Rebel alliances: the means and ends of contemporary British anarchisms

Franks, Benjamin (2000) Rebel alliances: the means and ends of contemporary British anarchisms. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis examines, classifies and evaluates the tactics and organisational methods of British and Irish anarchist groups, which operated in the period 1984-1999 (although reference is made to groupings and events outside of this period). The thesis explains how class struggle anarchism, which was a minority trend even within the libertarian milieu, has developed into a significant and lively (anti-)political movement. This thesis examines recent groups through their own publications and their accounts of their recent actions.

Previous studies have attempted to assess anarchist methods through either liberal or traditional Marxist categories. This thesis develops a mode of assessment that is consistent with the methods of evaluation used by anarchists themselves. This prefigurative ethic is used to build up an ideal-type of anarchism that is consistent with the main characteristics of libertarian theory.

Anarchist prefiguration - which demands that the means must be synecdochic in relation to the ends - requires that the oppressed become the agents who bring about change. Oppression is irreducible to capitalism alone, but in most contexts, economic oppression will be a significant force in the creation of the oppressed agent's identity. Anarchists' preference for 'direct action' captures their commitment to the means being in accordance with the ends, and the primacy of the oppressed in resisting their oppression.

The anarchist ideal is used as a standard to assess the operations of existing anarchist groups. Consistent with prefiguration, anarchist organisation and tactics have to be multiform and flexible, without strategic priority being given to any single organisation or structure. Anarchist tactics must also involve a variety of oppressed subjects, while undermining hierarchies of power. It will be shown that certain organisational methods associated with anarchism; such as old style syndicalism is incompatible with the prefigurative ethic. Similarly certain organisational structures, often dismissed as inconsistent with anarchist principles, such as temporary small groups carrying out selective propaganda by deed, can, under certain conditions, be consistent with anarchism.

The growth of class struggle anarchism is shown to be a result of its prefigurative and multiform organisation and its corresponding diversity of tactics.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: King, R.H.
Simons, J.H.
Keywords: anarchist groups, anarchism, anarchists, british, irish, prefiguration
Subjects: H Social sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies
Item ID: 11841
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2011 12:12
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2017 19:04

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