Libcom.org's reading guide on anarchism, anarchist theorists and their development through history.
Anarchism: reading guide
- An Anarchist FAQ - Absolutely massive archive of frequently asked questions, with clear and highly detailed responses drawing on the theory and practice of the anarchist tradition.
- What is anarchism? - Alexander Berkman - Absolutely indispensable classic introduction to anarchism.
- Introduction to anarchist communism - Anarchist Federation - Clearly written pamphlet from the Anarchist Federation (UK) explaining their tradition of anarchist-communism.
- Anarchist communism - an introduction - libcom.org's short introduction to anarchist-communism.
- Anarcho-syndicalism - an introduction - libcom.org's short introduction to anarchist-syndicalism.
Other recommended texts
- Facing the Enemy: A History of Anarchist Organisation - Excellent history of 19th and 20th century European anarchist movements and how anarchists built revolutionary organisations and movements.
- Black Anarchism: a reader - Pamphlet compiling the writings of black anarchists from the USA, Africa and Latin America, highlighting the contribution of black people to the international anarchist movement.
- Anarcho-syndicalism in the 20th Century - Vadim Damier - The best one-stop overview of anarcho-syndicalism currently available in English, covering the well-known and not-so-well-known organisations and ideas from the anarcho-syndicalist tradition.
- Quiet Rumours: An Anarcha-Feminist Reader - Anthology of texts by anarchist women and women’s organisations on the connections between anarchism, feminism and the fight against sexism both in society and the movement.
- African Anarchism: The History of a Movement - Sam Mbah and I. E. Igariwey - Classic text covering libertarian aspects in traditional African societies, African communalism, the development of ‘African socialism’ and its failure, and a possible means of resolving Africa’s ongoing crises.
- Huerta Grande - Uruguayan Anarchist Federation - Seminal text of South American Especifismo, written in 1972 as an internal discussion document right before the brutal military coup was installed in 1973.
- Anarchy in Action - Colin Ward - A look at how people organise themselves in human societies, and how this demonstrates the viability of anarchist ideas.
Anarchist groups and organisations
- Federación Obrera Regional Argentina (Argentine Regional Workers' Federation - FORA) - Argentine anarcho-syndicalist union founded in 1901 which played a leading role in the working-class movement at the beginning of the 20th century.
- Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (National Confederation of Labour - CNT) - Spanish anarcho-syndicalist union, which was a leading force in the Spanish Civil War and Revolution when it had almost two million members.
- The Makhnovists - Officially the Revolutionary Insurgent Army of the Ukraine, the Makhnovists, named after anarchist Nestor Makhno, were an anarchist peasant army which fought both White reaction and Red terror during the Russian Revolution from 1917-1921.
- International Workers Association (IWA) - International confederation of anarcho-syndicalist unions, founded in 1922, which at its height had multiple sections with memberships in the hundreds of thousands or even millions.
- Federación Anarquista Ibérica (Iberian Anarchist Federation - FAI) - Class struggle anarchist organisation active in Spain and Portugal and set up to maintain the CNT’s revolutionary anarchist principles.
- Dielo Trouda (Workers’ Cause) - Group of anarchist-communist exiles from the Russian revolution formed in Paris who founded the basis of the Platformist strain of anarchism, including Nestor Makhno, Ida Mett, Peter Arshinov and Grigori Maximov.
- Mujeres Libres (Free Women) - Spanish anarcho-syndicalist women's organisation set up within the CNT in the 1930s to fight the “triple enslavement of women, to ignorance, to capital, and to men”.
- Friends of Durruti - Spanish anarchist group named after the legendary anarcho-syndicalist, Buenaventura Durruti, and set up in opposition to the CNT’s collaboration with the Republican government during the Spanish Civil War.
- Federación Anarquista Uruguaya (Uruguayan Anarchist Federation - FAU) - Anarchist-communist group and one of the strongest anarchist movements in Latin America. Went through a period of clandestine armed struggle during the country’s 1973-85 dictatorship and was the first organisation to promote especifismo.
French mutualist philosopher and first person to call themselves an ‘anarchist’.
- Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph - biography by K. Stephen Vincent.
- Essential Proudhon - A compilation of Proudhon's works, including the complete 'Philosophy of Poverty' and 'What is Property?'.
- What is Property? - Influential work on the concept of property in which Proudhon declared "property is theft!".
- The General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century - Written in the aftermath of the 1848 French Revolution, Proudhon sets forth a libertarian alternative to the Jacobinism which dominated the republican and revolutionary movements in France.
- The Principle of Federation - Text outlining how a decentralised federation would provide the best way of organising society so as to ensure the fullest liberty for all those living in it.
Russian revolutionary, considered the original theorist of collectivist anarchism.
