The idea of the communist revoluton through socialism is that the socialist state was intended to eventually destroy itself and the society will live in a communist system. But that society would not be prevented from using a different currency, such as US dollars, and create commercial companies.

How do anarcho-communists plan to prevent an anarcho-communist society from degenerating into anarcho-capitalism?

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    Comments deleted. Please don't try to answer questions in comments. If you would like to answer the question, write a real answer. Comments should be used to discuss improvements to the question.
    – Philipp
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 15:36
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    I don't understand how the first part of the question relates to the second part of the question.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 21:26
  • Note to answerers: make sure you answer the question asked rather than merely restating the premise. A good answer will cite anarcho-communist thinkers who have addressed this problem. Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 17:16

5 Answers 5


Kropotkin is probably the single name most closely associated with anarchist communism. In his book, The Conquest of Bread, he addresses this concern (reproduced on the Anarchist Library here).


The anarchist communist society that Kropotkin is creating is essentially post-scarcity. In his view, although capitalism had allowed for production to increase significantly from the pre-industrial period, it restrained production from reaching its potential:

Hundreds of blast-furnaces, thousands of factories periodically stand idle, others only work half-time — and in every civilized nation there is a permanent population of about two million individuals who ask only for work, but to whom work is denied.

How gladly would these millions of men set to work to reclaim waste lands, or to transform illcultivated land into fertile fields, rich in harvests! A year of well-directed toil would suffice to multiply fivefold the produce of dry lands in the south of France which now yield only about eight bushels of wheat per acre. But these men, who would be happy to become hardy pioneers in so many branches of wealth-producing activity, must stay their hands because the owners of the soil, the mines, and the factories prefer to invest their capital — stolen in the first place from the community — in Turkish or Egyptian bonds, or in Patagonian gold mines, and so make Egyptian fellahs, Italian exiles, and Chinese coolies their wage-slaves.

Production would be so high in the anarchist communist world that there would no rational reason to re-implement capitalism. It would mean choosing to have less goods by doing more work.

  • @AcePL It's the only work mentioned in this quote, but his book is not limited to physical labor. Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 14:50
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    @AcePL It's not acceptable to use comments to discuss whether the author is right or wrong. Comments are for suggesting improvements to questions/answers. If you'd like to discuss anarchist philosophy, please open a chat. Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 16:17
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    @AcePL Comments are not for discussion. If you'd like to open another question about Kropotkin's theories, please do so and I can provide you an answer there. Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 16:23

If I understood it correctly, your question is the following: "How can a classless, moneyless, communistic society ensures that it stays that way and not fall back to a capitalistic one?" This is a quite interesting topic, so I will try to give some insights.

  1. The full capitalistic system relies on but is not defined by the existence of money. Money existed before capitalism in feudal societies and was even present in socialist Russia (money & notes). The capitalistic system needs an array of factors to work (capitalistic class relations, means of production in the hands of the few, accumulated capital from the upper class, industrially developed cities, industrial workers in the working class, banking system etc) and was created steadily towards that direction:
    -- Full analysis can be found here: Marx on Primitive Accumulation.

    So money alone (even if appeared in a communistic society) is not sufficient to revert the society back to capitalism.

  2. Marx analysed the history of class antagonisms as an analogy to Darwin's evolution theory. Whenever a revolution occurred, one class took the means of productions and the power from another class (ex. French revolution -> capitalists took the power from feudal lords) , leading to a new status quo - though in all cases by means of repression of the working class. This works like a social evolution, leading to the proletariat (working class) claiming what it deserves as a class, becoming the ruling class, freeing itself and the society.
    -- Also see: Communist Manifesto - I. Bourgeois and Proletarians*

    This Marxian process is a social process that does not "go back" to put it in a simplistic way. Think of an analogy today: Can you imagine a western capitalistic country like UK or US "rolling back" to become a feudal kingdom?

