Religious Anarchism

New Perspectives

This edited book brings together the contributions to the "Religious Anarchism" panels at the first Anarchist Studies Network (part of the Political Studies Association) conference held in September 2008 at the University of Loughborough. Click here to "look inside" it. The first 30 pages can also be accessed here.

Description (from the back cover):

Both religion and anarchism have been increasingly politically active of late. This edited volume presents twelve chapters of fresh scholarship on diverse facets of the area where they meet: religious anarchism. The book is structured along three themes:

• early Christian anarchist “pioneers,” including Pelagius, Coppe, Hungarian Nazarenes, and Dutch Christian anarchists;

• Christian anarchist reflections on specific topics such as Kierkegaardian indifference, Romans 13, Dalit religious practice, and resistance to race and nation;

• religious anarchism in other traditions, ranging from Wu Nengzi’s Daoism and Rexroth’s Zen Buddhism to various currents of Islam, including an original Anarca-Islamic “clinic.”

This unique book therefore furthers scholarship on anarchism, on millenarian and revolutionary thinkers and movements, and on religion and politics. It is also of value to members of the wider public interested in radical politics and in the political implications of religion. And of course, it is relevant to those interested in any of the specific themes and thinkers focused on within individual chapters. In short, this book presents a range of innovative perspectives on a web of topics that, while held together by the common thread of religious anarchism, also speaks to numerous broader themes which have been increasingly prominent in the twenty-first century.

Table of contents (and authors):

w Preface [Available here.]

w Introduction by Peter Marshall [Available here.]

Part I: Christian Anarchist Pioneers

Chapter One: The Pelagian Mentality: Radical Political Thought in Fifth Century Christianity by Richard Fitch

Chapter Two: A Theology of Revolutions: Abiezer Coppe and the Uses of Tradition by Peter Pick

Chapter Three: Religious Dissenters and Anarchists in Turn of the Century Hungary by Bojan Aleksov

Chapter Four: A Dead Seed Bearing Much Fruit: The Dutch Christian Anarchist Movement of the International Fraternity by André de Raaij

Part II: Christian Anarchist Reflections

Chapter Five: Love, Hate, and Kierkegaard’s Christian Politics of Indifference by Richard A. Davis

w Chapter Six: Responding to the State: Christian Anarchists on Romans 13, Rendering to Caesar, and Civil Disobedience by Alexandre J. M. E. Christoyannopoulos [Available here.]

Chapter Seven: Building a Dalit World in the Shell of the Old: Conversations between Dalit Indigenous Practice and Western Anarchist Thought by Keith Hebden

Chapter Eight: The Church as Resistance to Racism and Nation: A Christian, Anarchist Perspective by Nekeisha Alexis-Baker

Part III: Buddhist, Daoist, and Muslim Anarchism

Chapter Nine: Anarchism or Nihilism: The Buddhist-Influenced Thought of Wu Nengzi by John A. Rapp

Chapter Ten: Kenneth Rexroth’s Integrative Vision: Anarchism, Poetry, and the Religious Experience in Post-World War II San Francisco by Michael T. Van Dyke

Chapter Eleven: To Be Condemned to a Clinic: The Birth of the Anarca-Islamic Clinic by Mohamed Jean Veneuse

Chapter Twelve: Imagining an Islamic Anarchism: A New Field of Study Is Ploughed by Anthony T. Fiscella




"This work is a striking and highly original study of connections between anarchism and religion. The book springs from the same spirit that inspired Norman Cohn’s ground breaking work, The Pursuit of the Millennium: it presents a wide range of little known and unexpected sources, inspiring a fresh look at contemporary approaches to change.

Each of the collected essays expands on some particular paradigm, which is proper to the specific fields of the authors, some of whom are widely recognized scholars in their discipline. The approaches are varied, being rooted in anarchist thought, theology or philosophy. Each article explores new issues in areas as diverse as Pelagian studies, Hungarian history and Islamic political theology.

This collection will be of interest to activists, historians, theologians, philosophers, political scientists, sociologists, students of rhetoric and literature, and those who wish to give serious consideration to their religious beliefs.

In sum, this thought-provoking book calls for a wide audience and confronts some of the burning questions of our time."

- Ronald Creagh, Professor Emeritus, Université Montpellier III (France), editor of Divergences

"Bringing together the work of international writers, both new and established scholars and practitioners, this book fills an important gap in the existing literature. Some anarchists will be familiar with the work of Leo Tolstoy and the concept of Christian anarchism, with which Tolstoy is often associated, but few will have probed this relationship or considered more broadly anarchism’s relationship to religion. In ranging beyond this more familiar territory to consider anarchism’s links to Buddhist, Daoist and Muslim thought Dr. Christoyannopoulos’s book genuinely breaks new ground.

The book has a number of strengths. One is that it avoids strong preconceptions: whilst the authors challenge those who view anarchism as a necessarily secular ideology, they do not attempt to delimit anarchism’s relationship to religion. Indeed, in considering the possibilities of this relationship and the permeability of its boundaries, the authors encourage readers to reconsider their own preconceptions about both anarchism and religion and offer some new reflections on important perennial problems. Another important strength is that the authors work in variety of disciplinary fields and are thus able to bring insights from history, philosophy and political theory as well as anarchist studies, to bear on the subject.

Together the essays collected here provide an outline history of some of the leading currents of religious anarchist thought and develop fresh perspectives on issues central to anarchism including resistance, struggle and counter-cultural experimentation; political detachment, ethnocentrism and community-building. In addition, by testing the intersections of anarchist and religious thought, the authors examine a range of ethical questions about the legitimate boundaries of the state and the limits of authority, the duty of obedience and the primacy of conscience in political action.

In summary, this is a bold and important collection which many readers will find provocative and it deserves to get a wide readership."

- Dr Ruth Kinna, Senior Lecturer in Politics at Loughborough University, editor of Anarchist Studies.

Where to buy it (for instance):

For the (cheaper) paperback version:

  • Directly from the publisher: here.
  • From Amazon UK: here. From Amazon USA: here.

For the (more expensive) hardback version:

  • Directly from the publisher: here.
  • From Amazon UK: here. From Amazon USA: here.
  • Via Google Books: here.

Publication details:


  • Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
  • Place of publication: Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Year of publication: 2011 (September)
  • Pages: 350
  • ISBN: 978-1-4438-3189-5


  • Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
  • Place of publication: Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Year of publication: 2009 (August)
  • Pages: 350
  • ISBN: 978-1-4438-1132-3