Contemporary anarchism

Contemporary anarchism, in the history of anarchism, is the period of the anarchist movement continuing from the end of the Second World War and into the present. Since the last third of the 20th century, anarchists have been involved in student protest movements, peace movements, squatter movements, and the anti-globalization movement, among others. Anarchists have participated in violent revolutions (such as in Revolutionary Catalonia and the Free Territory) and anarchist political organizations (such as IWA-AIT or the IWW) exist since the 19th century.


Anarchism was influential in the Counterculture of the 1960s[2][3][4] and anarchists actively participated in the late sixties students and workers revolts.[5] In 1968 in Carrara, Italy, the International of Anarchist Federations was founded during an international anarchist conference held there in 1968 by the three existing European federations of France (the Fédération Anarchiste), the Federazione Anarchica Italiana of Italy and the Iberian Anarchist Federation as well as the Bulgarian federation in French exile.[6]

In the United Kingdom in the 1970s this was associated with the punk rock movement, as exemplified by bands such as Crass (pioneers of the anarcho-punk subgenre) and the Sex Pistols.[7] The housing and employment crisis in most of Western Europe led to the formation of communes and squatter movements like that of Barcelona, Spain. In Denmark, squatters occupied a disused military base and declared the Freetown Christiania, an autonomous haven in central Copenhagen. The relationship between anarchism, punk, and squatting has carried on into the 21st century.

Since the revival of anarchism in the mid 20th century,[8] a number of new movements and schools of thought emerged, well documented in Robert Graham's Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Volume Two, The Emergence of the New Anarchism (1939-1977). Although feminist tendencies have always been a part of the anarchist movement in the form of anarcha-feminism, they returned with vigour during the second wave of feminism in the 1960s. The American Civil Rights Movement and the movement against the war in Vietnam also contributed to the revival of North American anarchism. European anarchism of the late 20th century drew much of its strength from the labour movement, and both have incorporated animal rights activism. Anarchist anthropologist David Graeber and anarchist historian Andrej Grubacic have posited a rupture between generations of anarchism, with those "who often still have not shaken the sectarian habits" of the 19th century contrasted with the younger activists who are "much more informed, among other elements, by indigenous, feminist, ecological and cultural-critical ideas", and who by the turn of the 21st century formed "by far the majority" of anarchists.[9]

Around the turn of the 21st century, anarchism grew in popularity and influence as part of the anti-war, anti-capitalist, and anti-globalisation movements.[10] Anarchists became known for their involvement in protests against the meetings of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Group of Eight, and the World Economic Forum. Some anarchist factions at these protests engaged in rioting, property destruction, and violent confrontations with police. These actions were precipitated by ad hoc, leaderless, anonymous cadres known as black blocs; other organisational tactics pioneered in this time include security culture, affinity groups and the use of decentralised technologies such as the internet.[10] A significant event of this period was the confrontations at WTO conference in Seattle in 1999.[10]

International anarchist federations in existence include the International of Anarchist Federations, the International Workers' Association, and International Libertarian Solidarity. The largest organised anarchist movement today is in Spain, in the form of the Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT) and the CNT. CGT membership was estimated at around 100,000 for 2003.[11] Other active syndicalist movements include in Sweden the Central Organisation of the Workers of Sweden and the Swedish Anarcho-syndicalist Youth Federation; the CNT-AIT in France;[12] the Union Sindicale Italiana in Italy; in the US Workers Solidarity Alliance and the UK Solidarity Federation. The revolutionary industrial unionist Industrial Workers of the World, claiming 10,000 paying members, and the International Workers Association, an anarcho-syndicalist successor to the First International, also remain active.

Anarchist ideas have been influential in the development of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), more commonly known as Rojava, a de facto autonomous region in northern Syria.[13] Abdullah Öcalan—a founding member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who is currently imprisoned in Turkey—is an iconic and popular figure in the DFNS whose ideas shaped the region's society and politics.[14] While in prison, Öcalan corresponded with (and was influenced by) Murray Bookchin, an anarcho-communist theorist and philosopher who developed Communalism and libertarian municipalism.[14] Modelled after Bookchin's ideas, Öcalan developed the theory of democratic confederalism. In March 2005, he issued his "Declaration of Democratic Confederalism in Kurdistan", calling upon citizens "to stop attacking the government and instead create municipal assemblies, which he called 'democracy without the state'".[14]

Post-classical schools of thought and movements

Whilst the classical schools of anarchist thought remain popular and relevant to the modern world (for example, anarcho-syndicalism, a movement within anarchism that seeks to organize society along economic syndicalism, has proponents that include Noam Chomsky, who said it is "highly relevant to advanced industrial societies), anarchism continues to generate many philosophies and movements, at times eclectic, drawing upon various sources, and syncretic, combining disparate concepts to create new philosophical approaches.[15]

