Black Flag: Anarchist Review Spring 2024 issue now out

Submitted by Anarcho on March 18, 2024

The new issue of Black Flag: Anarchist Review is now available:

We cover two women who played key parts in British anarchism, albeit in different eras. Charlotte M. Wilson played a key role in the earliest days of the British anarchist movement. She was a co-founder with Kropotkin of Freedom in 1886, which she edited and wrote for. While she eventually dropped out of the movement, her contribution warrants remembering. Marie-Lousie Berneri likewise played a key role in the movement, this time in the late 1930s and 1940s. The daughter of Camillo Berneri, she helped with Spain and the World (later Revolt!, then War Commentary before becoming Freedom in 1945) and the rebirth of anarchism as an organised movement in Britain. Her early death was a tragic loss, as can be seen from the writings we include.

This issue also includes articles by and on non-anarchist libertarian socialists, namely William Morris and G.D.H. Cole. Best known for his utopian novel News from Nowhere (1890), Morris worked with anarchists in the Socialist League when he advocated an anti-parliamentary communism close to anarchist communism. While he reduced anarchism as inherently individualistic, his vision of communism in News from Nowhere was libertarian as were his arguments for anti-parliamentarian activity. Cole, like many others, was influenced by Morris and News from Nowhere, and his interest to anarchists relates to his Guild Socialist phase, although he never totally lost his libertarian views when he was associated with the Labour Party. His Guild Socialism is very libertarian, with clear similarities to Proudhon’s mutualism.

This issue also includes a new translation of Kropotkin’s Anarchist Morality. The most easily available version of this classic pamphlet – in the 1927 collection Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets – is actually edited (it has 9 parts to the original’s 10) like most of its works (without the edits being indicated). That and the dated nature of the original translation made a new one sensible. Moreover, recent scientific research on the evolved nature of our ethical views also makes it worthwhile – sadly, most seem unaware that they are pursuing a path of analysis laid down by Kropotkin over 120 years ago.

We end with reviews, old and new, and then our usual “Parish Notes” on news from the movement.
Original translations which appear in Black Flag: Anarchist Review eventually appear on-line here:

This year we aim to cover a range of people and subjects. These should hopefully include Emma Goldman, John Turner, Anselmo Lorenzo, Ethel Mannin, the 1894 Trial of the Thirty and the debate with Kropotkin over his support of the Allies in 1914. Plus reviews and news of the movement.

Contributions from libertarian socialists are welcome on these and other subjects! We are a small collective and always need help in writing, translating and gathering material, so please get in touch if you want to see Black Flag Anarchist Review continue.

This issue’s editorial and contents are here:


3 months 4 weeks ago

Submitted by westartfromhere on March 23, 2024

So this essay is a journey along a well-trodden trail, and attempts to assess whether or not William Morris can be described as an anarchist.

Morton (1973), Thompson (1976), Meier (1978) and Mahamdallie (2008), for example, all emphasize that Morris was essentially a Marxist in spite if the fact that he consistently advocated an anti-parliamentary strategy.

The Revolutionary Socialism of William Morris, Black Flag Anarchist Review Volume 4 Number 1 (Spring 2024), page 3.

When I first wrote my study of William Morris over twenty years ago I inclined to Kapp’s [biographer of Eleanor Marx and Editor of Vogue] judgement, and gave both Eleanor and Engels the benefit of the doubt. But since that time the Engels-Lafargue correspondence has become available, and I have consequently sharpened my own judgement in revision. Engels’s lofty dismissal, in l887, of the existing socialist movement in Britain as ‘a number of small cliques held together by personal motives’, comes uneasily from a man who was at the centre of the smallest and most personally-motivated clique of all. The Avelings, having hurried on the split in the SDF, failed then to give a full commitment to the Socialist League, formed a faction within it, and forced on a further split which destroyed their own creation. Engels, who indignantly rebutted each and every attack on Aveling as the malicious slander of political enemies, was both the captive of Aveling and his political mentor. His personal motives (loyalty to ‘Tussy’) were admirable. But in the result he contributed in a small way to the confusions of the early movement and to the repute into which ‘British Marxism’ fell.

Eleanor Marx, E. P. Thompson (1976), on the social-democratic 'Marxists', Friedrich Engels and Eleanor Marx et pauci al.

It is bemusing that we are still speaking of the revolutionary movement in sectarian terms such as 'anarchist' and 'Marxist'. Surely, the movement is of anarchy and of communing both and social living to boot?

Was Morris an anarchist? Was he communist? Was he a socialist? He was all three and, may I add, he was primitivist and simplist. He was not simple.

