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Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism (Counter-Power vol 1)
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Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism (Counter-Power vol 1)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  199 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Black Flame is the first of two volumes that reexamine anarchism’s democratic class politics, its vision of a decentralized planned economy, and its impact on popular struggles in five continents over the last 150 years. From the nineteenth century to today’s anticapitalist movements, it traces anarchism’s lineage and contemporary relevance. It outlines anarchism’s insight ...more
Paperback, First English Edition, 395 pages
Published August 1st 2009 by AK Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Sep 27, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: enemies
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Read this; even if you don't identify yourself as an anarchist, there's much historical and socio-economic knowledge to gain from this.
Apr 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
A historical review of social anarchism and syndicalism from the time of the first international in the 1860s to World War 2. The authors -- correctly in my view -- clearly differentiate social anarchism -- a form of socialist politics -- from individualist anarchism. Although this is a very good, comprehensive historical overview, I think that its main failing is that it's a bit thin in terms of theoretical discussion, such as on the issues surrounding the political positions characteristic of ...more
Nov 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Tinea by: Common Struggle
Finished this and feel like my initial thoughts were spot on. The book has a fantastically useful first few chapters exploring the socialist origins and ideas of anarchism, but then gets deeply into boring territory. Lots of debate about syndicalism and proper labor strategy without ever really bothering to explain all the jargon. See the critiques for chapters 1&2 below for my thoughts on the authors' biases-- just note that their decision not to examine race (because anarchism is already a ...more
Oct 22, 2014 rated it liked it
The authors did a great job delimiting 'anarchism' by defining its shared principles. (I have never felt comfortable with Elzbacher's evaluation that included Stirner, Tolstoy, Godwin, and others). And Marshall's Demanding the Impossible cast a very wide net, indeed.

The first few chapters were very strong - I learned a lot about syndicalism, which I am grateful for. The last half of the book was well researched but they did strain my attention with too much detail (organizations, acronyms, numbe
Apr 14, 2012 rated it did not like it
I did not expect to agree with this book, but am shocked by how astonishingly bad it is after hearing such glowing reviews from within the "libertarian communist" scene. A better subtitle might have been 'The self-management of misery'. Thus, in the authors opening chapter defining anarchism we find, for example, justification for medicalization of criminals, "democratic" management of factories, the substitution of external force or coercion by moral authority and social persuasion, self-manage ...more
Jankyhellface Hellface
Apr 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
I've already said that this is an amazing book, but now that I've gotten through it all I have a better grasp on the entire work.

Some comments:
1) The "anarchist tradition" argument needed to be made. And, in fact, I would have liked to have read a better development of this in relation to historical trends within anarchism.
2) I think the authors got a bit off track with trying to argue against too many different arguments that are leveled against class-based anarchists.
3) The chapters towards th
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Difficult and divisive are words that fit Black Flame perfectly, but it will remain a classic on organizational anarchism that remains a must-read. The analysis of anarchist history remains too narrow for most people's comfort, and the long-winded union histories will drive most readers to a mid-afternoon nap. That said, it is a solid volume that takes a particular point about radical organizing and drives it home with a sledgehammer.
Oct 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: radical, labor
One of the best books I've read about the history and theory of anarchism. Highly recommend to anyone interested in this radical political theory.

Interview with authors: http://www.revolutionbythebook.akpres...
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
So far its great. A key text that I think all folks who want to seriously learn and have a fair understanding of revolutionary anarchist politics should read. There's a number of interesting arguements that attempt to reframe how anarchism is understood. More later.
Mar 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This has come highly recommended to me.
J. Rogue
Mar 30, 2009 added it
Shelves: anarchism, history
One of these days I will write a review. I'm behind in my GoodReads!
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism is the first book in a series of two. The authors seek to create a collected work of the history & theory of anarchism. The authors argue that instead of a divided, convoluted ideology comprised of petty bourgeois, artisans & peasants, it's history is rooted in class struggle that came out of the First International. It evolved as an alternative to political socialism. The idea that "every anarchist is a socialist ...more
Dec 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: resistance, labor
If you are what the media call "a self-described anarchist" and you are in an organization and you are tired of going over the same unsolvable debates about tactics and strategy, this book will help. Their solution: toss the nutters out, and if there's anything else you can't agree on, then split into different groups.

