‘Anarchism as a Social Movement, 1870–1940’

By Bert Altena

The history of anarchism displays an alternation of activity and dis¬appearance. This article argues that actually there are two different patterns, one short-lived and the other having a much slower pace. Both patterns differ as to causes of disappearance and reasons for revival. According to modern social movement theory, anarchism with its weak organizational structure should have disappeared long ago. Therefore, this article tries to explain the staying power of anarchism. It highlights the importance of the individual anar¬chists, their networks and the flexibility of the anarchist groups. Anarchist culture plays a key role by nurturing an anarchist life¬style and keeping the movement attractive to new adherents. Social movement theory is of limited value when analyzing anarchism. Identity theories fail to capture it as a social movement and other social movement theories stay too much within existing political structures and / or focus on single-issue movements.


Categories: Anarchism/Anti-State

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