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A Brief History of Anarchy

Scholar Thai Jones traces New York City’s role as a center of American protest, from the anarchist marches of 1914 to Occupy Wall Street today

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Occupy Wall Street demonstrators joined labor groups in a march down Broadway during a May Day protest on May 1, 2012, in New York City. (John Moore/Getty Images)

This week, Occupy Wall Street awoke from its winter slumber and initiated a new wave of protests, with thousands marching in downtown Manhattan. New York City, however, has seen it all before: A century ago, throngs of leftist activists, many of them Jewish, took to the streets and demanded change, leaving a liberal administration baffled and America’s wealthiest in a state of panic. Then, as now, some activists demonstrated peacefully, while others advocated violence. Then, as now, the nation was seized by a sense of uncertainty.

When he began writing an account of 1914 and the American anarchist movement, historian Thai Jones didn’t think his subject matter would soon become the stuff of headline news. Five years later, his book, just out, titled More Powerful Than Dynamite: Radicals, Plutocrats, Progressives, and New York’s Year of Anarchy, is proving to be timely. He joins Long Story Short host Liel Leibovitz to talk about American radicalism, and what the anarchists of the past may have to teach the occupiers of today.



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emunadate says:

unfortunately, occupy wall street is about revolution. it seems when people want a revolution they like to blame the jews. http://emunadate.blogspot.com/2011/10/hate-at-occupy-wall-street.html

Roque Nuevo says:

So  OWS victim of “severe and prolonged police repression?” Really? Are we really comparing OWS with the ca. 1914 anarchists? Just saying… Back then, anarchists and others were fighting for the 8-hour day, for example, and they were met with extreme violence. Massive death and destruction. OWS has no demands at all, apart from wanting free stuff and police have been amazingly tolerant. Are you really comparing some OWS quasi-yuppie so-called hipster getting pepper-sprayed with the lynchings and murders against early anarchists striking for higher pay, the 8-hour day or industrial safety? Shame on you. It shows either out-and-out demagoguery or ignorance to compare the two movements. Since you just wrote a book on it, you can’t be ignorant, so…

You romanticize political violence in the most disgusting way possible from your perch. “The Russian model”, for example. Before the 1914 war, Russian anarchists and socialists were murdered, imprisoned and sent into exile in Siberia. They were up against one of the most truly autocratic regimes in history so one can understand their violent response. There is simply nothing comparable in US history. The proof is that laws were made to protect workers from abusive employers in the early 20th century. The photos of Louis Hines probably had more of an effect on the nation than any anarchist bomb ever could. That’s because the US is a democracy and Russia was an autocracy.

You forget, (or most likely elide, given your demagogic purposes) the fate of the anarchists in Russia: they (i.e., the Socialists Revolutionaries) were liquidated by the Bolsheviks under Lenin. Years later, they (i.e., the POUM) were liquidated by the Communists in Cataluña. Some Russian model!

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A Brief History of Anarchy

Scholar Thai Jones traces New York City’s role as a center of American protest, from the anarchist marches of 1914 to Occupy Wall Street today

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