A selection of readings on anarchism and related topics that broadly reflect an anarchist communist perspective.
This reading list is intended to point to a range of useful, shorter, and easier to approach material that would suit readers who are newer to these topics. Apologies in advance, some of the linked works simply do not meet this criteria. All items on this list should be read critically, no political text exists without its debates, controversies, and scandals.
This reading list is incomplete. Suggestions towards improving it are always welcome.
For questions, comments and suggestions on this reading list, please Contact us.
- What is Anarchism? Workers Solidarity Federation / Zabalaza Books, 1995 / 2018. [Pamphlet first published by the then Workers Solidarity Federation, South Africa, 1995, updated and re-released 2018 by Zabalaza books. A good introductory pamphlet that touches on a range of topics].
- What is Anarchism? Sam Mbah and I.E. Igariwey, 1997, in African Anarchism, See Sharp Press. [This introductory chapter to African Anarchism does a better job than most; the rest of the book is far less relevant.]
- Libertarian Communism, A Social Doctrine, Georges Fontenis, 1953, in Manifesto of Libertarian Communism. [A classic, but like all classics not without its problems].
- We Do Not Fear Anarchy – We Invoke It: A Summary, Robert Graham, 2015. [A summary of Graham’s argument on the origins of the anarchist movement within the First International.]
- Anarchy and Communism, Carlo Cafiero, 1880. [Summary of an address to the Jura Federation Congress where the question of the communist nature of anarchism was being debated].
- On Order, Kropotkin, 1881. [Introductory article, in which Kropotkin defends the use of the word ‘anarchy’ to describe the anarchist political tradition]
- Socialism from Below: Defining Anarchism, Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt*, in Black Flame, 2009, AK Press.
- Anarkismo Editorial Statement, Anarkismo network, 2005. [A succinct statement of anarchist communist politics adopted by the members of the Anarkismo network.]
- Class Struggle, Capitalism, and the State, ZACF 2010.
- Marx’s Economics for Anarchists: An Anarchist’s Introduction to Marx’s Critique of Political Economy, Wayne Price, 2012.
- Manifesto of the Communist Party, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, 1848. See also, prefaces.
- Value, Price and Profit, Karl Marx, 1865, a speech to the International Workingmens Association. [Because let’s face it, you’re never going to read Capital.]
On the State
- Means and Ends: The Anarchist Critique of Seizing State Power, Anarchopac, 2019. You can also listen to this text here.
- An Anarchist View of the Class Theory of the State, Wayne Price, 2018.
- Against Authority and the State, Collective Action, 2015.
- The Paris Commune and the Idea of the State, Mikhail Bakunin, 1871. [Included for the remarks Bakunin makes on the nature of ‘the state’ whilst discussing the Paris Commune. Note on language, where Bakunin says “revolutionary socialists” he is referring to the wing of the Internationale that became the anarchist political tradition, “the communists” the wing commonly associated with Marx].
- Marxism, Freedom and the State, a series of essays written by Mikhail Bakunin between 1867 and 1872, edited and translated by K. J. Kenafick. [Bakunin’s attack on Marx borders on outrageous defamation in places, but his argument about the “principle of authority” at the heart of “every logical and sincere theory of the State” is essential.]
Reformism or Revolution
- Our Program is the Anarchist Revolution!, 2006, Wayne Price, Anarkismo.net.
- Building Power and Advancing for Reforms not Reformism, 2013, Thomas Giovanni, Miami Autonomy and Solidarity.
- Address to the founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World, 1905, Lucy Parsons. [Never be deceived that the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth…]
- The Objectives of Anarcho-Syndicalism from Anarcho-syndicalism by Rudolf Rocker, 1938. [Included for it’s critique of the parliamentary road to socialism. For more on debate about relationship between anarcho-syndicalism and anarchist communism, see section on Trade Unions below].
- The Methods of Anarcho-Syndicalism from Anarcho-Syndicalism by Rudolf Rocker, 1938. [Included for it’s description of the anarchists’ attitude toward the struggle for political liberties.]
- On Reformism, by Errico Malatesta, from “Malatesta: His Life & Ideas”, ed. Vernon Richards, Freedom Press, 1993.
- Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism, Murray Bookchin, 1995.
- Our Position, Friends of Durruti, 1938. Part of Towards a Fresh Revolution. [Details the FODs ideas for winning the war and revolution in Spain, of general relevance to discussions on the conduct of revolutionary war].
Anarchism, Trade Unions, and Syndicalism
- Trade Unions and Revolution, ZACF, 2011.
- Dual Unionism, Reforms and Other Tactical Debates, Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt*, in Black Flame, 2009, AK Press. [Skip to the bottom of page 218.]
- Anarchists and the Trade Unions: Be Active! Be Involved!, Gregor Kerr, 1998, wsm.
- In Place of Compromise: Why we need a rank and file movement, Anarchist Workers Group, 1988.
On the Ecological Crisis
- What is the relationship between capitalism and the ecological crisis?, Anarchist FAQ.
- A “Green New Deal”? The Eco-syndicalist Alternative, Tom Wetzel, 2019.
- Checkmate: Why Capitalism Cannot Survive Global Warming, Terry Leahy, 2007. [Included because it presents a fairly succinct summary explaining why there is no solution to the climate crisis within the confines of capitalism].
- The Ecological Challenge: Three Revolutions are Necessary, Alternative Libertaire, 2006.
- Lessons from the Yellow Vests, Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group, 2019.
Anarchist Feminism, Intersectionality and Privilege
- Abolishing capitalism won’t abolish patriarchy, anarchopac, 2017.
