A Failure of Praxis? European Revolutionary Anarchism in Revolutionary Situations 1917-1923





Key words: Anarchism, Russian Revolution, anarcosyndicalism, Triennio Bolchevique, Bienno Rosso


Abstract: This article investigates the action of anarchists to the revolutionary situations that emerged in Europe from the October Revolution in Russia until 1923, and their reaction to the failure of anarchist revolutionary practice. It focuses on Russia, Spain and Italy to show the similarities and differences in the anarchist critique of the failure of anarchists to guide the social unrest into a successful revolutionary outcome. Rather than simply looking at the role of their opponents this critique centers on aspects of anarchist praxis and tactics which some anarchists argued needed to be revised in light of experience.



Key words: Anarchism, Russian Revolution, anarcosyndicalism, Triennio Bolchevique, Bienno Rosso

Author Biographies

Jason Garner, CONICET Patagonia Norte

Jason Garner received his doctorate of Contemporary History from the University of Kent in Canterbury (UK). He is currently working on a postdoctoral project for CONICET (Argentina) and is working at the National University of Rió Negro. He previously worked as a Visiting Professor at the Universities of Westminster and the Metropolitan in London. He has published numerous works on the libertarian movement in Spain, especially focusing on the internal political struggles of the movement in the years prior to the Second Republic. His publications include: Goals and Means: anarchism, syndicalism and internationalism in the origins of the Federacion Anarquista Iberica. Oakland: AK Press, 2016. His recent publications include “The only solution is revolution: the Spanish Confederación Nacional de Trabajo and the problem of unemployment in Republican Spain, 1931–1933”. Labor History, vol.59, no.4, 2018.

José Benclowicz, National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET, Argentina)

José Benclowicz is a Doctor in History from the University of Buenos Aires; He works as Adjunct Researcher of the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET, Argentina) and as Regular Adjunct Professor in the area of ​​History at the National University of Río Negro (UNRN), in charge of Latin American and Argentine History. He has published numerous works that address social struggles and their representations in 20th century Argentine history. His research on the emergence of the piquetero movement in the 90s and on the positions and actions of the left in the face of unemployment, the unemployed and authoritarianism towards the 1930s stand out; Lately he has focused on transnational relations of the left, specifically Argentine-Spanish dialogues.


Bibliography of works cited in text

Archinov, Peter. History of the Makhnovist Movement, 1918-1921. London: Freedom Press, 1987.

Avich, Paul. The Russian Anarchists, (1967) available at http://www.ditext.com/avrich/russian/anarchists.html

Barrio Alonso, Ángeles. Anarquismo y anarcosindicalismo en Asturias (1890-1936). Madrid: Siglo XXI, 1988.

Berry, David and Bantmann, Constance (eds.). New perspectives on Anarchism, Labour and Syndicalism: The Individual, the National and the Transnational. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2010.

Berry, David. A History of the French Anarchist Movement 1917-1945. Oakland: AK Press, 2009.

Bowen, James and Purkis, Jonathan (eds). Changing Anarchism. Anarchist theory and practice in a global age. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004

Buenacasa, Manuel. El movimiento Obrero Español, Historia y crítica (1886-1926). Paris: Amigos del autor, 1966.

Buttà, Fausto. Living like Nomads: The Milanese anarchist movement before Fascism. Cambridge, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015.

Dada, Adriana. Class War, Reaction and Italian Anarchists. Johannesburg: Zabalaza, 1982.

Damier, Vadim. Anarcho-syndicalism in the 20th Century. Edmonton: Black Cat, 2009.

Dirlik, Arif. Anarchism in the Chinese revolution, Berkley, University of California Press, 1991.

Galleani, Luigi. The End of Anarchism? Orkney: Cienfuegos, 1982.

Garner, Jason. Goals and Means: Anarchism, Syndicalism and Internationalism in the Origins of the Federación Anarquista Ibérica. Oakland: AK Press, 2016.

Goldman, Emma. My Disillusionment with Russia. New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1923.

Guerin, Daniel. Anarchism from Theory to Practice. New York: Month Review, 1970.