  3. Protection by the society itself
    The capitalistic state won't exist in a communist society. The power and the decision making will be done by the workers themselves via industrial organizational structures (in soviet union called "soviets"). These are also responsible to ensure the protection of the existing society from potential threats (capitalistic anti-revolution etc.) in case needed.
    -- Further reading: Lenin on anti-revolution

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    The OP specifically mentions anarcho-communism which, like any other branch of anarchism, is anti-authoritarian. No one could forbid a bunch of people of practicing currency based trading. Also Marx never "invented" communism. In fact he was so at odds with major Anarchist philosophers (which accused him of having an authoritarian tendency) that by the Second International anarchists started being excluded (a move heavily criticized by democratic socialists). To adequately answer this question you will necessarily need to avoid Marx philosophy (and most certainly Lenin).
    – armatita
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 15:44
  • As I mentioned in my introduction I am answering "How can a classless, moneyless, communistic society ensures that it stays that way and not fall back to a capitalistic one". The question of how this society will be reached (via a socialist state as communist ideology supports or independently as anarchists claim) is of no interest to this question Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 15:55
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    The OP himself stated anarcho-communism and even added "But that society would not be prevented from using a different currency, such as US dollars, and create commercial companies.". Which makes perfect sense because there is no authority or ethical right to actually prevent it. In fact one could hardly call a society classless if group A suddenly decided to eliminate group B because it disliked their way of thinking. Whatever it is you are describing is certainly not what is in the question. Also I never commented on the "reaching" question. I don't see the point you were trying to make.
    – armatita
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 16:16
  • The question is contradictory in the first place. It starts from communism via socialism, then claims that this society can have currency/private companies (not quite communistic) and in the end asks about anarcho-communism (Incompatible with socialist state). Thus, I rephrased it, giving arguments about a general classless communist society. Lastly, I agree there is no such thing as elimination in such a society, simply because class relations seize to exist,thus there is no motive from one group to take advantage of another as in capitalism. However, this doesnt prevent defense mechanisms. Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 8:01
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    Communism is, by definition, stateless. But don't take my word for it. Let me quote your fellow countryman Kropotkin: "I owe it to you to say frankly that, according to my view, this effort to build a communist republic on the basis of a strongly centralized state communism under the iron law of party dictatorship is bound to end in failure. We are learning to know in Russia how not to introduce communism, even with a people tired of the old regime and opposing no active resistance to the experiments of the new rulers."
    – armatita
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 9:00

This question was addressed by James Guillaume in 1876. He envisaged that each farm or factory would be taken over by a commune comprising the people living in a particular area. Each commune would then collectively own the means of production (land, machinery etc) and organise their work in a democratic way. Each commune would set up a "Bank of Exchange" to provide economic government for the commune, paying the workers to produce goods with its own "voucher" currency, and backing these vouchers with the products of the labour of the commune.

The Bank of Exchange will not only receive products belonging to the workers of the commune; it will correspond with other communes and arrange to procure goods which the commune is obliged to get from outside sources, such as certain foodstuffs, fuels, manufactured products, etc. These outside products will be featured side by side with local goods. The consumers will pay for the commodities in the various markets with vouchers of different denominations, and all goods will be uniformly priced.

It is evident from our description that the operations of the Bank of Exchange do not differ essentially from the usual commercial procedures. These operations are in effect nothing but buying and selling; the bank buys from the producers and sells to the consumers. But we think that after a certain length of time the functions of the Banks of Exchange will be reduced without inconvenience and that a new system will gradually replace the old system: exchange in the traditional sense will give way to distribution, pure and simple. What do we mean by this?

As long as a product is in short supply it will to a certain extent have to be rationed. And the easiest way to do this would be to sell these scarce products at a price so high that only people who really need them would be willing to buy them. But when the prodigious growth of production, which will not fail to take place when work is rationally organized, produces an oversupply of this or that product, it will not be necessary to ration consumption. The practice of selling, which was adopted as a sort of deterrent to immoderate consumption, will be abolished; the communal banks will no longer sell commodities, they will distribute them in accordance with the needs of the consumers.

If I understand this correctly, Guillaume believed that the increased efficiency of the communes would create such a massive increase in production that the use of money to restrict consumption would no longer be necessary; anyone who wanted anything would simply ask their local commune for it. Or to put it another way, this was going to be a post-scarcity economy, so none of the hard questions faced by capitalist economies would be relevant.

(Note to commenters inclined to argue with Guillaume's analysis: this is an answer to the question, not a claim that the analysis is correct)


I don't believe it will be possible to prevent capitalism in an anarcho-communism society. Even in a nuclear power, authoritarian country like North Korea, capitalism thrives in spite of great dangers from the state.


Even inside North Korea, the most restrictive, socialist regime in the world, there are entrepreneurs. People are dreaming up ideas of services to offer, products to sell, businesses to start. They're called the 'donju,' and they're part of North Korea's small middle class. For a long time, even tiny acts of capitalism were thought of as 'honey-coated poison' by the North Korean government. Private business was banned. It has crept in at the edges slowly.

