Anarchism Reading List

Anarchism is a form of anti-state socialism which first emerged in 19th century Europe and rapidly spread from there to North America, South America, Asia and parts of Africa.

I’ve composed this reading list on the basis of which books or texts I wish I’d known about when first learning about anarchism.

I don’t agree with all the texts I list but felt it was important to include texts from traditions within anarchism that I don’t like or don’t fully agree. At the end I’ve listed my personal favorites.

A large number of anarchists texts can be found at Libcom, The Anarchist Library, the Dwardmac Anarchy Archives and Robert Graham’s website. A text is ‘classic’ if it is from the 19th or the early 20th century, and it is ‘modern’ if it is from  the late 20th century or the 21st century.

A great (and very long) all round resource on anarchism is The Anarchist FAQ.

Classic Introductions

Modern Introductions

Classic Anarchist Texts

Modern Anarchist Texts

Anthologies of Anarchist Primary Sources

Broad Overviews of Anarchist History

History of Anarchist Movements in Europe

  • Berry, David – A History of the French Anarchist Movement 1917-1945
  • Cahm, Caroline – Kropotkin and the Rise of Revolutionary Anarchism
  • Di Paola, Pietro – The Knights Errant of Anarchy: London and the Italian Anarchist Diaspora 1880-1917
  • Garner, Jason – Goals and Means: Anarchism, Syndicalism, and Internationalism in the Origins of the Federacion Anarquista Iberica
  • Graham, Robert – We Do Not Fear Anarchy, We Invoke It: The First International and The Origins of the Anarchist Movement
  • Pernicone, Nunzio – Italian Anarchism 1864-1892 (is now outdated and should be read alongside Turcato’s Making Sense of Anarchism)

History of Anarchist Movements in North and South America

History of Anarchist Movements in Asia

History of the Spanish Revolution

History of the Russian Revolution

The Modern Anarchist Movement

  • Bray, Mark – Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street
  • Dupuis-Deri, Francis – Who’s Afraid of the Black Blocs? Anarchy in Action Around the World
  • Graeber, David – Direct Action: An Ethnography
  • Graeber, David – The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement

My Personal Favorites 

7 thoughts on “Anarchism Reading List”

  1. Might want add David Graeber’s article ‘Turning Modes of Production Inside Out, or, Why Capitalism is a Transformation of Slavery’ (it build on a lot of the stuff that he talked about in ‘Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value’ and ‘Possibilities’), it’s really good long intro into anti-capitalism, you can find it here: https://libcom.org/library/turning-modes-production-inside-out-or-why-capitalism-transformation-slavery
    Might want to also add something about the commons, so why not ‘Stop, thief!: The commons, enclosures, and resistance’ by Peter Linebaugh: https://libcom.org/library/stop-thief-commons-enclosures-resistance

  2. I’m really happy to discover your website (i was watching one of your youtube videos, i don’t remember how i discovered it… maybe thanks to Mexie ? Really not sure) ! Thank you for this selection

  3. Hi, I know that you’re advocate of the idea of prefiguration, but are you familiar with Uri Gordon’s recent critique of prefiguration:

    “Prefigurative Politics, Catastrophe, and Hope: Does the Idea of “Prefiguration” Offer False Reassurance?”:

    https://crimethinc.com/2018/06/12/prefigurative-politics-catastrophe-and-hope-does-the-idea-of-prefiguration-offer-false-reassurance

    You can the academic version here:

    http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/46972/1/Prefig%20final.pdf

    About the reading list, I’m surprised not to see Peter Gelderloos, whose “Anarchy Works” has become (in my experience) the most used and read introduction to anarchism:

    Anarchy Works – Peter Gelderloos:

    https://libcom.org/library/peter-gelderloos-anarchy-works

    On the more academic side of things:
    If you’re not aware of Jesse Cohn or his two books on anarchism, I highly recommend that you take a look at his works, I personally consider his two books to be the best secondary literature about anarchism that I’ve ever come across.
    I really think that they also would be a great with your PhD thesis.
    The book are:
    “Anarchism And the Crisis of Representation: Hermeneutics, Aesthetics, Politics”:

    https://voidnetwork.gr/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Anarchism-And-the-Crisis-of-Representation-by-Jesse-S.-Cohn.pdf

    http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=FF4E42215B68D52C44B3616173B02A51

    And his more recent “Underground Passages: Anarchist Resistance Culture, 1848-2011”:

    http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=1F8CCA3122ECED1B3D2B0B4DA64E0812

    The following book is not strictly anarchist (I don’t know if the British Beverly Skeggs is anarchist or not, but she’s close, she’s friends with Graeber), but I find it to be best takes on class theory that I’ve ever come across:

    Class, Self, Culture – Beverly Skeggs (there’s a review of it on libcom.org):

    https://b-ok.cc/book/2175640/81a7ac

    Skeggs and Sara Ahmed are the best feminist theorist in Britain right now. By the way, a discussion of Sara Ahmed’s “The Cultural Politics of Emotion” would really make for a great video. Her take on queer theory is very good too.

