Paradise Lost: History of Anarchism in Europe


History 456A/556A                                                                            Dr. David Ortiz Jr.

Lectures: T-TH 3:30-4:45 in Harvill 115                                          Social Sciences 237 B

Office Hours: T & TH - 12:00-2:00 & by appt.                                Office phone: 626-8419 w/v.m.



Anarchism rose as a socio-political challenge to nineteenth century liberalism and Marxist communism.  It posited a ‘paradise on earth’ free of the hierarchical, class-based, and capitalist provoked social relations prevalent in Europe at the time.  It rejected Marxist Communism as a mere exchange of one dominant class for another.  Anarchism, instead, hoped to erase modern European society, replacing it with a social organization predicated on face-to-face relations without an overarching governing hierarchy.  It was a dream of paradise propagated by such diverse thinkers and activists as the Russian Mikhail Bakunin, the Frenchman Pierre Joseph Proudhon, the Spaniards Federica Montseny and Anselmo Lorenzo, and another Russian Peter Kropotkin.  This course examines anarchism’s birth, growth, and development in various parts of Europe during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  We will read and analyze anarchist writings in an effort to understand what the movement was, what it symbolized and to whom, and why it was only marginally successful in places like Spain and Italy – though anarchist ‘cells’ existed all over Europe from the 1890s to the 1930s.  We will attempt to comprehend the great schism in anarchism between adherents of ‘scientific libertarianism,’ the so-called ‘propaganda of the word,’ and ‘terrorist anarchism,’ the so-called ‘propaganda of the deed.’  We will also examine anarchism in an attempt to ascertain if it can help us understand the current revival of anarchist-style violent political tactics, and mainstream government and society’s reaction to it, in our contemporary world.


Required Texts

( Hist 456A & 556A)   

Colin Ward, Anarchism – A Very Short Introduction

Alexander Berkman, What is Anarchism?

Rudolph Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism – Theory and Practice

Murray Bookchin, The Spanish AnarchistsThe Heroic Years 1868-1936

Alexandre Skirda, Facing the Enemy – A History of Anarchist Organization from Proudhon to May 1968

Martha AckelsbergFree Women of Spain – Anarchism and the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women

(Hist 556A only)

Daniel Guérin, No Gods No Masters – An Anthology of Anarchism

Sean Sheehan, Anarchism

Richard Sonn, Anarchism


Course Note: This course is a standard History course, which means there is a great deal of reading and writing.  Therefore, if your schedule is too heavy, if you work too many hours, if for any reason you cannot commit to the level of work required, you should seriously consider dropping this course.  Do not worry, I teach this course periodically so you may take it later when it better fits your schedule.


Weekly agenda: The course outline below is simply a guide to help students organize their reading.  In general, I will try to reserve 20-30 minutes at the end of each class for questions and discussion.  Please do all of the course reading by Tuesday so that you are prepared on Tuesdays and Thursdays to answer questions and discuss the texts.  I may deviate from this outline from time to time.


Course Outline (1153=72)

Week 1:                                    Introduction (22)

Aug. 23, 25                               Reading: Ward, foreword, Ch. 1; Skirda, Chs. 1 & 2


Week 2:                                    *Definitions and Origins (56)

Aug. 30, Sept. 1                                    Reading: Ward, Chs. 2 & 3; Rocker, ii-xvi, Ch. 1; Berkman, iii-xxiii, Ch. 1


Week 3:                                    *Origins (75)

Sept. 6, 8                                  Reading: Rocker, Chs. 2 & 3; Skirda, Chs. 3 through 6

Week 4:                                    *Anarchist Objectives (88)

Sept. 13, 15                               Reading: Ward, Chs. 4 through 7; Berkman, Chs. 2 through 8


Week 5:                                    *Social Failings (61)

Sept. 20, 22                               Reading: Ward, Chs. 8 through 10; Berkman, Chs. 9 through 12


Week 6:                                    *Bakunin, Workers and Anarchists (69)

Sept. 27, 29                               Reading: Skirda, Chs. 7 & 8; Rocker, Chs. 4 & 5; Berkman, Ch. 13 


Week 7:                                    *Socialism, Communism, Anarchism (62)

Oct. 4, 6                                   Reading: Skirda, Chs. 9 through 12; Rocker, Ch. 6


Week 8:                                    The First World War (47)

Oct. 11, 13                                Reading: Skirda, Chs. 13 & 14; Berkman, Chs. 14 through 17


Week 9:                                    *Anarchism and Russia (29)

Oct. 18, 20                                Reading: Skirda, Chs. 15 & 16; Berkman, Ch. 18

                                                Assignment #2 Due


Week 10:                                  *Anarchism Reaches Spain (110)

Oct. 25, 27                                Reading: Skirda, Ch. 17; Bookchin, Pro. & Chs. 1 through 4, Ackelsberg, Ch. 1


Week 11:                                  *‘Propaganda of the Word’ vs. ‘Propaganda of the Deed’ (136)

Nov. 1, 3                                   Reading: Bookchin, Chs. 5 through 8; Ackelsberg, Ch. 2


Week 12:                                  The Spanish Revolution (90)

Nov. 8, 10                                 Reading: Bookchin, Chs. 9 & 10


Week 13:                                  *Anarchism’s Revolutionary Women (100)

Nov. 15, 17                               Reading: Bookchin, Concl.; Ackelsberg, Chs. 3 through 5


Week 14:                                  The Spanish Revolution Defeated? (44)

Nov. 22, 24                               Reading: Ackelsberg, Ch. 6 & Concl.