- Insurrections at the Intersections: Feminism, Intersectionality and Anarchism, Abbey Volcano and J. Rogue, 2012.
- Refusing to Wait: Anarchism and Intersectionality, Deric Shanon and J Rogue, 2009.
- Breaking the Waves: Challenging the Liberal Tendency within Anarchist Feminism, Romina Akemi and Bree Busk, 2016, Rosa Negra.
- With Allies Like These: Reflections on Privilege Reductionism, Common Cause, 2014.
- The Relation Between the Working Class and Nonclass Oppressions, 2007, Wayne Price, Anarkismo.net.
Racism, Colonialism and Imperialism
- An Analysis of White Supremacy, chapter 1 of Anarchism and the Black Revolution, Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin, 1993.
- Fighting and Defeating Racism, ZACF, 2010.
- Articles by Wayne Price on the ‘national liberation’ debate, see Lessons for the anarchist movement of the Israeli-Lebanese War (2006), The Palestinian struggle and the anarchist dilemna (2009), Anarchism in the Oppressed Nations (2011), Anarchists and the French-Algerian War (2013), National Self-Determination, Internationalism, and Libertarian Socialism (2017). [Needless to say Price’s position is controversial among anarchists, compare to the remarks on national liberation in Afed’s Against Nationalism (2009)].
See aso, Anti-Racism Reading List by anarchopac.
- Anarchism and Organization, Errico Malatesta, 1897. [No, anarchists are not against organisation!].
- Social Anarchism and Organisation, FARJ, 2008. [Particularly sections 6,7,8].
- The Tyranny of Structurelessness, Jo Freeman, 1973.
- Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists (draft), Delo Truda Group, 1927.
- You Can’t Blow up a Social Relationship, Libertarian Socialist Organisation (Brisbane) and others, 1978.
- Defence of the Revolution, extracts from articles by Errico Malatesta in the period 1920-1925, translated by Vernon Richards in Malatesta: His Life and Ideas.
- The Violence Question, ZACF, 2012.
- What do anarchists think about violence?, anarchopac, 2017. Also available as audio.
On the Russian Revolution
- Hail the October Revolution, Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group, 2017.
- An introduction to the Russian Revolution, Andrew Flood, 1991.
- The Two Octobers, Peter Arshinov, 1927.
- The Bolsheviks and Workers Control, Maurice Brinton, 1970, Solidarity Group. In particular, the sections labeled “Introduction” and “The Russian Revolution”.
On the Spanish Revolution
- Overture to the Spanish Revolution, Friends of Durruti Group, 1938/1978. Part of Towards a Fresh Revolution. [Analysis of the class struggle and revolution in Spain until 1938].
- Lessons of the Spanish Revolution, Vernon Richards, 1953, in particular the chapters ‘The Militarists Uprising of July 1936’ (pp. 28-32) and ‘The Revolution at the Crossroads’ (pp. 33-39).
- Workers Power and the Spanish Revolution, Tom Wetzel, ?. [Longer read].
Anarchism or Marxism
- Marxism, Anarchism, and the Genealogy of “Socialism from Below”, Tom Keefer, Upping the Anti no. 2, 2005.
- Democratic Centralism in Practice and Idea: A Critical Evaluation, Scott Nappalos, Miama Autonomy and Solidarity, 2013.
- The State and Revolution: Theory and Practice, Iain Mackay, from Bloodstained: One Hundred Years of Leninist Counterrrevolution, 2018.
- Debating power and revolution in anarchism, Black Flame and historical Marxism, 2011, Lucien van der Walt, a shorter version of this paper was initially published in International Socialism issue 130.
- Proudon, Marx and Anarchist Social Analysis, Lucien van der Walt and Michael Schmidt*, in Black Flame, 2009, AK Press.
- The Poverty of Statism, “Anarchists Luigi Fabbri and Rudolf Rocker debate Bolshevik Nikolai Bukharin on the relative merits of anarchism and Marxism. With an introduction by Albert Meltzer.”
Footnotes. * Substantial scandal surrounds one of the authors of this work, Michael Schmidt. For background see Alexander Reid Ross on Michael Schmidt, this statement in response from Lucien van der Walt, and this statement from the Institute for Anarchist Theory and History.
I would contend that the chapters from Black Flame included in this reading list are still useful, despite the rather bizarre political history of one of the authors, but ultimately readers will have to make up their own minds.
More to come.
Archives, Reading Lists and Resources compiled by others
- Anarchism Reading Guide, compiled by libcom.org.
- Anarchism Reading List, anarchopac, 2013.
- Nestor Makhno Archive, compiled by the Institute for Anarchist Theory and History. [The best collection of the writings of Nestor Makhno current available online].
- Errico Malatesta Online Archive, unknown editors. [The best collection of the writings of Errico Malatesta currently available online].
- Mikhail Bakunin Reference Archive, at Marxist Internet Archive. [Probably the best collection of Bakunin’s works online].
- Zabalaza Books, a project of the ZACF. [A wide range of print ready zines and pamphlets advancing broadly anarchist communist politics].
- An Anarchist FAQ, Anarchist FAQ Editorial Collective. [Probably the longest answer to the question “What is Anarchism?” ever compiled].
- Feminist Readings and Resources, Black Rose Federation. [Anarchist Feminist readings and resources compiled by the Black Rose Federation].
- Robert Graham’s Anarchism Weblog, Robert Graham. [An absolute wealth of material on the history of the anarchist political tradition, if you care to dig through it].
- Anarchist Writers [The group blog of a group of anarchist writers, and home to An Anarchist FAQ].