Criticism: Anarchism: Incidents And Issues - Essay

H. Oliver (essay date 1983)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Era of Propaganda by Deed II: 1894-7,” in The International Anarchist Movement in Late Victorian London, Croom Helm, 1983, 99-119.

[In the following essay, Oliver details several prominent anarchist incidents of the 1890s, including the event that inspired Joseph Conrad's novel, The Secret Agent.]


The sole outrage that occurred in London, a bomb explosion outside the Greenwich Observatory in February 1894, killed the man carrying the bomb. It is probably best known because Conrad based his novel The Secret Agent on it. In his “author's note” to the novel, Conrad said that the subject came...

(The entire section is 7853 words.)

Peter Marshall (essay date 1985)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Human Nature and Anarchism,” in For Anarchism: History, Theory, and Practice, edited by David Goodway, Routledge, 1985, pp. 127-49.

[In the following essay, Marshall considers the anarchist theories of William Godwin, Max Stirner, and Peter Kropotkin, and offers his own critique of the concept of human nature.]

Critics of anarchism, indeed of any attempt to expand freedom, have repeatedly fallen back on the tired argument that it is against ‘human nature’. The conventional wisdom amongst historians of political thought is that anarchists have an optimistic view of human beings as being naturally good and that it is only the state that produces evil in...

(The entire section is 9404 words.)

David Morland (essay date 1997)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Kropotkin: Mutual Aid and Anarchy,” in Demanding the Impossible? Human Nature and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Social Anarchism, Cassell, 1997, pp. 125-79.

[In the following excerpt, Morland analyzes Kropotkin's theory of anarchism.]

Of all the classical anarchists it is perhaps Kropotkin who corresponds most closely to informed perceptions of anarchism. Martin Miller, for example, has described him ‘as the world's leading anarchist theoretician.’1 Certainly, when compared to Proudhon and Bakunin, there are fewer doubts associated with the standing or status of Kropotkin as an anarchist. Nevertheless, doubts persist and there are strong...

(The entire section is 9678 words.)