Insurrectionary anarchism: Wikis


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Insurrectionary anarchism is a revolutionary theory, practice and tendency within the anarchist movement which emphasizes the theme of insurrection within anarchist practice.[1][2] It opposes formal organizations such as labor unions and federations that are based on a political programme and periodic congresses[1]. Instead, insurrectionary anarchists support informal organization and small affinity group based organization.[1][2] Insurrectionary anarchists put value in attack, permanent class conflict, and a refusal to negotiate or compromise with class enemies.[1][2]

Contemporary insurrectionary anarchism inherits the views and tactics of anti-organizational anarcho-communism[3] and illegalism[2].


Origins and evolution


XIX century

Platformist anarchist Joe Black says that "There is a long tradition within anarchism of constructing ideologies out of a tactic. The long and deep involvement of anarchists in insurrections has, not surprisingly, given rise to an anarchist ideology of insurrectionalism."[2] "In 1876, at the Berne conference of the International Working Men's Association, the Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta argued that the revolution "consists more of deeds than words", and that action was the most effective form of propaganda. In the bulletin of the Jura Federation he declared "the Italian federation believes that the insurrectional fact, destined to affirm socialist principles by deed, is the most efficacious means of propaganda".[4]"

As anarcho-communism emerged in the mid XIXth century it had an intense debate with bakuninist collectivism and as such within the anarchist movement over participation in syndicalism and the workers movement as well as on other issues.[3] So "In the theory of the revolution" of anarcho-communism as elaborated by Peter Kropotkin and others "it is the risen people who are the real agent and not the working class organised in the enterprise (the cells of the capitalist mode of production) and seeking to assert itself as labour power, as a more ‘rational’ industrial body or social brain (manager) than the employers."[3].

So "between 1880 and 1890"[3] with the "perspective of an immanent revolution,"[3] who was "opposed to the official workers’ movement, which was then in the process of formation (general Social Democratisation). They were opposed not only to political (statist) struggles but also to strikes which put forward wage or other claims, or which were organised by trade unions."[3] But "While they were not opposed to strikes as such, they were opposed to trade unions and the struggle for the eight-hour day. This anti-reformist tendency was accompanied by an anti-organisational tendency, and its partisans declared themselves in favour of agitation amongst the unemployed for the expropriation of foodstuffs and other articles, for the expropriatory strike and, in some cases, for ‘individual recuperation’ or acts of terrorism."[3]

Illegalism and propaganda by the deed

Caricature of the Bonnot gang. The most famous of the french illegalist groups

But after Peter Kropotkin along others decided to enter labor unions after their initial reservations[3], there remained "the anti-syndicalist anarchist-communists, who in France were grouped around Sebastien Faure’s Le Libertaire. From 1905 onwards, the Russian counterparts of these anti-syndicalist anarchist-communists become partisans of economic terrorism and illegal ‘expropriations’."[3] Illegalism as a practice emerged and within it "The acts of the anarchist bombers and assassins ("propaganda by the deed") and the anarchist burglars ("individual reappropriation") expressed their desperation and their personal, violent rejection of an intolerable society. Moreover, they were clearly meant to be exemplary , invitations to revolt."[5]

Such acts of rebellion which could be individual[5] were in the long run seen as act of rebellion which could ignite an mass insurrection leading to revolution. Proponents and activists of this tactics among others included Johann Most, Luigi Galleani, Victor Serge, and Severino Di Giovanni. "In Argentina, these tendencies flourished at the end of the 20s and during the 30s, years of acute repression and of flinching of the once powerful workers movement –this was a desperate, though heroic, of a decadent movement."[6]

The Italian Giuseppe Ciancabilla (1872-1904) wrote in "Against organization" that "we don’t want tactical programs, and consequently we don’t want organization. Having established the aim, the goal to which we hold, we leave every anarchist free to choose from the means that his sense, his education, his temperament, his fighting spirit suggest to him as best. We don’t form fixed programs and we don’t form small or great parties. But we come together spontaneously, and not with permanent criteria, according to momentary affinities for a specific purpose, and we constantly change these groups as soon as the purpose for which we had associated ceases to be, and other aims and needs arise and develop in us and push us to seek new collaborators, people who think as we do in the specific circumstance."[7] Nevertheless he also says "We do not oppose the organizers. They will continue, if they like, in their tactic. If, as I think, it will not do any great good, it will not do any great harm either. But it seems to me that they have writhed throwing their cry of alarm and blacklisting us either as savages or as theoretical dreamers."[7]

