Stay informed: Sign up for eNews Subscribe
Read Chapter 1


The Late Nineteenth-century World and the Emergence of a Global Radical Culture

In the last few decades of the nineteenth century, various groups of people throughout the world-workers, peasants, intellectuals, activists-began agitating for social justice, using similar and interrelated discourses and adopting similar terminologies and praxis and circulating their ideas through print, performance, and word of mouth. Their activities fostered a plethora of ideas and practices pertaining to social justice, while simultaneously reflecting a convergence in the ways those ideas were articulated and implemented, and led to the establishment of an entangled worldwide web of radical networks. As a result, I would like to suggest, one can write about a global radical moment lasting roughly from the 1870s until the 1920s and about the making of a global radical culture during this period. In this chapter I examine the emergence of this global radical moment: its key players in the four corners of the world, the networks and institutions that helped them disseminate their ideas locally and globally, the movements' main ideas and causes célèbres, and their literary and political canons and reading lists. I focus on the players, movements, and networks that had a direct impact on the story of radicalism in Beirut, Cairo, and Alexandria and emphasize the links between world regions that help explain the interconnectivity of these radicalisms and the making of a global radical moment.

Most traditional histories of the Left have crafted their genealogies on the works of specific Franco-German (and occasionally British) thinkers. These genealogies start somewhere in the early nineteenth century, with ideas of the French Revolution overlapping with the effects of the Industrial Revolution and proletarianization. In this framework the seeds planted by Fourier, Saint-Simon, and Owen eventually climax with Marx's work and the establishment of the First International. After this peak the genealogies usually proceed by tracing the lines between the Second International, the establishment of socialist and social democratic parties, and the Russian Revolution and the dominance of communism and communist parties. My aim is different; it entails circumventing the whole project of genealogy and de-centering it from northwestern Europe. Instead, starting with the 1870s and using a synchronic lens, I will try to conjure up a polyvalent, polyglot, and global leftist radical moment in which various, and very often unofficial, impure, and popular interpretations of the Left were gaining ground all over the world. This will in no way be a comprehensive study; rather, I select certain networks, schools of thought, and ideas as well as particular trends and developments affecting different world regions and intertwining their histories. I focus on those that had a direct manifestation in the Eastern Mediterranean, specifically in Beirut, Cairo, and Alexandria. These particular networks seem to have been both crucial and exemplary in spanning a global radical field and providing a radical matrix, or a radical package of ideas and practices. Hence rather than create a standard genealogy of the Left, I seek to show the matrix from which a global radical framework emerged. Some of the elements that shaped it were not always radical in nature but could nonetheless be vehicles for the articulation and dissemination of radical thought and praxis.

Globalization, Global Shifts, and Global Linkages: Capital, Labor, Information, Imperialism, and Migration

The late nineteenth century ushered in developments that caused the world, or more accurately increasing numbers of regions, to become inextricably linked, responding to similar rhythms and flows in sync. The wave of globalization that began around the 1870s was associated with a deeper integration of regions that had been semiperipheral into the world capitalist system and the world economy, which made them more vulnerable to economic fluxes such as commodity production and price fluctuations, integrated their regional labor markets into a global market, and made them dependent on foreign investments and loans. Globalization meant faster and greater circulation of capital, commodities, and labor, as well as the building of necessary infrastructure: extensive railway networks, port expansions, the digging of the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal, the establishment of various steamship lines connecting the four continents, banks and money wiring services, and the like. The circulation of all these elements was not random or among equals; rather, capital, labor, goods, and to a lesser degree information usually followed paths suggested by, if not dictated by some form of political and economic imperialism. Between 1870 and 1914 this circulation also seems to have exacerbated inequalities between peoples, regions, and states, or what Chris Bayly terms the "differentials of power." It also prompted a rethinking of both social order and world order. Globalization can thus be described as "a moment when crises in ... global world orders produced an urgent attempt to rethink the very bases of politics, culture, and activism-on a local as well as a regional and global level." Globalization was also connected to the growing and faster circulation of information and ideas through the increased flows of people, but also through new media: telegraphs, newspapers and periodicals, and postal services. As such it allowed for the emergence of specific and global forms of challenge and resistance to the status quo. It is within this framework that radicalism can be best understood, both as an indicator as well as a maker of globalization.

Let me offer three caveats. First, although I am generally arguing that radicalism, as it manifested itself in the late nineteenth century, was partly a global response to global changes, it is also important to understand it as more than a purely reactive movement and to characterize it (and the changes brought forth by globalization) as something other than a pure rupture. A second caveat concerns ideas and their material base. I am not suggesting an overly deterministic and materialist approach to the history of ideas, such as that the economic factors of globalization necessarily, or linearly, explain the various ideas (and therefore practices) that constitute radicalism. Rather, I argue that they certainly provided a framework for understanding why radicalism emerged as a worldview or mental structure. A third caveat is that by suggesting the existence of a global radical moment or culture, I am in no way pitting the global against the local nor suggesting a hierarchy of importance between the two in which the global would have the upper hand. Rather, I insist that the two are inextricably linked and so tangled in the period under study that they are necessarily complementary rather than opposite (albeit flawed) categories; as a result, they can be understood only in tandem.

The World Wide Web of Radicalism: The Links That Made the Moment a Global One

In the late nineteenth century discussions and ideas pertaining to social inequality, wealth redistribution, the value of wage labor (versus capital), workers' rights, workers' housing, mutual aid associations, mass education, and generally the question of how to establish more just societies that would defuse the time bomb of class warfare became quasi-universal, transnational, and global. A multiplicity of communication channels circulated these discussions throughout various parts of the world. To explore some of the main communication channels, I suggest thinking of four interconnected units that played a central role in the articulation of radical leftist ideas and provided structures for their dissemination at a global level: international (and internationalist) organizations and associations, networks, nodal cities, and the printed word.

