Archives de catégorie : anarchisme

Publication par thème : ANARCHISME

Paper mobilities: Anarchist printing and its transnational circulation, 1880-1914

A developing field of study has examined print culture and the circulation of the printed word as vectors of exchange in the anarchist and syndicalist worlds. Scholars have probed both their symbolic and (difficult to determine) practical modalities.[1] The French anarchist-communist press and other types of publications associated with the movement — from theoretical books and works of fiction to pamphlets and posters — occupied an important place in this circulation of the printed word.

This piece explores the practical functioning of these exchanges. To borrow a term today dear to specialists in the history of the press, the anarchist press is well-known for the “virality” of its content. But how, concretely, did this virality operate? My main line of questioning here concerns how anarchist publications were transported from one country to another — a focus which in turn allows me to briefly address some other major questions. What obstacles hindered circulation, and how were they overcome? How was the international “correspondence” in the French press obtained, and what can be said of how information about France was sent abroad?

Through these various questions, the aim here is to sketch out a brief overview of what we know about anarchist print’s international networks and how they functioned.


An overall picture

We should, nonetheless, begin by emphasising that more is known about the obstacles to circulation than about how it operated. That is, we above all know about the censorship, the seizure of documents at border crossings (though this does provide an important source for historians), and the close surveillance of identified “smugglers” and local distributors.

Various quantitative inventories and mapping exercises give an idea of the importance of this circulation in terms of its volume, the geographical distances involved and the languages concerned. One such example is Tom Goyens’s very substantial work on the correspondence networks of the German periodical Freiheit.[2] Another is my own attempt to map and classify the circulation of texts, information, money, correspondence, and printed matter by the publisher Emile Pouget in his work on the London series of Père Peinard. Focusing on the months between September 1894 and February 1895, this gives us an idea of the constitutive importance of these links for the paper’s various functions.[3] A far-reaching collaborative project on the networks of Les Temps Nouveaux (1895-1914) — as expressed in this periodical’s own pages, and its networks of circulation and readers — is, I hope, also forthcoming. In more qualitative terms, this was a focus of my recent biography of Les Temps Nouveaux’s editor, titled Jean Grave and the Networks of French Anarchism (Palgrave, 2021) but all the work of mapping and quantifying remains to be done. It is clear, however, that this paper was internationalised in its every aspect, albeit with substantial spatial and chronological variations.


The role of individuals in the international circulation of printed matter

One first point worth emphasising is the importance of individuals in the circulation of printed matter, indeed across various roles. First among these were publishers, who were in most cases the recipients and organisers of communications. For example, in the case of the Père Peinard, the regular correspondence between the French émigré Louis Goaziou in the United States and Émile Pouget allowed for close links between their respective periodicals. This same Goaziou regularly corresponded with Grave and his paper Le Révolté and — as we learn from the work of Michel Cordillot and Ronald Creagh on the question,[4] as well as various recent or ongoing doctoral studies[5] — he provided an essential link in the emergence of the Franco-American revolutionary movement, starting with his activism among the Pennsylvania anthracite miners. In the South African case, we could cite the example of the Englishman Henry Glasse, who settled in Port Elizabeth in the 1880s. Glasse corresponded with Freedom in London and various French publications, translated Kropotkin and disseminated anarchist material of European origin.[6] That individuals should have played such a role in a movement like anarchism is not itself a surprise, but it is a little more surprising when we consider the reach and density of this intense web of circulation. It was these individual exchanges, whether sustained or occasional, which, over time, constituted anarchism as a worldwide movement and contributed to making anarchist internationalism a practical reality.


Between transparent circulation and circumventing censorship

Numerous sources suggest that newspapers and printed matter often simply circulated through the post, and often through subscriptions. Take the example of Le Droit Social (Lyon), below; here, the box on the bottom left shows that this practice of subscriptions and foreign mailing was already well established and would not, on the face of it, seem to have been overly subject to surveillance.




