read the outputs. But in the more general sense of producing intellectual labour thatis relevant to activists, the fact that a book or journal issue can be freely accessedonline—whether legally or through piracy—does not mean that it will actually beread.Theformatitselfisprohibitive.Tome,thereseemstobenoalternativetodoingthe actual legwork and disseminating our ideas at speaking events, workshops and facilitated discussions.The point behind the preceding thoughts, however, is that almost allanarchademic efforts seem to begin from the standpoint of afﬁnity with a politicalcommunity to whose struggles they seek to contribute. Whether this is done byabsorbing and reﬁning the participants’ own insights, or by attaching them toconceptual tools and theoretical frameworks with which they may not be familiar,there seems to be a shared desire to function as agents of reﬂexivity for wider anarchist circles.But what, in turn, is this reﬂexivity supposed to achieve? Again, with researchinvolving discrete groups and struggles the dividend may be localized and speciﬁc.But as many of the articles in this special issue indicate, the sought-after audience isoftentheanarchistmovementasawhole.Thatsuchanentitycanevenbeconceivedof as an audience, that is, that it should be thought to have some common andoverarching concerns that intellectual labour can address, brings us closer to theconsideration of the question of strategy. Yet the term “strategy” itself requires some further clariﬁcation. For example, themembers of the Autonomous Geographies Collective (2010:256) refer to “strategicinterventions” as a matter of “orienting our educational and research agendas inways that will decisively help those on the front line of campaigns and struggles”. Yet it is not clear what qualiﬁes such “decisive help” as speciﬁcally
. In thenext section, I would like to dedicate closer attention to this term, speciﬁcally in thecontext of its apparent denigration in the postanarchist vocabulary.
This section constitutes a preliminary attempt to reinstate strategic thinking as acomponentofanarchismfollowingitsabsorptionofpoststructuralistinsights—albeitnot in the sense of “strategic” which the postanarchist framework rejects. To do this,let me return to the source distinction elaborated by Todd May.May categorizes political philosophies into three types: formal, strategic, andtactical. Formal political philosophy cleaves “either to the pole of what ought tobe or to the pole of what is at the expense of the tension between the two” (May1994:4). Rawls’s
A Theory of Justice
History and Class Consciousness
aregiven as examples of either option. Strategic and tactical political philosophies, onthe other hand, inhabit that tension explicitly. May (1994:7) writes that strategicpoliticalphilosophyincludesananalysisoftheconcretehistoricalandsocialsituation“not merely to realize the ethical program but also to determine what concretepossibilitiespresentthemselvesforintervention
. . .
theethicalprogramislimitedandperhapspartially determinedbythatsituation”.Thischaracteristic, Maymakesclear,is also true of tactical political philosophy. The difference between them, however, isthat strategic political philosophy also “involves a unitary analysis that aims towardsa single goal. It is engaged in a project that it regards as the centre of political
2012 The Author.
2012 Antipode Foundation Ltd.