- Mikhail Bakunin, 1814-1876 - biography.
- Basic Bakunin - Anarchist Federation - Pamphlet outlining the key features of Bakunin's ideas.
- Marxism, freedom and the state - Collection writings touching on his controversy with Marx over the nature of the state and its role in the liberation of the international working class.
- God and State - Classic and highly influential atheist text setting out the anarchist critique of religion as bound up in legitimising the state.
- The Paris Commune and the Idea of the State - A critique of the state and analysis of the events surrounding the 1871 Paris Commune.
- A Critique of the German Social Democratic Program - An early and powerful critique of the statist, reformist, class-collaborationist and counter-revolutionary tendencies of emerging social democracy.
Legendary French anarchist who held a leading role in the Paris Commune and played an essential role in building the anarchist movement across Europe at the end of the 19th century.
- Louise Michel, 1830-1905 - biography.
- Memories of the Commune
- Anarcho-feminism and Louise Michel - Marian Leighton on the beliefs and eventful life of the revolutionary Louise Michel.
Russian revolutionary (as well as scientist, zoologist, geographer and evolutionary theorist!) who was the first to advocate a communist society free from central government and based on voluntary associations between workers - anarchist-communism.
- The Conquest of Bread - Classic work explaining the defects of feudal and capitalist economic systems and how they can be replaced by a decentralised economic system based on mutual aid and voluntary cooperation.
- Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution - Kropotkin's response to Social Darwinism in which he explains the phenomenon of co-operation in evolution.
- Fields, Factories and Workshops - Hugely influential work outlining how a society based on mutual aid and voluntary association could work.
- Memoirs of a Revolutionist - Autobiography recounting his aristocratic beginnings to his transformation into the revolutionary he would be for the rest of his life.
- The State--Its Historic Role - Classic work on the state and its function in society.
American anarchist-communist labour organiser and founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World of mixed African-American and Hispanic heritage. Known for her powerful public speaking, she was also the widow of Haymarket Martyr, Albert Parsons.
- Lucy Parsons, 1853-1942 - biography.
- A lifelong anarchist! Selected words and writings of Lucy Parsons - A collection of Lucy Parsons’ writings and speeches, along with biographical context.
- The Ballot Humbug - Article explaining the sham of electoral politics in a capitalist society.
- Speech to the IWW in 1905 - At the founding conference of the IWW, Parsons spoke on the oppression of women and how to develop radical new tactics to win strikes, making statement far ahead of her time.
Highly influential Italian anarchist-communist who wrote and spoke widely across Italy and spent many years either in jail or in exile.
- Errico Malatesta, 1853-1932 - biography.
- Anarchy - Malatesta's best known work, a pamphlet on what anarchism means.
- Anarchism and organisation - Essay on the importance of organisation to anarchism.
- Syndicalism and anarchism - Essay on the relationship of anarchists to the labour movement.
- At the cafe - A primer on the fundamentals of anarcho-communism, described through conversations.
Lithuanian-born Jewish anarchist who emigrated to the USA, where she became highly involved in radical unions, anti-war and feminist activism. Became known as "the most dangerous woman in America".
- Emma Goldman, 1869-1940 - biography.
- Anarchism and Other Essays - collection of Goldman's classic essays on anarchism and other subjects.
- Living My Life, 2 Vols. - Two volume autobiography taking her from her birthplace in Tsarist Russia to the socialist enclaves of Manhattan's Lower East Side.
- My Disillusionment in Russia - excellent book on the degeneration of the Russian revolution.
Lithuanian-born anarchist-communist Alexander "Sasha" Berkman, who became a leading figure in the American anarchist movement and was sent to prison for attempting to assassinate Henry Clay Frick, the steel boss responsible for the deaths of workers in the 1892 Homestead strike.
- Alexander Berkman, 1870-1936 - Biography.
- What is anarchism? - Absolutely indispensable classic introduction to anarchism.
- Prison memoirs of an anarchist - Autobiographical account of his experience in prison after being sentenced to 22 years for the attempted assassination of an industrialist.
- The Russian Tragedy - Berkman's anaylsis the failure of the Russian Revolution, written 1922.
- The Bolshevik Myth - Book describing his experiences in post-revolution Russia from 1920 to 1922
- The Kronstadt Rebellion - Berkman's analysis of the crushing of the Kronstadt uprising by the Bolshevik government.
Prominent anarcho-syndicalist who organised extensively amongst the Jewish community in the East End of London.
- Rudolf Rocker, 1873-1958 - biography.
- Anarcho-syndicalism - Definitive extended work on anarcho-syndicalism.
- Anarchism and Anarcho-syndicalism - Two essays introducing first the concept of anarchist politics and then its manifestation in anarcho-syndicalism.