  • Post-anarchism is a revision of classical anarchism through influence of Baudrillard, Deleuze, Foucault, Lacan, and Nietzsche. Critics argue that this theory work ignores principles of economic exploitation and class warfare and does not produce political action.[32]
  • Queer anarchism is a form of socialism which suggests anarchism as a solution to the issues faced by the LGBT community, mainly heteronormativity, homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. Anarcho-queer arose during the late 20th century based on the work of Michel Foucault The History of Sexuality.
  • Left-wing market anarchism is associated with scholars such as Kevin Carson, Roderick T. Long, Charles Johnson, Brad Spangler, Samuel Edward Konkin III, Sheldon Richman, Chris Matthew Sciabarra and Gary Chartier,who stress the value of radically free markets, termed "freed markets" to distinguish them from the common conception which these libertarians believe to be riddled with statist and capitalist privileges. Referred to as left-wing market anarchists or market-oriented left-libertarians, proponents of this approach strongly affirm the classical liberal ideas of self-ownership and free markets, while maintaining that taken to their logical conclusions these ideas support strongly anti-corporatist, anti-hierarchical, pro-labor positions in economics; anti-imperialism in foreign policy; and thoroughly liberal or radical views regarding such cultural issues as gender, sexuality, and race. This strand of left-libertarianism tends to be rooted either in the mutualist economics conceptualized by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, American individualist anarchism, or in a left-wing interpretation or extension of the thought of Murray Rothbard.
  • Free-market anarchism, usually referring to anarcho-capitalism, is a political philosophy advocating property rights and the non-aggression principle. While not considered to be a form of anarchism by the majority of anarchists, due to its connection with capitalism, it is most common in the United States.[33] It is "based on a belief in the freedom to own private property, a rejection of any form of governmental authority or intervention, and the upholding of the competitive free market as the main mechanism for social interaction."[34] Anarcho-capitalists advocate for all services, including law enforcement and security, to be performed by multiple private providers all competing for business, rather than by a monopolist state agency funded by taxation. Anarcho-capitalism's proponents include Murray Rothbard, David D. Friedman, Hans-Hermann Hoppe and Walter Block
  • Anarcho-transhumanism is a recently new branch of anarchism that takes traditional and modern anarchism, typically anarcho-syndicalism and combines it with transhumanism and post-humanism. It can be described as a “liberal democratic revolution, at its core the idea that people are happiest when they have rational control over their lives. Reason, science, and technology provide one kind of control, slowly freeing us from ignorance, toil, pain, disease and limited lifespans (aging)".

Types of organization

New Anarchism

"New Anarchism" is a term that has been notably used by Andrej Grubacic, amongst others, to describe the most recent reinvention of the anarchist thought and practice. What distinguishes the new anarchism of today from the new anarchism of the 1960s and 1970s, or from the work of US-UK based authors like Murray Bookchin, Paul Goodman, Herbert Read, Colin Ward and Alex Comfort, is its emphasis on the global perspective. Essays on new anarchism include David Graeber's "New Anarchists" in A Movement of Movements: is Another World Really possible?, ed. Tom Mertes (London: Verso, 2004) and Grubacic's "Towards Another Anarchism" in World Social Forum: Challenging Empires, ed. Jai Sen and Peter Waterman (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 2007).[9][41] Other authors have criticized the term for being too vague.[42]

