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Foreword by John Clark
Santa Barbara, California

Denver, Colorado

Oxford, England
Copyright 2012 by Randall Amster
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Amster, Randall.
Anarchism today I Randall Amster ; foreword by john Clark.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978--313-39872-8 (cloth: alk. paper)-ISBN 978-0-313-39873-5 (ebook)
1. Anarchism. I. Title.
HX833.A47 2012
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ISBN: 978-0-313-39872-8
EISBN: 978-0-313-39873-5
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For Arlo, a shining star, and Zeno, a natural-born anarchist ...
Foreword by John Clark 7
Preface 711
Acknowledgments xvn
Introduction: The Resurgence of Anarchism 77
1 Contemporary Anarchist Thought 1
2 Anarchism in Action 23
3 The Vi olence Questi on 43
4 Anarchist Ecologies 63
5 "Do It Yourself"-Together 8 7
6 From the Local to the Gl obal 1 1 9
7 Assessing Anarchism' s Impact 1 45
Concl usion: Anarchism as Future Vision 1 65
Notes 1 77
Bibliography 207
Index 225
he best pol i ti cal works are those that are rooted most deeply in the
truths of experience, maintaining their connection with the demands
of the real lives of people and communities. Randall Amster' s Anarchism
Today i s one of those works.
I frst met Randal l i n September of 2005 , shortl y a fter Hurri ca ne
Katri na. My fri end Leeni e Hal bert had j ust opened up her house as a
center for relief activities. Volunteers-a spirited collection of anarchists,
greens, friends, and neighbors-had spontaneously gathered, inspired in
part by the anarchi st-i nfuenced Common Ground Col l ective that had
organized a week before. Randal l and a group of wonderful student vol
unteers from Prescott College appeared, and they i mmedi ately became
an integral part of our small community.
Sometimes, in a period of severe crisis and great trauma, the desire for a
better world is vividly awakened. Sometimes, it impels people to begin to
create that better worl d, here and now, in the mi dst of the cri si s. This i s
what Rebecca Sol ni t writes about beauti ful l y i n her excel l ent book A
Paradise Built in Hell. 1 I t seems to me that thi s was very much what
occurred in our l ittle sol i darity community. I think that we had the good
fortune, i n those di ffcult times , to experience vi vi dly some of the most
basi c things that anarchi st community i s al l about.
A reporter from the New York daily Newsday wrote an article entitled
" On a Street Named Desire " about our work.
He described our group as
" peopl e who bel ieve i n do-it-yourself action within smal l groups , " who
wanted to "feed the hungry and bring water to the thirsty, to fx the bro
ken homes of the nei ghbors and to offer a sense of community i n thei r
deserted streets. " As Leenie explained i t, "I j ust wanted to bring love back
to my neighborhood. "
x Foreword
To me, all this expresses perfectly the spirit of anarchism, a spirit that is
al so conveyed el oquentl y in Randal l Amster' s book. He says, at one
poi nt, i n a wonderful l y reveal i ng passage, " I truly l ove anarchi sm i n the
same way that I love humanki nd. " I fnd thi s to be very movi ng and
i nspi ri ng. What i s our pol itical practice real l y about? We are fortunate,
indeed, i f we can say that it is above al l a way of l ovi ng people, and loving
the earth. Ideally, this i s what our life' s work should be about. This i s the
meaning of " right livelihood, " and it also describes the goal of an anar
chist community.
Certain transformati ve experiences have the potential to become the
models by which to j udge the rest of our l i ves. We can come to learn that
an anarchist l i fe means, at least in part, overcoming the devastating and
demoral izing instrumental i zati on of our l i ves by the system of domi na
tion. One of our great musi cal geni uses, Dr. John, wrote a famous song
entitled " Right Pl ace, Wrong Time. " We al l know the experience. To l i ve
an anarchi st life means that, at least part of the ti me, as in our experience
"On A Street Named Desire, " we can have a sense of being i n exactly the
right place, doing exactly the right thing, at exactly the right time. And it
means looking forward to, and striving for, a day when this is what every
one's everyday l i fe will be l i ke.
Strangely, many discussi ons of anarchi sm, i ncl udi ng some of the most
techni cal l y competent ones, fai l to focus on what i s most basi c, most
meaningful , and most compel l i ng about anarchi sm. A great strength of
Randal l ' s book i s that he conti nual ly brings us back to these basi cs. He
remi nds the reader that anarchism i s not a collection of abstract hypothe
ses about the state or other theoretical questi ons, but rather "a sensi bi l ity,
a way of being in the world, an ethos, a vision, a cosmology. " It' s an al l
encompassi ng mode of thought and practi ce. It' s a way of experiencing
the worl d and l i vi ng i n the worl d, and speci fca l l y, a way of bei ng
together i n the world and bei ng-together with the worl d.
Randa l l gets exactl y to the poi nt i n procl ai mi ng that anarchi sm i s
about " reclaiming our essenti al humani ty" and " our innate convivi al ity. "
Anarchi sm i s not, contrary t o a common cri ti ci sm, a naive bel i ef i n the
"essential goodness " of everyone. However, it i s a belief that as mal leabl e
as human beings may be, there are certai n real ities rooted deeply in our
evolutionary heritage and our soci al history upon whi ch we can draw i n
our pursui t of a worl d of mutual ai d and sol i darity. Tibetans cal l this res
ervoir of goodness Lha, the benefcent spirit within each person. Many
other tradi ti ons have si mi l ar concepts . But contemporary researchers
such as Mi chael Tomasel l o have al so demonstrated, i n experi ments
showi ng that infants and young chi l dren exhi bi t spontaneous altrui sm,
Foreword xi
that these realities are empirically veri fabl e.
There is a materi al basi s for
sol i darity!
It has been popul ar recently to describe anarchi st proj ects as " prefg
urative, " a term that is often explained by using the Gandhi an inj unction
( perhaps never actual l y uttered by Gandhi ) to " be the change you want to
see. " But despite all the tal k about pre-fguring, for anarchi sts the " be" is
al ways more i mportant than the "pre. " As Randal l stresses agai n and
agai n i n this book, anarchi sm i s above al l about realizing the free commu
ni ty here and now. As he notes, " Anarchy i s everywhere . " This has
al ways been a maj or theme i n anarchi st t hought, from Recl us ' s and
Kropotki n' s cl assic works on the ubi quity of mutual ai d i n human history
and nature to Colin Ward's recent accounts of " anarchy in action. "
In Anarchism Today, we fnd several long l i sts of a multitude of forms
of anarchist organization that are going on right now. These lists convey
an idea of the vast scope of anarchi st activity, as wel l as of the very spe
ci fc ways in which a new world really i s being created wi thi n the shel l
of the ol d. There i s no need to repeat the l i sts, si nce you are about to read
the book. The important thing to note i s that they depict the development
of a many-si ded proj ect of soci al transformati on. Randal l shows that
contemporary anarchi sm is a very practical effort that takes on ( to sum
mari ze bri efy a vast proj ect) the creation of a new ethos, a new counter
ideology, a new soci al imaginary, and new forms of organizati on, al l of
which add up a new world of free, cooperative communities.
This relates to another of Randal l ' s pervasive themes. He rightly places
enormous emphasi s on the i mportance of direct action i n anarchi sm. A
maj or i ssue in contemporary l eft theory has been the " Problem of the
Act. " This preoccupation is a reaction to the decl i ne of truly radical and
revolutionary left movements across the globe, as well as to the seeming
lack of any will to fundamentally chal lenge the system of dominati on. In
the context of a demoralized and immobilized left, we can only conclude,
as this book attests to, that contemporary anarchi sm i s where the action
is-where the potenti al for "the Act" really lies-today. Randall conveys
very wel l the fact that the contemporary anarchi st mi l i eu i s unusual in
being to a great degree the locus of "spaces of hope. " We might say more
anarchistically that it generates very vi tal , concrete, and l ocal ized places
of hope. It i s a communi ty that still has a sense of the possi bl e and i s in
the process of making the possible actual .
Fi nal l y, Randal l signals something absol utely cruci al about anarchism
when he notes that "both our ful fl l ment and our sal vati on" depend on
our creating the new world of free communi ty and sol i darity. In an age
of disastrously disruptive climate change and of the looming catastrophe
xii Foreword
of the Si xth Great Mass Extinction in the hi story of l i fe on earth, talk of
survi val i s not mi spl aced. The al most unthi nkabl e tragedy today i s that
at the same time that we have the means for abundance and for the four
ishing of persons and communities across the pl anet, we are faced with
the specter of gl obal col l apse. I n an age that i s domi nated by cyni ci sm
and resignati on, anarchi sm i s al most al one among contemporary pol itical
ideologies in reminding us that we humans are extraordinary beings who
are still capabl e of great thi ngs. We can not onl y survive but thrive ! For
anarchi s m, " our ful fl l ment and our s al vati on " are i ntegr al to one
Anarchism Today i s, on one level , a miniencyclopedia of recent anar
chist thought and practice, and it will be highly useful in flling in any of
the reader' s anarchol ogi cal gaps. But even more signi fcantly, thi s work
i s a testimony to the enduring spi ri t of anarchi sm and an expressi on of
its living real ity today.
john Clark
Loyola University, New Orleans
ow exactly does one approach a topic as vast and diverse as anar
chism today? Perhaps the starti ng poi nt s houl d be anarchi sm' s
resurgence i n t he academy as a t opi c of cutti ng-edge schol arshi p and
dynami c pedagogy. Or maybe the frami ng shoul d devolve upon radi cal
street-l evel acti vi sm and its penchant for " smashi ng" the symbol s of
empi re and oppressi on. Sti l l further on, the focus might be on the shad
owy and multifari ous " l i beration "-type movements that broach the edge
of "terrori sm" through acts of spectacul ar sabotage. Or we could swing
the pendul um entirely in the other direction and frame the subj ect around
the paci fc adherents practi ci ng non- vi ol ent organi zi ng, communi ty
empowerment, and back-to-the-earth ethics.
In each case, we woul d l i kel y fnd as many people alienated by the for
mul ation as those appl auding i t. With a subj ect as broad and inherently
pl ural istic as anarchism, any of these entry poi nts would refect something
of an accurate rendering yet would likewise skew the ensuing discussion
i n ways that coul d delimit the scope of i nqui ry. Anarchism i s, after al l , a
set of tenets l i nked by the basic premi se of " no gods and no masters, "
meani ng that none shoul d domi nate another and that soci al structures
bui l t upon hi erarchi es are necessari l y unj ust. Thi s ethos extends to the
mappi ng of anarchi sm i tsel f, and thus on a practical l evel no one can
properl y cl ai m pri ority i n determi ni ng preci sel y what anarchi sm i s or
what makes someone an anarchist.
This may well be a virtue for dynamic organizing and theorizing, but it
makes any attempt to deliver an authoritative work on the subj ect highly
probl emati c i f not outright untenable. Thi s openi ng di scl aimer, then, i s
not of the usual sort where the author merely defnes the terms of engage
ment and nobly accepts blame for any shortcomings or defciencies. The
xiv Preface
tack here is even more basic and i s conditioned by the nature of the topic
itself. Anarchi sm si mpl y i s not suscepti ble to any uni tary defnition that
would make it truly possi ble to depict and analyze fully how it functions
and what it means in a contemporary context. All that can be presented
here i s one person' s take on anarchi sm, and no cl ai m i s made to speak
for or on behal f of any other constituency beyond the i mpressi ons of a
si ngle individual-namely, me.
Thi s too mi ght be probl emati c, except that i t comports with anar
chi sm' s foundational values of autonomy and self-realization. Whi le tak
i ng its initial i nspi rati on from the rej ection of external rul e ( anarchy i s
l i ter al l y " not archy " from the Greek, meani ng " no r ul e " or " no
government " ) , anarchi sm has tenuousl y come to di scover that this al so
implies a number of proactive corollaries. If there i s to be no hierarchical
rul e, then does that mean no rule at al l ? If power i n its dominator sense is
rej ected, are all forms of power l i kewi se to be forsworn? If centralized
modes of organizing are seen as unworkabl e and i l l egitimate, does thi s
imply that anarchists are thus i nherently di sorganized? In grappl i ng with
these basic questions of human i nteraction and exchange, the contempo
rary anarchist milieu ( if it can be said to cohere around any set of princi
pl es at al l ) mi ght pl ausi bl y be taken as the col l ecti ve and someti mes
fragmented attempt to defne what an anarchi sti c versi on of society
( vi z. , governance, power, and organi zati on) l ooks l i ke beyond the mere
rej ection of the dominant forms i n place today.
This notion will serve as the pri mary point of departure for this work.
There are myriad texts available on what anarchists have stood against,
but less so focusing on what anarchi sts are actual ly for. Anarchists today
sti l l by necessity struggle agai nst oppressi on and i nj usti ce, but they are
equal l y if not more concerned with what alternative model s might l ook
l i ke in actual practi ce. In thi s manner, anarchi sm can be seen both as a
set of tactics for challenging authority and as a working vision of a better
world that i s al ways i n the offng. Anarchi sm is, i n short, both a means
and an end, and it i s uni quel y comfortabl e engagi ng at l evel s rangi ng
from the i ntensel y pragmati c ( e. g. , deci di ng how the di shes are to get
done ) to the qui xotical l y utopi an ( e. g. , modeling what l i fe might be l i ke
"after the revol ution" ) . Viewed through thi s l ens, anarchism is more than
merely a pol itical theory: it i s a sensibility, a way of being i n the world, an
ethos, a vi si on, a cosmol ogy. It i s, at the end of the day, a doctrine with
only one rule: no rules.
Havi ng said this, I do not pl an here to hedge and vacillate throughout
the course of this text. I wi l l tel l you what I think anarchism i s-informed
by the views and practices of others, to be sure-and no more nor l ess
Preface xv
than that. I do consi der myself an anarchi st, although as in al l cases the
moni ker is surel y sel f-ascri bed, and I readi l y acknowledge at the outset
that there are myriad ways i n which my actual l i fe fal l s short of bei ng
truly anarchi stic . Sti l l , it has been an acti ve i denti ty constructi on and
intellectual driving force i n my l i fe for nearl y two decades. While I came
to anarchi sm a bi t l ater i n l i fe, havi ng traversed a ci rcuitous path to get
there, I nonetheless have found in its di scovery some sense of the ideologi
cal and practical home that I had spent many years seeking. I suppose you
might say that I am something of a " true bel i ever"-which of course i s
the worst sort, and yet it has served me wel l over the years.
Even more to the poi nt, you might say that I trul y love anarchism i n the
same way that I love humankind-and likewise struggle with the reality
that anarchists in particul ar ( much like people in general ) frequently leave
much to be desired. For instance, oftentimes there i s great i nfghting over
location in the larger movement, with some facti ons being denigrated as
mere " l ifestyle anarchists " and others di smi ssed as detached " anarchi st
academics. " Some of thi s tensi on i s subsumed by the supposed distinction
between anarchy ( i . e. , the l i ved practi ce or condi ti on of existence ) and
anarchism ( i . e. , the study and/or production of a pol itical phi l osophy) ,
as i f the two spheres were not always already interrelated. Si mi larly, great
internal rifts often develop over tactics and strategies for resisting oppres
si on and promoting change, with certain sectors cl ai ming the mantle of
being " authenti c" anarchi sts either due to their professed mi l i tancy or
thei r adherence to non-vi ol ence, as the case may be. Other key schi sms
to be expl ored i n the mi l i eu i ncl ude those centered on geography ( e. g. ,
the global north versus the global south) , temporality ( e. g. , longing for a
bygone "golden age " versus prefguring the future society) , and spiritual
i ty ( e. g. , a "no gods " atheism versus a "god i s everything" pantheism) .
I n each case, the banner of anarchi sm can be cl aimed with sound hi s
torical and contemporary support. What I intend here i s a synthetic vi ew
that highl ights the common ground among these varyi ng strands of anar
chi sm as they exi st today, embraci ng a perspecti ve that i s someti mes
referred to as " anarchi sm wi thout adj ectives " to i ndicate i ts i ntegrative
spirit. I begin wi th an introduction to anarchi sm and an exploration of
i ts unl ikely resurgence in recent years. Next, in Chapter One, I anal yze
anarchism as a vi abl e and cohesive pol itical theory that has been steadily
gaining traction i n academia and beyond. In Chapter Two, I consider the
concomitant rise of anarchism as an action-oriented set of principles that
has fgured prominently i n recent soci al and environmental movements.
Chapter Three refects on the complex ( and someti mes litmus-test) ques
ti on of anarchi sm' s associ ati on with the use of violence as a tactic for
xvi Preface
change, and in Chapter Four I turn speci fcal l y to anarchi sm' s relation
shi p to ecology and its direct engagement with the pressing environmental
issues of our time.
In Chapter Five, I explore the chal lenge of resolving individual l i berty
and social organi zati on, l ooki ng at some of the uni que ways that anar
chi sts have navigated thi s profound soci opol i ti cal questi on. Extendi ng
thi s anal ysi s, the i ssue of how to reconci l e highl y l ocal ized efforts with
gl obal consci ousness and praxis i s expl ored i n Chapter Six. One of the
pieces of the puzzle that is often omitted in analyzing radical political the
ories or underground sub-cultures i s an actual assessment of their effcacy
and uti l ity, whi ch I undertake here in Chapter Seven. Does anarchi sm
work in theory or practice ? What woul d an anarchi st soci ety l ook l i ke
in actuality, and how do anarchists manage the maj or i ssues of our time,
from war and climate change to crime and the economy? Does anarchism
requi re at the outset that we alter our view of human nature, or woul d
people living in anarchist societies simply change for the better over time?
Embracing these queries, I will assess anarchi sm' s successes and fai l ures,
its tri umphs and pitfal l s, in an effort to promote more of the former by
realistically engaging the l atter.
These cul mi nati ng i nsi ghts wi l l i nform the concl udi ng chapter on
" future vi si ons, " and they wi l l i n turn rai se addi ti onal questi ons in the
process. Expl oring anarchi sm' s potenti al as a tool for navigating soci al
and envi ronmental i ssues promi ses to convey a sense of i ts si ngul ar sta
tus-it i s a set of theoretical and pragmatic principles seeking to connect
the past, present, and future, while si multaneousl y stri ving to synthesize
conceptions of the self, society, and nature. In so doing, we will highlight
anarchi sm' s mutual i sti c spi ri t of process and resul t, means and ends,
action and vision-fnding at every turn an emergent contemporary anar
chism that i s at once critical and affrmative, equal parts contestation and
constructi on. Whi l e thi s i ntegrative spi rit i n itsel f i s noteworthy among
sociopolitical theories, more to the point i s anarchi sm' s inherent capacity
to point us unfinchingly toward the pervasive sense of crisis and opportu
nity that defnes the modern world. In the end, this may well be our essen
tial human task-regardless of whether we identify as anarchists-as we
meet the chal lenges rapidly unfolding in our col lective midst.
hi s book coul d not have been written wi thout the support of my
family, frst and foremost. Onl y those who l i ve with the author truly
share i n the ful l dimensions of the " labor of l ove " that it takes to complete
a proj ect such as thi s. The combination of empathy, stimulation, and for
bearance evidenced by those cl osest to us makes the work possi bl e as a
techni cal matter but even more broadl y provi des the raison d'etre for
doing it in the frst place.
Over the years that I have been studyi ng and ( hopeful ly) practi ci ng
anarchi sm, i nnumerable col l eagues and friends have engaged in mutual
dialogue, schol arshi p, and activism that have greatly informed my under
standi ng of the subj ect. From my earl iest proto- anarchi stic musings to
contemporary pursuits, these bright lights have fgured promi nently i n
my development not onl y as an anarchi st but as a human being. Li sting
any of them only increases the l i kel i hood that some wi l l be omitted, yet
I wi sh to express particul ar thanks to Pat Lauderdal e, Luis Fernandez,
Gabri el Kuhn, Pancho Ramos Sti erl e, Joel Ol son, Emi ly Gaarder, Jeff
Ferrel l , Geoff Boyce, Sarah Launi us, Matt Meyer, Uri Gordon, Vi kki
Law, John Cl ark, and especi al l y Leeni e Hal bert ( wi thout whom thi s
proj ect would not have been possi ble) for their insights, encouragements,
and provocations over the years.
Gabriel Kuhn in particul ar has been a val ued colleague and friend, and
hi s i nci si ve readi ng of the manuscri pt as it was bei ng produced yi el ded
many critical points of refecti on and positive amendments, for whi ch I
am beyond grateful . Luis Fernandez has likewise been a dear friend and
fel l ow agitator, and he has served as an essenti al soundi ng board for
many of the key concepts devel oped i n this text. I al so want to convey
my profound appreciation to John Cl ark, for hi s pi oneering and prol i fc
xviii Acknowledgments
work i n the fel d, and for graci ousl y agreeing to write the Foreword to
this vol ume. A debt of gratitude i s owed to the Interlibrary Loan depart
ment at Prescott Col lege, whi ch hel ped me to secure access to many of
the foundat i onal texts ci ted i n t hi s vol ume. As wel l , t he edi t ors at
Praeger/ABC-CLIO were enormously helpful at every turn and provided
gentle gui dance throughout the entire process.
Many of the central arguments presented here have been incubated
over nearl y two decades, i ncl udi ng the seeds of concepts that have
appeared i n j ournal s i ncl udi ng Anarchist Studies, Peace Review, and
Contemporary Justice Review. Addi ti onal l y, a number of these founda
ti onal ideas were presented ( and refned) i n workshops at venues i ncl ud
i ng the Mondragon Bookstore and Coffeehouse ( Wi nni peg, Manitoba) ,
the Metta Center for Nonvi olence ( Berkeley, Cal i forni a) , and the Local
to Gl obal Justice Teach-In ( Tempe, Arizona ) . As always, any errata, mis
concepti ons, or i nconsi stenci es are sol el y the author' s doi ng-except
those that are the unconsci ous products of l i vi ng in a dehumani zi ng and
rapidly degrading worl d. It is to confront and alter these domi nant trends
that I gladly share this work with you.
Randal Amster
Oikos Homestead, Arizona
September 2011
The Resurgence of Anarchism
n recent years, anarchism has enj oyed a resurgence among activists and
academi cs al i ke, i nfuenci ng many of the maj or soci al movements of
the l ast generati on. It is by now taken as indisputable that the world has
witnessed "the re-emergence of anarchism as a political movement with
a corresponding outpouring of academic and movement literature. "
the same time, anarchism has become increasingly caricatured as naively
i ncoherent i n mai nstream depi cti ons and as vi olently terroristic by l aw
enforcement entities. Whatever vi ew one takes, the present reinvigoration
of anarchi st theory and practi ce is undeni abl e, and thus i t meri ts the
attention of anyone i nterested in the pursui t of social and environmental
j ustice.
Roots and Rekindling
In arguing that anarchi sm i s resurgent, it is necessarily implied that it has
previ ousl y surged in other eras. Indeed, the history of anarchism i s a rich
one flled with myriad ebbs and fows, with the earliest underpi nnings of
the philosophy often attri buted to school s of thought as diverse as Lao
Tzu' s Taoism i n China ( circa si xth century BCE) and Zeno of Ci ti um' s
foundi ng of Stoi ci sm i n anci ent Greece ( ci rca 300 BCE) . Anarchi sm' s
more recogni zabl e root s are general l y fxed wi t h the publ i cati on of
Wi l l i am Godwi n' s two-vol ume treati se Enquiry Concerning Political
Justice and Its Infuence on Morals and Happiness in 1 793, which " may
be considered the starting poi nt of modern anarchist thought. "
By argu
i ng agai nst the privations of government and religion and for cooperation
and the public good, " Godwin' s status i n anarchi st thought i s similar to
that of Beethoven' s i n mus ic-he summed up all that had come before
xx Introduction
hi m and foreshadowed all that was to come after. "
Yet Godwin never
used the word anarchy except i n pej orative terms as synonymous with
disorder, l eavi ng i t to Pi erre-Joseph Proudhon to coi n the term i n its
modern sense as a non-governmental state of social order in his famous
1 840 essay, "What is Property? "
The ensuing decades represented something of a heyday for anarchism
and comprise what is today known as its "classical " period. The work of
writers i ncl uding Max Stirner, Josi ah Warren, Mi chael Bakuni n, El i see
Recl us, Peter Kropotki n, Erri co Mal atesta, Vol tai ri ne de Cl eyre, and
Emma Gol dman, among many others, not onl y hel ped to devel op an
emerging anarchist canon but al so fostered an action-oriented perspective
that made anarchism one of the most i nfuenti al strands of social move
ment cul ture in the decades immediatel y before and after the turn of the
twentieth century. There are many outstandi ng hi stori es of anarchi sm
avai l abl e, and I wil l not recapitulate the narrative here si nce my focus is
on the present anarchi st mi l i eu. 4 Two formul ati ons from the cl assi cal
era, however, stand out as particul arl y rel evant to understandi ng anar
chi sm today. The frst i s Kropotki n' s entry on " Anarchi sm" for the
1 9 1 0 edition of The Encyclopedia Britannica, in whi ch he described
harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law,
or by obedience to any authori ty, but by free agreements . . . 0 I n a
society developed on these l i nes, the vol untary associ ati ons which
already now begin to cover all the fel ds of human activity woul d
take a sti l l greater extensi on so as to substitute themsel ves for the
state in al l i ts functi ons. They woul d represent an interwoven net
work, composed of an infnite variety of groups and federati ons of
al l s izes and degrees, l ocal , regional , national and internati onal
temporary or more or l ess permanent-for al l possi bl e purposes:
production, consumption and exchange, communications, sanitary
arra ngement s, educati on, mut ual protect i on, defens e of the
territory. 0 0 0 Such a soci ety woul d represent nothi ng i mmutable .
On the contrary-as i s seen i n organic l i fe at l arge-harmony would
( i t i s contended ) res ul t from an ever-changi ng adj ustment and
readj ustment of equi l i bri um between the multitudes of forces and
infuences, and this adj ustment would be the easier t o obtai n as none
of the forces woul d enj oy a speci al protection from the state.
I n thi s earl y vi si on, Kropotki n anti ci pates a networked gl obe, the
decl i ne of i nfuence of nati on-states, and an organi c qual ity of human
existence that mirrors patterns in nature as depicted by modern ecology.
Introduction xxi
As he prophetical l y concluded, "the anarchi sts recognize that, like al l evo
l uti on in nature, the slow evol uti on of soci ety i s foll owed from time to
time by peri ods of accel erated evol uti on whi ch are cal l ed revol uti ons;
and they think that the era of revolutions i s not yet closed. "
In a si mi l ar
spirit that speaks directly to many of the sensi bi lities maintained by con
temporary anarchists, Emma Goldman observed i n 1 927 that anarchism
r eal l y s tands for the l i berat i on of the h uman mi nd from t he
domi ni on of rel i gi on; the l i berati on of t he human body from the
domi ni on of property; l i beration from the shackles and restraint of
government. Anarchi sm stands for a soci al order based on the free
groupi ng of i ndi vi dual s for the purpose of produci ng real soci al
weal th; an order that wi l l guarantee to every human bei ng free
access to the earth and ful l enj oyment of the necess i ti es of l i fe,
accordi ng t o i ndi vi dual des i res, tastes, and i ncl i nati ons . . . . It i s a
living force in the affairs of our l i fe, constantly creating new condi
ti ons. The methods of Anarchi sm therefore do not compri se an
i r on- cl ad program to be carri ed out under al l ci rcums t ances .
Methods mus t grow out of the economi c needs of each pl ace and
cl i me, and of the i ntel lectual and temperamental requi rements of
the i ndi vi dual . . . . Anarchi sm does not stand for mi litary dri l l and
uni formi ty; it does, however, stand for the spi ri t of revolt, in what
ever for m, agai ns t everythi ng t hat hi nders human growth . . . .
Anarchism therefore stands for di rect action, the open defance of,
and resi stance to, al l l aws and restricti ons, economi c, soci al , and
moral . 0 0 0 In short, it cal l s for free, independent spirits.
Here agai n we see the seeds of a dynami c, l ocal ized, i ndi vi dual ized, and
comprehensive defnition of anarchi sm that resonates deeply with the suc
ceeding versions that have been developed by contemporary theorists and
practitioners al i ke.
The cl assi cal era likewise was defned not only by theoretical evolutions
but al so by a number of pragmati c successes, i ncl udi ng the anarchi st
i nfuenced workers ' ri ghts movements that sought to establ i sh l abor
equi ty and at l east a sembl ance of economi c j ustice at the dawn of the
i ndustri al age. Yet despite thi s-or perhaps due to it-the era was al so
characterized by harsh repression oftentimes openl y aimed at radi cal s i n
general and anarchi sts in parti cul ar, such as the executi on of anarchi st
immigrants Sacco and Vanzetti and the whol esal e deportation from the
United States of ostensible anarchists, incl udi ng Gol dman hersel f. These
patterns of repressi on conti nued into the Red Scare years of the 1 950s
xxii Introduction
and were at least partly responsible for the waning infuence of anarchism
both i n Ameri ca and worl dwi de. The soci al movements of the 1 960s
reki ndl ed the anarchi st sensi bi lity t o an extent, although they di d so at
times more implicitly than explicitly, and the subsequent decades yielded
another downturn i n overt anarchist organizing.
Anarchy Ascending
And then al l of this changed, seemi ngl y overni ght, wi th the promi nent
rol e pl ayed by anarchi sts i n the l ate- 1 999 protests agai nst the Worl d
Trade Organization ( WTO) in Seattle. To be sure, there were many anar
chist antecedents to thi s upri si ng, i ncl udi ng the Zapatistas in Chi apas,
Mexi co and vari ous autonomi st acti ons i n Europe in whi ch anarchi sts
pl ayed a key part . 9 There had even been a s ystemati c treat ment of
African Anarchism, documenti ng its pervasi veness as a " way of l i fe "
across the conti nent, publ i shed two years pri or t o Seattl e .
But the
announcement to the world-through the graphic and sensati onal ized
smashi ng of a few corporate windows that was repl ayed i n the medi a
after the demonstrati ons-of the presence of mysteri ous, bl ack-cl ad,
street-fghting anarchists was undeniably a watershed moment i n the his
tory of anarchism, and it ushered in the era of contemporary activism and
As would soon be discovered, the presence of anarchi sts in what came
to be termed the "anti-gl obal i zation movement" was far more extensive
than j ust a small number of individuals engaged i n property destruction.
Anarchi st organi zi ng techni ques and cri ti ques of capital and the state
had seemi ngl y i nfused the enti re ethos of the movement-from affni ty
groups and parti ci patory deci si on- making processes to expressi ons of
gl obal sol i dari ty in the face of corporate hegemony. As Lui s Fernandez
has di scerned, " anarchi sm i s a basi c common phi l osophy of the move
ment, " a noti on affrmed by Sireyyya Evren i n the observati on that
" anarchism i s widely accepted as ' the' movement behind the mai n organi
zati onal principles of the radi cal social movements i n the twenty-frst cen
tury. "
1 1
As such, Uri Gordon l i kewise describes a " ful l -blown anarchi st
revi val [ that] reached critical mass around the turn of the Mi l l enni um, "
l eadi ng Cri spi n Sartwell to concl ude that "anarchi sm is more vi tal now
than at any time since the early twentieth century. "
Thus , i f we are to bel i eve the press cl i ppi ngs , a dynami c quas i
revol uti on was bor n i n l ate 1 9 99. " Seattl e was a once- i n- a- l i feti me,
world-changing event. It energized a whol e new movement, radi calized
thous ands of new acti vi sts, and opened a whol e new chapter i n the
Introduction xxiii
history of resistance to corporate gl obal i zation. "
"WTO week in Seattle
was a global tailspin at the end of the century, a fy i n the face of the new
mi l l enni um, an elephant i n the ointment. It was an unruly uprising of the
masses, a di vi ne i nterventi on, a traffc nightmare, a human rights activ
i st ' s dream. ',
Yet even sympatheti c observers were concerned that
"what the media refected back to us was a culture of hatred and stupidity
in which none of us coul d recognize ourselves . . . . The answers al l came
down to a televised conti nuous cartoon loop of property damage. A bro
ken wi ndow became more profound, more tel l i ng, more compel l i ng,
more val uable than al l of us put together . "
1 5
Nevertheless, these nascent
criti ques still acknowl edged the double-edged nature of spectacul ar epi
sodes of property destructi on, wonderi ng: "Woul d the WTO protests
have received as much worldwide attention i f anarchists hadn' t done their
thing i n Seattle and if the media hadn' t focused on i t? " 1
As Teoman Gee
more bl untly surmi sed: "I f the image of the dangerous, masked, bl ack
cl ad, and vi ol ent anarchi st had been completely absent from the corpo
rate medi a, Seattle mi ght never have born any new anarchi sm. " 1
Further defendi ng the rol e of anarchi sts and thei r mi l l enni a! pro
nouncement of " Hel l o, we exist! " Davi d Graeber noted in 2002 that
after two years of increasingly mi l itant direct action, it i s still impos
sible to produce a single example of anyone to whom a US activist
has caused physical i nj ury . . . . [Anarchists have been] attempting to
invent a "new language " of civil disobedience, combining elements
of street theatre, festival and what can only be called non-vi ol ent
warfare-non-violent i n the sense adopted by, say, Bl ack Bloc anar
ch i st s, i n that i t e schews any di rect phys i cal harm to human
beings. 1 8
As Starhawk expl ai ned in her 2002 frst-person chronicle, the Black Bloc
" have perfected the art of l ooki ng like archetypal Anarchi sts . . . but i n
real ity, they have cl ear pri nci pl es [ and] consi der themselves to be acting
protecti vel y toward other demonstrators . "
1 9
Jeff Ferrel l , wri ti ng i n
200 1 , l i kewi se evi denced an empathetic perspecti ve on these matters .
Affrming Bakuni n 's dictum that "the destructive urge is a creative urge,
too, " Ferrel l maintained that
the destruction launched by these groups ai ms directly at restoring
h umani ty, human rel ati ons , and human communi t i es , not at
destroying them. I t suggests that one way t o disentangle the dehu
mani zi ng confl ati on of property and peopl e, to confront t he
xxiv Introduction
confusi on of consumption with community, to di smantle the hi er
archy of commodi fcati on by which l aw and property stand above
people and places, is to assi duously destroy the former while affrm
ing the latter.
Ferrel l specifcally sought to cast the sudden tangible presence of anar
chists in American political life in terms of the hi story that enabled i t:
In confronting authority in al l of i ts manifestations, anarchists have
for centuries fought not j ust the attempts by outsi de authorities to
control s hared publ i c space, but al s o the i nsi di ous encodi ng of
authoritarian arrangements in publ i c l i fe itsel f. In embracing instead
autonomy, spontaneity, and pl ayful uncertai nty, anarchi sts have
long sought to unl eash these unregul ated dynami cs i n the spaces of
everyday l i fe, and to bui l d emergent communi ti es out of t hei r
In hi s exposi ti on, Ferrel l took pains to develop a synchronous vi si on of
hi stori cal and contemporary anarchi st attri butes i ncl udi ng a " do- i t
yoursel f" ethi c and spontaneous "cul tural sel f-i nventi on, " and in so
doi ng demonstrated that modern anarchi sm was not merely confned to
l arge-scal e demonstrations-exempl i fed by hi s i nvocati on of homel ess
advocates, graffti artists, skate punks, anarchist bi ker gangs, pirate radi o
stati ons, BASE j umpers, Critical Mass bicyclists, and "huskers " as exem
pl ars of the practice.
Taken together, these real-time analyses depicted a burgeoni ng gl obal
movement grounded i n l ocal struggl es for whi ch " anarchi s m i s the
heart 0 0 0 i ts soul ; the source of most of what' s new and hopeful about
it. "
Despite critics' al legations of a contemporary anarchi st movement
l acki ng i deol ogi cal coherence and moral centeri ng, the movement " i s
not opposed to organization. It is about creating new forms of organi za
tion. It is not l acking in i deol ogy. Those new forms of organi zati on are
its ideol ogy. It is about creating and enacting horizontal networks instead
of top-down structures like states, parti es or corporati ons; networks
based on principles of decentralized, non-hierarchi cal consensus democ
racy. "
Following the initial momentum coming out of Seattle, the task
before anarchists was seemingly to el aborate upon this vi si on of what a
decentral ized network of autonomous communi ti es mi ght l ook l i ke i n
actual practice. Then agai n, anarchists histori cal l y have avoi ded specifc
bl uepri nts on the theory that such are likely to become new regimes of
authori tari an control , instead favori ng emergi ng desi gns i n which the
Introduction xxv
means of struggle are al ready ends in themselves . As Ferrell concl uded,
" Anarchism offers no clear avenue . . . onl y the conviction that the spi rit
of revolt remains always a pleasure, that the revol ution is i n some ways
won as soon as you begin to fght it. "
Success, and Successors
In the new mi l l enni um, anarchi sm has undergone a percepti ble transfor
mation i n terms of its stature as a pol itical and social theory. As such, a
new set of problems for the anarchist movement have arisen, often taking
the form of an "anarchist chi c " that has reinvigorated black t-shirt sales
and moved the "ci rcle-A" symbol from the recesses of history onto teen
age backpacks everywhere by constructi ng the " new anarchi st [ as] a
pop-cultural hero. "
As one critic has observed, the resurgence of "pro
test culture " was typifed by " feel-good anarchi sts " who general l y have
" l i ttle patience for theory " and are " too frenzied to worry much about
serious alternatives, " representing " a revol t of the affuent " by way of a
" connecti on to youth cul ture " that has kept anarchi sm " hi p and cur
rent. "
In a sense, thi s res urgent anarchi sm became a victim of i ts own
success, as its " subcultural codes of dress [and] its sometimes-tired protest
tactics can make it seem like a parody of itsel f. "
Mai nstream publ ica
tions have even issued feel-good proclamations that " there i s an anarchist
in al l of us. Deep inside we yearn to be free. "
Those concerned with the direction and ultimate fate of the movement
after Seattle thus would face a new set of chal lenges that are as concerned
with co-optati on and commodi fcati on as they are with perceptions of
vi olence and associ ated forms of repressi on. The uni que cultural climate
of the United States in parti cul ar "al lows for near al l-encompassi ng capi
talist commodifcation of, well, j ust about anything, " as Gee writes, and
" the concept of turning a pol itical radi cal i nto a pop-cultural hero simply
works much better i n the US-American soci o-economic model " than i t
does el sewhere.
3 0
At the same ti me, domi nant moti fs of danger and
demoni zati on are equal l y pal pabl e i n the contemporary l andscape. As
Fernandez descri bes i n hi s i nvesti gati on of the control of soci al move
ments, the ready-made " anarchists are coming" trope has become a sig
ni fcant law enforcement strategy to promote fear, create di vi s i ons ,
cari cature t he movement, and ul ti matel y j usti fy t he ri se of mi l itari zed
policing and the security state.
A recent medi a portrayal of the "el usive
face of anarchi sm" captures i n qui ntessenti al fashi on this dual i stic sense
of deifcation and denigration that has taken hol d, and is worth exploring
at some length:
xxvi Introduction
Portrai t of an anarchi st: Dani el Kyle Wi l son, age 20. In a news
photo taken May 1 , 2008 , he l ooks l i ke a thri ft-store ni nj a, ski
masked . . . . Wi l son stands i n profl e. Hi s arm i s cocked. Hi s fst
cl utches a rock. He ai ms it at the wi ndow of the U. S. Bank [ that]
represents everythi ng he opposes: corporate power, hi erarchy, an
unj ust pecking order, fnanci al backing of "ecocide. " . . .
Protests and vandal i sm ti ed to anarchi sts have ri sen . On the
website pugetsoundanarchists. org, anonymous writers have claimed
credit for 1 8 i nci dents of vandal ism i n Tacoma and Olympia since
December [ 20 1 0] , al ong with similar acts in Seattl e, Portl and and
Vancouver, B. C. Banks and pol ice faci l ities are the most common
targets . Broken wi ndows, banged-up cars, spray pai nt and A TM
machines clotted with super gl ue are typical features . . . .
Jul y 6, 201 1 : Dani el Wi l son, now 23, sits outsi de an Ol ympi a
cafe, tal ki ng in l ong sentences and reel i ng off stri ngs of i nj usti ce
and inequity-the sorry state of the worl d.
"There are more sweatshops now than there were l ast year. More
oi l ' s being taken out of the ground than last year, " he says. "There
are mountai ns that are l iterally being cut down by Massey Energy,
whi ch i s funded by Bank of America, whi ch is why I ( expl eti ve)
broke thei r ( expl etive ) wi ndows out , because I hate them. I hate
them for their overdraft fees, I hate them for giving money to capi
talists. I hate them for bei ng a bank, for the bai louts. There' s numer
ous reasons for this cl ass hatred. I can distinguish that from-1 have
loving rel ati onshi ps. And I' m really a nice person if you get to know
me. Not a dangerous anarchist who' s going to screw you up. "
"I am a dangerous anarchist, I guess, " he says fnal l y. "If ideas are
dangerous. "
In this light, along with new chal lenges have come myriad opportuni
ties as wel l . A spate of cutting-edge and i n-depth treatments of anarchism
have appeared in print and other medi a, and " anarchi sm has become a
respected fel d of study wi thi n academi a. "
3 3
Beyond the academy, as
Ci ndy Mi l stei n observes, a thoroughgoi ng anarchi st movement has
On the ground, the frst decade of the twenty-frst century has pro
vi ded a remarkabl e openi ng for anarchi sm, thereby swel l i ng the
numbers of those who i denti fy as anarchi sts. Thi s has led to a
foweri ng of anarchi st i nfrastructure, from a dramati c i ncrease
worl dwi de i n s oci al centers and i nfos hops , to an ups urge i n
Introduction xxvii
collectively run proj ects meeting needs like legal support, food, and
art. We' ve devel oped i nformal though articul ated gl obal networks
of exchange as wel l as sol i dari ty, faci l i tated by everything from
savvy uses of communi cat i on technol ogi es and i ndi e medi a to
material aid.
In celebrating this eventuality, it has further been asserted that "the global
revolutionary movement in the twenty frst century will be one that traces
its ori gi ns [ to] anarchi sm" and l ikewise that " everywhere from Eastern
Europe to Argenti na, from Seattle to Bombay, anarchist i deal s and princi
pl es are generating new radi cal dreams and vi si ons. "
Confrmi ng this
sentiment, Gordon writes that "today the anarchist movement i s a mature
gl obal network of activist col lectives, involved in any number of struggles
and constructi ve proj ects . . . . The number of anarchi st publ i cati ons,
bookfairs and websites is rising every year, as is the geographi cal , cultural
and age diversity among anarchists themselves. "
Whi l e it is l argely the case that the sense of a " new anarchis m" was
" mai nl y a US-Ameri can i nventi on" i n the aftermath of Seattl e,
movement has steadi l y approached thi s horizon of a "gl obal network"
as the forces of corporate gl obalizati on have convened subsequent meet
ings in l ocal es across Europe, North America, Latin America, Asi a, and
elsewhere-only to be met with large-scal e demonstrations in which anar
chi sts have pl ayed a promi nent rol e.