- Nationalism and Culture - Classic text on nationalism and culture.
- The Tragedy of Spain - Rocker's history of the Spanish Civil War.
- The London Years - First hand account of his time in London, where he became involved in the Jewish anarchist movement of the East End, helping set up unions and organising the 1912 Jewish tailor's strike.
- Ricardo Flores Magon, 1873-1922 - biography.
- Manifesto of the Mexican Liberal Party, 1911 - Manifesto issued by the Organising Council of the anarchist Mexican Liberal Party, September 23, 1911, scattered at that time broadcast and republished in its official organ, Regeneracion.
- Without bosses - Ricardo Flores Magon writes on why we would be better off in a society without bosses.
- Government? - "No, there is no need to fear life without government; we long for it with all of our hearts."
Ukrainian anarchist-communist who led a revolutionary army during the 1917 Russian revolution which fought against both the old Tsarist regime and the new Bolshevik one.
- Nestor Makhno, 1889-1934 - biography.
- The struggle against the state and other essays - Collection of essays dealing with both Makhno's experiences during the Russian Revolution and wider questions of organisation.
- Organisational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (Draft) - Written by the Dielo Truda group, ‘The Platform’ would become a highly debated and influential text on anarchist organisation.
French anarchist and revolutionary supporter of gay liberation.
- Daniel Guerin, 1904-1988 - biography.
- No Gods, No Masters: an anthology of anarchism - Classic anthology of anarchism bringing together unpublished documents, letters, debates and more, showing the history, organisation and practice of the movement.
- Anarchism: from theory to practice - Book about the theoretical basis of anarchism, and its practical application to the real world in selected historical examples.
- Libertarian Marxism - Two essays in which Guerin attempts to bridge the gap between anarchism and Marxism by drawing out the commonalities in both.
British anarcho-syndicalist print worker who fiercely opposed individualist strains within anarchism and was a major figure in the British anarchist movement.
- Albert Meltzer, 1920-1996 - Biography.
- I couldn't paint golden angels: Sixty years of commonplace life and anarchist agitation - A lively and witty account of a working class boy who went on to put in 60 years of activism, Meltzer's autobiography doubles as a first-person history of the British and European anarchist movements.
- Anarchism: arguments for and against - Short book answering some common criticisms of anarchism while offering a critical view of the anarchist movement itself.
- The floodgates of anarchy - Book co-written with Stuart Christie, it presents an argument against class-based society and hierarchy and advocates for a free and equal society based on individual dignity and merit.
American libertarian socialist and founder of social ecology who severely criticised individualist and spiritual elements within radical politics.
- Bookchin remembered - Obituary written by Iain Mackay.
- Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism - Essay against the increasingly individualist, misanthropic, mystical and anti-organisational trends in US anarchism.
- Listen, Marxist! - An anarchist criticism of Marxism, aimed predominantly at the Maoist Progressive Labor Party in America.
- Post-Scarcity Anarchism - Collection of essays envisioning an anarchist society without scarce resources, if we rely on technology.
- Anarchism, Marxism and The Future of The Left - Collection of texts including accounts of his years as a teenage Communist during the Great Depression, his experiences and reflections on the 1960s and his vision of a libertarian communist society, libertarian politics and the future of anarchism.
- The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years 1868-1936 - History of the day-to-day activism of Spanish anarchists in the decades leading up to the famous civil war and revolution of 1936.
African-American class struggle anarchist, former Black Panther and participant in the civil rights and black power movements.
- Anarchism and the Black Revolution - easy-to-read introduction to the fundamental principles of class struggle anarchism and an analysis of their relevance to the black liberation movement.
- Black autonomy: civil rights, the Panthers and today - Interview with Lorenzo and JoNina Abron about their involvement in the civil rights movement, the Black Panthers and the relevance of anarchism to black struggle.
- Black People Have a Right to Rebel - Lorenzo Komboa Ervin's analysis of the place of the 2001 Cincinnati riots within the history of US urban riots and the struggle against racism.
- Back from hell: Black power and treason to whiteness inside prison walls - A personal account of a cross-race alliance of prisoners against conditions at a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana in the early 1970s.
- No Gods, No Masters, part one, two and three - Excellent three-part documentary on the history of anarchism as an international movement, from its origins through to its involvement in numerous revolutions around the world until the Second World War.
- Free Voice of Labour: the Jewish Anarchists - Documentary covering the Jewish anarchist movement in North America, with interviews from participants.
- Noam Chomsky on anarchism - interview by Barry Pateman - Video of an interview by Barry Pateman with Noam Chomsky about anarchism.
- Living utopia - Unique feature-length documentary which chronicles the origins and evolution of the Spanish anarchist movement and its important role during the 1936-1939 Spanish Revolution. In Spanish with English subtitles.