Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870-1940

The Praxis of National Liberation, Internationalism, and Social Revolution


Volume Editors: Steven Hirsch and Lucien van der Walt
Narratives of anarchist and syndicalist history during the era of the first globalization and imperialism (1870-1930) have overwhelmingly been constructed around a Western European tradition centered on discrete national cases. This parochial perspective typically ignores transnational connections and the contemporaneous existence of large and influential libertarian movements in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. Yet anarchism and syndicalism, from their very inception at the First International, were conceived and developed as international movements. By focusing on the neglected cases of the colonial and postcolonial world, this volume underscores the worldwide dimension of these movements and their centrality in anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles. Drawing on in-depth historical analyses of the ideology, structure, and praxis of anarchism/syndicalism, it also provides fresh perspectives and lessons for those interested in understanding their resurgence today.

Contributors are Luigi Biondi, Arif Dirlik, Anthony Gorman, Steven Hirsch, Dongyoun Hwang, Geoffroy de Laforcade, Emmet O'Connor, Kirk Shaffer, Aleksandr Shubin, Edilene Toledo, and Lucien van der Walt.

With a foreword by Benedict Anderson.

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Steven J. Hirsch, PhD (1997) in Latin American History from The George Washington University. Currently is associate professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg. Researches and writes on the history of anarchism and working-class politics in Peru.

Lucien van der Walt, Ph.d. (2007) in Industrial Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand, is senior lecturer in Sociology at that institution. Winner of the 2007 Labor History thesis prize, and the 2008/2009 CODESRIA Africa thesis prize, he is co-author of Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism (AK Press. San Francisco), volume 1 of Counter Power: new perspectives on global anarchism and syndicalism (with Michael Schmidt).
"This volume is a must-read for anyone interested in a nuanced history of left-wing politics, radical labor and social movements [...] scholarly [...] but [...] accessible [...]." - Alex Bradshaw, in: FORsooth (published by the Louisville chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation), Volume 25, number 4 (May 2014), pp. 3, 7
“[…] a ground-breaking work [...] the collection is remarkable […] the chapters [...] are compelling [...] one might mention the sheer sense of discovery with which they overwhelm the reader [...]. All in all, the collection is remarkable [...]. The essays they have gathered and carefully knitted together fill a major gap in the historiography and form an impressive and challenging scholarly achievement.” - Yann Béliard, Université Paris 3- Sorbonne Nouvelle, in: Labour / Le Travail
“The chapters develop a powerful sense of anarchism and syndicalism as global political forces, and on the whole this results in a very tightly edited and argued collection defined by excellent, committed scholarship.” - David Featherstone, University of Glasgow, UK, in: Journal of Global History
"[...] [I]t is a valuable contribution. [...] [T]his is a readable, important addition to your local library." - Milan Rai, in: Peace News, Vol. 2550 (October 2012), p. 14
“[…] Hirsch and Van Der Walt’s collection is a salutary reminder of a time when a plurality of international anarchist, socialist and syndicalist initiatives broke out of narrow confines of national politics to challenge, colonialism and racism alike. It is a vital repository of revolutionary thought and practice…” - Bryan Palmer, Trent University, in: New Left Review, Vol. 77 (sept oct 2012), pp. 151-160
"[…] difficult for serious scholars to ignore this volume. […] This important book discusses anarchist and syndicalist movements in Argentina, Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ireland, Korea, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, South Africa and the Ukraine in the period leading up to World War II." - Jon Bekken, in: Anarcho-Syndacalist Review, No. 60 (Summer 2013), 35-37
"[...] [T]he book investigates how anarchists and syndicalists engaged with imperialism, anti-colonial movements ‘and the national question’. Although this is an academic text, grassroots activists will find it useful too. The book offers deep insights into society and history, and it highlights relevant historical experiences that could benefit social movements worldwide." - Mandisi Majavu, in: Journal of Asian and African Studies Vol. 47, No. 122 (2012), pp. 122-124
"Let’s be clear about one thing – this book is an academic masterpiece." - Constance Bantman, in: Anarchist Studies Vol. 20 No. 1 (2012), pp. 106-108
"This groundbreaking volume on anarchism and syndicalism in the colonial and postcolonial world sheds new light on hitherto neglected historical – yet ever more useful – anti-colonial movements that reverberate with today’s growing resistance towards transnational corporate powers. [...] [T]his volume is an incredibly valuable addition to existing postcolonial theory." - Ole Birk Laursen, in: Journal of Postcolonial Writing 2012, First Review, 1–2
"The edited volume [...] contains a wealth of experience drawn from the colonial and postcolonial worlds for activists to reflect upon and scholars to debate." - Andrew Lawrence, in: Marx & Philosophy Review of Books, 26 April 2012
"The book is an excellent collection of narratives from the anarchist and syndicalist resistance to globalisation first attempt by the block of authoritarian and imperialist development (1870-1930) and goes beyond the usual Western European tradition [...]" - Dimitri Troaditis, in: (article 20751)
"This is a superb book. " - Wayne Price, in: & (2011)
List of Illustrations
List of Contributors
Preface, Benedict Anderson

Rethinking Anarchism and Syndicalism: the colonial and post-colonial experience, 1870-1940, Lucien van der Walt and Steven J. Hirsch


“Diverse in race, religion and nationality… but united in aspirations of civil progress”: the anarchist movement in Egypt 1860-1940, Anthony Gorman
Revolutionary syndicalism, communism and the national question in South African socialism, 1886-1928, Lucien van der Walt
Korean Anarchism before 1945: a regional and transnational approach, Dongyoun Hwang
Anarchism and the Question of Place: thoughts from the Chinese experience, Arif Dirlik
The Makhnovist Movement and the National Question in the Ukraine, 1917-1921, Аleksandr Shubin
Syndicalism, Industrial Unionism, and Nationalism in Ireland, Emmet O’Connor


Peruvian Anarcho-Syndicalism: adapting transnational influences and forging counterhegemonic Practices, 1905-1930, Steven J. Hirsch
Tropical Libertarians: anarchist movements and networks in the Caribbean, Southern United States, and Mexico, 1890s-1920s, Kirk Shaffer
Straddling the Nation and the Working World: anarchism and syndicalism on the docks and rivers of Argentina, 1900-1930, Geoffroy de Laforcade
Constructing Syndicalism and Anarchism Globally: the transnational making of the syndicalist movement in São Paulo, Brazil, 1895-1935, Edilene Toledo and Luigi Biondi
Final Reflections: the vicissitudes of anarchist and syndicalist trajectories, 1940 to the present, Steven J. Hirsch and Lucien van der Walt

All those interested in left and labour history, anarchism, syndicalism, radicalism, Marxism, nationalism, labour unions, race and nation, and anti-colonial struggles.