Anarchist Pedagogies — Notes

By Abraham P. DeLeon

Entry 6403


From: holdoffhunger [id: 1]


Revolt Library Anarchism Anarchist Pedagogies Notes

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...professor in the social foundations at the University of Texas, San Antonio. My research interests include curriculum studies. cultural studies, utopian studies, French social theory, nonhuman animals, archival research, representation, space and place, anarchist theory, and critical pedagogy... (From:

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[1] The author would like to extend his thanks all those who supported the writing and research of this essay: the friendly and helpful staff at the Northern Studies Resource Center at Lakehead University; Gary Kaunonen, who took the time to give a number of insightful comments and suggestions on an earlier draft, helping to greatly improve the rigor and quality of this work; and Harry Siitonen, who generously provided his personal lecture notes, a number of difficult-to-find sources on the Work People’s College, and his encyclopedic knowledge of the IWW and Finnish North American labor movements. Last, but not least, the author would like to thank the Twin Cities General Membership Branch of the IWW, and specifically, Jeff Pilacinski, Erik W. Davis, and Kieran Knutson for their support and the information they gave about their efforts to revive the Work People’s College.

[2] All translations from original Finnish sources in this chapter are by the author.

[3] During this period, the FSF was the largest foreign-language federation in the Socialist Party of America, with an influence and membership disproportionate to the relatively small number of Finnish immigrants in the United States. In 1912 the FSF was composed of over eleven thousand members in 225 local chapters. “At that date,” writes Ollila (1975), “the organization included four newspapers, the Work People’s College with 123 students, seventy-six club houses, eighty libraries, and a combined income $184,128.83, coupled with an overall valuation of $558,201.14” (p. 156).

[4] The split in the FSF mirrored a similar division in the ranks of the English-speaking sections of the Socialist Party of America in 1912, when IWW members including William Haywood were expelled from the National Executive of the party. This also presaged a second split in the FSF in the early 1920s that witnessed the exit of Communist Party supporters. We might consider, perhaps somewhat schematically, the Finnish left in North America as more or less crystallizing into three distinct currents in the years following the First World War: 1) a social democratic tendency, with Raivaaja (The Pioneer) in the United States and Vapaa Sana (The Free Word) in Canada as representative newspapers; 2) a Leninist tendency, represented by the Workers (Communist) Party in the United States and Canada and their newspapers Työmies (Working Man) and Vapaus (Freedom), respectively; and 3) an antistatist, libertarian socialist tendency represented by the IWW, auxiliary organizations, and their newspaper Industrialisti (Industrialist).

[5] The newspaper began as Sosialisti (Socialist) in June 1914, changing to Teollisuustyöläinen (Industrial Worker) in December 1916, and finally to Industrialisti in March 1917. For an excellent account of the early years of the paper, see A. Kostiainen, A dissenting voice of Finnish radicals in America: The formative years of Sosialisti-Industrialisti in the 1910s. American Studies in Scandinavia, 23, 1991 (pp. 83–94). Retrieved from

[6] In 1920, the IWW had no fewer than thirteen foreign-language publications.

[7] Translated by Kaapo Murros (born David Gabriel Ahlqvist, an early Finnish advocate of industrial unionism in the United States) as Taistelu Leivästä (Tampere: Työväen Osuuskirjapaino) who, that same year, also provided the first Finnish translation of Marx and Engels’s Communist Manifesto.

[8] Total yearly enrollment represents the total number of students enrolled over the course of an entire term. Some students were not able to study for an entire term due to financial constraints or left when employment opportunities arose. Interestingly, the very low cost of attending the WPC was argued, in school’s advertisements and outreach material, to be an ideal way for seasonal workers to save money as it was a cheaper alternative to staying in boarding houses or arranging other temporary accomodations during the off-season.

[9] Compiled from director’s reports through the years 1920–1941. See references below for a complete listing.

[10] Not to be confused with the IWW, the Canadian One Big Union (OBU) was formed in 1919 as a Western alternative to the Trades and Labor Congress. See D. Bercuson (1990), Syndicalism sidetracked: Canada’s One Big Union” (pp. 221–36) in M. van der Linden and W. Thorpe (eds.) Revolutionary Syndicalism: An International Perspective, Aldershot: Scolar Press. Finnish-Canadian OBU members, particularly lumber workers, switched organizational affiliation to the IWW in large numbers in the early 1920s.

[11] Laukki, as a young lieutenant, fled to the United States in 1907 after his participation in the Sveaborg (now Suomenlinna) military fortress rebellion against Czarist rule. Sirola, on the other hand, was a well known Finnish socialist politician, who also fled after Czarist repression of the revolutionary movement in Finland.