Any discussion on international organizations that articulated and disseminated radical ideas in the second half of the nineteenth century should include the International Socialist. Much has been written on the First International (1860-89) and the Second International (1889-1916), and my aim here is not to summarize the history of these organizations nor to add much to the body of writings on them. What I underline, in the case of the Second International, is the establishment of a structure that self-consciously and explicitly intended to spread socialism, help workers of the world unionize and gain rights, establish a global working-class consciousness, and, last but not least, foster the creation of socialist parties throughout the world. The extent to which the two Internationals were successful is debatable; certainly the International remained very much a European affair, with a handful of exceptions. What is undeniable, though, are the offices and services the Internationals provided, which were theoretically accessible to socialists all around the world: namely, political, financial, and infrastructural support to form workers' associations that would link to the International. Under "infrastructural support" came publications: pamphlets, booklets, and periodicals that would help spread socialism among the masses. Furthermore the International Socialist Congresses, regularly held starting in the 1880s, and the establishment of International Trade Secretariats (many of which were based in Western Europe, especially in Germany), gave socialism visibility and respectability as increasing numbers of European socialist parties became successful national parties and played the parliamentary game, a point to which I will return. However, if the International Socialist has figured prominently in the history of the Left, it has tended to overshadow another movement, whose principles and activities in fact gained much greater popularity outside of northwestern Europe. Indeed if there was one radical current which became global, or at least had a serious impact throughout the world in the late nineteenth century, it was anarchism.

Anarchism and Anarchosyndicalism

Around 1870 anarchism emerged as a major political ideology in Europe, most vibrantly in Italy and Spain. Anarchism's main tenets were the elimination of private property and class differences and the economic and intellectual emancipation of workers. Visceral anticlericalism and the refusal to work within the system by playing the parliamentary card (in contrast to the policy followed by socialists in the 1890s) also occupied a central place. Following a "decade of regicide," political assassinations, and bomb attacks blamed, rightly or wrongly, on anarchists, after which many fled from repression during the concomitant rise in mass migrations, anarchism quickly gained ground throughout the world, from South America to East Asia. By the late nineteenth century anarchists and anarchist ideas were to be found, in different shades and degrees, in many parts of the world due to the strong connection between migration and anarchism. Indeed anarchism was the radical ideology that seemed to have had the greatest appeal for (or worked best for) workers on the move, as well as intellectuals in the diaspora. Specifically, but not exclusively, it was associated with Spanish and especially Italian migrant and diasporic communities and networks, most strongly in South America but also in the United States, Europe (including France, Belgium, and England), and the Eastern Mediterranean. Anarchists were particularly adept at establishing transnational networks of communications and exchange of information, propaganda, and militants. One of the most vivid manifestations of their success in this domain was the web of Italian anarchist periodicals circulating throughout various cities in Italy, as well as Alexandria, Cairo, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Paris, and Paterson, New Jersey. This is not to say that anarchist ideas circulated exclusively within the confines of a diaspora, or exclusively along ethnic lines; there were certainly anarchist networks revolving around periodicals that were not exclusively connected to one specific diaspora but cut across ethnic and linguistic groups. Such was the case for Jean Grave's Le Révolté (which was initially founded by Kropotkin and subsequently was called Les Temps Nouveaux), one of the most famous and highly esteemed anarchist periodicals, issued in Paris after 1885, whose readership spanned continents and many ethnolinguistic groups, as attested by the subscribers' names, addresses, and letters to the editor. Le Révolté seems to have been a central node for information and news connected to various anarchist networks.

Nonetheless, although such periodicals did exist and played an important role in the forging of connections between anarchists, many of the anarchist networks in the period under study were linked to a specific diaspora and to the activism of exiled militants. This was certainly not an exclusively European phenomenon. In the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first years of the twentieth Japanese anarchism (as well as socialism) was intrinsically linked to the presence and activism of Japanese militants in the United States, specifically in the San Francisco area, where "Japanese socialists and anarchists had found refuge from government repression in Japan, and were able to voice their dissent-in spite of the fact that their destinations were shaped by racial exclusion and discrimination. Also, the United States was where the labor movement in Japan 'had immediate roots.'" Similarly the Chinese anarchist movement had strong connections to Paris as well as the United States and elsewhere.

Anarchism's success as a global radical set of networks and a global radical movement can be attributed to the following features: the flexibility of its ideology; its work among and attraction to people from all classes, leading to its genuinely popular appeal; and its connection to migration and migrant labor, which represented a larger component of the global workforce than ever before, contributing to the geographic dissemination of anarchist ideas. Indeed partly because of its fundamental aversion to centralized authority and because it was a movement that was often underground and whose members were constantly on the move, anarchism consisted of a rather flexible package of ideas. As a loose set of ideas it could offer something to everyone. Its malleability, perhaps even its emotionalism and its martyrs allowed people from diverse backgrounds to relate to it, as well as plunder from it whatever might suit their needs and prove resonant in their own local contexts. In some ways, then, it was a revolutionary movement (rather than an ideology per se) or a revolutionary mind-set, allowing for selective adaptations of bits and pieces from the long set of items on the anarchist wish list. Like the Spanish freethinker and educator Ferrer (an important character in this book), anarchism's supporters were often "plutôt qu'un révolutionnaire ... un révolté." Although certain anarchists and their followers were more intransigent regarding the purity of their doctrine, or the difference between it and socialism, the boundaries between these two ideologies were not always clearly demarcated before World War I. Partly because anarchism never quite became orthodox, the meaning of belonging to an anarchist organization was rarely formalized outside of Europe and South America. This meant that anarchists, even when they did have parties, were not as restrictive regarding membership.

