Socialism from Below: Defining Anarchism (Black Flame Pages 44-81)

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These pages are from the excellent book Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism, CounterPower Vol. I by Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt. In it, the authors make the case for anarchy as a coherent political philosophy and attempt to circumscribe a definition. In the pages we have chosen, the authors attempt to define anarchy by examining its origins in the 18th century. As you might be able to guess by the title, they propose that anarchy is indivisible from revolutionary socialism, class-based analysis and class-based organisation, embodied in early advocates such as Bakunin and Kropotkin. Here’s a taste:

"It is therefore reasonable to take the 1860s and the First International as the womb of the anarchist movement; it is also reasonable to take Bakunin, the key figure in the movement at that time, and Kropotkin (after Bakunin’s death, “unquestionably the most widely read and respected anarchist theorist” in the world) as suitable representatives of the anarchist tradition, and the basis from which to identify the main ideas of anarchism. By doing so, we can also delineate which figures and movements should be included within the broad anarchist tradition."

A note on the PDF: The page size of the PDF is currently A5 to allow the document to be printed out as a booklet by printing two to a page. If this is a pain, we can switch to A4. Copies can be made available if you don’t wish to read off the screen, just email the admin. We can mail it if necessary.

Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism, Counter-Power Vol. I
can be purchased at:

black flame!
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