Anarchism, 1914–18

Internationalism, anti-militarism and war

Anti-militarism is today an unquestioned mainstay of anarchism. This book presents a systematic analysis of anarchist responses to the First World War. It examines the interventionist debate between Peter Kropotkin and Errico Malatesta which split the anarchist movement in 1914. The controversy revolved around conflicting interpretations of the shared ideas of internationalism and anti-militarism. The book analyses the debates conducted in European and American movements about class, nationalism, pacifism and cultural resistance. Just as Kropotkin's position was coherent with his anarchist beliefs, it was also a product of his rejection of the main assumptions of the peace politics of his day. Malatesta's dispute with Kropotkin provides a focus for the anti-interventionist campaigns he fought internationally. Contributions discuss the justness of war, non-violence and pacifism, anti-colonialism, pro-feminist perspectives on war and the potency of myths about the war and revolution for the reframing of radical politics in the 1920s and beyond. The collaboration between the Swiss-based anarchists and the Indian nationalists suggests that Bertoni's group was not impervious to collaboration with groups whose ideological tenets may have been in tension with the ideology of anarchism. During the First World War, American anarchists emphasised the positive, constructive aspects of revolutionary violence by aestheticising it as an outgrowth of individual creativity. Divisions about the war and the experience of being caught on the wrong side of the Bolshevik Revolution encouraged anarchists to reaffirm their deeply-held rejection of vanguard socialism and develop new strategies on anti-war activities.

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‘The flowering of anarchist studies in recent years shows no signs of abating and Anarchism, 1914–18 provides yet another treat. The product of two conference panels in 2014, its ten substantive chapters are penned by a good mixture of well-established and next generation researchers. Edited by two luminaries of Loughborough University’s dynamic anarchist studies centre, it offers some rich and rewarding research on a period that, with recent centenary events, remains to some degree in the public eye.’
Anarchist Studies 
April 2020

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