Instead anarchists had an equal opportunity approach when it came to doing propaganda work and spreading their message. In contrast to socialists, for instance, they did not favor urban skilled workers, but instead went to work in the city and in the countryside among skilled and unskilled workers, artisans, peasants; migrant, stable, and middle-class white-collar employees; artists and intellectuals. They tailored their multiple publications and messages according to their targeted audiences. Significantly, among audiences who were often illiterate their periodicals proved particularly successful thanks to their use of simple language and the fact that they "easily lent themselves to being read aloud." Furthermore in the 1870s and 1890s anarchists in Spain and southern Italy were involved in massive rural uprisings, during which peasants occupied landholdings and destroyed land records and mobilized against the Church and its representatives, which sided with large real estate owners. Later, in the first decade of the twentieth century, Spanish anarchists would often occupy and destroy Church property. This particular combination of anticlericalism and the struggle over land and property was to prove especially resonant in parts of the world experiencing similar battles, such as Mount Lebanon.

If the abolition of the state was one of anarchism's presumed main tenets, it was not necessarily the most evident goal to implement, and most anarchists focused their energies on spreading ideas about social justice, mutual aid, and general individual and social emancipation through propaganda work. Propaganda did not carry the pejorative connotations it has acquired today. It covered a full spectrum of activities, often, but not always, underground, ranging from casual conversations with workers to newspaper articles. It could also include acts of violence, especially political assassinations and various forms of terrorist attacks, which were categorized as "propaganda by the deed." As Gramsci pointed out in the 1920s, no other previous or contemporary political movement had so emphasized the need to systematically spread its ideas among various sections of the population, especially among peasants and artisans, as did anarchism. Perhaps more than any other radical movement, anarchists were brilliant in their capacity to popularize their ideas and capitalized on increasingly popular media, institutions, and spaces: periodicals, reading rooms, theaters, and coffeehouse performances and discussions. One of the strengths of anarchism was the great importance attached to popular performances and to "performing persecution," to borrow Elun Gabriel's felicitous expression. Anarchists seem to have been particularly successful at using the stage to promote their ideas, canonize their martyrs, and set their narratives in plays and songs. The 1909 trial and execution of Francisco Ferrer was turned into a play in Beirut, in Paris, and most probably in many other cities. Again, anarchists were certainly not the only radicals to employ such measures, but they ended up building an anarchist repertoire of themes and plays, many of which crisscrossed the world. Anarchists also managed to latch onto internationalist structures, whether or not they had been explicitly designed for anarchist use.

Educating the Masses

The popularity of anarchism was also related to two specific concepts and sets of projects: mass education and mutual aid. Throughout the nineteenth century mass education was one of the main paths espoused and expounded by reformists and radicals in their mission to tackle the Social Question. The Social Question referred to the emergence of a class of paupers, the rise of unemployment, and the terrible working and living conditions of wage laborers, issues that, if unresolved, could destroy society. To appreciate the anarchists' contribution, both discursively and practically, to the topic of mass education, it is important to first underline the fact that belief in the primacy of education was not exclusive to them. The notion of educating the masses occupied a central place within a larger concept that was becoming popular globally: progress and civilization. Whether the masses were conceptualized as part of or constitutive of a class, a nation, a larger entity (such as empire or religion), or a society without necessarily belonging to a nation-state, educating them became the sine qua non of progress, evolution, and increased civilization. Anarchists were particularly invested in mass education and were in fact pioneers in developing new visions pertaining to education, which they saw as the most important tool for building the kind of society they wished to establish. They envisioned mass education as the path to eliminating social inequalities, by offering an education and qualifications that would liberate workers economically as well as liberate and enlighten the masses intellectually and culturally and trigger an "intellectual rebellion" in society.

Such a project was to take place in various spheres and in various forms, most obviously in schools: primary and secondary schools as well as night schools for adults and working children. Among the most successful educational projects of the early twentieth century were the modern school system established by the Spanish anarchist Francisco Ferrer and Leo Tolstoi's school. Both became models for schools established in New York, Cuba, and elsewhere. Both educational projects were known and admired among radicals in the Eastern Mediterranean. Nonetheless, as I mentioned earlier, the unique power of anarchists lay in their appropriation of other institutions and other spaces for educational purposes: the stage, the press, public lectures, and popular universities. In an era characterized by an explosion of public and especially popular spaces and growing notions of publicity, anarchists used all kinds of old and new public spaces for didactic purposes. In Spain they established an informal education system using sites such as taverns, reading clubs, mutual aid societies, and especially radical newspapers such as La Revista Blanca (which was often read aloud), through which they made the education of the working class their priority. In Cuba they used the theater, merging anarchist with gender issues, and targeted women. Anarchists launched similar educational projects throughout the world. They believed in the need to first liberate the individual in order to liberate society. Like many other radicals and reformists, anarchists viewed society as an organism whose health was contingent on the health of every unit within society; for them education was the quintessential way of improving individuals for the well-being of society.

