Patriotism, internationalism, and anarchy: the anarchist response to the Boulanger Affair




Cameron, Max

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In the late 1880s, the Boulanger Affair threatened to bring down the French Third Republic. The Boulangist movement, centered around General Georges Ernest Boulanger, capitalized on ultra-nationalist fervour for revenge against Germany, as well as widespread dissatisfaction with the current government among the French populace, to create a powerful mass-movement which had the potential to bring down the Third Republic. The reaction to this movement on the French Left varied. Some groups saw value in the continuation of the Third Republic and chose to ally with moderates to try and defeat Boulanger electorally. Others saw revolutionary potential in the Boulangist movement and chose to join his ranks. Much like the French left in general, reaction within the anarchist movement was not unified either. A majority of anarchists opposed the Boulangist movement through direct action but made the decision to abstain from electoral politics. Opposing this position were a minority of anarchists, who eschewed the anti-political stance and chose to oppose Boulanger at the ballot box, as they saw value in the continuation of the Third Republic. Additionally, the rise in patriotic fervour during the crisis influenced anarchist rhetoric and highlighted tensions between patriotism and internationalism in French anarchist theory.



History, Anarchism, France