I dedicate this book to my daughters.
May it show the importance of being bilingual!
Outside of a few events including the Long March and the Shanghai commune the development of the Chinese revolution is relatively unknown on the western left in comparison with the revolutions in Russia in 1917, Spain in 1936 or even the Paris spring of 1968. Those sections of that left influenced by or proclaiming themselves to be Maoist haven't helped that situation much. Their histories have tended towards simple tales focusing on the role of one man and collapsed a 100-year history of revolution into the events important to him. [Italian translation]
This article is a preliminary sketch of the Chinese revolutions from an anarchist perspective. It does not set out to be a history of Chinese anarchism although it draws on some of the histories of that movement which for twenty key years dominated the formation of the left in China. A real history of that movement in English will depend not only on the translation of vast quantities of texts from the early twentieth century but also on detailed local research to uncover a history that has both been deliberately buried and forgotten.
Mark Leier is a Canadian historian of working class history and the director of the Centre for Labour Studies at
This is an excellent work. Wide ranging, both in terms of subjects covered and geography. The latter makes a welcome break from most accounts of anarchism which are sadly all-too Eurocentric. The former sees anarchist analysis expanded from the usual subjects of political authority and economic class into gender and imperialism (and national liberation struggles). It covers such perennial issues as anarchist organisation (including Platformism), the Spanish Revolution and a host of others.
The contribution Irish anarchists have made to building the anti-racist movements here is part of an international movement and tradition stretching back over 100 years. We recognise no states and hence no border or immigration controls. But we recognise that as long as capitalism exists it will create borders, it will create racism and it will create refugees of both those whom it considers 'uneconomic' and those it considers a political threat.
In the period of the 1930's every western government saw fascism as a useful bulwark against 'communism'. From the early 1920's Italian anarchists had physically fought the fascists and even after World War II anarchists were being jailed for fighting the fascist Italian state in that period. Individual acts were just the tip of anarchist organisation against fascism.
Beevor's approach is fresh and different. He understands that much of what made the Spanish Civil War unique from a military viewpoint was the revolution that had taken place. Rather than ignoring the anarchists or treating them as a minor nuisance he puts them where they belong, at the heart of the story.
The first two weeks of the revolution were its high point. A massive wave of working class creativity was released, dealing with a thousand different problems. But these weeks were also the limit of the revolution, after taking most of Spain and controlling practically all of production the revolution stalled.
Pluto Press, 1989 (Translated by John Beverly Robinson (1923))
This year marks the 200th anniversary of Proudhon’s birth, the person who first used the word “anarchist” in a positive light. This was in his 1840 book What is Property? so making anarchism as a named socio-economic theory and movement 170 years old next year.