Mutual Aid and Mutual Improvement Societies

Mutual aid was the second rubric that became strongly associated with anarchism in the late nineteenth century. The idea was to emphasize cooperation among workers, whether through labor cooperatives, unionization efforts, or mutual savings funds. Among other activities these funds would assist individual workers-artisans, factory workers, and others-in times of need, teach and hone skills, and establish agricultural cooperatives that gave out credit at very low interest rates. One of the key discussions for radicals and reformists in various parts of the world was how to guarantee the survival of employment sectors that were threatened with disappearance because of increased industrialization, mechanization, or competition from abroad, while striving to increase workers' productivity. Needless to say, such mutual improvement and mutual aid societies were not novel to the late nineteenth century, in Europe or in the Middle East. Furthermore mutual aid societies were not inherently radical, and certainly not necessarily anarchist. Nonetheless the anarchists were particularly successful at capitalizing on and radicalizing these institutions. It is not a coincidence that the best known work on the topic was written by Piotr Kropotkin, one of the most important anarchists of the period; Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution was translated and read in various parts of the world, including Beirut, Cairo, and Alexandria. By the second half of the nineteenth century these societies and the closely related mutual improvement societies were sprouting in various parts of the world, including Britain, Italy, the Eastern Mediterranean, Japan, and South America. Typically at the mutual improvement society meetings "one member would deliver a paper on any imaginable subjects-politics, literature, religion, ethics, 'useful knowledge'-and then the topic would be thrown open to general discussion. The aim was to develop the verbal and intellectual skills of people who had never been encouraged to speak or think." Mutual aid and mutual improvement societies also established literary associations and amateur theatrical groups for the edification and entertainment of white-collar and blue-collar workers.

Mutual aid was a particularly appealing institution because the concept fit into a larger, very influential worldview. In the late nineteenth century, as Darwinian ideas of natural selection, competition, and evolution became increasingly popular throughout the world, mutual aid emerged as a concept linking evolution, and hence progress and civilization, to cooperation rather than to competition. Such ideas were attractive in a world experiencing drastic changes, with massive economic restructuring and migration. Mutual aid seems to have become particularly appealing to workers who had just moved to the city and to immigrants in a new land. As José Moya points out, "Even if associations [such as mutual aid] existed in the place of origin, the 'mania' for them seems in most cases to have developed with migration." In fact from the late nineteenth century until World War II, "in terms of wealth and number of members ... they were the most widespread and important type of immigrants' associations. ... Even in their modern form, they were already common in the Old World before the mass exodus began in the second third of the nineteenth century. . . . By the middle of the century, mutualism had become the dominant mode of organization in the European workers' movement." Mutual aid also took a particular twist in the colonized world and in parts of the world where the state was deemed too weak to protect workers against foreign economic competition or penetration. In such cases, mutualism became associated with a form of economic localism: cooperation among local workers against unfair competition by stronger foreign parties.


The emergence of new global radical networks and organizations, most prominently anarchist networks and the International Socialist, did not obviate older transnational or global networks that still played an important role in articulating radical thought or provided the necessary infrastructure to do so. Freemasonry deserves special mention, as it occupies an important place in the story of radicalism in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Needless to say, freemasonry (like mutual aid associations) was not necessarily inherently progressive or radical. According to one historian, in the late nineteenth century its ideology in fact shifted to become less radical, less interested in equality and fraternity and more supportive of British imperialism. Other historians have countered that freemasonry was not an imperial ideology but "a decentralized system" that "facilitated intercultural connections throughout Asia and [the] Pacific and that these relationships would give rise to wholly unexpected consequences." In places as far afield as Lagos, Calcutta, and Buenos Aires in the 1890s, freemasonry was seen as an institution inextricably linked to visions of social reform. It was often a bastion of subversive and anticlerical activity, whose members discussed socialism in lodges and were behind the staging of radical plays.

Alternative Visions of the World Order Coming from the South and the Colonized World

Anarchist networks played a central role in articulating and globally disseminating radical leftist ideas in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth, but they were only one set of networks among others busily disseminating alternative visions of social and world orders and contributing to the making of a global radical moment. The period from the late 1880s until World War I was rich in anticolonial struggles and saw the establishment of networks challenging imperialism and engaging in what has been described as "universalist anti-colonialism." Some of these anti-imperialist and anticolonial networks were nationalist; others were nonnationalist or included regionalist or pan-nationalist visions, such as pan-Asianism, pan-Africanism, and pan-Islamism. These networks appeared both in the colonized homeland and in Asian and African diasporas. Among these networks contesting imperialism, part of the emerging global discourse was anti-Western critiques among Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese intellectuals and the interaction between "various religious traditions and the experience of European colonialism ... with peculiar Muslim or non-Muslim discontent with globalization, the international order, and modernization to produce shared anti-Western discourses in the twentieth century."

Whether or not they were anti-Western, such movements could and often did intersect with radical leftist ideologies and networks, including anarchism. Many European and non-European anarchists joined or supported anti-imperialist struggles of various kinds, and some fought alongside nationalists and anti-imperialists in places as distant as Egypt, Greece, and the Philippines. Benedict Anderson has depicted the ties that existed among anarchists, anti-imperialists, and nationalists in and between the Philippines, Cuba, and various parts of Europe, rightly pointing out that "[anarchism] had no theoretical prejudices against 'small' and 'ahistorical' nationalisms, including those in the colonial world." In Egypt a number of Italian anarchists, including Errico Malatesta, fought with the Egyptians and against the British in 1882. Even when they did not directly take up arms against imperialism and colonial ideology, anarchists often stridently voiced opposition to them. One letter, sent from Algiers in 1907 to the anarchist periodical Les Temps Nouveaux in Paris and signed "Un groupe de marins anarchistes," vividly described the beating and general abuse of Algerian boys, one of them a ship's boy (mousse), by French corporals. The letter concluded, "What must this poor lad think of French civilization and its superiority over Arab civilization?" Another letter, sent from Tunis in 1908 and signed "Zuili," reported on a speech given by Andrea Costa, an Italian deputy, an ex-anarchist turned socialist, during his visit to Tunis. Costa's "chauvinist sentiments" (esprit chauvin) and exclusive focus on the condition of Sicilian immigrants in Tunis provoked the ire of Zuili, a local Italian anarchist, who "explained to him, through serious argumentation, that he was a phoney [fumiste] ... to talk about patriotic feelings and deplore the conditions of Sicilians living in [Tunis], while that of the indigenous population that was spoliated since France's pacific penetration in Tunisia is much more pitiful [or miserable, pitoyable]."

