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CHAN, Andy "Anarchists, Violence and Social Change: Perspectives from Today’s Grassroots"
Article published on 17 February 2007
last modification on 18 April 2017

by r-c.
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Anarchist Studies, Volume 3, 2003 No.1

"This paper reviews some of the fundamental practical and doctrinal issues surrounding the path of revolutionary social change, predominant among which are whether anarchy is a realistic goal, and whether or not violence is an acceptable tool for precipitating, accelerating, or defending change. The data for this review is derived from an interview study of a wide spectrum of anglo-american anarchist activists.

Evidence is presented that suggests that despite their trust in the validity and righteousness of anarchism, the informants are predominantly ’realistic’ - i.e., pessimistic - about prospects of change. Nevertheless the informants provide comprehensive testimony to their interest in the debate over the validity (or otherwise) of violence both in pre-revolutionary and revolutionary scenarios. By addressing the grassroots movement this study seeks to complement the work of latter-day theorists in seeking to shed the anarchist’s enduring bloodthirsty caricature. Subsidiary to this is that in expanding debate beyond the parameters of anarchism’s clutch of ’great thinkers’ this study aims to bring anarchist academics to a closer understanding of grassroots activists. "

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