 4 Millions of Young Workers . Complete text, in French.[16]
  • Bolo'bolo (1983), the PM Complete text in French:[17] and Portuguese.[18]
  • The thin red line: non-market socialism in the twentieth century (1987), by John Crump, offers an account of the ideas of several trends which considered important the free association. Text in English:[19]


"It follows from all we have been saying up till now that the communal relationship into which the individuals of a class entered, and which was determined by their common interests over against a third party, was always a community to which these individuals belonged only as average individuals, only insofar as they lived within the conditions of existence of their class — a relationship in which they participated not as individuals but as members of a class. With the community of revolutionary proletarians, on the other hand, who take their conditions of existence [...] under their control, it is just the reverse; it is as individuals that the individuals participate in it.

[...] Communism differs from all previous movements in that it overturns the basis of all earlier relations of production and intercourse, and for the first time consciously treats all natural premises as the creatures of hitherto existing men, strips them of their natural character and subjugates them to the power of the united individuals. Its organization is, therefore, essentially economic, the material production of the conditions of this unity; it turns existing conditions into conditions of unity. The reality, which communism is creating, is precisely the true basis for rendering it impossible that anything should exist independently of individuals, insofar as reality is only a product of the preceding intercourse of individuals themselves." Marx (German Ideology) s:The German Ideology/Section 12

See also


  1. ^ Kropotkin, Peter. The Wages System. 1920. Also available:
  2. ^ Now and After: The ABC of Communist Anarchism, New York: Vanguard Press, 1929. [1]
  3. ^ Manifesto of the Communist Party, section "Proletarians and communists"
  4. ^ the Civil War in France, Marx
  5. ^ The Thin Red Line: Non-Market Socialism in the Twentieth Century, John Crump (1987) [2]
  6. ^ Eclipse and Re-Emergence of the Communist Movement, by Francois Martin and Jean Barrot [3]
  7. ^ "Reform or Revolution, Part II", "Chapter VII: Co-operatives, Unions, Democracy", Rosa Luxemburg (1900) [4]
  8. ^ Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, on "The first act by virtue of which the State really constitutes itself the representative of the whole of society—the taking possession of the means of production in the name of society—this is, at the same time, its last independent act as a State. State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous, and then dies out of itself; the government of persons is replaced by the administration of things, and by the conduct of processes of production. The State is not “abolished.” It dies out."
  9. ^ The Alternative to Capitalism, on
  10. ^ "Misconceptions of Anarchism". Archived from the original on February 6, 1998. Retrieved Aug 30, 2013.
  11. ^ "Anarchist Utopia". Brave New World. Retrieved Aug 30, 2013.
  12. ^ "Anarchist response to being called utopian?". Anarchy 101. Retrieved Aug 30, 2013.
  13. ^ Le Libertaire, Journal du mouvement social. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  14. ^ Kropotkin: Conquest of Bread. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  15. ^ Constant Nieuwenhuis: New Babylon. (1963-05-18). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Bolo’Bolo, P.M. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  18. ^ bolo'bolo. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  19. ^ The Thin Red Line: Non-Market Socialism in the Twentieth Century - John Crump (1987). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.

Agorism is a libertarian social philosophy that advocates creating a society in which all relations between people are voluntary exchanges by means of counter-economics, thus engaging with aspects of peaceful revolution. It was first proposed by libertarian philosopher Samuel Edward Konkin III (1947–2004) at two conferences, "CounterCon I" in October 1974 and "CounterCon II" in May 1975.


Anti-authoritarianism is opposition to authoritarianism, which is defined as "a form of social organisation characterised by submission to authority", "favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom" and to authoritarian government. Anti-authoritarians usually believe in full equality before the law and strong civil liberties. Sometimes the term is used interchangeably with anarchism, an ideology which entails opposing authority or hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations, including the state system.

Civil libertarianism

Civil libertarianism is a strain of political thought that supports civil liberties, or which emphasizes the supremacy of individual rights and personal freedoms over and against any kind of authority (such as a state, a corporation, social norms imposed through peer pressure and so on). Civil libertarianism is not a complete ideology—rather, it is a collection of views on the specific issues of civil liberties and civil rights.

Consequentialist libertarianism

Consequentialist libertarianism (also known as libertarian consequentialism or consequentialist liberalism, in Europe) refers to the libertarian position that is supportive of a free market and strong private property rights only on the grounds that they bring about favorable consequences, such as prosperity or efficiency.

Criticism of libertarianism

Criticism of libertarianism includes ethical, economic, environmental and pragmatic concerns. Critics have claimed the political philosophy does not satisfy collectivist values and that private property does not create an egalitarian distribution. It has also been argued that a laissez-faire economy would not produce the most desirable or most efficient outcomes and that deregulation fails to prevent the abuse of natural resources.