The authors toss Proudhon, Stirner, and Tolstoy out and add people like James Connolly and Big Bill Haywood to the "Broad Anarchist Tradition." That's sure to turn some people off.
A very unique contribution to the history of anarchism. Actually, no. To modern history in general.

This history focusses on anarcho-syndicalism and platformism, so written because of the authors' belief that understanding anarchism and syndicalism as absolutely necessary to understanding history.

Basically the gist is pro-Bakunin and Kropotkin. And against anti-cooperation abstract individualist William Godwin, extreme individualist insurrectionary Max Stirner, racist/misogynist Proudhon, Proudh
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
The authors exhibit a poor, tenuous understanding of Marxism, and a complete ignorance of the history of Marxism. It's about as useful to understand Marxism as most Marxist books I've ever seen on anarchism.

Also, there are a number of points at which anarchists are given a historical pass, while Marxists are held to a consistent standard. Marxists are occasionally labeled anarchists or relevant to anarchist history, meanwhile, many anarchists are dismissed as not actually anarchists here.

Daithi Coombes
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The glue, the scientific prove, this book holds the keys for a solid, peaceful, naturally evolving society in its pages.

This book is more an encyclopedia of anarchism and syndicalism than a book.

There is so much analysis in this book that of course contradictions appear. But what I love is the authors have no fear of spitting on false labels attached to all political flags, even their own - especially their own (the book is on anarchism and syndicalism). Get this, put it on a shelf, then when yo
Jul 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: anarchism, revolution
Originally I had given this volume 5 stars, as I really enjoyed it, but that was before I learned that one of the co-authors, Michael Schmidt, is a white supremacist and "national-anarchist." I cannot discount the book's contributions, nonetheless, and I do not find much indication of Schmidt's views in the book itself--indeed, there is much in here that greatly contradict the politics he seems to have come to espouse. If not for that, I would have changed my re-scoring to 1 star.
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anarchism
A comprehensive, well-referenced look at the history and major ideological platforms of historical anarchism and syndicalism, from Bakunin and the First International to the major labor movements of the early 20th century. Recommended for anyone with an interest in those topics and the schism between anarchism and the Marx-Lenin school of socialism.
Oct 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anarchism
Basically the encyclopedia of anarcho-syndicalist thought. It's better used as a reference than a cover-to-cover read. The authors were very courageous in composing a comprehensive history while injecting their own personal stances into the text, which makes Black Flame as much of a position paper (or, series of position papers) as it is a history.
Steven Fake
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very important unearthing of the forgotten vibrant history of anarchist mass movements.
Ciaran Daly
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Apr 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Holy shit. I just only finished the introduction and this book rocks.
I'm looking forward to it.
Walter Schretz
Sep 29, 2013 rated it liked it
First several chapters very intersting then downhill.
Sep 05, 2009 is currently reading it
One of the best books on anarchist history I've ever read.
Derek Lorenz
rated it did not like it
May 18, 2016
Colin Jenkins
rated it it was amazing
Dec 30, 2012
Doren Loitongbam
rated it liked it
Aug 08, 2014
rated it really liked it
Oct 10, 2010
John Connor
rated it it was amazing
Dec 28, 2012
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General discussion of Black Flame 1 8 Jan 15, 2015 10:18AM  
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Michael Schmidt is an African field reporter with 26 years of experience, and a reputation for producing unique and challenging copy, having worked for 19 years on some of South Africa's leading print titles including The Mercury and Sunday Times. He was involved as a senior journalist with the start-ups of ThisDay, and of what is now Independent on Saturday. He was group special investigative wri ...more
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