I n addi ti on to the evi dence of
i ncreasi ng i mmi serati on brought on by gl obal i zati on, the U.S.-led wars
i n Iraq and Afghanistan have sparked "gl obal movements of resistance"
and contri buted to the revival of anarchi st activism in the process.
9 The
gl obal fnanci al crisis and concomitant austerity measures imposed from
Argenti na to Austral asi a have gal vani zed radical organi zi ng. Across
Europe i n recent years, the United Ki ngdom, Spai n, Ital y, and perhaps
most notabl y Greece have seen a spi ke in dramatic anti-austerity actions,
si mul taneousl y giving rise to al legations of "anarcho-terrori sm" and the
grudgi ng recognition of " the new appeal of anarchi sm. "4
At the same
ti me, cyber attacks on corporate and governmental enti ti es have been
Ia unched by shadowy, anarchi stic associ ati ons l i ke " Anonymous, " i n
professed defense of Wi ki Leaks in particul ar and as a statement agai nst
global "tyrannies and inj ustices " i n general.
Tappi ng i nto thi s sense of growi ng gl obal unrest, the Occupy Wal l
Street ( OWS) demonstrati ons emerged as a l eaderl ess , decentral i zed
movement across North Ameri ca and around the worl d i n the fal l of
201 1 . The dynamic and emergent nature of OWS, as wel l as its penchant
for consensus-based governance by way of General Assemblies, suggests
xxviii Introduction
strong anarchist undercurrents to the movement-and indeed Graeber i s
wi del y known as one of the originators of the initial group that organized
in New York. As he described the OWS vision,
it's pre-fgurative, so to speak. You're creating a vision of the sort of
society you want to have i n miniature. And it' s a way of j uxtaposing
yoursel f agai nst these powerful , undemocratic forces you' re pro
testing. If you make demands, you' re sayi ng, i n a way, that you' re
asking the people in power and the existing institutions to do some
thing di fferent. And one reason people have been hesitant to do that
is they see these institutions as the problem. 42
As one commentator has observed, " i deas born out of anarchist ideology
exercise an i nfuence far beyond their numbers within the movement. "4
Graeber has l i kewise characterized OWS as "a movement based on fun
damentally anarchist principles-direct action, direct democracy, a rej ec
tion of existing political institutions and [an] attempt to create alternative
ones , " even as it i s apparent that few Americans " are actual anarchists "
and as it further remai ns uncl ear " how many woul d ul ti matel y wi sh to
di scard the state and capi tal i sm entirely. "44 Thus, whi l e it woul d be an
overstatement to cal l OWS an anarchi st movement per se, it i s al so the
case that its presence i s i ndi cati ve of anarchi sm' s i ncreasi ng pol i ti cal
When considering the contours of anarchism' s resurgence, the legacy of
hi story ( both remote and proxi mate ) is palpabl e; as Col i n Ward notes,
" anarchi sm has, i n fact, an enduri ng resi l i ence."45 Today, it frequently
appears that "the anarchist " archetypically represents something approxi
mating "the new prototype of a pol itical radical. "46
Specifc indicators of
an expanding post-Seattle permeation of thi s rediscovered anarchist iden
tity range from the playful , in-your-face, and widely distributed anarchism
of the Crimethlnc. Ex-Workers' Collective (a self-described "memberless
underground pledged to the total transformation of Western civilization
and l ife itself" ) to Gabriel Kuhn' s broad-ranging compilation ( and transla
tion into German) of over a dozen foundational texts that defne the scope
of "New Anarchism in the U.S." fol l owing Seattle and its aftereffects.
Still, beyond the undeniable resurgence of anarchi sm as a vi abl e pol itical
identity, criti cal questions remai n as to exactly what contemporary anar
chists stand for and how far they have come in developing a cohesive theo
retical framework that subsumes the past, guides the present, and looks to
the future. These queries comprise the basis for the next chapter.
Contemporary Anarchist Thought
hat is anarchi sm? Perhaps the most mi sunderstood of the maj or
political theori es, anarchism actual l y derives from a rich intellec
tual tradition dating back at least two centuries-and perhaps far longer
depending upon how we determine exactly who qual ifes as an anarchist.
In the contemporary mi l i eu, a new crop of anarchist theorists has added
much to our understandi ng of the common threads that general l y are
taken as comprising modern anarchi sm. Yet the roots of thi s endeavor
run deep, and in order to understand where we are and where we might
be going, it is crucial to develop a sense of where we have been.
As a starting point, consi der the proposition that anarchy is everywhere
that "i t is always in exi stence, " and that "it is probably the oldest type of
polity and one which has characterized most of human history. "
It might
not seem that way, since its antitheses ( i.e., capitalism and the state) occupy
the greater portion of our lives, increasingly so in this era of pervasive tech
nol ogi es, expanding soci al control , and escal ati ng gl obal crises. Yet we
might consider how many decisions we face each day across a broad range
of persons and situations, and inquire as to the nature of our own behavior.
Are our social interactions by and large pacifc or aggressive? Are the choices
we make conditioned by the threat of punishment, or do they fow from a
different logic ? How many vol untary social and cultural associations are
we involved with? I do not mean to suggest that people are always good or
that they behave exclusively in socially useful ways; in fact, from a macro
cosmic perspective, it is apparent that casual vi olence and routine force are
woven into the fabric of modern life at nearly every level, rendering many
of us ( at best) as unconsci ous purveyors of myri ad non- anarchi sti c
2 Anarchism Today
What I am asserting, however, is that people often demonstrate great
resi l iency and forbearance in copi ng wi th l i fe' s ever-changi ng vari abl es,
and they do not rely upon someone el se to tel l them how or why to do
it. As the Cri methlnc. pamphl et " Fi ghti ng for Our Li ves " opi nes, you
may already be an anarchist i f "your i dea of heal thy human relations i s
a di nner with friends, where . . . responsi bi l ities are divided up vol untarily
and i nformal l y, " and l i kewi se " whenever you act wi thout wai ti ng for
i nstructi ons or offci al permi ssi on. "
Despite the i ncessant i mpetus of
vari ous mechani sms of soci al control through both hardware ( e.g., secu
rity and survei l l ance) and software ( e.g., i deology and l aw) , a l arge por
ti on of everyday l i fe remai ns wi thi n the domai n of i ndi vi dual choi ce.
What we consume, how we earn a l i vi ng, what we believe, who we asso
ci ate wi th, and how we defne our communi ti es al l present moments
where a range of options are present-al beit in rapi dl y narrowing fash
i on. The sal i ent poi nt is that at every j uncture, we make numerous deci
si ons that are sti l l due pri mari l y to personal vol iti on more so than the
overt i mposi ti on of central authority upon our moral centers.
Anarchi sm i s at root a phi l osophy and set of practi ces based on the
premi se that peopl e can and shoul d act from a pl ace of freedom from
domination and coercive force. This does not mean that " anything goes, "
since many of our behaviors wi l l remain constrained by good sense and
soci al necessity al ike. "What' s good for others i s good for us, si nce our
rel ati onshi ps wi th them make up the worl d i n which we l i ve. "
In thi s
vi ew, we are al so free to choose our own constraints, creati ng a worl d
where the onl y acceptabl e l i mi ts are those that are sel f-i mposed. The
saving grace-which has permeated human societies since their inception
i s that we come to see al most immediately that our self-interest i s wholly
bound up with the interests of everyone else, making anarchism i n its full
dimensions a theory of radical egal itarianism as much as one of indivi dual
autonomy. In this sense, we might say that in addition to the anarchist man
tra of "do it yourself, " there i s a concomitant practice that bal ances the
equation by asking us to "do it together." Indeed, many anarchists practice
forms of community that demonstrate preci sel y thi s i nherent sense of
organic connectedness-and when extended beyond purely human terms
this sensi bi l ity offers a vi si on of anarchi sm that i s radi cal l y ecol ogi cal
as well.
Suspending Our Disbelief
I present thi s nascent framework here for two rel ated purposes. First, I
want to clearly indicate and openly disclose my uni que bi as when it comes
Contemporary Anarchist Thought 3
to how I understand anarchy: as equal parts resistance to domination in
al l of its multifari ous forms and as the practice of mani festing the world
we desire to live i n at every opportunity before us. Viewed i n this light,
anarchism is both critical and constructive, confrontational and compas
si onate, pragmatic and utopi an, destructive and creative. It i s, arguabl y,
refective of an i nherent duality contained i n al l thi ngs, as divined by vari
ous strands of physi cs and metaphys i cs al i ke. Perhaps i t i s a crude
approxi mati on i n some ways, given the l i mited range of human percep
tion, but anarchi sm i n this sense i s potential ly the closest of our pol itical
and social theories to the patterns that might be observed in nature. This
raises the sort of incipient spiritual questions that are likely to get one i n
troubl e wi th many anarchi sts and non-anarchi sts al i ke-yet it shoul d be
noted that even the most ardent ni hi l i st at least proclaims an abiding faith
that nothing has meaning after al l .
In fact, although far from axi omati c, it can be argued pl ausi bl y that
"anarchi sm has a spi ri tual or quas i -rel i gi ous qual i ty to i t. " 4 As Davi d
Graeber and Andrej Grubacic note, "on one l evel i t i s a ki nd of fai th, "
which Cindy Mi l stei n affrms i n her observation that, " at its core, anar
chi sm is indeed a spirit. "5 In fact, supportive strands can be found among
promi nent anarchi sts throughout hi story. Erri co Mal atesta expressl y
i nvoked an " anarchi st spi ri t" that was based on a " deeply human senti
ment, which aims at the good of all, freedom and j ustice for all, solidarity
and love among the people. "
Emma Gol dman celebrated " the spiritual
light of Anarchi s m" and descri bed i t as " a l i vi ng force in the affai rs of
our l i fe . "
Leo Tol stoy professed a " s pi ri t ual anarchi s m" that was
derived explicitly from hi s abi ding Christianity.
Dorothy Day, Ammon
Hennacy, and many other Catholic Workers have expressly identifed as
anarchists. And as a general matter, it has been observed that " many reli
gi ous teachi ngs-i ncl udi ng those that lie at the very core of fai th
support anarchy, " and l ikewise that "anarchists al so borrow from many
spiritual traditions i ncl udi ng paganism, Buddhi sm and various New Age
and Native American spiritual ities. " 9
Notwithstandi ng hi s i dentity as a sci enti st, Peter Kropotki n hi msel f
depl oyed l ofty rhetori c i n exhorti ng readers to " keep the spi rit al i ve"
and in hi s observati on that " it is always hope . . . whi ch makes revol u
ti ons. " 1
" Overfow with emoti onal and i ntel lectual energy, " he wrote
in argui ng for an anarchi st moral ity, "and you wi l l spread your i ntel l i
gence, your l ove, your energy of acti on. "
1 1
Kropotki n further l ocated
his foundational concept of " mutual ai d" as an " instinct i n Nature " that
was confrmed by hi s "pantheistic views . " 1
In charting the terrain of his
" ontol ogi cal anarchy" as refected i n the cal l for creati ng " temporary
4 Anarchism Today
autonomous zones, " Haki m Bey playful l y invoked a pagani sm that "has
not yet invented l aws-only virtues . No priestcraft, no theology or meta
physics or morality-but a universal shamani sm i n which no one attai ns
real humanity without a vi si on. " 1
And in their edited col lection of the
works of anarchi st geographer El i see Recl us, John P. Clark and Cami l l e
Marti n refer to " hi s recognition of the conti nuity and underl yi ng uni ty
of al l being, and the awe with which he contemplated nature, " character
izing this as a form of " infnite pantheism" and as "nature mysticism. "
1 4
More recently, Murray Bookchi n described hi s social ecology i n si mi
l arly natural istic terms ( even as he rej ected religiosity) : " In social ecology,
a trul y natural spiritual ity centers on the abi l ity of an awakened humanity
to function as moral agents in diminishing needless suffering, engaging in
ecological restoration, and fostering an aesthetic appreciation of natural
evolution i n all its fecundity and diversi ty. " 1 5 Todd May l i kewi se con
tends that " from its inception, anarchism has founded itself on a faith in
the indi vi dual to realize his or her deci si on-maki ng power moral l y and
effectual ly. " 1
Even i n formulations that do not use the language of faith
or spi ri tual i ty, there i s a nascent moral isti c tendency evi dent i n many
cases: "Anarchism is naturally present i n every healthy human being. " 1
Col i n Ward grounds hi s " anarchy in action " perspective i n an expl i ci t
reliance upon "the natural and spontaneous tendency of humans to asso
ciate together for their mutual beneft. " 1
And Teoman Gee emphasi zes
that " fow, change, and transformati on characteri ze a free soci ety of
di versi ty-and therefore what I ' d cal l an anarchi st l i fe . " 1
Asi de from
these i mpl i ci t i nvocati ons, i n the contemporary mi l i eu Starhawk i s per
haps the most prominent example of an anarchist who explicitly frames
it in spiritual terms:
It' s the faith that there i s a great, creative power that works through
the l i vi ng world toward l i fe, diversi ty, heal i ng, and regenerati on.
That power works i n us, i n our human love, i n our work for j ustice,
in our courage and our visions. We don' t need priests or ministers or
even Witches to contact that power for us-we each have our own
direct l i ne. It exi sts wi thi n us, i nfni te, unl i mited. Ul ti matel y, it i s
stronger than fear, stronger than violence, stronger than hate.
This spiritual digression is offered merely as a reminder that anarchism,
like most -isms, is at root a belief system. As such, it relies primarily upon
the force of pers uasi on and exampl e to communicate i ts basi c tenets,
although at ti mes it may resort to the use of more conventi onal forms of
force as wel l . But unl i ke other theori es , anarchi sm general l y is not
Contemporary Anarchist Thought 5
concerned wi th attracting adherents through conversi on or i ndoctri na
ti on, si nce thi s woul d ( i n pri nci pl e at l east, i f not practice) contravene
the virtues of autonomy, self-realization, and freedom from coercion that
undergi rd the phi l osophy. In fact, one of the l eadi ng obj ecti ons made
agai nst anarchi sm i s that i t i s nai ve and unreal istic i n i ts foundational
vi ew that humans can associ ate freel y and fai rl y for posi ti ve purposes
without being forced to do so. Anarchi sts themselves often take the prem
ises of "vol untary association" and " mutual aid" as articles of faith, even
as fgures such as Kropotki n and Harold Barclay have attempted to root
these val ues in biology and anthropology, respectively.
In any event, anarchists are certainly asking people to suspend their dis
belief and take a leap of faith in " smashi ng the state " and other repressive
artifacts on the theory that an egalitarian and sustai nable social order will
emerge with suffcient rigor to subsume al l of l i fe' s necessities . Even i f the
dominant system today i s showing clear signs of instabi l ity and potenti al
( even imminent) col l apse, it i s still di ffcult for many people to abandon
what they know for a theory that i s widely perceived as i l l -i nformed at
best and terroristic at worst. Thus, one of the central aims of contempo
rary anarchist thought has been to articul ate a cohesive set of values and
principles that can begin to foster a new narrative capabl e of competing
with the one relentlessly plied by capital and the state. The task i s further
compl i cated by the fact that anarchi sm eschews doctri naire i deol ogi es
and i mmutabl e precepts, preferri ng i nstead a model i n whi ch peopl e
think and act autonomousl y. Anarchism, i n short, refuses easy systemat
ization and instinctively rebels agai nst even its own core principles when
they are i n danger of bei ng i mposed. "Nothing i s sacred, l east of all the
feti shi zed, rei fed shi bbol eths of anarchi sm, " as John Moore remi nds
us .
1 Thi s caveat wi l l i nform the quest to render a versi on of what
contemporary anarchi sm has come t o stand for in constructing itself as
a vi able theory in today' s l andscape.
Toward an Anarchist Canon
Here, then, i s my attempt at setting forth (with the proper provisos i n place)
a working model of contemporary anarchist thought. What I strive for is a
synthesis that weaves together past and present incarnations of anarchism,
with an eye toward laying the foundation for an alternative future to the
one being increasingly marketed and i mposed as we speak. For each of
these poi nts there i s l i kely to be contestati on ( if not consternation) , and
surely not every anarchi st wi l l agree wi th al l of them or wi th how they
are rendered here. That said, it is my belief that thi s l i st represents the best
6 Anarchism Today
of anarchi sm' s potential for promoting a new vision that can help gui de
action as wel l . While I refer to it sardonically as a canon-fl ly aware that
anarchi sm embodies an intriguing tendency to "turn against its own foun
dations " -this framework at least possesses the virtue of not requiring a
cannon in order for it to become widely adopted.
As it turns out, anar
chism as a system of thought i s real ly the combi nati on of a number of
smaller -isms, some of which overlap and others that can appear contradic
tory. Indeed, this i s as i t shoul d be, gi ven anarchi sm' s propensity for
embracing tensions and fostering i nterconnections all at once.
An anarchi s t soci ety, a soci ety whi ch organi zes i tsel f wi thout
authority, i s always i n exi stence.
-Colin Ward ( 1 973 )
The rej ecti on of authority i s the si ne qua non of anarchi sm. I n thi s
view, the imposition of power through force, coerci on, domination, and
oppression is both unconscionable and untenable. Thi s is equal l y the case
whether the system doing the i mposi ng i s fasci stic or representati ve i n
nature. Anarchi sm chal l enges cl ai ms to authority that are vested wi th
the enforcement power of the state, no matter i ts underpinnings, as well
as the cl aims advanced by subsi di ari es and/or partners of the state such
as corporations and religi ous institutions . The intertwining of these vari
ous authoritarian forces i s observed i n i nnumerable ways, from the kin
dred " bl ack robes " of pri ests and j udges to the i nscri pti on of "In God
We Trust" on currency. More broadly, the imperiali stic powers that unite
mi l i tari sm and corporati sm to i mpose regi mes of resource expl oitation
and human subj ugation are taken as gl obal manifestations of authoritari
anism writ l arge.
Anarchi sts see these same forces of control bei ng di ssemi nated i n the
medi a, i n school s, through medi cal i zati on, and in most of the appurte
nances of modern cul ture as a whol e. Someti mes these expressi ons of
authority are i nscri bed on bodi es through processes i ncl udi ng cri mi nal
j usti ce, pharmacol ogy, and securi ty systems; other ti mes they appear
through more subtle but equal l y destructive devices such as standardized
testing, consumer identity, and popular culture. While anarchists are not
al one in pointing out the expanding Orwel l i ani sm in our modern midst,
they do offer the most comprehensive and thoroughgoing critique of the
intersecting forces that work to undermine human dignity and i ndi vi dual
li berty. Whereas other doctrines may be content to abolish one sphere of
Contemporary Anarchist Thought 7
control in favor of another or to merel y democrati ze structures that
are inherently authoritarian, anarchism remai ns unfinching i n its whole
sale rej ecti on of any system that seeks to impose its wi l l on people and
communities .
This natural l y makes anarchism anti-government and anti-capital i st. It
al so raises the questi on of how an anarchi st society would function with
out anyone in charge. As it t urns out , cont emporary anarchi s m i s
nuanced enough i n its values t o narrow its anti-authoritari anism t o those
exercises of power that are rigid, reifed, and imposed, but not necessarily
to those that are present in healthy communities grounded in equality and
respect. I n an anarchi st soci ety, someone with experti se may well re
present an authority i n a certai n sphere, wi thout then asserti ng his or
her power in other matters. For instance, we can defer to another's prof
ci ency i n matters of heal th care or food producti on wi thout creati ng
soci oeconomi c structures that al l ow them to convert that expertise i nto
wi der forms of coerci ve a uthori ty, as we genera l l y fnd in even a
representative pol i ti cal system. The critical factor for anarchi sts is that
"the advice of an expert shoul d only be accepted on the basis of voluntary
consent, " meaning that the acceptance of authority i n any particul ar mat
ter rests with the reci pi ent and not the person or group asserti ng i t.
Absent the state and its vari ous apparatuses, power in an anarchist soci
ety fnds i ts el f ebbi ng and fowi ng as var i ous needs ari s e and are
addressed, but at no time does it become central i zed in a manner that
al l ows it to be turned back on the very people in whom it inheres.
Anarchists have unearthed exampl es of anti -authori tari an soci eti es
throughout the course of human history and across every continent. As
such, the appearance of authoritarian control and pol itical coercion are
actual l y rel atively recent phenomena, representing an aberrati on from
the norm of human relations established over the eons. Anarchists today
draw inspiration from many of these models, sometimes explicitly adopt
ing a primitivist or " back to the earth" stance that seeks to tap into thi s
basi c spirit of statelessness and di ffuse power. It al so mani fests in many
forms of anarchi st organi zi ng, from consensus deci si on-maki ng model s
to anonymous attacks on symbols of authoritari an oppressi on. Some of
these tactics have compelled anarchists to self-reflect on their own deploy
ment of potenti al l y coercive practices, i ncl udi ng the use of physical force
agai nst property or persons as wel l as tacit forms of vanguardi sm and
cl ai ms to authenti ci ty or s uperi ori ty wi thi n the mi l i eu . Indeed, j ust
because anarchists rej ect authority does not mean they have entirely abol
i shed i t from wi thi n thei r own mi dst. Sti l l , it i s the refexi ve nature of
anarchism as a constantly negotiated theory that offers promise as a tool
8 Anarchism Today
for undoi ng the myri ad forces of authority in society and promoti ng a
vision of genuine human liberati on.
There i s no fxed and constant authority, but a conti nual exchange
of mut ual , temporary, and, above al l , vol untary authori ty and
subordi nati on.
-Michael Bakuni n ( 1 8 71 )
It might be said that vol untarism is the proactive, positive counterpart
to anti-authoritari ani sm. When we l i ft the vei l of top-down control and
the sort of l egal compul s ion that typifes modern societies, we fnd that
peopl e wi l l oftent i mes act from bel ow i n s oci al l y us ef ul ways .
Vol untari sm not onl y resul ts from throwi ng off the shackles of moral
and physical coerci on, but it likewise cal l s forth a spirit of societal engage
ment t hat i s r eadi l y a l trui s t i c. Thi s s i mul taneous qual i ty of bei ng
coercion-free and other-centered embodies the sense of vol untary associa
tion that has long been a cornerstone of anarchi st theory and practice.
And intriguingly, it derives equal l y from anarchi sm' s intense individual
ism and i ts collectivist tendencies al i ke.
From a sel f-actual i zati on perspective, peopl e ought to be al lowed to
decide for themselves how to behave and what to do with the course of their
l i ves. Freed from pervasive forces of domination and authoritari ani sm, it
would necessari l y become the case that human interactions fow from a
place of voluntarism, since no one would be made to do anything apart from
their own volition. In this sense, al l activities and engagements in an anar
chist society would be voluntary, and any ensuing limits on behavior would
be purely sel f-i mposed. Over time, people living under such a condition
would reclaim lost powers of morality and utility suffcient to hold together
a community of individuals. In this view, the individual retains primacy even
as an instinct toward voluntary participation in society is cultivated.
From a communal perspective, vol untari sm contai ns an ethic of com
passi on and reci proci ty that makes human associ ati ons not only i nevi
tabl e but desi rabl e. Peopl e have al ways l i ved i n communi ty and have
maintained bonds of affni ty and affliation that serve to promote positive
behavi ors. The critical factor for anarchism i s that when conduct i s pre
scri bed and obedi ence enforced, peopl e lose the capaci ty to act for the
right reasons and i n fact become susceptible of being made to do so for
al l the wrong reasons . This is not a moral statement as much as it is an
empi ri cal one; i t cannot l ogi cal l y be argued that human behavi or i s
Contemporary Anarchist Thought 9
i mproved by dehumani zi ng processes of soci al control , j ust as it is the
case that one cannot be forced to be free. For anarchists, voluntary asso
ci ati on i s at once a rej ection of i mposed moral ity ( bei ng oxymoronic in
any event) and a call instead for mani festing a cooperative "vol unteer spi
ri t" i n our social and pol i ti cal engagements . Contemporary anarchi sm
readi l y embraces both the i ndi vi dual istic and communi tari an i mpul ses
contained in the basi c premise that voluntarism i s preferable to authori
tari anism as an organizing principle for the gui dance of human affairs.
Anarchism [ i s] the consciousness of an overriding human sol i darity.
-Herbert Read ( 1 954)
This leads straightforwardly to the next foundational piece of both the
cl as s i c al and cont emporary anarchi s t l exi cons . Si nce the t i me of
Kropotki n, anarchism has taken the concept of mutual aid a s somethi ng
of a fai t accompl i . Even i n the most cyni cal and/or mi l itant wings of i ts
confnes, anarchism accepts the premise that humans are soci al ani mal s
who have always found ways to l i ve, work, and pl ay together. This sense
of mutual i sm is someti mes expressed as sol i darity, affni ty, or commu
nity; in al l cases, there is a fundamental recognition that people need each
other to survive and fouri sh. Thi s can be mani fested by large-scal e action
in common such as that found at a mass demonstration; through smaller
band- l evel a ffni ty gr oups e ngagi ng in forms of di rect act i on; in
community-based efforts and shared spaces like i nfoshops; by common
movement practices of legal support and j ail solidarity; through the work
ings of a free economy centered on gift-giving and shared bounty; and in
the more speci fcal l y personal gestures of fri endshi p and camaraderi e
found in anarchist networks around the worl d.
I n thi s manner, mutual i sm i s essenti al l y the gl ue that hol ds the anar
chi st vision together and that keeps it from degenerating into barbarism
or ni hi l i sm. As refective of a broadl y mutual i st spi ri t found i n nature
and throughout human hi story al ike, contemporary expressi ons weave
together both i nstinctivist and normative impulses in the deployment of
mutual aid. Freed from compul si on, people l earn to act at least i n part
for the common good, si nce there exi sts an undeni abl e recogni ti on of
the necessity of human community and soci al ity. Further, it turns out that
i n this formulation others are l ikewise no l onger forced to do anything in
particul ar for one another, meaning that i f we desire equitable treatment
it becomes incumbent upon us to both offer it and learn how to encourage
10 Anarchism Today
it in others. This sense of basic reciprocity is both behavioral and moralistic,
representing the essence of practices such as barter and exchange as well as
teachings aki n to the "golden rule " of "do unto others " that i s found in
nearly every society. Following Gustav Landauer, anarchists oftentimes
maintai n that the forces of social control exist principally at the levels of
motivation and conduct, and that the surest path toward overcoming them
is to behave differently and for different reasons. In this view, the aim i s to
cultivate al ternative arrangements and relationships, as Landauer opined:
"The entire system would vanish without a trace if the people began to con
stitute themselves as a people apart fom the state. "
Mutualism, as a co
operative and constitutive practice, is the highest expression of this ai m.
Anarchi sm today has evol ved a sophi sti cated understandi ng of the
worki ngs of power and domi nati on. The patterns of corporate hegemony
and statecraft are evident everywhere, and the concomitant values of con
sumpti on and compul sion that they i ncul cate are equal l y wi despread.
Against thi s, anarchists propose-and struggle to model-a social order
i n which people l argely behave i n soci al l y responsi bl e and l i fe-affrming
ways because ( a) it is advantageous to do so and/or ( b) it i s the right thing
to do. Anarchism grasps the interlocking and reinforcing nature of repres
si ve tendenci es in soci ety, i ncl udi ng the profound synergi es between
capital and the state, and it argues i nstead for a bottom-up versi on of
mutualism that enables collective acti on whi l e forestalling authoritarian
i sm. It i s a del icate bal ance, yet among the soci opol i tical theories, anar
chi sm i s perhaps al one i n i ts eagerness to embrace the tensi ons as a
source of productive energy. It i s preci sel y the ki netic energy found i n
the messi ness and constant negotiation underlying human rel ati onshi ps
that anarchists thrive upon, as wel l as that compri ses the basi s for wider
forms of networking and federation that l i nk both individual s and com
muni ti es i n an i nescapabl e web of mutuality ( to borrow a phrase from
Martin Luther King, Jr. ) .
By "ruling from below, " anarchists believe, at the level of localized,
self-governing communities, society wi l l be abl e to transform itsel f
i nto a sel f-managed, directly democratic and ecol ogi cal l y sustai n
able system.
-James Horrox ( 2009)
Autonomy is the capacity to make deci si ons and mani fest them upon
one' s own vol i ti on. It is cl osel y related to anti-authoritari ani sm but goes
Contemporary Anarchist Thought I I
further in prioritizing self-governance at both the i ndi vi dual and societal
level s. As a basic propositi on, autonomism is aki n to what Gandhi cal led
" swaraj , " namely, the practice of sel f-rul e. Without thi s as the bedrock,
we can fnd oursel ves on a path-wi del y seen today-toward sel f
possessi on and even sel f-destructi on. Autonomy as self-rule asserts not
only the freedom to govern oursel ves but also the requirement that we
do so; in thi s sense, it i s equal parts l i berty and responsi bi l i ty. Absent
the state and other coercive apparatuses, human communities will still
require levels of coordination beyond the purview of any parti cul ar i ndi
vi dual . In order to accompl i sh thi s wi thout merel y repl i cati ng current
practices of stratifcation and domi nati on, anarchists start wi th a concep
tion of the i ndi vi dual rooted in the virtue of freedom as well as the capac
ity to exercise it responsi bl y.
When contemporary anarchists tal k about autonomy, they often refer to
this personal imperative of self-management as a precondition for wider
forms of associ ati on that exist i n oppos ition to the state. Autonomous
spaces are those l i berated from the forces of regul ation and control that
are typifed by private property regimes; they can include a bui lding occu
pied during a demonstration, a vacant lot that i s reclaimed as a community
garden, or a n a bandoned dwel l i ng that i s i nhabi ted by s quatters .
Autonomi sm in thi s context represents the capaci ty for peopl e to sel f
organi ze in opposi ti on to domi nant modes of exchange, and it often
includes a strong component of si multaneous resistance to legal and com
mercial norms imposed by society.
As a response to corporate gl obal i zati on i n particul ar, an autonomist
movement has arisen that prioritizes local and regional actions as a strat
egy of both resistance and self-realizati on. The impetus to live and work
at a smal ler scal e, to reduce the col l ective footprint of human i mpacts
on the environment, and to recl ai m a sense of power in the decisions that
di rectly impact our lives are al l expressi ons of autonomy. These vari ous
autonomous efforts-rangi ng from free school s and foraged foods to
alternative economies and cooperative workplaces-have shown a capac
i ty to l i nk together through vari ous medi a of exchange, forming a bur
geoni ng l oose federati on of smal l - scal e nodes that make up what i s
today a global anarchist network. Yet again, this i s a precari ous balance
to stri ke, that between a utonomy and federati on. But anarchi sts are
keenl y aware that wi thout autonomy, federati on can become fasci sm;
and without federati on, autonomy often results in isolationism and, ul ti
matel y, eradication. Autonomy thus serves as a personal hedge agai nst
the potenti al totalitari ani sm of the community and likewise as a collective
hedge agai ns t ready i ncorporat i on i nto the gl obal i zed neol i ber al
12 Anarchism Today
economy. It i s, in short, a radical reclaiming of the desire to determine the
conditions of our own lives at all levels.
Anarchism i s aristocratic-anarchists j ust insist that the elite should
consist of everyone.
-Crimethlnc. ( circa 201 0)
In order for a utonomy to work, i t must be bal anced by equal i ty .
Anarchi s m' s versi on i s nei ther the watered- down premi se of "equal
opportunity" that i s often given lip service i n l i beral -capi tal i st soci eties,
nor the rigid austerity of an "equal outcomes" approach frequently prof
fered by exponents of state soci al i s m. Anarchi sts i nstead stri ve for a
radi cal egalitariani sm conditioned by the foregoi ng application of anti
authoritari an, voluntarist, mutualist, and autonomist principles. On some
level, al l of these attributes are different ways of expressing the core anar
chist premise of freedom from ( and active resistance to) imposed rul e. Yet
each al so possesses uni que qualities that are refexively and dynami cal l y
engaged with the others. An anarchist soci al order that el i mi nates coer
cion and domi nati on promi ses to cul ti vate sel f-governi ng i ndi vi dual s
who exhi bi t vol untary behavi ors t hat are often mut ual l y benefci al ,
i deal l y creating a horizontal network of productive enterprises and self
managi ng communities that coul d subsume the materi al and emotional
necessities of l i fe. Far from a bl ueprint, this i s more so a gui de to decision
maki ng wi thout di ctati ng outcomes-and the key to achi evi ng i t is
equal ity.
At the outset, anarchi sm' s egal i tari ani sm is a functi on of pol i ti cal
economy. I t applies to decision making and governance through a predi lec
tion for processes of consensus and participation that vest power in every
individual and al l constituencies potenti al l y impacted. It argues for a sys
tem of production anchored in values of common dignity, shared labor,
and equal entitl ement to the col l ective weal th of humanki nd. In striving
for thi s, it i s also by necessity a sociocultural phenomenon, cal l i ng upon
us to actively confront patterns and practices of racism, sexism, heterosex
ism, ageism, ableism, classism, and the l ike-including our own participa
tion i n promul gating these invidious systems and the ways i n which we
have internalized them. Anarchism promotes such a vision of egalitarian
ism not out of moralism, guilt, or political correctness but i n order to foster
the dual sense of self-rule and collective responsibility-of voluntarism and
mutual i sm-that underscores the theory. Equal treatment works as an
Contemporary Anarchist Thought 1 3
organizing principle because, by defnition, i t i s either real ized universally
or not at all; you cannot have an unequal di stribution of equality, after
al l . This makes it a l ofty aim indeed, but one that if attained promises to
revolutionize all aspects of society.
At an even l arger scale, anarchi sm' s radical egalitari ani sm i s al so a vi a
ble instrument for resistance to col oni al i sm, imperial i sm, and gl obal i za
tion. Such processes depend upon the di fferenti al mai ntenance of power
rel ations and are intertwined with structural hierarchies that assign worth
based on factors of race, gender, and so on. Just as the " equal ri ghts "
rhetoric of the state i s, in practice, largely a misnomer for the protection
of wealth and pri vi l ege, the equal opportunity promi se of capital i sm i s
l i kewise a pal l i ati ve for profound strati fcati on both wi thi n and among
nati ons . Anarchi sm rej ects these hi erarchi es i n the name of an acti ve
equality that empowers i ndivi dual s, communities, and nati ons ( as distinct
from states) to si multaneously take ownership of their lives and refuse to
be owned in the process. As such, it al so requires the rej ection of hierar
chies that set person against person and nation against nation, offering a
potenti al pathway to peaceful relations in a world where no one gets their
needs met unl ess everyone does . To accompl i sh thi s strong sense of
" revolutionary egalitari ani sm, " anarchists oftentimes will apply its basic
teachings not onl y within human communities but toward the bal ance
of the biosphere as a whole.
The " chi l dren of mother earth" cl ai mi ng their right to l ive-what
else coul d it be about?
-P. M. ( 1 995)
Not every anarchi st is an envi ronmental i st, but anarchi sm itsel f i s
i nherent l y ecol ogi cal . The sense of i mmut abl e c hange and open
endedness that frames the anarchist proj ect i s l i kewise found in human
interpretations of nature itself. Anarchism, l i ke ecology, strives to under
stand the compl ex rel ati onshi p between humans and the envi ronment,
and it patterns key aspects of i ts social ideology ( e. g. , mutual ai d) explic
itly on processes observed within and among biotic and ani mal commun
ities. As Emma Goldman once wrote: "A natural l aw i s that factor i n man
whi ch asserts itself freely and spontaneousl y wi thout any external force,
in harmony with the requi rements of nature. "
Whi l e contemporary
anarchi sts may not be as consumed as in the pas t wi th questi ons of
human nature ( even i n Goldman' s time there was a developing sense that,
14 Anarchism Today
"with human nature caged in a narrow space, whipped daily into submis
sion, how can we speak of its potenti alities ? " ) , there remains a frm recog
nition that we are embedded within the l arger workings of the biosphere,
as well as that our very existence is conditioned by the primary relationship
between human communities and the l arger environment.
Thi s insight
has become even more pronounced i n recent years, as anarchi sts have
increasingly engaged issues including climate change, food j ustice, resource
wars, animal rights, and popular struggles to preserve biodiversity-some
times to an extent that includes the more militant strands of the movement
and their penchant for confrontati onal , nonl i near tactics i n the name of
"l iberation. "
Unsurprisingly, then, diversity i s "today a core anarchist val ue, " as Uri
Gordon observes.
Just as biological diversity i s essential to the health of
ecosystems, so too i s cultural diversity fundamental to the continued exis
tence of healthy societies. From an ecological perspective, no aspect of the
compl ex web of l i fe has pri macy, meani ng that di versi ty i s at root an
expression of mutual i nterdependence-and thus of anarchi sm as wel l .
I n soci al terms, diversity i s i ncl usi ve of al l of the identity attributes that
i mpel the struggle for equal ity. Anarchists recognize that qualities defned
as " normal " at a given hi storical moment are often associ ated with the
trappings of power and privilege. In creating self-ful fl l ing norms around
the maj or characteristics of identity construction, dominant power i s abl e
to perpetuate itsel f as a set of pol i ti cal and economi c rel ati ons and, per
haps even more i nsi di ousl y, as a form of consciousness. Over time, mem
bers of less-favored identities will suffer widening gaps i n health, wealth,
and opportuni ty-even as they may sl owl y i nterna l i ze the domi nant
norms to such a degree that thei r oppressi on and l i berati on al i ke can
become bound up with the master narrative, either by struggling agai nst
it or in striving to attain i ts bl essi ngs. Anarchi sts work to overcome these
chal lenges by deconstructing privilege, abol ishing hierarchy, democratiz
i ng deci si on maki ng, and depl oyi ng a "diversity of tactics " i n the quest
to surmount oppressi on.
The shared cultural heritage of humanki nd i s at risk proporti onal l y to
how the bi osphere i s bei ng rapi dl y degraded. Languages, whi ch are
strong i ndi cators of uni que cul tures, are di sappeari ng at a rate compa
rabl e to forests and speci es. The present geol ogi cal era, whi ch i s some
ti mes referred to as the " Anthropocene " to si gni fy i ts human- dri ven
qual i ti es, has as i ts hal l mark the creati on of monol ithi c bi ol ogical and
socioeconomic systems premised on a hierarchy of i nterests and the con
trol of resources. Against this totalizing quality, subaltern voices around
the pl anet strive to reassert themselves as potenti al guardians of bi ological
Contemporary Anarchist Thought 1 5
and cul tural di versi ty, and i n so doi ng they often manifest a sense of
pol i ti cal diversi fcati on that brings t o the fore a cruci al indigenous per
specti ve t hat is wi del y embraced among contemporary anarchi sts .
Perhaps partly due to thi s perception of effective empowerment, there
can al so be a concomitant tendency to fetishize and/or commodify diverse
identities . In the anarchist mi l i eu, di alogues and practices are thus often
fostered to deepen the notion of diversity as a tool for unpacking critical
issues of power and privilege and likewise as a fundament of healthy sys
tems at all level s. Al l of this points to an i nherently naturalistic sensibility
in anarchi sm and serves as an i mportant component of i ts sta unch
opposition t o the forces of gl obal capital i sm.
Anarchi sm i s necessari l y anti -capi tal i st . . . . A consi stent anarchi st
must oppose pri vate ownershi p of the means of producti on and
the wage slavery whi ch i s a component of thi s system.
-Noam Chomsky ( 1 970)
A cornerstone of anarchism throughout history has been the abolition
of private property; anarchism today extends the critique to include pro
cesses of pri vati zati on and commodifcation that are part and parcel of
corporate gl obal izati on. Anarchists assert the i nterests of "peopl e, not
profts " and chal lenge the prevailing Western mythos of human superior
ity vis-a-vis nature. Capital i sm is seen as a system of exploitation, domi
nation, and coercion-si multaneousl y dehumanizing and denaturalizing
in its quest to control people and conquer nature. Anarchi sts have fgured
prominently in the myriad anti-capitalist demonstrations held around the
world in recent years, and they have likewise been a driving force in upris
ings against austerity measures and other tools utilized by capital and the
state to maintai n their j oint seat of power. Anarchists have also been part
of solidarity efforts ai med at promoting economic j ustice for immigrants,
the homeless, refugees, displaced communities, and working-cl ass people
around the world.
In addition to an unquestionably anti-capi tal i st penchant, contempo
rary anarchi sm further strives to promote alternative economic arrange
ments . These new vi si ons are often expl i ci tl y framed as a rej ecti on of
capital i sm, typi fed by the "really, really free market" concept that origi
nated at mass demonstrations agai nst the corporati sts' versi on of " free
trade. " Anarchists embrace the egal i tari an and vol untari sti c val ues of
the gift economy and regul arly mani fest the vi rtues of a free-economy
1 6 Anarchism Today
perspective through efforts i ncl udi ng " dumpster di vi ng" and the decen
tralized global movement Food Not Bombs. Anarchism does not entirely
rej ect the enterpri si ng or entrepreneuri al spi ri t-i ndeed, modern anar
chists are nothing if not resil ient and resourceful-but refuses to deploy
i t in the servi ce of r ul i ng others or a l l owi ng ones el f to be r ul ed.
Anarchism stands i n opposition t o wage slavery, conspi cuous consump
ti on, and wealth mal di stri buti on, someti mes embodi ed i n purposeful l y
provocative sl ogans such as "Eat the Rich. "
By taking on capitalism i n its systemic dimensions, including its inher
ent i ntertwi ning with the workings of the state, anarchi sm propounds a
ci vi l i zati onal critique that marks it as the most radi cal of contemporary
soci opol i ti cal theori es. The roots of oppressi on and authori tari ani sm
run deep for many anarchists-quite l iteral l y down into the earth itself,
as a resul t of the modern tendency to privatize the essenti al s of l i fe and
control their distribution:
The frst man who, havi ng encl osed a piece of ground, bethought
hi msel f of sayi ng "Thi s i s mi ne, " and found some peopl e si mpl e
enough to bel ieve hi m, was the real founder of ci vi l society. From
how many cri mes, wars , and murders, from how many horrors
and mi sfortunes mi ght not any one have saved manki nd, by pul l ing
up the stakes, or fl l i ng up the di tch, and cryi ng to hi s fel l ows :
" Beware of l i steni ng to thi s i mpostor; you are undone if you once
forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us al l , and the earth itself
to nobody. "
Whi le these words were wri tten by Rousseau over two centuri es ago,
many contemporary anarchists are at least implicitly cognizant of the cal l
to " pul l up the stakes and fl l up the ditch" in defance of corporate capi
tal i sm. Indeed, some of anarchi sm' s most spectacul ar interventions, from
breaki ng wi ndows to burning bui l di ngs, have been undertaken speci f
cal ly in response to perceived inj ustices committed by the ostensible forces
of privatization and exploitati on.
Anarchism can be described frst and foremost as a visceral revolt.
-Daniel Guerin ( 1 970)
Beyond mere theori zi ng, anarchi sts have l ong hel d a preference for
"propaganda by the deed. " The theory behind this is simply that actions
Contemporary Anarchist Thought 1 7
are often more dramatic and galvanizing than words, a t least i n a social
movement context. The exhortati on contai ned i n the aphori sm i s one
i ntended to foment a revol uti onary consci ousness, and i t i s someti mes
offered as a j usti fcati on for hi ghl y confrontati onal acts that possess a
potenti al l y terroristic qual i ty. On the other hand, today the phrase has
come to mean more generally any activity that communicates an intended
message or that model s the central tenets of anarchi sm-i ncl udi ng not
j ust spectacul ar vi olence but more accepted forms of organi zi ng as wel l .
