Allan Antliff
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Aestheticising revolution
in Anarchism, 1914–18
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During the First World War, anarchists in the United States emphasised the positive, constructive aspects of revolutionary violence by aestheticising it as an outgrowth of individual creativity, in contrast with capitalism's state enforced socio-economic order. Tragically, this revolutionary model would be realised, briefly, in the form of the soviets and then betrayed by Marxists intent on mobilising state power to impose a new social order. The illustration accompanying Robert Minor critique, in which the word 'revolution' emerges 'through the smoke of battle', carried a radical message that the capitalist press could never accommodate. Minor was infusing present-day war with a desire for revolution, a revolution to be implemented, in his words, through general strikes on the home front and mutiny in the trenches. Soon, following Minor's lead, anarchists were decoupling the workers' freedom-infused 'creative instinct' and decentralised self-governance through soviet power from Bolshevism's pseudorevolutionary pretences.

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Anarchism, 1914–18

Internationalism, anti-militarism and war


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