Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New review, Sean Benjamin, in "Upping the Anti"

A recent issue of Upping the Anti: A Journal of Theory and Action (no. 9, November 2009, Toronto, Canada:  www.uppingtheanti.org) has a fine (and carefully considered) Black Flame review by Sean Benjamin. Its entitled "Fanning the Flames" (p. 159 onwards). Some quotes:

 "... Schmidt and van der Walt avoid the 'great thinkers' approach to historical research instead focusing on excavating the histories of largely unknown individuals and movements in order to analyze various  strategies  and  tactics  among  these  groups. They  devote less attention to individual thinkers and focus instead on anarchist ideas and the movements they  informed ... "

"While most historical  studies of  anarchism have  focused on Western  Europe  and North America,  Black  Flame counters  this Eurocentric approach. As the authors explain, 'the broad anarchist tradition was an international movement that cannot be adequately understood through the focus on Western anarchism that typifies most existing accounts' (8). Anarchist movements  in Africa, East Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and  (to a  lesser extent) the Middle East are amply documented."

"In recent years, there has been an upsurge in class struggle anarchism, or social anarchism ... In these circumstances,  there  is a need  for a clear and more forceful theoretical statement of principles, and Black Flame serves as an excellent opening statement of the relevance of class struggle  anarchism  in  a  twenty-first  century  context. Whether or not one accepts all of the components of the authors’ analysis
of  the  broad  anarchist  tradition,  this  book  is  an  impressive introduction  to  the  history  of  anarchist  theory  and  anarchist movements.

"It  radically  reframes  the debate over anarchism and how  it  is perceived by both  its advocates and  the world at  large, and successfully argues for anarchism’s relevance in contemporary struggles.  Their  forthcoming  second  volume,  Global  Fire:  150 Fighting Years of International Anarchism and Syndicalism, will focus on the history of the global anarchist movement to complement the theoretical focus of Black Flame. If the second volume is as good as the first, they will stand together as a truly significant contribution to both anarchist theory and history."

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