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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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. 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 and this is evident in the chapters by Karen Goaman (chapter 9) and Bronislaw Szerszynski and Emma Tomalin (chapter 11). In recent years, the political perspective of anarcho-primitivism has gained considerable appeal and notoriety for taking anarchist theory into areas of anthropology and trying to ask challenging questions about the nature of ‘civilisation’ by

in Changing anarchism
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-technological and anti-civilisational strand in anarchist thought. This offers something of a challenge to anarchism as 22 Part I Thinking a political philosophy of the Enlightenment, as well as to other contemporary versions of ecological anarchism and, to some extent, anarcho-communism. Millett, like Moore, identifies a psychological and psychoanalytic dimension to understanding authority, alienation and history, which is a powerful and still underacknowledged aspect of contemporary anarchism. Purkis addresses similar issues in his chapter, but from the perspective of the

in Changing anarchism
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Why anarchism still matters

ecology and the heroic and sometimes flawed attempt by Murray Bookchin to link Enlightenment Why anarchism still matters 3 rationality with ecological thought. Experienced activists from campaigns in the 1970s and 1980s like Starhawk (2002b) help a new generation negotiate the pitfalls of protesting when the going gets tough. Postmodern and poststructural theory inspires artistic practitioners to problematise dominant representations of power and to construct more popular aesthetics based around grass roots activism. Scientific-minded activists are drawn to theories

in Changing anarchism
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How anarchism still matters

Jonathan Purkis and James Bowen Conclusion: how anarchism still matters Introduction As possibly the most idealistic, complicated and contradictory political philosophy to have emerged from the Enlightenment, anarchism occupies a unique and under-acknowledged place in the history of ideas. The chapters in this volume have engaged with and critiqued much of what is taken by mainstream academics and commentators to be anarchism. In the era that we have called that of ‘global anarchism’, the classical anarchist canon has come under attack from a variety of

in Changing anarchism
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Although Marxism and even anarchism are sometimes treated as if they are simply varieties of socialism, we consider that they have sufficiently distinctive characteristics to warrant separate treatment. Starting with Marxism, we examine Marx’s theories of history, economics and politics before discussing the controversies within Marx-inspired political organisations in the

in Understanding political ideas and movements

nature of power itself. Some of these will be discussed in greater detail below, but it is first worth reflecting on where there are existing areas of sociology that might offer assistance in the development of an anarchist sociology. Early indicators On first viewing, the evidence is not good. To date, the role of anarchism in researching and analysing societies past and present has been rather marginal, and apparently ineffectual, outside of the anarchist milieu itself. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, an explanatory framework deriving from such

in Changing anarchism
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movement away from deterministic theorisation towards more holistic, ecological and complex visions of reality. As we have suggested in our Introduction to the volume, these re-emerging views complement much of contemporary anarchist theory and practice, which has itself always posed challenging questions about the social and natural construction of reality. Although acknowledging the role of particular classes and élites within society in the perpetuation of exploitation and oppression, all these authors explore the complexity of the boundaries of complicity in power

in Changing anarchism
Reflections on contemporary anarchism, anti-capitalism and the international scene

9 Karen Goaman The anarchist travelling circus: reflections on contemporary anarchism, anti-capitalism and the international scene Introduction The phrase ‘anarchist travelling circus’ was uttered in stern tones by Tony Blair, as, after the European Union summit in Gothenburg, Sweden, in June 2001, he condemned the protests that have converged on every significant such gathering over the last few years. The unintentional note of joyfulness, play and spontaneity captured by this phrase was quickly recuperated by the movement itself, appearing on a banner, and

in Changing anarchism
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Religion and spirituality in environmental direct action

originating from experts, but are subjected to stringent social critique and contestation. According to this analysis, anarchist thought and practice in general and environmental direct action in particular might be seen as at the vanguard of a new round of secularisation, as quasi-religious deference towards expertise is replaced by more contestatory, critical and active forms of citizenship. However, as has been argued by writers such as Norman Cohn (1970) and Murray Bookchin (1982), the history of anarchism is interwoven with that of religious movements such as

in Changing anarchism