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Black Flags and Social MovementsA Sociological Analysis of Movement Anarchism$
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Dana M. Williams

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781526105547

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526105547.001.0001

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Anti-state political opportunities

Anti-state political opportunities

(p.112) 5 Anti-state political opportunities
Black Flags and Social Movements

Dana M. Williams

Manchester University Press

The anarchist movement utilizes non-statist and anti-statist strategies for radical social transformation, thus indicating the limits of political opportunity theory and its emphasis upon the state. Using historical narratives from present-day anarchist movement literature, I note various events and phenomena in the last two centuries and their relevance to the mobilization and demobilization of anarchist movements throughout the world (Bolivia, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Greece, Japan, and Venezuela). Labor movement allies, failing state socialism, and punk subculture have provided conditions conducive to anarchism, while state repression and Bolshevik triumph in the Soviet Union constrained success. This variation suggests that future work should attend more closely to the role of national context, and the interrelationship of political and non-political factors. Additionally, the key question of what constitutes movement “success” for revolutionary movements that “move forward”, yet do not achieve revolutionary transformation (indeed, who conceive of a final, complete transformation to be theoretically impossible), seems to be a problem faced uniquely by anarchist movements. Instead, thinking of opportunity as being global, non-politically-based, and unattached to “ultimate objectives” like revolution, help to make these ideas more useful for understanding anarchist mobilization.

Keywords:   The state, political opportunity, protest cycles, mobilization, historic social movements

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