Similarly, anarchist papers were sold openly in “international bookshops”, such as those of Achille Leroy in Paris or Armand Lapie in London. In some cases, however, transporting them was clearly problematic and thus required that various precautions be taken to avoid the material being confiscated. Hence, the sources also reveal much more complex subterfuges being used to allow the circulation of periodicals: the intervention of some third party; the use of antiphrasis, as we see throughout Le Rothschild (London, 1891) which concluded with the call “Exploiters of all countries, unite”; hiding a publication inside a different one; or changing the title with each issue, as in the case of the London Père Peinard.[7]

Another tried and tested technique was, of course, to involve smugglers, for example women and figures experienced in handling contraband such as Jacques Gross. A member of the First International and later an anarchist, to this day Gross is described on the International Institute of Social History (IISG) website as “one of the most successful distributors and smugglers of forbidden socialist and anarchist publications such as L’Avant-Garde, Le Révolté, Freiheit and Der Sozialdemokrat.”[8]


Private correspondence between publishers, translators and correspondents

The postcard sent to Charles Malato by the Uruguayan newspaper Adelante! illustrates how an exchange of publications could be established, in accordance with the principle of reciprocity which was so fundamentally important for the anarchist press:



With thanks to Gino Negro for sharing this document.


Here, we can also note in passing the use of French as an anarchist lingua franca — all the more interesting here as Malato was himself one of the multilingual comrades who did so much to make these concrete transnational links possible, in the same way as such figures as  Voltairine de Cleyre in the USA, Max Nettlau or indeed Aristide Pratelle.

However, here again, we should not overestimate anarchist multilingualism and the “virality” of circulation. Jean Grave himself explained that he had been slow to learn of the seriousness of the Montjuich tortures in Spain, for he had not been able to decipher the first, Spanish-language, letter sent to him on the subject.

Lastly, it seems clear that the correspondence between publishers and activists could be both rare and dense; in this sense, we often have cause to speak of limited but effective networks. A single letter of a few pages between two activists could thus perform many functions in the circulation of money, printed matter and information between several publications. These could include information on the international social movement, for rapid publication; theoretical and editorial discussions; shipments of literature in both directions, and the organisation of the relative payments; information useful for the sale of various publications via newspapers; or the exchange of third parties’ contact details to obtain other publications or information…


Circulation and mass migration

We have little information on the more mass-scale circulation of these publications, in the context of international industrial and professional migration. For example, spy reports on periodicals produced by French exiles in London suggest shipments of the order of a few hundred at most. Yet this does not seem very plausible, or at least not to have been usually the case, if we consider the practical modalities of press distribution mentioned above.

The US networks of the London-published edition of Père Peinard nevertheless seem to fit within a broader process of mass migration. The logics of this newspaper’s circulation, and the two-way flows of information, money and printed matter around it, suggest a certain “swarming” in particular localities. Within an about 200-mile radius of Pittsburgh, where Louis Goaziou was then located, the paper circulated in large urban centres in which dynamic immigrant or native anarchist groups already existed, as well as in the French-speaking industrial centres of the Northeast.



The circulation of anarchist printed materials took place across conditions of both legality and illegality, from the most complete transparency as to their places of sale and circulation levels, to more secretive practices concerning, for example, the names of subscribers — and even oft-elaborate strategies to circumvent censorship. Of course, this also reflects the history of censorship and the subversive charge that anarchist writings embodied in this period. The vast and still little-explored field of study regarding the material reality of circulation requires more work in the police archives and the use of other collections (including both local and international ones). And this will also mean making use of international collaboration, in order to properly establish the multidirectionality of these forms of circulation.


Constance Bantman,
University of Surrey, UK


[1] See for instance James Yeoman, Print Culture and the Formation of the Anarchist Movement in Spain, 1890-1915 (London and New York: Routledge, 2019); Andrew Hoyt, ‘And They Called Them “Galleanisti”: The Rise of the Cronaca Sovversiva and the Formation of America’s Most Infamous Anarchist Faction (1895-1912)’ (unpublished dissertation, University of Minnesota, 2018).

[2] Tom Goyens, ‘Freiheit: Geographical Reach of an Anarchist Newspaper (1879-1910)’,, consulted 3 December 2021.

[3] Map of the London Père Peinard’s networks, Google Maps,, consulted 3 December 2021.

[4] Michel Cordillot, La Sociale en Amérique, dictionnaire biographique du mouvement social francophone aux États-Unis, 1848-1922 (Paris : Editions de l’Atelier, 2002), p. 201. Ronald Creagh, ‘Socialism in America: The French-Speaking Coal-Miners in the Late Nineteenth Century’, in Marianne Debouzy (ed.), The Shadow of the Statue of Liberty: Immigrants, Workers, and Citizens in the American Republic, 1880-1920 (Urbana, Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992).

