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TURCATO, Davide. "Italian anarchism as a transnational movement, 1885-1915"
Article published on 23 October 2008
last modification on 23 July 2009

by r-c.
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INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF SOCIAL HISTORY Vol. 52 (Dec. 2007) pp. 407-444 Part 3.

Abstract from author

Analyses of anarchism emphasizing cyclical patterns of advances and retreats inadequately explain how anarchism sustained itself over time. They foster a picture of powerlessness before repression and cyclical reappearances as if by spontaneous germination, thus lending themselves to interpretations, such as Hobsbawm’s millenarianism, that identify discontinuity, spontaneism, and lack of organization as features of anarchism, and ultimately supporting charges of ineffectiveness and irrationalism. A narrow framework of analysis of national scope is responsible for such explanatory inadequacy. This article illustrates the transnational dimension of Italian anarchism, by analysing its presence in the United States and worldwide, with special emphasis on the anarchist press. A transnational analysis reveals new forms of integration, continuity, and organization, based on the mobility of militants, resources, and ideas across the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. In times of repression, seeming entrances and exits of anarchism on the Italian stage often corresponded to shifts of initiative across the Italian border. Transnationalism was a built-in characteristic that supported insurrectionary tactics by enhancing the opaqueness of their preparation. Together, insurrectionism, organizational opaqueness, and transnationalism help providing an alternative to the advance-and-retreat pattern of explanation.


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