British anarchism 1881-1914 : reality and appearance
This thesis examines the history of British anarchism in the late Victorian and Edwardian era against the background of the movement's popular image. The prevalent image of anarchism assumed the individual to be an unscrupulous criminal and the movement to be a conspiracy intent on unleashing revolutionary violence upon the world. Such a description imparted little of the authentic pursuits and beliefs of British anarchism and proved to be one of the major obstacles even to a partial understanding of the movement. However, it was precisely through this image that anarchism penetrated the social consciousness and exerted its most noticeable impact on society. In this light, the thesis is divided into two parts: the first discusses the reality of British anarchism and the second its image. Part one consists of three chapters. Chapter one chronicles the various streams and groupings that made up the British anarchist movement. The second chapter details some of the social and ideological marks that characterised the movement while the third studies the interrelationships between anarchism and the wider socialist movement. Part two consists of three chapters. The first two depict the image as it appeared in the press and the literature of the time. The concluding chapter indicates some of the practical implications of the image as reflected through the treatment of anarchists by state organs and the public at large; the use that was made of it as a political weapon against other causes, and the political debates it generated.