[5] Stacy Swiney, ‘Radicals on the Move: French Migrants in the United States, 1850-1900’ (unpublished dissertation, University of Texas at Arlington, 2021). Spencer Austin has explored some of the exchanges that developed in Pennsylvania, as part of his ongoing doctoral study at Stony Brook University on transnational social movements in Europe and the United States.

[6] Bantman, Jean Grave and the Networks of French Anarchism, p. 38, p. 122.

[7] Constance Bantman, The French Anarchists in London, 1880-1914. Exile and transnationalism in the first globalization (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2021 (2013)), pp. 77-79.

[8] Biographical note on Jacques Gross on the IISG site,, consulted 3 December 2021.

When the sun rises in the West. French Anarchists and the Mexican Revolution (1911-1913)

In 1911-1912, controversy raged within the French anarchist movement as to the real nature of the Mexican Revolution. Should they offer it their enthusiastic support, or remain more circumspect? This episode sheds light on the international information circuits of the time and its mediators.


In France, anarchists and revolutionary syndicalists were the first to take up the cause of the Russian Revolution, as early as March 1917. Given that reliable information was scarce, they scanned the bourgeois press for hints liable to fuel their enthusiasm. This “desire to believe” has been the subject of various studies.[1] Rather less well known is the fact that this phenomenon had been foreshadowed six years earlier, with the Mexican Revolution.

The Mexican Revolution began in November 1910, as an armed confrontation between two factions of the bourgeoisie: on the Right were the supporters of the old general Porfirio Diaz, on the Left those of the democrat Francisco Madero. Only six months later did the French anarchists discover, dumbfounded, that there was a “third front” in this war — a class front, opened up by an organisation of libertarian tendencies curiously named the Mexican Liberal Party (PLM). Co-founded by Ricardo Florès Magon, this PLM was directed by a “junta” in exile in Los Angeles, had a weekly entitled Regeneración, and had an army of volunteers which planted its red flag stamped with the slogan “Land and Freedom” in several Mexican towns… The result was astonishment, and feverish excitement..

This was the point the main French libertarian organisation, the Revolutionary Communist Federation (FRC), got stuck in: it published 2,000 large posters celebrating the “social revolution” in Mexico, described as “communist”, in violent tones. It circulated a subscription in favour of the PLM and tried to send militants across the Atlantic (though this proved impossible, for lack of money). Above all, its weekly Le Libertaire followed the events closely, trying to interpret them as best it could.

This support for the Mexican Revolution was not, however, unanimous in the libertarian movement. Jean Grave’s weekly, Les Temps nouveaux, was openly sceptical and deemed the PLM’s epic in Baja California an instance of what we would today call storytelling. This prompted a highly scandalised response from the FRC, which never ceased to combat it citing proof of the Mexican libertarians’ sincerity.[2]

The two titles drew on different anarchist sources. In Le Libertaire’s case, they were reading Mother Earth (an English-language, New York publication edited by Emma Goldman and Voltairine de Cleyre) L’Era nuova (an Italian-language publication published in New Jersey), and Cultura proletaria (Spanish-language, New York). Finally, from July 1911 onwards, the newspaper received direct reports from Regeneración, whose news it could comment on at three weeks’ delay. Les Temps nouveaux, for its part, relied on correspondents in the United States who sometimes relayed the badmouthing of the PLM in La Cronaca sovversiva (an Italian-language Vermont publication).

The dispute lasted for almost a year, until April 1912, when the great voice that was Kropotkin spoke out in favour of the PLM and Les Temps nouveaux conceded. Le Libertaire continued its almost weekly chronicle of events, then spaced it out during 1913, when the Mexican Revolution took on the aspect of a series of coups de main by rival military factions.[3]

Three things are worth taking from this episode: firstly, the effect of the time lag as information arrived; secondly, the importance of polyglot intellectuals in orienting the debate; thirdly, the singular enthusiasm of the FRC and Le Libertaire.


Time lags

Ironically, by the time the FRC took up the cause of the PLM’s Fuerzas Insurgentes in May 1911, these latter had already been virtually defeated, and with them the attempt to create a “red base” in Baja California.[4] The diagram below summarises this time lag.




