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BORAMAN, Toby. Rabble rousers and Merry Pranksters : a history of anarchism in Aotearoa-New Zealand from the mid-1950s to the early 1980s

Sunday 13 January 2008, by ps

Irrecuperable Press : Katipo Books, 2007. 154 p. (Paperback). New Zealand.

Publisher’s note

Rabble Rousers and Merry Pranksters captures some of the imagination, the audacity, the laughs and the wildness that animated many of the social movements of the sixties and seventies in Aotearoa/New Zealand. During this time, particularly from the late sixties to the early seventies, an astonishingly broad-based revolt occurred throughout the country. Thousands of workers, Maori, Pacific people, women, youth, lesbians, gays, students, environmentalists and others rebelled against authority. Innovative new styles and anarchistic methods of political dissent became popular.

A colourful and energetic bunch of anarchists occasionally played significant roles in these struggles. Anarchists were prominent in the anti-nuclear, anti-Vietnam War, anti-US military bases, commune, unemployed and peace movements. Rabble Rousers and Merry Pranksters is a richly-detailed tale about a much neglected anti-authoritarian leftist current in Aotearoa/New Zealand history.

Rabble Rousers and Merry Pranksters will interest not only anarchists and other libertarian socialists, but also those just interested in what happened in the sixties and seventies. The book includes a broad-ranging overview of the protest movements and social context of the time. This background material is necessary because little has been published about many aspects of the period, including the Progressive Youth Movement, the strike waves and the underground press.

The book is a pioneering work. It represents the first major history of anarchism and libertarian socialism in Aotearoa/New Zealand. It is primarily based upon interviews and correspondence with participants in the libertarian socialist scene. It also draws upon extensive research into unpublished manuscripts, documents, magazines, leaflets and other ephemera written by anti-authoritarians. To capture a little of the distinctive and colourful political style of the period, over 100 images are included in the book, including cartoons, posters and leaflets.

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