Nightmares of Anarchy: Language and Cultural Change, 1870-1914

By Wm. M. Phillips | Go to book overview

5

Anarchism Disarmed

THE DIVIDE BETWEEN ANARCHIST DISCOURSE AND THE DIALOGUE OF THE larger culture narrowed in the early years of the twentieth century. Millenarian fears of revolution eased, and the early 1900s were more notable for the expansion of police authority and corporate power than they were for anarchist outrages. The revolutionary anarchists who had been inspired by Bakunin were maturing, and the anarchist "movement” (which had renounced "propaganda by the deed” ten years earlier) had split into a working-class syndicalist movement and radical individualists. The few anarchists who remained active in public causes (Emma Goldman being one notable example) were still persecuted, but the threat posed by anarchist ideas had lessened, clearing the way for a more constructive dialogue between anarchism and the larger culture. Strains of anarchist discourse were adopted into the general dialogue, losing their radical status in the translation. The comic and satiric potential of anarchism and its usefulness as a metaphor for modern society were exploited during the first years of the twentieth century by those sympathetic and those hostile to the historic anarchist movement. Although the formal movement would continue in Spain and parts of Russia, anarchism as a growing, self-defined position within American or British culture faded and was replaced by an anarchism which was enmeshed in the social dialogue, a latent potential within the language of culture which would be occasionally revived throughout the century. 1

"Propaganda by the deed” had always been a controversial strategy, pursued only by an impulsive minority of the anarchist community. As each bombing or assassination brought only increased repression, even the most extreme anarchists had forsaken propaganda by the deed in favor of either individual activism or syndicalism. Those assassinations that were committed by anarchists were done by loners, or by people with only tenuous ties to other anarchists. Csoglosz, the assassin of McKinley who claimed to be an an

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Nightmares of Anarchy: Language and Cultural Change, 1870-1914
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Nightmares of Anarchy - Language and Cultural Change, 1870—1914 *
  • Contents 7
  • Acknowledgments 9
  • Introduction 13
  • 1 - The Haymarket Affair 18
  • 2 - The Anarchist Background 46
  • 3 - Revolution, Anarchism, and the Mob 65
  • 4 - Industrialism and Utopia 110
  • 5 - Anarchism Disarmed 161
  • 6 - Anarchy and Culture 187
  • Epilogue 215
  • Notes 219
  • Works Cited 227
  • Index 231
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