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The revolutionary strategy of anarchism in Europe and the United States 1868-1939

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posted on 25.11.2021, 10:35 by Oscar AddisOscar Addis
This dissertation provides a rational reconstruction of the revolutionary strategy of anarchism in Europe and the United States between 1868 and 1939. The central argument is that anarchist revolutionary strategy was underpinned by a theoretical framework – the theory of practice – which maintained that as people engage in activities, they simultaneously change both the world and themselves. This theoretical framework was the foundation for the anarchist commitment to the unity of means and ends: the means that revolutionaries proposed to achieve social change had to be constituted by forms of activity that would develop people into the kinds of individuals who were capable of, and were driven to, (a) overthrow capitalism and the state and (b) construct and reproduce the end goal of an anarchist society. Although anarchism’s commitment to the unity of means and ends has been identified by previous historians of anarchism, this is the first detailed study to ground it, alongside anarchist revolutionary strategy in general, in the theory of practice. Doing so enables me to establish the intellectual depth of historical anarchist revolutionary strategy in a manner which has hitherto not been achieved.

Rather than discussing anarchist ideas abstractly, as if they existed outside of history, my thesis combines a detailed textual interpretation of primary sources in English with the secondary literature on the history of different anarchist movements. I first explain the political theory of anarchism in general: the theory of practice, value system, critique of existing society and vision of a future society. With this in place, I reconstruct the core ideas on strategy which were generally shared by the anarchist movement, with a particular emphasis on the anarchist critique of state socialism. I then provide an overview of the two main schools of anarchist strategy: insurrectionist anarchism and mass anarchism. Having done so I expand the discussion of mass-anarchism by explaining the history, theory and practice of syndicalist anarchism and organisational dualism.



  • Social Sciences and Humanities


  • International Relations, Politics and History


Loughborough University

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© Oscar Addis

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.




Ian Fraser ; Alexandre Christoyannopoulos

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