Hence in parts of the world under semi-imperial, imperial, and colonial rule, calls for a more just society based on greater equality between different classes very often merged with anti-imperial struggles. These various radical networks-anarchist, anticolonial, revolutionist-often intersected and were entangled, both in terms of people and ideas, though this would probably no longer be possible a few decades later, with the subsequent hardening of communism, nationalism, and other ideologies, which made these radical movements' eclectic bricolage impossible-or at least much more difficult.

One of the debate closely associated with anarchists in the late nineteenth century was about the use of revolutionary violence, specifically political assassination, which some anarchists viewed as "propaganda by the deed." The wave of attacks on heads of state and prominent public figures was launched in 1878, peaked in the 1890s, and continued into the early twentieth century. By the 1890s political assassinations and bombings had become a fact of life throughout Europe, the Russian Empire, and to a lesser extent North and South America, Egypt, and the Ottoman Empire. This put political assassination and the use of violence more generally on the table as an unavoidable subject of reflection. It was a hotly debated topic for anticolonial militants, many of whom engaged with anarchist writings on the subject and some of whom went to Europe explicitly to learn how to make bombs and other explosives. In 1900, when Indian activists formed the Anushilan and Jugantar parties with the aim of liberating India from the British, their members, referred to by the British as "gentlemanly terrorists" because of their revolutionary and violent militant practices, displayed "an ... enthusiasm for the writings of European revolutionaries, anarchists and nationalists (Mazzini, Garibaldi, Wolfe Tone and Marx)," which they combined with "indigenous forms of religious practice and physical training." A few years later, in 1914, another Indian movement calling for a war of liberation against the British, the Ghadar movement, linked militant intellectuals in the Indian diaspora, in cities such as San Francisco, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Panama City, and Vancouver, with militant peasants and activists in the Subcontinent. A "non-nationalist anti-colonial" movement and "a phenomenon of hybrid radicalism possible only in the context of diaspora," the Ghadar movement relied on "an eclectic-not to say opportunistic-array of strategic contacts" that allowed it to be inspired by Mazzini's Italian Risorgimento, while at the same time having "close ties of solidarity with Irish and Egyptian opponents of British colonialism, as well as with Pan-Asianist and, more problematically, with Pan-Islamist movements against Western imperialism." It was also "hooked into networks of anarchists and socialists in Europe, Japan, and North America, with a Bengali tradition of Kropotkinism as well as of guerrilla militancy."

I am dwelling on Indian anticolonial networks and movements partly to give a sense of the bricolage involved in these radical movements and partly because such struggles, the ideas expressed by them, and the terminology of resistance and liberation they employed were in communication with and often shared by other anticolonial and anti-imperial movements. There was a particularly strong sense of solidarity and exchange of ideas and resistance tactics among regions subjected to the same imperial power, as Anderson has shown in the case of the Spanish Empire with Cuba and the Philippines and the revolutionary webs connecting them. Of particular pertinence to radicalism in the Eastern Mediterranean is the fact that the period 1905-10 seems to have witnessed a convergence in strikes and anti-British mobilizations, especially between Egypt and Bengal, and a growing consciousness that all these liberation struggles were connected to one another. Daʼud Mujaʻis, the main writer of al-=urriyya and a member of a radical leftist network around Beirut, wrote in 1909 condoning the Indians' assassinations of British political figures, both on Indian and English soil: "The world is still in a continuous struggle [jihd] and upheaval that will only subside when all the people of the world will be liberated ... and the barriers against this liberation, as high as they are ... will eventually be destroyed." For radical networks that had a presence in or an impact on societies subjected to direct foreign domination, it was the norm rather than the exception to meld anarchist ideas with anti-imperialist causes and to carefully analyze, pick and choose, and incorporate elements of the struggles, discourses, and methods put forth by many radical networks and movements: Italian anarchists, Russian revolutionaries fighting against the tsar's autocracy, and Indian, Egyptian, and Irish anti-imperialists.

Nodal Cities

How and where did such entanglements and exchanges between radical networks actually take place? One such forum of exchange came via face-to-face encounters, many of which actually happened in what I call nodal cities. Such cities included imperial metropoles, particularly Paris and London. The role of imperial metropoles as centers for anti-imperial activism is well documented; the various anti-imperialist conferences held there, especially those organized by non-Europeans, nationalist, pan-nationalist, and otherwise, have all been extensively studied. It was partly the confluence and intersection of various radical networks, some of them of political exiles in nodal cities, that globalized political and social struggles and created a common repertoire of concepts to frame them. Nonetheless such encounters transcended the focus of networks whose raison d'être was to fight imperialism. Iranian constitutionalists, Young Turks, exiled Russian nihilists, French and Italian anarchists, and many more met in world cities such as London and Paris, but also in neutral Geneva and in regional nodal cities such as Istanbul, Alexandria, and Tokyo. Several such conferences and meetings took place between 1905 and 1911, labeled by Eric Hobsbawm "the little age of revolutions": the 1905 Russian Revolution, the 1906 Iranian Constitutional Revolution, the 1908 Young Turk Revolution, the 1911 Chinese Revolution. These cities harbored and brought together political exiles and militants from different parts of a region or an empire, guaranteed the circulation of printed material, and provided spaces for different radical networks to encounter one another and exchange ideas. These encounters in coffeehouses, clubs, study circles, and the like forged links and the establishment of lifelong connections between radicals from various continents.

