British anarchisms and the miners’ strike

By Benjamin Franks

This paper distinguishes some of the main currents in British anarchism at the time of the miners’ strike. It explores the influence of these libertarian movements on the conflict in the coalfield and assesses how the strike influenced the development of British anarchisms.

If that much disputed of terms, ‘ideology’, is defined in terms of the analyses of power, programs for change, and identification of agents capable of transforming social relations, as Marc Stears suggests and these correspond to distinctive institutions and organizational practices, then it is essential to talk of ‘anarchisms’ rather than ‘anarchism’.

As this paper demonstrates, although there are a number of shared characteristics between individualist(or lifestyle) anarchism on the one side and social (class struggle) anarchism on the other, the differences between them become pronounced in response to critical events, such as the miners’ strike. While anarchisms that prioritized liberation from class domination were the dominant forms of libertarianism in Britain at the end of the nineteenth and the start of the twentieth century, by the early1980s, versions of anarchism based on liberal concepts of agency had come to the fore in Anglo-American circles.

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