Why Anarchism never took hold in Britain like it did in the US & Southern Europe?

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Vlad The Inhaler's picture
Vlad The Inhaler
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Apr 22 2017 10:28
Why Anarchism never took hold in Britain like it did in the US & Southern Europe?

What is it specifically about the UK that meant that the revolutionaries among the working class predominantly opted for Marxism and specifically Leninism? Was it the presence of a parliament to which sufferage was being won? Was it, further more, the presence of a mass party of the trade union movement, Labour, which belonged to the Social Democratic tradition which made the hop, skip and jump to Leninism easier? Or were there other reasons?

On a similar subject even before I made the jump from Leninism to anarchism I always loved the following quote, it is so moving and evocative.

"Anarchism has thriven best in lands of the sun, where it is easy to dream of golden ages of ease and simplicity, yet where the clear light also heightens the shadows of existing misery. It is the men of the South who have flocked in their thousands to the black banners of anarchic revolt, the Italians and Andalusians and Ukrainians, the men of Lyons and Marseilles, of Naples and Barcelona." Anarchism by George Woodcock.

darren p's picture
darren p
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Apr 22 2017 11:21

I don't think Anarchism did take hold in the US any more than it did in the UK. If your talking early last century and late the one before.

It took of in Spain because it chimed with the already existing way of life in the pueblos, small villages.

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Rob Ray
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Apr 22 2017 12:20

Mm also in industrial Germany and imperial Russia though, and the last syndicalists standing post-war were the SAC.

I dunno I think there's lots of factors at play in any given place where anarchism took off, Kropotkin makes quite a persuasive case that the free cities movements of the 13th century had a lasting effect, James Scott likes his geographical factors and "shatter zones," EP Thompson is pretty hot on the effects of the Napoleonic Wars and the cracking points of feudalism etc...

radicalgraffiti
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Apr 22 2017 14:23

i think the fact that the uk was the centre of the largest empire in world history throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries probably had something to do with it

jura's picture
jura
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Apr 22 2017 15:15

It's not like Marxism ever took hold in Britain either, is it?

Vlad The Inhaler's picture
Vlad The Inhaler
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Apr 22 2017 15:22

No, but as much as any Far-Left ideology did Leninism was certainly the predominant strain.

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
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Apr 22 2017 16:59

Nah, I'd say it was Methodist inspired trade unionism.

Vlad The Inhaler's picture
Vlad The Inhaler
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Apr 22 2017 17:04

I wouldn't call that Far-Left though.

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
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Apr 22 2017 17:43

That's as far as it got, outside of left minorities. There was a significant anarchist movement in late 19th early 20th century East London (mostly jewish). There was anarchist influence in the South Wales coalfields and Glasgow. Mostly though it was CP up to the 1960s when trotskyism was in its ascendancy.