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+5 votes
I am really just wondering what a clear theory of Insurrectionary Anarchism looks like. I don't trust

Has I@ always been against unions and formal organizations. Is it really only for informal affinity groups. What about formal affinity groups like in Greece? Can't these groups become "cadre" organizations?

But seriously just wondering what the most basic texts are and where I can find them.

7 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
I think it needs to be pointed out that there are very distinct currents of insurrectionary anarchism: Italian, Greek, French, Iberian, Chilean, and North American (PNW) to name the ones I can write a little about.

I won't refer now to insurrectionary anarchism before WWII, although it also had internal differences, as the distance between Galleani and Malatesta can attest.

Italian: influences in the institutionalization of the Italian Left (CP) and spectacularization or vanguardism of the illegal Left. Key texts, The Anarchist Tension by Bonanno and At Daggers Drawn by anon.

Greek: influences in Situationism and history of civil war, the entrance of the Socialist Party into power, and the yearly practice of street fighting. Key texts by Anarchist Archives along with texts/actions by many affinity groups and assemblies.

French: I can point you to the journal A Corps Perdu and refer to waves of attacks particularly in Paris, that seem to have been effectively repressed, but this is only a vague outline to suggest the existence of something besides the IC.

Iberian: The experience of the Juventudes Libertaries splitting from the CNT, the Cordoba bank robbers and their writings, particularly the Italian Claudio Lavazza, or the prisoners involved in the struggle against FIES, such as Xavi Cañadas.

Chilean: Probably the only one to not be anti-Leftist, Chilean IA comes largely from armed ML groups that fought against the dictatorship continuing their struggle under democracy and subsequently mixing with anarchist and squatter circles, also highly informed by political culture of yearly street fighting, similar to Greece.

North American: Quiver distro, Wolfi Landstreicher, Killing King Abacus, a mix of anti-civ anarchism and--unique to IA--perspectives gained from solidarity with indigenous struggles (even in Chile, where there seems to be a major possibility for such contact, there doesn't seem to be much indigenous influence in IA). Fredy Perlman is also a major influence, with his books being widely read again after his death.
by (1.0k points)
+5 votes
I recommend you never call yourself an Insurrectionist. Ever.

The preferred answer to the organizational question for insurrectionary anarchists seems to be informal and temporary beyond the level of an affinity group (traditionally between three and twelve people). My understanding of a cadre organization is that there have to be at least two levels of participation/membership: the cadre and the rest. If everyone is a cadre, then all you have is a formal membership organization. A cadre is not an informal hierarchy -- it's explicit.

The category of insurrectionary anarchism has an odd history. In its current incarnation it could be looked upon as innovative. But if you look at the history of anarchist action, you'll find precursors everywhere, from some Italians at the end of the 19th century, to the French illegalists, to the early cenetistas in Spain, to some Argentine adventurers, to Russian anarchists. Many of the actions of the Korean anarchists in China could be seen in a similar manner. If you're looking at the history of anarchist thought, you'll find lots of anti-union folks. Anarchist communists like Galleani, and anti-syndicalists all over, even in places where there were large anarcho-syndicalist unions. Their attitudes were the same toward formal organizations.

This trend in anarchism is old, nearly as old as the tradition itself.
by (570 points)
+7 votes
a) i doubt anyone would say that there is something you "must read" to become *any* kind of anarchist, much less an insurrectionary one.

b) if you're trying to understand the tendency, some standards are Armed Joy, Against the Logic of Submission, For an Anti-authoritarian Insurrectionist International, most writings by Bonanno and Novatore. *everyone* should read novatore. <sigh>
by (53.1k points)
I second that. Everyone /should/ read Renzo Novatore.
Novatore—really? I could see him having a major influence on the more Stirner-centric anarchists who, I suppose, helped kick off insurrectionary anarchism after '99 (and may have even described themselves as such); but I don't really see him pop up on any I@ reading lists for the current generation. (Lame.)
I'm not sure what this new wave of "Insurrectionists" who are into Tiqqun, the Situationists, and all things French is all about, but Novatore, Bonanno, and all of the "Stirner-centric" anarchist were the OG Insurrectionist Anarchists.
well, you're right that i shouldn't have said they were standards.
i drifted into "should be standards" when i wasn't looking.
i do that. ;)
And to answer the original question of "where can I find them":

Renzo Novatore's writings: (I highly recommend Towards a Creative Nothing)

Alferdo Bonanno:

