Archives for posts with tag: reviews

A review by Tom Wetzel of the Workers Solidarity Alliance (USA), which debunks the latest ISR view on anarchism.

The word “anarchism” is a rather vague word that covers such a wide variety of political views and approaches it is often hard to see how they have anything in common. This means it is also probably not very productive to produce “critiques” of anarchism that lump the many different viewpoints together. This problem is on display in the most recent critique of “contemporary anarchism” offered up by the International Socialist Organization in their magazine ISR. A weakness of the article is that it offers only brief pit stops at the various anarchist or libertarian socialist tendencies.

Unlike some previous ISO critiques, this article, written by Eric Kerl, does make an effort to discuss the historically dominant form of libertarian socialist politics — revolutionary syndicalism and, in general, forms of libertarian socialism oriented to working class struggle and mass organizing. But it’s treatment is superficial. READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW HERE!

For those who can read Russian, Vadim Damier’s two-volume study of the International Workers’ Association (IWA) is a comprehensive history of the worldwide anarchist labour movement in the early 20th Century. For the rest of us, Malcom Archibald has translated what is essentially a streamlined version of Damier’s larger work into English. Anarcho-syndicalism in the 20th Century is a broad survey of a movement often marginalised by Marxist academics, and is a welcome addition to the existing literature on anarcho-syndicalism. As Damier illustrates, anarcho-syndicalism was far from a outmoded, ineffective or petty-bourgeois movement — the practice of direct action and revolutionary struggle controlled and self-managed by the workers themselves extended to all countries of the world.

Damier: “Its appearance in so many settings has created a daunting task for historians who would do justice to its scope and diversity.” Exploring this diversity and its development from revolutionary syndicalism, its theoretical and tactical differences as it was practiced worldwide, and historical examples of anarcho-syndicalism in action, the reader gets a sense of how hundreds of thousands — indeed millions — of workers embraced the ideology of anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian communism, and put those ideas into practice.

The actions of anarchist-influenced workers and their struggle for freedom truly was an international movement. Although Europe is often the focus for historians, Damier does a great job in showing that stronger and numerically larger movements existed in Latin America — not to mention Japan, Korea and China, Africa, Eastern European nations and even Australasia.



We at Beyond Resistance find A-Infos to be a valuable and up-to-date resource of the latest anarchists news from around the world. From group statements to general events, it’s all there. You can also subscribe to news being sent to your inbox, or simply trawl the site for hidden treasures.

In the news today:

  • Canadian Journal Linchpin
  • News from Greece
  • Denmark Climate Change news
  • Essays and theory

So check it out here. The website updates repeatedly, with news articles listed in chronological order, and is simple but easy to read.

5423_popupAnarchism, as a body of thought, has been misinterpreted, misused and mystified by both those who agree or disagree with it, yet according to the authors of the recently published book Black Flame, despite the wide berth of anarchist ideas some important definitions and distinctions can be made. Using a fresh and thoughtful framework, Black Flame analyses the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism, producing a coherent and cohesive overview of tactics, strategies and praxis to both illustrate an anarchist history of struggle and revolution, and to push the current movement forward.

In the following interview, the authors of Black Flame share their own thoughts on the book, its genesis, and its usefulness in our current context. Read and enjoy!

AK PRESS: There has been quite a buzz around Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism. This is, am I right, volume one of what you call Counter-Power. Can you tell us a bit about what how people have responded to the book?

LUCIEN VAN DER WALT: The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re very happy with it. Of course, not everyone agrees with us on everything: that’s only to be expected, and anyway, we make it clear in the opening chapter that we want debate and welcome critique. Some folks, of course, don’t like the book at all—but no book can please everyone! Anyway, we want to stir things up a bit.

AK: Who is the book aimed at?

MICHAEL SCHMIDT: We have three main audiences in mind: activists on the left, university students and faculty, and the general reader interested in ideas, history and politics. The book is pretty much free of jargon, and tries to be as accessible as possible.

AK: What makes the book different to the existing general studies, such as Woodcock’s Anarchism?

Michael: Let’s start by making it quite clear that we greatly respect the earlier syntheses of writers like Woodcock, Joll, Marshall, Kedward—not to mention writers from within the movement, like Max Nettlau and Daniel Guérin. These inspired us, and helped lay the basis for our own project.

That said, one of the distinctive contributions of Black Flame is its global scope. We have set out to develop a genuinely global history of anarchism and syndicalism. In most studies, the focus has really been on parts of Western Europe, and to a lesser extent North America. In our project, we have placed movements in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australasia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Latin America centre-stage.

This is a single global story we are telling, though: we are not setting up any arbitrary divisions, positing any sort of binary “Northern” versus “Southern” anarchism. There is one movement, although it varies according to local conditions and initiatives.

AK: Why does a global perspective matter?

Lucien: It has a number of concrete implications. For one thing, “Spanish exceptionalism”—the notion that Spain, alone, developed a significant anarchist mass, popular, movement, especially in the early 20th century —simply cannot be defended anymore. It only works if you compare Spain to a narrow range of West European countries, and even then it falters when you look at the strength of contemporaneous movements in France and Portugal.

And once you look globally, you find mass movements of comparable, sometimes even greater, influence in countries ranging from Argentina, to China, to Cuba, to Mexico, to Peru, to the Ukraine and so on. What gets a bit lost in studies that focus on Western Europe is that most of anarchist and syndicalist history took place elsewhere. In other words, you can’t understand anarchism unless you understand that much of its history was in the east and the south, not only in the north and the west.

Read more here.

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