As to parliamentarianism, obviously we don't approve it and only charlatons stand for election but we can't divorce revolution from reforms such as the Ten hour or Eight hour working bills. The working class force the agenda by means of force and by the threat of the means of force, by the withdrawel of labour power and by the threat of withdrawel of labour power.

Criticism should be levelled at the horse's mouth. Marx's approval of the democracy of the Paris Commune deserves a strong rebuttal by the party of anarchy, of which he had previously claimed to be a part. Money does talk and his bullshit should take a walk.

The Commune was formed of the municipal councillors, chosen by universal suffrage in the various wards of the town, responsible and revocable at short terms. The majority of its members were naturally working men, or acknowledged representatives of the working class. The Commune was to be a working, not a parliamentary body, executive and legislative at the same time.

Instead of continuing to be the agent of the Central Government, the police was at once stripped of its political attributes, and turned into the responsible, and at all times revocable, agent of the Commune. So were the officials of all other branches of the administration. From the members of the Commune downwards, the public service had to be done at workman’s wage. The vested interests and the representation allowances of the high dignitaries of state disappeared along with the high dignitaries themselves. Public functions ceased to be the private property of the tools of the Central Government. Not only municipal administration, but the whole initiative hitherto exercised by the state was laid into the hands of the Commune.

Having once got rid of the standing army and the police – the physical force elements of the old government – the Commune was anxious to break the spiritual force of repression, the “parson-power", by the disestablishment and disendowment of all churches as proprietary bodies. The priests were sent back to the recesses of private life, there to feed upon the alms of the faithful in imitation of their predecessors, the apostles.

The whole of the educational institutions were opened to the people gratuitously, and at the same time cleared of all interference of church and state. Thus, not only was education made accessible to all, but science itself freed from the fetters which class prejudice and governmental force had imposed upon it.

The judicial functionaries were to be divested of that sham independence which had but served to mask their abject subserviency to all succeeding governments to which, in turn, they had taken, and broken, the oaths of allegiance. Like the rest of public servants, magistrates and judges were to be elective, responsible, and revocable.

The Paris Commune was, of course, to serve as a model to all the great industrial centres of France. The communal regime once established in Paris and the secondary centres, the old centralized government would in the provinces, too, have to give way to the self-government of the producers.

In a rough sketch of national organization, which the Commune had no time to develop, it states clearly that the Commune was to be the political form of even the smallest country hamlet, and that in the rural districts the standing army was to be replaced by a national militia, with an extremely short term of service. The rural communities of every district were to administer their common affairs by an assembly of delegates in the central town, and these district assemblies were again to send deputies to the National Delegation in Paris, each delegate to be at any time revocable and bound by the mandat imperatif (formal instructions) of his constituents. The few but important functions which would still remain for a central government were not to be suppressed, as has been intentionally misstated, but were to be discharged by Communal and thereafter responsible agents.

The unity of the nation was not to be broken, but, on the contrary, to be organized by Communal Constitution, and to become a reality by the destruction of the state power which claimed to be the embodiment of that unity independent of, and superior to, the nation itself, from which it was but a parasitic excrescence.

While the merely repressive organs of the old governmental power were to be amputated, its legitimate functions were to be wrested from an authority usurping pre-eminence over society itself, and restored to the responsible agents of society. Instead of deciding once in three or six years which member of the ruling class was to misrepresent the people in Parliament, universal suffrage was to serve the people, constituted in Communes, as individual suffrage serves every other employer in the search for the workmen and managers in his business. And it is well-known that companies, like individuals, in matters of real business generally know how to put the right man in the right place, and, if they for once make a mistake, to redress it promptly. On the other hand, nothing could be more foreign to the spirit of the Commune than to supercede universal suffrage by hierarchical investiture.

The Third Address, May, 1871

darren p

3 months 4 weeks ago

Submitted by darren p on March 23, 2024

Marx's approval of the democracy of the Paris Commune deserves a strong rebuttal by the party of anarchy, of which he had previously claimed to be a part.

What a strange understanding you have.


3 months 4 weeks ago

Submitted by westartfromhere on March 24, 2024

darren p wrote:

Marx's approval of the democracy of the Paris Commune deserves a strong rebuttal by the party of anarchy, of which he had previously claimed to be a part.

What a strange understanding you have.

Thank you Daz.

The Commune presents a strange paradox, simultaneously being a form of working class government yet, by imposing government, negating its own natural state, absence of government, anarchy.

Proletarian Revolution

The Commune was therefore to serve as a lever for uprooting the economical foundation upon which rests the existence of classes, and therefore of class rule ... Its special measures could but betoken the tendency of a government of the people by the people.

Not so, Herr Marx. The governmental form was the means by which the working class became susceptible to its massacre at the hands of the Versaillais.