Capitalism also existed in another nuclear superpower, the USSR.


There is “more power in blue jeans and rock and roll than the entire Red Army”. Young Soviets, rather than emulating the traditional dress and haircuts of their parents, wanted to look like the film icons and rock stars of the West – and they were willing to pay through the teeth to do so. The resulting captive market created a lucrative bootleg exchange. The most coveted items were blue jeans, corduroys and leather jackets brought in by diplomats, tourists, sailors and military advisors and resold at high arbitrage prices.

If nuclear super powers with a large spy network are unable to stop capitalism, it would be hard to imagine that a small commune or network of communes would be able to stop it.

In fact, capitalism is humanity's natural state. In the absence of authority, people will naturally trade with one another.


Zomia refers to the huge mass of mainland Southeast Asia that has historically been beyond the control of governments based in the population centers of the lowlands. Hill societies do produce "a surplus", but they do not use that surplus to support kings and monks. Distinction of status and wealth abound in the hills, as in the valleys. The relationship between upland and lowland peoples are reciprocal, since upland peoples are essential as a source of trade.

Even real life actual communes engage in capitalism. This commune in Staten Island has 3 retail stores. They have their own garden, but still buy groceries as it does not produce enough food for the ~70 or so members.


We have some flower and vegetable gardens. We have many trees (some fruit bearing) and berry bushes. Others of us work in our three Every Thing Goes stores nearby, where we sell used clothing, books, furniture and a variety of related merchandise. Most of our work happens in 3 retail stores called Every Thing Goes. One store refinishes and sells furniture. The second offers clothing. The third is a combination book store, internet cafe and neighborhood performance venue and art gallery. The businesses are housed near the residences. They are well organized, efficiently run, attractive, and profitable.

Even in territory controlled by actual anarcho-communists, The Zapatistas of Chiapas in Mexico are unable to prevent the capitalism of buying and selling drugs from the Cártel de La Calle, also in Chiapas.


"You are in Zapatista rebel territory. Here the people command and the government obeys." "North Zone. Council of Good Government. Trafficking in weapons, planting of drugs, drug use, alcoholic beverages, and illegal selling of wood are strictly prohibited. No to the destruction of nature."

However there is still a drug cartel in Chiapas.


Cártel de La Calle (cell in Chiapas)


The Cartel of La Calle appears in Chiapas. A new criminal group appeared in the municipality of Ixtapa, Chiapas, as two men were executed and were found on a dirt road in the Serrano neighborhood. (Google translated)

(This news particular report was about a kidnapping, not drugs, but shows their activity within a Zapatista location.)

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    Answers should not be based on your own opinion, unless you are some kind of expert in the subject. Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 23:35
  • @indigochild Actually, I am an expert in the subject and no this is not my opinion as it is documented and well referenced.
    – Chloe
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 5:30
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    I must agree with indigochild. You give such a wide range of situations to the word "capitalism" that your commentary becomes subject to absurd (yet reasonable within your own logic) analysis. For example I could say that communism is thriving in the US because mothers care unconditionally about their children. Also you glue other definitions like "entrepreneurs" to capitalism like there could not possibly exist other association. This is all even more bizarre because you seem to claim expertise over the subject. If so I fail to understand how did you manage to write such a naive reasoning.
    – armatita
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 8:14
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    References aside, if you are an expert on the viability of anarchist capitalism I would include that in your answer. And yes - your references are not authoritative. And as far as I can tell, none of your references themselves actually contain your argument, just the case studies you picked. Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 4:50
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    @Chloe The problem for me are not the sources but the interpretation you make of those sources. Calling capitalism to every operation that involves trade or the concept of private profit makes the concept itself useless because we've been doing it for millennia, even prior to the very notion of capital (which also has changed throughout time). In practice all modern economies are mixed economies. Most have public infrastructure and services, and most also allow the possibility to make private endeavors. It's just not useful to label economies the way you are doing.
    – armatita
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 11:58

I feel like the better question would be, how does anarcho-communism prevent a state from forming? Anarcho-Capitalism has a similar problem.

My understanding of Anarcho-Communism is that workers democratically control their workplaces. There's committees galore to interact between different types of workplaces, and committees to interact with same workplaces in different areas. Committees of committees, and sometimes committees of committees of committees. Amongst all this committee and democracy... how is that not government? How is that not a state? And that's just the workplace. What do you do about the rapists and cleptomaniacs running around. That all takes leadership to deal with.

