The nation against the State: the Irish question and Britain-based anarchists in the Age of Empire

By Federico Ferretti

This paper discusses the relation between early anarchism and republican/nationalist ideas. We will focus on the case of British-based activists grouped around the journal Freedom and their engagement with Irish nationalism during the Age of the Empire. Freedom, founded in 1886, was the most important anarchist journal of the English-speaking anarchist-communist networks at the time, and was the main editorial reference for the worldwide community of anarchist activists, mostly exiled, who resided in London at that time. Extending current interdisciplinary literature on transnational anarchism, we argue that anarchist views of nations, while rejecting the novel notion of the nation-State, were associated with anti-colonial struggles and with republican anti-monarchical and egalitarian notions. Based on primary sources, we discuss the intersections between these Britain-based anarchists and anti-colonial Irish radicals, by engaging both with their writings and their international networks of solidarity, thus exploring the complex intermingling of anarchism, anti-colonialism and republicanism.


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