Thus, whi l e anarchi sm cl earl y embraces a posture of dynami c acti on,
there i s much debate about precisely what message i s being conveyed by
a gi ven act and whether it actually serves productive purposes.
Still, whatever course of conduct one opts for, it remai ns the case that
anarchi sm i n all of its i ncarnati ons i s i nherently revol uti onary. It pro
pounds a critique of capital and the state that cal l s i nto question the most
basic assumpti ons of ci vi l i zati on, and it carries the mantle of " freedom
and equal i ty " to an extent that promi ses to remake the worki ngs of
modern society i n i ts entirety. It is perhaps for thi s reason above al l that
anarchism has been ( and continues to be) demonized and used as a conven
ient touchstone of public fear by entrenched i nterests. As a coherent system
of thought, anarchism i s i n fact "dangerous" i n terms of its uncompromis
ing cri ti que of domination and oppression in all its multifari ous forms;
moreover, its idyl lic example of an egalitarian, dynamic social order is like
wise threatening to the " powers that be. " Frequently lost i n the hysteria
over the "violent anarchist" trope, however, is a more pertinent discussion
about the innate violence and pervasive danger presented by militarization,
maldistri bution, dehumanizati on, and environmental degradation-al l of
which are prominent features of capitalism and the state.
One of the pri mary ways that anarchism di stinguishes itself is through
creative, spontaneous, and playful actions. For many contemporary anar
chists, the state is little more than a "ki l ling machine, " and capitalist soci
ety is merely an elaborate "death cult. " Against the stagnant, mechanistic,
and routinized qual ities of modern life, anarchism counterposes an air of
exci tement and unpredicta bi l i ty in its open- endedness and fui di ty.
Anarchi sm is often taken as a "theory of spontaneous order, " as Ward
descri bes i t, and " i t i s only i n revol uti ons, emergenci es, and ' happen
ings' " that this key principle emerges.
In thi s sense, anarchy is not dis
organi zati on but i s more accuratel y a form of self- organization. It is
revol uti onary but not irresponsi bl e, vi si onary but not di dacti c, creative
but not scripted. In the end, anarchi sm i s not an amoral phi l osophy of
" anything goes "-it is, rather, a perspective that goes with anything and
that infuses al l aspects of everyday life.
1 8 Anarchism Today
Anarchism always "demands the impossible " even as it tries to also
"real ize the impossible. " Its idealism is thoroughl y pragmatic.
-Cindy Mi lstein ( 201 0)
The theory of spontaneous order pervades human exi stence at every
level . It appl ies equal l y in the domai ns of the personal and interpersonal
as it does to societal and gl obal concerns. Whether it i s a matter of i ndi
vi dual l i festyle preference, small group deci si on making, or gl obal solidar
ity networking, the practices of anarchy are always at hand. Anarchism is
a bel i ef system, a pol i ti cal perspective, a state of bei ng, a form of con
sci ousness-and it is al so an ongoi ng, ever-changi ng l i ved experi ence.
The mutabi l ity and even ambiguity associ ated wi th anarchi sm can make
i t seem i mpracticabl e, but i n actual i ty these qual i ti es foster a sense of
fexi bi l i ty and permeabi l ity that al l ows anarchi sm to sl i p the bonds of
meta-theory i n favor of engaged pragmati sm. As Cindy Mi lstein observes,
"anarchi sm' s laboratory is the whole of life, " and thus the opportunity to
apply its core values is present in each moment.
As a revol uti onary theory, anarchi sm bears the burden of addressi ng
the multitude of chal lenges facing humanki nd not in piecemeal or reform
ist fashion but in toto. Anarchism's practical revolution is not won when
some governmental program or corporate concession i s announced; it is
not complete upon a platform being adopted or a candi date being elected.
Anarchi sm i s a condi ti on of permanent revol uti on and eternal vi gi l ance
agai nst the creepi ng authoritariani sm that i s al ways wi th us; i t i s there
when we cons ume, communi cate, trans act, t ravel , l abor, and l ove.
Contemporary activists have i nfused every sphere of l i fe with anarchi st
val ues and tenets : free school s, anarchi st parenti ng, dumpster di vi ng,
pi rate radi o, i nfoshops, hackers , bi ke co-ops, cohabitati on, l i bertini sm,
urban farms, free stores, readi ng groups, sports, street theater, and more.
Not every proj ect of thi s ilk necessari l y refers to itself as anarchist, but
many do. Taken together, these endeavors convey the lived sense of anar
chi sm, moving it from theory to practice and highlighting i ts potential for
offering a comprehensi ve vi si on of soci al order absent domi nati on and
That we are Utopians i s wel l known.
-Peter Kropotki n ( 1 906)
Contemporary Anarchist Thought 19
Notwithstandi ng Kropotki n' s enthusi asm, many anarchi sts eschew
utopi ani sm for a variety of rel ated reasons. Interestingly, much as with
the notion of anarchy itsel f, the concept of utopia suffers from frequent
mi scharacteri zati on. Hi storically i t i nvokes a quasi -religi ous, unattai n
able perfected state of humanity, a "good place " that can never actual l y
be located. It i s often associated with a si mplistic and static l i festyle that
presupposes a beni gn human nature and an i deal i zed order i n whi ch
needs are satisfed magically and without confict. On the other hand, this
utopi a i s al so vi ewed as over-organi zed, anti -i ndi vi dualistic, and poten
tially authoritari an i n its benevolent regimentati on. From another per
specti ve, utopi a dangerous l y promi ses future s al vati on and thereby
defects cri ti cal attenti on from the urgent needs of the present. It i s, i n
s hort, frequentl y seen as both too i deal i sti c and too cynical , ai ry yet
oppressive. Interestingly, some of these very same critiques are delivered
against anarchism itself.
Even as future-oriented utopi ani sm remai ns controversi al , there exists
a tendency among some anarchi sts to exal t exampl es from hi story as
"anarchi st utopi as " of a bygone day: i ndi genous cul tures, t he Diggers,
the Paris Commune, the Spani sh Revolution. In practice today, there are
i ntentional communities around the world operating on anarchist princi
ples, some self-consci ousl y. In literature, a rich and growing sub-genre of
anarcho-utopi ani sm has sol i di fed i n recent years, and academic treat
ments have likewise proliferated. We can surmise that this trend i s i nfu
enced at l east i n part by anarchi sm' s expansi ve engagement wi th the
pragmati c aspects of l i fe i n addi ti on to i ts whol esal e cri ti que of, and
revolutionary posture toward, civilization itself. Like anarchism, utopi an
ism i s equal parts critical and constructive, and perhaps that shared dual
ity is responsi bl e for the affnity and hostility al i ke. 4
Contemporary anarchi sm has tenuousl y resolved some of these i ssues
by recasti ng them in terms of prefguring. The essenti al noti on i s that
present-day anarchi st endeavors are al so harbi ngers of a potential future
that remai ns indetermi nate. Anarchi st organi zi ng today, as to both the
means empl oyed and the ends i magi ned, provi des us with a gl i mpse of
what an alternative soci al order might l ook l i ke. What di fferentiates this
from old-school notions of utopia is the fragmentary open-endedness of
its future vision; anarchi sm i s always a work i n progress and i s not sus
cepti ble of a unitary defnition-thus any attempt to do more than al l ude
to a " better world" is rej ected in the name of the freedom of those who
i nhabi t the future to determi ne i t for themsel ves. Unfortunatel y, a s
Noam Chomsky notes, we are rapidly asserting " our control over the fate
20 Anarchism Today
of future generations " through oppressive soci al structures and concomi
tant environmental impacts; thus we are all futurists whether we want to
be or not.
Still , anarchists seek to exercise this responsi bility in a man
ner that is frmly committed to revolutionizing the present without fore
cl osi ng the future; as Chomsky counsel s, " whatever soci al structures
and arrangements are developed, they ought to maximize the possi bi l ities
for people to pursue their own creative potenti al , and you can' t make a
formula for that. "
Things fall apart; the center cannot hol d; Mere anarchy is l oosed
upon the world . . .
-Will i am Butler Yeats, The Second Coming ( 1 920)
If "you can' t make a formul a, " then it i s di ffcult t o convince people of
the soundness and sol i dity of one' s ideas. Anarchism i s uni que i n that it
rarely prosel yti zes, at least in terms of seeki ng unquestioni ng converts,
and it rej ects attempts at grand theorizing that are intended to create uni
versal i stic morals and models alike. What keeps the anarchist vision of an
organi c, spontaneous, and egal i tari an soci al order from becomi ng a
repressive meta-narrative is its concomitant impulse toward decentraliza
tion as a formative value. As noted above, anarchi sts rebel against even
their own core pri nci pl es, not necessari l y i n an attempt to abol i sh or
undermi ne them so much as to keep them vi brant and ensure that they
are always negotiated by the people and communities to whom they are
i ntended to appl y. I n other words, contemporary anarchi sm strives to
deconstruct i ts own center, and in so doing it posi ts a theory of radi cal
" decenteri ng" that extends beyond sheer pol i ti cs i nto the real ms of
l anguage and thought as well.
Someti mes referred to as " post- anarchi sm"-to i ndicate si mul tane
ousl y i ts willingness to transcend cl assi cal anarchi sm as wel l as i ts affnity
for "post-structural i st" criti ques of power and hegemony-thi s cutting
edge tenet of anarchism actually fts quite well within the larger hi storical
tradi ti on and its penchant for decentral i zati on. Rudol f Rocker, for i n
st ance, decri ed central i s m as "a curs e whi ch weakens i ts power of
deci si on and systemati cal l y represses every spontaneous i ni ti ati ve. " 44
"The anarchist alternative, " as Ward asserts, " is that of fragmentati on,
fssion rather than fusi on, diversity rather than unity, a mass of societies
rather than a mass society. "45 Anarchi sm' s l ongstandi ng pri oriti zati on
Contemporary Anarchist Thought 21
of autonomy and spontaneity as the bases for effective organizing encap
sul ates some of the post-anarchist sensibility, yet out beyond this i s a fur
ther tendency to deconstruct power rel ati ons at thei r most basi c ( and
often more s ubtl e ) l eve l s . The radi cal decenteri ng urged by pos t
anarchi sm outstri ps mere pol i ti cal economy i n favor of a penetrati ng
anal ysi s of l anguage, knowl edge, cul ture, and even desi re i n expl ori ng
the ways in whi ch soci al control is imposed and how best to resist it with
out replicating hierarchi cal and representati onal forms of associ ati on in
the process.
While some anarchists embrace the potential of this perspective and its
i nherent capacity to foster "a systematic deconstruction of the cl ai ms to
l egi ti macy of any i nstituti onal authori ty, " others rai se concerns about
whether this l i ne of reasoning overemphasizes anarchism' s deconstructive
aspects without acknowledging its constitutive tendencies as a counterbal
As May wonders, "can there be critique without representation? "
On what basi s do anarchi sts oppose domi nant forms of mi l i tarizati on,
criminalization, and capitalization and seek to posit against them a vision
of voluntary association, mutual aid, autonomous action, and pragmatic
utopianism? Anarchism is right to check its own potential authoritarianism
and to deconstruct its central values and aims (as Rocker summarizes, " it
rejects al l absolute schemes and concepts ") ,49 yet it is also vital to articul ate
what the theory stands for rather than merely what it is against. Moreover,
as I wrote over a decade ago, " it is important to believe that what we do
and how we l ive matters; to fail to do so can only invite cataclysm and per
haps even extincti on. " 5
Fortunatel y, anarchi sm' s expl i ci t embrace of
decentralism as a core value encourages precisely the kind of inquiry that
enables healthy foundations-namely those that appear as tenuous planks
in a nascent foor but never as fnished ceilings above our heads.
In Conclusion
I have sought here to present a working version of contemporary anar
chi sm as a cohesi ve school of thought. By necessi ty, thi s has i ncl uded
reference to acti on as wel l , si nce anarchi sm rej ects the fal se dichotomies
of means/ends and theory/practice. Anarchi sm i s a way of looking at the
world and a way of living i n it; i t i s deeply engaged with the minutia of
the present as wel l as suggesti ve of a broader vi s i on for the fut ure.
Anarchism prioritizes the i ndi vi dual and the community at the same time,
i ncl udi ng nature itsel f i n its conceptions of equality and diversity. Each of
the hesitant tenets specifed here could serve as a defnition of anarchi sm
22 Anarchism Today
by itsel f, si nce every part is refective of the ethos of the whol e. Taken
together, these vari ous strands of anarchi sm begi n to trace the contours
of a complete theory that i s comfortable with its own ambi guity and that
revels in the productive possi bi l ities of its inherent tensi ons. And nowhere
are these themes of unity and diversity, of cohesion and dissension, more
preval ent than in the real m of anarchi st acti on, whi ch I cons i der i n
the fol l owing chapter.
Anarchism in Action
n addition to its theoreti cal resurgence, anarchism has been intimately
i nvol ved wi th the evol uti on of strategies for soci etal transformati on.
The presence of anarchists and anarchi st tenets i n movements focusi ng
on i ssues including gl obal j ustice, environmental i sm, racial equality, and
economi c al ternati ves to capi t al i s m has been a force for enhanci ng
movement dynami sm and at the s ame time l eadi ng t o i nternal tensi ons
and offci al repressi on. Anarchists often bear the distinction of bei ng mi s
understood ( or even demonized) by both the mai nstream culture and their
own apparent al l ies ali ke. In practice, the range of actions associated with
anarchi sm i s i ncredi bl y broad, from compassi onate acts l i ke sendi ng
books to pri soners and fnding food for the hungry to more confronta
tional tactics such as property destruction and skirmishing with pol ice at
demonstrati ons. The i mage of "the anarchi st" today might not conj ure
qui te the same trepi dati on as it did around the turn of the twenti eth
century-duri ng the bri ef heyday of ostensi bl y anarchi st-inspired pol iti
cal vi olence-but it still provides ampl e fodder for suppressi on and fur
ther raises many pointed questions for movement culture itself.
Anarchi sm has infused today' s activism with numerous essenti al val
ues, practices, and terminologies. Contemporary social and environmen
tal movements often s peak in terms of a ut onomy, s ol i dari t y, and
community, and specifc i nnovati ons such as the affnity group and the
preference for a "diversi ty of tactics " are by now part of the parl ance.
Anarchi sts have brought wi th them a strong preference for hori zontal
forms of organizing, in whi ch decisions are rendered from a pl ace of equal
power, and where indivi dual s themselves are empowered to act from their
cons ci ences i n oppos i ng structures of repres s i on and expl oi t ati on.
Perhaps the key contri bution of anarchi sm t o today' s movements i s the
24 Anarchism Today
notion of direct action, which contains within it the dual sense of contest
ation and construction that lies at the very heart of anarchism. Related to
thi s is the noti on of prefguring, someti mes trans l ated si mpl y as the
apocryphal Gandhi an exhortation to " be the change " we wi sh to see i n
the worl d. Thus, whi le anarchi sts mi ght someti mes throw bri cks, they
are equally likely to build something with them.
One of the si gns of anarchi sm' s fexi bi l i ty and pervasi veness i s the
hyphenation it has come to enj oy with a number of other pol itical theo
ries and i denti ti es. For i nstance, the adj ecti val prefx " anarcho- " has
found itsel f attached over t he years t o persuasi ons i ncl udi ng soci al i st,
communi st, syndi cal i st, pri mi ti vi st, l i bertari an, paci fst, femi ni st, and
even capi tal i st. One can be a Green Anarchi st, run with the Bl ack Bl oc,
or be a punk and hi ppie al l at once wi th the mi l i eu. Anarchi sts hack,
j am, graffti, bi ke, dumpster dive, and set abl aze; they al so educate, co
operate, feed, communicate, and garden. An intriguing array of anarchist
movement tactics is presented in the 2004 Crimethlnc. tome Recipes for
Disaster: An Anarchist Cookbook, from banner drops and hi tchhi ki ng
to shopl i fti ng and sa botage-but thi s i s not your father' s i ncendi ary
Anarchist Cookbook from the 1 960s, whi ch has been di savowed even
by i ts origi nal author as " mi sgui ded and potenti al l y dangerous. " 1 Like
contemporary anarchism overall, this widely distributed Crimethlnc. text
possesses a whi msi cal yet sophi sticated sensi bi l ity, advocati ng personal
empowerment and community engagement as foundati ons for effective
acti on. Above all, it serves to affrm the refexive notion that practice does
not si mply fow from theory; rather, it shapes it, reinforces it, and creates
it. In this sense, the "anarchist revol uti on" i s much more than a statement
of principles-it is a l iving exercise.
Something in the Air
Anarchism carries with it an inherent, and oftentimes urgent, sense of rev
ol uti on. Once the gaze has been fxed on di fferenti al power relations and
organized oppressi on, i t i s di ffcul t not to see it wherever one l ooks i n
modern soci ety. Much as phi l osophers l i ke Mi chel Foucaul t have di s
cerned the workings of discipline throughout nearly every human institu
tion, so too do anarchi sts general l y see " the emperor' s new cl othes " of
s ubj ugati on, di stracti on, and i mpendi ng rui nati on draped across the
gl obal system. Anarchi sts decry perpetual war, the ravages of cl i mate
change, privatization of the commons, the commodi fcati on of l i fe, and
the widening gap between the ri ch and the poor both within and among
nation-states. Anarchists generally recognize the interlocking challenges
Anarchism in Action 25
presented by the modern worl d, l i kewi se the paradox of confronti ng a
system to whi ch one bel ongs and contri butes on mul ti pl e level s. Many
anarchists intrinsically understand how hi gh the stakes are and how deep
the roots go, and, like Starhawk, "want a revolution that changes the very
nature of how power i s structured and perceived, that chal lenges all sys
tems of dominati on and control " -arguing i n the fnal analysis that "we
need nothing less than a gl obal economic, soci al , pol itical , and spi ritual
revol uti on. "
This is obviously a daunting task, and it sets a high bar for acti on. The
undertaki ng i s further compl icated by the experi mental nature of any
revol t, as expressed by Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapati stas i n
1 994: "We hope you understand that thi s i s the frst time that we have
tried to carry out a revol uti on, and we are sti l l l earni ng. "
Shoul d anar
chi sts bother engagi ng i n smal l -scal e acti vi ti es i n l ocal communities or
expendi ng energy worki ng for pi ecemeal reform on a gi ven i s s ue ?
Shoul d they forge al l i ances with individual s or groups whose ai ms are less
than total revolution ? When it appears that a gl obal "crash" i s i n the off
ing, shoul d anarchists hel p it al ong or work to prevent i t? Are there any
ethical l i mi ts to the tactics that mi ght be empl oyed in the service of pro
moting a gl obal revol uti on under present condi ti ons where the urgency
i s so great ? In particul ar, what sorts of actions are likely to be effective
in fomenting a sociopol itical revol ution that suppl ants authoritari ani sm
and exploitation? What i s bei ng proposed by anarchi sts as an alternative
model for a complex society, and how can i t be constructed in a hostile
environment? Who decides what is to be done i n the name of revolution?
While it is clear that anarchists do not have the answers to al l of these
questions, they have served to bring these issues to the fore of contempo
rary movement culture, and i n so doing they have helped to keep alive a
revol uti onary i mpulse that has been part of anarchi sm si nce its earl i est
days. As Howard Zinn wrote in the introduction to Herbert Read' s book
Anarchy and Order: " Anarchi sm arose i n the most spl endi d days of
Western ' ci vi l i zati on' because the promi ses of that ci vi l i zati on were
almost i mmedi ately broken. "4 Zi nn argues that an anarchi st revol uti on
i n its ful l di mensi ons cannot be achieved by " force of arms " but that it
must ari se i n the " mi nds and behavi or " of peopl e before i nsti tuti ons
themselves wi l l change:
Encapsulating a ri ch hi story of thi nki ng about
( and acting for) a comprehensive social revolution, Zi nn provides a tem
plate for anarchist organizing that still resonates today:
The anarchi st sees revol uti onary change as somethi ng immedi ate,
somethi ng we must do now, where we are, where we l i ve, where
26 Anarchism Today
we work. It means starting this moment to do away with authoritar
ian, cruel relationships-between men and women, between parents
and chi l dren, between one ki nd of worker and anot her. Such
revol uti onary action cannot be crushed l i ke an armed upri si ng. It
takes place i n everyday l i fe, i n the tiny crannies where the powerful
but cl umsy hands of state power cannot easily reach. It i s not central
ized and isol ated, so that it can be wiped out by the rich, the police,
the mi litary. It takes place i n a hundred thousand places at once, i n
families, on streets, in neighborhoods, i n pl aces of work. It is a revo
lution of the whole culture. Squelched in one place, it springs up in
another, until it i s everywhere. Such a revolution i s an art.
As Starhawk concurs, "we don' t have to wait for [the revol ution] , we can
be it, l i ve it now. "
In addition to the expansi ve scope of i ts ai ms, another di stingui shing
feature of anarchi st revolutionary praxis is that it does not seek control
of exi st i ng power structures, but i nstead it stri ves to repl ace t hem
altogether with an egalitari an, anti-authoritarian soci al order. " It woul d
obvi ously be a mi stake to create the kind of machinery whi ch, at the suc
cessful end of a revol uti on, would merely be taken over by the l eaders,
who then assume the functi ons of government , " as Read observes .
Anarchi sts have l ong perceived the reacti onary nature of pri or revol u
ti ons i n whi ch a new government was for med, and through t hat
government how the interests of a new privileged cl ass ( sometimes includ
ing members of the ol d one as wel l ) steadi ly eroded the movement' s gains
and took back as much power as it coul d from the people. In a contempo
rary context, for example, such processes of revol utionary retrenchment
have been observed i n relation to the "Arab Spring" uprisings across the
Mi ddl e East duri ng the frst part of 201 1 : " The hi s tori c revol uti ons
that have ri ppl ed through the Arab worl d thi s year were in danger of
eclipse . 0 0 as protesters returned to the streets to profess their di sgust at
how the movement i s bei ng stymi ed by regi mes ol d and new . . . . The
scenes served as a remi nder that fol l owi ng the euphori a of the Arab
spring, l ittle concrete progress towards reform has been made. "
For Errico Mal atesta, to take but one powerful voice from hi story, an
anarchist revol ution represents "the destruction of al l coercive ties, " and
t hus " we must avoi d repl aci ng one state of coerci on by another.
,, t o
Al exander Berkman l i kewi se understood the anarchi st' s concepti on of
revol uti on to be " not any more a mere change of rulers, of government,
not a political revolution, but one that seeks to alter the whole character
of society. "
1 1
As such, for Berkman and Mal atesta al i ke, there was a
Anarchism in Action 27
recognition that this effort obviously woul d meet with great resi stance
not onl y from entrenched power but from " popul ar i gnorance and
prej udice " ( as Berkman termed i t ) among those who bl ithely proft from
it. Among contemporary theorists, Davi d Graeber echoes these concerns
and adds new ones particul ar to thi s era i n his essay, " Revol uti on i n
Reverse" :
Our customary conception of revolution i s i nsurrectionary: the idea
i s to brush asi de exi sting real ities of vi olence by overthrowi ng the
state, then, to unleash the powers of popular imagination and crea
tivity to overcome the structures that create ali enati on. Over the
twentieth century it eventual l y became apparent that the real prob
l em was how to i nsti tuti onal i ze such creati vi ty wi thout creati ng
new, often even more vi ol ent and al ienating structures. As a result,
the i ns urrecti onary model no longer seems completely vi abl e, but
i t' s not clear what wi l l replace i t . . . . In retrospect, what seems strik
ingly naive i s the ol d assumption that a single uprising or successful
civil war coul d, as it were, neutral ize the entire apparatus of struc-
1 2
tural violence.
In the end, Graeber advocates "the revival of direct acti on" as a means of
meeti ng these chal l enges of retrenchment , fragmentati on, and co
optati on.
Direct Action and Dual Power
It has been sai d that direct action is "the core of practical anarchi st pol i
tics. " 1
The concept i s hi storical l y rooted, wi th Emma Gol dman assert
ing i ts pri macy: " Anarchi s m therefore st ands for di rect acti on, the
direct defance of, and resi stance to, al l l aws and restrictions, economi c,
soci al , and moral . " 1 4 Vol tai ri ne de Cl eyre, who Gol dman descri bed as
" the most gi fted and br i l l i ant anarchi st woman Ameri ca ever pro
duced, " offered a hi stori cal rendering of direct acti on that i ncl uded the
Quakers' refusal to pay church taxes, bear arms, or swear all egi ance to
any government; episodes from the col oni al era i ncl udi ng tax resi stance
and the Boston Tea Party; the anti -sl avery movement; and the working
class organizing that began at the dawn of i ndustri al i zati on.
De Cleyre
observed that " di rect action has always been used" and took an expan
sive view of its locus of operati on: " Every person who ever had a plan to
do anythi ng, and went and di d it, or who laid hi s plan before others, and
won thei r co- operati on to do i t wi th hi m, wi thout goi ng to external
28 Anarchism Today
authorities to pl ease do the thing for them, was a di rect actionist. "
1 6
concl uded that
political acti on is never taken, nor even contemplated, unti l sl um
bering minds have frst been aroused by direct acts of protest against
existing conditions . . . . It i s by and because of the direct acts of the
forerunners of soci al change, whether they be of peaceful or warlike
nature, that the Human Consci ence, the consci ence of the mass,
becomes aroused to the need for change . . . . Di rect action i s always
the clamorer, the i nitiator, through which the great sum of indiffer
entists become aware that oppression i s getting intolerabl e.
The operative premise is that by acting in direct fashi on, "rather than
appeal ing to an external agent, " an indivi dual or group becomes empow
ered by "taking social change into one's own hands. "
1 8
For Graeber, who
has extensivel y chronicl ed its use i n contemporary movements, di rect
action "i s the i nsi stence, when faced with structures of unj ust authority,
on acting as i f one i s al ready free. "
1 9
While it can cover " an enormous
range " of acti vi ties and overlaps wi th tacti cs of ci vi l di sobedience, it i s
also the case that i n recent years "the term has become synonymous with
a certai n degree of mi l i tancy. "
As Lui s Fernandez obs erves, di rect
action "di srupts and confronts rather than negoti ates, [ although] con
trary to common percepti on, it i s not i nherently vi ol ent. "
1 The obvi ous
exampl e woul d be the breaki ng of corporate windows, but direct action
can al so i ncl ude "a rent stri ke, a consumer boycott, or a bl ockade; it
may i nvol ve si t-i ns , squatti ng, tree l i vi ng, or the occupati on of target
bui ldings. "
Despite its hi storical legacy and the array of activities that
i t subsumes, direct acti on is sti l l at ti mes disparaged as bei ng too confron
tati onal and ul timately counter-productive, even by those who have ben
efted from it; as de Cleyre l amented, it has had "the hi storical sanction of
the very peopl e now reprobating it. "
In addition to this spirit of open defance to i nj ustice, di rect action i n
the modern lexicon has al so come to i ncl ude a constructive el ement that
i s equally cruci al to i ts effcacy. For Starhawk, " it' s anything that directly
confronts oppressive power, prevents a wrong or interferes with an unj ust
institution, or that directly provides for a need or offers an alternative. "
I n thi s sense, beyond contesti ng repressi ve i nvocati ons of authori ty
through unmedi ated ( and often mi l itant) forms, di rect action possesses
the qual ity of " being the change we wish to see in the world" by si mul ta
neousl y redressi ng a wrong and provi di ng "a l i vi ng al ternati ve to the
exi sti ng structure of authority, " thereby " setting an exampl e others can
Anarchism in Action 29
i mi tate. "
25 For many anarchi sts, di rect action has come to embody the
noti on of " dual power, " namel y t hat it uni tes means and ends by
"actively engaging with the world to bring about change, i n which the
form of the action-or at l east, the organization of the action-is i tsel f a
model for the change one wi shes to bri ng about. "
Rob Sparrow has
attempted t o detai l the contours of this dual power approach:
Examples of direct action include blockades, pickets, sabotage, squat
ting, tree spiking, lockouts, occupations, rolling strikes, slowdowns,
the revol ut i onary general stri ke . I n the communi ty i t i nvol ves,
amongst other thi ngs, establ i shing our own organi zati ons such as
food co-ops and community access radio and T to provide for our
soci al needs, bl ocki ng the freeway developments which divide and
poi son our communities and taki ng and squatting the houses that
we need to l ive i n. I n the forests, direct action interposes our bodies,
our will and our ingenuity between wilderness and those who would
destroy it and acts agai nst the profts of the organi zati ons whi ch
di rect the expl oi tati on of nature . . . . Di rect acti on i s not onl y a
method of protest but also a way of "building the future now. "
We will consider in more detai l below the " building the future" aspect of
anarchism, but for now it i s worth recall ing that direct action possesses this
same qual ity of model i ng the gl obal j ustice sl ogan " Another Worl d Is
Possible. " The critical point, perhaps at times obscured by gl ass shards or
bravado, i s that thi s i s true of both the consti tuti ve and contestational
spheres of di rect acti on. For an anarchist society to remai n so, an ongoing
vigilance and even militancy toward emerging structures of authoritarianism
will be necessary. lt will also entai l cultivating a populace that is capable and
desirous of taking a broad range of pol itical matters and lifestyle essentials
into their own hands to a large extent. As a mode of conduct that frequently
i ncl udes worki ng i n concert with others, direct action fosters a spi rit of
cooperative, voluntary association among participants, and it sets an exem
pl ar of effective organi zi ng that faci l itates coordi nated deci si on making
wi thout sacri fci ng i ndi vi dual i ni ti ative i n the process. By embraci ng a
wide view of direct action as resistance to inj ustice or the creation of any pos
itive alternative, direct action comes to be i nfused i n everyday life and thus
moves beyond its better-known association with protest-oriented activism.
One of the conundrums of direct action in the context of mass demon
strati ons i s that most actions undertaken in that sphere are more symbol ic
t han s ubstanti ve, due to the nature of pol i ti cal protest. By " l ocki ng
down " and bl ocki ng a street, or droppi ng a seri es of banners from
30 Anarchism Today
bui l di ngs and overpasses, or even smashi ng the wi ndows of corporate
chai n stores, activists are pl ai nly behavi ng in a di rect manner-but the
degree to which the purveyors of i nj ustice and oppressi on are i mpacted
is debatabl e. Moreover, even if the intent is to i nfict a modicum of eco
nomi c damage or prevent a tool of global capital i sm from convening i ts
mi nisteri al meetings, it can be argued that this still recognizes the power
hol ders' authority and constitutes "an appeal to the powers-that-be to
change thei r behavi or. "
This critique raises some important questi ons
about the nature of tactics and how they ft into an overal l strategy, but
it misses the l arger poi nt that any open defance of " law and order " i s a
potenti al l y s ubversi ve act; further, it sets an exampl e for others to be
empowered by i n confronti ng i nj usti ces i n thei r communi ti es. Di rect
action works by bei ng bold i n i ts di spl ay of "anarchy breaking out, " con
veying a sense that the future i s not yet decided despite offci al pretenses
to the contrary. And nowhere is this duality more apparent-and equally
controversial-than in its manifestation as the Black Bloc.
Back in Black
The image of bl ack-dad, street-fghting anarchists has, for good or bad,
become the face of contemporary anarchism for many observers. In reality,
the "Black Bloc" is more mythical than tangible, and it constitutes a rela
tively small-though ofen quite spectacular-part of contemporary anar
chi sm. It has been criti qued as vanguardist, irresponsible, and intolerant,
whi l e others l i onize its capacity for promoti ng personal empowerment
and developing a "credi ble threat" to entrenched power. Often misunder
stood as an organi zed group, the Bl ack Bl oc is actual l y a tactic, " an
approach t o acti on that stresses group unity, mobi l i ty, and confronta
tion. "
29 I t i s equal parts analysis and adrenal ine, with a penchant for both
solidarity and anonymity, a walking anachronism yet at the edge of inno
vation. Some have already declared that " the Black Bloc i s dead, " while
others see it as part of a growing global movement that has found relevance
"in various parts of North America, Europe, Mexico, Turkey, and Brazil , "
among other locales.
Whatever its legacy, i t i s clear that the Black Bloc
has served to spark imperative movement debates about what i s meant by
violence and how it fts within contemporary anarchism.
I will consi der the speci fc subj ect of vi ol ence i n greater depth i n the
following chapter. For now, at the outset, we can take the Black Bloc as
an outgrowth of the di rect action traditi on, embodyi ng the dual power
ethos i n its mi l i tancy and egalitari ani sm al i ke. In a comprehensive study
ti tl ed "The Bl ack Bl ocs Ten Years after Seattl e, " Franci s Dupui s-Deri
Anarchism in Action 3 1
recounts many of the specifc actions attri buted to the Bloc i n recent years,
including skirmishes with the police; attempting to spark a riot i n a gentri
fed neighborhood; drawing the attenti on of the pol ice away from other
demonstrators; setting a puppet afre; protecting puppets from the police;
blocking streets; setting fre to a McDonal d' s and trashi ng three banks;
breaking store windows; protecting a police vehicle making its way through
a rally; engaging in a peaceful march; attacking a prison; harassing a police
security perimeter; and protecting non-violent demonstrators against police
In thi s compendi um, the seeming contradicti ons are resolved
through the application of dual power: contestation and construction.
A notable example comes from the lone Black Bloc action described by
Dupuis-Deri that was not specifcally connected to a mass demonstration,
in Buffal o, New York, in the spring of 200 1 : "A Black Bloc enters a poor
neighborhood to collect the garbage. Responding to bewildered reporters
aski ng them what they were doing, some activists tell them, ' You wrote
that we woul d trash the town, [ so] we decided to pick up the trash ! ' "
Sti l l , most Bl ack Bl oc actions do take pl ace withi n the context of l arger
mobilizations, and for anarchists i n particul ar, "the maj or economic sum
mits are perfect symbols of the state's illegitimacy and violence, its funda
mental ly authori tari an and hi erarchi cal nature, and its col l usi on wi th
capital . "
3 3
Interesti ngl y, most Bl ack Bl oc parti ci pants do not consi der
themselves vi olent by any means, and some even actively embrace non
violence i n thei r activi sm. Observers i n the mi lieu such as Graeber offer
the proposition that the Bl oc has developed "what might be consi dered
the most aggressive possi ble version of nonviolence, " while Dupuis-Deri
notes that " thei rs i s a l ow-i ntensi ty, nonl ethal vi ol ence whose ai m i s
primarily symbol i c. "
Sometimes the Black Bloc is considered an affnity group, which is si m
ply any small activist unit bonded together by " mutual trust and common
feelings about the kinds of acti on they wi sh to take. "
5 In the context of
demonstrati ons, the affni ty group model enabl es coordi nati on both
wi thi n and across groups, whi l e sti l l preservi ng i ndi vi dual and group
autonomy i n the process. Activists with shared i nterests, identiti es, and
ai ms can l oosel y cohere j ust for the purpose of a particul ar protest, or
they can constitute longer-term col lectives worki ng on vari ous mutual
endeavors. At a mass mobi l ization, the decision-making model of choice
has come to be the spokescouncil, whi ch meets in a convergence center
and is comprised of delegates from the various affnity groups. These del
egates, called spokes, possess no authority and instead serve as conduits
of i nformati on and the conveyance of i ntenti ons between the groups
and the whol e. Graeber refers to affni ty groups, i ncl udi ng the Bl ack
32 Anarchism Today
Bloc, as "the elementary particles of vol untary association " and assesses
thi s model as one that faci l itates the achievement of consensus by ena
bl i ng mutual agreements i n a shared decision-making process.
Despite these col lective "consensual deliberations, " the Black Bloc often
maintains that "the decision whether or not to resort to force during a dem
onstration must not be exempted from th[e] principle of autonomy. "
this sense, it strives to uphold a central tenet of anarchism, and " for those
who have taken part i n such acti ons, the real l y critical thing i s the sense
of autonomy created by an emphasis on solidarity and mutual defense. "
As Graeber concl udes, the Bl ack Bl oc is " a way to create one, feeting
moment when autonomy i s real and i mmedi ate, a space of l i berated
territory, i n whi ch the l aws and arbitrary power of the state no longer
apply, in which we draw the l i nes of force ourselves. "
Dupuis-Deri sees
the Black Bloc's emergence as an i mportant part of the effort "to organize
along horizontal, egalitarian, consensual lines " and as reflective of an over
all "anti-authoritari an tendency repudiating all forms of authority, hier
archy, or power, even those that prol i ferate wi thi n theoreti cal l y
egal i tari an soci al movements . " 4
These compl ex representati ons l ed
Starhawk t o simply conclude that, " I like the Black Bloc, " despite the fact
that "i n general I thi nk breaki ng windows and fghting cops in a mass
action is counterproductive. "
4 1
In the end, Star hawk recal l s that "they're
my comrades and al lies in this struggle and . . . we need room in this move
ment for rage, for impatience, for militant fervor. "42
Still, there remain key poi nts of contention about the Black Bloc. One i s
the double-edged nature of the sensationalized provocations that the Bl oc
represents, oftentimes generating media coverage that mi ght otherwise be
absent but seeing that coverage l i mi ted merely to the ostensi bl e "violent
protests " and l acki ng the context of the movement' s l arger aims. Critics
complain that "the Bl oc co-opts the movement and drowns out our mes
sage, " yet si multaneousl y grasp the sel f-refective di l emma posed by the
Black Bloc as a chal l enge to more establ i shed movement norms that are
"too often rooted in habit, comfort, or even fear. "4
A more problematic
concern about the Bl oc comes through the real i zati on that " today the
police anticipate it and have even borrowed i ts aesthetic to i nfltrate and
manipulate rallies, " such as in Geneva in 2003 where "about ffteen police
offcers disguised as Black Blockers " infltrated the convergence center and
"proceeded to make a number of violent arrests. "
As Starhawk concurs,
"the police [have] used the Black Bloc . . . very effectively, " citing reasons
i ncl udi ng " the anonymity, the masks and easi l y i dentifable dress code,
the willingness to engage i n more confrontational tactics and i n property
damage" as poi nts of entry for "police provocateurs . "
Anarchism in Action 33
Two addi ti onal contenti ous i ssues i nvol ve ri tual i zati on and provoca
ti on. With the l atter, it has been argued that the presence of the Bl ack
Bl oc or other mi l i tant actors withi n a movement places everyone at risk
of offci al reprisal s, sometimes including physical brutalization and unj ust
arrests. Acknowledging that this is a distinct possi bi l ity, and not one to be
taken lightly, Teoman Gee encourages the critical gaze to remai n on the
state and capital as the purveyors of violence and, further, that if peaceful
protesters are attacked, " it' s sti l l the cop who swi ngs the cl ub, not the
comrade who threw the rock. "46
Indeed, the Bl ack Bl oc has even been
known to actively protect other demonstrators by erecting barricades or
intentional l y drawing off pol ice attention; still, the criticism remai ns per
tinent. Furthermore, there is a growing sense that " ri tual izi ng property
destruction or street battles with the cops threatens to empty their signif
cance " and l i kewi se that the ingenuity necessary for effective protest i s
lost through the repetition of a gi ven action.
Sympathetic treatments
s uch as Gee ' s ask us to vi ew movement mi l i tants through a l ens of
" hi storical -pol i ti cal context, "48 whi ch i s cri tical for understandi ng the
meani ng of any event-yet rel i ance upon the same " overused tacti cs "
across multiple contexts can have a di mi ni shing return that undermi nes
movement dynamism and creativity. 49
Further considerati on of these i ssues, i ncl udi ng tactical and ethi cal
i nquiries, i s presented in the next chapter. As anarchist movements stand
today, the tenuous resol ution of these debates over actions-especi al l y
mi l i tant ones-has essenti al l y devol ved upon the al most-tal i smani c
i nvocati on of the preference for a " di versity of tacti cs . " The sal i ent
poi nts i n thi s wi del y- hel d vi ew are that " peopl e s houl d be free to
make thei r own choices; that a nonauthoritari an movement doesn' t tell
peopl e what to do; and that we shoul d stand i n sol i dari ty even with
people whose choices we disagree with. "5
This process-oriented accep
tance does not ful l y resolve the underlying concerns-for instance, some
cri t i cs ar gue that di vers i ty of t act i cs i s merel y a " e uphemi s m for
vi ol ence " 5 1 -but it c an hel p to preserve pl ur al i s m whi l e avert i ng
fragmentati on.
A Movement of Movements
Anarchism i s i nherently pl ural i stic, and thus any attempt to characterize
it as a single " anarchist movement" i s doomed at the outset ( even as we
at ti mes adopt the conventi on for the sake of anal ysi s ) . Thi s sense of
multiplicity-whether it involves tactics, strategies, theories, or visions
i s actual l y part of anarchi sm' s strength and al so perhaps i ts greatest
34 Anarchism Today
chal lenge. On the one hand, we have Gol dman' s expansi ve vi ew of an
anarchism that "stand[s] for the spirit of revolt, i n whatever form, against
everythi ng that hi nders human growth, " coupled with her admoni ti on
that "the methods of Anarchism therefore do not compri se an iron-cl ad
program to be carried out under al l circumstances. "
On the other i s the
positi on staked more recently by Mi chael Schmi dt and Luci en van der
Walt in the provocative book Black Flame, where they assert that " ' class
struggle' anarchi sm, sometimes called revolutionary or communist anar
chism, is not a type of anarchism; i n our view it i s the only anarchism. "
Despi te repeatedl y casti ng thei r arguments in terms of constituting the
" broad anarchist traditi on, " Schmidt and van der Walt offer a narrower
version of anarchism and revolution than i s generally found in the milieu,
and in so doing they explicitly exclude key hi storical fgures ( for example,
Godwin and Tolstoy) from the canon, contendi ng instead that " struggle
by the worki ng cl as s and the peas antry . . . can al one fundamental l y
change society" since these groups are the only ones with the interest " as
well as the basic power to do so. "
Whi l e some may fnd thi s to be a welcomed reinvention of anarchi sm
and a rei nvi gorati on of i mportant syndical i st strands within it, certain
aspects require a strained historical revisionism that rai ses some troubling
i ssues, i ncl uding whether we are still in fact tal king about anarchi sm at
al l . For instance, the authors express a preference for " l arge-scale organi
zati on " and the devel opment of "pol i ti cal programs , " defni ng thei r
anarcho-syndi cal i st positi on as one i n whi ch " reforms and i mmedi ate
gains" are positive and where " unions coul d take the lead in the struggle
for revol uti on and form the nucl eus of the new soci ety . " 55 Cri ti quing
the post- Seattl e anti -gl oba l i zati on protests as l acki ng a " systemati c
proj ect to repl ace neoliberal i sm, " Schmi dt and van der Walt-notwith
standing their prodigious research and meti cul ous argumentation-swim
against the current of anarchist theory and practice that general l y eschews
invocations of leadership, reformist proj ects, and the development of pat
programs that coul d lead to new forms of domination and control . Sti l l ,
the anarchist tent has room for such vi ews, properly cast within i ts inher
ently plural i stic framework.