  4. Missing some Colin Ward:
    https://theanarchistlibrary.org/category/author/colin-ward

    Some Benjamin Franks, Jacob Blumenfeld, Peter Gelderloos, Jesse Cohn and Kevin Van Meter:
    – Rebel Alliances: The Means and Ends of Contemporary British Anarchisms:
    http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=120B24E5A4ACFA7E9074B458A591457C
    – Worshiping Power: An Anarchist View of Early State Formation:
    http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=51B4369D8BA65A6E200941753A17375F
    – All Things Are Nothing to Me: The Unique Philosophy of Max Stirner:
    http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=61DE4B5FE6D39033A57E78657ABF8F8A
    – Anarchism And the Crisis of Representation: Hermeneutics, Aesthetics, Politics:
    http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=FF4E42215B68D52C44B3616173B02A51
    – Guerrillas of Desire: Notes on Everyday Resistance and Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible:
    http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=47C7A85176450F0DD69ED038D3BF3111

  5. These are also pretty good
    – Sho Konishi’s “Anarchist Modernity, Cooperatism and Japanese-Russian Intellectual Relations in Modern Japan”:
    https://libcom.org/library/anarchist-modernity-cooperatism-japanese-russian-intellectual-relations-modern-japan
    http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=9342829798E1F91501B4BCC25B0010D3
    – Kristin Ross’ “Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune”:
    http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=C29FAB1EAAE956FA7BC0A59A2C5BE14C
    – Cohn’s “Underground Passages: Anarchist Resistance Culture, 1848-2011”:
    http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=1F8CCA3122ECED1B3D2B0B4DA64E0812
    – Why Work?: Arguments for the Leisure Society:
    http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=24C0541442A5C0AF11D32999FF96102C
    Cheap books at Freedom Press are always good:
    https://freedompress.org.uk/
    Again, Colin Ward’s books are classics of anarchist thought:
    “Autonomy, solidarity, possibility: the Colin Ward reader”: https://libcom.org/library/autonomy-solidarity-possibility-colin-ward-reader

  6. Hi, I’ve come across and was startled by some comments I’ve seen you make about anti-work politics, and I’ve wanted to to know if you could clarify your position?
    If you’re still unfamiliar with the general thrust of anti-work socialist, I could only recommend taking a look at Alastair Hemmens’ book “The Critique Of Work In Modern French Thought: From Charles Fourier To Guy Debord”:
    http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=38A8C6614F58BCD6EC7BCBECA8F422EC

    I was also startled by your advocacy of economic planning, as I, as an anarcho-communist, am generally opposed to idea.
    The communization tendency people like Bruno Astarian and Gilles Dauvé has written good articles about a different conception of communism:

    Crisis activity and communisation – Bruno Astarian:
    https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/bruno-astarian-crisis-activity-and-communisation

    Capitalism and communism – Gilles Dauvé:
    https://libcom.org/library/capitalism-communism-gilles-dauve

    I would like to particularly draw attention to Bruno Astarian’s concepts of “production without productivity”/”consumption without necessity”. I would really like to hear your opinion on that one (the article is relatively short).

    Even Murray Bookchin has very good ideas concerning what he calls “usufruct, complementary and the irreducible minimum” that could serve as economic alternatives to the planning thing, that he lay out in “The Ecology of Freedom”:

    https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/murray-bookchin-the-ecology-of-freedom

    For my part, I really like the anthropologists’ concept of “demand sharing” which is really close to what Kropotkin by communist/”from each according to his/her needs”. Many anthropologists (like Thomas Widlok and James Ferguson) sometimes refer to Kropotkin when writing about demand sharing.
    Useful books on this would be:

    Anthropology and the Economy of Sharing – by Thomas Widlok:
    http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=75D273AAB48C8C32BC5EB58795D4710F
    The Anthropology of Economy: Community, Market, and Culture – Stephen Gudeman:
    http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=4B9FA3D18D7C2907070B94D0E580E3A9

    I think reading either of those books could really broaden your theoretical horizons on the economic issue.

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