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No Gods, No Masters - Pt. 2: A History of Anarchism

A film by Tancrède Ramonet

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The Russian Revolution. The Spanish Republic. The Paris Commune. The Ukrainian revolution. The Mexican Revolution. From the late 19th century until World War II, anarchists played a key role in these events and in social movements that would shape the world we live in. 

Yet these contributions are largely forgotten. Anarchists were considered so dangerous that forces of the state slaughtered them by the thousands, while they were betrayed, arrested, and killed by their erstwhile revolutionary allies.

Anarchy is often used as a synonym for chaos and destruction – with anarchists seen as black-clad nihilists fomenting violence at peaceful protests. But NO GODS NO MASTERS reveals the far more complex history of a viable social system and the men and women who devoted themselves to making it a reality.

NO GODS NO MASTERS is a sympathetic history of a century of anarchist thought and practice, featuring leading historians and essayists, dramatic archival footage, and lively commentary that keeps the subject engaging. Divided into sections each based on key events, NO GODS NO MASTERS is a comprehensive yet accessible introduction to the multi-faceted global anarchist movement – once a mass force that sought not to seize political power, but to utterly destroy it.

Part 2: Land and Freedom (1907–1921)

By the early 20th century, anarchists in France were a powerful enough constituency to draw the French president to an event. In England, they were considered so dangerous that when they occupied a London building, it took the full force of heavy artillery and 800 police officers (some under the eye of Winston Churchill) to dislodge them.

LAND AND FREEDOM looks at differing strains within the anarchist movement during the peak of its popularity – when it seemed, for a time, that the dream of anarchist revolution might come to pass. This was an era of social ferment and experimentation, including communal living, nudism and gender equality; educational reform designed to usher in the development of “the new man”; the resurgence of propaganda of the deed in the guise of violent robberies and shootouts with police; and the participation of anarchists in revolutions from Mexico to Russia.

Anarchism waned in Europe during the years leading up to WWI, but the 1910 Mexican Revolution took up the torch, and drew the support of anarchists and anti-authoritarians including the thinkers and activists Peter Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, and Joe Hill of the International Workers of the World. But despite the early gains of the Zapatistas, they would be betrayed and slaughtered by their allies. Anarchists who participated in the 1917 Russian Revolution suffered the same fate. Happy to have their support in toppling the government, the communists then suppressed them with what Trotsky called “an iron broom.”

While it seemed that the dream of an anarchist revolution was within grasp, World War I would put an end to popular revolt, as young men went to the front. A movement that had once seemed poised to take over the world was now severely weakened.

"Examines the rise and decline of anarchism, from its birth in France to its crushing defeat during the 1930s Spanish Civil War... The documentary covers anarchism as an immigrant issue, the rise of trade unions, and the role of women... Political junkies and history buffs will appreciate. Recommended." Video Librarian

52 minutes / Color
English; German; French / English subtitles
Release: 2017

For individual consumers (home video)

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Subject areas:
Comparative Government, Western Europe, Labor Studies, Social Movements, Political Science

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