Anarchism as a “new social
The conception of society just sketched, and the tendency which is its
dynamic expression, have always existed in mankind, in opposition to
the governing hierarchic conception and tendency – now the one and
now the other taking the upper hand at different periods of history. (Peter
Few sociological perspectives excel at summarizing the character of current
anarchist movements, with the exception of those grouped under the
moniker of “new social movement” (NSM) theories. This chapter presents
The significance of social
movement theory to anarchism
Revolutions are brought about by those who think as people of action
and act as people of thought. (Emma Goldman)
What is social movement theory?
Even though anarchism is itself a social theory, anarchism has been underutilized by sociologists developing sociological theories (Williams 2014).
Likewise, anarchist movements – themselves the social application and
embodiment of anarchist theories – have not been interpreted via sociological social movement theories. Of course, activist theorizing happens
The black flag means negation, anger, outrage, mourning, beauty, hope, and the fostering and sheltering of new forms of human life and relationship on and with the earth. This book aims to destroy many of the assumptions and stereotypes about anarchism, anarchists, and anarchist movements. It introduces Mario Diani's definition of a social movement: networks of individuals and organizations, united by some shared identity, that engage in extra-institutional action with the interest of changing society. Social movements must be composed of individuals. The book provides new insights into individual participants in anarchist movements by investigating what the micro-level characteristics of contemporary anarchists are, and how these characteristics differ from those of anarchists in past movements. The anarchist movement can be interrogated from many vantage points (especially macro- and meso-analyses), in both longitudinal and cross-sectional contexts. The book explores the usefulness (or lack thereof) of social movement theories for understanding anarchist movements. It challenges the assumption that the state is a strategic location of opportunity from the perspective of radical, anti-state movements. The essential dimensions of "new social movement" (NSM) theories are discussed, with highlights on the differences between the contemporary anarchist movement and other NSMs. The book also explores ideas from major social capital theorists, and considers the value of social capital. Whereas most sociological research on anti-authoritarian diffusion and isomorphism has focused on mainstream organizations or reformist social movements, anarchist movements pose a particular challenge to the earlier findings focused on the non-anarchists.
Introduction to social
movements: anarchism as a
The purpose of my life all has been focused on: helping everyone to have
a spring, so that everyone’s heart will be bright, everyone will have a
happy life, and everyone will have the freedom to develop in any way
they want. (李尧棠 [Ba Jin])1
Today’s anarchist movements are not brand new, neither are they simple
replicas or resurrections of old anarchist movements. They are reasonable
– if not always predictable – descendants of previous anarchist movement
iterations. While new in many of their foci
On Labor Day in 1988 two hundred hungry and homeless people went to Golden Gate Park in search of a hot meal, while fifty-four activists from Food Not Bombs, surrounded by riot police, lined up to serve them food. The riot police counted twenty-five served meals, the legal number allowed by city law before breaking permit restrictions, and then began to arrest people. The arrests proceeded like an assembly line: an activist would scoop a bowl of food and hand it to a hungry person. A police officer would then handcuff and arrest that activist. Immediately, the next activist in line would take up the ladle and be promptly arrested. By the end of the day fifty-four people had been arrested for “providing food without a permit.” These arrests were not an aberration but part of a multi-year campaign by the city of San Francisco against radical homeless activists. Why would a liberal city arrest activists helping the homeless? In exploring this question, the book uses the conflict between the city and activists as a unique opportunity to examine the contested nature of urban politics, homelessness, and public space, while developing an anarchist alternative to liberal urban politics, which is rooted in mutual aid, solidarity, and anti-capitalism.
Revisiting the epistemology of anarchist movements
Dana M. Williams
of anarchist movements
Universities have consistently overlooked anarchism. Despite some
remarkable but scattered studies in various fields, academics have never
tried to form a school of thought based on anarchist paradigms … Most
research on anarchism – and the best – is done outside academia. (Ronald
So, what have the previous chapters demonstrated? First, despite subtle,
contrarian grumbling, anarchist movements really are social movements.
Anarchist movements meet every requirement of every
do, with principle? These are crucial questions, whose answers are not as simple or as supportive of FBI claims as
one might expect from the confident propaganda of the domination network.
Anarchists of the past
In order to determine how modern anarchism differs from the past, we must
briefly consider what anarchism has previously been like. Anarchism has
PART I: MOVEMENT OVERVIEW
2.1 Characteristics of the anarchist movement from Federal Bureau of
Investigation slideshow “Anarchist extremism”
changed depending on who anarchists are and on their evolving
Anti-state political opportunities
Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hardheaded realization, based
on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, and county commissioners. (Edward Abbey)
States and context
This chapter challenges the assumption that the state is a strategic location
of opportunity from the perspective of radical, anti-state movements.
Routine social movement behaviors that petition, protest, or lobby governments to change or adopt certain laws or
Anarchists of the world, unite!
A meso-structural analysis
The need for organization in social life – even the symphony between
organization and society, I would be tempted to say – is so self-evident
that it is mind-boggling that it could ever have been questioned. (Errico
Anarchism in organizations
Despite jokes about “organized anarchists as oxymoronic,” anarchists
clearly self-organize and belong to organizations. Yet, sociological research
has not comprehensively assessed the factors that influence where anarchism thrives and its particular
is a seemingly endless drive and economic imperative for work in order to
pay bills, consume products, and build individual careers; all of this detracts
from the ability (and desire) of people to focus on others and, thus, foster
transformative social capital.
If the anarchist movement still had a strong anarcho-syndicalist orientation, this increased focus on work might serve as an entry point into radical
workplace and union politics. However, this ideological subvariant within
anarchism (especially in the USA) is about as weak as the overall labor