The big dailies like Le Matin, connected by telegraphic wires to the world’s main capitals, relayed the Mexican news about forty-eight hours after the events had taken place. The circuits on which the militant press relied were much slower and more erratic. The FRC got its information by reading Mother Earth and, subsequently, directly from Regeneración. However, some crucial issues likely never made it to France. Hence, a text as fundamental as the Manifesto of 23 September 1911 — in which the PLM for the first time made public its anarchist-communist programme — was known in Paris and published by Le Libertaire only six months later, in March 1912. Even this only came after Les Temps nouveaux, being a good sport, had sent it a translation![5]


The importance of polyglot intellectuals

The anarchist movement before 1914 had several overlapping information circuits.

The most episodic was the international congresses: Paris 1889, Zurich 1893, London 1896, Paris 1900, and Amsterdam 1907. The international anarchist congress in London, in August 1914, was supposed to discuss the Mexican Revolution, but the war prevented it from being held.

Another circuit was that of migrant workers and political exiles, in contact with their countries of origin by means of written correspondence. From this point of view, large cosmopolitan cities such as Paris, London and New York were nodes in anarchism’s networks. Between 1909 and 1911 alone, the Paris anarchist movement was able to count one German group, one Italian group, seven Russian groups, and doubtless also some Spaniards.[6] Les Temps nouveaux had a not inconsiderable network of French correspondents living as émigrés abroad.

Lastly, a third circuit was made up of polyglot intellectuals, real look-outs for what was happening in the most distant lands, from Japan to China and Latin America. Figures like the Cuban Tarrida del Marmol, the Russian Alex Shapiro or the Frenchman Aristide Pratelle best represented this type of intellectual. To their names we can add a celebrity like Charles Malato. He initiated the French Free Cuba Committee in 1896 and had connections in Italy, Spain and Great Britain. In 1908 the PLM appointed him to represent it in Europe.

It was Aristide Pratelle who first mentioned the existence of the PLM in March 1911, citing Ricardo Florès Magón.[7] As for Tarrida del Marmol, he published a balanced analysis of the “socialist, expropriating, clearly libertarian movement, of which General Emiliano Zapata is the arm … and of which the anarchist agitator Ricardo Flores Magón was the inspiration and remains the brain“.[8]


The FRC and Le Libertaire’s “desire to believe”

As in the case of Russia in 1917, the enthusiasm for the Mexico of 1911 provides an indication of the revolutionary sincerity and determination of the different tendencies of the French workers’ movement.  But in this respect, the FRC and Le Libertaire clearly stood out.

The Mexican Revolution hardly encountered any response among the French Socialists. L‘Humanité published a few articles by the Spaniard Fabra Ribas, aligned with the reading of the US social-democrats who stuck by support for the democrat Madero. Further to the Left, we might have expected that La Guerre sociale — the influential weekly edited by Gustave Hervé, enfant terrible of the Socialist Party leadership — would have relayed news from the Mexican Revolution, just as it had chronicled the Portuguese Revolution of 1910. But La Guerre sociale kept its silence. This lack of interest was noticed by its rivals in the FRC, and can probably be explained by Hervé’s political shift, during his own conversion to parliamentarism.

As for the trade unions, the reformists took absolutely no interest in Mexico. However, La Bataille syndicaliste, unofficial daily of the revolutionary syndicalist majority of the CGT, did take up this subject. It called for funds to be sent to the PLM, whose forces it greatly overestimated,[9] and also hailed the “communist revolution” that was underway.[10] This is, however, unsurprising if we know that Malato officiated at La Bataille syndicaliste and that this daily sometimes served as a bridge between the confederal CGT leadership and the FRC. Conversely, Pierre Monatte’s union monthly La Vie ouvrière remained silent.

Lastly, we get to the anarchists. Given Les Temps nouveaux’s circumspect approach and the silence of the individualist weekly L’Anarchie, only the FRC and Le Libertaire passionately committed themselves. For the FRC, which considered that, “since the communalist [sic] movement of 1871, the most important movement for the working class …is indeed the Mexican proletarian insurrection”,[11] the blindness of the left and far-left press spoke to a reprehensible lack of coherence. What was the point of all the anti-capitalist proclamations if, at the precise moment when a social revolution broke out abroad, everyone looked away and changed the subject?

This passion, this desire to believe, would be found again in 1917, when the anarchist-communist movement was among the first to welcome the Russian Revolution.


Guillaume Davranche


[1] Jean Maitron, Histoire du mouvement anarchiste en France, tome II, Gallimard, 1992 ; David Berry, A History of the French Anarchist Movement, 1917 to 1945, AK Press, 2009.

