Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Anarchism in America

Here is a copy of Anarchist Voices, an oral history of Anarchism in America, by Paul Avrich.

Avrich's most recent work is a compilation of 180 interviews he conducted over a period of nearly thirty years. Those interviewed were mostly former anarchists, many of whom professed to having kept the faith, though few were politically active at the time of the interviews (approximately 1963 to 1991). Most of the respondents were foreign-born, Jews and Italians dominating the list, with lesser representation from Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Chinese-born activists. Most had participated in radical activities between the 1880's and the 1930's, and, naturally, most were in their senior years when Avrich interviewed them (in fact, many had died by the date of publication). There are also a number of interviews with relatives and friends of anarchists, most of whom were not themselves politically active.

There is no attempt at comprehensive history, elaborate explanation, or analysis. In his preface, Avrich makes it clear that his intention was to "...make them [the interviews] available to students and scholars in an accurate and readable form" (xii). Moreover, the questions he asked directed his respondents to reflect upon the personal as much as the political. What kind of people were they? Why had they become anarchists? What did they want, what did they do to try to get it, and how successful do they think they were? Although Avrich provides brief introductions to the text of every interview, he allows his respondents to answer those questions directly. Their responses, largely unedited, fill nearly 500 pages, providing a fascinating panorama of a variety of beliefs and lifestyles. -- from H-Net Reviews

Avrich was also part of the documentary Anarchism in America.


  1. Here is a link to transcripts from the Investigation of Soviet Espionage: Hearings before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-fifth Congress (1958),


  2. I'll look at the lik. It sounds interesting. I remember some of those hearings