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L97 364 / Fall 2014 Anarchism: History, Theory, Praxis

Anarchism: History, Theory, Praxis - 2014

Anarchism: History, Theory, Praxis

L97 364 / Fall 2014

Dr. Steven Hirsch, Office: 244 McMillan Hall, Office Hours:  T 8-9:00am, TH 2:30-4:00pm, and by appointment. Tel.314- 935-4046, Email:

Course Description:

Misconceptions and caricature have obfuscated the political ideas and practices of anarchism both in the past and the present. Typically, and often intentionally, anarchism has been equated with chaos and nihilistic violence. The mere mention of anarchism conjures up historical images of conspiratorial bomb-throwers and assassins. In today’s political parlance anarchism is linked to black clad vandals and terrorists. In reality, anarchism was/is a political philosophy with a distinctive view of human nature, modes of governance, economic and social organization, cultural activity,  collective emancipation, and individual self-realization. From its inception in the mid-nineteenth century, anarchism grappled with and offered solutions for the ills of state oppression, capital exploitation, authoritarianism, social hierarchy, slavery, and patriarchy. During its heyday, from the 1860s to the 1920s, anarchism emerged as a mass-based global movement. In addition to its supporters in Europe and the U.S., anarchism attracted large numbers of adherents in East Asia, Latin America, the Levant, and southern Africa.  Since the advent of the second capitalist globalization (1980s-present) and the fall of the Soviet Union, anarchism has once again experienced a global resurgence.  Today anarchism forms part of a growing global justice movement concerned with inter alia postcolonialism, corporate capitalism, environmental degradation, the rights of indigenous communities, sexual freedom and LBGT rights.

It is important to bear in mind that anarchism was never a static political philosophy; nor was it a monolithic social movement. Indeed, it’s more accurate to speak of historical and contemporary anarchism(s).  As power relations and political, economic, social, and cultural conditions changed so did the articulation of anarchism by its adherents.  Taking a historical perspective, this course will analyze the development and diversity of anarchist ideas, movements, and practices.  Special attention will be given to anarchism’s confrontation with colonialism and postcolonialism in the global South.  

 Required Texts

Steven Hirsch and Lucien van der Walt, eds., Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial

World, 1870-1940, Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers, 2014.

Ruth Kinna, Anarchism: Beginners Guides, New York: Oneworld Publication, 2009.

Maia Ramnath, Decolonizing Anarchism: An Antiauthoritarian History of India’s Liberation Struggle,

Oakland: AK Press, 2011.

Primary Source Readings

The writings and programmatic statements of anarchist thinkers and organizations comprise an indispensable source for understanding anarchist ideology, politics, and history. In addition to Graham’s documentary anthologies (volumes I-III), this course will utilize online primary sources including Dana Ward’s Anarchy Archives and the Anarchist Library

Secondary Source Readings

Select works by scholars of anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism will also serve as important reference works and will supplement the required texts.  These include:  Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism (1993) and Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt, Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism (2009). Assigned readings from these texts will  be available on electronic course reserve.

Coursework and Grading Policy

Students are required to write three short essays analyzing the weekly readings. These essay assignments are intended to encourage students to critically engage the key ideas, concepts, and issues raised by the readings. Guidelines for the essays will be distributed in class. The essay assignments are worth a total of 45%. Students are also required to conduct independent research on a topic chosen in consultation with the instructor. To allow for sufficient time to investigate, collect and analyze materials, and to write, students are expected to have selected a topic no later than September 23. The research paper (12-15pgs) is worth 30% and is due at the end of the course. Students will also make an oral presentation (10%) based on their research. The last two class periods have been set aside for student presentations.

Class participation is considered essential for the success of this course and consists of regular attendance, preparation of assigned readings prior to class meetings, and active engagement (i.e. informed intelligent commentary) in class discussion.  It entails serving as discussants for at least one class session. Discussants will summarize readings, raise questions, and offer comments to facilitate class discussion. Class participation counts for 15%.  Bear in mind students are limited to a maximum of two excused (i.e. documented illness and/or family emergency) absences.

Note:  Students are strongly encouraged to confer with me regarding any concerns about grades and class participation. I’m available to discuss these and any other issues that may arise either in person or by email. 

