Monday 1 October 2018

Sparkly vampires need not apply

Below is an extract from the Introduction to my magnum opus, In the Shadow of a Hurricane: Global Anarchist Ideological and Organisational Lineages, which weighs in at 515,000 words, and which, after 18 years in research in 14 languages and covering 15 decades since anarchism's emergence in the trade unions of the First International, is the most comprehensive anarchist movement history attempted since Max Nettlau's more than 80 years ago, and which as a result for the first time tells the world-spanning story of what happened to the anarchists after revolutionary Barcelona fell in 1939:

... despite its size, and though I have attempted to be as detailed, where relevant, as possible, this work offers a mere overview of the historical movement. I am told my writing style is dry, lacking in the sort of flair and colour which many anarchists so enjoy; I apologise for that in advance, but my intention is not a social study but rather an ideological, structural and organisational analysis. For a sense of that colour, I would direct the reader to many of the excellent autobiographies and biographies of anarchism’s leading lights. The problem with much of anarchism today is that anarchists themselves prefer their anarchism pale, romantic and doomed… sparkly vampires, really. This book is not for them. It restores to anarchism its true historical weight and contemporary significance for autonomous struggles against dominance, its penetrating global reach, centred on the Latin world and not the North Atlantic, its pro-organisational majority stance, its universal adaptability to local and transnational conditions, and its numerous pragmatic attempts to dismantle vertical power via popular, horizontal counter-power. This work’s ultimate intention is to excite the imagination of activists and scholars to use my illustrations of continuities and challenges as launching-points for further historical, ideological and practical explorations of their own. There is still so much work to be done, for example, on revealing the anarchism and syndicalism of North Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, and South and South-East Asia, let alone on the many borderlands and maritime littorals where anarchism had a transient yet persistent presence – and I hope that is a torch that future generations will take up.