Wolfi Landstreicher:
i would recommend reading stuff about the Galleanists (Sacco and Venzetti), whilst at the same time i also agree with lawrence and dot that you cannot become an "insurrectionist" but in itself it is more a method of action. Though people have also recommended Alfredo Bonanno, Wolfi Landstreicher the one i feel that is missing is the magazine Insurrection, as well as Insurrectionary Anarchism by Bonanno. Which can all be found in a google search.
–2 votes
I would also say there is nothing you must read, but that being sad there are some good writings. I'd recommend Armed Joy, The Coming Insurrection, and even Society of the Spectacle.
by (110 points)
really? tell me the relation of society of the spectacle to insurrectionary a. i can't see how that would work... and would love to have it explained.
SoS as an insurrectionary text? That's a hoot.
It's a book that I really enjoyed. I like reading insurrectionary "theory/texts" and also liked SoS. Who's to say how it is interpreted?
Let me see if I understand your logic.
You like reading insurrectionary theory;
You like Society of the Spectacle;
Therefore, Society of the Spectacle is an insurrectionary text!
This New Learning amazes me. Explain again how sheep's bladders may be used to prevent earthquakes...
for a question that is trying to clarify what insurrectionary @ is, adding a title that as seems to have nothing to do with anything i have ever considered insurrectionary, raises a lot of questions.
"i liked it" and "who's to say?" really don't explain anything for anyone else, which is what we're trying to do here, yea?
(it isn't hard to edit answers, but i hope you take this opportunity to think more about why you included it and maybe clarify what you interpreted as insurrectionary, which would be more interesting than just changing  your answer.)
I actually found SOS useful when coming to more recent Insurrectionary texts.  A lot of the ideas and language from SOS (and it's development by theorist such as Baudrillard), are presumed, so it becomes practical to read some base texts.
Yeah SoS is very Marxist-Situationist...
Society of the Spectacle is an influence on a lot of post-leftists & insurrectionary anarchists, so it makes more sense listing it then one would think. However, "because I like it and I'm an insurrectionary anarchist" is very bad reasoning.
I think SoS contains the reasoning for why one should work toward Insurrection, but certainly not a directly I@ text.
–2 votes
Insurrectionary Anarchism doesn't really exist, in my opinion. As Lawrence alluded to, many, if not most, of the ideas captured and then disseminated by I@ are very old; maybe even as old as the anarchist political tradition in some cases. Opposition to unions, illegalism, organizational problems, critiques of the Left-wing of capital, so on and so forth. But unlike Lawrence, I can't think of anything that I@ have innovated. They may have reiterated something. They may have built some bridges; connected some dots… but they don't really have much of anything new to say. Well, I mean insofar as the ideology is concerned. I obviously can't speak for all the individuals who adhere to it. In terms of the tendency not existing, I understand it as something that exists in lieu of anarchist ideas, conflicts, and discourse that have been bouncing back & forth between various tendencies that are much, much older than insurrectionary anarchism. In other words, ideas and the like that may have lost a host to carry them were, at one point or another, brought to the fore again and the milieu reorganized them into a new tendency—i.e., "insurrectionary anarchism".

At most, insurrectionary anarchism could be seen as a bridge built between communist anarchism and individualist-egoist anarchism in the post-68 era of the anarchist milieu (and the far left in general). That's really all it is, in my eyes. To the extent that it still acts as a bridge, I'm not really sure. I can't really qualify it as anything more than that.
by (2.8k points)
edited by
Hmm… I didn't really answer the question. Meh. My argument still stands.
Insurrectionary anarchism is as real as syndicalism. Almost all schools of thought WITHIN anarchism are centered around tactics and strategies, as we're generally already in agreement ideologically.
LucidStrike's comment seems to hold some truth to it.  Comparing Insurrectionary anarchism to syndicalism kind of shows a strategic/tactical category of anarchists.  This may show methodology being a better way of grouping anarchists rather than ideology.  Most anarchists could be considered anarchist communists, but diverge on how they act to make anarchy.

However, I disagree with LucidStrike on an ideological agreement.  In methodology, there is still a great deal of overlapping within anarchist communism (platformists, synthesis anarchists and syndicalists tend to think of themselves as anarchist communists).  For the insurrectionary anarchist, the overlapping may be more along the lines of egoists, nihilists, individualists, anarchist primitivists, anarchist communists and libertarian Marxists.  In the case of libertarian Marxists, I'm including them here since they are heavy influences on some insurrectionary anarchists, who might identify more as anarchists despite this influence.

I'd also agree that methodology overlaps a great deal and ideology doesn't really exist other than when people need to group general ideas and concepts that people might share together.
+8 votes
You don't have to read anything to become an insurrectionary Anarchist. All you must do is accept Riot Dog into your heart as your personal lord and savior.
by (580 points)
+2 votes
Killing King Abacus is a superb I@ text. Honestly, you can go to and browse Insurrection and find fantastic zines on the subject. As everyone else said: Bonnano; Landstreicher (who has a serious primitivist bent); Jean Weir (translated many I@ works from Italian); Novatore (Serious nihilist, but his thought was in line with what Insurrectionary anarchism is trying to posit); 325 magazine; Conspiracy of Cells of Fire; At Dagger's Drawn (not the pre-rev Russian novel); The Coming Insurrection; Os Cangeceiros; and if searching around for all this brings you to the point where you can't organize it all in your head as what to read first: just email me, I'll get you set up. I have most of this stuff on my computer.
by (360 points)