Expected Learning Outcomes

* Identify and explain the diverse schools of anarchist thought

* Identify the core principles, values, and practices of anarchism and syndicalism

* Understand the historical development of global anarchism

* Explain why anarchism has resonated with people in the global South

* Explain anarchism’s engagement with historical anti-colonial and nationalist movements

* Intelligently discuss the continuities and discontinuities between historical and contemporary anarchism


Unit I   Anarchy, Anarchism, and Anarchist Schools of Thought

Week 1

Aug  26  Introduction: Taking Anarchism Seriously

Readings:  Alexander Berkman, The ABC of Anarchism, xxi-xxvii

Recommended: Davide Turcato, “Introducton: Making Sense of Anarchism” in R. Graham, ed.,

Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Vol. II.

Video Clip:  “Anarchism: A Documentary”

Aug 28  Defining Anarchism and Anarchist Schools of Thought

Readings:  Kinna, Anarchism, Chs.1-2

Recommended: Peter Kropotkin, “Anarchism” [Britannica Essay 1896]

Week 2 

Sep  02  In Defense of a “Broad Anarchist Tradition” (BAT)

Readings:  Michael Schmidt & Lucien van der Walt, Black Flame, Chs.1-2

Sep 04  Critiques of BAT

Readings: Robert Graham, “Black Flame: A Commentary”; Nathan Jun, “Rethinking the Anarchist Canon:

                   History, Philosophy, and Interpretation” (p.83-92)

Recommended:  Carl Levy, “Social Histories of Anarchism,” Journal for the Study of Radicalism, 4:2,

                               2010, 3-44

Week 3

Sep 09  The New Anarchists

Readings: David Graeber, “The New Anarchists” (2002); Dimitri Roussopoulus,“The Politics of Neo-

                  Anarchism” (Graham, Anarchism, Vol. III, p.31-44)

Video Clips: Interview with David Graeber; “Capitalism is the Crisis”

Sep 11   Poststructural Anarchism

Readings:   Duane Rousselle and Süreyyya Evren, eds. Post-Anarchism: A Reader, Introduction and Ch.3;

                    Jesse Cohn, “Anarchism and Essentialism” (Graham, Anarchism, Vol.III, p.434-446)

Unit II  Histories of Global Anarchism, 1860s-1950s: No Borders, No Peripheries

Week 4

Sep 16    Bakunin, Marx, and The First International

Readings:  Graham, Anarchism, Vol.I, p.77-79 and Ch.6; Mark Leier, Bakunin: The Creative Passion,


Recommended: David Fernbach, ed., Kark Marx: The First International and After, Vintage Books, 1974,

                              73-111, 326-338.

Sep 18    The Emergence of Global Anarchism: Anti-Authoritarian Traditions, Migration, and Propaganda


Readings:  Davide Turcato, “Italian Anarchism as Transnational Movement, 1885-1915”; Carl Levy, “The

     Rooted Cosmopolitan: Errico Malatesta, Syndicalism, Transnationalism, and the International      

     Labour Movement”

Week 5 

Sep 23    Anarchist Violence and Propaganda of the Deed: The 1890s

Readings: Kinna, 166-171, 201-207;  Graham, Anarchism, Vol. I, Ch.10; Richard Bach Jensen, “Daggers,

                  Rifles and Dynamite: Anarchist Terrorism in Nineteenth Century Europe”

Paper #1 Due

Sep 25   The Haymarket Massacre and its Global Reverberations

Readings:  James Green, “The Globalization of a Memory: The Enduring Remembrance of the Haymarket

                   Martyrs around the World”

Video Clip: “Haymarket Martyrs—Origin of International Workers’ Day” (Anarchy Archives)

 Week 6

Sep 30  Anarchism, Anti-Colonialism, and Anti-Imperialism

Readings:  Benedict Anderson, “Foreword,”; Hirsch and van der Walt, Introduction: “Rethinking

                    Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870-1940”

Oct 02  Cuba: Anarchists, nationalists, and Transnationalism

Readings: K. Shaffer, “Tropical Libertarians: Anarchist Movements and Networks in the Caribbean,

                  Southern United States, and Mexico, 1890s-1920s” (in Hirsch and van der Walt)

Week 7

Oct 07   Cuba:  Anarchism, Education, and Countercultural Politics

Readings:  K. Shaffer, “Freedom Teaching: Anarchism and Education in Early Republican Cuba, 1898- 

                   1925”; Graham, Anarchism, Vol. I, 224-235

Oct 09   No Class Meeting

Week 8 

Oct 14  Revolutionary Syndicalism and the National Question: South Africa

Readings:  Lucien van der Walt, “Revolutionary Syndicalism, Communism, and the National Question in

