Revolutionary Affinities: Toward a Marxist Anarchist Solidarity
Authors: Michael Löwy and Olivier Besancenot • Translated by David Campbell
Series: PM Press/Kairos
Subjects: Anarchism & Marxism, Labor, History & Theory
Both a sweeping history of revolutionary struggle and a road map for the future, Revolutionary Affinities takes readers from the Paris Commune through the bloody confrontations of the past century to paint a vivid picture of the greatest anarchist and Marxist figures who dared to join forces, from Louise Michel to Subcomandante Marcos, from Emma Goldman to Walter Benjamin. Authors Olivier Besancenot and Michael Löwy, two of the foremost voices in the French anti-authoritarian radical left, explore the promises—and challenges—of developing a fully sustainable, libertarian Marxist society by examining questions of political organization, economic policy, radical ecology, and more. With the urgent need for a unified front against the far right, there has never been a better time for this inspiring story.
“Thanks to the painstaking translation work of David Campbell—by hand, while incarcerated on Rikers Island—the anglophone world is lucky enough to now access this concise yet crucial text. More than a history of two interlocking and conflicting revolutionary traditions, Revolutionary Affinities is a welcome invitation to find each other, through our rejection of all forms of oppression, with every tool available to us—a convergent lens of Marxism and anarchism provides invaluable vision."
—Natasha Lennard, author of Being Numerous: Essays on Non-Fascist Life
“David Campbell’s highly accessible translation sheds new light on the deep, complex relationship between the revolutionary labor movement’s two ideological drivers—Marxists and anarchists—during a moment in which understanding that history could not be more essential. It is a timely effort to illuminate our bloody, brilliant, shared history, and to inspire today's revolutionaries to keep pushing forward in the struggle, together.”
—Kim Kelly, journalist and author of Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor
"Michael Löwy is unquestionably a tremendous figure in the decades-long attempt to recover an authentic revolutionary tradition from the wreckage of Stalinism."
—Dominic Alexander, Counterfire
"Revolutionary Affinities is a compelling read. Its timely and convincing arguments lead us to reevaluate the relationship between the anarchist and Marxist tradition: this remarkable book is inviting us, indeed I would say obliging us, to reconsider the elective affinity between them."
—Andrej Grubacic, Professor of Anthropology and Social Change (CIIS-San Francisco), editor of the Journal of World-Systems Research, and author of Wobblies and Zapatistas
"Before 1920, connections between anarchists and socialists flourished everywhere, despite differences and disagreements. After 1920, the vision of a liberating transformation faded and with it, anarchist influence almost everywhere. Moments in the New Left revived the promise of mutual learning and struggle, moments after 1991 as well. Eco-crisis makes a new engagement mandatory. This invaluable book explains why and how it can happen."
—Paul Buhle, author of over a dozen books including A People’s History of American Empire
"With a deep knowledge of the Marxist and anarchist tradition, Michael Löwy and Olivier Besancenot attempt to reconnect the seemingly cut-off black and red thread which interlinks Marxism and anarchism, thus driving the red and black stars of revolution to shine again in the darkened sky of our planet."
—Costas Despiniadis, author of The Anatomist of Power. Franz Kafka and the Critique of Authority
“To say that exchanges between anarchists and Marxists have not always been cordial would be euphemistic. Yet, anticapitalist libertarians and libertarian Marxists have a lot in common as this brief account by two libertarian Marxists demonstrates, offering a historical panorama of the relations between the two currents and a comradely contribution to their debate.”
—Gilbert Achcar, author of a dozen books including, Perilous Power (co-authored with Noam Chomsky) and Morbid Symptoms
“Recent popular upsurges in the US and across the globe have underscored the emergence of a daring new politics, defined by brazen illegality, communal risk-taking, bold experimentation, and, above all, a skeptical eye to the ‘-ists’ and ‘-isms’ that continually haunt the revolutionary imagination. Löwy and Besanceno's volume, translated deftly by former political prisoner David Campbell, represents a laudable and necessary attempt at political theory that catches up with social developments long underway, by bridging a historical division that has made both sides weaker and worse. As the authors demonstrate, sectarianism between Marxism and anarchism is best left in the nineteenth century, with efforts like this showing the way into understanding the twenty-first.”
—Jarrod Shanahan, author of Captives: How Rikers Island Took New York City Hostage and co-author of States of Incarceration: Rebellion, Reform and America's Punishment System
About the Contributors
Michael Löwy was born in Brazil, has lived in Paris since 1969, and is a member of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (French section of the Fourth International). His books and articles, including the Theory of Revolution in Young Marx and Franz Kafka: Subversive Dreamer have been translated into thirty languages. He is emeritus research director of the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research), Paris.
Olivier Besancenot was born near Paris in 1974 and worked for many years as a postman. In 2002 and 2007 he was the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire candidate in the French presidential elections, getting some 1.5 million votes. He was also the founding spokesperson for the New Anticapitalist Party. His works include Che Guevara: His Revolutionary Legacy (with Michael Löwy).
David Campbell is a writer, translator, funeral director/embalmer, and former antifascist political prisoner. His writing has appeared in Slate, Huffington Post, CUNY Law Review’s Footnote Forum, and Hard Crackers, and his translations have appeared in Bateau, Post-[blank], and Barricade. Originally from Virginia, he lived in New York City for ten years before relocating to Paris to pursue a master’s in translation in 2021.
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