Indeed, I bel i eve that this i s preci sel y what Edward Abbey was sug
gesti ng when he s ai d, " Anarchy i s democracy taken s eri ous l y. "
5 6
Anarchi sm contai ns i ts communi tari an i mpul ses, to be sure, but it i s
frmly rooted i n the autonomy of i ndi vi dual s t o exerci se conscience and
express their diverse instincts toward revol ution i n ways that cohere with
the condi t i ons and ci rcums t ances of t hei r l i ves . No one can cl ai m
revol uti onary pri macy, and no si ngl e movement can encapsul ate the
Anarchism in Action 35
divergent forms of pol itical engagement that indivi dual s and communities
will seek to manifest. Working in concert i s a desirable and effective way
to promote transformati on, but it need not limit creativity and multiplic
ity in the process. The overarching aim i s not the promotion of a "system
ati c pr oj ect " or a " pol i t ic al program, " as Black Flame represents,
but more aptly i t i s about " exposi ng, del egi ti mi zi ng and di smantl i ng
mechani sms of rul e whi l e wi nni ng ever-l arger spaces of autonomy and
parti ci patory management wi thi n i t, " as Graeber and Grubaci c have
arti cul ated.
Thi s harmoni zes wi th the basic noti on that, when freed
from repressive institutions and i deological i mposi ti ons, people are per
fectly capabl e of fashi oni ng egal i tari an and mutual i st sol uti ons to the
myriad chal lenges before them.
Citing exampl es of contemporary anarchi st action-including Recl ai m
the Streets, whi ch throws parties i n i ntersecti ons and "takes back urban
space" i n the process, and the Living River of bl ue-cl ad demonstrators
that snakes through the streets as an expressi on of fui di ty-Starhawk
observes that " they favor mobility, surpri se, and creativity" and likewise
that "they are only the beginning of the experiment. "58 Jeff Ferrel l hi gh
lights si mi l ar anarchi st tactics, incl udi ng Critical Mass bicycl e acti ons
( "We aren' t bl ocki ng traffc; we are traffc " ) that embrace the noti on that
"the revol ution will not be motorized, " as well as pirate radio as a form
of " sonic subversion" that devolves upon an ethos of "cultural rei nven
ti on, anarchi c do- it-yoursel f medi a, progressive pol i ti cs, and sol i darity
wi th margi nal i zed groups . " 59 And in the preface to its compendi um on
i n-your-face anarchist movement tactics-including bi l l board alterati on,
guer r i l l a t heat er, pi e t hrowi ng, and wheatpasti ng pos ters-the
Crimethlnc. col lective states the premise i n cl ear terms:
The raw awareness that you have the power to change the world i s
more i mportant than any other resource. 0 0 0 Self-determination 0 0 0
must be established on a dai ly basis, by acting back on the world that
acts upon you-whether that means cal l i ng in sick to work on a
sunny day, starting a neighborhood garden with your friends, or top
pling a government. You cannot make a revolution that distributes
power equally except by learning frsthand how to exercise and share
power-and that exerci si ng and shari ng, on any scale, i s itself the
ongoing, never-concluded proj ect of revolution. What you do today
is itself the extent of that revolution, its limits and its tri umph.
In thi s l i ght, it can be sai d that the i deol ogy of the new movement " is
embedded in i ts practice, " and thus for many anarchists it is cl ear that
36 Anarchism Today
"the democratic practice they' ve developed is their ideology. "
6 1
In si mi
l arl y advocati ng the " pol i ti cs of the act " as aga i nst the " pol i ti cs of
demand" as i t rel ates t o the " newest soci al movements, " Ri chard J. F.
Day observes that the latter " i s by necessity limited i n scope: i t can change
the content of structures of domi nati on and expl oi tati on, but it cannot
change their form. "
Thi s deep-seated and hi storical ly rooted preference
for di rect acti on recal l s Gustav Landauer' s presci ent remarks about
where movements ought t o focus their efforts: "The state i s a soci al rela
t i ons hi p; a certai n way of peopl e rel ati ng to one another. It can be
destroyed by creating new social relationships; i . e. , by people relating to
one another di fferently. "
Such an expansive, behavioral view fnds expressi on in contemporary
asserti ons that "whenever people take initiative and address social prob
lems di rectl y, that i s a form of anarchi sm" and "whenever you act with
out wa i ti ng for i nst ruct i ons or offci al permi s s i on, you are an
anarchi st. "
64 Whi l e critics may contend that thi s el evati on of action as
constitutive of i deol ogy demonstrates anarchi sm' s l ack of a l arger strat
egy or program, i t i s actual l y the case that this stance represents one of
the key ways that anarchi sts hedge agai nst si mpl y repl i cating forms of
oppressi on both before and after the revol uti on. I ndeed, it mi ght be
said-j ust as it seeks to cultivate theory through practice-that anarchism
l i kewise works out its ultimate vision in the lived experiences of resistance
that "prefgure " tomorrow by contesting conditions today.
Prefiguring the Future
Much as it takes an expansive view of what constitutes revol uti onary
acti on, contemporary anarchi sm l i kewise sees the l ocus of engagement
i n equal l y broad ter ms , as Graeber s uggests with the i ns i ght t hat
" revol uti onary change i s goi ng on constantl y and everywhere-and
everyone pl ays a part i n i t , consci ously or not . "
65 In descri bi ng "resi s
tance as a way of l i fe, " Howard J. Ehrlich si mi l arly asserts: "The poten
ti al for resi stance-for honest, courageous, stand- up- and- be-counted
resistance-is everywhere in everyday l i fe. Power i s exercised everywhere,
so it can be resisted everywhere. "
In the era of gl obalization, this sense
of power being exercised ubi quitously i s even more pronounced, exacer
bating the ongoing total i zati on of every aspect of l i fe yet also openi ng
up possi bi l ities for resistance to oppression and i nj ustice at al l poi nts of
contact-thus defyi ng the ever- i ncreasi ng authori tari ani sm found i n
structures of corporate and mi l itary domi nati on. Ci ndy Mi lstein views
this as a " qual i tati ve retaki ng of the every day " and concl udes that
Anarchism in Action 37
" anarchist experiments expose the cracks in this edifce. They al low peo
pl e to personal l y feel what it coul d be like i f l i fe was of their own mak
i ng. "
6 7
And Jeff Shantz l i kewi s e chroni cl es the devel opment of a
contemporary " constructive anarchi sm" that strives to create "alterna
tive futures i n the present. "
6 8
By i nci ti ng i magi nati ons and cul ti vati ng
key ski l l s, these everyday-li fe moments of " anarchy breaki ng out" ani
mate the self-organizing vision of what an anarchist society portends.
For Uri Gordon, prefguring i s a form of "constructive direct acti on"
and further "represents a broadening of the idea of direct action, resulting
in a commitment to defne and realize anarchi st social relations within the
act i vi t i es and c ol l ecti ve st ruct ures of the revol uti onary movement
itsel f. "
From this view, i t becomes cl ear that " prefgurative pol i ti cs i s
an inseparabl e aspect of the anarchist proj ect in that the collectives, com
munes and networks of today are themsel ves the groundwork for the
real ities that will repl ace the present society. "
Thi s contemporary trend
was anticipated by Mal atesta, who pointed out nearly a century ago that
i n order to abol i sh "al l the harmful soci al i nsti tuti ons we must know
what to put in their place, not in a more or l ess distant future but immedi
ately . . . 0 One only destroys, effectively and permanently, that which one
replaces by somethi ng el se . "
1 In thi s light, it becomes i ncumbent upon
anarchi sm to foster the creation in the present of "positive instituti onal
al ternatives " to existing structures, without merely replicating their inher
ent oppressiveness i n the process.
Contemporary methods of building these alternatives, and thus of laying
a working ( and non-prescribed) foundation for an anarchist soci ety, are
thematical l y varied and widely distributed. Graeber highlights initiatives
including cooperatives, infoshops, prisoner support networks, pirate radio,
squats, independent medi a, communi ty gardens, bicycle collectives, co
operative bookstores, Copwatch programs, homeless and immigrant rights
campaigns, and Food Not Bombs chapters as part of a "maj or manifesta
ti on of anarchist organizing. "
In hi s pragmatic visualization of a coherent
anarchist order, Ward considers alternative systems taki ng hol d around
families and parenting, education, housing, work, and soci al welfare, i l l us
trating his vi si on wi th examples that constitute a "microcosm of anarchy,
spontaneous, self-di rected activity replacing the power structure by a net
work of autonomous groups and individuals . "
My own writings have
similarly expressed a preference for "anarcho-utopi an visions . 0 0 premised
upon inclusive and non-hierarchical social processes, including new visions
of economics, gender relations, education, and self-governance. "
In today' s anarchi st mi l i eu, there are i nnumera bl e exampl es of
"anarchy i n acti on " t hat serve t o contest current power arrangements
38 Anarchism Today
while si multaneously prefguring a new society. As suggested above, anar
chism reconciles the ponderous wei ght of the past wi th the l i beratory pos
s i bi l i ti es of the future by focus i ng on the present as a s i te of both
resi stance and re-vi s i oni ng. The anarchi s t thi nk t ank known as the
Curi ous George Brigade argues that the cornerstones of prefguri ng are
affnity and decentral i zati on, and that i t i s pri nci pal l y through smal l
scal e organi zi ng that anarchi sm fouri shes wi thout becomi ng the very
thing that i t i s struggling against: "We shoul d take to heart the thousands
of anarchist DIY [ " Do It Yourself"] proj ects being done around the world
outside super structures. "
The open-source Web site Wikipedi a-itsel f
a mani festation of decentral ized, do-it-yourself anarchism-mai ntai ns a
" l i st of anarchi st organi zati ons " around the worl d from 1 82 7 to the
Among the 1 25-pl us entries, a dozen or so coul d be consi dered
of the overtly insurrectionist variety, and of these only a handful are still
in existence today. The list also i ncl udes independent publishers, radical
labor unions, anarchi st l i braries , guerri l l a theater troupes, anti -poverty
networks, femi nist collectives, culture j ammers, and numerous local i ni
tiatives, many of whi ch are currently in operati on.
I woul d l i ke to highlight a few of these prefgurative examples to i l l us
trate the l arger poi nts that frame thi s analysi s of anarchi sm i n acti on,
which, as we have seen, includes an incredibly broad range of contempo
rary organizing and a longstandi ng penchant for exercises in dual power
that contest and construct al l at once. In Chapter Four, focusi ng on
"Anarchist Ecologies, " I will consider specifcal l y environmental manifes
tations of anarchy i n acti on; here, the emphasi s i s on the soci opol iti cal
aspects of anarchi st movements and how they pl ay out today-always
with an eye on tomorrow. It should al so be noted that the prefgurative
enterprises hi ghlighted here have a distinctly i nternational reach, a point
that will be further considered i n the discussion of local and global i nter
connections undertaken in Chapter Six.
Food Not Bombs
Food Not Bombs ( FNB) began i n 1 9 8 0 as part of a protest agai nst the
Seabrook nucl ear power pl ant i n New Engl and, soon turni ng i ts focus
t o t he i ntersecti ons between poverty, warfare, and degradati on of the
envi ronment. As a decentral i zed movement with chapters i n scores of
countri es and hundreds of ci ti es i n the Uni ted States, accordi ng to i ts
Web site, FNB strives to demonstrate " by example that we can work co
operatively without leaders through vol unteer effort to provide essenti al
needs l i ke, food, hous i ng, educat i on and heal t hcare. "
Each FNB
Anarchism in Action 39
chapter is autonomous, and a consensus process i s often used for collec
tive decision making. In addition to providing " free, healthy vegan and
vegetari an food, " FNB seeks to "provide an opportunity for everyone to
parti ci pate i n sol vi ng the most i mportant probl ems faci ng our worl d.
We are empowering the public t o take action and resist corporate domi
nation and exploitation. "
As a " loose-knit group of independent collec
tives, " FNB maintains that " anyone who wants to cook may cook, and
anyone who wants to eat may eat. "
The basic i deology behi nd the effort is that " myri ad corporate and
government priorities are skewed to al low hunger to persist in the mi dst
of abundance" and that " if people real l y want to help the homeless, they
may as wel l feed them di rectly. "
8 1 FNB serves meal s i n publ ic pl aces,
made l argel y from donated and recovered foods that woul d otherwi se
be di scarded. Because of the publ ic nature of i ts acti ons, as wel l as its
radi cal anti-capital i st and anti -state criti que, FNB has been investigated
by the U. S. government for al leged " terrorist connecti ons , " and i ndi vi d
ual parti ci pants have been arrested on numerous occasi ons-notabl y i n
Orl ando, Fl ori da, i n mi d- 20 1 1 , where dozens of FNB acti vi sts were
arrested for vi ol ating a citywide ban on feedi ng peopl e in a publ i c place.
" Speci al hosti l i ty on the part of authori ti es has been reserved for Food
Not Bombs, " accordi ng to Ferrel l , likely due to i ts identity as "an anar
chi stic, di rect acti on group" and its frequent presence in "highly vi si ble
or pol itically symbolic public settings. "
FNB is part of the anarchi st tradi ti on in its anti - authori tari ani sm,
decentralism, vol untarism, and open defance of unj ust l aws. As Graeber
notes, it i s " not an organi zati on. There i s no overarchi ng structure, no
membershi p or annual meeti ngs. It' s j ust an i dea-that food shoul d go
to those that need it, and i n a way that those fed can themselves become
part of the process i f they want to-pl us [ i t i s] a shared commitment to
egal i tari an deci si on-maki ng and do-it-yoursel f ( DI Y) spi ri t. "
In thi s
manner, FNB combines direct action, radical criti que, and a prefgurative
"vision of an egalitari an, leaderless 'new society' in which people organ
i ze spontaneousl y and i n a self-suffcient manner" i n striving to provide
life' s essential s equitably.
The Cri methlnc. Ex-Workers ' Col l ective formed in the mi d- 1 990s and
has publ ished numerous books, pamphlets, and " zi nes " wi th expl icitly
anarchi st themes. It i s a " decentral i zed anarchi st col lective of autono
mous cel l s " to whi ch anyone can bel ong "who sees a part of hersel f
40 Anarchism Today
refected wi thi n our acti ons . " 8 5 Cri methlnc. ' s nascent cosmol ogy, as
described on its Web site, i s that i t " has no pl atform or i deol ogy except
that which could be general ized from the si mi l arities between the beliefs
and goal s of the indivi dual s who choose to be involved-and that is con
stantly i n fux. "
Its publ i shed works are "communal ized" and freel y
available under a "copyleft" perspective that seeks to pl ace the information
" at the disposal of those who, in good faith, might read, circulate, plagia
ri ze, revise, and otherwise make use of [ i t] i n the course of making the
world a better place. "
Among Crimethlnc. ' s publications are the books
Days of War, Nights of Love ( 2000 ) , Evasi on ( 2003 ) , Recipes for
Disaster: An Anarchist Cookbook ( 2004 ) , and Expect Resistance ( 2007) ,
as well as the pamphlet "Fighting for Our Lives, " of which over 600, 000
copi es have been freel y di stri buted. Accordi ng to Wi ki pedi a, the name
" Cri methlnc. " i s an " anonymous tag, a means of constructing dynami c
networks of support and communication within the anarchist movement,
and as such anyone can publish under the name or create a poster using
the logo; each agent or group of agents operate autonomously. "
8 8
Cl earl y consti tuti ng an anarchi st proj ect as t o bot h i t s open-ended
process and its substanti ve message, Cri methlnc. has been cal l ed " the
greatest pr opagandi sts of contemporary Ameri c an anarchi s m" by
Graeber and Andrej Grubaci c, as wel l as " one of the more i mportant
anarchi st proj ects happeni ng i n North Ameri ca over the past decade "
by Infoshop. org founder Chuck Munson.
8 9
Whi l e some have criticized
i ts publ i cat i ons as " i nchoate " and " l i festyl i s t " i n nature, the name
Crimethlnc. i tself-derived from the notion of " thoughtcrime" as devel
oped i n George Orwel l ' s book 1 984-conveys "a sati ri cal sel f-cri ticism
about the hypocrisy of revolutionary propaganda" that mitigates against
viewing the proj ect too heavy-handedly. 9
In the end, Graeber concludes
that Crimethlnc. ' s basi c perspective represents "an elegant statement of
the l ogi c of di rect acti on : the defant i ns i stence on acting as i f one is
already free "-a notion further refected i n " Fi ghti ng for Our Li ves, "
where the essence of freedom is taken as "forging new realities which will,
in turn, fashion us. "
9 1
In combination with its decentralized network and
anti-copyright ethos, Crimethlnc. prefgures an emergent anarchi sm that
is at once pl ayful and revol utionary in its process and substance al i ke.
The Independent Media Center ( IMC, or simply " lndymedia " ) was estab
lished by vari ous i ndependent and al ternative medi a organizations and
activists in l ate 1 999 to provide grassroots coverage of the World Trade
Anarchism in Action 41
Organi zat i on protests i n Seat t l e. The I ndymedi a Web si te us es a
democratic open-publ ishing system in which anyone can upl oad stories,
arti cl es, and accounts of events . IMC i s a decentral i zed, autonomous
global network, with centers on every continent. According to its mi ssion
statement, " the Independent Medi a Center is a network of col lectively
run media outlets for the creation of radical , accurate, and passionate tel l
i ngs of the truth. We work out of a l ove and inspiration for peopl e who
continue to work for a better world, despite corporate media' s distortions
and unwi l l i ngness to cover the efforts to free humani ty. "
Si nce its
foundi ng, the IMC " remai ns cl osel y associ ated wi th the gl obal j usti ce
movement, whi ch cri ti ci zes neo- l i beral i sm and i ts associ ated i nsti tu
ti ons. "
As wi th Food Not Bombs, Indymedia activists have faced off
ci al harassment, i ncl udi ng havi ng their servers seized and being served
wi th grand j ury subpoenas. In covering anti -gl obal i zati on summit dem
onstrations, IMC j ournal i sts have been wounded by pol i ce on multiple
occasi ons. 94
From its incepti on, Indymedia has run on "essenti al l y anarchist princi
pl es, " as Graeber reports . " Everythi ng was done col l ecti vel y; peopl e
edited each other' s stories; there was no hierarchy of editors and report
ers; all deci si ons were made by consensus. " 95 Under the decentral ized
auspices of the IMC, the contemporary era has been defned by a "radical
web j ournalism that has completely transformed the possi bil ities of i nfor
mati on fow about acti ons and events . " 96
The evol uti on of the IMC
refects a deep di strust for corporate-owned medi a, but rather than simply
rai l i ng agai nst it, I ndymedi a acti vi sts have operated under the wel l
known slogan "Don' t Hate Medi a. Become the Media ! " 97
In thi s sense,
the IMC prefgures a new society grounded in anarchist val ues of empow
erment, participation, and self-organization.
These examples of anarchism i n action are but a few of the contempo
rary mani festations of a longstandi ng preference for autonomous yet col
l ecti ve endeavors . These efforts di rectl y confront exi st i ng power
arrangements and al so poi nt toward a possi bl e future that i s " al ways
al ready" i n the offng i n the present. Whi le the broad ai ms of today' s
anarchist organizing are largely shared by a preponderance of indivi dual s
and groups in the mi l i eu, ongoing debates about tactics and strategies per
vade the fel d. Perhaps nowhere i s thi s di scussi on more heated t han
around t he questi on of violence and i t s rol e i n anarchi st thought and
practice. The navi gati on of t hi s ostensi bl e rift is t he subj ect of t he next
The Violence Question
erhaps the dominant mai nstream perception of anarchi sm is its equa
ti on wi th violence, di sorder, " bomb throwing, " and-even more odi
ous l y, i n today' s parl ance-terroris m. Thi s stereotype i s someti mes
rei nforced by anarchists to an extent, particul arly i n the context of mass
demonstrati ons where street battl es wi th l aw enforcement and the
destruction of property can occur. Sti l l , a signifcant portion of anarchists
embrace non-violence as well ( ironically, some mi litantly so) , leading to a
vibrant di alogue with the milieu. The negotiation of the "vi olence versus
non-violence" terrai n i s one of the many dichotomies presented by anar
chi st praxi s, and i t further represents something of a pol itical l i tmus test
for activists in ascertaining where they most readily ft within the panoply
of movement cul ture . Al though s ome of the deep- seated anti pathi es
around these i ssues have waned a bi t i n recent years, as fami l i ar ground
and mutual agreements are increasingly established in a maturi ng move
ment, the debate reignites each time anarchists are al leged to have done
something "violent" during the course of a given struggle.
Against thi s backdrop, one of the many pleasures of self-identifying as
an anarchi st comes from bei ng asked the "vi ol ence questi on" i n al l its
multifari ous forms, from the obvious ( " Doesn' t anarchy mean bombi ng
and rioting? " ) to the subl ime ( "That' s easy for you to say, because anar
chists don' t real l y believe i n anything, do they ? " ) . One gets used to thi s
sort of thi ng and, i ndeed, real l y shoul d come to embrace these instances
as " teachable moments " that pervade daily l i fe. When asked about anar
chi sm' s association with violence, I often reply by i nqui ring whether one
woul d ask the same thing of a retai l cl erk, a stockbroker, a l awyer, a
priest, an engineer, a taxpayer, a consumer, a l i beral , a conservative-or
any other i dentity attri bute associ ated with mai nstream soci ety. Most
44 Anarchism Today
assuredly, the scale of violence perpetrated by the day-to-day operations
of capital and the state is grossly disproporti onate to anything in the anar
chist lexicon, with upwards of 1 00 million deaths from wars alone during
the twentieth century.
I daresay that the sum total of peopl e ki l led or
phys i cal l y i nj ured by anarchi sts throughout al l of recorded hi s tory
amounts to little more than a good weekend for the empire.
So when we talk about violence, let us keep the l arger frame frmly in
mi nd. Are anarchists violent? Sometimes, but more so when they are par
ticipating i n the casual , i nvi si bl e, structural vi ol ence of modern l i fe than
when they are smashi ng its symbol s of oppressi on. I s i t vi ol ent when
slaves crush their shackles i n an attempt to escape captivity? Is it violent
to di smantl e a tool of genoci de ? Is it vi ol ent to protect onesel f and/or
others from an ongoi ng ( not merely i mmi nent) assaul t? These sorts of
queries l ead natural l y to broader issues about the effcacy of tactics and
strategies, what messages are being communicated, where ethics and aes
thetics matter, who represents a movement, and why we are struggling in
the frst place. As a tool for galvanizing energy around these self-refective
and essenti al movement questions, the trope of violence-both as a set of
concrete acti ons and as a metaphysi cal cruci ble-represents a uni que
opportunity to investigate the nature of society, what one stands for per
sonal l y, and how best to move from where we are to a world no longer
pl agued by domi nati on and degradati on. These are among the most
pressi ng ques t i ons before us , not onl y for acti vi sts but for anyone
concerned about the future of human existence.
Culture of Violence
Debates over the use of force can be productive and potenti al ly conducive
to deeper forms of sol i darity, as activists come to grasp the complexities
i nvol ved and the cultural frame in which they exi st. To a great extent,
the use of vi ol ence in a soci al movement context-especi al l y when it
di rectly targets obvious symbols of the dominant culture-i s like a mirror
bei ng held back up to society. We swim i n a sea of vi ol ence to such a
degree that we hardl y noti ce it; it is the medi um of our exi stence, l i ke
water to a fsh, and thus largely invisible. At the personal level, the acqui s
ition of l i fe' s essenti al s-food, water, shelter-is thoroughl y i mbricated
wi thi n the worki ngs of a mi l i tary-i ndustri al compl ex that increasi ngl y
ensnares the gl obe. Our very identities are bound up wi th an i nherently
violent system, and through our utter dependence on i t we become pur
veyors of vi olence oursel ves-sometimes coerced, sometimes i gnorant,
sometimes willing. Interpersonal ly, we exerci se privilege and power over
The Violence Question 45
others as part and parcel of " bus i nes s as us ual , " whi ch Al exander
Berkman perceived decades ago:
And as you are i nvaded and vi ol ated, so you subconsci ousl y revenge
yoursel f by i nvadi ng and vi ol ati ng others over whom you have
authori ty or can exerci se compul si on, physical or moral . In thi s
way al l l i fe has become a crazy qui lt of authori ty, of domi nati on
and s ubmi ssi on, of command and obedience, of coerci on and sub
j ecti on, of rul ers and rul ed, of vi ol ence and force i n a thousand
and one forms.
On the nati onal and i nternati onal l evel s, the news is not much more
encouragi ng. Foreign poli cy for many countri es, fol l owi ng the l ead of
the United States, has by now devolved primarily upon the depl oyment
of brute strength to secure resources and advance national interests. On
a daily basi s around the worl d, the structural vi olence of homel essness,
poverty, racism, and more conti nues to proliferate. Youth are everywhere
bombarded with vi ol ent i magery, and school s l ook more and more l i ke
pipelines to pri son or proving grounds for mil itary recruitment. An even
handed assessment of Western culture ( which i s relentlessly expanding its
terrai n) indicates that the use of force in both words and deeds is not lim
i ted to one subset, cadre, or party but i s woven into the fabric of l i fe for
the maj ority of the pl anet' s i nhabitants-either on the perpetuati ng or
receiving end. Martin Luther King, Jr. , recognized thi s, and thus he was
not content to condemn merely the surface appearance of violence on an
i ssue-by-i ssue basi s but rather understood that this was the unspoken
backdrop of the entire operati on. As Ki ng poi ntedly sai d i n 1 967, exactly
one year to the day before his assassi nation, "I could never agai n raise my
voice agai nst the vi olence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having
frst spoken cl earl y to the greatest purveyor of vi ol ence i n the worl d
today-my own government. "
The use of force, both subtl e and overt, is in many ways today the
political rul e, whereas the practice of democrati c di scourse has become
the excepti on. Cultural appurtenances feed back i nto thi s narrati ve by
constructing the " bri ng i t on " ethos as strong-wi l l ed, bol d, and part of
the hero' s stock-in-trade, whereas discursive displays of reasonableness,
outreach, and a willingness to seek understanding are coded as forms of
weakness, naivete, and even appeasement. Yet as Berkman counsels, the
reverse i s actually true: "Violence is the method of ignorance, the weapon
of the weak. The strong of heart and brain need no vi ol ence. "4 In thi s
vi ew, anarchi sm represents t he i deal of a "s oci ety wi t hout force and
46 Anarchism Today
compul si on, where al l men shal l be equal s, and l ive in freedom, peace,
and harmony. " 5 Berkman concl udes that "al l government, al l l aw and
authority fnally rest on force and violence, "
a poi nt echoed i n the con
temporary era by Davi d Graeber in his statement that "the coercive force
of the state i s everywhere. "
Impl i ci t in thi s anal ysi s is that the use of force can become a sl i ppery
slope to authoritari ani sm, in which the use of " superior force " becomes
the operative principle both for those holding entrenched power and those
seeking to dismantle it.
As Starhawk advises, however, "thi s i s a violent
system [and] I don't think it can be defeated by vi olence " ; thus, activists
tempted to "pick up a rock" have " accepted the terms dictated by a system
that i s always telling us that force is the onl y solution. "
This i s the conun
drum posed by the "culture of violence, " namely that it co-opts the use of
force and tempts us to use i t at the same ti me. The state represents a
monopoly of vi olence, legitimizing its own use of it and cri mi nal izing its
depl oyment by others . Yet si multaneousl y, we are i mbued with heroi c
i mages-both real and contrived-in whi ch the use of force i s l auded,
and we are further given the mythos of res public that renders us al l custo
di ans of the monopol y. We l earn that force "i s al l these peopl e under
stand, " that it is the only "realistic " solution to a pervasive problem, that
those upon whom it is inficted are "evi l " and thus deserving, that " j ustice"
is served through its application, that "tough love" is unfortunate but nec
essary, that "people have always been this way, " and more. We get it, and
our conditioning to it is hard to overcome-yet sometimes we break free.
Change of Heart
Throughout hi story, " many Anarchists who at one time believed in vi o
l ence as a means of propaganda have changed thei r opi ni on about i t
and do not favor such methods anymore, " as Berkman observed back in
1 929. 1
Berkman may know something of which he speaks: i n 1 892, he
attempted to as s assi nate bus i nessman Henry Cl ay Fri ck as an act of
" propaganda by the deed " and served 14 years i n pri son as a resul t.
Chief among these examples of anarchists reversing course on the tactical
use of vi ol ence i n soci al movements i s Berkman' s runni ng mate and
l i felong friend Emma Goldman, who dabbled i n the us e of revolutionary
vi ol ence in her younger days but came to rej ect it in her l ater years.
Fol l owi ng the co-optati on of the Rus s i an Revol uti on, s he wrot e t o
Berkman that "violence i n whatever form never has and probabl y never
will bring constructive results, '' 1 1 and she further elucidated her emerging
position that "methods and means cannot be separated from the ultimate
The Violence Question 47
ai m. The means empl oyed become, through indivi dual habi t and social
practice, part and parcel of the fnal purpose. "
1 2
I n the end, Goldman came to see non-violence and revolution as inter
twined, famousl y concl udi ng that " no revol uti on can ever succeed as a
factor of l i beration unless the means used to further it be identical in spirit
and tendency wi th the purposes to be achi eved. " 1
In 1 923, she articu
l ated a position that refected her deep moral and tactical commitment
to non-violence:
It i s one thing to employ violence in combat as a means of defense. It
i s quite another thi ng to make a principle of terrori sm, to i nstitu
ti onal i ze i t, to assi gn it the most vi tal pl ace in the soci al struggl e.
Such terrorism begets counter-revolution and in turn itself becomes
counter-revol utionary . . . . If we can undergo changes i n every other
method of deal i ng wi th the soci al i ssues we will also have to learn
to change in the methods of revol uti on. I think it can be done. If
not, I shall relinquish my belief i n revolution. 1 4
I r a Cher nus , i n hi s book American Nonviolence, further as ses s ed
Gol dman' s remarkable and pai nstaki ng transi ti on: " It i s not surpri si ng
that Gol dman eventual l y endorsed nonvi ol ence . Her anarchi st vi ews
embraced the fundamental premises of the nonvi ol ent abol itionists. She
believed that al l people should be treated as equal s because no one should
have authority over another . "
1 5
For me, following Goldman, anarchism is a condition of being free from
vi ol ence, force, and coerci on. In i ts ideal embodi ment, i t i s the hi ghest
expression of non-violence, and vice versa. As Berkman opined, anarchism
is at root a state of " peace wi thout vi ol ence, " which was affrmed by
Her bert Read in pl ai n ter ms : " Peace is anarchy . "
1 6
Even Erri co
Malatesta, hi mself a proponent of revol utionary violence as " an unpleas
ant necessity, " acknowledged i n no uncertai n terms that " anarchists are
opposed to every kind of violence . . 0 0 The main plank of Anarchism is the
removal of violence from human rel ations. "
1 7
This, however, by no means
ends the debate, since the space from action to i deal must be traversed
even if we hope to fnd agreement in the end that actions and ideals, means
and ends, tactics and visions, are i nextricably linked.
Mindful Destruction
The question of how best to move from today' s conditions to a healthier
world is the core of social movements of al l stripes . Di fferences in tactical
48 Anarchism Today
choices sometimes emerge when goal s are divergent, either as to the rate
of change desired ( i ncremental or i mmedi ate) , the scope of engagement
( piecemeal or total ) , or the i ntended outcome ( reform or revolution) . In
addition, i ndi vi dual activi sts and movement organizations will embrace
varyi ng tactics at ti mes due to personal temperament, moral sensi bi lities,
avai l able opti ons, or anticipation of repercussi ons. Likewise, movements
in di ffering l ocal es will have their choices conditi oned by the exigencies
at hand and the lessons of their own histories. For i nstance, what i s taken
to be "radical " or " violent" i n a Eurocentric or North American context
often appears very di fferent to activists in the gl obal south, a poi nt that
wi l l be explored more i n Chapter Si x. Yet despite these vari ances, there
i s a basic point of agreement that social movement activists behave inten
tionally in their endeavors; that i s, they act from a place of purpose. We
can debate over intentions, but the starting point should be a recognition
that the overwhelming maj ority of acts are purposeful .
Thi s may seem sel f-evi dent, except that i ts anti thes i s i s regul arl y
i nvoked i n phrases often appl ied to anarchi sts-by mai nstream culture
and fel l ow acti vi sts al i ke-such as " sensel ess vi ol ence" or " mi ndl ess
destruction. " Certai nl y, there are occasi onal soci opaths to be found i n
any human community, but assuredl y it i s the case that anarchi sts as a
whole are neither senseless nor mindless. Discourse of this sort is intended
to obscure deeper soci etal i ssues and mi sdi rect attenti on from further
i nqui ry i nto the moti vati ons and cl aims of movement actors . When a
rupture is presented through a dramatic epi sode such as s abotage or
vandal i sm, the perpetrators are often coded as " thugs " or "hoodl ums "
as a means of preempti ng any di scussi on i nto why someone mi ght be
motivated to take such drastic action in the frst place.
For exampl e, fol l owi ng a s t udent demonst rat i on in London i n
November 2 0 1 0 , where s ome property destructi on ensued t hat was
attributed to anarchists, a sampling of media headlines from the coverage
included the fol l owing: " brainless , " "masked morons, " " infantile behav
i or , " " thuggi sh and di sgraceful , " and " no sembl ance of seri ous pol i
ti cs . "
1 8
Si mi l arl y, after a demonstrati on i n Santa Cruz, Cal i forni a, i n
earl y 201 1 , where a few wi ndows were broken, a former mayor argued
that "the actions of a few infantile thugs or self-centered sociopaths came
somehow to epi tomi ze anarchi sm. "
Neverthel ess, as even a grudging
critic acknowledges , " it i s a mi stake to dismiss them as simply ki ds out
for a riot. Many of them are as committed to the issues as anyone else in
the movement. "
Thus, despite popul ar perceptions, i n actuality " anar
chism is mindful destructi on, " as Crispin Sartwell succinctly observes.
The Violence Question 49
And as wi th proponents of non- vi ol ence, acti vi sts engagi ng in hi gh
confrontati onal struggl e al so possess a set of pri nci pl es, i ncl udi ng, as
Starhawk notes,
that a high level of confrontation i s appropriate i n the situations we
now face; that peopl e have the ri ght and responsi bi l ity to defend
themsel ves agai nst pol i ce vi ol ence; that many peopl e are al ready
angry and mostly not saintly and a pol itical movement needs room
to express that rage; that active sel f-defense can be empoweri ng
and may al so wi n peopl e to our cause; and that in order to bri ng
down an economic and pol i tical system that worshi ps property,
property must be attacked.
Moreover, even in the ways that anarchists defne vi olence, we can fnd
seeds of ethicality and core principles . Beyond the standard meani ng of
violence as the "i ntenti onal commitment of physical harm to another per
son, " anarchists often extend the defnition to include that it " not i nj ure
l i vi ng creatures "
; l i kewise they wi den it beyond mere physi cal i ncur
sions to include other forms of oppressive and domi nati ng behavi or, such
as restri cti ng freedom, l i mi ti ng choi ces , wi thhol di ng vi tal res ources,
inficting emotional damage, or shaming and humi l i ating.
24 Uri Gordon
offers an intrigui ng statement al ong these lines, namely that "an act i s vio
lent i f its recipient experiences it as an attack or as del i berate endanger
ment. "
25 In this formul ati on, the j udgment about whether something i s
violent rests with the recipient and not the i nitiator, refecting anarchi sm' s
spi ri t of autonomy and self-determinati on.
Thi s incipient ethical engagement with the use of violence raises a host of
addi ti onal questi ons, i ncl uding most central l y whether the fundamental
premises of anarchism can be read to preclude the use of force or coercion
al together. It can be argued, as April Carter has noted, "that anarchist val
ues are inherently and necessarily i ncompatible with use of violence, given
anarchist respect for the sovereignty of the individual . "
Pursuing this l ine
of inquiry, i n 201 0 I facilitated a series of workshops on "Anarchism and
Nonviolence" in the United States and Canada. As one might expect, spir
ited conversati ons ensued in which some peopl e felt chal lenged by the
noti on of being non-vi ol ent i n a world that appears as unremi tti ngl y
violent, whereas others expressed a commitment to "breaking the cycle of
vi olence " as much as possi bl e in thei r own lives. One of the exerci ses in
these workshops was to create a working defniti on of anarchism and then
one of non-violence. Compari ng the two l ists, many overl appi ng val ues
50 Anarchism Today
emerged: self-governance, rej ection of domination, respect and mutual aid,
anti-war and anti-oppression practices, sol i darity, radical egal itari ani sm,
and prefguring the future society.
It is not my intention here to argue that anarchism and non-violence are
strictly unitary. Moreover, I have no i nterest i n further reifying the tire
some ( and l argel y fal se) di chotomy of vi ol ence/non-vi ol ence i n soci al
movements, i ncl udi ng the person/property distinction that i s sometimes
made when confrontati onal tactics are deployed. The contextual , pl ural
i sti c, and i ndi vi dualistic aspects of anarchi sm make any fnal concl usi on
on these poi nts practi cal l y i mpossi bl e and frankl y even undesi rabl e.
Hi storical debates within the milieu over insurrection ( i . e. , direct physical
confrontati on with authority) and revol uti on ( i . e. , mass organi zi ng to
undermine authority) still persist, depending upon one's point of depar
ture. Mal atesta, for instance, argued for a " transitional , revol uti onary
violence " as constituting " the only way to put an end to the far greater,
and permanent, vi olence which keeps the maj ority of manki nd in servi
tude, " whi l e Gol dman urged that " revol uti on i s i n vai n unless i nspired
by its ul ti mate i deal . . . . The ethi cal val ues whi ch the revol uti on i s to
establish i n the new society must be initiated with the revolutionary activ
ities of the so-called transi ti onal period. "
In thi s spi rit, as Bart de Ligt
wrote in 1 937, "the greater the violence, the weaker the revolution. "
These differing perspectives are often the resul t of how one frames the
i ssues. Anarchists reject the top-down vi ol ence of the state and corpora
ti ons, l eadi ng some to argue that peopl e have the right to defend them
sel ves agai nst thi s vi ol ence, whi l e others contend that "violence begets
violence" no matter who i s utilizing it. Some assert that an inherently vio
l ent system can only be taken down by force, whereas others point out
that force is the one thing the state i s actually good at and that no revol u
tion can be won that way. Whi l e anarchi sm i s a revol uti onary theory,
some anarchi sts work from a more evolutionary model , rej ecting both
the ol d- school i ns urrecti onary noti on of propaganda by the deed and
the quasi -Marxi st sense of a wi despread " workers' struggl e "-seeki ng
instead to construct alternative soci etal arrangements to replace the per
vasive vi olence of the present system, as Gustav Landauer counsel ed a
century ago:
A table can be overturned and a window can be smashed. However,
those who believe that the state is also a thing or a fetish that can
be overturned or smashed are sophi sts and believers i n the Word.
The state is a soci al relationship; a certai n way of peopl e relating to
one another. It can be destroyed by creating new soci al relationships;
The Violence Question 51
i . e. , by people rel ati ng t o one another di fferently . . . . We, who we
have imprisoned ourselves i n the absolute state, must realize the truth:
we are the state! And we will be the state as long as . . . we have not
yet created the institutions necessary for a true community and a true
society of human beings.
Whatever path one chooses, a critical feature is that people must remain
free to determine the conditions of their own lives, including their values
and i dentities. Unfortunately, due i n part to an ongoing association with
violence, anarchi sts are often prevented from doing precisely that.
The Frame Game
Fol l owi ng the concl usi on of the G20 protests i n Canada i n June 20 1 0,
where vandal i sm agai nst storefronts and pol ice cars occurred, the inevi
table post-mortem dissection included the usual litany: activists prepared
to fle lawsuits, organizers vowed to do things di fferently next time, police
pledged to i nvesti gate further, the medi a hi ghlighted the " destruction"
but not the i ssues, and world leaders promi sed to conti nue their efforts
unhampered by misguided protesters . And, as is par for the post-protest
course, critics cast bl ame on " the anarchists. "
The fol l owi ng month,
in the aftermath of the Oscar Grant verdi ct i n Oakl and, Cal i forni a
where a white pol ice offcer who ki l l ed an unarmed bl ack youth was
acqui tted of the most seri ous charges-pol i ce bl amed acts of wi ndow
breaki ng and l ooti ng on " outsi de agi tators " and " anarchi sts, " who,
according to the police chief, "get into good crowds and cause i ssues . "
Six months l ater, a reporter obtained Oakl and Police Department records
showi ng that federal authori ti es had an i nterest i n " Bl ack Bl oc anar
chists " days after the shooting in January 2009 and that local police had
been keeping tabs on potenti al protesters months before the verdi ct.
" Law enforcement around the world tends to view anarchism as a terror
ist threat, " noted the reporter, and "the FBI even has a primer about them
on their website, under the domestic terrori sm secti on. "
These are but two recent examples among many where anarchists have
been publicly blamed for destructive acts and even referred to in the con
text of terrori sm. Indeed, by now this i s bordering on standard operating
procedure for l aw enforcement and the media whenever vandalism of any
sort occurs in the context of pol itical protest. In the post-9/1 1 era, the
invocation of terrorism i n particul ar taps into a careful l y cul tivated sense
of public fear, opening a Pandora' s box of security and surveillance sys
tems that harks back to hi storical examples , such as the Palmer Rai ds of
52 Anarchism Today
1 9 1 9-1 920 that targeted U. S. anarchi sts for arrest and deportati on.
Schol ars refer to thi s as " frame bri dgi ng, " where multiple di scourses
i n thi s case, s mal l -scal e pol i ti cal vandal i s m and post- 9/ 1 1 terrori sm
fears-are spuri ously linked together, leading Lui s Fernandez to conclude
i n Policing Dissent that " activists i n the movement have interacted with a
publ i c that percei ves them as vi ol ent and a possi bl e nati onal security
threat. "
As Fernandez observes, " before each protest, the medi a reports that
vi ol ent anarchists are comi ng to town, representing them as i ndi vi dual s
likely to trash cities , " and in nearly every case the frami ng process deliv
ers : " It no l onger matters i f the vi olence ori gi nates wi th police or with
anarchists. The framework i s al ready in place; and once something hap
pens, the public interprets the violence as an anarchi st act. "
As a conse
quence, deeper rifts often develop among activists, with the event's lasting
images being those that depict anarchi sts acting i n seemingly unproduc
tive ways that put the interests and safety of others in j eopardy, and anar
chists frequentl y stand accused of " hi j acki ng" and/or " co-opti ng" the
For the l arger publ i c, the percepti on of the "violent anar
chi st" is further cemented, and the cycle begins anew the next time a pub
l i c demonstrati on i s hel d and authori ti es need someone to bl ame for
whatever ensues-incl uding violence initiated by the state.
This raises the dual sense of framing, including both the ways in which
behaviors are labeled and how the pretext of "anarchist violence" can be
used to affect mass arrests, erode ci vi l li berti es, and lead to the further
repressi on of movements.
