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Anarchist theory and practice in a global age

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.

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Part 1I Doing The following four chapters provide a snapshot of a number of debates and critical positions which inform contemporary anarchist practice. The specific areas covered offer unique perspectives on aspects of socialisation – sexuality, education, addiction and mental health – and how this can be challenged at a number of different levels. Each of the contributors comes from a specialist professional or activist background (rather than an established academic one), and to varying degrees the chapters bear out points made in Part I, ‘Thinking’ regarding

in Changing anarchism

anticapitalist protests, the poststructuralist perspective affords insight into how new modes of anarchist practice are emerging. Bookchin attempted to delineate this debate in Social anarchism or lifestyle anarchism: an unbridgeable chasm (1995) thus denouncing postmodernism or lifestyle anarchism. Unsurprisingly, Bookchin’s analysis is not accepted universally within anarchist circles, and a trenchant critique of that work may be found in Bob Black’s Anarchy after Leftism (1997). In focusing on the relationship between social anarchism and poststructuralist anarchism, it is

in Changing anarchism
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Stirner, anarchy, subjectivity and the art of living

existential and ontological concern and one rich in implication for the definition of contemporary anarchist practice, activity and projects. Central to this process is the issue of anarchist subjectivity and intersubjectivity, as well as related concerns about language and creativity. Hakim Bey, language and ontological anarchy Hakim Bey’s essay ‘Ontological anarchy in a nutshell’ (1994) provides a concise but landmark formulation of this issue. The opening passage of the essay focuses on the existential status of the anarchist and anarchist practice: Since absolutely

in Changing anarchism
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anarchism has ‘regressed’ into solipsism and hedonism. Clearly one cannot ‘read’ these forms of spiritual anarchism as evidence of this; rather they act as forms of empowerment, or as these authors call it, ‘enchantment’. As Szerszynski and Tomalin themselves point out, anarchism has always entertained something of this spiritual dimension, as evidenced by the history of millenarianism, with which it shares a lot of common ground. Chapters 9 and 11 also include material on the importance of the symbolic in contemporary anarchist practice. Given the global audience in

in Changing anarchism
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Rethinking anarchist strategies

globalisation and environmental destruction are ‘horizontal networks . . . based on principles of decentralized, non-hierarchical consensus democracy’ (2002: 70). These may be pluralistic and alliance-driven, but since they constitute part of the debate about the nature of ‘democracy’ – representative, participatory or inclusive – and there are degrees of overlap with anarchist practice, they should not be dismissed as irrelevant. In a sense, this is just a continuation of the old anarchist argument for why squatting empty properties, attending town meetings or being involved

in Changing anarchism