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The French Anarchists in London, 1880-1914Exile and Transnationalism in the First Globalisation$
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Constance Bantman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781846318801

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846318801.001.0001

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The Road to the Aliens Act: The Anarchists Become a Political and Diplomatic Stake

The Road to the Aliens Act: The Anarchists Become a Political and Diplomatic Stake

(p.131) 5 The Road to the Aliens Act: The Anarchists Become a Political and Diplomatic Stake
The French Anarchists in London, 1880-1914

Constance Bantman

Liverpool University Press

In spite of their limited numbers and altogether unthreatening character, the international anarchist groups in Britain came to play a significant role in the redefinition of the country's immigration and asylum policy. Both the presence of the anarchists and the use of police surveillance posed problems as they contradicted Britain's traditionally liberal asylum policy, a matter of great national pride, perceived as a pillar of national exceptionalism. The early 1890s witnessed the emergence of a loose ‘restrictionist’ party advocating stricter policing and limitations on immigration and asylums, basing its arguments on fears of economic and racial decline through the uncontrolled immigration of radical foreigners. In 1898, the international conference on the policing of anarchism held in Rome resulted in agreements which laid down the basis for Interpol; however, Britain and France refused to enter these in the name of national autonomy of action. The agreements were strengthened in 1902 and 1904, but Britain still refused to enter any formal arrangement. The turning point came in 1905, with the passing of the Aliens’ Act, restricting entry into the country for the first time since 1826.

Keywords:   Restrictionists, Liberalism, Aliens Act, Lord Salisbury, Arnold White, Antisemitism, East End, Extradition, Rome conference

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