As noted i n the previ ous chapter regarding
the Black Bloc, offcials are abl e to utilize the presence of militant activists
in a movement in numerous ways, from fanning the fames of public di s
cord to actively i nfltrati ng groups and sometimes provoki ng the osten
si bl e "vi olence " i n the process. Due to their hi storical associ ati ons with
violence-arguably more mythical than tangi bl e, and l argely renounced
i n today' s mi l ieu-anarchi sts are easy targets for such demonization, as
refected in the July 20 1 1 announcement that the Montreal police depart
ment had set up an " organized crime" uni t specifcally targeting "anarchist
leaders" who have caused " otherwise peaceful protests [to turn] violent. "
Later the same month, British offci al s i ssued a " counter-terrori st task
force" order to members of the public: "Any information relating to anar
chists should be reported to your local police. "
Mi l itant propaganda of
the sort that urges people to "attack the fnancial centers of the country . . .
l arge scal e urban ri oti ng . . . spread the battl e to the i ndi vi dual s res
ponsi bl e . . . stri ke hard and fast and retreat i n anonymi ty" adds fuel to
the fre.
Still, among activists there remains a sense that the " blame and
The Violence Question 53
frame" cycle will take pl ace regardless of what they do, and sometimes this
realization in itself can contri bute to even greater militancy as a result.
Despite the pressures brought to bear, many activists have resi sted this
" divide and conquer " strategy, refusing to "denounce anarchist violence"
in the name of respecting "solidarity. "
In the aftermath of the London
student demonstrati ons where a modi cum of property destruction was
i n evidence, a group of schol ar-activists in the United Kingdom i ssued a
public statement to address the " media' s assumption that there' s a gener
al ized relati onshi p between anarchi sm and vi olence. "
This open letter,
whi ch was publ i shed in The Guardian newspaper as an op-ed pi ece,
defended the use of direct action as " a means for sel f-empowerment, "
noted that " thi s sometimes i ncl udes property damage, " and concl uded
that " the threat to a l i vabl e world comes not from anarchi sts, but from
governments and capital i sm. "
A month l ater, fol l owi ng an epi sode involving l etter bombs i n Italy,
al legations were leveled that European anarchi sts were " becoming more
violent and coordi nated " and were working " in sol i darity" with others
to organize a "gl obal 'revolutionary war. ' "
A note cl aiming credit for
the attacks was signed by the Informal Federati on of Anarchy and was
quoted i n Time: "We' ve deci ded to make our voi ces heard once agai n,
wi th words and wi th deeds . . . . We wi l l destroy the system of domi na
ti on. "
A member of another Ital i an anarchi st group downpl ayed the
possi bil i ty of thi s episode l eadi ng to " highly coordi nated and organized
anarchi st offensives in the future, " poi nting out that " anarchi sm by its
own nature i s not a hi erarchi cal organi zati on. "
More poi ntedl y, a
Swi ss anarchi st group i ssued a statement decl ari ng "no sol i darity with
the ' anarchi st' l etter bombers " based on doubts about whether there
was actual l y " any anarchi st l i nk to these incidents. " The statement con
cl uded i n no uncertain terms that such acts were i rresponsi bl e and that
anarchi sm' s basi c tenets "prohi bi t us to i nj ure or even ki l l functi onari es
within capital i sm as part of a l i bertari an praxi s si mpl y for the role they
pl ay. We thi nk thi s shoul d be obvi ous to anybody wi th an anarchi st
understanding. "
Unfortunately, it i s not.
We Have Met the Enemy
In recent years a strand of l i terature has emerged, popul ar in some anar
chi st circles, scathingly rej ecting non-vi olence and agitating for "armed
struggl e " as a means of revol uti on. Pri nci pal among these works have
been Ward Churchi l l ' s Pacifsm as Pathology and Peter Gel derl oos ' s
How Nonviolence Protects the State.
I n addi ti on, Derri ck Jensen' s
54 Anarchism Today
writings have broached the subj ect of i nstituting " a wel l -targeted pro
gram of assassi nations , " even as he ostensi bly rej ects the notion as ulti
mately futi l e on strategic ( if not moral ) grounds.
Numerous cri ti ques
of these lines of reasoning have been propounded, and I will not rehash
them here-except to note that i s has often been argued that these works
present a contrived version of non-violence to serve as a straw person for
argumentati on, and that their talismanic invocation of " violent struggl e"
as foundati onal to soci al movements i s under-theorized and potenti al l y
irresponsi bl e. Thi s i s not to suggest that a movement, especi al ly one with
anarchi sm' s hi story, shoul d offhandedl y rej ect such statements; to the
contrary, these provocati ons can provi de i mportant moments for di a
l ogue and an evol uti on of tactical and strategic considerations. We can
dispute the thesis, but in so doi ng it becomes incumbent upon us to offer
an alternative formul ati on for bri ngi ng about the changes necessary for
human survi val .
As I have been asserting throughout this text, I believe that anarchism
i n its dual istic sense of contestation and construction represents precisely
such an alternative. What keeps anarchi sm from degenerating i nto per
petual vi ol ence or ni hi l ism i s its l ongstanding penchant for connecting
means and ends. This can be read as requiring that al l means utilized i n
a movement context must be thoroughly peaceful , si nce that i s the future
end envi si oned. On the other hand, anarchi sm represents a positi on of
"eternal vigilance" against creeping authoritarianism, and thus principled
protest will be part of the end vision as well. The key for anarchist organiz
ing i s that the methods of contestation should strive to prefgure the better
soci ety even as they confront current chal lenges and cri ses. Whi le thi s
framework opens up the possibility for myriad actions and interventions,
I do not accept that it extends to the taking of human l i fe ( either targeted
or indiscriminate) as posited by the proponents of armed struggle.
While anarchists generally rej ect a bright line of acceptable tactics, pre
ferri ng instead a mul ti pl ici ty of methods based on context and ci rcum
stances, the l eap from vandal i sm or sabotage to an armed upri si ng i s
problematic, not in the least because it threatens to turn us into the very
thing we are struggling agai nst. As Harol d Barcl ay observed, "vi olence
i s the techni que of the state and the ul ti mate form of coerci on. Those
who adopt it as a means cannot hel p but be tainted by i ts use. "
Thi s l i ne
of reasoni ng l ed Emma Gol dman to renounce it al together: " The one
thi ng I am convi nced of as I have never been i n my l i fe i s that the gun
deci des nothi ng at al l . Even i f i t accompl i shes what i t sets out to do
whi ch it rarel y does-it bri ngs so many evi l s i n its wake as to defeat its
origi nal aim. "
5 1
The Violence Question 55
Consider that one of anarchi sm' s central tenets is that the state i s inher
ently violent, i ndeed representing a monopoly of vi olence that works at
cros s pur pos es to the val ues of freedom, a ut onomy, and s el f
organi zati on. Anarchi sts throughout hi story have recogni zed that the
ai m of revol ution i s not to sei ze that power but rather to dismantle it, by
removi ng i ts bases of pri vate property and mi l itari sm. In the anarchi st
society, the seeds of violence are addressed in l arge measure through co
operat i ve syst ems and parti ci patory proces s es ( anarchi s t tool s for
redressi ng resi dual confi cts wi l l be consi dered i n Chapter Fi ve ) . The
noti on i s not to defeat the state through s uperi or force or to turn i ts
monopolization i nto a democratization of violence, but more so to strive
toward el i mi nati ng i t as a domi nant currency in the conduct of human
affai rs. As de Ligt observed, this must be borne in mind, lest we fnd that
our putative revolution " bri ngs about a tyranny of means" that merely
delivers us from one form of subj ugation to another:
Right up to the present mi nute no righteous cause in the world has
ever had the tenth chance of conquering by violence. And nowadays
would it even have a hundredth chance? It woul d have none at al l ,
for, as we have shown, the methods of modern warfare make even
the j ustest cause unj ust, since those who al lowed themsel ves to be
dragged into i t cannot do other than descend to the same level of
brutal i ty as those they fght. Even were they to triumph, they woul d
be doomed to safeguard the frui ts of victory by a system of force
whi ch woul d al ways be devel opi ng and therefore growi ng l ess
human, and t o si nk ever more deeply and inescapabl y into the mire
of destructi on. 5
The argument for armed insurrecti on is largely rej ected in the contempo
rary milieu; as Graeber notes, "very few North American anarchists would
themsel ves go far beyond breaki ng a wi ndow; al most all scrupul ousl y
avoi d harmi ng others i n any way. " 54 Even among those who advocate
the use of confrontati onal tactics, there exists a recognition that some lines
ought not be crossed, such as i n the communi que i ssued by the Acme
Collective after the World Trade Organization protests i n Seattle: " We
contend that property destruction is not a violent activity unless it destroys
lives or causes pai n in the process. "
As Gordon observes, "even the heavi
est street fghting [today] does not involve anarchi sts taki ng up arms, as
they woul d and did a hundred years ago, " and thus "armed struggle seems
to be for now a sel f-defeati ng prospect" ( Gordon does l eave open the
56 Anarchism Today
possibi lity that it could become necessary in the event of widespread social
col l apse or due to "a fnal , vi ol ent attempt by the state" to mai ntai n its
authority) .
Chaz Bufe argues that even i n the most repressive situations,
"armed resistance should be undertaken rel uctantly and as a l ast resort,
because violence is i nherently undesirable due to the suffering it causes . . .
and because, as history has shown, the chances of success are very low. "
The authors of the pamphlet "You Can' t Blow Up a Social Relationship"
refer to proponents of i ndi scri mi nately taking up arms as "vanguardi st
and authoritarian, " pointing out that "armed struggle means people would
be killed and there i s no getting away from the fact that violence threatens
humanism. "
And i n a particularly poignant narrative, Judi Bari-herself
a victim of terrorist violence for her anti-logging and forest preservati on
efforts-rej ected the use of such incidences of physical force:
The person who bombed me was a monster . . . . But what I realized
is that if you gave me the same bomb, and you gave me the person' s
car who did thi s to me, I don' t have it i n me to do that back to hi m.
What I have di scovered i s that there' s a l evel of vi ol ence, there' s a
level of terrorism that' s really unacceptable to me, and I think that's
one of the things that we real l y need to change i n the worl d. The
existence of this kind of vi olence in the world and this kind of terror
ism, this is part of the problem. 59
I n thi s l i ght, the arguments advanced by armed struggl e advocates
appear sophomoric at best and reckless at worst. Churchill contends that
non-vi olence has never brought about a " substantial soci al reorgani za
tion" and that, in every instance where it i s al leged to have done so, it i s
actual l y the case that "vi olence has been an i ntegral requirement of the
process of transforming the state. "
He concludes that whi le it is a desir
able end, unfortunatel y " i n order to achieve nonvi olence, we must frst
break with it. "
6 1
For hi s part, Gelderloos begins from a premise that "vi o
l ence is inherent in soci al revol ution, " concluding that " our options have
been violently constrained" to ei ther do nothing and thus support a vio
lent system, or " pursue new and ori gi nal ways to fght and destroy that
system. "
In the end, Gelderloos, l i ke Churchi l l before hi m, laments the
fact that " peace i s not an option unti l after the central l y organized vi o
l ence that i s the state i s destroyed. "
Unfortunately, these formulations are hardly new and origi nal in their
call to arms, and they tap directly into a sense of pervasive vi olence that
al ready defnes the cul ture we are supposed to be struggl i ng agai nst.
"The vi ol ence and warfare whi ch are characteri sti c condi ti ons of the
The Violence Question 57
imperi alist worl d, " as de Ligt observed, "do not go with the liberation of
the i ndi vi dual and of society. "
64 Anarchists have long rej ected the statists'
and mi l i tari sts' arguments that " if we woul d ensure peace we must pre
pare for war; that peace can only be guaranteed by force of arms. "
Anarchi sm offers a moral and practi cal cri ti que of war, rej ecti ng the
state' s violence i n al l forms i ncl udi ng "the cruel and indiscriminate nature
of war . "
Throughout history, anarchists " have opposed wars between
states and adhered to anti -mi l i tari st agendas, " si nce " the war-maki ng
tendencies of the state are cl osel y rel ated to thei r soci al l y di si ntegrative
characteristics " and "war i s seen as one of the ways in which the institu
tions of the state corrode and i nhi bit spontaneous social order. "
the most notable exception being the Spanish Ci vi l War, in which anar
chi sts took up arms agai nst a fasci st regime ( tragi cal l y so, in the end) ,
the broader stance of anarchism has long decried war as part and parcel
of the state's repressive apparatus.
Sti l l , proponents of armed struggl e argue that they are si mpl y bei ng
realistic i n following Berkman' s dictum that "there i s no record i n history
of any government or authority, of any group or cl ass in power havi ng
given up i ts mastery vol untari l y. In every i nstance it requi red the use of
force, or at l east the threat of i t. "
The probl em i s that even a cursory
revi ew of hi story reveal s that the sum total of " violent revolutions " has
merely served to del iver us i nto the hands of even more totalitarian and
mi l itaristic structures of authority. Thi s i s a maj or faw i n the " real i st"
school of thought, namel y that it takes an " absol uti st positi on " about
the primacy of " authoritari an modes of organization or violent methods
of protest and struggle " as bei ng the onl y authentic ones for a radi cal
pol i ti cal praxi s.
6 9 " Dogmatic paci fsm bothers me, " notes one Bl ack
Bl oc activist, " but there' s al so dogmatic vi olence, based on the view that
vi ol ence i s the only means of carryi ng on the struggl e. "
As Graeber
cogently observes, " the ' reality' one recognizes when one i s being a 'real
ist' i s purely that of vi olence. "
1 Thus, as Read counsel s, "our practical
activity may be a gradual approximation towards the i deal , or it may be
a sudden revol uti onary real i zati on of that i deal , but i t must never be a
compromise" of the i nherent connectedness of means and ends if we are
to bring about an anarchist social order.
Was Gandhi an Anarchist?
Contrary to the mi l i tant view, paci fsm is neither passive nor cowardly,
and i n fact it has a deep historical associ ati on with anarchism; as Bri an
Morri s has asserted, " most anarchists have been agai nst vi ol ence and
58 Anarchism Today
terrori sm, and there has al ways been a strong l i nk between anarchi sm
and paci fsm. "
In Starhawk' s l exi con, "nonvi olence has been the tool
of choice of preci sel y those peopl e who face overwhel mi ng vi olence i n
thei r dai l y l i ves, " and paci fsm represents a dynamic posture based on
"the refusal to obey unj ust laws, the wi l lingness to act and to ri sk, to dis
rupt busi ness as usual , not through vi ol ence but through noncompl i
ance. "
For Graeber i t i s thus cl ear that " i n the l arger perspecti ve,
[ anarchist] i deas and practices emerged much more from [the pacifst] tra
di ti on than from any other " and moreover that " i n terms of overal l
approach, Gandhi ' s ' become the change you wi sh t o see' seems a thou
sand times more i n keepi ng wi th the anarchi st spirit than Malcol m X' s
' by al l means necessary. ' "
Graeber poi nts out that " Gandhi himself rec
ognized a strong phi l osophi cal affnity of his own ideas and anarchi sm"
and that the " ' by al l means necessary' [ i dea] seems an awful lot like the
very ends-j usti fes-the-means logic whi ch anarchi sm has consi stentl y
rej ected. "
Throughout history, many anarchists have overtly embraced a pacifst
ethos , i ncl udi ng Henry Davi d Thore au, Dor othy Day, Ammon
Hennacy, Al ex Comfort, Paul Goodman, and, perhaps most notabl y,
Leo Tolstoy. Despite revisionist attempts to exclude hi m from the mi l i eu,
Tolstoy was unquesti onably anarchi sti c i n both hi s words and deeds:
"Tolstoy i s an anarchist-and a vigorous one at that-because he specif
cally called for a society without government and the State. "
"The State
is a conspi racy desi gned not onl y to expl oi t, but above al l to corrupt
i ts citizens, " he wrote i n 1 8 57, and " henceforth I shal l never serve any
government anywhere. "
He staunchly rej ected vi olence as a precept of
hi s nonhi erarchi cal readi ng of Chri sti ani ty, famous l y as s erti ng that
"government i s vi olence " and concl uding that " a protest which permits
itself the use of vi olence has not a leg to stand on and i s, as a consequence,
doomed to fai l ure . "
79 Tolstoy' s sophi sticated view included the notions
that " to take up armed struggle i s to fght the State on its own ground
where it i s strongest, " and that the state wi l l not hesitate "to make use
of agents provocateurs and to orchestrate fake terrori st attacks " as a
means of discrediting radicals, hypnotizing the public with fear, and fur
ther strengthening its position in the end.
Tolstoy sought to embody a " moral revolution" based on the refusal to
cooperate with authoritarian structures, and he saw the personal dimen
si ons of our lives as a critical ( yet l argely ignored) locus of revol utionary
potenti al . In hi s own actions, Tolstoy renounced the copyrights on much
of hi s published work, gave up hi s estates, and founded 13 " free school s"
for peasant chi l dren based on "purel y li bertarian pri nci pl es, " i ncl udi ng
The Violence Question 59
that " the pupi l has al ways the right not to come to school , or, havi ng
come, not to l i sten to the teacher. "
8 1
"The best policy and admi ni strative
system for a school i s to al l ow the schol ars perfect freedom of l earni ng
and of governing themselves as they like, " he wrote in 1 862.
Tolstoy' s
l i fe and work as an anarchi st and paci fst had a profound i mpact on a
young Mohandas K. Gandhi , and the two corresponded bri efy at the
end of Tolstoy' s l i fe. "It was forty years ago, when I was passing through
a severe crisis of skepticism and doubt, " Gandhi wrote i n his autobiogra
phy, "that I came across Tolstoy' s book The Kingdom of God is Within
You, and was deeply impressed by it. I was at that time a believer in vio
lence. Its reading cured me of my skepticism and made me a frm believer
in ahimsa ( non-violence) . "
Known of course as an iconic fgure of non-violence, Gandhi likewise
borrowed from and advanced many aspects of anarchi sm i n his soci al
and pol itical phi l osophies . As descri bed by Josh Fattal in the j ournal
Peace Power, Gandhi ' s anarchism was made plain i n myriad ways:
Mohandas Gandhi opposed the State . The State i s the mi l i tary,
pol i ce, pri sons, courts, tax col l ectors, and bureaucrats . . . . " The
State represents vi ol ence i n a concentrated and organi zed form.
The indivi dual has a soul , but as the State is a soul l ess machi ne, i t
can never be weaned from vi olence to whi ch it owes i ts very exi s
tence. " . . . Reiterating the idea of Anarchy, Gandhi sai d, "In such a
state ( of affai rs ) , everyone is hi s own ruler. He rules himself in such
a manner that he i s never a hindrance to hi s neighbor. " . . . Gandhi' s
concept of swaraj el ucidates the connecti on between the i ndi vidual
and society. Swaraj transl ates i nto "self-rule " or " autonomy. " . . .
The pri nci pl e of swaraj ul ti matel y l eads to a grassroots, bottom
up, "oceanic circle " of self-rul i ng communities.
Anarchists will recognize many familiar themes here, including a strong pref
erence for autonomy, self-governance, decentralization, self-suffciency, and
a federated network of hori zontal communi ti es-as Gandhi ' s ul ti mate
vision of a new society embodies:
Independence begi ns at the bottom . . . . It fol l ows, therefore, that
every vi l l age has to be sel f-sustai ned and capabl e of managi ng i ts
own affairs . . . . In thi s structure composed of innumerable villages,
there will be ever-wi deni ng, never ascendi ng circles. Li fe will not
be a pyrami d with the apex sustai ned by the bottom. But it wi l l be
an oceanic ci rcl e whose center wi l l be the i ndi vi dual . Therefore,
60 Anarchism Today
the outermost circumference will not wield power to crush the inner
circle but will give strength to all within and derive its own strength
from it.
In addition to Tolstoy' s infuence, Gandhi al so took much from Peter
Kropotki n' s anarchistic teachings, embracing " hi s vi si on of a decentral
ized society of autonomous vi l l age communiti es. "
As Peter Marshal l
has further observed, " on several occasi ons [ Gandhi ] cal led hi msel f a
ki nd of anarchi st and al ways opposed the central i zed State and the
vi olence it engendered. "
Indeed, i n a 1 9 1 6 speech, Gandhi straightfor
wardly proclaimed that "I myself am an anarchist, " even as he di savowed
the violent ( i . e. , killing in the name of liberati on) wing of the movement.
8 8
Sti l l , Gandhi was not in fact an absol ute paci fst-although hi s personal
peccadi l loes do suggest a ki nd of spiritual puri tani sm and moral ortho
doxy t hat s ome fnd t r oubl i ng. Yet on more than one occas i on he
expressed the vi ew that i t i s better to fght than be a coward: "Where
there is only a choice between cowardice and vi olence, I woul d advi se vio
lence. "
In the end, Gandhi ' s legacy asks us to deeply consider the nexus
of means and ends and points toward his conviction that "the ideally non
vi olent state will be an ordered anarchy. " 9
Toward a Complementarity of Tactics
From paci fsm and bui l di ng al ternatives to revolution and i nsurrecti on,
anarchi sm represents a ri ch tradi ti on of di verse tacti cs and strategi es
ai med toward achieving the wi del y shared goal of bui l ding societies upon
a foundati on of autonomy, equal i ty, and vol untary associ ati on. The
poi nted debates about the means to be employed in sociopolitical struggle
can at times be rancorous, but they are also a strength of anarchist move
ments, l i kewise refecting the sense of pl ural i sm and heterogeneity that
underscores anarchi sm i n general . In seeki ng to reconci l e the nascent
movement rifts over methods of engagement, anarchists have l argely set
tled upon a col lective framework that embraces a "diversity of tactics. "
As Starhawk observes, there is an operative ethic involved in this resolu
tion, namely that " people should be free to make their own choices; that
a nonauthori tari an movement doesn' t tel l peopl e what to do; and that
we shoul d stand in solidarity even wi th peopl e whose choices we disagree
with. " 91 In this sense, "the respect for tactical diversity thus relates to an
i deal of autonomy centered on a radical defni ti on of the pri nci pl es of
freedom and equal i ty. "
The Violence Question 61
Critics may contend that diversity of tactics is merely a "euphemism for
vi olence, " 9
and not al l anarchists embrace the concept, but it has served
for over a decade to forestal l the splintering of movements into abj ect fac
ti onal i sm. Perhaps more i mportantl y, it has al so spawned greater di a
logue and new levels of understanding among activists across a range of
perspectives and identities. Yet at the same time, viewpoints about " vi o
l ence versus non-vi ol ence " have begun to harden, and the pressure on
movements to pol ice themselves has increased as a functi on of offci al
repressi on and publ ic perception ali ke. Whi l e observers such as Jensen
assert that "the question of whether to use violence" should be secondary
to the motivations for a better world that underscore the struggl e, there
remai ns a sense (as Gelderloos expresses) that "people have, for the most
part, not even fgured out whether our goals are compatible, and whether
our strategies are complementary or counterproductive. " 94 Indeed, a cen
tral open i ssue for anarchists i s contai ned withi n the observati on that
even "the total collapse of thi s society woul d provide no guarantee about
what replaced i t. " 95 In thi s sense, diversity of tactics has functioned as an
" agree to di sagree" approach wi thout prompting a deeper di scussi on
about what comes next.
Taking up Gelderl oos' s chal lenge, a compelling argument can be made
that it i s time for anarchi sm to move beyond a mere tactical - di versi ty
approach. A starti ng poi nt mi ght be to reaffrm the shared val ues and
vi si ons that have drawn peopl e to anarchi sm i n the frst pl ace. At thi s
j uncture, anarchists might l ook for ways to support and bolster those pl a
ces where there i n fact may be broad agreement: mutual ai d, anti-statism,
anti-capitalism, egalitari ani sm, autonomy, and so on. Rather than repeat
i ng useful but tired mantras about diversity of tactics, which can bri ng
wi th it a sense of resignation and the precl usi on of conti nued di scussi on,
anarchists coul d instead seek to generate a "complementarity of tactics, "
i n which the choices made are mutual ly-rei nforci ng and refective of the
myri ad shared val ues that pervade the anarchi st tradi ti on. By shi fti ng
the conversation from "I don' t necessarily agree with what you' re doi ng
but I respect your freedom to do it" to "I want to learn more about what
you hope to accomplish with this action and how it fts with your vision
for the future, " anarchists could develop stronger bonds of sol i darity
and thus more effective movements-in the process. Indeed, for many,
" the essence of revol uti on i s not armed confi ct with the state but the
nature of the movement whi ch backs it up, and thi s wi l l depend on the
kinds of relati onshi ps and ideas amongst people i n the groups, commu
nity counci l s, workers councils, etc. that emerge i n the soci al confict. "
62 Anarchism Today
It is apparent that this is a matter of some urgency for anarchist move
ments. The sense of "violent anarchists " becoming the j ustifcation for an
escalating police state, and all of its retri butive techniques against activists
in general , has become pal pabl e-even as we may recognize it as obvi
ousl y fal l aci ous and di si ngenuous. What are the avai l able alternatives ?
We might remain on the same course, but that is increasingly looking l i ke
one bent on publ i c al i enati on, i ncreased repressi on, and perhaps ul ti
matel y obl i vi on. Anarchi sts throughout hi story have been known for
their i nnovation, fexi bi l i ty, and bol dness; I woul d submi t that this i s a
moment to bring al l of those qualities to the fore and focus more point
edly on how to contest the present whi l e bui l di ng the future-al ways
beari ng in mi nd the means-ends nexus that i s part and parcel of anar
chi sm' s dynami c ethos. Far from constrai ni ng acti on, thi s perspecti ve
offers the potenti al for greater harmoni zati on between acti ons and
vi si ons, between anarchi sts and other acti vi sts, and among anarchists
As a starting point, anarchists woul d do wel l to remind peopl e that the
state ( including its corporate partners ) i s i nherently violent, both overtly
and structural l y-and si nce anarchi sts above al l rej ect the state ( and
capital ) , they can undertake actions that highlight this fundamental con
trast. "The state is vi olent, and we are not" might be a good start to the
di scussion. Another central point for advanci ng the di al ogue would be
to refocus acti vi st energi es beyond thei r someti mes-narrow sectari an
i nterests , most di rectl y by cul ti vati ng an ecol ogi cal perspecti ve that
speaks to the pressing gl obal i ssues of the day. Thi s wi l l be the focus of
the next chapter.
Anarchist Ecologies
0 ne of the galvanizing forces among anarchists of al l stripes through
out hi story has been a strong focus on property rights, most often
taking the form of advocating for the abol ition of privatization and the
promotion of communal interests as to the management of basic human
resources. Thi s emphasi s on property gi ves anarchi sm a deci dedl y envi
ronmental bent, insofar as it draws our attenti on to the essenti al s of food,
energy, shelter, and l and as cri ti cal areas of i ntervention and engagement.
While anarchists have debated the precise formul ations for access to and
distri buti on of resources, the rej ecti on of pri vate property i nterests in
the land and the overal l means of production has represented a sine qua
non of anarchism for generations .
Some of anarchi s m' s central fgures, s uch as Peter Kropotki n and
adopted brethren like Henry Davi d Thoreau, are hi storical forebears of
t he modern envi ronmental movement.
Indeed, fol l owi ng Kropotki n
and Thoreau, among others, anarchi sm has l ong i ncl uded an i mpetus
toward naturalism, in the sense of locating human ethics and sociopoliti
cal structures frmly within the l arger processes of natural systems. Many
of the mos t- ci ted anarchi s t experi ment s in hi story have expl i ci t l y
embraced a strong " back t o t he earth " ethos, i ncl udi ng t he advocacy of
small-scale agriculture, village life, and vegetari ani sm or vegani sm. Even
those experiments more often associated with revolutionary politics ( such
as the Spani sh Civil War) have sti l l counted " many adepts of naturi sm
and vegetari ani sm among its members, " i n the recogniti on that " these
ways of l i vi ng were consi dered sui tabl e for the transformati on of the
human bei ng in preparation for a li bertarian [ anarchist] society. "
Anarchists today have extended these environmental themes to include
critiques of technol ogy, visions of bi oregi onal i sm, efforts toward food
64 Anarchism Today
j ustice, and strategies for coping with climate change, among other con
temporary issues . Someti mes these undertakings refect an affnity wi th a
perceived natural harmony that is viewed as dynami c, spontaneous, and
sel f-organi zi ng-much l i ke anarchi sm stri ves to be i n i tsel f. At other
poi nts, anarchists' ecological engagement i s more pragmatic, working to
amel i orate the harsh effects of capi tal i sm' s unequal di stri buti on and,
si mul taneousl y, to devel op evol uti onary ( i f not revol uti onary) al terna
tives to a dominant order that fosters dependency and exploitation rather
than self-rule and cooperati on. At still other moments, the environmental
emphasi s i s even more vi sceral , essenti al ly entai l i ng a direct assaul t by
" ecol ogi cal anarchi sts " on the " megamachi ne " of destructi on that i s
bound up with modern ci vi l i zati on and i t s dual tendency t o domi nate
nature and subj ugate humankind al l at once. Indeed, for many anarchists,
the asserti on of human supremacy over nature and the domi nati on of
humans by other humans are thoroughly intertwined processes, and both
sets of forces are seen as contributing to widespread environmental degra
dation that inexorably pushes the world toward the brink of apocalypse.
For some in the mi l ieu, it is rapidly appearing that the choice before us i s
"anarchi sm or anni hi l ati on"-meaning that the effort to achi eve an anar
chist soci al order i s no longer a mere idyllic vi si on but i s an urgent neces
sity for human survival .
Anarchists have l ong been on the cutting-edge of ecological thi nki ng,
havi ng at many poi nts anti ci pated the profound sense of pervasive and
escal ati ng cri ses that we presently face. As an i nherently revol uti onary
system of thought, anarchism seeks to dismantle structures of oppression
and disharmony at al l levels, from the personal to the gl obal . In so doing,
i t stri ves to reformul ate the condi ti ons of human exi stence at its most
basic echelons, including the essential s of l i fe such as sustenance, shelter,
energy, and space. Through its efforts to resist privatization and promote
democratization of resources, both materially and ideologically speaki ng,
anarchism sees human l i beration as part and parcel of ecologi cal revitali
zati on. Beyond simply speaking the language of sustai nabi lity, anarchists
focus on nature' s resi l iency and dynami sm, oftenti mes highl i ghti ng its
capaci ty to regenerate and create abundance. In order to real i ze these
natural tendenci es, humanki nd must bui l d a soci al order upon si mi l ar
foundati ons, whi ch have consi stentl y been embraced by anarchi sts i n
their penchant for decentral ized, spontaneous, and cooperative endeav
ors. Indeed, thi s convergence of anarchy and ecol ogy i s not acci dental ,
and i n fact i t compri ses a l ongstandi ng ( if not predomi nant) aspi rati on
of anarchistic thinkers dati ng al l the way to prototypi cal exemplars such
as Lao-Tzu and Zeno of Citi um.
Anarchist Ecologies 65
Thi s put at i ve convergence, however, does not end the i nqui r y.
Anarchi sm and environmental i sm have a complex, and at times confi c
tual , relationship. On the one hand, as noted above, anarchism i s inher
ently ecol ogi cal i n its ai ms and desi res. Yet the modern envi ronmental
movement is often construed as being bound up with reformist pursuits,
electoral pol itics, l obbying efforts, "corporate responsi bi l i ty, " and other
forms of what more r adi cal envi ronmenta l i sts someti mes refer to
as " greenwashi ng" ( i . e. , the tendency to repackage i nnatel y unsound
policies, practices, and products as new, improved, and environmentally
fri endl y ) . As Davi d Watson has opi ned, " l acki ng a perspecti ve that
chal lenges the capital i st order, environmental i sts have seen their rhetoric
captured and employed by the contaminating corporations and the state. "
Anarchists do not merely seek to sustain the current paradigm of state con
trol and capi tal i st producti on and consumpti on, nor to attai n a more
durable system of resource exploitation and distributi on. Anarchism envi
sions a world where production is for use, not proft, and where people sit
uated i n their locales can decide how best to manage their material lives.
The workings of the global corporate economy are thus i ncompatible with
anarchism, and any attempt to prolong this system' s stranglehold on peo
ple and nature al ike i s seen as untenable. That said, anarchists maintai n
an affnity for nature that partl y embraces ( yet al so goes beyond) the
conservationist and sustainabil ity efforts that defne much of environmen
talism today.
A Hidden Harmony?
Works documenting the grave and escal ati ng character of the envi ron
mental cri ses confronting humanki nd are by now l egi on. In recent years,
there has been greater publ ic consci ousness of i ssues i ncl udi ng cl i mate
change, loss of species, soil depletion, drought, pol l ution, food shortages,
toxi ci ty, and other symptoms of wi despread degradati on across the
gl obe. In addi ti on, a growi ng number of peopl e have begun to connect
these burgeoni ng crises wi th the machi nati ons of corporate capi tal i sm
and the nati on-states that sponsor and enabl e it to progress unfettered;
i ndeed, the coi nci dence of the rapi d destabi l izati on of the envi ronment
and the ri se of the gl obal , technocratic economy has not been l ost on
many observers.
As Joel Kovel poi gnantly observes , the choi ce before
us increasi ngly appears to be whether we will opt for "the end of capital
ism or the end of the world. "
As a sociopolitical theory that i s staunchly
anti-capitalist, anarchi sm has long embraced these sentiments, back to its
earliest roots as a pol itical theory and well before the full effects of today' s
66 Anarchism Today
crises were widely anticipated. As the anarchist geographer Elisee Recl us
wrote in hi s famous 1 8 9 1 essay, "Evolution and Revol ution" :
It wi l l be sal vati on, and there i s none other. For i f capi tal retai ns
force on i ts si de, we shal l al l be the sl aves of i ts machi nery . . . . If
capi tal carries the day, it wi l l be ti me to weep for our gol den age;
in that hour we may l ook behi nd us and see like a dyi ng light, love
and j oy and hope-al l the eart h ha s hel d of sweet and good .
Humanity will have ceased to live.
Such nascent ecological notions are deeply embedded in the theory and
practice of anarchi sm. In the contemporary mi l i eu, for exampl e, Graham
Purchase observes that "the overriding cause of hunger, starvati on, and
envi ronmental degradati on . . . i s the corporate capital i st system under
whi ch we are forced to l i ve. "
As Purchase concl udes, it i s "no accident
that Emma Gol dman chose to cal l her l ong-runni ng anarchi st j ournal
Mother Earth " ( fol l owi ng the early work of Recl us, si mpl y titled The
Earth) , whi ch represents a "poetic and wel l -crafted descri pti on of the
anci ent and ti me-honored metaphor of the Earth as mother and pro
vi der. " 9 Accordi ng to Peter Mar s hal l , Recl us " spent a l ong l i fe of
schol arl y research and mi l itant agitation to bri ng about the equi l i bri um
of the natural order of anarchy. "
1 0
Gol dman hersel f referred expl icitly
to anarchi sm as " the teacher of the uni ty of l i fe, not merely i n nature
but i n man, " and she advocated for a version of natural l aw ( to replace
man-made l aw) that woul d assert itsel f " freely and spontaneousl y with
out any external force i n harmony wi th the requirements of nature. "
1 1
And Kropotki n, of course, famousl y based hi s divination of "mutual ai d
as a factor of evol uti on " on exhaustive bi ological research, concl udi ng
that the processes of mutuality, cooperati on, and soci abi l i ty are si mpl y
"what Nature teaches us. "
1 2
Al l of this has led Purchase t o conclude that anarchi sm devolves upon
the cri ti cal i nsi ght that "a hi dden harmony exi sts between the earth
and the peopl e i t s upports . " 1 The Green Anarchi s t I nternat i onal
Association premises its "Ecoanarchist Mani festo" explicitly on the ways
in which humanki nd is embedded within "the ecological interrel atedness
of the world around us," concluding that "there will be no real anarchism
without ecology [ and] no real ecology without anarchism. "
1 4
In this vein,
Brian Morris l i kewise opi nes that " anarchi sm i mpl i es and i ncorporates
an ecol ogi cal atti tude towards nat ure . "
1 5
For Ci ndy Mi l stei n, " a n
Anarchist Ecologies 67
ecol ogi cal perspecti ve wi thi n anarchi sm . . . sees the world hol i sti cal l y
[ and] transl ates i nto the very openness that characterizes anarchism. "
1 6
Ira Chernus thus poses the summati ve questi on: "What do anarchi sts
see when they look at nature ? "-and concludes as follows:
Nature i s organi c. Al l its parts are i nterconnected and constantl y
i nteracting, so each part i nfuences al l others. Nature i s spontane
ous . . . . Because i t i s organi c and spontaneous, nature i s di verse
[ and] any attempt to sti fe that diversity stifes the fow of life itself.
Nature i s cooperative . . . . This cooperati on, like everything else in
nature, i s spontaneous, not commanded by a central authority. Yet
the result is not chaos. When individuals are total ly free, they spon
taneously create the forms of order that are best for them.
1 7
In the end, as Purchase notes, anarchi sts are defned most di rectl y by
"their relentless quest for j ustice, equal ity, and harmony among al l living
things"-including humans and nature al ike. 1
But that does not entirely settle the matter, since anarchists-as is their
wont-disagree over the implications of these natural istic underpinnings.
Whi l e it is the case that anarchists by and large embrace environmental
i ssues as part and parcel of critiquing the workings of capital and the state,
l i kewise in formul ating liberatory and egalitarian alternatives, there al so
exists a strong secularist-rati onal ist current i n anarchism that resists any
attempts to turn naturalism into an incipient spiritualism. In other words,
the ofentimes quasi-mystical manner of expressing ecological virtues is thor
oughl y rej ected by some anarchi sts-i ncl udi ng the Green Anarchi st
International Association ( despite their acronym of "GAIA") , who specif
cally dismiss any "new age and/or Skippy & Disney" formulations, includ
ing " guru-hi erarchi es [ or] spi ri tual ecol ogy. "
1 9
As Davi d Orton more
soberly contends, "contrary to anarchist thinking, there cannot be very def
inite lessons drawn from Nature, in how humans shoul d organize them
selves . . . because most humans lack both the knowledge and wisdom to
understand ful l y the organization of the natural worl d, and to draw the
appropriate lessons for ourselves. "
Philosophers sometimes refer to argu
ments of the "appeal to nature" variety as a form of "naturalistic fallacy"
i n which conclusions about how humans should act are derived from obser
vati ons of how nature does act. While such argumentation threatens to
degenerate into anarchist esoterica, the implications have partly defned
maj or rifs in the feld.
68 Anarchism Today
Ecology, Social and Deep
Despi te many poi nts of agreement about the development of ecol ogi cal
cri ses and their genesi s in state-bound and capitali stic modes of organiza
ti on, two of the pri mary camps wi th the " ecoa narchi st" mi l i eu have
diverged over what i s to be done, resulting i n a longstanding " acrimoni
ous di spute between social ecologists and deep ecologists. "
2 1
In actual ity,
thi s ri ft mi ght be more about i ntel l ectual terri tori al i sm and personal
anti pathi es, and accordi ngl y a number of observers have found more
poi nts of convergence than rupt ure between the competi ng school s
known as social ecology and deep ecology. Sti l l , thi s ostensi bl e ( and at
times publicly di spl ayed) confict has served t o highl ight the existence of
mul ti pl e approaches to contemporary anarchi st engagement with the
environmental aspects of human existence. The resul t has been a fruitful
reigniting wi thi n anarchi sm of cri ti cal debates about praxi s, tel eol ogy,
ethics, and worldviews, pl us tangible inquiries i nto areas such as technol
ogy and economic alternatives. As a theory of i ntegrative tensi on, anar
chi sm is capabl e of synergizing the i nsights put forth by vari ous school s
of thought, and the emergi ng cosmol ogy of ecoanarchism refects thi s
The l eading exponent of soci al ecol ogy as a system of thought was
Murray Bookchi n, whose complex vi si on of "l i bertarian municipalism"
weaves together strands of cl assi cal anarchi sm, humani sm, Hegel i an di a
lectics, and modern environmental i sm. Bookchin argued that patterns of
domi nati on and hi erarchy i n society are part and parcel of the domi na
ti on of nature and thus dri ve the current ecol ogi cal cri ses. In semi nal
works such as Post-Scarcity Anarchism ( 1 9 71 ) and The Ecology of
Freedom ( 1 9 8 2) , Bookchi n propounded a cri ti que of repressi ve and
exploitative structures i n contemporary society, positing that only a social
order that had abol i shed them in favor of egalitari an and communal pro
cesses could achieve a bal anced, sustai nabl e rel ati onshi p with the l arger
environment. In this view, as Bookchin contends, " the idea of domi nating
nature has i ts pri mary source i n the domi nati on of human by human, "
thus prioritizing the realm of society as the locus for addressing ecological
i ssues.
Still, Bookchin understood that nature is al so a participant ( per
haps even a teacher to an extent) as to how human communities evolve
and that, i n the right context, humanki nd coul d attain a "material abun
dance" that would overcome the false scarcity and repressive drudgery of
capitalism in a manner that mi ght reformul ate society' s relati onshi p with
the bal ance of the envi ronment. The operati ve concept in thi s non
prescri ptive vi si on i s an organi c " uni ty i n diversity " among federated,
Anarchist Ecologies 69
regi onal i zed communi ti es that both refects and consti tutes the basi c
human-nature di alectic. In the end, as John Clark observes, soci al ecology
envi si ons "a comprehensi ve holistic conception of the sel f, society, and
nature " based on interdependence and "mutual i stic naturali sm. "
Whi le it continues to factor signifcantly in anarchist views on environ
mental i ssues, soci al ecology has been criticized for its prioritization of
human affairs vi s-a-vi s nature, as wel l as the instrumental i sm and even
anthropocentri sm potenti al l y suggested i n i ts formulati on. Moreover,
Bookchi n' s wel l -known caustic responses to competing theori es and/or
potenti al detractors contributed to a sense of rigidity that di d not always
cast his theori es i n a posi ti ve l i ght. Perhaps Bookchi n' s most poi nted
attacks were reserved for deep ecology, which he dismissed as misguided
mysti ci sm and a dangerous i nversi on of the human-nature bal ance.
Derived from the biospheric environmental i sm of Arne Nrss, and later
popul ari zed by fgures such as Bi l l Deva l l and George Sessi ons, deep
ecol ogy essenti al l y i nverts Bookchi n' s formul ati on and i nstead begi ns
from a premi s e of r adi cal egal i t ar i ani s m that extends to humans
and nature al i ke.
24 Explicitly rej ecting anthropocentric views, i ncl udi ng
those i mpl i ci t i n soci al ecol ogy, deep ecol ogy devol ves upon an anti
i nstrumental i sm that regards humanki nd as one aspect of an i ntercon
nected natural system that is balanced equal ly by al l of i ts components.
As such, for deep ecologists, humanki nd is always already part of nature,
and therefore it cannot diminish natural diversity without destroying the
very system in which it is enmeshed.