Contemporary approaches

A resurgence of such ideas for Joe Black happened "in the peculiar conditions of post war Italy and Greece."[2] "Towards the end of World War Two there was a real possibility of revolution in both countries."[2] "Greece was to suffer decades of military dictatorship while in Italy the Communist Party continued to hold back struggles. Insurrectionalism was one of a number of new socialist ideologies which arose to address these particular circumstances."[2]

Protester facing riot police in the " Battle of Seattle"

"One insurrectionalist has described how the ideas spread from Italy: "Insurrectionary anarchism has been developing in the English language anarchist movement since the 1980s, thanks to translations and writings by Jean Weir in her "Elephant Editions" and her magazine "Insurrection". .. In Vancouver, Canada, local comrades involved in the Anarchist Black Cross, the local anarchist social center, and the magazines "No Picnic" and "Endless Struggle" were influenced by Jean's projects, and this carried over into the always developing practice of insurrectionary anarchists in this region today ... The anarchist magazine "Demolition Derby" in Montreal also covered some insurrectionary anarchist news back in the day"".[2]

In 1993 the italian insurrectionary anarchist Alfredo Bonanno writes For An Anti-authoritarian Insurrectionalist International in which he proposes coordination between mediterranean insurrectionists after the period of the collapse of the Soviet Union and civil war in the ex-Yugoslavia[8]. For Joe Black "That insurrectionalism should emerge as a more distinct trend in English language anarchism at this point in time should be no surprise. The massive boost anarchism received from the summit protest movement was in part due to the high visibility of black bloc style tactics."[2]

In the USA Feral Faun (later writing as Wolfi Landstreicher) gained notoriety as he wrote articles that appeared in the post-left anarchy magazine Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed. Feral Faun wrote in 1995 that "In the game of insurgence—a lived guerilla war game—it is strategically necessary to use identities and roles. Unfortunately, the context of social relationships gives these roles and identities the power to define the individual who attempts to use them. So I, Feral Faun, anarchist...a writer...a Stirner-influenced, post-situationist, anti-civilization theorist...if not in my own eyes, at least in the eyes of most people who've read my writings."[9] Also Wolfi Lanstreicher has translated works by Alfredo Maria Bonnanno and other similar writers such as the early 20th century Italian illegalist anarchists Renzo Novatore[10] and Bruno Filippi[11] as well as other insurrectionist texts[12]. This shows how more recent theories have taken relevance within insurrectionary anarchist theory along the egoist anarchism of Max Stirner. This contemporary approach has relevance in other place such as Chile where in 2008 after a few incidents of bombs claimed by anarchist groups a group called Frente Anarquista Revolucionario (Anarchist Revolutionary Front) after correcting what they see as misunderstandings of their position they wrote in the same pamphlet how they have been influenced by the "postmodernists texts of Alfredo Bonnano, Wolfi Landstreicher, etc, as well as other insurrectionary anonimous texts."[13]

Anarchist graffiti during the 2008 Greek riots

As was mentioned before, insurrectionary anarchist discourse also had relevance in Greece. In the 2008 Greek riots the old disputes between organizationalist and insurrectionary anarchists reappeared when there was a conflict "between insurrectionary anarchists associated with the Black Bloc, and the heavily organized Antiauthoritarian Movement (AK, in Greek)...the schism between insurrectionists and the Antiauthoritarian Movement has even led to physical fighting...People with AK bullied and beat up anarchists whom they suspected of stealing some computers from the university during an event AK organized, getting them in trouble. In response, some insurrectionists burned down the Antiauthoritarian Movement's offices in Thessaloniki."[14]


A few main points can be identified within contemporary insurrectionary anarchism that go back to tactics employed by illegalism and propaganda by the deed anarchists:

1. "The concept of 'attack' is at the heart of the insurrectionist ideology"[2]. As such it is viewed that "It is through acting and learning to act, not propaganda, that we will open the path to insurrection."[1] although "propaganda has a role in clarifying how to act"[1]. In the state of action is in the state that one learns[1]. The Italian text Ai ferri corti says: "An individual with a passion for social upheaval and a ‘personal’ vision of the class clash wants to do something immediately. If he or she analyses the transformation of capital and the State it is in order to attack them, certainly not so as to be able to go to sleep with clearer ideas."[15] "Attack is the refusal of mediation, pacification, sacrifice, accommodation, and compromise in struggle."[2]

