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Changing anarchism

Anarchist theory and practice in a global age

Edited by: Jonathan Purkis and James Bowen

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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Dave Morland

1 Dave Morland Anti-capitalism and poststructuralist anarchism1 Introduction Social anarchism has a long reputation as a disparate and incoherent ideology. Commentators, sympathetic and objective alike, have frequently accused social anarchism of being too diverse to constitute a singular, recognisable ideology at all (Chomsky, 1970; Miller, 1984; Ball and Dagger, 1991). To a degree this is true: social anarchism is a loose and diverse ideology that may be too elusive for some commentators to categorise neatly and clearly. However, other commentators, myself

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James Bowen and Jonathan Purkis

determinants, rather than single sources exercised by the State or the economy. In the opening chapter of this section, Dave Morland 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. Whilst anarchism has always, in theory, contested power wherever it appears, Morland argues that what we are witnessing in the era of poststructural anarchism are new concepts of ‘totality’ where power is constructed and resisted in all manner of social and cultural

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Jamie Heckert

talk about sex all the time. Unfortunately, constructive dialogue about the personal and political issues of sexuality is disproportionately limited in relation to our everyday discourse. Anarchism needs to move beyond its traditional focus on the State and the market in order to address hierarchy throughout society, not just in the public sphere. Sexuality is constructed into hierarchies and is interconnected with other forms of social divisions including gender, sexual orientation, class and ethnicity. Any efforts to build a society that includes among its values

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Series:

Kevin Harrison and Tony Boyd

-first-century social and economic conditions. Turning to the wide-ranging form of political thought known as anarchism, we discuss anarchist views of human nature, the state, liberty and equality, and economic life. The chapter ends with a critique of anarchism and some thoughts as to its relevance to modern politics. POINTS TO CONSIDER Is Marxism correct in identifying class as the most important form of

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Jonathan Purkis

obviously politicised assumptions forming the basis of any understanding of the world can be seen to transgress the sociological notion of value freedom. This is in spite of the institutionalisation of an equally politicised, but apparently more developed set of analyses of the world, Marxism. This forms something of a second reason: that Marxism has had a very long and dominating influence in the social sciences and humanities, especially since the 1960s. Anarchism has never achieved more than a toehold in the academic sphere and its intellectual depth has constantly

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James Bowen and Jonathan Purkis

Part III Being One of the ongoing attractions of anarchism is that it constantly raises questions about the nature of being in ways often sidelined or suppressed by other political perspectives. Why do people rebel against authority? Why do they also feel compelled to offer alternative solutions to collective problems through co-operation? How interrelated or separate are humans from nature, as well as from very different human cultures? To what extent are technological systems creating new forms of identity which are not necessarily liberatory? How can one

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Introduction

Why anarchism still matters

James Bowen and Jonathan Purkis

of chaos, complexity and emergence to help understand cause and effect in the social and natural worlds and the self-organising and yet unpredictable patterns that influence all life on earth. The title of this book, Changing anarchism, attempts to convey the different sociological contexts for how contemporary anarchist theory and practice is to be understood. On the one hand, the contents epitomise many of the conceptual and practical concerns of this particular era, marking the changes in theories of power and offering strategies of resistance. Whilst we do not

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Conclusion

How anarchism still matters

Jonathan Purkis and James Bowen

perspectives which have posited different interpretations of history and the use of power based on narratives of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, environment, technology, social psychology and anthropocentrism. The consolidation of these critiques – all of which have long histories – has reinvigorated anarchism and allowed a constructive dialogue with the classical-era theories of Bakunin, Proudhon, Godwin and Kropotkin et al. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, anarchism is extremely theoretically diverse, with considerable fragmentation based on different

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Lived poetry

Stirner, anarchy, subjectivity and the art of living

John Moore

, Social anarchism or lifestyle anarchism: an unbridgeable chasm (Bookchin, 1995).4 In order to understand the significance of Stirner to both modernist anarchism and (more pertinently) the new anarchism(s), the nature and significance of his thought needs to be radically revised. Stirner and the anarcho-psychological episteme In The order of things and The archaeology of knowledge, Michel Foucault develops a discursive archaeological methodology which ‘attempts to study the structure of the discourses of the various disciplines that have claimed to put forth theories of