The ens ui ng debate between soci al and deep ecol ogy need not be
recounted here i n detai l , except to note that i t has l argel y served the
doubl e-edged purpose of promoti ng anarchist engagement wi th ecologi
cal issues while simul taneously contributing to greater facti onal i sm. In a
sense, the "social versus deep" ecology schism is refective of si mi l ar rifts
in anarchi sm that break al ong the l i nes of materi al ist/spiritualist, syndi
cal i st/l i festyl i st, and revol uti oni st/evol uti oni st tendenci es i n the mi l ieu.
On the one hand, there i s the view that concrete pol iti cal conditions and
mass organizing around the means of production and consumption defne
the priorities of human society and the prospects for ecological bal ance.
On the other i s a perspective advocating for a basel i ne reformul ation of
human perceptions regarding nature, as wel l as an inj unction to mani fest
thi s egal i tari an vi si on in every sphere of l i fe. In real i ty, the theories are
compl ementary i n the sense that humanki nd certai nl y can stri ve to be
mindfully situated and materi al ly satisfed at the same time-and perhaps
even more to the poi nt, we can only attai n the one i n conj unction with the
70 Anarchism Today
In this light, fgures such as Gary Snyder-the erstwhile Beatnik, Buddhist
poet, and sharp critic of the state' s imperi al i sm and capital i sm' s growth
obsession-have sought to harmonize social and deep ecology by recasting
the discussion less in terms of whose prioritization of domination is correct
and more so on what the effects ( and stakes) are. Snyder advocates a biore
gionalist approach based on the pursuit of an "organically rooted local and
regi onal cul ture" that repl aces the total itari an and ecoci dal state with
human communities striving for social harmony and ecological balance.
One signi fcant contri buti on to the ways in which anarchi sts have sub
sequently come to evolve their ecological sensibilities has been Snyder's dis
tinction between nature, wilderness, and the wild as loci of human activity
as well as overlapping terrains for considering the dimensions of our collec
tive existence.
Indeed, for some contemporary anarchists, the desire to
"rewi l d" and/or "go wild" has become an overarching compulsion, and it
likewise comprises an expression of living outside the repressive bounds of
the state and the destructive impetus of corporate capitalism.
Born to Be Wild
For Snyder, fol l owing the soci al ecol ogists, " both humans and the non
human are an expressi on of nature, " meani ng that human soci al con
structs are not i n fact unnatural .
The wilderness then represents that
"part of the physical world that i s largely free of human agency" ( such
as a pristine forest or the ocean depths) , and the wild is a "complex pro
cess of becomi ng" i n which one' s "wi l d nature " i s recl ai med as agai nst
the realm of human greed and ecological despoliati on.
In thi s sense, as
Snyder argues, "nature i s ultimately i n no way endangered; wi l derness
i s, " and thus the opportuni ty to recl ai m wi l dness as a human val ue i s
increasi ngly di mi ni shi ng.
29 From thi s insight there has sprung a contem
porary versi on of "ecological anarchi sm" that tends to "place emphasi s
on wildness rather than wi lderness per se, " and which has come to believe
that "the sal vati on of the world lies i n wi l dness. "
Wi th roots in deep
ecol ogy' s i nvocat i on of a bi os pheri c egal i tar i ani s m t hat decenters
human s oci eti es as the l i nchpi n of exi stence, proponents of what i s
often referred t o as primitivism general l y cel ebrate " the wi l dness of an
unconstrai ned and untrammel ed nature, of an unexpl oited worl d not
yet entirely subj ect t o commodi fcati on and domesti cati on. "
1 As Mi ck
Smith concl udes, in thi s vi ew, "wildness is regarded as synonymous with
creative freedom from social constraint. "
Extendi ng the point, wi l dness becomes the essence of anarchi sm, and
vi ce versa . "Anarchi s m, understood as freedom from constrai nt, is
Anarchist Ecologies 71
wildness and that wildness i s the living, creative, principle of nature, both
wild nature and human nature, now dominated and repressed by the civ
i l i zi ng process. "
The issue for primitivists, then, i s less about whether
human-human domi nation or human-nature domi nati on i s prior, since
both humans and nature are equal l y domi nated by the domesti cati ng,
routi ni zi ng, and expl oi tative practi ces that have come to be associ ated
wi th civilization itself. Proponents of neoprimitivism as an expressi on of
ecol ogi cal anarchi sm i ncl ude Fredy Perl man, whose l andmark work
Against His-story, Against Leviathan! ( 1 98 3 ) sets forth an ecl ectic and
wi de-ranging criti que of the "Western Spirit" that subsumes the practices
of the state, capitali sm, and more broadly the sum total of human civiliza
ti on as an enterprise that stands agai nst Mother Earth.
4 Si mi l arl y, in
Endgame: The Problem of Civilization ( 2006) , Derri ck Jensen predicts
( and advocates for) the collapse of advanced, developed society ( i . e. , civi
l i zati on ) , refecti ng upon the i mmi nent threat to exi stence posed by
human interventions and the urgent need to elimi nate this threat through
direct acti on.
Perhaps the best-known articul ati on of such notions comes from John
Zerzan, who, i n works s uch as Against Civilization ( 2005 ) , rej ects the
wars , mechanizati on, dehumani zati on, envi ronmental destruction, and
the " mas s psychol ogy of mi sery " i nherent in modern soci ety.
3 6
Zerzan, settled human exi stence began to become the domi nant norm
around the same time as the advent of agriculture as a widespread means
of procuri ng sustenance, and al ong with thi s propertari an, domi nati ng
turn came the i mpetus for s oci opol i ti cal strati fcati on as wel l as the
i ncreasi ng degradati on of the envi ronment. Moreover, thi s perspective
contains a concomitant val orization of pre-civilizati onal hunter-gatherer
societies, as Zerzan has argued: "Now we can see that life before domes
ti cati on/agri cul ture was in fact l argel y one of l ei sure, i nti macy wi th
nature, sensual wisdom, sexual equal ity, and health. Thi s was our human
nature, for a coupl e of mi l l i on years, pri or to ensl avement by pri ests,
ki ngs, and bosses. "
For many anarcho-primitivists, civilization " i n al l
i ts vari ous gui ses [i s taken] to be i nherently destructive to biological and
cul tural diversi ty and to i ndi vi dual freedoms, " and the very noti on of
" progress" is little more than " an ideological smoke-screen used to j ustify
the increasing domestication and enslavement of human popul ati ons and
ecol ogi cal l ands capes . "
Thi s vi ew thu s rej ects the " ecol ogi cal
humani sm" of social ecol ogy and its inherent progressivism as wel l .
Bookchi n, i n response, l evel ed many of the same cri ti ques agai nst
primitivism as he di d agai nst i ts i deol ogi cal cousi n, deep ecology. Wi th
its tendency to pl ace human needs on a par with those of non-human
72 Anarchism Today
systems, Bookchi n saw pri mi ti vi sm as denyi ng the uni que capaci ty of
humanki nd to transform its environment, as well as denying the respon
si bility this qual ity carries with it to do so i n positive ways. In calling for
a return to pre-agrari an l i feways and ( by Mal thusi an i mpl i cati on) far
l ower levels of human popul ati on, primitivism at times has been equated
with a ki nd of ecofascism that cal lousl y i gnores the speci al needs and
powers contai ned wi thi n human exi stence. And i n romanti ci zi ng pre
ci vi l izational cul tures, pri mi ti vi sm has ( for Bookchi n) taken on a cul t
l i ke, mystical , pre-rati onal aura that i s ti ti l l ati ng i n its eccentricity but
short on concrete programs for confronting the maj or cri ses in our mi dst.
"Whereas anarchi sts wi sh to el i mi nate the state and gi ve the means of
production to the hands of the peopl e, primitivists want to get rid of pro
ducti on itsel f, " and si nce "i t i s unreal i stic to expect modern peopl e to
become tri bal . . . pri mi ti vi sm can pl ay a part i n the margi nal i zati on of
anarchistic thinking. "
Despi te these criti ci sms, primitivism has enj oyed a resurgence of sup
port i n recent years, as the contemporary anti -gl obal izati on and anti
war movements have come to chal lenge the i mperi al i stic, hi erarchi cal ,
technocratic, and exploitative aspects of modern l i fe-and thus of ci vi l i
zat i on i ts el f. Anarchi s t publ i cat i ons s uch as Fifth Es tate, Green
Anarchy, and Green Anarchism have cul ti vated a strong pri mi ti vi st
undercurrent i n the mi l i eu, l ayi ng a foundation for today' s radi cal envi
ronmental movement and interposing a "critical examination of the soci
ety in which we l i ve right now and the ways [in] which it systematically
al ienates our life-activities and denies our desires for a more unitary and
sat i sfyi ng way of l i fe . "
To those argui ng that pri mi ti vi sm i s anti
human and regressi ve in its di mi ni shed-popul ati on implications, propo
nents note that "ci vi l i zati on hasn' t done a very good j ob of helping to
keep alive the tens of thousands i n the ( under) developed world currently
wi thout access to cl ean water and adequate food, " moreover asserting
that civi lization has not forestalled the harsh realities of warfare, impov
eri shment, and genoci de-not to menti on the urgency that comes with
the real i zati on that we are now l i vi ng through "an ecological crisis that
i s unprecedented i n the history of humanity. "
In this view, "ci vi l ization
itself is inherently violent and unsustainable and can only be remedied by
an end to industri al ism and return to a more harmoni ous way of life. "
Pri mitivi sm often i ncl udes a cal l for rewilding our lives by recovering
" l ost knowledge " of how to live i n harmony with the earth, servi ng to
vividly remind us of "what it i s possi bl e to recl ai m about human culture
and hi story" and yi el di ng l essons that merit consi derati on i f we are to
successful ly navigate today' s compound and escal ating soci al -ecol ogical
Anarchist Ecologies 73
crises. 4
As one commentator has observed, " i f one doesn' t at least deeply
sympathize with the primitive, you must really be on the side of the mega
tech, control led as well as control l i ng mega-popul ati on, mega-authority
as against real as well as ideal alternatives. One should be properly skep
tical about any l i bertari ani sm that l acks consi derabl e pri mi tivi sm. " 44
Sti l l , as Bookchi n has contended, " to oppose activities of the corporate
world does not mean that one has to become naively romantic and ' bi o
centric. ' "
As Jason McQui nn likewise intones, "the critique of civiliza
ti on doesn' t have to mean the i deol ogical rej ecti on of every histori cal
soci al devel opment over the course of the l as t 1 0 or 20, 000 years. "
Setti ng up the terms of what is yet another substanti al poi nt of debate
within contemporary anarchi sm, Bookchi n val ori zed the potenti al of
new technologies that might " begin t o provi de food, shelter, garments,
and a broad spectrum of l uxuri es " wi thout deni grati ng human di gnity
or destroyi ng the envi ronment.
Once agai n, a potenti al l y pol ari zi ng
i ssue offers great insight i nto the contours of today' s anarchism.
We Have the Technology
Is technol ogy a potenti al savi or or merel y another tool of our ensl ave
ment ? Soci al ecologi sts such as Bookchin see a liberatory rol e for modern
technology in promoting alternative energy sources, increasing food pro
ducti on, remediating degradati on, and processi ng wastes, among other
posi tive potenti al s. It i s also contended that the reasoned application of
appropri ate technology coul d yield greater decentral izati on and l ocal
control , thus harmoni zi ng wi th many of anarchi sm' s core aspi rations.
Proponents of such a progressi ve perspecti ve assert that technol ogy i s
value-neutral-that it i s how we use it and for what purposes that deter
mine its character. Indeed, some of the most high-tech forms of computer
hacki ng possess strong anarchi st tendenci es, and l i kewi se some of the
cutti ng- edge proposal s for " green energy " and " di rect democracy "
extrapol ate a future that is rel i ant upon modern technol ogi es. Agai nst
thi s, many primitivists, deep ecologists, and green anarchists "cl ai m that
i t i s not the use or ki nd of technology whi ch i s the probl em today, but
the technol ogy i tsel f. "
Someti mes thi s posi ti on results i n a form of
neo-Luddite engagement that actively seeks to "smash television and sur
veillance screens" as a revolutionary statement against the totalization of
modern l i fe.
In their book Welcome to the Machine: Science, Surveillance, and the
Culture of Control ( 2004 ) , Derrick Jensen and George Draffan expl ore
the ways i n whi ch today' s pervasi ve technol ogi es are used to control
74 Anarchism Today
individual s and the environment al i ke.
Comprised of equal parts politi
cal economy and personal lamentati on, Welcome to the Machine " defes
our wi l l i ngness to submi t to the i nsti tuti ons and technol ogi es bui l t to
rob us of al l that makes us human: our connection to the l and, our ki n
shi p wi th one another, our pl ace i n the l i vi ng world. "
5 1
Whi le Jensen' s
anarcho-pri miti vi st cri ti que of technol ogical ci vi l izati on has generated
much di scussi on, there remai ns for some a sense that "he offers us no
cl ear way forward" beyond simply destroying the oppressive, exploitative
i nfrastructure i n the name of recl ai mi ng an authenti cal l y feral human
wi l dness that embodi es t he vi rt ues of nature i tsel f.
As a rhetori cal
device, such provocative musings cal l our attention t o the basel ine ways
i n whi ch our l i ves are i ncreas i ngl y dependent upon al i enati ng and
destructive technol ogies, yet this al so leaves many unanswered questions
about how humanki nd is to survive i n the world as we now fnd it-not
to mention the apparent hypocrisies refected in the fact that authors like
Jensen and Zerzan mass-publ i sh their works, as well as the irony that
" anarcho-primitivists are well-organized on the web. "
For Zerzan, in a world i n which our experiences "are processed, stand
a rdi zed, l abel ed, and s ubj ected to hi erarchi cal cont rol , technol ogy
emerges as the power behind our mi sery and the mai n form of ideological
domi nati on. "
A parti cul arl y cogent take on al l of thi s has been pro
pounded by Davi d Watson ( aka George Bradford) of the Fifth Estate
cadre, who has written extensively and el oquently on the i nherent dan
gers of the megamachine and how it posits itself as the onl y vi able sol u
ti on to the very problems it has manufactured in the frst pl ace:
The authority of the modern state cannot fnd a sol uti on, of course,
because it has come to encompass every aspect of the probl em itself.
In fact, disaster tends to fuel the system that generates it, which means
that we must also abandon the pathetic hope that perhaps this latest
horror will be the si gnal that turns the tide ( as Chernobyl was sup
posed to be, and Bhopal ) . . . 0 Because they are i sol ated, l ocal i zed
events, or because they are general i zed, gl obal ones , the cal ami ties
of industrialism erode the common conditions of life without neces
sari l y posi ng any al ternati ves 0 0 . In fact, urban-i ndustri al i sm no
l onger needs to j usti fy itsel f with cl aims to be good or eternal ; it
appears eternal because it's the only game i n town-according to this
i deol ogy, ei ther we conti nue technol ogi cal devel opment (we can
argue about who administers it or reaps the proft) or we' l l face col
lapse and al l the horsemen of the apocalypse.
Anarchist Ecologies 75
Di rectly confronting some of the potenti al inconsi stencies inherent in the
virtual impossibility of practicing a fully primitivist l i festyl e in the modern
world, Watson revealingly observes that while "we may have nothing to
l ose but our urban- i ndustri al chai ns , " i t i s equal l y the case that " they
are our own pathological behavior patterns, and conform to an enormous
soci al and materi al terrai n, a terrai n we tend to reproduce even as we
question it. "
The compl exi ti es of coming to gri ps wi th pervasi ve technol ogi es of
communicati on and control -i n whi ch contemporary anarchi sts are
equal l y l i kel y to embrace "vari ous forms of hackti vi sm, el ectroni c ci vi l
di sobedi ence and culture j ammi ng" and the tenets of pri mi ti vi sm al l at
once-refects a deep-seated hi storical schi sm dating to the earl i est days
of i ndus tri a l i s m, i n whi ch anarc hi sts os ci l l ate d between an ant i
technol ogy Luddi sm and t he potenti al i ti es of soci al experi ments that
sought to draw upon the l iberatory benefts of new technologies.
In el u
cidating an inevitable technological ambivalence for contemporary anar
chi sm, Michael Truscello opines that "the technicity of everyday l i fe, the
naturalization of compl ex technol ogi cal systems, the total phenomenon
of the technol ogi cal society, cannot be criti qued and di smantled from a
s i ngl e posi ti on of i ns urrecti on, but must i nstead be confronted from
multi pl e, di sparate nodes i n a network of communi cative and strategic
orientati on. "
In the face of pervasive technol ogies that si multaneousl y
constrain and enabl e communications and communities al i ke, Truscello
concludes that " only a multiplicity of mechani cal di scontinui ties in every
day life can foster conditions consonant with anarchist pol itics. "
than offhandedl y rej ecting all appearances of technol ogy ( whi ch i s an
i mpossi bi l i ty i n any event) , thi s "post-anarchi st" view suggests that we
should reframe the i nquiry toward establishing "the congruence of anar
chi sm, anti-corporate gl obalization and envi ronmental i sm" as a means
of deciding how to proceed.
One of the mos t di vert i ng and i ns truct i ve recent i nterventi ons
i nt o these i ssues has come from Ur i Gordon, i n a chapter s ubti tl ed
" Anarchi sm and the Pol i ti cs of Technol ogy " i n Anarchy Alive! Fi rst,
as to the nature of the problem, Gordon observes that " one does not need
to be an anarchist to see that the constraints created by the exi sting socio
technological complex and its i nfrastructures have a specifcally exploita
tive and authoritarian nature. "
6 1
Among contemporary theorists, it i s by
now uncontrovers i al to note that " technol ogy expresses hi erarchi cal
soci al relations and fxes them into materi al real ity [thus] sustaining and
enhancing inequalities of wealth and power. "
Declaring hi s sympathies
76 Anarchism Today
with the anarcho-primitivist perspective, Gordon neverthel ess acknowl
edges that " some technol ogi es have i nherent features that encourage
decentral ization and localism, " citing sol ar and wi nd energy as examples
that can be deployed on a relatively small scale with a minimal degree of
speci al i zati on requi red to operate them.
The probl em i s that certai n
other aspects of modern l i fe have become bound up with high technol o
gi es that cannot easi ly be decentral i zed, and thus at the end of the day
anarchi s ts are si mpl y " goi ng to have to bi te the bul l et " i n terms of
embracing a "process of decentral ization that amounts to a quite signi f
cant rol l -back of technology. "
64 This potenti al transition, as Gordon con
cl udes, wi l l undoubtedly necessitate "something of a revol uti on" for its
ultimate realizati on.
Eco-Revolution and the "Green Scare"
Enter the more mi l itant wing of ecological anarchi sm. Responding to an
i ncreasi ng sense of concern and even desperati on, a decentral i zed net
work of autonomous groups and i ndi vi dual s has taken it upon itself to
di rectly confront not only the symbol s of ci vi l i zati onal oppressi on but
i ts actual worki ngs as wel l . Underground entities i ncl udi ng the Ani mal
Li berati on Front ( ALF) and the Earth Li berati on Front ( ELF) have
emerged in recent years, attacking targets such as ani mal testing faci l ities,
genetic engineering laboratories, SUV dealerships, and high-end develop
ments in sensitive habitats. The logic of these actions-which trace part of
their origins to earl i er monkeywrenching i ni ti atives undertaken by net
works such as Earth Fi rst! -i s the twofol d recognition that ( a ) nature i s
in grave j eopardy but lacks the capacity to defend itself, and ( b) the tech
nocratic, capi tal i st system can be undermi ned by i nficting economi c dam
age on strategi c targets wi t hi n i t t hat l i kewi s e embl emati ze i ts
repressiveness. The basic premise i s that economic sabotage can educate
the public by highl ighting unj ust enterprises, while at the same time con
veying a spirit of empowered resistance through direct action. The decen
tralized organizing strategy of these efforts "codi fes an anarchist ethi c:
the name provi des only a framework for conducting acti ons, rather than
constituting a formal cl andestine organi zati on. Any act consi stent with
the gui delines can be cl aimed i n the name of the ALF or the ELF. "
Many of the tacti cs as s oci at ed wi th t hese efforts a i med at eco
revolution can be traced t o t he i nfuence of Edward Abbey' s 1 97 5 fc
t i onal work The Monkey Wrench Gang and i ts appl icati on to real
worl d situati ons. As popul arized i n the 1 980s by groups such as Earth
Fi rs t ! and memori a l i zed by advocates i ncl udi ng Dave Foreman,
Anarchist Ecologies 77
monkeywrenching is a set of practices that can be undertaken by individ
ual s or groups " to put a monkeywrench into the gears of the machine that
i s destroying natural diversity. "
The ai m is to develop tactics that can be
"effective in stopping timber cutting, road bui l ding, overgrazing, oi l and
gas expl orati on, mi ni ng, dam bui l di ng, powerl i ne constructi on, off
road-vehi cl e use, trappi ng, ski area devel opment, and other forms of
destruction of the wilderness, as well as cancerous urban sprawl. "
basic tenets of the practice include a number of val ue-laden and strategic
i ntenti ons that possess deci dedl y anarchi sti c qual i ti es, i ncl udi ng that
monkeywrenchi ng i s speci fcal ly constructed as: i ndi vi dual , not organ
i zed, dispersed, diverse, deliberate and ethical .
Interestingly, these tac
tics are not taken to be revolutionary in nature, but they rather are seen
as a defense of the wild that does not seek to overthrow the social order.
Moreover, monkeywrenchi ng i s expressly coded as non-vi olent, in that
it is "never di rected agai nst human bei ngs or other forms of life . . . . Care
is always taken to minimize any possi ble threat to people. "
These precursors have served to i nform s ubsequent, and ostensi bl y
more mi l itant, entities such as the ALF and ELF, whose recent history i s
worth recounti ng here. In earl y December 2005, si x i ndi vi dual s were
arrested across the United States i n a nationwide sting on alleged "ecoter
rorists, " in what was termed "Operation Backfre. " They were accused of
vari ous federal crimes involving arson or explosive devices dating back to
1 997, i ncl udi ng the destruction of a wi l dl i fe research faci l ity, wild horse
corrals, a farm reputedly growing genetically modi fed trees, an SUV deal
ership, and most notably a ski lift expansion i n Vail, Colorado. Invoking
provisions of the USA Patriot Act to conduct the i nvestigations, searches,
and seizures, the U. S. government bi l led this as a maj or salvo in the War
on Terror. Indeed, i n 2002 whi le testi fyi ng before the U. S. Congress,
James F. Jarboe, then- chi ef of the FBI ' s Counterterrori sm Di vi s i on,
referred t o t he ALF and ELF as " a seri ous terrorist threat " that woul d
be considered on a par i n terms of investigative priorities with "the recent
focus on international terrori sm. "
In the summer of 2005, FBI Deputy
Assi stant Di rector John Lewi s procl ai med ALF/ELF the " number one
domestic terrorism threat, " despite the fact that " no one has died from
any of these attacks " -a point echoed by Chief Jarboe in noting that these
groups adhered to an " operational phi l osophy [ that] di scourages acts
t hat har m ' any ani mal , human and nonhuma n. ' "
In 2007, FBI
Di rector Robert Mueller III testifed before Congress that: "Animal rights
extremism and eco-terrorism continue to pose a threat. Extremists within
these movements general l y operate i n s mal l , a ut onomous cel l s and
empl oy stri ct operat i onal s ecuri ty tacti cs maki ng detecti on and
78 Anarchism Today
infltration di ffcult. These extremi sts utilize a variety of tactics, including
arson, vandalism, animal theft, and the use of explosive devices. "
It soon became apparent that the initial wave of arrests was merely the
beginning of a larger operation, comprising "the government's most dra
matic and heavy-handed use of repression to date agai nst the counter
cul tural , anarchi st mi l i eu that came of age over the past 1 0 years . "
Activists have termed thi s the " Green Scare" to indicate its demonizing,
wi tch hunt- l i ke qual i ti es , aki n to the Red Scare agai ns t s uspected
Communi sts i n the Col d War era. Since 2005, numerous arrests have
been effected, subpoenas served, organizations infltrated, and pressures
to pl ead gui l ty brought to bear on envi ronmental acti vi sts ( many of
whom openly identifed as anarchi sts ) across the United States.
One of
those i ni ti al l y arrested in December 2005 was Wi l l i am ( Bi l l ) Rodgers,
co-proprietor of the Catalyst Infoshop i n Prescott, Ari zona, and a per
sonal friend. In court hearings after hi s arrest, the government anointed
him the " mastermind" of ecoterrorist operations i n the United States.
During the prel i mi nary phase of his case, it became apparent that the legal
deck was stacked against hi m. For instance, the si ngle charge upon which
he was indicted (a 1 998 arson at the National Wi l dl i fe Research Center
offces i n Ol ympi a, Washi ngton) carried a pres umption of i ncarceration
pending tri al . In denying him bail, the court credited unsupported hearsay
testi mony from an FBI agent who i mpl i cated Bill in a number of other
arsons, i ncl udi ng the ski l i ft expansion at Vai l that was the most costly
act of ecoterrorism in the United States at the time, with damages totaling
$1 2 mi l l ion. On December 2 1 , 2005, Bill was found dead i n hi s j ai l cell,
an apparent s ui ci de by asphyxi ati on; he was accompani ed by a note
di rected to hi s " fri ends and supporters to hel p them make sense of al l
these events that have happened so qui ckl y. " It read i n part: " Certai n
human cultures have been wagi ng war agai nst the Earth for millenni a. I
chose to fght on the side of bears, mountain lions, skunks, bats, saguaros,
cl i ff rose and all thi ngs wi l d. I am j ust the most recent casual ty i n that
war. But tonight I have made a j ai l break-1 am returning home, to the
Earth, to the place of my origins. "
Even before the onset of the Green Scare, it was apparent that ecologi
cal anarchi sts fgured promi nentl y in the post-9/ 1 1 mi x. In testi mony
gi ven before Congress i n 2002, Chi ef 1 arboe defned ecoterrori sm as
"the use or threatened use of vi olence of a cri mi nal nature agai nst i nno
cent victi ms or property by an envi ronmental l y-ori ented, s ub-nati onal
group for envi ronmental - pol i ti cal reasons, or ai med at an audi ence
beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature. "
1 arboe cited a number
of exampl es of ecoterrori sm, i ncl udi ng some that were unsolved at the
Anarchist Ecologies 79
time but were l ater attributed to the initi al wave of ecoarrestees, including
Bi l l Rodgers . Of parti cul ar note in thi s formul ati on of the defni ti on of
terrorism i s the i ncl usi on of acts done solely agai nst "property" for politi
cal, soci al , or envi ronmental purposes. In assessing the effcacy of mon
keywrenchi ng tactics, one schol ar has affrmed that for many radi cal
envi ronmental acti vi sts, " the destructi on of property i s not consi dered
to be a ' vi ol ent act , ' " and furthermore many contend that " acti ons
against property ought to be j udged i n terms of broad political purposes
and not on the moral distinction between violent and non-violent behav
i or. "
Addressing these concerns, Elaine Cl ose, a spokesperson for the
ELF, opi ned: " Property destruction targets the motive behi nd envi ron
mental destructi on: proft . . . . I don' t consi der damagi ng property to be
vi ol ence. The end goal of the ELF is to save life on this pl anet, to stop vio
lence. I f we are concerned about vi olence, then we have to be seri ous
about stopping environmental destruction. "
Pre-dati ng the events of 9/1 1 , there was al ready si gni fcant hysteri a
about ecoterrori sm. In 2000, Rep. Randy " Duke" Cunningham ( R-CA) ,
who l ater pl eaded gui l ty t o accepti ng bri bes, proposed H. R. 5429 ( the
Researchers and Farmers Freedom from Terrorism Act of 2000) , which
was designed to increase penalties and establish a national clearinghouse
for ecoterrori sm incidents. In support of the bill, Cunni ngham argued:
"Al l across America, animal rights terrorists have decl ared war on our
nati on' s farmers and researchers . These terrori sts cl ai m that they are
fghting for a nobl e cause. However, their violent reign of terror i s not a
noble or j ust cause; it is a threat to al l Americans' security and li berty . . . .
These groups advocate the harassment of people that have a prime goal
for the betterment of manki nd . "
I n June 200 1 , Rep. George
Nethercutt ( R-WA) i ntroduced t he AgroTerrori sm Preventi on Act of
2001 H. R. 2795 which was designed t o impose and increase mandatory
mi ni mum sentences , even i ncl udi ng the death penal ty i n certain cases .
" Is it harsh? " Nethercutt rhetorically asked. " Certai nly i t' s harsh. But I
think if there i sn' t a harsh response there will be harsh activity on behal f
8 1
o f the terrorists. "
Subsequent to 9/1 1 , i n 2004, Sen. James Inhofe ( R-OK) submitted a 30-
page report t o Congress calling for investigations into groups such as the
ALF, ELF, and any of thei r potenti al sources of fundi ng: "Just l i ke a!
Qaeda or any other terrorist organization, ELF and ALF cannot accom
pl i sh their goal s wi thout money, membershi p and the medi a, '' lnhofe
decl ared.
8 2
In October 2005 , l nhofe i ntroduced S. 3 8 8 0 ( the Ani mal
Enterpri se Terrori sm Act of 2005 ) , whi ch created penal ti es up to and
i ncl uding death for acts undertaken " for the purpose of damagi ng or
80 Anarchism Today
di srupti ng an ani mal enterpri se, " i ncl udi ng acti ons that i ntenti onal ly
damage, di srupt, "or cause the l oss of any property ( i ncl udi ng animal s
or records ) , " or that contemplate "a course of conduct involving threats,
acts of vandal i sm, property damage, trespass, harassment, or i ntimi da
tion. " In thi s context, an " ani mal enterpris e" means " a commerci al or
academi c enterpri se that uses or sel l s ani mal s or ani mal products for
proft, food or fber producti on, agri cul ture, research, or testi ng " and
includes zoos, furriers, and rodeos i n addition to entities such as research
faci l i ti es and factory farms . The Ani mal Enterpri se Terrori sm Act was
passed and signed i nto l aw in 2006, and i t has been used to prosecute a
number of ani mal ri ghts and envi ronmental acti vi sts, i ncl udi ng most
not abl y members of t he decentr al i zed gr as s roots enti ty known a s
"SHAC" ( aka Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty) .
In response, many ecological anarchists have argued that true ecoter
rorism is precisely what it sounds like: terrorizing the environment. In this
view, the targets confronted by the ALF and ELF would actual ly be the
terrorists, since they generally involve ani mal research, genetic modifca
tion of pl ants, and the promotion of ecologically unsound practices such
as driving SUVs . As Earth First! activist Rod Coronado ( who spent over
three years i n prison for fur i ndustry arsons) contended: "I personal l y
consider myself an anti-terrorist, because everything I oppose I see as acts
of terrori sm. When I think of eco-terrorists, I think of corporate executive
offcers i n high-rise buil di ngs . "
Jeff " Free" Luers, who was given a 22-
year sentence for burning three SUVs, succinctly intoned during hi s sen
tencing hearing: "I did this because I'm frustrated that we are doing irre
versi bl e damage to our pl anet, our home . 0 0 0 I fght to protect l i fe, al l
l i fe, not to take i t. "
84 Luers ' s co-defendant, Crai g " Cri tter " Marshal l ,
l i kewi se was moti vated by the bel i ef that " i f the current technol ogi cal
state progresses or even carri es on at the rate i t i s currently destroyi ng
the eco-systems al l l i fe depends on, [then] l i fe on this planet i s doomed. "
These questi ons of moral j usti fcati on and tacti cal effcacy compri se
points of si gni fcant debate among radi cal envi ronmental i sts and anar
chists in particul ar; while they merit robust analysi s, the effect of brand
ing someone a " terrori s t " general l y forestal l s any s uch meani ngful
di scussi on, di sabl i ng cultural refection and instead fostering reactionary
Against this offci al backl ash, many ecological anarchists remai n stead
fast i n thei r bel i ef that drastic action i s required in order to avert grave
cal ami t i es, even i ncl udi ng pot enti al exti ncti on. As Les l i e James
Pi ckeri ng, former spokesperson for the North American press offce of
the ELF, wrote: "I unwaveri ngl y support revol uti onary action t o bri ng
Anarchist Ecologies 81
about the liberation of the Earth and its ani mal nations, including the l i b
eration of the human race . . . . I consider the ELF a l oose network of cl an
destine guerrilla groups struggling for revolution on a gl obal scal e. "
assessi ng the state of ecol ogi cal anarchi sm i n the wake of the Green
Scare, Crimethlnc. i nqui red: "What qualifes as a si tuati on that cal l s for
action to be taken outside the established channel s of the legal system, i f
not the current ecological crisis ? "
8 8
Others in the contemporary anarchist
milieu, while generally embracing thi s sense of urgency and the need for
drasti c acti on, extend the scope of potenti all y revol uti onary acti on to
i ncl ude tactics such as " ci vi l di sobedience, outspoken critici sm, protest,
paci fsm, vol untary poverty, and even gentl e vi ol ence. "
8 9
Sti l l others
focus thei r revol uti onary intentions on l ess overtly mi litant acti ons that
devolve upon the basic necessi ti es of everyday l i fe, seeki ng to mani fest
an anti-hi erarchi cal and communi ty- bui l di ng prefgurati ve strategy to
bridge soci al and ecological i ssues.
Free for All
"The sources of l i fe, and all the natural wealth of the earth, and the tools
necessary to co-operati ve producti on, must become freely accessi bl e to
al l , " wrote Voltai ri ne de Cl eyre i n 1 9 1 2. 9
Gol dman l i kewi se defned
anarchi sm as "an order that wi l l guarantee to every human bei ng free
access to the eart h and fu l l enj oyment of t he nece s s i t i es of l i fe " ;
Kropotkin worked out an integrative anarchist vision for the production
of " the nece s s ari es of l i fe " t hat woul d stand in oppos i t i on to the
Mal thusi an resource-control l i ng perspective of " the weal th-possessi ng
cl asses " ; and Rudol f Rocker viewed anarchi sm as havi ng " for its sol e
purpose the satisfying of the necessary requi rements of every member of
society. "
9 1
Decades l ater, Bookchin opined on the radi cal nature of such
sentiments, observing that " daily l i fe itself must be viewed as a cal l i ng in
which we have an ethical responsi bi l ity to function i n a state of unrelieved
opposition" to the prevailing norms of a " depersonalized, mi ndl ess sys
tem that threatens to absorb us i nto its circuitry. "
Continui ng i n thi s
vei n, Bookchi n expounded upon the now-fami l i ar anarchi st i nsi ght that
the realm of everyday l i fe i s ri fe wi th ecorevol uti onary potenti al : "The
thi ngs we need, how we acqui re them, whom we know, and what we
say have become the elements of a battleground on a scale we coul d not
have foreseen a generation ago. "
Extendi ng thi s poi nt, Watson rej ects
the false logic posed by capitalism "as the only solution to the ecological
crises it has created, " and he argues that i n the end " it won't be enough
to get rid of the rulers who have turned the earth into a company town;
82 Anarchism Today
a way of l i fe must end and an entirely new, post-i ndustri al culture must
also emerge. " 94 And i n a manner that connotes the prefgurative tenden
cies of anarchi sm, i n which future vi si ons are model ed i n the present,
Purchase asserts that revolution "i nvolves direct physical acti ons such as
the planting of trees, gardens, and felds, the devising of new, nonpol l ut
i ng and ecol ogic al l y i ntegrated ways of meet i ng humani ty' s many
needs. "
Thei r theoreti cal and pragmatic di fferences notwi thstandi ng, these
anarchist voi ces from the past century refect a point of convergence that
resonates deeply for many contemporary anarchi sts : humankind must
l i ve di fferently i f we are to ( a) be free and ( b) survive. In thi s sense, both
our ful fl l ment and sal vati on are condi ti oned on the capaci ty to resi st
the forces of total ization and instead create a dynami c order that infuses
soci al and ecological processes with an equivalent spirit of radi cal egali
tari ani sm. For anarchi sts, the reason that the essenti al s of l i fe must be
" free for al l " is more than a matter of moral s or i deals-it is bound up
with the hi storical l y i nformed insight that unless thi s ai m i s assi duously
pur s ued, soc i ety wi l l fnd i ts el f on a s ure path to i ns t i t uti onal i zed
inequities and rampant degradation of its habitat. Equal ity and freedom
are not antagoni sts, as mainstream pol itical theorists ofen suggest, but
rather are necessari l y conj oi ned ai ms. In essence, the anarchi st vi ew is
that people must be equally free, or none wi l l truly be either equal or free.
In order to achieve thi s condi ti on of equal freedom at higher states of
engagement ( i ncluding politics and economics ) , it must be mani fested in
particul ar at the l evel of basic human necessi ti es such as food, energy,
shelter, and other essential resources. Once power skews within the realm
of necessities, as it does within the state-capital mode of production, a sys
tem of vi rt ual bl ackmai l and enforced dependency sets i n that i s mi s
gui ded, sel f-defeating, and potenti ally catacl ysmi c, as Ti na Lynn Evans
Enforced dependency is a form of rel i ance upon external resources
or external ly created condi ti ons. For such dependency to function
as enforced dependency, i t must, once establ i shed, progressi vel y
undermi ne the sel f-suffciency and resilience of the dependent per
son, community, institution, or government, making the dependent
party increasingly vul nerabl e to exploitation . . . . Typical l y, depen
dent parties are al so progressively co-opted into supporting the sys
tem of enforced dependency upon which they have come to rel y,
even as the system progressi vel y robs them of freedom, i ndepen
dence, and res i l i ency . . . . Domi nant parti es may i ncreas i ngl y
Anarchist Ecologies 83
constrain the decisions and actions of dependent parties in order to
enhance thei r opportuniti es to gai n materi al and fnanci al weal th
and increase thei r soci al power. Though dominant parties may gai n
substanti al wealth and power through enforced dependency, over
the long term, their own resi liency may be negati vel y i mpacted as
the socio-ecological capacity of dependent parties to serve as sources
of wealth and power for dominant parties declines.
Anarchi st communities are di sti ngui shed by thei r mai ntenance of an
economic safety net in whi ch members are at l east guaranteed access to
essenti al s s uch as s ustenance and shel ter . Zerzan, for i nst ance, has
observed that " food shari ng has for some time been considered an inte
gral part of earl i est human society, " al l owi ng members to real ize " the
benefts of being part of a society where everything i s shared. " Gandhi ' s
anarchi stic vi si on included strong currents of "materi al simplicity, local
ism ( svadeshi) , the sanctity of ' bread l abor' . . . and nonviolence towards
others and the earth itsel f. "
Bookchi n advocated the adopti on of " a
decentralized, ecological system of food producti on" a s a means of pro
moti ng "cooperati on with nature " and the devel opment of hea l thy
human " ecocommuniti es . " Star hawk has l i kewi se fostered a vi si on of
" an economy of true abundance " i n whi ch the " basi c means of l i fe,
growth, and devel opment" are assured for al l members of t he " human
community. " 98 And anarchi sts today are i nvol ved i n a broad range of
si mi l arly si tuated i nitiatives, i ncl udi ng free food distribution ( e. g. , Food
Not Bombs ) , al ternat i ve economi es ( e . g. , the Real l y, Real l y Free
Market) , community gardens ( e. g. , the Victory Gardens Proj ect) , and per
macul ture ( e. g. , Earth Acti vi st Trai ni ng) . 99 In seeki ng to restore the
society-environment rel ationshi p, anarchists grasp that thi s requi res the
mai ntenance of egal i tari an and mutual l y supporti ve rel ati ons among
communi ty members as wel l .
The operative principle here is that humanki nd " must make enormous
changes in society" in order to hal t the downward spiral of exploitation
and degradati on that defnes the modern era.
As Purchase di scerns,
" these changes wi l l not be real i zed wi thout a l ocal and gl obal soci al
ecol ogical revol ution-the success or fai l ure of which wi l l involve every
member of our species. "
Affrming the radi cal nature of the requi red
change, Purchase concl udes that " the ecorevol ut i on wi l l affect and
necessi tate a change i n vi rtual l y every aspect of our everyday l i fe. "
Throughout history and i nto the contemporary era, one of the pri mary
tenets anarchi sts have mai ntained for promoting this vision of soci al har
mony and ecological bal ance is the federated network of self-governing
84 Anarchism Today
units-sometimes construed at the level of community, city, or bi oregi on.
Cl ark envi si ons " smal l communiti es of l i berati on" that coul d serve to
bri ng about " a new j ust, ecol ogi cal soci ety. "
Purchase focuses hi s
vision on the "ecologically-integrated and autonomous city" that fosters
the capacity of people to "deeply identify with the natural ecology of their
local place and to protect that place whi le developing i ndustrial and agri
cultural practices that are adapted to its ecol ogical characteristics. "
Watson eschews the temptation to "deliver a program" but cites as posi
ti ve examples " myriad activities ranging from l and restorati on to urban
gardens to fai r trade cooperatives to solidarity networks . "
In each case, the sal ient poi nt is that peopl e ought to be free to form
associ ati ons at every level of the loci of their lives, from the local to the
gl obal , through processes of autonomy and equal i ty both wi thi n thei r
societies and vi s-a-vi s the balance of l i fe on the planet. To fai l to do so i s
not merely an unfortunate situation or a condi ti on to lament-it i s a mat
ter of survival . This sense of informed urgency, which is becoming unde
ni abl e and i ncreasi ngl y wi despread, ani mates much of contemporary
anarchi sm' s acti on and vi si on al i ke, posi ng the defni ti ve questi on of
whether the future wi l l be one characterized by community or cataclysm,
by ecology or eschatol ogy, and, ultimately, by anarchy or anni hi lation.
Back to the Garden, or Gone with the Wind?
At present, the stakes for humanki nd are extraordi nari ly hi gh . Whi l e
modern society tends to mask the scale of the current environmental cri
ses beneath a facade of plenty and the functi onal distractions of mass cul
ture, the sense of urgency for many around the world has been steadi l y
ri si ng i n recent years . The frequency and magni tude of " natural di sas
ters, " the l oss of habi tats and speci es, the di spl acement of peopl e from
their l ands, the adulteration of the food supply, and shortages of essential
resources including water have inculcated an ecological consciousness i n
many of the pl anet' s i nhabitants, i ncl udi ng an i ncreasi ng number from
the privileged settings of the global north. In particul ar, the ravages of cl i
mate change are beginni ng to appear i n the present through hurricanes,
foods, tsunami s, and more-and not merely as issues to be dealt with in
the future. Agai nst this, many have been actively searchi ng for " secure
moorings, " i ncl udi ng a greater voi ce i n the decisions that affect thei r lives,
community bonds and cooperative endeavors, l ocal control rather than
corporate gl obal ization, self-suffciency as to basi c resources, and appro
priate technologies that do not contri bute further to the problems.
Anarchist Ecologies 85
In short, whether they use the word or not, people and communiti es
across the gl obe have been seeki ng the practical l essons of anarchy as
methods for orderi ng thei r l ives and bri ngi ng bal ance to thei r rel ati on
shi ps with nature. The exigencies of the modern era have further rendered
these anarchi st aims not si mpl y as good i deas but rather, as Bookchi n
once wrote, as "preconditions for human survival . " 1
Accentuating this
sensi bi l ity, Cl ark has described anarchism as " both a strategy for human
liberation and a pl an for avoiding gl obal ecological di saster. " 1
Cl ark' s
prescient words were publ ished i n 1 984, and today we are l i vi ng through
their unfortunate real i zati on as the combi ned footprint of humanity is
pushi ng the pl anet' s carryi ng capacity to its l i mi ts . But the benefts and
burdens in this cal cul us are not equally distributed, with poor people con
tri buting less to the problem yet being more directly impacted. The anar
chist proj ect of di rectly l i nki ng " the domi nati on of humans by humans
wi th the attempt to dominate nature " is critical to amel i orati ng thi s.