2. Insurrection(s) and Revolution: Revolution is seen as "a concrete event, it must be built daily through more modest attempts which do not have all the liberating characteristics of the social revolution in the true sense. These more modest attempts are insurrections. In them the uprising of the most exploited and excluded of society and the most politically sensitized minority opens the way to the possible involvement of increasingly wider strata of exploited on a flux of rebellion which could lead to revolution."[1]

3. "The self-management of struggle"[1] as "those that struggle are autonomous in their decisions and actions; this is the opposite of an organization of synthesis which always attempts to take control of struggle. Struggles that are synthesized within a single controlling organization are easily integrated into the power structure of present society. Self-organized struggles are by nature uncontrollable when they are spread across the social terrain."[1] It is seen that the system and its institutions are afraid of rebellious acts becoming propaganda by the deed and thus making rebellion extend itself[1]. "Small actions, therefore, easily reproducible, requiring unsophisticated means that are available to all, are by their very simplicity and spontaneity uncontrollable."[1] This also means that insurrectionary anarchists should not see themselves as a vanguard or as the conscious ones but just as part "of the exploited and excluded"[1].

4. Temporary affinity groups instead of permanent organizations: This means rejection of ": thus we are against the party, syndicate and permanent organization, all of which act to synthesize struggle and become elements of integration for capital and the state."[1] Instead the view that "organization is for concrete tasks".[1] "The informal anarchist organization is therefore a specific organization which gathers around a common affinity."[1]

5. The trascendence of the dichotomy between the individual and the rest of society and of individualism and communism: "Insurrection begins with the desire of individuals to break out of constrained and controlled circumstances, the desire to reappropriate the capacity to create one’s own life as one sees fit."[1] But the view that "Individuality can only flourish where equality of access to the conditions of existence is the social reality. This equality of access is communism; what individuals do with that access is up to them and those around them. Thus there is no equality or identity of individuals implied in true communism."[1]

Insurrectionary anarchists are generally interested in class struggle. Many also identify with related theoretical positions such as anarchist communism, Situationist theory, autonomism, post-left anarchy, anarcho-primitivism, and green anarchism.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Some Notes on Insurrectionary Anarchism" from Venemous Butterfly and Willful Disobedience
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Anarchism, insurrections and insurrectionalism" by Joe Black
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "This inability to break definitively with collectivism in all its forms also exhibited itself over the question of the workers’ movement, which divided anarchist-communism into a number of tendencies."[ "Anarchist-Communism" by Alain Pengam]
  4. ^ "Propaganda by the deed" by Workers Solidarity No 55 published in October 1998
  5. ^ a b "The "illegalists" by Doug Imrie. From "Anarchy: a Journal Of Desire Armed" , Fall-Winter, 1994-95
  6. ^ "Notes on the article “Anarchism, Insurrections and Insurrectionalism”" by: Collin Sick
  7. ^ a b "Againts organization" by Giuseppe Ciancabilla
  8. ^ For An Anti-authoritarian Insurrectionalist International by Alfredo Bonanno
  9. ^ "The Last Word" by Feral Faun
  10. ^ Towards the creative nothing and other writings by Renzo Novatore
  11. ^ The rebel's dark laughter: the writings of Bruno Filippi
  12. ^ Venomous Butterfly Publications
  13. ^ "nuestra teoría no la basamos de manera alguna en “lo oído o leído por ahí”, ya que hemos pasado gran parte de nuestro tiempo leyendo y discutiendo los textos postmodernistas de Alfredo Bonnano, Wolfi Landstreicher, etcétera, como también además una caterva de textos insurreccionalistas anónimos.""Aclaración del Frente Anarquista Revolucionario by Frente Anarquista Revolucionario"
  14. ^ [ "Insurrection vs. Organization Reflections from Greece on a Pointless Schism" by Peter Gelderloos]
  15. ^ At Daggers Drawn with the Existent, its Defenders and its False Critics by anonymous

External links

Insurrectionary groups and publications


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