You Have the Right to Revolt: Anti-Capitalism and the Anglo-American Tradition
This study will show that from the 1790s to the 1970s, British and American anti-capitalists used the courtroom to argue that their revolutionary politics were not a foreign criminal conspiracy, but part of a homegrown patriotic tradition. During their trials, Anarchists, Socialists, Communists, Wobblies, Black Panthers, and others on the radical Left, all offered an alternative reading of what we could term the "Anglo-American tradition." Radicals argued that founding documents like the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence, and figures like Thomas Paine and Abraham Lincoln, gave them a sacred "right to revolt," and they traced this right all the way back to the beginnings of Western Civilization to figures like Socrates and Jesus. When British and American radicals went on trial, they didn’t need to call on Marx or Lenin to justify their revolutionary beliefs when they could just as easily call upon an indigenous radical tradition closer to home. This study hopes to inspire a renewed conversation about this radical reading of the Anglo-American tradition, and show how reengaging with this history will be instrumental in creating a new anti-capitalist Left to carry on the struggle today.
Committee chairLaura Beers
Committee member(s)Andrew Demshuk; Peter Kuznick; Holly Jackson
Degree grantorAmerican University. College of Arts and Sciences