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GOYENS, Tom. Beer and Revolution. The German Anarchist Movement in New York City, 1880-1914
Article published on 7 January 2008

by r-c.
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University of Illinois Press, 2007. 296 pages. 6 x 9 in.
Illust.: 27 photographs, 2 Line Drawings, 15 Maps/Graphs. Cloth. ISBN:978-0-252-03175-5

Publisher’s abstract

Understanding an infamous political movement’s grounding in festivity and defiance.

Beer and Revolution examines the rollicking life and times of German immigrant anarchists in New York City from 1880 to 1914. Offering a new approach to an often misunderstood political movement, Tom Goyens reveals a dedication less to bombs than to beer halls and saloons where political meetings, public lectures, discussion circles, fundraising events, and theater gatherings were held. By putting a human face on anarchism, Goyens helps readers understand an infamous political movement’s grounding in festivity and defiance.

Goyens brings to life the fascinating relationship between social space and politics by examining how the intersection of political ideals, entertainment, and social activism embodied anarchism not as an abstract idea, but as a chosen lifestyle for thousands of women and men. He shows how anarchist social gatherings combined German working-class conviviality and a dedication to the principle that coercive authority was not only unnecessary, but actually damaging to full and free human development as well. Goyens also explores the broader circumstances in both the United States and Germany that served as catalysts for the emergence of anarchism in urban America and how anarchist activism was hampered by police surveillance, ethnic insularity, and a widening gulf between the anarchists’ message and the majority of American workers.

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