About Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas


This blog is intended to provide additional commentary and selections to accompany my anthology of anarchist writings, Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. Volume One, subtitled From Anarchy to Anarchism (300CE-1939), was published in 2005 by Black Rose Books. Volume Two, now subtitled The Emergence of the New Anarchism (1939-1977), was published in April 2009, also by Black Rose Books. Volume Three, subtitled The Anarchist Current (1974-2012), came out in late 2012. I have posted the Prefaces and Tables of Contents for all three volumes. I am in the process of linking some of the selections listed in the Table of Contents for Volume One, which I have also posted, to online versions of the complete texts.

Anarchism is a documentary history of anarchist ideas, not a documentary history of the various anarchist movements around the world, which would be an altogether different and gargantuan project. That said, I have tried to include material from a variety of regions, movements and intellectual currents, from the Daoists in ancient China, to the Diggers in the English Revolution, the enragés in the French Revolution, various European anarchist currents, such as the anarchist communists, the anarcho-syndicalists and the Platformists, the “pure” and class struggle anarchists in Japan, Korean revolutionaries, the Chinese anarchist movement, Latin American anarchists, anarchist feminists, libertarian pedagogues, anarchist artists and writers, Russian anarchists, North American anarchists and the Spanish libertarian movement. No other anthology of anarchist writings is as broad or as comprehensive. Several selections have never before appeared in English translation, and others are from obscure or out of print sources.

All three volumes are available from AK Press.

Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas

Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas

Published on April 25, 2008 at 3:38 am  Comments (23)  

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  1. Robert:

    Glad to have found this blog! I have your first volume of the Anarchism trilogy and did not know there would be more than two books so was wondering what was delaying the next book. Glad to see there will be three!

    I was curious – after reading the essays planned for vol 3 that you did not include something on anarchism and religion/atheism. I wonder if anything has been written about this? I also wonder if any of the essays will deal with the kind of anarchism called ‘libertarian-socialism’ (besides Chomsky)? Finally, might I suggest you publish in Vol. 3 an essay or two by Takis Fotopoulos who is not exactly an anarchist or socialist, but has an idea called Inclusive Democracy which comes very close to anarchism if you ask me. You can find his writings at http://www.inclusivedemocracy.org/journal/.

    Good luck with your work!


    Barry F Seidman

    • Volume 2 has a selection by Nicolas Walter on anarchism and religion that deals with the connection between anarchism and atheism. Several selections in each volume deal with “libertarian socialism.” Most of the 19th century and early 20th century anarchists regarded themselves as socialists. In Volume 2, I included material by several people, in addition to Chomsky, who would regard themselves as libertarian socialists or libertarian communists, such as André Breton, Maurice Fayolle, André Prudhommeaux, Louis Mercier Vega, Daniel Guérin, the Cohn-Bendit brothers, Jacobo Prince, and Maurice Joyeaux. Volume 3 will include selections by Alfredo Errandonea, Amedeo Bertolo, Ariane Gransac, Brian Martin, Luis André Edos, John Crump and Mark Leier, among others.

  2. Hello,

    I’m reading first volume of your book, have the second lined up and am waiting for the third one. Thank you for doing it. I included a link to your blog in my little blog called Globalwill.org. I try to inspire. I have another for my poetry and other texts I produced along life. I’m intrigued about the absence of any material from the Situationists and would like to know if there is a reason for that. BTW, is there an electronic versio of the Anarchist Program of Malatesta, the one of Bologna’s Congress? Your contributions to Anarchism are awesome!


    • Thank you for your comments and for including a link to my blog on yours. As for the lack of situationist material in Volume Two, there are a number of reasons for that. First, the situationists were generally very dismissive of anarchism and certainly never identified themselves as anarchists. While I included some people who didn’t identify themselves as anarchists, such as Martin Buber, Ivan Illich and Paul Feyerabend, the first two were influenced by anarchists and Feyerabend liked to think of himself as a kind of anarchist. Second, I just didn’t have enough space to include people who may have influenced anarchists, rather than anarchists themselves. One of the purposes of the anthology is to show how rich and varied anarchist currents of thought have been. So although there is nothing by the situationists, or by Wilhelm Reich (in Volumes One or Two), I included Carol Ehrlich’s piece on anarchist feminism, in which she relates situationist ideas to anarchism, and a couple of anarchist interpretations of Reich, to show that anarchists were not tied to 19th century conceptions of anarchism but were in tune with new intellectual developments (much more so than most Marxists of the same eras). One former associate, who has had nothing to do with anarchism for the last 25 years and now teaches at a university, actually suggested that what I should have done was an anthology of all the “great” thinkers who influenced the anarchists, because the anarchists themselves are second rate, derivative thinkers. So instead of Bakunin, there would just be Hegel and Marx; instead of Kropotkin, there would be Darwin, etc. I found that to be incredibly condescending (to be clear, I’m not suggesting that your question is; my original draft table of contents included excerpts from Society of the Spectacle and Revolution of Everyday Life, but at the end of the day I would have had to leave out equally (to me) valuable material from self-identified anarchists that I hope demonstrates that their ideas are worthy of consideration in their own right). As for Malatesta’s Anarchist Program, sorry, I don’t know if it’s available on the internet. The version I used was taken from Vernon Richards’ anthology of Malatesta’s writings, Malatesta: Life and Ideas, published by Freedom Press. Thanks again. I hope Volume Three will be out soon!

