The Roots of The Anarchist Tradition


Kristin Ross, “The Paris Commune and the Literature of the North,” Critical Inquiry, 41:2 (Winter 2015)

Dominica Chang, “Un Nouveau ’93: Discourses of Mimicry and Terror in the Paris Commune of 1871,” French Historical Studies, 36:4 (Fall 2013)


Peter Kropotkin, “Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Ideal” (1898)

Mikhail Bakunin, “Stateless Socialism: Anarchism”

Corresponding Reading:

Murray-Miller, Revolutionary Europe, Chapter 8, “The Revolutionary Tradition at a Cross Roads.”

Seminar Topics

Seminar discussion will examine the ideological contours of anarchism, questioning to what extent it drew its influence from older revolutionary ideas and to what extent it was responding to new realities. We will also examine the growing divide between anarchists and other revolutionary movements and question what impact these had on the revolutionary tradition in the late nineteenth century.

Questions to consider:

  1. What did ideologues see as essential to the anarchist program? What were their principles?
  2. Were there corollaries between anarchist thought and earlier revolutionary ideas? If so, what made anarchism distinct?
  3. Why similarities and differences were evident between Marxist internationalists and anarchists in the late nineteenth century?
  4. According to Kristian Ross, how did the failure of the Paris Commune influence alternative ways of thinking about society?

Further Reading

Wolfgang Eckhardt, The First Socialism Schism: Bakunin vs. Marx in the International Workingmen’s Association. PM Press: Oakland, 2016.

August H. Nimtz, “Marxism versus Anarchism: The First Encounter.” Science and Society, 79:2 (2015).

Kristin Ross, Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune. London: Verso, 2015.

Kristin Ross, The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989.

Julia Nicholls, “Empire and Internationalism in French Revolutionary Socialist Thought, 1871-1885,” The Historical Journal, 59:4 (2016)

Laura C. Forster, “The Paris Commune in London and the Spatial History of Ideas, 1871-1900,” The Historical Journal, 62:4 (2019)

David A. Shafer, The Paris Commune: French Politics, Culture and Society at the Crossroads of the Revolutionary Tradition and Revolutionary Socialism. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005. 

Martin Phillip Johnson, The Paradise of Association: Political Culture and Popular Organizations in the Paris Commune of 1871. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997.

Donny Gluckstein, The Paris Commune: A Revolution in Democracy. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2006.

Carolyn Eichner, Surmounting the Barricades: Women in the Paris Commune. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.

Carolyn J. Eichner, “Vive la Commune! Feminism, Socialism and Revolutionary Revival in the Aftermath of the 1871 Paris Commune,” Journal of Women’s History, 15:2 (2003).

John Merriman, Massacre: The Life and Death of the Paris Commune of 1871. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.

Peter Starr, Commemorating Trauma: The Paris Commune and its Cultural Aftermath. New York: Fordham University Press, 2006.

Colette Wilson, Paris and the Commune, 1871-78: The Politics of Forgetting. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016.

Albert Boime, Art and the French Commune: Imagining Paris after War and Revolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.

Roger V. Gould, Insurgent Identities: Class, Community and Protest in Paris from 1848 to the Commune. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.

D. H. Barry, “Community, Tradition and Memory among Rebel Working-Class Women of Paris, 1830, 1848, 1871,” European review of History, 7:2 (2010).

Gay L. Gullickson, Unruly Women of Paris: Images of the Commune. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996.

Edward S. Mason, The Paris Commune: An Episode in the History of the Socialist Movement. New York: H. Fertig, 1930.

Ganzalo J. Sánchez, Organizing Independence: The Artists Federation of the Paris Commune and its Legacy, 1871-1889. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

Patrick F. Hutton, The Cult of the Revolutionary Tradition: The Blanquists in French Politics, 1864-1893. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981.

Alice Bullard, Exile to Paradise: Savagery and Civilization in Paris and the South Pacific, 1790-1900. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000.