This chapter suggests that some of the impediments to the acceptability of anarchist ideas lie in often dogmatic, exclusive and fundamentalist approaches to effecting change. Despite its role as 'the conscience of politics', anarchism is still in need of a constant revision. The chapter also suggests a number of ways that might be useful in the political climate. The relatively marginal position that anarchism occupies in terms of both the popular and critical imagination suggests that the subject of anarchist strategy is one worthy of reassessment. In keeping with the need to conceptualise and challenge power in as many contexts as possible, it should not be forgotten that intervening in 'democratic' arenas is just one possible area of anarchist activity. One of the areas of anarchist activity which is often overlooked in the face of more glamorous events such as anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation protests on a global stage is education.
This book attempts to convey the different sociological contexts for how contemporary anarchist theory and practice is to be understood. It concentrates on the issue of broadening the parameters of how anarchist theory and practice is conceptualized. The book compares the major philosophical differences and strategies between the classical period (what Dave Morland calls 'social anarchism') and the contemporary anti-capitalist movements which he regards as being poststructuralist in nature. It also documents the emergence of the now highly influential anti-technological and anti-civilisational strand in anarchist thought. This offers something of a challenge to anarchism as a political philosophy of the Enlightenment, as well as to other contemporary versions of ecological anarchism and, to some extent, anarcho-communism. The book further provides a snapshot of a number of debates and critical positions which inform contemporary anarchist practice. The specific areas covered offer unique perspectives on sexuality, education, addiction and mental health aspects of socialisation and how this can be challenged at a number of different levels. The fact that anarchism has largely premised its critique on a psychological dimension to power relations, not just a material one, has been an advantage in this respect. Ecological anarchism, which has been the driving force behind much contemporary anarchist theory and practice, has been committed to thinking about the relationships between people and 'nature' in new ways.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book attempts to convey the different sociological contexts for how contemporary anarchist theory and practice is to be understood. It concentrates on the issue of broadening the parameters of how anarchist theory and practice is conceptualised. The question of individual liberty and collective needs raises an equally important anarchist principle: equating the means of an action with its ends. The book compares the major philosophical differences and strategies between the classical period and the contemporary anti-capitalist movements. It assesses the viability of libertarian education, a century on from the life and work of Spanish writer and activist Francisco Ferrer and finds considerable evidence for the endurance of these ideals.
This part outlines the philosophical shifts that have occurred within anarchism and shows how different political voices have emerged to mobilise around an increasing plurality of injustices. It identifies a psychological and psychoanalytic dimension to understand authority, alienation and history, which is a powerful and still under acknowledged aspect of contemporary anarchism. The chapter presents poststructuralist literature, a potentially useful tool for understanding power, particularly when theorising contemporary social movements.
This part provides a snapshot of a number of debates and critical positions which inform about the contemporary anarchist practice. It offers unique perspectives on the aspects of socialisation such as sexuality, education, addiction and mental health. The part demonstrates the sensitivity and ethical dilemmas that must accompany any libertarian sociological method. It concentrates on education, age, communication and the importance of art and creativity in the libertarian struggle, something that places them in the tradition of writers like Herbert Read.
This part addresses the notions of being and becoming within different areas of anarchist theory and practice. Ecological anarchism, which has been the driving force behind much contemporary anarchist theory and practice, has been committed to think about the relationships between people and 'nature' in new ways. The part discusses some of the psychological strategies taken by political activists to cope with the burdens which contemporary Western societies bestow upon the individual.
This chapter reviews the different ways that anarchism can be seen in terms of its often under-acknowledged role in political change. It suggests that anarchism can serve as a 'conscience' to many non-anarchist or marginally anarchist milieus in terms of the influence of its central ideas. The chapter also suggests that the possibilities for the resistance to power and the construction of what Dennis Hardy have called 'practical utopias' are actually increasing. These possibilities are increasing in the wake of the post-11th September, 2001 clampdowns and repression, despite the anecdotal evidence to the contrary. A classical anarchist position has been to organise regardless of what institutional forces are doing; perhaps this is an opportunity to develop a consistent yet unpopular anarchist realpolitik. The chapter also presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in this book.