[12] Four additional Finnish Wobblies were among the 166 arrestees: Ferd Jaakkola, Frank Westerlund, William Tanner, and Charles Jacobson. During this period, IWW union offices in Duluth were raided and destroyed by the National Guard and a newly constructed WPC building burned to the ground amid widespread rumors that vigilantes were responsible. In 1918, Olli Kinkkonen, a Duluth longshoreman and vocal opponent of the war, was forcibly removed from his boarding house lodgings by vigilantes, tarred, feathered, and hanged. The official explanation for Kinkkonen’s death was suicide.

[13] Correspondence with Jeff Pilacinski, January 11, 2011.

[14] Correspondence with Eric W. Davis, December 6, 2010.

[15] Correspondence with Kieran Knutson, January 11, 2011.

[16] Correspondence with Jeff Pilacinski, January 11, 2011.

[17] Ibid.

[18] The Good Samaritan laws have recently been contested. In California a judge recently ruled that good Samaritans can be sued (Williams, 2008).

[19] The medics have expertly refused the media’s attempts to paint black blocs as the criminals and street medics as heroes (e.g., Kielburger, 2010). For instance, after the 2010 G20 meeting in Toronto, the Toronto Streets released a statement condemning the media focus on property damage while ignoring the real injuries to people caused by police violence (JoyInc30, 2010; Toronto Street Medics, 2010).

[20] My use of “project” comes from the sociological sense of the term, as a shared socially organized effort to articulate people and social ends (Omi & Winant, 1986).

[21] In Spanish, like in most Indo-European languages, the masculine is usually employed by default to refer to persons of unknown gender and, in the plural, to refer to a mixed group of people. Those willing to distance themselves from this sexist practice replace the letter signifying the masculine by the gender-neutral inverted symbol @.

[22] Ideally this should be carried out as a collective. However due to time and political pressures we were not able to undertake the systematization in this way,

[23] Excerpts from Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Illich’s Deschooling Society, and Postman and Weingartner’s Teaching as a Subversive Activity are examples of the readings we give.

[24] While we have set up an inside/outside binary for the purposes of exploring radical education experiments in this chapter, we recognize that this is a simplification, and as stated in After the Fall (2010), “there is no ‘outside’ to the university.”

[25] Andre Pusey is a PhD candidate in the School of Geography (University of Leeds) and assists with some teaching on the MAASC course. Elsa Noterman studied part-time and assisted with the course for a year, before returning the United States.

[26] “Home students” include students from the United Kingdom as well as those from EU countries.

[27] See more about the MA at: maasc

[28] See more about TRAPESE at:

[29] See the following for more information:

[30] The word “skool” is used to distinguish these experiments in radical pedagogy from traditional learning institutions (schools).

[31] University of Openness,

[32] See:

[33] See

[34] In addition to ROU, Leeds University Against Cuts (LUAC) was also formed at this time on the University of Leeds campus.

[35] Specifically, at the time the ROU started, the refuse and postal workers were on strike in Leeds.

[36] See:

[37] See:

[38] To read the visioning statements, visit:

[39] The full list of workshops can be found at


[41] From older version of “What is ROU,” no longer accessible online. In authors’ possession.

[42] The ceiba is a silk-cotton tree and is regarded as sacred by the Maya.

[43] It is significant to note that in calling themselves “Zapatista,” the insurgents of the EZLN and the civilian base that comprises the bulk of the movement have adopted the name of one of the greatest Mexican revolutionary heroes, but also one who was neither active nor particularly well known in Chiapas until relatively recently (Collier and Quaratiello, 1999, p. 158). In fact, the source of the image and ideology of Zapata in Chiapas can be traced primarily to urban revolutionaries who went out into the countryside in the aftermath of 1968 to work with the rural population (Stephen, 2002, p. 150). In the statutes of the Forces of National Liberation—the guerrilla organization whose cadres would help found the EZLN—written fourteen years before the Zapatista rebellion, the choice of Emiliano Zapata as the icon for the revolution is attributed to the fact that “Emiliano Zapata is the hero who best symbolizes the traditions of revolutionary struggle of the Mexican people” (Fuerzas de Liberación Nacional, 1980, cited in Womack, 1999, p. 196). By invoking the man, his image, and his legacy, the Zapatistas are currently engaged in a process not only of reaffirming the “Mexicanness” of their movement, but also of asserting its legitimacy while laying claim to the authentic and uncompromised legacy of the Mexican Revolution.