It was often in such nodal cities that intellectuals and militants from the South became acquainted with or furthered their knowledge of radical movements and ideologies, partly through their interaction with European radical thinkers. For instance, it was in London that the Egyptian socialist Salama Musa became acquainted with Fabianism (a form of British socialism), and it was in Paris in the 1870s that Shibli Shumayyil, the first self-proclaimed Arab socialist, discovered Büchner's theories. It was also in Paris that Li Shizeng, a Chinese anarchist, founded the World Society, which "would serve for decades as a conduit between European and Chinese anarchists[,] ... would fashion the thinking over the years of most Chinese anarchists ... [and] was to serve as a recruiting ground for [Chinese] anarchists." The city was also the site of Li Shizeng's conversion to anarchism "as a consequence of his close relationship with the family of the famous French anarchist Elisée Reclus." This connection between Chinese anarchists and the Reclus family endured for years. At the same time that many non-Western intellectuals became acquainted with or converted to radical ideas and ideologies in these (mostly European) world cities, their presence in these cities also contributed to the radicalization of the European intellectual circles they frequented. As Sara Blair has so aptly demonstrated, Bloomsbury became a literary and radical movement because of Bloomsbury the space, a liminal neighborhood in London that housed the Fabian Society and other radical and reformist societies and was home to University College, an institution attracting students from various parts of the empire, especially radical Indian students.

These cities also hosted a number of study circles and international associations and conferences, which provided a forum for discussions on labor, workers' rights, capitalism, political economy, and related topics, often turning these into global discussions. Paris and London in particular were home to a growing community of social experts-sociologists, lawyers, economists, criminologists, and especially political economists-who convened study circles and founded periodicals that circulated beyond Europe, establishing links with intellectuals around the world who also belonged to or were interested in these new social disciplines. For a number of reasons, not least of which were imperial connections, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean were particularly plugged into such circles, especially the French circles. Such was the case, for example, for Charles Gide's Revue d'économie politique, founded in Paris in 1887. Gide (1847-1932), a Christian socialist and a proponent of popular universities for free mass education and of agricultural and consumers' cooperatives (and hence mutual aid), was the author of a number of books on political economy (including Principes d'économie politique) that gained international fame. His works were translated into virtually every European language (including Polish, Russian, and Finnish), as well as into Ottoman, and articles summarizing his ideas appeared in Arabic periodicals. His books were available in French and English at the library of the Syrian Protestant College in Beirut, for instance.

Whether or not some of the venues were explicitly designed as radical forums, they often ended up playing this role. For instance, the famous world exhibitions, a staple of the late nineteenth century, began to see booths for labor movements and radical groups as early as 1862. Of particular importance was the Exposition Universelle held in Paris in 1900, where the first International Congress on Mutual Cooperation took place; by then the concept of international solidarity and cooperation had become a major theme and a goal of labor movements in Europe. The late nineteenth century was also the era of municipal socialism, whereby various radical projects were conceived and implemented by municipalities, the quintessential nineteenth-century urban institution. A movement that was particularly strong in Italy, where it was partly the product of a political alliance between the Italian Socialist Party and the radical middle class, municipal socialism led to the establishment of municipal councils that "concentrated their efforts on improving workers' living conditions and giving general support to the movement: a local finance policy based on fair taxation, assistance to democratic institutions, extension of free education and municipality services were the general characteristics of these administrations." Municipal socialism seems to have quickly become popular elsewhere in the world, notably in Alexandria. By the late nineteenth century municipalities no longer operated solely within national boundaries; instead they became connected through international conferences and publications that sought to exchange (and compete over) strategies and policies regarding urban planning, low-income housing, health issues, poverty alleviation, and the expansion of urban public spaces. There was even a project (implemented in 1913) to establish a "municipal international," which, though Eurocentric, included municipalities from outside of Europe such as Alexandria and Buenos Aires.

The late nineteenth-century French engineer Emile Cheysson described the "interpenetration of these reformist ideas and networks in the late 19th century as 'electric cables' connecting the industrial world in its entirety." These connections spanned a much larger world than the industrial one, as intellectuals and professionals from the non-Western world visited these exhibitions, joined some of these networks, engaged with them and contributed to these discussions, or simply read about and were acquainted with ideas discussed in these forums. They wrote, translated, indigenized, and published articles on subjects such as mutual aid, labor unions, municipal socialism, and capitalism.

The Making of a Global Radical Culture

The late nineteenth century witnessed the efflorescence of a global popular radical culture and the establishment of a certain radical canon. The elements of this radical culture combined the historical with the fictional and cut across genres, regional cultures, and geographic boundaries. The most salient features were a historical narrative of radicalism that tied together key moments whose ideals, heroes, and martyrs would be celebrated across the world and a reading list of political thinkers, novelists, and playwrights whose works were translated into multiple languages. The historical narrative of radicalism connected various revolutions and rebellions, most of which were defeated by conservative forces, and led to the construction of a commemorative radical repertoire. There were regional differences in this canon, but this narrative was not exclusivist; radicals of different shades partook in the commemoration of these events. The unavoidable, perhaps most important event in this radical calendar was the French Revolution, whose ideologues Robespierre, Saint-Just, and Danton became the icons of many Arab, Ottoman, Indian, and South American radicals. Also extremely significant were the revolutions of 1848 and the Paris Commune of 1871. In both cases, revolutionaries who had managed to flee repression sought refuge in South and Central America and throughout the Ottoman Empire, where they continued spreading the message of republicanism, equality, and socialism (in the case of the Commune) and collaborated with local radicals. These two events generated not only a set of values, but also references, symbols, martyrs, and heroes for people who struggled for political and social emancipation. The Commune in particular remained a key episode for radicals well after its day had passed. Indeed anarchists in Argentina, Egypt, and elsewhere distributed pamphlets commemorating the heroes of the Commune on its thirtieth anniversary. Similarly the Dreyfus Affair and the Ferrer Affair also served to mobilize radicals. Finally, lest we forget, the international radical and leftist commemoration par excellence, May Day, "celebrates the memory of immigrant anarchists-not Marxists-executed in the U.S. in 1886." It was thus the reaction to certain moments deemed pivotal and the construction of meaning and symbols commemorating these events in rallies, demonstrations, and theatrical performances that provided a common set of values and references to people who perceived themselves as radicals.