                   South African Socialism, 1886-1928” (in Hirsch and van der Walt)

Oct 16  Revolutionary Syndicalism and the IWW in Peru and Latin America

Readings: S. Hirsch, “Peruvian Anarcho-Syndicalism: Adapting Transnational Influences, Forging

                  Counterhegemonic Practices, 1905-1930,” (in Hirsch and van der Walt); Anton Rosenthal,

                  “Radical Border Crossers: The Industrial Workers of the World and their Press in Latin

                   America”; “IWW Manifesto and Preamble” (:

Week 9 

Oct 21  Anarchism and the Mexican Revolution (1910): Cross-Border Solidarity and Magonismo

Readings: David Struthers, “The Boss Has No Color Line”: Race, Solidarity, and a Culture of Affinity in Los       

                  Angeles and the Borderlands, 1907–1915”; Chaz Bufe and Mitchell Cowen Verter: Dreams of

                  Freedom: A Ricardo Flores Magón Reader, p.30-86,124-129, 134-137

Oct 23  Anarchism and the Russian Revolution (1917):  Ukraine’s Maknovishcna

Readings:  Aleksandr Shubin, “The Maknovist Movement and the National Question in the Ukraine,                 

                    1917-1921” (in Hirsch and van der Walt); Graham, Anarchism, Vol. I, p.300-307

Week 10 

Oct 28  Chinese Anarchism, the National Question, and Internationalism

Readings: Arif Dirlik, “Anarchism and the Question of Place: Thoughts from the Chinese Experience,” (in    

                  Hirsch and van der Walt); Gotelind Müller-Saini, “Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: Chinese

                  Anarchists between National and International Concerns (1900-1930s)”; Graham, Anarchism,   

   Vol.I, 348-353.

Recommended: Dounyong Hwang, “Korean Anarchism before 1945: a regional and transnational

                              Approach” (in Hirsch and van der Walt)

Oct 30  Anarchism and Decolonization: The Case of India

Readings: Ramnath, Introduction and Ch.1

Paper #2 Due

Week 11

Nov 04   The Ghadar Movement

Readings:  Ramnath, Ch.2 (p.124-205)

Nov 06  Anarchist Inflections in Indian Anticolonial and Postcolonial Discourses

Readings: Ramnath, Ch.2 (p.206-243) and Ch.3

Week 12

Nov 11  Anarchist Revolution in Spain:  The Anarchist Collectives, Part I

Readings:  Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible, Ch.29; Sam Dolgoff, The Anarchist Collectives in          

                    the Spanish Revolution:  Workers’ Self-Management, 1936-1939, Chs.6-7

Video Clip: Red Years, Black Years

Nov 13  Spanish Anarchist Collectives, Part II

Readings: Dolgoff, The Anarchist Collectives, p.50-61,129-143

Recommended: Graham, Anarchism, Vol.I, Ch.23

III.  Anarchism and the 2nd Age of Capitalist Globalization, 1990 - Present

Week 13

Nov 18  Anarchism, the Global Justice Movement, and Contemporary Anarchist Tactics

Readings: Kinna, 195-200; Karen Goaman, “The Anarchist Traveling Circus: Reflections on Anarchism,

                  Anti-Capitalism, and the International Scene,” Mark Bray, Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism

                  of Occupy Wall Street, tba

Video Clip: Seattle 1999

Nov 20   Anarcho-Feminism: Past and Present

Readings:  Paul Avrich, Anarchist Voices, 45-51; Emma Goldman, “The Traffic in Women,”“The Tragedy

                    of Women’s Suffrage” and “Marriage and Love” (Anarchy Archives); Sandra Jeppesen and

                   Holly Nazar, “Genders and Sexualities in Anarchist Movements”

Film: Emma Goldman

Week 14

Nov 25   Anarchism and Indigeneity

Readings:  Jacqueline Lasky, “Indigenism, Anarchism, Feminism: An Emerging Framework for Exploring

                   Post-Imperial Futures”;  Staughton Lynd and Andrej Grubacic, Wobblies and Zapatistas, xi-20

Paper #3 Due

Nov 27   No Class Meeting [Thanksgiving Break]

Week 15

Dec 02  Student Presentations

Dec 04  Student Presentations

Independent Research Paper Due: TBA [exam period]