Anarchism and Political Theory: Contemporary Problems / Uri Gordon, Mansfield CollegeSubmitted for the degree of DPhil in Politics, Trinity 2005
This thesis explores contemporary anarchism, in its re-emergence as a socialmovement and political theory over the past decade. Its method combines culturalsociology and philosophical argumentation, in a participatory research framework.The first part, “Explaining Anarchism”, argues that it should be addressed primarilyas a political culture, with distinct forms of organisation, of campaigning and directaction repertoires, and of political discourse and ideology. Largely discontinuous withthe historical workers’ and peasants’ anarchist movement, contemporary anarchism hasfused in the intersection of radical direct-action movements in the North since the 1960s:feminism, ecology, and the resistance to nuclear energy and weapons, war, andneoliberal globalisation. Anarchist ideological discourse is analysed with attention to keyconcepts such as “domination” and “prefigurative politics”, emphasising the avowedlyopen-ended, experimental nature of the anarchist project.The second part, “Anarchist Anxieties”, is a set of theoretical interventions in fourmajor topics of controversy in anarchism today. Leadership in anarchist politics isaddressed through sustained attention to the concept of power, proposing an agenda forequalising access to influence among activists, and an “ethic of solidarity” around thewielding of non-coercive power. Violence is approached through a recipient-baseddefinition of the concept, exploring the limits of any attempt to justify violence andoffering observations on violent empowerment, revenge and armed struggle.Technology is subject to a strong anarchist critique, which stresses its inherently socialnature, leading to the exploration of Luddism, the disillusioned use of ICTs, and thepromotion of lo-tech, sustainable human-nature interfaces as strategical directions for ananarchist politics of technology. Finally, the lens of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is usedto address anarchist dilemmas around national liberation, exploring anarchist responsesin conflict-ridden societies, and direct action approaches to peacemaking.