Free association

Free association may refer to:

Free association (psychology), a technique of psychoanalysis devised by Sigmund Freud

Free association (Marxism and anarchism), where there is no state, social class, authority, or private ownership of means of production

Free association, where an associated state has a relationship with a nation

Freedom of association, a human right

Free Association, a publication of the Japanese Anarchist Federation

The Free Association, a London-based improv comedy theatre and school

Freedom of association

Freedom of association encompasses both an individual's right to join or leave groups voluntarily, the right of the group to take collective action to pursue the interests of its members, and the right of an association to accept or decline membership based on certain criteria. Freedom of Association, The Essentials of Human Rights describes the right as coming together with other individuals to collectively express, promote, pursue and/or defend common interests. Freedom of Association is both an individual right and a collective right, guaranteed by all modern and democratic legal systems, including the United States Bill of Rights, article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and international law, including articles 20 and 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work by the International Labour Organization also ensures these rights.

Freedom of association is manifested through the right to join a trade union, to engage in free speech or to participate in debating societies, political parties, or any other club or association, including religious denominations and organizations, fraternities, and sport clubs. It is closely linked with freedom of assembly, particularly under the U.S. Bill of Rights. Freedom of assembly is typically associated with political contexts. However, (e.g. the U.S. Constitution, human rights instruments, etc.) the right to freedom of association may include the right to freedom of assembly.

The courts and delegated officers of local jurisdictions may, however, impose restrictions on any of the rights of a convicted criminal as a condition of a legal stipulation. Rights to freedom of association and freedom of assembly are waived under certain circumstances, such as a guilty plea or conviction, restraining orders and probationer's search and seizure procedures.


Geolibertarianism is a political and economic ideology that integrates libertarianism with Georgism (alternatively geoism or geonomics), most often associated with left-libertarianism or the radical center.Geolibertarians hold that geographical space and raw natural resources—any assets that qualify as land by economic definition—are rivalrous goods to be considered common property or more accurately unowned, which all individuals share an equal human right to access, not capital wealth to be privatized fully and absolutely. Therefore, landholders must pay compensation according to the rental value decided by the free market, absent any improvements, to the community for the civil right of usufruct (that is, legally recognized exclusive possession with restrictions on property abuse) or otherwise fee simple title with no such restrictions. Ideally, the taxing of a site would be administered only after it has been determined that the privately captured economic rent from the land exceeds the title-holder's equal share of total land value in the jurisdiction. On this proposal, rent is collected not for the mere occupancy or use of land as neither the community nor the state rightfully owns the commons, but rather as an objectively assessed indemnity due for the legal right to exclude others from that land. Some geolibertarians also support Pigovian taxes on pollution and severance taxes to regulate natural resource depletion and compensatory fees with ancillary positive environmental effects on activities which negatively impact land values. They endorse the standard right-libertarian view that each individual is naturally entitled to the fruits of their labor as exclusive private property as opposed to produced goods being owned collectively by society or by the government acting to represent society, and that a person's "labor, wages, and the products of labor" should not be taxed. Along with non-Georgists in the libertarian movement, they also support law of equal liberty, advocating "full civil liberties, with no crimes unless there are victims who have been invaded".Geolibertarians are generally influenced by the Georgist single tax movement of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, but the ideas behind it pre-date Henry George and can be found in different forms in the writings of John Locke, the English True Levellers or Diggers such as Gerrard Winstanley, the French Physiocrats (particularly Quesnay and Turgot), Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Jean-Baptiste Say, Frédéric Bastiat, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Lysander Spooner, Benjamin Tucker, John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer and Thomas Spence. Prominent geolibertarians since George have included Albert Jay Nock, Frank Chodorov and Milton Friedman(on consequentialist grounds). Other libertarians who have expressed support for the land value tax as an incremental reform include John Hospers, Karl Hess and United States Libertarian Party co-founder David Nolan.

International Alliance of Libertarian Parties

The International Alliance of Libertarian Parties (IALP) is an alliance of right-libertarian political parties across the world. Its mission is to promote libertarian politics internationally. The IALP has 21 members as of 2018.At the 2014 Libertarian National Convention in the United States, former chairman of the Libertarian National Committee Geoff Neale was appointed to help with the creation of an alliance of global Libertarian parties. On March 6, 2015 the IALP was formed with 9 founding members.

Law of equal liberty

The law of equal liberty or the law of equal freedom or equal liberty, is the fundamental precept of classical liberalism. It has been stated in various ways by many thinkers, but can be summarized as the view that all persons must be granted the maximum possible freedom as long as that freedom does not interfere with the freedom of anyone else.