In this sense, the choi ce col lectively before us increasingly appears to be
one between the " alternatives of anarchism or anni hi lation. " 1
Perhaps nowhere are these concerns more keenly felt than around cli
mate i ssues. "The problems of deforestation, water and ai r poll ution and
chemical s i n the food supply may only be overshadowed by the effects of
catastrophic cl imate change. "
t t

Chi ef among the drivers of the cri si s are
gl obal capi tal i sm and i ts profteeri ng, perpetual -growth ethos. Cl i mate
summits have been convened by state actors, but their i nterlocking interests
with corporations have prevented any tangible results; in fact, the rate of
change i s worsening and such elite summits serve as little more than a pal
liative. As Peter Gelderloos has observed, "it would be unconscionable to
al l ow the worl d leaders who j ust fve and ten years ago were denyi ng the
real ity of cl i mate change to be entrusted with sol vi ng the probl em to
day. "
t t
To meaningfully address the roots of the problem, "we will need
to do nothing short of changing who holds power in society, and how deci
sions are made; to change the way our culture views the planet, from seeing
it as a dead thing that can be exploited and toyed with, to understanding it
as an interconnected, living system upon which we are dependent for our
survival . " 1 1
Gelderloos contends that this "will require a decentralization
of economy and decision-making" akin to that prefgured by anarchist net
works emerging around the globe, ultimately devolving upon the creation
of " an ecological, anti-authoritarian society" premised on bioregional con
sciousness and localized power.
Soci al ecologist Bri an Tokar l i kewi se chronicles the ri se of a growing
"cl i mate j ustice" movement that i s " chal lenging the expandi ng scope of
86 Anarchism Today
commodi fcation and privatization, whether of l and, waterways, or the
atmosphere i tsel f. "
1 1
4 In communi ti es, towns, and ci ti es, peopl e are
mobi l i zi ng to regai n pol i tical and envi ronmental power, worki ng i n
locales everywhere "to regenerate local food systems, develop locally con
trolled, renewable energy sources and, sometimes, to bui l d solidarity with
kindred movements around the world. "
1 1
Unfortunately, too many peo
ple still seek " least pai nful " reforms rather than confronting the "destruc
tive development of gl obal capital i sm, " even as it has become clear that
" our survi val depends on our abi l i ty to chal l enge t hi s system at i ts
core. , , t
1 6
Fol l owi ng Bookchi n, Tokar counsel s that worki ng sol uti ons
can be found i n practi ci ng partici patory deci si on maki ng, cul ti vati ng
l and-based societies, recl aiming ( and updating) pre-industri al social rela
tions, and developing al ternative instituti ons for the provision of essential
1 1 7
In the end, thi s anarchi st perspective asks that we remain
engaged and even hopeful , i n the bel i ef that the current cri ses can serve
to " hel p us envi si on a transi ti on toward a more harmoni ous , more
humane and ecol ogi cal way of l i fe . "
1 8 The l ocus of much of thi s trans
formati ve potenti al wi l l necessari l y occur at the l evel of community,
whose critical l essons for real i zi ng the vi rtues of anarchi sm-and thus
forestal ling an impending ecological anni hilation-are the subj ect of the
next chapter.
"Do It Yourself"-Together
n terms of theory and practice alike, anarchism throughout history has
struggled to reconcile personal l i berty with soci al organizati on. Indeed,
the scope of anarchi sm ranges from the hi ghl y i ndi vi dual i sti c to the
unabashedl y communitarian. Whereas other pol itical theories are ofen
defned by where they stand on the i ndi vi dual -community s pectrum,
anarchi sm is uni quel y instructive in its sophi sticated integration of both
perspecti ves. Anarchists today prioritize val ues i ncl uding solidarity and
affnity, and contemporary modes of anarchist organizing often take the
form of a collective or network. Despite the caricature of anarchy as l ack
i ng any order or coordination altogether, it is actual l y the case that anar
chi sts have devel oped al ternati ve methods of cooperati on and even
governance apart from the hierarchi cal , centralizing, and exploitative set
of soci opol i ti cal arrangements embodi ed by the state. Anarchi sm does
not rej ect al l order-merely that whi ch i nhi bits vol untary participation,
promotes repressi ve power rel ati ons, and undermines the devel opment
of indivi dual consci ence. In short, anarchists work to foster hori zontal ,
egal i tari an, spontaneous, and organi c communi ti es and forms of co
ordination that serve to chal lenge present conditions whi l e steadi ly bui l d
i ng toward a vi able alternative.
As we have seen, thi s dualistic sense of contestation and constructivi sm
l argel y defnes the anarchist proj ect. At ti mes withi n the mi l i eu there are
ferce debates about l i festyle-level acti on vers us open i nsurrecti on as the
best expressi on of anarchi s m' s i nherentl y revol uti onary tendenci es.
Si mi l arl y, tensi ons are evident around i ssues of scal e, sometimes taki ng
the form of nascent schi sms about whether local, community-based i ni ti a
ti ves or more coordi nated workers ' syndi cates are better si tuated as the
l ocus of prefgurative organi zi ng. Tactical l y, some anarchi sts mai ntai n
88 Anarchism Today
that spontaneous and autonomous acti ons undertaken by sel f-di rected
i ndi vi dual s ( someti mes i n concert with others ) are the most effecti ve
methods of confronting the hegemony of capi tal and the state, whereas
others prioritize l arge-scal e mobi l i zati ons that exert pol itical and moral
suasion on i ss ues i ncl udi ng war and the economy. Some anarchists seek
to drop out, whi le others dig i n; some refuse to participate, while others
actively i nfl trate; and some ignore the state, whi l e others seek to smash
it. In al l of these cases, from the hi ghl y individualistic to the strongly coor
di nated, anarchi sts walk a fne l i ne between autonomy and sol i dari ty,
seeki ng a productive bal ance of tensions that refects anarchi sm' s highest
aspirations as a social theory.
Anarchists are collectivists, in the sense that they bel ieve in the innate
soci abi l ity of humanki nd and the rati onal desire to live, work, and play
among others. Yet anarchi sm never asks that we forsake the self i n the
process, arguing instead that it is precisely the practice of radical individu
al ity that enables non-oppressive forms of association. If one believes in a
social order premised on "equal i ty in al l things " ( as Peter Kropotki n envi
sioned) , rather than a system where some are more "equal " than others, it
must be grounded i n the actual ization of ourselves as uni que beings enti
tled to di gni ty, respect, opportuni ty, and compassi on. 1 What di sti n
guishes anarchi sm from other pol i ti cal theories is the vi gorous embrace
of i ndivi dual i sm and communitari ani sm as mutual l y rei nforci ng pro
cesses that, when bal anced i n a supportive system, render one another
possi bl e at al l ; i ndeed, when this bal ance i s l acki ng and one pol e domi
nates the other, the results can be di sastrous . Nei ther capi tal i sm nor
communi sm, i n thei r mutual ly destructive antagoni sm, has satisfactorily
accompl i shed thi s dynami c equi l i bri um between the sel f and the col lec
tive, and thus it remains true that "the case of those who argue that indi
vi dual aut onomy and communi ty l i fe are i ncompat i bl e remai ns
unproven. "
For its part, the nation-state often appears as the top-heavy
enemy of both, treating us as indivi dual s when it wants to undermine sol
i darity, while appealing to our sense of communal pride when seeking j i n
goi stic compliance with exploitative and repressive policies.
Against these dominant forces, anarchi sm posits a world i n which free
dom and responsi bi l ity naturally co-exist and where the impetus to " do it
yoursel f" i s equi val ent to the practi cal neces sity to " do i t together. "
A century ago, Kropotki n criti cal l y asserted that " unbridled i ndi vi dual
ism is a modern growth, " whereas "the feeling of solidarity is the leading
characteri sti c of all ani mal s l i vi ng i n soci ety. "
Anarchi sts today fnd
themsel ves i n a worl d that seeks to constrai n i ndi vi dual expressi ons of
i dentity, moral i ty, sexual i ty, and the l i ke, when they confi ct wi th the
"Do It Yourself"-Together 89
mores of capitalist reproducti on. At the same time, practices of solidarity
are di ssuaded by way of a combi nati on of economi c i mpracti cabi l ity
( such as through the di sadvantaging of cooperative structures ) and legal
isms that turn anti-authoritari an associ ati ons i nto crimi nal conspi raci es
when i t i s conveni ent to do so ( such as with the case of the " RNC 8 "
who were arrested before the 2008 Republ i can National Conventi on) .
Despi te thi s, contemporary anarchi sm i ncl udes myri ad col l aborati ve
enterpri ses, from i nfoshops and publ i shi ng col l ecti ves to coordi nated
prisoner-support proj ects and academic associ ations. As such, the work
ing defnition proffered by the Active Resistance network in 1 998 remai ns
apropos i n the quest to reconci l e and harmonize the interests of the sel f
and society at once, and thus it serves as a meaningful poi nt of departure
for analyzing anarchist relationships in practice:
Anarchy: A self-governed society in which peopl e organize themselves
from the bottom up on an egal i tari an basi s; deci si ons made
by t hose affected by them; di rect democrati c cont rol of
our workpl aces, school s, nei ghborhoods, towns and bi o
regi ons wi th coordi nat i on bet ween di fferi ng groups as
needed. A world where women and men are free and equal
and al l of us have power over our own lives, bodies and sex
ual i ty; where we cheri sh and l i ve in bal ance with the earth
and value diversity of cultures, races and sexual orientations;
where we work and live together cooperativel y. 5
The Moral Self
The anarchi st tradi ti on has always refected an uneasy tensi on between
the pri ori ty of the i ndi vi dual and the necessity of community, even at
ti mes referring to the same as the " genui ne di l emma of anarchism, " i n
which it often appears that "community negates itself, or at least i s either
unstabl e or compel l ed to resort to unanarchi stic methods of soci al con
trol . "
Murray Bookchi n opined on " anarchi sm' s fai l ure to resol ve thi s
tensi on, to articulate the relationship of the individual to the collective, "
and in response he asserted the primacy of social anarchism a s superi or
to the appearance of an i ndi vi dual istic lifestle anarchism that i s based
on " preoccupati ons wi th the ego and i ts uni queness and i ts pol ymor
phous concepts of resistance. "
Bookchin specifcally derided noti ons of
" personal autonomy [ that] stand at odds with concepts of soci al free
dom, " arguing that " if individual ' autonomy' overrides any commitment
to a 'col lectivity, ' there is no basis whatever for social institutional ization,
90 Anarchism Today
deci si on-maki ng, or even admi nistrative coordi nati on. Each i ndi vi dual ,
sel f-contained in hi s or her ' autonomy, ' i s free to do whatever he or she
wants . "
Conversel y, L. Susan Brown affrmatively cites " anarchi sm' s
uncompromi s i ng and rel ent l ess cel ebrat i on of i ndi vi dual s el f
determination and autonomy, " concluding that " it is not the group that
gives shape to the i ndividual , but rather i ndi vi dual s who give form and
content to the group. "
Such tensions might be abated somewhat by envisioning a common moral
apparatus, something universally attendant to existence and consciousness,
that is suffcient to hold together a community of individuals-but without
a rigid ethi cal code i n pl ace, no privileging of one set of principles over
another, a morality "that will issue no commands. "
From place to place
and at different times, community standards and expectations will change;
l i kewise from person to person the urges of conscience will vary. In thi s
sense, we might conceive a personal, subj ective imperative of morality, yield
ing "a social order in which each is able to live and act according to his or
her own j udgment. "
1 1
At the same time, anarchists surmise that in a great
many circumstances, autonomous individuals will reach similar moral con
clusions-in the recognition that people are more al ike than different, and
that soci abi l ity and reciproci ty are fundamental i mpul ses mani fested in
"the consciousness of an overriding human solidarity. "
1 2
Thus, Kropotkin
grounded his moral theory in this basi c notion: "In that constant, ever
present identifcation of the unit with the whole, lies the origin of all ethics,
the germ out of which all the subsequent conceptions of j ustice, and still
the higher conceptions of morality, evolved. "
1 3
Indeed, as Kropotki n sought to demonstrate through hi s extensi ve
research, the moral i mpul se in nature precedes the exi stence of human
l ife. Earl y humans, accordi ng to Kropotki n, devel oped the moral urge
by observing the processes around them, " and as soon as they began to
bring some order into their observations of nature, and to transmit them
to posterity, the animals and their l i fe suppl ied them with the chief mate
rials for their unwritten encyclopedia of knowledge, as wel l as for their
wi s dom, whi ch they expressed in proverbs and s ayi ngs . "
1 4
Kropotki n, t he moral l essons that humans have deri ved from nature
include soci ability; a prohi bition against killing one' s own ki nd; the cl an,
ki nshi p, or tri bal structure; the advantages of common endeavor; pl ay;
and a notion of reciprocity i n addressi ng wrongful acts .
1 5
In thi s view,
the overarching tendency in nature toward mutual aid has pri nci pal ly
enabled the survival of species in the ani mal kingdom, including of course
s peci es of the genus Homo . The bas i c formul at i on s uggested by
Kropotki n, sti l l i nfuenti al among contemporary anarchi sts, i s that an
"Do It Yourself"-Together 91
inherent mutualism serves as an effective counterbalance to the potenti al
l i mi ts of i ndi vi dual i sm. Todd May l i kewi se begi ns wi th what he terms
the "a priori of traditional anarchism: trust i n the individual " i n validat
ing the sentiment that "left to their own devices, i ndi vi dual s have a natu
ral abi l i ty-indeed a propensity-to devise social arrangements that are
both j ust and effci ent. " 1 6
As John Zerzan has observed, the anarchi st
ai m i s to foster a communi ty of i ndi vi dual s based on " egal i tari ani sm
and personal autonomy i n the context of group cooperati on. "
Still, we can almost hear critics forming the tried-and-true query: " But
won' t the lack of speci fc laws, codes of conduct, and punitive enforce
ment l ead to chaos , vi ol ence, and anarchy ? " Anarchi s ts from ti me
i mmemori al have been quick to poi nt out that the state al ready does a
pretty fai r j ob at promoting chaos and vi olence through its practices of
warfare, cri mi nal j usti ce, and i nsti tuti onal i zed i nequal i ty. As for the
notion that there wi l l be anarchy in the absence of formal l aws and the
coercion brought to bear on individuals to comply with them, anarchi sts
obviously would welcome such an eventuality as preferable to the stifing,
destructi ve condi t i ons fostered by the c urrent set of s oci opol i ti c al
arrangements. As Kropotkin famously argued:
We are not afraid to forego j udges and their sentences. We forego
sancti ons of al l ki nds, even obl i gati ons to moral i ty. We are not
afrai d to say: "Do what you wi l l ; act as you wil l "; because we are
persuaded that the great maj ority of [ hu] mankind, in proportion to
their degree of enlightenment and the completeness with which they
free themselves from existing fetters will behave and act always i n a
direction useful to society. 1 8
In thi s sense, one begins to see the state as a sel f-ful fl l i ng prophecy: by
creati ng coerci ve instituti ons to stave off the potenti al ravages of inher
ently untrustworthy individual s, we fnd ourselves l i vi ng i n a world that
i s ( a) defned by the specul ative behavi ors of the worst among us, and
( b) conti nual l y produci ng the very s orts of peopl e i t was os tens i bl y
designed t o remediate. " By fi nging overboard l aw, religion and author
ity, [ hu] manki nd can regai n possession of the moral principle which has
been taken from them, " as Kropotkin presciently wrote i n 1 8 92.
1 9
For anarchists, it is the very presence of a coercive state apparatus that
disables individual moral reasoning as an effective principle for organiza
tional engagement; i n such a paternal i stic state, the net effect over time i s
to produce s ubj ects whose abi l i ti es to coordi nate spontaneousl y and
equal l y wi l l ei t her at rophy or never deve l op. Mi chael Tayl or has
92 Anarchism Today
discerned that "the more the state intervenes . . . the more ' necessary' it
becomes, because positive al trui sm and vol untary cooperative behavi or
at rophy i n the presence of the st ate and grow i n i ts a bsence . "
Moreover, people "who live for long under government and its bureauc
racy, courts and police, come to rely upon them. They fnd it easier ( and
i n some cases are legally bound) to use the state for the settlement of their
disputes and for the provision of publ ic goods, instead of arranging these
things for themselves. "
Si milarly, Zygmunt Bauman notes that " the bid
to make individuals universal l y moral through shi fting their responsi bi l
i ti es to the legislators failed, as did the promi se to make everyone free in
the process. "
Agai n, Kropotki n offers hi s famous insight:
We are so perverted by an educati on whi ch from i nfancy seeks to
kill i n us the spi ri t of revolt, and to devel op that of submi ssi on to
authority; we are so perverted by this exi stence under the ferrule of
a law, which regul ates every event in l i fe-our birth, our education,
our devel opment, our l ove, our fri endshi p-that, i f thi s state of
thi ngs conti nues, we shal l l ose al l i ni ti ati ve, al l habit of thi nki ng
for ourselves.
These i nqui ri es present some of the most chal lengi ng soci opol i ti cal
questi ons; anarchi sm at l east possesses t he vi rtue of confronti ng them
directly and bei ng wi l l i ng to accept the ambigui ti es and even potenti al
consequences of l i vi ng wi thout offci al coerci on as the basi s for soci al
order. " Anarchi sts understand that freedom is grounded in the refusal
of the i ndi vi dual to exerc i se power over others, coupl ed wi th the
opposition of the i ndi vi dual to restricti ons by any external authority"
or, in Kropotki n' s pl ain words: "We do not wi sh to be ruled. And by this
very fact, do we not decl are that we ourselves wi sh to rul e nobody ? "
Anarchism is thus a conditi on of maximal human freedom, whose " sensi
tivity to al l forms of dominati on i s tied to a fundamental concern for the
i ndivi dual as a whol e person, a creative, active agent, not si mpl y a pro
ducer or a citizen. "
Stil l , anarchists do not accept that thi s i nevitabl y
l eads to a noti on of " rugged i ndi vi dual i sm [that] fosters competi ti on
and a di sregard for the needs of others, " focusi ng instead on developing
a sense of " true i ndi vi dual i ty, whi ch implies freedom wi thout i nfri nge
ment on others' freedom, " i n the i nescapable recogni ti on of " the cl ose
dependency of everyone' s happi ness upon the happiness of al l . "
as Teoman Gee articul ates, "within an anarchi st commitment to individu
ality for all, freedom and equality have to go hand i n hand. "
"Do It Yourself"-Together 93
Balancing these interests has been an overarchi ng aim of the anarchist
proj ect, and it continues into the contemporary mi l i eu. Whereas the state
grants indivi dual rights ( oftentimes even to the excl usi on of the exercise of
group rights ) , and capitalism seeks to tap into its subj ects' strong sense of
i ndi vi duality as a means of marketing styl es and constructing demands,
anarchi sm pri oritizes a versi on of the sel f that i s at once autonomous
and i nterconnected-one that sees i ts own capaci ty to be free as bound
up wi th the freedom of others, that recognizes the basi c premise that none
can free unless all are free. "To understand onesel f as onesel f, yet at the
same ti me as an integral part of a col lective that shelters one' s own exi s
tence, demands an individual responsibility for thi s col lective, " as Gee
counsel s.
Herein lies the twofol d anarchi st recognition that the collec
tive enables the experience of individual ity, and that it i s the individual ' s
responsi bi lity to remai n free within the context of a dynamic soci al order.
This basic order is inevitable, necessary, and desirable-it is, in short, the
highest expression of anarchy.
Action in Concert
In exploring anarchism as a col lective endeavor, we thus recall at the out
set that " anarchy i s a form of soci al life which organizes itself without the
resort to coerci ve authori ty. "
29 Moreover, " the rules and behavi oral
norms that ensure soci al harmony woul d be arrived at col lectively, " and
"s oci al cohesi on would be ensured as people repl aced the competiti on
and antagonism that typify market-driven societies with cooperation, sol
i darity and mutual ai d. "
I n seeki ng to achieve thi s vi si on, a pri nci pal
ai m of anarchist praxi s has always been the abol ition of codifed, formal
laws. Instead, anarchi st communities are regul ated by i nformal norms
i ncl udi ng "customs, habi ts and usages , " as wel l as the i ndi vi dual urges
of consci ence experienced by each member.
The anarchist view i s that
reference to ri gi d, abstract l aws represents an abdication of the i ndi vi d
ual ' s capaci ty for moral sel f-directi on and responsi bi l i ty-an essenti al
element of a social order without instituti onal coerci on. Moreover, codi
fed laws requi re offci al admi ni stration and enforcement, whereas inter
nalized soci al norms can serve to cul tivate deeper instincts of soci abi l i ty
by promoti ng broader access to the community' s moral pul se. Further,
i n anarchi st communi ti es " laws " as such would scarcel y be requi red,
si nce the greater part of formal l aw has " but one obj ect-to protect pri
vate property" ; much of the rest serves to " keep up the machi nery of
government. "
As t o the bal ance of the space occupied by law, namel y
" the protecti on of the pers on and the detect i on and prevent i on of
94 Anarchism Today
'cri me, ' " i nformal norms of conduct and the urges of the moral self can
fll the space and provide a framework for soci al order-without replicat
ing the intrinsic cruelty of state-bound methods .
Restoring Order
In exploring alternatives, anarchi sts unfinchingly begin from the radical
premise that the present " l aw and order " paradigm ought to be aban
doned enti rel y. Indeed, i t i s axi omatic in the anarchi st l exi con that the
coerci ve, authori tari an, and i neffective worki ngs of " cri mi nal j ustice "
must be whol l y rej ected. Whi l e thi s is a vi ew that I have echoed and
endorsed in previ ous works, i t i s nonetheless cruci al t o understand the full
implications of such a position.
4 After all, while there i s a certai n seduc
tive quality to the belief that, once freed from the shackles of law, human
communities wi l l spontaneousl y devel op egal itari an and i ncl usive soci al
practi ces, it i s sti l l often the case that " the aspect of anarchi st i deas of
social organization which people fnd hardest to swallow i s the anarchist
rej ecti on of the l aw, the legal system, and the agencies of law enforce
ment. "
5 To merely accept the abolition of l aw as an anti-authoritari an
inevitability, then, is to oversi mpl i fy the issue and to ri sk speaking a l an
guage that is counterintuitive to many whom anarchists woul d hope to
reach with their words and deeds.
One point of departure that anarchi sm has increasingly begun to em
brace i s restorative justice, whi ch operates from a place of empathy, com
passi on, and mutual respect i n seeki ng to resol ve the inevitabl e conficts
that arise in any human communi ty. " Restorative j ustice fts with anar
chist views that seek to replace the State through the creation of a multi
tude of vol untary associ ati ons . "
3 6
Two of the earl i est advocates for
expl icitly l i nki ng anarchi sm and restorative j usti ce are Larry Ti fft and
Denni s Sullivan, who contend that "we can never fnd meani ng or free
dom i n living i f we consider life processes from the foundering orbits of
l aw, the state or corporate economy, but onl y through l i fting ourselves
to the warmth of experience and human community. "
Amplifying their
point and tapping into longstanding anti-authoritarian and anarchist ten
ets, Ti fft and Sullivan are unabashed in their rej ection of criminal justice:
Al l l aw, authority and i nstituti ons of state are based on force, vi o
l ence and the fear of punishment . . . . The function of l aw hi storical ly
has been to deny some people the right to their personal j ourney, to
detai n us, by demandi ng that we resolve our contradictions within
the confnes of l aw and the state . . . . Law prohi bi ts us from freei ng
"Do It Yourself"-Together 95
ourselves, experiencing ourselves in the struggle to be human . . . . To
accept l aw, therefore i s to accept a real i ty in which there i s i mposi
tion of person upon person. It i s to accept the reality of enslavement,
the plantation of the welfare state. It i s to accept the division of the
worl d into parts that transl ate into subj ect and obj ects, and the
mechani s ms to manage t hi s hi er archi cal di vi s i on, denyi ng
autonomy t o everyone.
These sentiments serve to locate the authors speci fcal l y within the anar
chist tradition, refecting the tendency in the milieu to favor a negotiated,
lived experience of j ustice in our communities.
In this sense, highl ighting the hierarchical and oppressive nature of law
is an important i niti al endeavor, but it also leaves the harder question of
how human communi ti es wi l l s ustai n and regul ate themsel ves i n the
absence of formal law. Drawing upon anarchist exampl es from hi story,
Ti fft and Sul l i van cal l for communi ti es grounded i n " mutual ai d, co
operati on, spontaneity and peace, " as wel l as " sel f-reciprocity, equi ty,
and love. "
9 Taken together, these strands serve to trace the boundari es
of the authors' vision of "a moral order in accordance with which people,
from their inner convicti ons, act towards others as they desire that others
shoul d act toward them. "4
Yet the pragmatic question remai ns: " Can a
society exist in which nothing limits the i ndi vi dual , where al l regul ation
is an affair of the indivi dual and not of the collective will ? "4 1 Answering
his own query, Alexei Borovoi states the basic premise:
There has not been a single society, even prior to the bi rth of the
State, that has not made certain demands upon i ts members. While
specifc regulations may vary from society to society, some form of
regul ati on i s al ways necessary. Asi de from legal codes, there exi st
in al l societies what can be called codes of conventi on. The force of
these codes i s perhaps greater than the force of l aws. The fundamen
tal di fference is that these codes are based on a col lective accord. 4
As Gi ovanni Bal del l i has l i kewise noted, "no society i s ethi cal in which
each member does not natural l y absorb its governing principles of right
and wrong. Written law represents a generally unsuccessful substi tute
for a universal understanding of ethi cal princi pl es. "4
Here we see the ambivalence anarchi sts have toward concepts such as
regulation and social control-and thus toward communal enterpri ses
i n general . Are we to grant such primacy to the i ndi vi dual that no form
of col l ecti ve i nt ervent i on is accepta bl e ? If we do al l ow col l ecti ve
96 Anarchism Today
i nterventi on, how do we keep it from becomi ng aut hori t ari an and
destructive of i ndi vi dual l i berty? I n short, how do we avoi d the pitfal l s
of l aw and the state whi l e preserving the i ntegrity of our communities ?
Struggl i ng wi th such queri es, Ti fft and Sul l i van recogni ze that even
" soci al custom, rel i gi ous dogma and moral codes are yet more subtl e
forms of domi nati on which, like education and offci al propaganda, are
harnessed by the state to perform as anci l lary functions of law. "44 And
yet, it i s equal l y acknowledged that anarchi st communities wi l l be regu
l ated not by l aws but by "mutual agreements " and by " a sum of soci al
customs and habits. "
Expandi ng on thi s instructive ambivalence within
anarchi sm, Colin Ward similarly endorses "val ues and norms " as substi
tutes for law, whereas the anarchist anthropologist Harol d Barcl ay cau
ti ons agai nst " the confusi on of the term law wi th norm or custom i n
such a way as to cl ai m that anarchi st societies have l aw. "46
Barclay fur
ther notes that "there are on the one hand rules which are i mposed by
the state through its government-in other words, l aws-and there are
other ki nds of rul es not i mposed by the state . . . . An anarchi st soci ety i s
clearly different from a state society in that i n it there woul d be no penal
s ancti ons-no l aw. " 47
As Borovoi fnds , " anarchi s m admi ts soci a l
norms. The norms of a free society resemble neither in spirit nor in form
the laws of contemporary society. These norms will not seek the detach
ment of the i ndi vi dual from the col lectivity. Anarchist norms wi l l not be
a torrent of decrees from a higher authority. "48
Ti fft and Sullivan thus envision a dynamic sense of order that devolves
upon the humanistic application of " face-to-face j ustice, " "the airing of
conficts, " and "the reality of returning to work and living with the other
person. "49 Jeff Ferrell has likewise refected upon the development of an
anarchist criminology that "argued for replacing state/legal ' j ustice' with
a fui d, face- to- face form of j u sti ce gr ounded in emergi ng human
needs . " 5
For Ti fft and Sul l i van, the essence of restorative j ustice as an
anarchist proj ect i s that "we must move t o create personal relati onshi ps,
soci al arrangements, and communities that promote patterns of i nterac
tion that are non-hi erarchi cal , non-power- based. "
5 1
The central notion
i s that " j ustice-done restoratively requi res that participants conti nual l y
remai n open to each other's concerns, ideas, needs, feelings, desi res, pai n
and suffering, so that each can see the other not as a resource to be used
or exploited or as an obj ect to be deri ded or scorned, but as he or she i s,
si mi l ar to onesel f, a person engaged in an unendi ng struggle to become
human, with dignity. "
Thi s rel ati onal view of autonomy, community,
and respect is at the cutting edge of contemporary anarchist inquiry, even
as we recognize its deep histori cal roots : "Anthropol ogi sts of every i l k
"Do It Yourself"-Together 97
have shown us multitudi nous examples of societies that have neither laws
nor a state but which are every bi t concerned about j ustice, reparati on,
and human well-being. "
Anarchi sts have l ong comprehended the outl aw nature ( l i teral l y) of
what i t means to take these teachi ngs to heart, to stand agai nst the
maj esty of the state i n favor of the messiness of community, to be an out
sider vis-a-vis mainstream society, to be viewed as a lawbreaker and even
a hereti c. Adherents i n the modern era are at least i n excellent company,
i ncl udi ng the l egendary mus i ngs of Henry Davi d Thoreau i n " Ci vi l
Di sobedience " : " Law never made men a whi t more j ust; and, by means
of thei r respect for it, even the wel l -di sposed are dai l y made the agents
of i nj ustice . . . . But i f it i s of such a nature that it requi res you to be the
agent of i nj ustice to another, then I say, break the law. "
As Robert
Paul Wolff inquired i n In Defense of Anarchism,
on what grounds can it be cl aimed that I have an obl igation to obey
the laws which are made i n my name by a man [sic] who has no obl i
gati on to vote as I woul d, who i ndeed has no effective way of di s
covering what my preferences are on the measure before hi m? 0 0 0
The citizens have created a legitimate state at the price of their own
autonomy! They have bound themsel ves to obey l aws which they
do not wi l l , and i ndeed even laws which they vi gorousl y rej ect.
Insofar as democracy origi nates i n such a promise, it is no more than
vol untary slavery.
Ti fft and Sullivan further observe that " laws are so numerous that no one
could possibly not break them. There are laws that individual s choose to
break and laws which individual s are forced to break. 0 0 0 If all l aws were
strictly enforced, everybody would be cri mi nal i zed. "
Indeed, as things
stand today, we may not be far from such a condition of universal crimi
nalization, with modern society increasingly coming to represent a "pan
opticon gul ag. "
The soci etal obsessi on wi th " l aw and order " renders the anarchi st
proj ect al l the more urgent, and the i mpetus to si multaneously recl ai m
i ndi vi dual consci ence and community sol i darity becomes nothi ng l ess
than essenti al . Far from merely rejecting the need for order i n an offhand
manner, anarchi sts have i nstead proposed a worki ng set of soci al rel a
ti ons based on "healthy education, " "mutual ai d, " "fraternal treatment, "
and " moral support, " in the bel ief that " li berty, equal i ty, and practical
human sympathy are the onl y effectual barri ers we can oppose to the
anti-soci al instincts of certain among us. "
Recalling the false solutions
98 Anarchism Today
offered by the state, Kropotkin remi nds us that "such means will be far
more powerful to protect society from anti -soci al acts than the exi sting
system of punishment which i s an ever-fertile source of new crimes, " con
cl uding that " the remedy [ state mechani sms] offer is worse than the evils
they pretend to cure. "
As Graham Purchase concurs, " if the State i s sup
posed to resolve vi olence and confict then it real l y has proved to be an
extremely poor mechani sm for doing so. "
The anarchi st perspecti ve
on soci al order thus rej ects the cri mi nal j ustice apparatus, i ndi cati ng a
commitment to extra-legal mechani sms for managing the trespasses that
take place in any human community.
Sanctioning, Difely
As such, the next step in understanding anarchist collectives is to consider
what forms of "crime and puni shment" exist in the absence of the state
and its associ ated soci oeconomic logic. Fol l owi ng the work of Barcl ay,
Tifft and Sul l i van, and of course Kropotki n, it becomes evident that pun
i shment in anarchi st setti ngs is more likely to be di rectly and instrumen
ta l l y responsi ve to a particul ar transgressi on, not to s erve the l arger
purposes of fostering fear as an instrument of deterrence and statecraft.
When intervention i s requi red and puni shment meted out, any anarchist
sanction " typical l y protects the l i fe of relati onshi ps [ and] i s more remedial
than accusatory. "
6 1
In thi s sense, "the ai m seems to be not so much to
determine gui lt as to re-establ i sh group harmony. "
Although anarchist
communities may at times levy sanctions, it i s essenti al to note that they
always aspire to be "cri me free" by creating a space where communi ty
norms are subj ective and vol untary, where each member is equal l y enti
tl ed to defne the parameters of the group' s moral boundari es, where
" there are personal l y equi val ent i nputs and mutual confdence, " and
where "people hol d al l goods i n common and take what they need. "
As Ward explains, "there must be room for deviance in society, and there
must be support for the right to deviate. "
64 There are of course risks in push
ing too far beyond the moral boundaries of the group, and even in anarchist
settings sanctions can ensue in such cases. Barclay, for example-analyzing
anthropol ogi cal studi es of a number of i ndi genous cul tures, as wel l
as modern exampl es such as i ntenti onal communi ti es-observes that
" anarchi sts use a variety of di ffuse sancti ons [ i ncl udi ng] gossi p, name
cal l i ng, argui ng, fst fghting, ki l l i ng and ostraci sm. "
65 Donal d Bl ack
l i kewi s e notes the presence of s oci al contr ol devi ces rangi ng from
" bani shment and beating t o ri di cul e and teasi ng, " as wel l as " revenge,
compensati on, and vol untary exi l e. "
Purchase di scusses a range of
"Do It Yourself"-Together 99
devices, from " simple sancti ons" including shaming, ridicule, and gossip,
to " more extreme sancti ons " i ncl udi ng excommuni cati on, ostraci sm,
duels, and combat, concl uding that the dominant soci al sanction i n state
l ess soci et i es is " the wi t hhol di ng of essent i al forms of economi c
cooperati on. "
And Tayl or, i n hi s study of anarchy and communi ty,
similarly considers sanctions i ncl udi ng gossi p, shaming, ostracism, deni al
of benefts, and expul si on ( which is rarely utilized) .
While it i s clear, then, that anarchi st communities can employ mecha
nisms of puni shment and social control , it i s cruci al to grasp the diffuse
nature of these processes . "Thi s i s the meani ng of di ffuse: responsi bi l ity
for and the right to impose the sanction i s spread out over the community.
Soci ety as a whole has the power. There i s no speci al el i te which even
cl ai ms a monopoly on the use of violence as a sanctioning device. "
Purchase further observes, " di ffuse sancti ons can be appl i ed by any
member, [yet] the control of anti-social acts in stateless societies [ i s] main
tained by the communi ty itsel f, through the conti nued acti on of all its
members. "
Put another way, in an anarchist community every member
possesses the executive authori ty of the "l aw" and i s charged wi th the
task of cultivating positive conduct and di scouragi ng anti -soci al acts
tempered, of course, by the ubi quitous possi bi l ity of "reciprocal j ustice, "
whi ch can have a disti nct chi l l i ng effect on one' s readi ness to sancti on
another fri vol ousl y or spiteful l y.
Whi l e these sorts of fui d, si tuated,
and ambi guous processes may seem troubl ing at frst gl ance, they pal e i n
comparison to the bl atant brutalism of state-bound policies . Thus, while
i t i s apparent that anarchi st communi ti es someti mes sancti on repres
sively, they more often do so restitutively or restoratively-with the criti
c al poi nt bei ng t hat i n anarchi s t setti ngs there is no state or ot her
i nstituti onal apparatus t o carry out such puni shments, only actual people
with ostensi ble ties to their fellow community members. When sanction
ing does ensue, the face-to-face nature of relations in anarchist commun
i t i es at l eas t gi ves s oci al contr ol a more humane qual i ty than the
mediated, institutional , and repressive methods of the state.
Cnflicts and Resolution
Beyond occasi onal l y i mposi ng di ffuse sancti ons, it is also the case that
" al l societies, even the most cooperati ve of them, have to fnd methods
of resol vi ng confl i ct, [ si nce] confi ct is j ust one part of soci al l i fe. It i s a
natural and i ntegral di mensi on of human i nteracti on and acti vity. "
Cl osel y rel ated to sancti oni ng practi ces, then, we must consi der those
soci al processes often denoted as confict resolution-whi ch i s not a
100 Anarchism Today
distinct sphere in anarchist settings but merely another mode of negotiat
i ng the cons t ant ( and l argel y posi t i ve) t ens i on between i ndi vi dual
autonomy and communal existence. Are instances of theft or assault, for
exampl e, "crimes " against the community, or are they better conceived
as personal di sputes between i ndi vi dual parties ? In anarchi st setti ngs,
without a central state apparatus for admi ni strati on and enforcement,
acts of trespass or aggressi on are more l i kely to be treated as disputes of
a ci vi l nature, wi th the added di mensi on that the communi ty i tsel f i s
di rectly involved in the resol uti on process. What i s left that we mi ght term
crime i s conduct that violates soci al norms and for which there i s no spe
cifc victim except the community itsel f, such as the theft of shared food
suppl i es or betrayi ng the communi ty' s confdence to authori ti es for
personal gai n.
But for the bulk of human i nteracti ons, the dai l y i ncursi ons we face
when living in community and acting in concert are of the interpersonal
variety: ideological di sputes, personal ity conflicts, power pl ays, territori
al i sm, romantic tri angl es, cul tural antagoni sms, and the l i ke. Of critical
i mportance, then, are the processes by whi ch di sputes are resol ved in
anarchist communities-since the methods adopted serve both as a means
of resolving confict and as a fuid, participatory form of social control .
I n this regard, Ti fft notes that
experiences of personal confict are essenti al to creative assessment
and change. It means that we must restore l i fe and the settlement
of disputes to a di rect face-to-face and collective process. This means
no i nsti tuti onal i zati on of confict resol uti on. It means ai ri ng the
complexities of the dispute situation and of al l our col lective futures
to reach toward new understandi ngs . . . . Face-to-face j ustice is an
outgrowth of l i fe, needi ng no speci al or permanent personages or
l anguages, no offce of aut hori ty or i mposi ti on. [ Therefore, ] a
response to i nterpersonal confict cannot be reasonabl y articul ated
before the confi ct has ari sen, onl y afterwards and after i t has not
been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the persons involved.
Thus, the frst level of anarchist confict resolution i s the affected parties
themsel ves worki ng out a mutual l y agreeabl e and soci al ly producti ve
arrangement; onl y i n cases of genuine i mpasse i s a more formal process
( i . e . , communi ty i nvol vement ) r equi r ed.
Barcl ay ci tes nu merous
anthropological examples, including those i n which the entire community
is involved in resolving i ntractable disputes-those in which "disputes are
to be settled by medi ati on, and no vi ol ence i s tol erated, " and those i n
"Do It Yourself"-Together 101
which "go betweens" serve t o facilitate mediation?5 Black similarly ana
lyzes processes i ncl udi ng the appointment of a mediator and the presence
of " l ocal i nfuenti al s, chosen for wi sdom and di pl omacy, " who work
wi th i nterested parties to resol ve di sputes-concl udi ng that, "whether
an i ndi vi dual or a group . . . the thi rd party typically i s more an agent of
compromise than of j udgment. "
Purchase l i kewise notes that the hal l
mark of mediators is that they possess "no power or authority to enforce
[their] decisions. "
So who then, i f anyone, possesses power in anarchist
collectives ?
Authority, Power, and Consensus
As with the mai ntenance of soci al order as a whol e, anarchi st commun
ities do not entai l the elimination of attributes such as power and author
i ty; rat her, they contempl ate new appl i cat i ons of t hese endemi c
tendenci es. I n such setti ngs, authority might be characterized as " recog
nized competence within a certain fel d, and the right to take and carry
out decisi ons with the assent of every person whom the deci si ons affect.
Authority thus defned is not the opposite or the enemy of freedom but
i ts necessary complement. "
In Social Anarchism, Giovanni Bal del l i pro
vides i niti al gui dance as to how this might l ook:
"coercive power must be reduced to a minimum and put in as many
hands as possi ble "
"cl aims to authority must be rej ected if they are established by force"
"each authority must be answerabl e to several others that are equal l y
responsible to several more "
"no person in hi s relationship with another shoul d be exempt from
j udgment by a third"
" overwhelming power shoul d always be with the third party"; and
" access to a third party, avai l abl e to everyone, shoul d be to many third
parties, not to one only. "
Compare Bookchi n' s di scussi on of authority in " organi c " soci eties,
whi ch devolves essenti al l y upon " gui dance, l acking t he usual accouter
ments of command. Its ' power' i s functi onal rather than pol itical , " and
those possessi ng it are generally vi ewed more so as "advi sors, teachers,
and consultants, esteemed for thei r experience and wisdom. "
Putti ng al l of this together, a vi si on begins to emerge of an anarchi st
community i n which i ndivi dual s are free to exercise authority i n areas of
particul ar ski l l or interest while fol l owing, assisting, and learning i n other
102 Anarchism Today
spheres, creating a space "where reputations and other statuses fuctuate
from one day to the next. "
8 1
As Michael Bakuni n described it, in an anar
chist community, "each directs and i s directed i n hi s turn. Therefore there
is no fxed and constant authori ty, but a conti nual exchange of mutual ,
temporary, and, above al l , vol untary authority and subordi nati on. "
Thoroughl y di ffuse and decentral ized, power is free to course through
the conduits of the community, fndi ng i ts way i nto action through those
best attuned to its resonance for the task at hand; power thus conceived
fosters an air of spontaneous creative energy, i n which chores become
" happeni ngs " and works are events-and sti l l somehow structures are
erected, people fed, fres fought, deci si ons made, and chi l dren reared.
In thi s way, an anarchi st community gets the most out of the energies of
its members, maxi mizing its human potenti al , while preserving both indi
vi dual autonomy and group consensus as well.