As workers (I hope you guys have jobs and life experience to know what I'm talking about,) how shit are are meetings? You're trying to get some work done, but there's a 30 minute committee meeting whether, how that's going to affect everybody's pay, etc. You would have been out of work a whole hour since you have to get to the meeting early, get situated, and the time it takes to get back into your work. But the meeting is complex and everybody has to be part of the democratic process, so the meeting goes over by 60 minutes. You've now wasted your 2 hours of your day to take part in workplace democracy. That's two hours of productivity to help yourself, your family, your coworkers... and it's gone. Your work wasn't done... because committee. As you realize that you're losing 2 and sometimes 3 hours of work a day to meetings... you conclude that your time is better spent (and better for your coworkers too) just getting work done and somebody should just stand in for you on these meetings so you can produce. And lo and behold, a management class is born. The management class of your committee attends committees with other committees who have their management class in attendance. How is that not a leadership class or government?

So you have an anarchy that's not an anarchy since it's really an oligarchy that compromises a government that's not a government.

You have the leader of the workers committee of the sandwich shop thinking, a better sandwich shop could be made, and nearer his house. But relocating is voted down. He decides to just go build one. He promises other sandwich makers in the area better wages to attract them. One of 20 doctors at the nearby hospital is sick of the stress and responsibility of having to save lives. The doctor justifiably should be compensated extra for enormous burden over the nurses and clerks. But there's 500 other workers there, and they keep democratically voting down a pay raise for the doctors at the meetings they're attending because they don't have to worry about treating patients like the doctors. The hospital isn't even making that much money, in fact everybody skipped a paycheck two months ago (by vote) because they're running out of cash. The hospital isn't making money because theres three committees of worker committees from surrounding businesses that use the hospital, but their workers all voted on prices they're willing to pay, none of which actually cover the hospital costs sufficiently, but some money is better than none even though the committee committees used to be willing to pay more (government price fixing even though there's supposedly no goverment.) Doctor realizes he can join new sandwich shop and make slightly more money than being doctor. He joins sandwich shop. It's a popular sandwich shop. There's a manager from the management class (that shouldn't exist but does) of toy store has been very effective for the workers at the toy store, helping them bring in new customers benefitting all. Store is doing extremely well. NewSandwich Shop committee realizes they could be doing better too if they have a good manager. They all vote to find a good one. Toy Manager is found by NewSandwich committee, they need him, but Toy Store needs him. Toy manager would be letting down workers if he left, plus they'd never vote to allow it (how is that not government again?) Toy manager indicates he would have to make substantially more money at NewSandwich to leave. NewSandwich committee see's the value and votes on it, approves it, and then sells it hard to Toy Manager since they really need his skills. Toy Store votes no to let Toy Manager go. Toy Manager says, meh, this is anarchy, I can do what I want and leaves. Anarcho-Capitalism is formed.

Toy Committee is pissed. They take their grievance to a committee of committee that includes Hospital Committee and Oringinal Sandwich store committee. OSandwich committee is upset because they make less money due to NewSandwich, Hospital and Toy are pissed their productive workers are pilferred. They vote that New Sandwich must close.

Anarcho Capitalist New Sandwich realizes that Luxury Soap Factory is having same issues, being ordered to close down by competitors. They form up a committee to talk to the committees and settle differences with Anarcho Communist committees. In these government on government, I mean committee on committee talks... no headway is made. Armed conflict is the only option. Freedom fighters versus oppressors.

Either way you slice it, anarcho communism leads to anarcho capitalism because the people is not the people, it's a collection of individuals with individual needs and desires, and both lead back to a formation of a government (even though they were both oligarchies at a minimum all along.)

And disputes lead to war. Nothing has changed except some doctors went underpaid and everybody pretended a management class didn't exist to keep the illusion going.

  • Much of what you say is true, but I'm afraid that doesn't make it a good answer. You are basically restating at length the premise of the question (that anarcho-communism will tend to turn into anarcho-capitalism) but not answering the question, which is "How do anarcho-communists plan to prevent [this]?" Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 16:03
  • @Mass2000 Why would they still use money and reciprocal compensation? And why wouldn't the doctor just share that responsibility with others rather than trying to make himself a small king, a task which he can only fail to perform? Why would committees have leaders and why should the non-existing committee leader be richer than anybody else. Sounds like that never was anarchist to begin with.
    – haxor789
    Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 12:10

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