Black Flame Chapter V: Anarchism, Syndicalism, the IWW, and Labour

This book has consistently linked anarchism to syndicalism, and grouped the varieties of anarchism, including syndicalism, into the broad anarchist tradition. We have also stated that syndicalists who identified themselves as Marxists, like Connolly and De Leon, should be considered part of the broad anarchist tradition, while figures like Godwin, Proudhon, and Tolstoy should be excluded from that tradition. In this chapter, we develop these arguments more fully, focusing on broad strategic distinctions; we also deal with the various issues that arise, such as the origins of syndicalism, its early history, the relationship between anarchism, syndicalism, and the IWW, and the De Leonist tradition.

Chapter V

Black Flame Chapter IV – Roads to Revolution: Mass Anarchism versus Insurrectionist Anarchism

…We have dispensed with the commonly used categorisations of different types of anarchism, such as the notions of “philosophical anarchism,” “individualist anarchism,”and “spiritual anarchism,” stressing that anarchism is a coherent intellectual and political current dating back to the 1860s and the First International, and part of the labour and left tradition. It is at the level of strategy, we would suggest, that distinctions between the types of anarchism should be drawn.

Chapter IV

Black Flame Chapter III: Proudhon, Marx and Anarchist Social Analysis

12th February @ 2:00pm

Discussing the relationship between classical Marxism and anarchism, and also comparing anarchism with economic liberalism, we are able to draw out many key features of anarchism some of which are implicit and thus not often recognised—and also show that the differences between anarchism and Marxism go far beyond questions of the role of the state in a revolutionary strategy.

Thank you to all who have attended so far!

Chapter III

Fantin Reading Group: Summer Reading Black Flame

 Starting 2pm Sunday 15/1/2012 & fortnightly thereafter

Chapter 1 available as a Pdf for easy online viewing here

Or as a printable-as-zine Pdf here

At the first Fantin Reading Group session we ran back in 2009, we started with the first chapter of Michael Schmidt & Lucien van der Walt’s Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism.

This is a great book that was published in 2008 and which covers most if not all of the issues in establishing the core ideas of anarchism, accompanied by a huge amount of historical research. More info on the book can be found at The South African organisation Zabalaza, to which the authors belong, is also a good resource for solid anarchist critiques on a broad range of topics.

On Sunday 15 January we will be repeating the first chapter, which sets out the “broad anarchist tradition” in general terms and outlines the rest of the book. We will then embark upon reading the whole book at the following fortnightly meetings.

You can purchase copies of Black Flame through Anarres Books at MAC or at

All welcome to attend Fantin Reading Group.

Anarchist Economics

Anarchist Economics

2pm, Sunday 20/11 @ Melbourne Anarchist Club, 62 St Georges Rd, Northcote.

Due to the busy schedule this week (28/10), we have decided to move our reading group session on Anarchist Economics to Sunday 20/11.

We have one reading ready so far, Proudhon, Marx and Anarchist Social Analysis by Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt, which is chapter 3 of their book Black Flame.

More readings will be added in the coming weeks, or if you have any suggestions email

See you then companer@s.

Climate Change – State Action or Direct Action?

Fantin Reading Group:
Climate Change – State Action or Direct Action?

1-3pm, Saturday 24th September @ the Melbourne Anarchist Club, 62 St Georges Rd Northcote.

• Kolya Abramsky, ‘Energy, crisis and world-wide production relations’, Critical Currents (Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation), No.6, October 2009 [PDF]:

‘Some kind of transition to post-petrol energy sources is virtually inevitable. However, the outcome is not a technical given. It is no longer a question of whether a transition to a new energy system will occur, but rather what form it will take. Will it involve a dramatic and rapid collapse, or will it be a smoother and more gradual process? Which technologies will a transition include, and on whose terms and priorities?’

• DB, ‘END: CIV—Against Jensen and for a Real Ecological and Working Class Revolution’, First of May Anarchist Alliance (M1), September 2011:

Collapse does not equal revolution

‘…even if the perfect storm of capitalist transition, peak oil, and climate change comes about, the resulting devastation will not eliminate either capitalism or the state.’ [For an alternate view see the video END:CIV posted on this site.]

• ‘Direct Action on Climate Change’, forthcoming article in Death of a Scenester:

‘The irony of the adoption by Abbott of the language of direct action for state-led in-action cannot be overstated. Most obviously, his attempt to implement the policy through wining government (after which democracy will end and we will all have to live with whatever next pops into Tony Abbotts head) is the very definition of political, or parliamentary action. Secondly there is the content of the policy itself, which is to use state money to subsidise some of the wealthiest elites in the nation, in order to ensure that they maintain their monopoly of wealth as the economy makes some minor alternations to its technological base. That is, state-political action to ensure the continuance of capitalism, rather than anti-state, direct action in order to overthrow it. The combination leads to the Orwellian statement: “To facilitate direct action, a Coalition Government will establish an Emissions Reduction Fund to support CO2 emissions reduction activity by business and industry”.’

kropotkin: from the medieval commune to the modern commune

3pm–5pm Sunday, May 8 @ MAC, 62 St Georges Rd, Northcote.

Our next discussion night will look at this text by Kropotkin. Some have seen his discussion of collectivist or communist impulses in history as a blueprint for the future of socialism. Others say the analysis is ahistorical and idealistic. Discuss! The readings will be available on the blog closer to the date.

Interested? Drop us an email:

The reading (finally)!

Sorry for the delay.

From the Medieval Commune (PDF).

Nestor Makhno

From the radical women of Mujeres Libres, the Fantin Reading Group will be looking back to revolutionary Ukraine to discuss the politics and tactics of Nestor Makhno.

Makhno and the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine spent the better part of three years, following  the Russian Revolution of 1917, fighting on two fronts. Defending the Free Territory, a territory in eastern Ukraine controlled by free soviets and Libertarian communes, from the counter-revolutionary White Army as well as the Bolshevik Red Army. Whilst they were defeated in 1921, Makhno’s influence on anarchism worldwide is undeniable, if not controversial. In 1926, with comrades in the Dielo Truda group, Makhno drafted the Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists – an outline for future anarchist organising, which is still the subject of intense debate today.

For those interested in taking part in the discussion, there are three short readings, including part of the Platform, which can be downloaded below in PDF format.


The reading group will take place this coming Sunday March 13 – 3pm at the Melbourne Anarchist Club – 62 St Georges Rd, Northcote. All welcome.

Any questions?