Robert Graham (historian)
Robert Graham (born 1958) is a Canadian anarchist historian and writer. He is the editor of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, a three-volume collection of anarchist writings from ancient China to the present day. Volume One, subtitled "From Anarchy to Anarchism", covers the period from 300CE to 1939. Volume 2, subtitled "The Emergence of the New Anarchism," covers the period from 1939, when the Spanish anarchists were defeated and the Second World War began, to 1977, by which time the world had witnessed a remarkable resurgence in anarchist ideas and movements. Volume 3, subtitled "The New Anarchism," covers the period from 1974 to 2012, showcasing the different currents in anarchist theory and practice which have developed since the 1970s. The anthology is published by Black Rose Books. Each selection is introduced by Robert Graham, placing each author and selection in their historical and ideological context. The focus of the anthology is on the origins and development of anarchist ideas. It is not a documentary history of the world's various anarchist movements, although there is a wealth of material from many different areas, including not only Europe and North America, but also Latin America, China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia, Africa and the Middle East.
Graham is also the author of many articles on the history of anarchist ideas and contemporary anarchist theory. He was an editor and contributor to the North American anarchist newsjournal, Open Road, for which he interviewed both Murray Bookchin and Noam Chomsky (the latter interview, "The Manufacture of Consent," has been reprinted in Carlos Otero's collection of Chomsky interviews, Language and Politics). Drawing on the work of the feminist political theorist, Carole Pateman, Graham has argued in favour of a conception of direct democracy based on the notion of self-assumed obligation, which emphasizes the right of minority dissent as opposed to simple majority rule. His view of anarchism is similar to anarchist communists, such as Peter Kropotkin, and communitarian anarchists, such as Colin Ward, advocating horizontal webs of ever-changing voluntary associations dealing with all aspects of social life.
In 2015, he published a book on the origins of the anarchist movement from the debates and struggles within the International Workingmen's Association (the so-called "First International") during the 1860s and 1870s in Europe, entitled We Do Not Fear Anarchy - We Invoke It: The First International and the Origins of the Anarchist Movement, published by AK Press. The quotation in the title is taken from Michael Bakunin, written around the time that he officially joined the International in 1868.
More recently, Graham has published "Anarchy and Democracy" in the Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, No. 69, Winter 2017, in which he discusses the relation between anarchism and democratic theory, and "(Mis)Conceptions of Anarchism," in Anarchist Studies, Volume 26, No. 2 (2018), in which he reviews the different ways of conceiving of anarchism - metaphysical, ontological, deontological, philosophical and political - and presents a definition of anarchism as a political theory based on six interrelated concepts: anti-authoritarianism, anti-statism, anti-parliamentarianism, federalism (voluntary association), libertarianism (libertarian means to achieve anarchist ends), and direct action.
- Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas (2005, 3 vol.)
- We Do Not Fear Anarchy—We Invoke It (2015)