At the heart of this emerging global radical culture were two phenomena: translation and printing, of books but especially of periodicals. Translation, "a process which was central to globalization," was, as T. N. Harper succinctly put it, "rarely a search for pure meaning. It was an interactive process of borrowing. Translations of works ... were unauthorized and not intended to be authoritative. Translators themselves became a vocal presence in the text; the aim was often 'translating the gist' and explicating the rest." The inequality of exchange and of the power dynamics determining translations is evident and should be taken seriously, yet the degree of cross-fertilization and complexity that marked the use and development of these ideas is outstanding. Thus some of the main anarchist theoreticians, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Malatesta, Jean Grave, and Elisée Reclus (whose work as a geographer was also well-known), were translated (usually very selectively and loosely) into numerous languages. Similarly Maxim Gorki, Leo Tolstoi, Eugène Sue, and Anatole France, among others, became bedside reading for radicals and aspiring radicals in the four corners of the world, a phenomenon that recalls Benedict Anderson's notion of the making of "transnational libraries." The paths of translation were not necessarily linear and often involved multiple translations through various intermediary languages. Such is the case, for example, for some of the Arabic editions of Gorki's work, which were most likely translated from the Portuguese by a Syrian who had emigrated to Brazil, and which were published in 1906 in São Paulo.

The radical credentials of Bakunin and Gorki are unquestioned, yet a hundred years ago a much wider array of authors were deemed to be radical or had their work interpreted through a radical lens. It might be somewhat baffling today to discover that Alexandre Dumas père's Conte de Monte Cristo was part of that radical reading list, but it was indeed; the story of false accusations, revenge, and ultimate justice was read out loud by cigar rollers in Cuba, devoured in its Modern Greek version in Istanbul in the 1840s, right after the French version had appeared, translated into Ottoman Turkish in 1871 to be serialized in the translator's satirical paper, Diyojen, and published in its Arabic translation in Cairo during the same year. That novel as well as other writings by Dumas were also serially published by anarchist newspapers in Italian, French, and countless other languages. The works of Victorien Sardou and Eugène Sue have now sunk into oblivion, but in the first decade of the twentieth century their translation and adaptation to the stage triggered passions and thrust radicals into opposition against conservatives in many parts the world because people identified with their message of social justice and, in the case of Sue's Juif errant, the scathing attack on the Catholic Church and the Jesuits. This need to reread authors who have been forcibly deradicalized but who were in fact read radically at a given historical moment also applies to Shakespeare, whose plays were translated into multiple languages and performed on various stages throughout the world in the late nineteenth century. In the context of England and, I would argue, elsewhere, Shakespeare should be "return[ed] ... to centre-stage in working-class radicalism by considering his importance within popular politics and the role of the theatre in promoting radical reform, as a vehicle for radical ideas, or as a meeting place for reformers." Other authors have in fact not only been deradicalized, but have been interpreted as promoters of free market and liberal economic thought. This has been the fate of Samuel Smiles, whose book Self-Help was a staple within the mutual improvement movement due to its emphasis on ways for individuals (especially workers) to pursue self-cultivation and liberation. Self-Help, which became a global best-seller in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth and was widely read and quoted in Japan, Egypt, and Britain, has been reclassified by Middle Eastern historians as a classical work of capitalist, liberal economics.

I mentioned anarchists' belief in the need to first liberate the individual in order to liberate society and I underlined their focus on triggering an intellectual rebellion. Anarchists sought to bridge the gap between high and low culture through the theater and literature. Their faith in the implacable necessity of individual emancipation and growth as a sine qua non of social emancipation gave them faith in the "liberating powers of literature." In London's Jewish East End it was the anarchists who most effectively mobilized the "liberating power of literature" in Yiddish anarchist papers, where they published Yiddish translations of Molière, Herbert Spencer, Strindberg, Tolstoi, Ibsen, Chekhov, Gorki, Anatole France, and Kropotkin. Similarly the periodicals of Alexandria's (Italian) anarchists invariably included translated passages of literary works by Tolstoi, Dumas, and Anatole France. Through the establishment of free reading rooms, libraries, night schools, and plays, anarchists in London's East End, Alexandria, and elsewhere incorporated and popularized great masterpieces, teaching Shakespeare, Dante, and Tolstoi, and sometimes also lectured on Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

Yet this emerging radical global canon contained certain omissions that might seem odd today, with some authors conspicuously missing or underrepresented. Most striking, from our contemporary perspective, is the relative absence of Marx. Although the Communist Manifesto was translated into a number of languages (including Armenian), it is unclear how many people actually read it, or any of his other works, after Marx's death. Only a few radicals and radical sympathizers active in the Eastern Mediterranean mentioned Marx or commented on his work; when some of them (such as Salama Musa and Farah Antun) did cite him, they did so quite briefly. In the case of Antun, the constant and consistent misspelling of Marx's name (transliterated into Arabic as "Max") may suggest that Antun had only heard about Marx's theories before (or instead of) reading them. The same was often true of radicals elsewhere. Upon his return from Europe to his native Philippines, the writer and revolutionary nationalist and anarchist sympathizer José Rizal brought with him his library, which consisted of the usual suspects: Dumas, Hugo, Sue, and Zola. But there is no mention of Marx. This omission was certainly not confined to intellectuals or militants in the periphery, but seems to have been quite common among European radicals as well. Marx's absence does not necessarily mean that radicals were not familiar with his ideas, but rather that other authors were more popular and considered more worthy of commenting on and summarizing for the people. Some of these writers had themselves integrated Marx's writings into their own, developing their own cannibalized version of his radical thought, or had written commentaries on Marx's writings, leading one historian of the European Left to conclude that "early socialist intellectuals [had] acquired garbled versions of Marx."

