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Anarchists and the French-Algerian War

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How did French anarchists deal with the Algerian revolution? How anarchists in an imperialist country reacted to a war for national liberation? What this tells us about how anarchists today should relate to current struggles for self-determination of oppressed peoples?

Anarchists and the French-Algerian War

Book review of David Porter's "Eyes to the South; French Anarchists and Algeria"

by Wayne Price
January 4, 2013
Anarkismo.net

How did French anarchists deal with the Algerian revolution? How anarchists in an imperialist country reacted to a war for national liberation? What this tells us about how anarchists today should relate to current struggles for self-determination of oppressed peoples?

From 1954 to 1962, a vicious, war raged between the people of Algeria and the French state. Anarchists in France played a small but significant role in opposing their government’s colonial war. Their activities and views are covered in this exceptional book, along with anarchists’ attitudes toward post-war Algeria. The ways French anarchists opposed the war, and the varying views they held about it, may help today’s antiauthoritarians (in the US and elsewhere) in thinking through our views about struggles against national oppression.

The world remains divided into nations. Most nations today have “their own” states, with their own flags, money, and postage stamps, not to mention armies and presidents (although there are still exceptions, such as Puerto Rico, Palestine, and Tibet). But they are still integrated into the world market, which remains dominated by the international corporations based in the imperial countries. And they are still integrated into the power structure of the world’s states, which may turn into military invasion and occupation by the major powers at any time. As I write, the US state is occupying Afghanistan, waging “covert” war on several other countries, such as Pakistan, and threatening imminent war against two other countries, Syria and Iran, while expanding its military bases around China. So issues of imperialism, nations, national wars, national oppression, and nationalism are far from “over” or irrelevant in today’s world.

There has been some coverage of anarchists in oppressed nations. Hirsch & van der Walt (2010) has a set of essays on anarchist and syndicalist organizing in “the colonial and postcolonial world.” They cover Egypt, South Africa, Korea, China, Ukraine (Makhno), Ireland, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and the Caribbean. There is a fine book by Ramnath (2011) on anarchism and India. She focuses not so much on self-identified anarchists as on libertarian, near-anarchist, trends in the Indian freedom movement (for example, Gandhi and Gandhism were not anarchist, but were decentralist).

But I find Porter’s book especially interesting because it concerns the role of anarchists within the imperial nation, opposing that nation’s policies. Their issues are close to those faced by the movements US anarchists have been directly involved in (although I think they would have interest for anarchists currently living in oppressed nations).

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Anarchists and the French-Algerian War
Authored by: Bill Not Bored on Saturday, January 05 2013 @ 12:17 PM CST

A letter from Guy Debord to Patrick Straram dated 10 October 1960 gives an idea of what French situationists did with respect to the Algerian War . . .

http://www.notbored.org/debord-10October1960.html