[2] For an account of these exchanges, see “Controverse : la Révolution mexicaine est-elle communiste ?” in le Alternative libertaire’s special dossier on the Mexican revolution, December 2010.

[3] “La Révolution mexicaine”, Le Libertaire, 26 April 1913.

[4] On this revolutionary initiative see “Les anarchistes dans la Révolution mexicaine”, special dossier, Alternative libertaire, December 2010.

[5] “La Révolution mexicaine : Manifeste de la junta du Partido Liberal mexicain”, Le Libertaire, 30 March 1912.

[6] Guillaume Davranche, Trop jeunes pour mourir. Ouvriers et révolutionnaires face à la guerre (1909-1914), L’Insomniaque/Libertalia, 2014.

[7] “L’Intervention”, Les Hommes du jour, 1 April 1911.

[8] Tarrida del Marmol, “La Révolution mexicaine “, Les Temps nouveaux, 2 February 1912.

[9] “Une révolution sociale va commencer au Mexique”, La Bataille syndicaliste, 10 May 1911.

[10] “Le caractère communiste de la Révolution mexicaine s’accentue”, La Bataille syndicaliste, 14 May 1911.

[11] “Au Mexique : Le communisme ou la mort !”, Le Libertaire, 2 September 1911.

Mobilités de papier : les imprimes anarchistes et leurs circulations transnationales, 1880-1914

Une série de billets va être publiée faisant suite à la journée du 7 octobre dont nous faisions la publicité ici intitulée “Syndicalisme révolutionnaire, anarchisme et mondialisation de la
communication à la « Belle Époque »


L’étude de la culture de l’imprimé et de ses circulations comme vecteurs d’échanges dans les mondes anarchistes et syndicalistes constitue un champ d’études en développement, qu’il s’agisse de ses modalités symboliques mais également pratiques, si complexes à déterminer.[1] La presse anarchiste communiste française et les autres types de publications associées au mouvement (livres théoriques ou de fiction, brochures, affiches) occupent une place importante dans ces circulations de papier. Ce billet explore le fonctionnement pratique de ces échanges. La presse anarchiste est connue pour la viralité de ses contenus, pour emprunter un terme désormais cher aux spécialistes d’histoire de la presse : comment, concrètement, fonctionnait cette viralité ? Mon interrogation principale ici porte sur l’acheminement des publications anarchistes d’un pays à l’autre, ce qui permet d’aborder brièvement quelques autres grandes questions. Quels obstacles entravaient la circulation, et comment étaient-ils surmontés ? Comment les « correspondances » internationales figurant dans la presse française étaient-elles obtenues et, en retour, selon quelles modalités les informations sur la France étaient-elles envoyées à l’étranger ? À travers ces diverses questions, il s’agit d’esquisser un bref état des lieux des connaissances sur les réseaux internationaux de l’imprimé anarchiste et leur fonctionnement.


Un tableau d’ensemble

Il faut toutefois commencer par souligner que l’on en sait davantage sur ce qui fait obstacle aux circulations que sur leur opération, c’est-à-dire avant tout la censure, les saisies de documents lors du passage des frontières (qui en revanche constituent une source importante pour les historiens), ou encore la surveillance rapprochée des « passeurs » identifiés et des distributeurs locaux. Divers inventaires quantitatifs et travaux de visualisation permettent de se faire une idée de l’importance de ces circulations en termes de volume, de distance géographique et des langues concernées, notamment le travail très conséquent de Tom Goyens sur les réseaux de correspondance du périodique allemand Freiheit[2], ou encore ma propre tentative pour visualiser et classer les circulations de textes, d’informations, d’argent, de correspondances et d’imprimés mises en œuvre par l’éditeur Emile Pouget dans la série londonienne du Père Peinard en seulement quelques mois, entre septembre 1894 et février 1895, ce qui permet de se faire une idée de l’importance constitutive de ces liens pour toutes les fonctions du journal[3]. Un projet collaboratif de très grande ampleur sur les réseaux des Temps Nouveaux (1895-1914) – à la fois tels qu’ils sont réfractés dans le journal, et réseaux de diffusion et de lecteurs – est je l’espère à venir. Au plan qualitatif, c’était un des enjeux de ma biographie récente de l’éditeur des Temps Nouveaux, Jean Grave and the Networks of French Anarchism (Palgrave, 2021) mais tout le travail de cartographie et de quantification reste à faire. Il est néanmoins clair que ce journal était internationalisé dans ses moindres recoins, avec des variations spatiales et chronologiques qui doivent être soulignées.