  3. Having translated ‘La Rivoluzione’ in full and currently translating Pisacane’s letters, I remember very nearly making the same mistake. It made sense too, as you found! It was only following the stream of thought in his letters that it became clear to what he was referring. Having virtually completed the translation of the letters it is surprising how much of his work has its initial airing in his correspondence. Large chunks of his ‘Saggi’ come directly from his letters.

  4. AMAZING, GRAHAM, AMAZING blog and amazing book. How can i get this book here, in Brasil? only by ebay? thanks!

    • The easiest way to get copies of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas is through Amazon.com, or the regional equivalent. Copies of Volumes One and Two are still available. Volume Three should be out sometime this Fall (2012).

  5. […] Graham gives us some further excerpts from Alexander Berkman’s book in Volume One of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, available from AK […]

  6. […] anarchist alternative in Africa. I have included excerpts from African Anarchism in Volume Three of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. Last year, Mbah gave an interview in which he discusses the prospects for anarchism, and a […]

  7. […] Below I reproduce an unattributed translation from the French anarchist publication, Le Monde Libertaire, of an interview with the Tunisian anarchist feminist group, Feminism Attack! I follow that with an earlier report about the Tunisian feminist activist, Amina Sboui, leaving the Femen group and declaring herself an anarchist. Femen is a radical feminist group founded in Ukraine which has captured some media attention through its topless protests where Femen activists paint various political slogans across their chests. One area in which Femen has been particularly active is in protesting prostitution and the traffic in women. For an anti-authoritarian critique of prostitution and its connection with male domination see the excerpts from Carole Pateman’s The Sexual Contract in Volume Three of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. […]

  8. […] the “new anarchism” and anarchist alternatives to representative democracy in Volume Three of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. I also included several selections from Murray Bookchin in Volumes Two and Three, where he […]

  9. […] the latest installment from the “Anarchist Current,” the Afterword to Volume Three of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, I discuss the spread of anarchist ideas and movements at the beginning of the 20th century, and […]

  10. Hi Robert,

    Just published in the journal, Contemporary Chinese Thought, Volume 46, Issue 2, 2015, Special Issue: Ba Jin as Anarchist Critic of Marxism, edited by Daniel Youd and myself, which includes Ba Jin’s afterward to Kropotkin’s criticism of Bolshevik famines, citing some of the Kropotkin translations in your book and blog. See http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10971467.2015.1003017#.VRWP4WSxMWk

    John Rapp

    • That’s great to know. Thanks John for letting me and my blog readers know.

  11. […] from various anarchist feminists in all three volumes of my anthology of anarchist writings, Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. Some of the anarchist women included in the anthology are Louise Michel, Charlotte Wilson, Emma […]

  12. […] the “Anarchist Current,” the Afterword to Volume Three of my anthology of anarchist writings, Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, in which I discuss anarchist critiques of patriarchy, hierarchy and domination that began to […]

  13. […] Volume One of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, I could have included a whole chapter of writings produced by the revolutionary women’s group, […]

  14. […] the chapter on the Russian Revolution in Volume One of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, I included excerpts from the Afterword to Emma Goldman’s My Further Disillusionment with […]

  15. […] Brothers,” in which Guérin discusses the continuing relevance of anarchism, in Volume Two of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, together with a selection of his writings on homosexuality and social revolution (Selections 49 […]

  16. […] An Infantile Disorder. I included excerpts from the Cohn-Bendit’s book in Volume 2 of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. Noteworthy in Bookchin’s essay is how radical he was in 1968 – an unabashed anarchist calling […]

  17. […] Here is a thoughtful piece on social change by Alexander Berkman. A version of this essay formed part of Berkman’s classic introduction to anarchism, Now and After: The ABC of Anarchist Communism. Informed by a lifetime of struggle and involvement in the international anarchist movement, and having witnessed the triumph of the Marxist dictatorship in Russia and the rise of fascism in Italy, Berkman was well situated to comment on the problem of achieving far-reaching social transformation in the face of reaction. I included material by Berkman on the Russian Revolution and other excerpts from Now and After in Volume One of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. […]

  18. […] I included material from Kurdish anarchists and Democratic Confederalists in Volume Three of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. The complete interview, including the English translation, can be found at the FAU […]

  19. […] particularly in the U.S. I included some of Gustav Landauer’s writings in Volume One of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. I discuss the origins of the anarchist movement from out of the struggles and debates within […]

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