See also


  1. Simon Critchley (2007). Infinitely Demanding. Verso. p. 125
  2. "These groups had their roots in the anarchist resurgence of the nineteen sixties. Young militants finding their way to anarchism, often from the anti-bomb and anti-Vietnam war movements, linked up with an earlier generation of activists, largely outside the ossified structures of ‘official’ anarchism. Anarchist tactics embraced demonstrations, direct action such as industrial militancy and squatting, protest bombings like those of the First of May Group and Angry Brigade – and a spree of publishing activity.""Islands of Anarchy: Simian, Cienfuegos, Refract and their support network" by John Patten Archived 2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine
  3. "Farrell provides a detailed history of the Catholic Workers and their founders Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. He explains that their pacifism, anarchism, and commitment to the downtrodden were one of the important models and inspirations for the 60s. As Farrell puts it, "Catholic Workers identified the issues of the sixties before the Sixties began, and they offered models of protest long before the protest decade.""The Spirit of the Sixties: The Making of Postwar Radicalism" by James J. Farrell
  4. "While not always formally recognized, much of the protest of the sixties was anarchist. Within the nascent women's movement, anarchist principles became so widespread that a political science professor denounced what she saw as "The Tyranny of Structurelessness." Several groups have called themselves "Amazon Anarchists." After the Stonewall Rebellion, the New York Gay Liberation Front based their organization in part on a reading of Murray Bookchin's anarchist writings." "Anarchism" by Charley Shively in Encyclopedia of Homosexuality. pg. 52
  5. "Within the movements of the sixties there was much more receptivity to anarchism-in-fact than had existed in the movements of the thirties...But the movements of the sixties were driven by concerns that were more compatible with an expressive style of politics, with hostility to authority in general and state power in particular...By the late sixties, political protest was intertwined with cultural radicalism based on a critique of all authority and all hierarchies of power. Anarchism circulated within the movement along with other radical ideologies. The influence of anarchism was strongest among radical feminists, in the commune movement, and probably in the Weather Underground and elsewhere in the violent fringe of the anti-war movement." "Anarchism and the Anti-Globalization Movement" by Barbara Epstein
  6. London Federation of Anarchists involvement in Carrara conference, 1968 International Institute of Social History. Retrieved 19 January 2010
  7. McLaughlin, Paul (2007). Anarchism and Authority. Aldershot: Ashgate. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-7546-6196-2.
  8. Williams, Leonard (September 2007). "Anarchism Revived". New Political Science. 29 (3): 297–312. doi:10.1080/07393140701510160.
  9. David Graeber and Andrej Grubacic, "Anarchism, Or The Revolutionary Movement Of The Twenty-first Century Archived March 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine", ZNet. Retrieved 2007-12-13. or Graeber, David and Grubacic, Andrej(2004)Anarchism, Or The Revolutionary Movement Of The Twenty-first Century Retrieved 26 July 2010 Archived 23 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  10. Rupert, Mark (2006). Globalization and International Political Economy. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-7425-2943-4.
  11. Carley, Mark "Trade union membership 1993–2003" (International:SPIRE Associates 2004).
  12. Website of the Confédération Nationale du Travail - Association Internationale des Travailleurs
  13. McHenry, Keith; Bufe, Chaz; Hedges, Chris (29 September 2015). Anarchist Cookbook. See Sharp Press. p. 85. ISBN 9781937276782.
  14. Enzinna, Wes (24 November 2015). "A Dream of Secular Utopia in ISIS' Backyard". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 28 February 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  15. Perlin, Terry M. Contemporary Anarchism. Transaction Books, New Brunswick, NJ 1979
  16. "Some Notes on Insurrectionary Anarchism" from Venomous Butterfly and Willful Disobedience
  17. ""Anarchism, insurrections and insurrectionalism" by Joe Black". 19 July 2006. Archived from the original on 6 December 2010. Retrieved 20 September 2010.
  18. MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base
  19. "Bologna mail blocked after bombs". BBC News. 31 December 2003.
  20. "Italy acts over EU letter bombs". CNN. 31 December 2003.
  21. "Daily Times".
  22. Associated Press. "Rome Embassy Blasts Wound 2; Anarchists Suspected". National Public Radio. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  23. David Pepper (1996). Modern Environmentalism p. 44. Routledge.
  24. Ian Adams (2001). Political Ideology Today p. 130. Manchester University Press.
  25. Diez, Xavier. "La insumisión voluntaria" (PDF) (in Spanish). Acracia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  26. "Anarchism and the different Naturist views have always been related.""Anarchism - Nudism, Naturism" by Carlos Ortega at Asociacion para el Desarrollo Naturista de la Comunidad de Madrid. Published on Revista ADN. Winter 2003
  27. EL NATURISMO LIBERTARIO EN LA PENÍNSULA IBÉRICA (1890-1939) by Jose Maria Rosello Archived September 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  28. Ostergaard, Georfrey. "RESISTING THE NATION STATE the pacifist and anarchist tradition". Peace Pledge Union. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  29. George Woodcock. Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements (1962)
  30. Christoyannopoulos, Alexandre (2010). Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel. Exeter: Imprint Academic. pp. 2–4. Locating Christian anarchism...In political theology
  31. Marshall, Peter (1992). "Post-left Anarchy". Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism. London: HarperCollins. pp. 679–680. ISBN 978-0-00-217855-6.
  32. Kinna, Ruth (2010). "Anarchism". In Bevir, Mark (ed.). Encyclopedia of Political Theory. SAGE Publications. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-5063-3272-7.
  33. Sargent, Lyman Tower. Extremism in American: A Reader, NYU Press, 1995, p. 11; Also, Tormey, Simon, Anti-Capitalism, A Beginner's Guide, Oneworld Publications, 2004, p. 118-119 "Pro-capitalist anarchism, is as one might expect, particularly prevalent in the U.S. where it feeds on the strong individualist and libertarian currents that have always been part of the American political imaginary. To return to the point, however, there are individualist anarchists who are most certainly not anti-capitalist and there are those who may well be."
  34. "anarcho-capitalism." Oxford English Dictionary. 2004. Oxford University Press
  35. "J.3.2 What are "synthesis" federations?" in An Anarchist FAQ Archived October 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  36. "The remedy has been found: libertarian communism."Sébastien Faure. "Libertarian Communism"
  37. "IFA-IAF pagina oficial". Archived from the original on 2016-08-08. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  38. Dielo Trouda group (2006) [1926]. Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft). Italy: FdCA. Archived from the original on 11 March 2007. Retrieved 24 October 2006.
  39. Anarkismo, 2012, "About Us" |url= |accessdate=5 January 2012|
  40. Common Cause/Linchpin
  41. Leonard Williams, "The New Anarchists," paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, PA, August 31, 2006, online, pdf, 2008-05-07
  42. Teoman Gee, "New Anarchism", Alpine Anarchist Productions, 2003.

Further reading

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