Anarchist Activism in Illiberal Democracies.

Monday, 16 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Grzegorz PIOTROWSKI, Sodertorn University, Sweden
Studies of contemporary anarchist activism are focused on liberal democratic systems, mostly the US and Western Europe. However, looking beyond those geographical limitations, one can draw a different picture of anarchist practices and ideological changes adapting the movement actions to different opportunity strictures.

The empirical basis for this paper comes from results of the project ‘Anarchists in Eastern and Western Europe: a Comparative Study’ that included Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Poland and Russia. Most of the empirical material is coming from interviews with activists and is supplemented with interviews with anarchists from Czech Republic and Hungary as well as protest event and other data on anarchist activists from other countries.

The main difference in the actions of anarchists in Central and Eastern Europe (gradually more and more falling into the category of illiberal democracies) is the different discursive environment in which they operate. Using the concept of discursive opportunity structure, I want to show that being active in an environment hostile towards leftist groups (as it is the case of CEE), anarchists not only need to have a different self-identification (making self-labeling as part of the broader left more challenging) but this heavily affects choices of potential collaborators as the broader radical left-wing libertarian environment is much smaller.

This situation results in two things: firstly, different self-identification and thus different prognostic framing, mobilizing newcomers and aligning anarchist claims to existing master frames. Secondly, because of the limited availability of potential allies, the whole logic of alliance-formation is different, and stresses intersectionality and cooperation with grassroots activists where the politicization of the claims and struggles is a long-term gradual process and is often implicit. In this regards the anarchists in CEE countries (and beyond as it is observed in the US) are becoming the leading force on the left wing of politics.