Search results

An unlikely convergence, 1890–1940

This book focuses on the apparently surprising convergence between anarchism and eugenics. By tracing the reception of eugenic ideas within five different anarchist movements –Argentina, England, France, Portugal and Spain – the book argues that, in fact, there is ample evidence for anarchist interest in, and implementation of, some form of eugenics. The author argues that this intersection between anarchism and eugenics can be understood as an emanation from anarchism’s nineteenth-century legacy, which harnessed science as a means to change the social world and an ideological commitment to voluntarism as a political praxis. Through the articulation of interest in birth control, ‘neo-Malthusianism’, freedom to choose for women and revolutionary objectives, many anarchists across these five countries provided the basis for the creation of ‘anarchist eugenics’ in the early twentieth century.

Open Access (free)
Anarchist theory and practice in a global age

This book attempts to convey the different sociological contexts for how contemporary anarchist theory and practice is to be understood. It concentrates on the issue of broadening the parameters of how anarchist theory and practice is conceptualized. The book compares the major philosophical differences and strategies between the classical period (what Dave Morland calls 'social anarchism') and the contemporary anti-capitalist movements which he regards as being poststructuralist in nature. It also documents the emergence of the now highly influential anti-technological and anti-civilisational strand in anarchist thought. This offers something of a challenge to anarchism as a political philosophy of the Enlightenment, as well as to other contemporary versions of ecological anarchism and, to some extent, anarcho-communism. The book further provides a snapshot of a number of debates and critical positions which inform contemporary anarchist practice. The specific areas covered offer unique perspectives on sexuality, education, addiction and mental health aspects of socialisation and how this can be challenged at a number of different levels. The fact that anarchism has largely premised its critique on a psychological dimension to power relations, not just a material one, has been an advantage in this respect. Ecological anarchism, which has been the driving force behind much contemporary anarchist theory and practice, has been committed to thinking about the relationships between people and 'nature' in new ways.

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.

Andrew Patrizio

‘The real revolution is internal … the most effective action is molecular.’ (Herbert Read, ‘Anarchism Past and Present’, 1947) This chapter looks at anarchist-related ideas of mutualism and nonhierarchy with an eye on what kind of art history has and could in future be written using such principles. There is a particular focus on the work of Herbert Read, not only as a well-known figure in our discipline but as a public intellectual who shaped postwar anarchist writing beyond art history, criticism and poetry. In the main, anarchist inflections

in The ecological eye
Open Access (free)
Kevin Harrison and Tony Boyd

Although Marxism and even anarchism are sometimes treated as if they are simply varieties of socialism, we consider that they have sufficiently distinctive characteristics to warrant separate treatment. Starting with Marxism, we examine Marx’s theories of history, economics and politics before discussing the controversies within Marx-inspired political organisations in the

in Understanding political ideas and movements
Dave Morland

1 Dave Morland Anti-capitalism and poststructuralist anarchism1 Introduction Social anarchism has a long reputation as a disparate and incoherent ideology. Commentators, sympathetic and objective alike, have frequently accused social anarchism of being too diverse to constitute a singular, recognisable ideology at all (Chomsky, 1970; Miller, 1984; Ball and Dagger, 1991). To a degree this is true: social anarchism is a loose and diverse ideology that may be too elusive for some commentators to categorise neatly and clearly. However, other commentators, myself

in Changing anarchism
Richard Cleminson

1 The ‘paradox’ of anarchism and eugenics Introduction In 1933, the anarcho-pacifist Romanian intellectual Eugen Relgis explored the conundrum of humanitarianism as applied to eugenics in the Valenciabased anarchist cultural review Estudios.1 Could there be, the author asked, a community of interests or any compatibility between the philosophical and ethical concept of humanitarianism and the new science of eugenics? Relgis, active in the anti-war movement and a supporter of the Spanish Republic, certainly thought so. Nevertheless, his attempt to articulate a

in Anarchism and eugenics
Dana M. Williams

6 Anarchism as a “new social movement”? 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 Kropotkin) The new? 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

in Black flags and social movements
Rich Cross

7 British anarchism in the era of Thatcherism Rich Cross British anarchism in the era of Thatcherism The late 1970s and early 1980s were a period of unexpected resurgence for the British anarchist movement, and for wider libertarian political initiatives circling in the orbit of an expanding anarchist core. The renaissance of anarchism in the UK was not something which many contemporary commentators on the British political fringe had anticipated. But British anarchism’s recovery and renewed confidence was not only unexpected, it took on political hues, adopted

in Against the grain
Richard Cleminson

3 Early discourse on eugenics within transnational anarchism, 1890–1920 In his opening address to the 1919 conference of the Permanent International Eugenics Committee, the geologist, palaeontologist and eugenicist Henry Fairfield Osborn lamented the existence of a dire ‘political sophistry’ in his own country, the United States. The assumption that ‘all people are born with the equal same rights and duties’ had become entangled with the notion that ‘all people are born with equal character and ability to govern themselves and others.’1 Osborn went on to impress

in Anarchism and eugenics