Blog post

"A bullet from an anarchist’s pistol changed global politics"

Clara Heyworth 7 January 2011

In an article on anarchism for American Interest entitled "The State of Statelessness," Henry Farrell writes at length on Benedict Anderson's Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-Colonial Imagination—a book with "important lessons to offer."

Farrell notes that:

Understanding anarchism today requires a better understanding of its past. Just such an understanding is provided in Benedict Anderson's Under Three Flags and James C. Scott's The Art of Not Being Governed.

He opens his article with the tale of the 1897 shooting of Antonio Cánovas del Castillo (then Prime Minister of Spain) by Italian anarchist Michele Angiolillo, describing how "a bullet from an anarchists's pistol changed global politics" and compares 19th-century anarchism to that of today:

A century later, anarchists have largely given up on violence. Some break windows and get into fights with policemen at protests, but this is far from the plague of bombings and assassinations that transfixed Europe in the late 19th century. They have also lost much of their political salience, though the political philosophy of anarchism has seen something of a revival over the past twenty years. Thanks to Noam Chomsky, the Internet and the anti-globalization protests of the late 1990s, multitudes of young activists now either see themselves as anarchists or are attracted to aspects of anarchist philosophy. Yet this hardly adds up to a coherent political movement. 

Visit American Interest Online to read the article in full.

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