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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Rebel Alliances, 20 Dec 2006
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This review is from: Rebel Alliances: The Means and Ends of Contemporary British Anarchisms (Paperback)
I would like to recommend this book to those with a passion to create change for the better.

This is a comprehensive appraisal of the groups and ideas which make up contemporary British anarchisms. Beyond this attempt to describe and understand this movement, Franks puts forward four criteria to define contemporary anarchism.

Rejection of capitalism and market economics

Egalitarianism

Rejection of state power

Prefiguration

This limitation is welcome and important as it allows us to say what is and is not anarchist. These are not arbitrary criteria but have been carefully assembled to describe Franks' empirical observations and critical analysis. This matters because it pulls together the writing and debate of decades of intellectual and practical struggle from hundreds of individuals and dozens of groups. The academic rigour of this thesis is beyond question with hundreds of detailed primary, secondary, grey and academic sources. These are all carefully cited in the text and referenced in over 100 pages of endnotes and bibliography. In addition to this admirable archive research Franks has clearly been an involved participant in the struggles and debates which he analyses.

It goes without saying that this is not the last word on this evolving political and social movement but it is a great work which deserves to be a central reference text in any guide to study or practise of anarchism.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The politics of Anarchy in the UK, 20 Sep 2006
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T. Bark "Autonomous British Marxist Historian... (De-industrialised northern town, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rebel Alliances: The Means and Ends of Contemporary British Anarchisms (Paperback)
Ben Franks book is not only a contribution to the recent history of the class struggle anarchist movement, it draws out the progressive elements and theorises them at a higher level. The analysis of Direct action will be particularly useful for a long time in countering 'do-nothing' or 'reactionary' Marxists - such as those found in small sects or the SWP. For too long the anarchist movement has allowed itself to be portrayed as being composed of thugs by the left, 'all mindless action - no programme', this book is one important reply to such treatment.

Franks fairly treats all sides of the movement, and doesn't slag anybody off. Class War come out of it the best IMHO, though he is most interested in constructing an ideal type class struggle anarchism - something we can aspire to practice.This prefigurative element is very important as it shows we have (the working class) to be the change we want to see. Thus, experiments in class justice and dual power (such as in the north of Ireland in the 1970s) are vital. The important themes of class struggle anarchism, the nature of the revolutionary subject, class identity, the importance of workplace activity, and propaganda are all covered.

As for its direct use in the everyday class war, in terms of participation and propaganda, then I would read other things first. So its not for the beginner, but the graduate, or medium/long term member of political groups/unions should find enough interesting in it, and new insights, for it to be very worthwhile.
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