Anarchist Studies

Volume 3, 1995 No.1

The First Anarchist Daily Newspaper: The Chicagoer Arbeiter-Zeitung

Jon Bekken

Between 1884 and 1910, Chicago anarchists produced the world's first anarchist daily newspaper, the Chicagoer Arbeiter-Zeitung a newspaper written, read, owned and published by a vibrant immigrant working-class community. This paper situates the Arbeiter-Zeitung in that community, and examines its policies and the institutional arrangements that governed it.

In an important sense the paper was a cultural, as well as a political, institution. The Arbeiter-Zeitung was the first Chicago working-class daily to sustain publication in any language for more than a few years, and it relied almost entirely on the local community and upon local resources to do so. While the Arbeiter-Zeitung may have failed in its broader revolutionary project, it largely succeeded in providing Chicago's German-speaking working class with its own daily organ of mass communication for forty years a medium through which workers could voice their aspirations and support their struggles.

Malatesta and the Anarchist Revolution

Paul Nursey-Bray

Malatesta's approach to revolution is examined in the period 1919-1926. A discussion of his approach to the Russian revolution shows his characteristically anarchist rejection of Lenin's centralism, and of any notion of a dictatorship of the proletariat. Criticism is made, however, of his tendency to focus on the failure of individual leaders rather than on an analysis of power. Malatesta's gradualist approach to anarchist revolution is charted in some detail. His realistic appraisal of the problems of a revolutionary transition, especially the problem of political consciousness, is analysed at length. It is argued that, in his approach to the problems of revolution in the twentieth century, Malatesta develops ideas, albeit in a more rudimentary fashion, that mirror the important conclusions and arguments elaborated by his younger Marxist contemporary Antonio Gramsci.

Anarchists, Violence and Social Change: Perspectives from Today's Grassroots

Andy Chan

This paper reviews some of the fundamental practical and doctrinal issues surrounding the path of revolutionary social change, predominant among which are whether anarchy is a realistic goal, and whether or not violence is an acceptable tool for precipitating, accelerating, or defending change. The data for this review is derived from an interview study of a wide spectrum of anglo-american anarchist activists.

Evidence is presented that suggests that despite their trust in the validity and righteousness of anarchism, the informants are predominantly 'realistic' - i.e., pessimistic - about prospects of change. Nevertheless the informants provide comprehensive testimony to their interest in the debate over the validity (or otherwise) of violence both in pre-revolutionary and revolutionary scenarios. By addressing the grassroots movement this study seeks to complement the work of latter-day theorists in seeking to shed the anarchist's enduring bloodthirsty caricature. Subsidiary to this is that in expanding debate beyond the parameters of anarchism's clutch of 'great thinkers' this study aims to bring anarchist academics to a closer understanding of grassroots activists.


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