Le rôle des individus dans la circulation internationale des imprimés

Un premier point de synthèse essentiel à souligner est l’importance des individus dans ces circulations, avec divers rôles. Tout d’abord les éditeurs, qui sont les récipiendaires et organisateurs des communications dans la plupart des cas. Par exemple, dans le cas du Père Peinard, la correspondance régulière entre l’émigré français Louis Goaziou aux États-Unis et Émile Pouget a permis de tisser des liens étroits entre leurs périodiques respectifs. C’est d’ailleurs ce même Goaziou qui correspond régulièrement avec Grave et son journal Le Révolte, et qui constitue un maillon essentiel dans l’émergence du mouvement révolutionnaire franco-américain, à partir de son activisme parmi les mineurs d’anthracite de Pennsylvanie, pour reprendre les travaux de Michel Cordillot et Ronald Creagh sur la question[4], ainsi d’ailleurs que divers travaux doctoraux récents ou en cours[5]. En Afrique du Sud, on pourrait citer l’exemple du britannique Henry Glasse, installé à Port Elizabeth dans les années 1880, et qui correspondait avec Freedom à Londres et diverses publications françaises, traduisit Kropotkine et diffusait du matériel anarchiste d’origine européenne[6]. Ce rôle des individus dans un mouvement comme l’anarchisme n’est certes guère surprenant, mais il l’est un peu plus si l’on considère l’ampleur et la densité de ce maillage intense de circulations. Ce sont ces échanges individuels, soutenus ou ponctuels qui, dans la durée, ont constitué l’anarchisme comme mouvement mondial et contribué à faire de l ’internationalisme anarchiste une pratique.


Entre circulation transparente et contournement de la censure

De nombreuses sources suggèrent que les journaux et imprimés circulaient souvent par simple voie postale, et souvent sur abonnement. Voir l’exemple du Droit Social (Lyon), dont l’encadré en bas à gauche, montre que cette pratique des abonnements et envois vers l’étranger était déjà bien installée et a priori pas trop surveillée.




De même, les journaux anarchistes étaient vendus ouvertement dans les « librairies internationales », comme celles d’Achille Leroy à Paris ou Armand Lapie à Londres. Dans certains cas, néanmoins, l’acheminement était clairement problématique et nécessitait donc de nombreuses précautions pour éviter les saisies. Ainsi, les sources font apparaitre des subterfuges bien plus complexes pour permettre la circulation des périodiques : intervention d’un tiers parti, utilisation de l’antiphrase de la première à la dernière ligne dans Le Rothschild (Londres, 1891) qui concluait avec l’appel « Exploiteurs de tous les pays, unissez-vous » ; cacher cette publication dans une autre ; changer de titre à chaque numéro comme ce fut le cas du Père Peinard londonien[7].

Une autre technique rodée était bien sûr l’intervention de passeurs, par exemple des femmes ou des passeurs expérimentés comme Jacques Gross, membre de la Première Internationale et par la suite anarchiste qui reste à ce jour décrit sur le site de l’Institut international d’histoire sociale (IISG) comme « l’un des distributeurs et passeurs les plus importants de publications anarchistes et socialistes interdites, telles que L’Avant-GardeLe Révolté Freiheit and Der Sozialdemokrat[8] ».


Les correspondances privées entre éditeurs, traducteurs et correspondants

La carte adressée à Charles Malato par le journal uruguayen Adelante! illustre comment se met en place un échange de journaux, suivant le principe de réciprocité dans l’échange qui était fondamental pour la presse anarchiste:



Avec mes remerciements à Gino Negro pour le partage de ce document.


On note au passage l’utilisation du français comme lingua franca anarchiste, d’autant plus intéressante ici que Malato était justement l’un des compagnons multilingues qui ont tant fait pour rendre possibles ces liens transnationaux concrets, au même titre par exemple que Voltairine de Cleyre aux États-Unis, Max Nettlau ou encore Aristide Pratelle.

Cependant, là encore, il ne faut pas surestimer le multilinguisme anarchiste et la viralité des circulations : Jean Grave lui-même expliquait avoir tardé à prendre conscience de la gravité des tortures de Montjuich en Espagne car il n’avait pas pu déchiffrer la première lettre en espagnol qui lui avait été adressée à ce sujet.