                                                Thursday, Thanksgiving Holiday


Week 15:                                  *Anarchism’s French Revival (60)

Nov. 29, Dec. 1                         Reading: Skirda, Chs. 18 through 20; Berkman, Chs. 19 through 24


Week 16:                                  *An Anarchist Future? (59)

Dec. 6                                      Reading: Berkman, Chs. 25 through 31


Assignment #3 Due Tuesday, December 13, 2005 or Final Exam 2:00-4:00 p.m.


Attendance – I do not take attendance, but the pace of the course is such that students who do not attend regularly or who come to class unprepared will have a very difficult time passing this course.  My lectures will be interspersed with frequent, open classroom discussion of the readings and issues raised by the readings.  Students are expected to meet assignment deadlines, prepare their reading assignments conscientiously, and participate intelligently in classroom discussions.


Etiquette – Students are required to treat each other and the instructor with respect.  New codes of conduct regarding classroom behavior (see ABOR 5-308 & 5-401) are in place to facilitate a learning environment.  Disruptive behavior (cell phone use, refusing to be seated, talking during lectures, sleeping, eating, newspaper reading, entering late or leaving early without authorization, etc.) is behavior that obstructs teaching or learning in my classroom.  I take disruptions of this sort very personally and will take immediate action to curtail such behavior in this classroom.   

Grading – The student’s final grade for the course will be based on three assignments to be determined by the class via communal debate and subsequent election.  As the instructor, I insist on 3 types of assignments:


Assignment #1 Weekly – 35% of your grade.  These may be quizzes on the lecture/readings, journal entries, response/thought pieces, etc.  Assignments are to be typed, 2-3 pages each.  There are twelve of these assignments throughout the semester, marked by an asterisk* in the course outline.  I will drop the lowest two graded assignments.  No make-ups are allowed.  The average of all weekly assignment grades will be computed to arrive at an overall grade.


Assignment #2 Project – 35% of your grade.  This may be a topical/thesis-based paper, a critical book review, a biography, a document analysis, an internet assignment (visiting and reporting on Anarchist websites, reading and reporting on online anarchist newspapers, contacting and reporting on anarchist communities, etc.).  This assignment is a minimum of 8-10 pages and is due on the Thursday October 20, 2005.  All papers will be evaluated according to form (grammar, spelling, and organization), structure (responds to the question, demonstrates a thorough reading and understanding of the course materials), and content (thesis, evidence, and argument).  If the previous criteria are met, papers that exhibit a unique approach will be rewarded for the originality of their content.  For those students that choose the paper option, I will provide plenty of material that will assist you in the writing of a formal, thesis-based, academic paper.  **When writing an academic paper a student must use footnotes or endnotes, the purpose of which is to credit the source of the information used in the paper.  It is absolutely essential to footnote statements, especially quotations, which are not the result of your own creative endeavor.  While I encourage students to organize group study sessions, all written work must be the result of each student’s individual effort.  Violation of either of these class norms will be regarded as plagiarism – a subversion of the code of academic integrity and student code of conduct (see ABOR 5-303, 5-308, 5-401).  I further regard this as a failure of personal honesty.  The minimum penalty for plagiarism is failure of this course.   


Assignment#3 Final – 30% of your grade.  This may be a traditional, in-class exam, a typed take-home exam, a quotations/identification exam, an oral reporting exam, etc.  This assignment is due on Tuesday, December 13, 2005 by 4 p.m.  This date (from 2-4 p.m.) is the date of the traditional, in-class Final exam, if that option is chosen.


History 556A – There is a graduate section of this class.  Graduate students will have a more extensive reading list, in addition to the readings assigned for the undergraduate course.  That reading list will be negotiated between the instructor and the graduate students in such a way as to enhance their current course of individual study.  Graduate students are expected to attend the undergraduate lectures regularly and meet with the instructor on a group basis, bi-weekly, in order to discuss regular course readings and their additional readings.  Graduate students will write response papers (3 page maximum) on their extra-class readings, a historiography paper (10-12 pages, the topic of which will be determined in concert with the instructor), and an annotated bibliography.  Graduate student grading will be as follows; Meetings/Engagement 20%, Response papers 20%, Historiography Paper 25%, Annotated Bibliography 35%. 


IMPORTANT ADDENDA: Students with special circumstances that could impair their ability to meet course requirements must make their situations known to the instructor prior to exam and assignment due dates.  This course may present very controversial subject matter (sexuality, ethnicity, gender, etc.).  Censorship is not consistent with the goals of this class or my own beliefs about a university education. Students unwilling to engage with readings, lectures, film, video, music or discussions of such issues, for whatever reasons, should drop this course.  Remaining in this course constitutes student acceptance of all of the above class norms.