[44] Big Noise Tactical is a radical media-making collective that has produced well-known alter-globalization films such as Zapatista, This Is What Democracy Looks Like, and The Fourth World War.

[45] “Mestizo” is a term used frequently in Latin America to refer to people of mixed European and Indigenous descent.

[46] The Intercontinental Encuentros (Encounters) for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism emerged from the Zapatista movement’s engagement with individuals and social movements around the world following the Zapatista uprising. More than three thousand grassroots activists from over forty countries attended the first Encuentro held from July 27 to August 3, 1996, in Zapatista territory in Chiapas, Mexico, to discuss the dynamics of and alternatives to neoliberal capitalist globalization (Kingsnorth, 2003; Neill, 2001; Notes From Nowhere, 2003). The most significant outcome of the first Encuentro, aside from bringing such a diversity of activists together, was the commitment on the part of the participants to create an intercontinental network of resistance and communication and to hold a second Encuentro a year later in Europe. One year later, the second Encuentro, organized by a variety of groups, was held in Spain. Drawing more than three thousand activists from fifty countries, the second Encuentro was directed toward building the networks of communication and resistance which emerged from the first Encuentro (Esteva, 2001; Flood, 2003). Two additional Encuentros have since been held in Zapatista territory in Chiapas, Mexico, one in December 2006–January 2007 and the other in July 2007. These Encuentros have been aimed at reinvigorating a global movement of resistance and alternative-building to neoliberal capitalism as well as reconnecting the Zapatista struggle with other movements around the world.

[47] In the summer of 1990, a conflict erupted between the Mohawks of Kanehsatake and settler Canadians from the town of Oka, Quebec. When a decision was taken by the town to expand a golf course onto contested territory—some of which contained burial land sacred to the Mohawks—members of the Mohawk Nation, including the Warrior Society, erected barricades and engaged in direct action to prevent construction from proceeding. The local, provincial, and federal governments all chose the path of escalation, first sending in police and then the army to deal with the situation. The conflict lasted seventy-eight days with the Mohawks eventually putting down their weapons and ceding the barricades to the army while the mayor of Oka canceled the plans for the golf course expansion. The conflict became an iconic moment in the long history of Indigenous struggles for sovereignty and land reclamation against the Canadian state.

[48] I have placed the term autonomy in quotations to problematize it and to make clear that it is a contested notion in poststructuralism, the particular usage of which I follow I will elaborate on in the body of this chapter.

[49] I use “telos” in the Foucauldian sense as “the kind of being to which we aspire when we behave in a moral way” (Foucault, 1984, p. 355).

[50] I use gender-neutral pronouns in this chapter as an act of prefiguration. S/he will be replaced with “ze,” and her/his replaced with “per.” Additionally, I use “humyn” in place of “human.”

[51] For example, The Cowley Club social center in Brighton, UK, regularly holds skill-share days, free skool days, and book groups. See uk/. For an example of a festival that includes many workshops and skill-shares, see Belladonna DIY Fest that was held in Australia:

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...professor in the social foundations at the University of Texas, San Antonio. My research interests include curriculum studies. cultural studies, utopian studies, French social theory, nonhuman animals, archival research, representation, space and place, anarchist theory, and critical pedagogy... (From:

...[one of] the most prominent academics studying anarchism bridges the gap between anarchist activism on the streets and anarchist theory in the academy. (From:

Researcher, writer, teacher. Social movements and the radical imagination. (From:

(1957 - )

Allan W. Antliff is an anarchist activist, art critic, author and founding member of the Toronto Anarchist Free School (now Anarchist U) who has written extensively on the topics of anarchism and art in North America since the 1980s. Since 2003 Antliff has held the Canada Research Chair in Art History at the University of Victoria, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on modern and contemporary art. His research interests include dada, contemporary art, anarchist history and political theory, and his graduate seminars include "20th-Century Anarchism and Avant-Garde Art"; "New York Dada" and "American Modernism Between the Wars". In addition to teaching art history, Antliff co-edits the Alternative Press Review, serves as art editor for Anarchist Studies, edited the volume Only a Beginning: An Anarchist Anthology and has written two scholarly books; Anarchist Modernism: Art, Politics and the First American Avant-Garde and Art and Anarch... (From:

Anthony J. Nocella II, Ph.D., award-winning author and educator, is an Executive Director of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, National Co-coordinator of Save the Kids, and co-founder and Editor of the Peace Studies Journal and Transformative Justice Journal. (From:


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