Enfin, il semble clair que ces correspondances entre éditeurs et activistes pouvaient être rares mais denses ; en ce sens, on peut souvent parler de réseaux limités mais efficaces. Une même lettre de quelques pages entre deux militants pouvait ainsi assurer beaucoup de fonctions concernant les circulations financières, d’imprimés et d’informations entre plusieurs publications: renseignements sur le mouvement social international bientôt publiés, discussions théoriques et éditoriales, envois de littérature dans les deux sens et organisation des paiements afférents, informations pour la mise en vente de publications diverses dans les journaux, échanges des coordonnées de tiers partis pour se procurer d’autres publications ou informations…


Circulations et migrations de masse

On possède peu d’informations sur des diffusions plus massives de ces publications dans le cadre de migrations industrielles et professionnelles internationales. Par exemple, les rapports d’espions sur les périodiques produits à Londres par les exilés français suggèrent des envois de l’ordre de quelques centaines maximum, mais cela ne parait pas vraiment plausible, ou du moins pas habituel si l’on considère les modalités pratiques de la diffusion évoquées plus haut. Les réseaux aux États-Unis du Père Peinard publié à Londres semblent néanmoins s’inscrire dans des migrations de masse. Les logiques de diffusion de ce journal et des flux d’informations, d’argent et d’imprimé dans les deux sens qui l’entourent suggèrent un essaimage local. Dans un rayon de 200 miles environ autour de Pittsburg, où se trouve alors Louis Goaziou, le journal se diffusait dans des grands centres urbains dans lesquels se trouvaient déjà des groupes anarchistes immigrés ou natifs très dynamiques, ainsi que dans les centres industriels francophones du nord est.



Ces circulations s’opèrent entre légalité et illégalité, entre la transparence la plus complète sur les lieux de vente et tarifs de circulation et d’autre part, des pratiques plus secrètes concernant par exemple le nom des abonnés, jusqu’à des stratégies de contournement de la censure souvent élaborées. Ceci reflète bien sûr l’histoire de la censure et la charge subversive incarnée par les écrits anarchistes à cette période. Ce vaste chantier assez méconnu des réalités matérielles de la diffusion nécessite plus de travail sur les archives policières, en dépouillant d’autres fonds (locaux et internationaux notamment), et toujours grâce à des collaborations internationales pour bien restituer la multidirectionnalité des circulations.


Constance Bantman,
University of Surrey, UK



[1] Voir par exemple James Yeoman, Print Culture and the Formation of the Anarchist Movement in Spain, 1890-1915 (Londres et New York: Routledge, 2019); Andrew Hoyt, ‘And They Called Them “Galleanisti”: The Rise of the Cronaca Sovversiva and the Formation of America’s Most Infamous Anarchist Faction (1895-1912)’ (Thèse non publiee, University of Minnestoa, 2018).

[2]  Tom Goyens, ‘Freiheit: Geographical Reach of an Anarchist Newspaper (1879-1910)’,, Consultee le 3 décembre 2021.

[3] Carte des réseaux du Père Peinard de Londres, Google Maps,, consulté le 3 décembre 2021.

[4] Michel Cordillot, La Sociale en Amérique, dictionnaire biographique du mouvement social francophone aux États-Unis, 1848-1922 (Paris : Editions de l’Atelier, 2002), p. 201. Ronald Creagh, ‘Socialism in America: The French-Speaking Coal-Miners in the Late Nineteenth Century’, dans Marianne Debouzy (ed.), The Shadow of the Statue of Liberty: Immigrants, Workers, and Citizens in the American Republic, 1880-1920 (Urbana, Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992).

[5] Stacy Swiney, ‘Radicals on the Move: French Migrants in the United States, 1850-1900’ (Thèse non publiée, University of Texas at Arlington, 2021). Spencer Austin explore certains des échanges qui se nouent en Pennsylvanie, dans le cadre son doctorat en cours, sur les mouvements sociaux transnationaux en Europe et aux Etats-Unis, à l’Université de Stoney Brook aux Etats-Unis.

[6] Bantman, Jean Grave and the Networks of French Anarchism, p. 38, p. 122.

[7] Constance Bantman, The French Anarchists in London, 1880-1914. Exile and transnationalism in the first globalization (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2021 (2013)), pp. 77-79.

[8] Notice de Jacques Gross sur le site de l’IISG,, consultée le 3 décembre 2021.