Kinna, Ruth (ed.) The Continuum Companion to Anarchism. London: Bloomsbury, 2012.

Kinna, Ruth.. Kropotkin: Reviewing the Classical Anarchist Tradition. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2016.
Kinna, Ruth. The Government of no-one. The Theory and Practice of Anarchism. London: Pelican, 2020.

Kropotkin, Petr. The Conquest of Bread, 1906, https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/petr-kropotkin-the-conquest-of-bread.
Kropotkin, P.A. The Great French Revolution, 1789-1793. New York: GP Putman’s Sons, 1909.

Landi, Gianpiero. Armando Borghi: protagonista y crítico del sindicalismo anarquista, Bruno Alpini, 2016.

Lehning, Arthur. Marxismo y anarquismo en la revolución rusa. Buenos Aires: Anarres, 2008.

Levy, Carl and Adams, Matthew (eds,). The Palgrave Handbook on Anarchism. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.
Levy, Carl. Gramsci and the Anarchists. Oxford: Berg, 1999.

Lorenzo, César. Los Anarquistas españoles y el poder. Paris: Ruedo Ibérico, 1969.

Maximoff, GP. The Guillotine at work. Twenty Years of Terror in Russia. Chicago: Globus, 1940.
Maximov, Grigori. Syndicalists in the Russian Revolution, (1950), available at http://libcom.org/files/Syndicalists%20in%20the%20Russian%20Revolution.pdf.

McKay, Iain (ed.). Direct Struggle against Capital. A Peter Kropotkin Anthology. Oakland: AK Press, 2014.

Mintz, Frank(ed.). Anatol Gorelik: El anarquismo en la Revolución Rusa. Buenos Aires: Anarres, 2007.

Sassoon, Donald. One Hundred Years of Socialism. The West European Left in the Twentieth Century. New York: New press, 1996.

Schmidt, Michael. Cartography of Revolutionary Anarchism. Oakland: AK Press, 2013.

Skirda, Alexandre. Nestor Makhno. Anarchy’s Cossack. Edinburgh, AK Press, 2004.
Skirda, Alexandre. Les anarchists dans la revolution russe. Paris: La Tête de Feuilles, 1973.

Taibo, Carlos. Anarquismo y Revolucion en Rusia, 1917–1921. Madrid: Catarata, 2017.

Turcato, David (Ed.). The Method of Freedom: An Errico Malatesta Reader. Oakland: AK Press, 2016.
Van der Walt, Lucien and Schmidt, Michael. Black Flame: The revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism. Oakland: AK Press, 2009.
Van der Walt, Lucien and Hirsch, Steven (ed). Anarchism and syndicalism in the colonial and postcolonial world, 1870-1940: The praxis of national liberation, internationalism and social revolution. Leiden: Brill, 2014.

Violine. The Unknown Revolution, 1917–1921. Oakland: PM Press, 2019.

Journal Articles and Chapters in books

Adams, Matthew. “Anarchism and the First World War”, in The Palgrave Handbook on Anarchism, edited by Carl Levy and Matthew Adams, 389–408. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

Carocci, Roberto. “Le affinità divergenti. L’anarchismo italiano, la rivoluzione russa e il bolscevismo (1917‐1921).”Zapruder: StorieInMovimento, no.44, (septiembre-diciembre, 2017): 11–23.

D’Agostino, A, Anarchism and Marxism in the Russian Revolution, in The Palgrave Handbook on Anarchism, edited by Carl Levy and Matthew Adams, 409–428. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

Dielo Trouda Group. Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists. Dublin: Workers Solidarity Movement, 1989.

Elorza, Antonio. “La génesis de la Federación Anarquista Ibérica.” Revista de Trabajo, no 39 and 40, 44-45 & 45 (1972): 125–6.

Esenwien, George. “Anarchism”, in New dictionary of the History of Ideas edited by Maryanne Cline Horowitz (Ed.). New York: Charles Scribners’ Sons, 2005.