John Locke in his Second Treatise of Government (1689) wrote "A state also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another; there being nothing more evident, than that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst another without subordination or subjection, unless the lord and master of them all should, by any manifest declaration of his will, set one above another, and confer on him, by an evident and clear appointment, an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty."Alexander Hamilton, in 1774, wrote "All men have one common original, they participate in one common nature, and consequently have one common right. No reason can be assigned why one man should exercise any power over his fellow creatures more than another, unless they voluntarily vest him with it."Herbert Spencer in Social Statics (1851) defined it as a natural law "that every man may claim the fullest liberty to exercise his faculties compatible with the possession of like liberty to every other man." Stated another way by Spencer, "each has freedom to do all that he wills provided that he infringes not the equal freedom of any other."

Libertarian perspectives on immigration

The libertarian perspective on immigration is often regarded as one of the core concepts of libertarian theory and philosophy. Some libertarians assert that "[e]fforts by the government to manage the labor market are as apt to fail as similar efforts to protect domestic industries or orchestrate industrial policy. [...] If an immigrant seeks to engage in peaceful, voluntary transactions that do not threaten the freedom or security of the native-born, the government should not interfere".

Libertarian theories of law

Libertarian theories of law build upon classical liberal and individualist doctrines.

The defining characteristics of libertarian legal theory are its insistence that the amount of governmental intervention should be kept to a minimum and the primary functions of law should be enforcement of contracts and social order, though "social order" is often seen as a desirable side effect of a free market rather than a philosophical necessity.

Historically, the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek is the most important libertarian legal theorist. Another important predecessor was Lysander Spooner, a 19th-century American individualist anarchist and lawyer. John Locke was also an influence on libertarian legal theory (see Two Treatises of Government).

Ideas range from anarcho-capitalism to a minimal state providing physical protection and enforcement of contracts. Some advocate regulation, including the existence of a police force, military, public land, and public infrastructure. Geolibertarians oppose absolute ownership of land on Georgist grounds.

Libertarians (Brazil)

Libertarians (Libertários, LIBER) is a libertarian political party in Brazil founded in 2009. It is registered as a civil association and is pursuing the support of 500,000 Brazilian electors in order to obtain full party registration with the Brazilian Electoral Court (Tribunal Superior Eleitoral).

The current chairman is Rafael Lemos.

List of libertarian organizations

This is a list of notable libertarian organizations.


Neo-libertarianism is a political and social philosophy that is a combination of libertarian principles with modern liberal principles.

Polycentric law

Polycentric law is a legal structure in which providers of legal systems compete or overlap in a given jurisdiction, as opposed to monopolistic statutory law according to which there is a sole provider of law for each jurisdiction. Devolution of this monopoly occurs by the principle of jurisprudence in which they rule according to higher law.

Title-transfer theory of contract

The title-transfer theory of contract (TTToC) is a legal interpretation of contracts developed by economist Murray Rothbard and jurist Williamson Evers. The theory interprets all contractual obligations in terms of property rights, viewing a contract as a bundle of title transfers. The TTToC stands in oppositions to most mainstream contract theories which view contractual obligations as the result of a binding promise. Proponents of the approach often claim it is superior on grounds of both consistency and ethical considerations. The TTToC is often supported by libertarians.

Voluntary society

A voluntary society, voluntary community or voluntary city is one in which all property (including streets, parks, etc.) and all services (including courts, police, etc.) are provided through voluntary means, such as private or cooperative ownership. In a voluntary society, the notion of something being "privately" or "cooperatively" owned would be radically different from monopolistic "privatization" with state subsidies, or monopolistic control of public resources by the state, respectively. Instead, courts might be replaced with dispute resolution organizations; police with volunteer-based community defense organizations or private security agencies and crime insurers; transportation authorities with community road associations and rail counterparts; etc. These services were the subject of the book, The Voluntary City, which dealt with them chapter-by-chapter.Anarcho-capitalists as well as anti-capitalist market anarchists view voluntary societies as the solution to the conflict between those who favor government allowing behaviors and arrangements such as non-violent drug use, free stores, sexual liberation, voluntary communal sharing (e.g. Food Not Bombs), etc., and those who favor government restrictions on such activities. Those who want to live under a certain code of conduct can move to a community that supports and protects it. Prominent anarcho-capitalists such as Stefan Molyneux suggest that in a voluntary society, dispute resolution organizations and pollution insurance companies would prevent problems such as pollution.


Voluntaryism (UK: , US: ; sometimes voluntarism ) is a philosophy which holds that all forms of human association should be voluntary, a term coined in this usage by Auberon Herbert in the 19th century, and gaining renewed use since the late 20th century, especially among libertarians. Its principal beliefs stem from the non-aggression principle.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.