Printing, Periodicals, and the Making of Global Imagining Communities

If books were important vehicles in the making of this global popular radical culture, it was periodicals that truly served as its cornerstone. In the late nineteenth century, probably starting around 1880, periodicals began appearing and multiplying exponentially around the world. The relationship between nationalism and print has been extensively explored, notably in Anderson's Imagined Communities, yet print, specifically periodicals, was often the main vehicle for all sorts of ideas. As such it was crucial to all forms of movements and ideologies in the late nineteenth century, allowing people to connect and create imagining communities and ties of solidarity across lands and seas. Such reading communities had existed for centuries before the advent of print through the circulation of manuscripts, and many of these reading and writing connections endured, occasionally forming a sphere parallel to that of print periodicals and occasionally merging or overlapping with them. Nonetheless there was a quantitative as well as qualitative change in the kind of reading communities that emerged in the late nineteenth century. In newspapers and periodicals people all over the world read, and read simultaneously, stories on similar topics of concern and global events and reflected on the lessons they could draw from these events, hence simultaneously universalizing their own contexts and localizing the global. One of the main lessons radicals drew from world news was "how to 'do' revolution." Through newspapers Chinese nationalists "eagerly followed events in Cuba and the Philippines-as well as the Boer nationalist struggle against British imperialism, which Filipinos also studied-to learn how to 'do' revolution, anti-colonialism, and anti-imperialism." Arab audiences read equally long descriptions of the Boer War, as well as briefer coverage of events in Cuba and the Philippines, and the Young Turks, while preparing for their 1908 revolution, closely followed news of the 1905 Russian Revolution and the 1906 Iranian Constitutional Revolution.

Similarly noted with interest and covered by the press around the world were the spread of mass politics in Europe through the introduction of male universal suffrage and various important political victories by socialist parties in Europe in the 1890s . The rather stellar rise of the German Social Democratic Party attracted a good deal of coverage in the Eastern Mediterranean press. The party reappeared on the political scene in 1890 after it had been banned for a few decades; it scored more and more votes until becoming Germany's strongest party in 1912. Newspapers and periodicals outside Europe not only reported on the socialists' successes; they also followed parliamentary debates and decisions, especially crucial changes in legislation and the implementation of important reforms. And it was not just the victories of socialist parties, but also a variety of militant social movements and radical activities that received coverage and were discussed in the pages of periodicals. Workers' strikes, trials of anarchists (such as that of Ravachol, the French anarchist and bomb thrower par excellence, tried and executed in 1892, and that of Ferrer in 1909), anticolonial struggles, ideas pertaining to mutual aid, social reform, wealth redistribution, and mass education-such topics received coverage (not necessarily positive coverage, of course) and comment in periodicals and newspapers almost everywhere, certainly in cities integrated into the world economy and connected to the rest of the world by telegraph.

Although visions of the world and interest in world news still followed specific geographies and favored certain regions over others-geographies, routes, and solidarities drawn by empires or diasporas-this still resulted in fairly extensive reporting about world affairs, especially for parts of the world, such as the Eastern Mediterranean, that were drawn into overlapping and competing empires, formal or otherwise. The region was subjected to imperialism or imperial interests by both the British and the French; was still part of another, different kind of empire, the Ottoman Empire; and hosted or refracted multiple diasporas, connecting them to many parts of the world and fostering interest and news exchange with these different corners of the globe.

What we see in this period, then, is the emergence of a global set of concerns and concepts, in which radicalism occupied a central place. Partly because they were global, partly as they became globalized, these concerns had enough flexibility to be useful and to be adopted in different localities. Hence the emergence of "a language of identification and common cause [that] serves to link social movements to each other. The metaphors and slogans work better if they are not too specific, so that the participants in each social situation can fill in their own details yet retain identification with those far away who must fill in quite different details. In 1789 'the rights of man' and 'abolition of feudal privilege' worked well; in 1989 'democracy' and 'multiparty elections' worked equally well."


In this chapter I have sketched the contours of the complex and vibrant scene (or matrix) from which global radicalism emerged in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and manifested itself in a global radical culture. I emphasized the multiplicity of movements, institutions, and networks that articulated and implemented radical ideas and that had a global reach and could circulate ideas across lands and seas. This global radicalism went hand in hand with migration flows and that it allowed for local interpretations and accommodations of what radicalism meant. Radicalism was package of ideas that worked at different registers: some of the discussions among radicals were highbrow and took place in learned circles and in cutting-edge and newly emerging disciplines (sociology, urban planning, political economy); others took place among peasants, artisans, and construction or industrial workers. Some radical ideas were published in elite periodicals for experts; others were distributed through pamphlets or periodicals accessible to the masses; still others were expressed on the stage, in coffeehouses, and in mutual aid societies and night schools. The rest of this book projects some of these radical beams back onto the Eastern Mediterranean; mutual aid societies, mass education, anarchism, freemasonry, anticlericalism, and anti-imperialism appear and reappear as discourses and presences in the three cities under study, perhaps in slightly different guises (or variations on the themes) and using a multiplicity of registers and languages. Chapter 2 picks up where this one stops: with the claim that the story of radicalism is inextricably connected to the story of periodicals and to the making of transnational and global communities of readers. My focus is on the coverage of the Left (and its radical attachments) by two influential, nonleftist Arabic periodicals (eventually) based in Cairo that played a central role in introducing reading audiences in Cairo, Alexandria, and Beirut to radical and leftist concepts.