Garner, Jason “Separated by an Ideological chasm: The Spanish Confederación Nacional del Trabajo and Bolshevik Internationalism following the Russian revolution.” Journal of Contemporary European History 15, no.3 (August 2006): 293-326.

Graeber, David. “The Rebirth of Anarchism in North America, 1957-2007.” Historia Actual Online, no.21 (2010).

Honeywell, Carissa. “Bridging the gap: Twentieth century Anglo-American Anarchist thought” in The Continuum Companion to Anarchism edited by Ruth Kinna, 111–139. London: Bloomsbury, 2012.

Levy, Carl. "Anarchism, Internationalism and Nationalism in Europe, 1860–1939." Australian Journal of Politics and History 50, no.3 (2004): 330–342.
Levy, Carl. “Malatesta and the war interventionist debate 1914:1917: from the ‘Red Week’ to the Russian revolutions”, in The Palgrave Handbook on Anarchism, edited by Carl Levy and Matthew Adams, 69–92. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.
Levy, Carl. “Gramsci and Anarchism” in Libertarian Socialism: Politics in Black and White edited by Alex Prichard, Ruth Kinna, Saku Pinta and David Berry, 96–115. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Masulli, Marco. “El sindicalismo de acción directa italiano en perspectiva transnacional: redes militantes y conexiones políticas y organizativas entre Francia y España”, Pasado y Memoria. Revista de Historia Contemporánea 20, (2020): 67–91.

Miguelánez Martinéz, María. “El proyecto Continental del anarquismo argentino: resultados y usos de propaganda transfronteriza (1920-1930).” Ayer 94, no.2 (2014): 71-95.

Robledo Hernández, Ricardo. “El trienio bolchevique de Díaz del Moral: Conflictividad y reformismo agrario.” Sociedad de Estudios de Historia Agraria – Documentos de Trabajo, (May 2019).

Shubin, Alexandr. “The Maknhovist movement and the National question in the Ukraine, 1917 The Maknhovist movement and the National question in the Ukraine, 1917–1921”, in Anarchism and syndicalism in the colonial and postcolonial world, 1870-1940: The praxis of national liberation, internationalism and social revolution edited by Lucien Van der Welt and Steven Hirsch, 147–191. Leiden: Brill, 2014.

Van der Walt, Lucien, “(Re)Constructing a global anarchist and syndicalist canon”, Anarchist Developments in Cultural studies, no.1 (2013): 193-203.

Yeoman, James Michael. “The Spanish Anarchist Movement at the Outbreak of the First World War: A crisis of Ideological neutrality” in Shaping Neutrality Throughout the First World War edited by J-L Ruiz Sánchez, I Cordero Olivero and C. Garcia Saenz (eds) 83–101. Seville, University of Sevilla, 2015.

Congresses and Conferences.

Congreso de Bolonia de la Unión Comunista Anárquica Italiana Del 1° al 4 de julio de 1920, http://www.antorcha.net/biblioteca_virtual/historia/bolonia/indice.html.

The International Anarchist Congress held at the Planius Hall Amsterdam on August 26-31 1907 (London: Freedom Press, 1907).

International Institute of Social History archives, CNT Archive, Film 174 and 200, Preámbulo y Convocatoria de la Conferencia Nacional – Zaragoza, 4 june 1922.

Newspapers cited

Acción (Paris), 1925.
Acción Social Obrera (San Feliu de Guixols), 1919-1923
Acracia (Barcelona)1918.
La Antorcha (Buenos Aires), 1921.
Crisol (Barcelona), 1923.
Cultura y Acción (Zaragoza), 1923.
Nueva Senda (Madrid), 1921.
Pagine Libertarie (Milan), 1921.
Pensiero e Volontà (Rome), 1924.
El Productor (Barcelona), 1925.
Redención (Alcoy), 1922-1923.
Solidaridad Obrera (Barcelona), 1923-1924.
Solidaridad Proletaria (Barcelona), 1924-1925.
Spartacus (Buenos Aires), 1920.
Tierra y Libertad (Barcelona), 1918.
Umanita Nova (Milan), 1922-1923.