On this point, it has often been observed that absent central authority,
practices of social order are generally established by consensus, in which
community norms and decisions are unani mousl y agreed upon through
processes of active participation and open debate. Kropotki n was an early
advocate of such methods, analyzing the hi storical preference for unani m
i ty i n community deci si on making, whereby " the di scussi ons conti nue
unti l al l present agree to accept, or submit to, some decision, " si nce there
exi sts " no authori ty i n a vi l l age communi ty to i mpose a deci si on . " 84
Perhaps s omewhat i roni cal l y, consensus i s not uni versal l y accepted
among anarchi sts, yet i t has been an important part of anarchi st praxis
that represents a potenti al l y hori zontal form of group deci si on making
by seeki ng " input and guidance from al l participants in a proj ect, " l i ke
wise by striving to minimize group pressure at the expense of indivi dual
i sm by ensuri ng that "no one i s coerced into taki ng part i n a course of
action that they have not agreed to or of which they do not approve. " 85
Whi l e some fnd it to contai n subtle forms of oppressi on, consensus none
theless enj oys signifcant popularity i n anarchist setti ngs, and i t actively
works to " include specifc practices to recognize and address the silencing
of mar gi nal i zed and oppres s ed groups . "
8 6
I n so doi ng, cons ens us
recognizes that " al l persons have some part of the truth, " and thus they
ought to be included in exercising any use of col lective power that might
Impact t em.
As wi th the concomi tant processes of sancti oni ng, dispute resol ution,
and authority, the appearance of power in anarchist setti ngs is diffuse in
the sense that every member of the group i s equal l y entitled to be a direct
and acti ve parti ci pant i n the creati on of community norms and in the
entire deci si on-maki ng process itsel f. In thi s way, i ndi vi dual s acquire a
"Do It Yourself"-Together 103
deeper sense of the meani ng and purpose of the " rul es " extant in the
communi ty, rendering superfuous the need for instituti onal i zati on and
even codi fcati on. The benefts of concei vi ng social order as an organi c,
ongoi ng agreement deri ved through direct participation and consensual
processes are mani fold, not the least of which i s to encourage an environ
ment i n whi ch cooperation and not competition becomes the predomi
nant ai m of both the group and i ts i ndi vi dual consti tuents. As Ti fft
concl udes, under such conditions people wi l l by and l arge " institute the
principle of j ustice-to each according to need, taking into account the re
sources avai l able to the community. "
8 8
It is not an exact science by any
means, but i t stands i n marked contrast to the i nci dence of poverty,
neglect, i nequal ity, and even genocide that we see in a world dominated
by nation-states and market ideologies. Beyond merely constituting a set
of potenti al alternatives i n theory, contemporary anarchi sm presents a
number of col l aborative examples that merit cl oser attenti on.
Cases in Point
Whi l e a comprehensive l isting of anarchist col l aborations and collective
experiments would be i mpossi bl e to produce, the primary categories in
whi ch these exempl ars fal l are intentional communities, autonomous
zones, egalitarian collectives, and decentralized networks. Some anarchist
al ternati ves exi st between or among these spheres ( such as the " free
skool " concept that i s discussed i n the following secti on) , whereas others
are squarely identifed-sometimes by their very name-with a particul ar
form of organizing. It will be useful here to consider a few of these exam
ples of anarchist action-in-concert in order to move from theory to prac
ti ce, and l i kewi se to deepen the anal ys i s of how anarchi s m' s do- i t
yoursel f ethic is often bal anced by a strong desi re to do things together
as wel l . As one commentator notes, "there i s some burden to show how
an anarchist vision might function i n reality. "
Fortunately, the contem
porary milieu provides us with many intriguing examples.
Intentional Communities
One of the l ongest-running communiti es based expressl y on anarchi st
pri nci pl es i s Freetown Chri sti ani a i n Copenhagen, Denmark. Founded
in 1 971 on the site of a former mi litary barracks, the space quickly drew
an eclectic mix of squatters, hi ppi es, col lecti vi sts, and anarchi sts to its
strai ghtforward, egal i tari an mi ssi on based on a "magi cal mi xture of
anarchy and l ove " : " The obj ecti ve of Chri sti ani a i s to create a sel f
governi ng soci ety whereby each and every i ndi vi dual hol ds themsel ves
104 Anarchism Today
responsible over the wellbeing of the entire community. Our society i s to
be economically self-sustaining and, as such, our aspiration i s to be stead
fast i n our conviction that psychological and physical destitution can be
averted. "
The communi ty has endured numerous controversi es and
conficts ( both withi n its confnes and with the larger society) over i ssues
i ncl udi ng drugs, violence, and other governmental pressures brought to
bear on its existence. Nonetheless, Chri stiani a still survives into its fourth
decade, and today it even i ncl udes a communi ty radi o and tel evi si on
stati on, a vegetari an restaurant, an organi c market, and even i ts own
internal currency.
An ethnography of the community, conducted in 1 976 and sponsored
by the Nati onal Mus eum of Denmar k, descri bed Chri sti ani a as " a
rel axed and tolerant form o f vi l l age l i fe, which i s opposed to the norms
of the surrounding society, " mani festing a "positive tolerance . . . towards
what i s traditionally cal led devi ant behavior, " where even crimes such as
theft are " seen as an act that is necessary for the offender, an act caused
by certai n social and economic circumstances, a problem which can only
be solved collectively, " and i n which " there i s a close connection between
the deci si ons that are taken and the peopl e they appl y to. "
9 1
A 2003
assessment of this uni que community further found that "government i s
ful l y democrati c, and al l maj or deci si ons are reached at open meetings
to which everyone residing in Christi ani a is invited. When a general meet
ing i s i n progress, the shops and cafes close down and discussion of items
on the agenda conti nues until a consensus is reached. "
While caution
ing that "Christi ani a i s not to be imagined i n terms of an anarchist idyl l , "
it remai ns the case that thi s " bol d and enduring soci al experi ment" has
been in operation for decades, and in that ti me i ts members have " bui lt
houses, school s, playgrounds, opened shops and restaurants, gal vanized
soci al awareness, hosted some memorable musi cal events, run a vari ety
of cooperati ves, establ i shed recycl i ng programs and wi nd and s ol ar
power proj ects, and developed a partici patory form of direct democracy
and administration of fnancial funds and communal resources. "
Perhaps the best-known communal system i s the Israel i ki bbutz, but
l ess widely perceived are i ts anarchist underpinnings. James Horrox has
recl ai med part of that narrative, descri bing the ki bbutz as a "vol untary,
sel f-governing communi ty, admi ni stered democratical l y by its members
with nei ther legal sancti on nor any framework of coercive authority to
ensure conformity to its col l ectively-agreed upon behavi oral norms . "
In 1 9 1 0, the frst settl ement was founded, compri si ng "a cooperati ve
community without exploiters or exploited, " i n whi ch members enj oyed
" pol i ti ca l and materi al equal i ty, freedom and democracy, [ and] the
"Do It Yourself"-Together 105
elimination of al l forms of hierarchy. " 95 The day-to-day workings of the
ki bbutz are based on "communal ownershi p of all property, i ncl udi ng
the means of producti on and consumpti on, mutual responsi bi l ity and
mut ual ai d, communal product i on and cons umpt i on, and di rectl y
democrati c sel f- management [ wi th] no need for formal i zed rul es and
s anct i ons enforced by a s peci al i zed body of coerci ve l egal i nsti tu
ti ons "-resul ti ng i n a remarkabl e condition in whi ch crime i s vi rtual l y
Despite external pressures of militarism and national i sm,
i ncl udi ng the steady co- optati on of the ki bbutz i nto an authori tari an
mythos, a new generation of ki bbutzim are " consci ousl y reinvoking the
movement's anarchist progenitors as inspiration for its future directi ons, "
i ncl udi ng t he appearance of " an anti -authori tari an, consensus-dri ven
structure ri si ng up wi thi n the Israel i state-alongside it-in a federated
al l i ance of communal groups . "
Autonomous Zones
Haki m Bey popul arized the notion of the "temporary autonomous zone"
as something aki n to "an uprising which does not engage directly with the
State, a gueri l l a operation which li berates an area . . . and then di ssolves
itsel f to re-form el sewhere/el sewhen, before the State can crush i t. "
While this may work well as poetry t o fuel anarchist imaginations, "one
must be careful not to underesti mate the rather large amounts of real
labor required to keep such autonomous zones runni ng, " as Jeff Shantz
"Despi te thei r heterotopi an character, such spaces are con
structed of the mundane, the everyday. 0 0 0 In the end, it i s how wel l the
demands of the everyday are met that can determine the success or fai l ure
of autonomous zones . "
1 UU
The noti on of l i berati ng a space in whi ch
anarchy can " break out" for any length of time beyond the purely ephem
eral is a complex task fraught with myriad challenges, both internal and
external . One of the more successful attempts to l i berate and hol d space
i n t hi s manner is the Ol d Market Aut onomous Zone ( A- Zone) in
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Founded in 1 995, the A-Zone i s located
in Wi nni peg' s Exchange Di strict, "an area of the ci ty wi th a deep tradi
tion of cl ass struggle and anti-fascist organizing, going back to the 1 9 1 9
General Stri ke, the 1 930s street fghts between workers and fasci sts, not
to mention the vi si ts of wel l -known anarchi sts such as Peter Kropotki n,
Emma Gol dman, and Rudol f Rocker. "
The basi c idea i s t o link " like
mi nded i ndi vi dual s and organi zati ons, acti vi sts, as well as al ternati ve
worker-run businesses " and "to enhance the acti vi st movement by hel p
ing to nurture a community of solidarity and resistance, and by recogniz
ing the interrelatedness of all our struggles . "
1 UZ
106 Anarchism Today
The centerpi ece of the A-Zone is the Mondragon Bookstore and
Coffeehouse, " a pol i t i cal books tore, vegan restaurant and home t o
Sacco & Vanzetti ' s organic grocery store [that i s ] organized as a workers
col lective. We have no manager, and all worker members, regardl ess of
starting ski l l or seni ority, earn the same rate of pay. "
Mondragon' s
Policy Handbook memori al izes i ts commi tment to open i nformati on,
participatory decision making, consensual organizing, egalitarian distri
buti on, and an anti -oppressi on agenda : "We work to uproot i nstances
of raci sm, sexi sm, homophobi a, transphobi a, cl assi sm, abl ei sm, and
other forms of oppression in our workplace and t o provi de a space safe
from oppressive practices. " 1
Mondragon ( and the A-Zone in which it
i s l ocated) has become "a focal point for activism in Wi nni peg, and has
contri buted to a l arger communi ty and cul ture of resistance in the ci ty.
Its existence and example has also inspired activists in other cities, across
Canada and the United States, who have wri tten wanti ng advi ce and
i nformati on a bout starti ng up thei r own proj ects . " 1
5 I n thi s sense,
Mondragon and the A-Zone have moved beyond the "temporary" l i ber
ation of space and have thus served to perpetuate a working model of co
operative anarchism in practice.
Egalitarian Cllectives
ABC No Ri o is a "collectivel y-run center for art and activism" in New
York, "known internationally as a venue for oppositi onal culture. "
was founded in 1 980 "to faci litate cross-pol l i nati on between artists and
activists " and to create a "pl ace where people share resources and i deas
to i mpact society, culture, and community. "
The community i s "com
mi tted to soci al j usti ce, equal i ty, anti - authori tari ani sm, autonomous
acti on, col l ective processes, and to nurturi ng alternative structures and
institutions operating on such pri nci pl es " ; i t i ncl udes " punks, nomads,
squatters, fringe dwellers, and those among society' s disenfranchised. " 1
In addition to its networking venue, art gal lery, and event space, ABC No
Rio sponsors a number of ongoing " affliated proj ects, " including Books
Through Bars ( "an all-vol unteer proj ect which sends free books and read
i ng materi al to pri soners nati onwi de " ) , Food Not Bombs ( whi ch " pre
pares and serves heal thy vegan food to the homel es s in Tompki ns
Square Park, and often serves at protests and demonstrati ons i n the
New York City area " ) , and the Lower East Si de Biography Proj ect ( which
"trains i ndi vi dual s i n all aspects of digital video through the production
of video biographies of l ong-term Lower East Si de resi dents " ) .
"Do It Yourself"-Together 107
No Ri o i s one of the longest-running col lectives in North America and has
deep roots in i ts l ocal community.
Founded in December 2003, the Iron Rai l l i bra ry and bookstore
"i s committed to anarchist, anti-authoritarian, feminist, anti-racist, queer
positive and class-conscious politics, and to providing alterative l iterature
and i nformation to the people of New Orleans. "
1 1
The Iron Rail is "a col
lectively owned and operated, al l-volunteer, non-proft reading room, lend
ing li brary, bookshop, and community space with over 7, 000 titles for free
borrowing"; the vast collection includes works on "anarchist action, anar
chist theory, and the histories of overlooked groups, struggles, and individ
uals, " plus numerous texts on "feminism, gender, race, class, sexual ity, sex
work, how-to books about crafts and DIY-bike fxing, cooking, monkey
wrenching, gardening. "
t t
The Iron Rail is "one of the largest col lectively
run radical libraries i n the country [and] was the frst library i n metro New
Orleans to re-open after the disastrous failure of the government levees in
2005, and for several months [was] the only functioni ng l i brary in the
city. "
1 1
The organization of the collective refects its values:
We bel i eve in a worl d without domi nati on and oppressi on and in
worki ng to undermi ne authori tari an structures of power. As an
anarchi s t col l ecti ve, the I ron Rai l has no bos s es or managers .
Group deci si ons are made col l ecti vel y i n weekl y meeti ngs, and
members are encouraged t o be creative i n i nitiating i ndi vi dual proj
ects . The bookstore is operated by vol unteers who bel ieve in the
importance of establ i shing alternatives to capitali sm, while creating
new public spaces and supporting community proj ects.
t t
The col l ecti ve offers the fol l owi ng " Pol i ci es and Poi nts of Uni ty" that
further serve to defne the scope and mi ssi on:
t t
1 . We are working towards the creation of a new society based on par
ticipatory economic and social structures as a replacement for capi
talism and the state.
2. We bel ieve that hel pi ng to provi de wi der access to educati on and
information wi l l hel p us bui ld thi s society.
3 . We recogni ze capi tal i sm and the state as i nherentl y oppressi ve,
exploiting us al l to various degrees and i n di fferent ways depending
on our age, gender, skin col or, sexual orientati on, abi lities, culture
and cl ass. We therefore oppose all forms of oppression and are com
mi tted, i n part through education and the development of personal
108 Anarchism Today
s upport systems , to t hei r abol i t i on i n s oci ety and i n our own
col lective.
4. We bel i eve t hat maki ng our dec i s i ons col l ect i vel y in a non
hi erarchi cal , anti -authori tari an manner empowers our members
through worker self-management and i s the onl y way to organize a
proj ect based on col l ecti ve l i berati on. Putti ng our pri nci pl es i nto
practice, we strive to serve as an example of the ki nd of society we
are working to create as anarchists .
Decentrlied Networks
In Chapter Two, a sampl e of networks were descri bed in whi ch l ocal
autonomous uni ts l i nk wi th si mi l ar efforts el sewhere ( even worldwide )
to create a decentral ized "whole " that functions as a bottom-up, horizon
tal quasi-organization; specifc examples cited included Food Not Bombs,
Cri methlnc. , and Indymedi a . To those we can add the Anarchist Bl ack
Cross ( ABC) , which traces i ts earl iest roots back to the coordinated provi
sion of materi al s and support to anarchi st pri soners at the turn of the
twentieth century. Like other decentral ized networks, the ABC i s a con
cept and not a top-heavy organizati on, meaning that anyone doing work
within its basic principles can adopt the moniker. In the case of the ABC,
thi s l ed to ri fts and spl i nteri ng to some extent, but i t al so yi el ded an
expansi on of the mi ssi on and a wi der variety of pri son support mecha
ni sms. I n 1 9 95, a smal l group of ABC col l ecti ves merged to form the
Anarchist Bl ack Cross Federation ( ABCF) , with the speci fc i ntention to
s upport peopl e who are i n " pri son as a resul t of consci ous pol i ti cal
acti on, for building resistance, building and leading movements and revo
lution . . . for making change. "
1 1 5
The ABCF has a fairly elaborate struc
ture for mai ntai ni ng and operating the federation, with the overarching
aim being the establ ishment of "tactical unity" among the various collec
tives. 1 1 6
In 2001 , a paral lel and less formal entity was formed, cal led the
Anarchist Black Cross Network ( ABCN) ; whereas the ABCF focuses on
political prisoners and regul ates its membership, the ABCN was designed
to confront pri son i ssues i n a more general sense ( e. g. , as connected to
poverty, raci sm, and human rights vi ol ati ons ) and opened the network
to any enti ty worki ng on pr i s on a bol i t i on in general . At a 2003
conference, the ABCF and ABCN attempted t o resolve their di fferences
and reclaim the origi nal spirit of the ABC.
There are many addi ti onal exampl es of anarchi st networks, federa
ti ons, col lectives, and the l i ke-far too many to ci te here ( the noti on of
"gl obal networks " i n parti cul ar wi l l be di scussed i n Chapter Si x) . In
"Do It Yourself"-Together 109
terms of broad categories of engagement, there are cl usters of infoshops,
bookstores, and publ i shi ng houses; archi ves, databases, and l i stservs;
community centers, soci al spaces, and performance sites; neotri bal gath
erings and anonymous high-tech cadres; alternative currency exchanges,
free economy groups, and work equity co-ops; activist workshops, book
fairs, and academic associations. In each i nstance, and to varying degrees,
the navigation of i ndi vi dual expression and col lective cohesion i s always
i n play, as i s the dual tendency to cri tical l y engage the domi nant order
whi l e modeling a vi abl e alternative as to both methods and substance.
In fact, for many contemporary anarchi sts working col l aboratively, there
i s no cl ear di stinction between the processes empl oyed and the group' s
substanti ve aims; rather, the two spheres are mutual l y rei nforci ng and
contri bute equal l y to telling a story about anarchism' s effcacy and desir
abi lity as a mode of living in-and learning about-our world.
Teach Your Children Well (and Vice Versa)
In this sense, al l of the entities noted above embody an educative function
in terms of communi cati ng the practi cal worki ngs of anarchi sm as a
dynamic form of social order. Indeed, one of the central features of anar
chist praxi s throughout hi story has been an emphasi s on li berating educa
tion from i ts restri ct i ve, compul sory, and dehumani zi ng fetters .
1 1 7
Anarchi sts have long recognized that education in its broadest sense can
be a double-edged sword, contai ni ng not only an emancipatory i mpul se
but an authoritari an one as wel l ; as Joel Spring has observed, " school s
came i nto bei ng as a means of shapi ng the moral and soci al bel i efs of
the population for the beneft of a domi nant elite . "
1 1 8
In this context, it
appears that " school s are an extensi on of the state; they reproduce the
cl ass, sex, race and other di vi si ons on which the state i s bui lt. "
1 1 9
many others schooled in formal settings that are licensed and/or adminis
tered by the state, anarchi sts apprehend the normative strictures of the
educati onal system, the obl i gatory nature of publ i c school i ng, and the
probl ematic appearance of the teacher as a " secul ar priest. "
As Ivan
Il l i ch expl ai ns i n his cl assic work Deschooling Society, the repressi ve
potenti al s of formal educati on oftenti mes i ncrease as one advances up
the scholastic l adder:
The uni vers i ty graduate has been school ed for sel ecti ve servi ce
among the ri ch of the world . . . . School s sel ect for each successive
level those who have, at earl i er stages i n the game, proved them
selves good ri sks for the establ i shed order. Havi ng a monopol y on
1 10 Anarchism Today
both the resources for learning and the investiture of social roles, the
university coopts the discoverer and the potenti al di ssenter. 1
2 1
Despite such moments of co-optation, there are possibilities for dissidence
presented i n the university setting; although, as Illich cauti ons, there are
serious limitations as well:
There i s no questi on that at present the universi ty offers a uni que
combi nati on of ci rcumstances whi ch all ows some of i ts members
to critici ze the whol e of soci ety. It provi des ti me, mobi l ity, access
to peers and i nformati on, and a certai n i mpunity-pri vi l eges not
equal l y avai l able to other segments of the popul ation. But the uni
versity provi des this freedom onl y to those who have al ready been
deeply i nitiated into the consumer society and into the need for some
ki nd of obl igatory public schooling. 1
Picking up on these themes and chal lenges, contemporary critics often
seek to construct practical vi si ons of l i beratory education that avoi d the
pitfal l s identifed by Illich. Working from the premises that "the nature
of most school i ng is anti-di al ogical , breeds dependency, subserviency or
i denti fcati on wi th those who al ready hol d power, [ and] sustai ns the
exi sti ng power arrangements , " Larry Fisk cal l s for a " probl em-posi ng
educati on" that begi ns wi th a sel f-cri ti cal " awareness of one' s own
oppressed or fawed consci ousness and conditi oni ng. "
1 23
Fi sk posits a
framework that fosters "moral i ntel l igence and peacemaki ng ski l l s " and
that can " provide a holi stic cl i mate wi thi n whi ch the sense of powerless
ness or fatal i sm can be chal l enged. " 1
4 Focusi ng upon fami l i ar themes
such as "process, criti cal thinking, and self-discipline, " this type of educa
tion "erodes dependency and fatal i sm by al lowing us to see and experi
ence the world as probl emati c, unfni shed, and exposed to the change
whi ch we can hel p bri ng about. " 1
25 Speci fcal l y, Fisk cal l s for an educa
tional paradigm in whi ch "people l earn values and attitudes which move
them to act effectively in particul ar ways: against war, for environmental
protecti on, " and whi ch " acti vel y promotes j ustice, confict resol uti on,
servi ce-trai ni ng, and non-vi ol ent acti on. "
1 26
Such senti ments mi rror
Il l i ch' s earl i er i nsight that " the i nverse of school i s possi ble " and more
over that
a desi rabl e future depends on our del i beratel y choosi ng a l i fe of
acti on over a l i fe of consumpti on, on our engenderi ng a l i festyl e
whi ch will enable us to be spontaneous, independent, yet related to
"Do It Yourself"-Together 1 1 1
each other, rather than maintaining a lifestyle which only al lows us
to make and unmake, produce and consume-a style of l i fe whi ch
i s merel y a way station on the road to the depletion and pol l uti on
of the environment.
1 27
I l l i ch, whos e anti - authori t ari an cri ti que of formal educati on has
strongly infuenced the development of contemporary anarchist perspec
tives , desires a society i n which "we can depend on self-motivated learn
i ng i nstead of empl oyi ng teachers to bribe or compel the student to fnd
the time and the wi l l to learn " and, further, one where "we can provide
the learner wi th new l inks to the world i nstead of continuing to funnel
al l educati onal programs through the teacher. "
1 28
In many i mportant
respects, this i s a decidedly anarchistic approach to learning, since anar
chi sm has always sought to let "a thousand fowers bloom" rather than
impose a specifc bl ueprint for social change.
1 29
Sensitive to such themes,
the anarchi st critique of formal education refects l arger concerns about
the nature of hierarchy and offcial coerci on, as Ward bl untly concludes:
Ultimately the social function of education i s to perpetuate soci ety:
it is the socialising functi on. Society guarantees its future by rearing
its chi l dren in its own image . . . . The educati onal system i s the l arg
est instrument in the modern state for telling people what to do . . . .
Compulsory educati on i s bound up hi storical l y, not onl y with the
pri nti ng press, the ri se of Protestanti sm and capi tal i sm, but with
the growth of the i dea of the nati on itsel f . . . . It i s i n the nature of
publ i c authori ti es to run coerci ve and hi erarchical i nsti tuti ons
whose ul timate functi on i s to perpetuate soci al i nequal i ty and to
brai nwash the young i nto the acceptance of their particul ar sl ot i n
the organized system.
As Bakuni n pl ai ntively i nquired in the l ate ni neteenth century, " must
we, then, el i mi nate from society al l i nstruction and abol i sh al l school s ?
Far from i t! "
Instead, Bakuni n envi si oned the posi tive and proactive
creation of "schools of human emancipation" :
From these schools will be absol utely el i mi nated the smallest appl i
cati ons or manifestations of the principle of authority. They wi l l be
schools no longer; they will be popular academies, in which neither
pupils nor masters will be known, where the people will come freely
to get, i f they need it, free instructi on, and i n which, rich i n their own
experi ence, they wi l l teach i n t hei r turn many t hi ngs to the
1 12 Anarchism Today
professors who shall bring them knowledge which they lack. Thi s,
then, wi l l be a mutual i nstruction, an act of intellectual fraternity
between the educated youth and the people. 1
Fol l owing Bakuni n, perhaps the quintessential earl y model of anarchi st
educati on was the Modern School founded i n Spai n by Franci sco Ferrer
in 1 90 1 , who l aunched this effort with due regard to the fact that "rulers
have always taken care to control the educati on of the people; they know
better than any that their power i s based entirely on the school, and they
therefore i nsi st on retai ni ng thei r monopol y of it . "
1 3 3
To counter thi s
oppressi ve, i ndoctri nati ng force, Ferrer proposed and i mpl emented a
school built on humani stic, natural istic, and holi stic principles:
We are convi nced that the educati on of the future wi l l be of an
enti rel y spontaneous nature; certai nl y we cannot as yet real i ze i t,
but the evolution of methods i n the direction of a wi der comprehen
sion of the phenomena of life, and the fact that all advances toward
perfection mean the overcoming of restrai nt-all thi s i ndicates that
we are in the right when we hope for the deliverance of the child . . . .
We can destroy al l whi ch i n the present s chool answers to the
organization of constraint, the artifcial surroundings by which chil
dren are separated from nature and l i fe, the intellectual and moral
di sci pl i ne made use of to i mpose ready- made i deas upon them,
beliefs which deprave and anni hi l ate natural bent. Without fear of
decei vi ng oursel ves, we can restore the chi l d to the envi ronment
which entices i t, the environment of nature.
1 3
In thi s sense, as Ward i nfers, "the anarchist approach to educati on i s
gr ounded, not i n a c ontempt for l earni ng, but i n a respect for the
l earner. " 1
5 Indeed, the anarchi st vi si on contempl ates that "the pupi l
must be trusted to determine hi s [ or her] own curricul um, " thus embrac
i ng Paul o Frei re' s pedagogi cal i nsight that " educati on must begin with
the sol uti on of the teacher-student contradicti on, by reconciling the poles
of the cont radi ct i on so t hat both are s i mul taneous l y teachers and
students . "
In attempting to depict how such a "community of schol
ars " mi ght functi on, Paul Goodman concei ved a worki ng anarchi st
model in which
a core faculty of about fve professors secede from a school, taking
some of their students with them . . . and set up a smal l unchartered
university that woul d be nothing but an associ ation. Ten teachers
"Do It Yourself"-Together 1 1 3
woul d constitute a suffcient faculty for such a community of schol
ars. Wi th i ndi vi dual cl asses of a bout ffteen . . . the students and
teachers create a smal l university where they can associ ate i n the
tradi ti onal way, but entirely dispensing with the external control,
administration, and bureaucratic machinery and other excrescences
that have swamped our communities of scholars. 1
In hi s corol l ary cal l for an " educati on of the aestheti c sens i bi l i ty , "
Herbert Read assessed the qual i ti es that " the good teacher " i n such a
setting ought to embody:
He [ si c] wi l l try to establish a rel ati onshi p of reci procity and trust
between himself and hi s pupi l , and one of co-operation and mutual
ai d between all the i ndi vi dual s within hi s care [ so that] the group
develops spontaneously a social life and cohesion which i s indepen
dent of the teacher. We can ai m at making our teachers the friends
rather than the masters of their pupi l s; as teachers they will not l ay
down ready-made rul es, but wi l l encourage thei r chi l dren to carry
out their own cooperati ve acti vi ti es, and thus spontaneousl y to
el aborate their own rul es. The teacher must be pri mari l y a person
and not a pedagogue, a friend rather than a master or mi stress, an
infnitely patient col l aborator. 1
Si mi l arl y, Leo Tol stoy-who took part of hi s personal fortune to found
over a dozen school s for peasants based on " purel y l i bertari an pri nci
ples " -focused on the voluntaristic aspects of anarchi st pedagogy, bring
ing on teachers who were "young radical students" themselves:
The school has evolved freely from the principles introduced into it
by teachers and pupi l s . . . . The pupi l has always had the right not
to come to school , or, having come, not to l isten to the teacher . . . .
Obeying onl y natural l aws, fowing from their nature, [the pupi l s]
revolt and grumbl e when they have to obey your untimely interfer
ence. They do not bel ieve i n the legal ity of your bells, rosters and
rul es . . . . The best pol i cy and admi nistrative system for a school i s
to al l ow the schol ars perfect freedom of l earni ng and of governi ng
themselves as they like. 1
In this light, we can discern-in addition to the quest to secure individ
ual autonomy-that it i s equally the case that " higher educati on" i n the
anarchist lexicon " is ideal l y based upon a long and l audabl e tradition of
1 14 Anarchism Today
autonomous, ' anarchi cal ly sel f-regul ati ng' communiti es. " 1 4
In other
words, j ust as i ndi vi dual pupils will learn to be self-regul ating, so too will
the learning communities they create, as Ward observed in describing the
student revolts of the 1 960s:
What a del i cious, but predi ctabl e i rony, that real educati on, sel f
educati on, s houl d onl y come from l ocki ng out or i gnori ng the
expensi ve academi c hi erarchy. The students' revol t was a mi cro
cosm of anarchy, spontaneous, self-di rected activity repl aci ng the
power structure by a network of autonomous groups and i ndi vi d
ual s. What the students experienced was that sense of l i beration that
comes from taki ng your own deci si ons and assumi ng your own
responsi bi liti es. It i s an experience that we need to carry far beyond
the privileged world of higher education, into the factory, the neigh
borhood, the daily lives of people everywhere.
1 4 1
As the image comes i nto sharper focus, we see that over time " learning
and t eachi ng wi l l become an i ntegrated el ement of l i fe i tse l f . . . .
Everybody will be a student and a teacher at the same time. The transmis
sion of wisdom, know-how, theories, styl es wi l l always accompany all
productive or refective processes. " 1 42
In this manner, "a ki nd of school
system can be organized, " one that " wi l l be completely vol untary" and
for which "there will be no standardization of school systems, no offcial
programs . "
1 4
And thus we enter the free skoal.
In recent years, a new movement has arisen, based on the lessons of his
tory and the tenets of anarchi s m. Often i ntenti onal l y mi sspel l ed as
" skool " t o i ndi cate its anti -school and anti-formal istic tendenci es, thi s
burgeoning phenomenon counts dozens of exempl ars, pri mari ly i n the
United States, Canada, and the United Ki ngdom. Its purpose is inherently
revol utionary:
A free skool is a decentral ized network in which ski l l s, information,
and knowl edge are s hared wi thout hi erarchy or the i nsti tuti onal
environment of formal school i ng. Free skool s are expl icitly rooted
i n an anarchi s t tradi t i on of col l ecti vi s m, a ut onomy, and s el f
rel i ance, and feature i nformal , non-authoritari an l earning outsi de
of the monetary economy. From the Free Skool Santa Cruz website:
" More than j ust an opportuni ty to l earn, we see Free Skool as a
direct chal lenge to domi nant i nstituti ons and hi erarchi cal relation
shi ps . Part of creating a new world i s resi stance to the ol d one, to
"Do It Yourself"-Together 1 1 5
the relentless commodifcation o f everything, including learning and
the way we rel ate to each other. "
Free skool s often embrace the basi c phi l osophy of " we are al l teachers,
and we are al l students , " striving to exist outsi de the structures of state
regul ati on and capi tal i sm' s proft motive. Education i n the free skool is
offered and recei ved wi thout expectation of payment, and the setti ngs
for the i nformal "cl asses" themselves are often decentral ized throughout
the community.
In al l of these active vi si ons from hi story and i nto the contemporary
anarchi st mi l i eu, there is a penchant for processes that are vol untary,
non-hi erarchi cal , self-di rected, i nformal , open-ended, non-commerci al ,
and spontaneous. At the end is a form of school ing that transcends any
particul ar meeting ti me or cl assroom setting, i nstead concei vi ng educa
tion as part of the everyday experience of l i fe itself, as a mutual ly support
ive and soci al l y refective set of condi ti ons that constitutes an ongoi ng
"experiment i n human l i vi ng. " 1 45 In a strong sense, young peopl e ( and
children in particul ar) can be seen as natural anarchists, and it i s through
cultivating these attributes rather than squelching them with compulsion
and di sci pl i ne that the emanci patory potenti al of educat i on i s most
readily realized. Moreover, the individuals that emerge from such setti ngs
are likely to be engaged and not di saffected, action-oriented and not apa
thetic, dissident and not conformist, community-minded and not egocen
tric. Thi s anti -authoritari an approach to education views "al l people as
capable and worthy of curiosity, learning, teaching, and creation. " 1 46
thi s manner, the l essons l earned in anarchi st educati onal setti ngs can
serve to i nfuse and i nform our rel ati ons hi ps at every l evel of soci al
Identities and Relationships
In the end, tensi ons about i ndi vi dual i sm and collectivi sm are real l y j ust
another way of tal ki ng about rel ati onshi ps . Si mi l arl y, the contours of
education, labor, soci al i zation, pol itics, and more are strongly infuenced
by the nature of the relations upon which they are premised-for exam
pl e, whether they are predomi nantly horizontal or vertical . Anarchi sm
strives for the former as the surest way to preserve autonomy and pro
mote cooperation, i n the view that freedom and equal ity are thoroughly
conj oi ned aims. As such, some contemporary anarchists have begun to
shift the i nquiry toward a "relational ethics" that focuses on "the process
of mutual di scovery and knowi ng one another . . . through rel ati ons of
1 1 6 Anarchism Today
fri endshi p, sol i dari ty, and empathy . "
1 47
In thi s l i ght, " the questi on of
whether or not people are immediately capable of self-organization with
out rigid structure or control is, then, perhaps not the most relevant one.
Anarchi sts, instead, might ask: what do people need to learn, what do I
need to learn, to practice, to become more capabl e? How can we support
each other i n those practices, i n that learning? " 1 48
Extending the analysis,
we come to understand anarchi sm as "an ethics of relati onshi ps "-and
perhaps more to the point, "as affrming alternative relati onshi ps to those
of states ( and equal ly, to i ntertwined hierarchi cal relati onshi ps i ncl udi ng
capi tal i sm, patri archy, heteronormati vi ty and col oni al i sm) " through
the devel opment of " s us tai nabl e, e mpoweri ng and egal i t ari an
relationshi ps . "
1 49
Recal l i ng Gustav Landauer' s famous ( and oft-quoted ) words, the
i nherently revol uti onary potenti al of hi s i nsi ght begins to ful ly emerge:
"The state is a soci al rel ationshi p; a certai n way of peopl e rel ati ng to
one another. It can be destroyed by creati ng new soci al rel ati onshi ps;
i . e. , by people relating to one another di fferentl y. "
Viewing anarchism
as a theory and practice of relationships enables us to see beyond the mere
pol itical economy of materi al i st conceptions of revolution, instead mov
ing toward a truly subversive reclaiming of our essential humanity i n the
face of dehumanization and our innate convivi al ity as against the state' s
"multitude of opportunities for i nti macy l ost. "
As Horrox observes,
" humani ty' s natural bonds of empathy and fraterni ty, corrupted by the
i nfuence of the capital i st state and the trappi ngs of modernity, need to
be restored i n order to create a new kind of society. "
Accordingly, con
temporary anarchi sm has increasingly engaged rel ati onal issues of family
structure, sexuality, parenti ng, househol d management, cohabi tati on,
polyamory, " free l ove, " confict transformation, non-violent communica
tion, l i stening, and becoming-as well as matters of soci al location and
i dentity constructi on bound up with race, class, gender, sexual orienta
tion, abi lity, age, and more.
Conceiving anarchism in relati onal terms as a paradigm of radical hor
izontalism that privileges no set of attributes ( e.g. , white, mal e, heterosex
ual ) over another provi des a ready basi s for rethi nki ng i ndi vi duality as
both di fference and equi valence, likewise for reconstructing community
as a form of rediscovered intimacy. Being rendered equal does not serve
to deni grate the uni que self; rather, i t el evates each of us to a pl ace of
inherent integrity and mutual respect. Extendi ng this horizontal i sm fur
ther, we come to see that i ncl udi ng nature in the cal cul us similarly places
humanki nd i n the advantageous posi ti on of being part of an i ntri cate
and s upporti ve web, rather t han appea ri ng a s i ts enemy in a ft of
"Do It Yourself"-Together 1 1 7
sel f-defeati ng egocentri sm. And fnal l y, by bri ngi ng thi s maxi mal , rel a
tional , and revol uti onary egal i tari ani sm to bear on al l of humanki nd,
we gl impse a vision of a world without mi litarized borders, where poverty
and profigacy have been el iminated, and where networks of mutual ai d
can operate gl obal l y absent the histori cal baggage of nati on or station.
This i s where the next chapter strives to take us.
From the Local to the Global
narchism i s sometimes viewed ( even by sympathetic eval uators) as a
nice idea that coul d only apply in small-scale settings, if at al l . At the
same time, anarchist principles of theorizing and organi zing are present
worldwide i n both activist and academic circles. An exploration of some
of the key local initiatives emerging out of contemporary anarchism sug
gests that a nascent gl obal movement may be in the offng; indeed, anar
chi sm possesses an i nherent i nternati onal i sm that refects a compl ex
bal ance of l ocal act i on wi t hi n a gl obal l y connected networ k.
Additi onal l y, the basi c anti-state and anti -capi tal i st premi ses of anar
chi sm present an opportunity for consi dering di fferent geopolitical con
fgurations than those promulgated by powerful i nterests-which have
l argel y brought to the world i ncreasi ng warfare, i mpoveri shment, and
environmental degradati on. Anarchism does not seek to reform the state
( and its associ ated processes ) or win power withi n its confnes, but to
abol i sh it al together-rai si ng cri ti cal questi ons i ncl udi ng what woul d
take its place, how to address "people power" struggles for national li ber
ation, and whether emerging networking technologies can be deployed in
the name of emancipati on. Contemporary anarchism directly engages al l
of these queries.
At the outset, anarchi sm' s hi story refects a remarkably i nternational i st
spi rit, dating to i ts anthropol ogical roots i n the myri ad "statel ess soci
eti es " found worl dwi de that possessed "no formal l eaders "-from the
Inuit of the polar north to the San of the arid south. 1 Rich histories have
been produced on anarchi s t organi zi ng i n Mexi co, Cuba, Uruguay,
Brazi l , Argenti na, and other nati ons i n Central and South Ameri ca .
Anarchi sm traces part of its origins ( at least metaphysi cal l y) to Lao-Tzu
and the nai ssance of Taoi sm and has found expressi on i n Chi na, Japan,
120 Anarchism Today
Korea, India, and Indonesi a, among other Asian settings.
James C. Scott
has written a particul arly fascinating " anarchist hi story" of Zomi a, a vast
stateless regi on i n Asi a popul ated by " sel f-governi ng peoples " who re
present what was once "the great maj ori ty of humanki nd. "
Li kewi se,
i n concl uding that " anarchism as a way of l i fe is i n l arge measure indige
nous i n Africa, " Sam Mbah and I . E. Igariwey locate contemporary " out
right anarchi st movements " (to varyi ng degrees ) in countri es i ncl udi ng
South Africa, Nigeria, Zi mbabwe, Ghana, and Egypt.
Anarchist praxis
has been i ndicated i n the "Arab Spring" upri si ngs i n the Middle East,
and anarchi sts have mai ntai ned a strong presence in the central global
hotspot that i s Israel and Palestine.
In addition to anarchism' s infuential
presence in Russi a and Eastern Europe, which produced many l andmark
thinkers , there are of course well-known examples from across Europe,
i ncl udi ng strong mani festati ons i n Greece, Italy, Engl and, and perhaps
most not abl y Spai n, where anarchi sts fought agai nst fasci sm i n the
1 930s and set up a model society i n the process . Confrmi ng thi s gl obal
scope, a 20 1 0 book ( in German) on "worl dwi de anarchis m" i ncl udes
i nterviews wi th anarchists from 50 countries, covering al l continents in
the process?
Al l of thi s portrays a thoroughly gl obal anarchi sm, even as it remai ns
the case that a Eurocentric, U. S. -centric, and/or "Western" perspective
tends to dominate the fel d. This eventual i ty has clear roots in the legacy
of col oni al i sm, as well as the unequal di stri buti on of educati on and
opportunity that skews t o t he beneft of " Fi rst Worl d " nati ons i n the
gl obal north versus those often pej oratively coded as the "Third World"
countri es of the gl obal south. Despi te the fact that anarchi st wri ters
( mysel f incl uded) at ti mes perpetuate thi s i mbal ance by vi rtue of thei r
soci ocul tural and geographi cal l ocati ons, i t i s al so true that anarchi sm
as a set of theori es and practi ces works speci fcal l y to amel i orate such
effects through concrete efforts bent on decol oni zati on and egal i tari an
i sm. One of the key methods for pursui ng these ai ms i s the establishment
of hori zontal networks of exchange and sol i darity across nati onal bor
ders, which often i ncl ude i n their development a thoroughgoi ng decon
structi on of pri vi l eges and hi erarchi es attendant to race, gender, cl ass,
and other attributes. Moreover, anarchists labor di ligently to oppose the
workings of nation-states and corporate gl obalization alike, thus seeking
to eradicate two of the most pernici ous impediments to a world of equal
j ustice for al l i ts i nhabitants.
A critical poi nt of refection for anarchi sts today i s to envi sage what
forms of human association woul d take the pl ace of nati on-states i n any
potenti al anarchi st gl obal system. Whereas a l i beral - i nternati onal i st
From the Local to the Global 1 21
perspecti ve mi ght advocate for a worl d governmental structure a s a
means of surmounting mi litarized borders and perpetual nati onal con
fi cts, and a neoconservati ve model mi ght devol ve upon a si ngl e heg
emoni c s uperpower s ubs umi ng the worl d i n i ts orbi t as a path to
stabi l i ty and prosperity, anarchists general l y rej ect both formul ati ons i n
favor of " bottom- up" processes that are organized from below by i ndi
vi dual s and communi ti es. As we have seen, the pri macy of personal
autonomy i s central t o anarchism, as i s the productive necessity of l i ving
i n community with others; beyond this, anarchi sts grow increasingly sus
pi ci ous of forms of associ ati on that expand the scope of governance in
such a manner as to render direct partici pati on unwieldy. Thi s does not
necessari l y precl ude ci ty-l evel units of anal ysi s or even bi oregi onal per
spectives, and i ndeed anarchists at ti mes have argued for both as reason
abl e alternatives to the rigidity and brutality of the state as the arbiter of
world order. The crucial ingredient for anarchi sts in establ i shing a global
model is how these anti -authori tari an units wi l l " federate " and coordi
nate their efforts; i n many ways, thi s process will be anal ogous to the
ways in which i ndi vi dual l i berty and col lective processes are bal anced,
refecting the l ongstandi ng anarchist premise that freedom and equality
are mutually i ncl usive endeavors.
Global Anarchism: A Primer
Perhaps the l eadi ng fgure i n recent decades bringing a global perspective
to anarchi sm ( and vice versa) has been Noam Chomsky. His trenchant
analysi s of worl d pol iti cs and current events, coupl ed wi th hi s cri ti cal
reading of recent history through a l ens of U. S. imperi al i sm in particul ar,
has served to i nform and i nspire generations of anarchists. In his impres
sive body of work, Chomsky has eluci dated the stark parameters of geo
pol itics, empi re bui l di ng, real poli ti k, and ongoi ng attempts by nati on
states to capital ize on ostensi ble "threats " as a means of expanding their
internal control and external hegemony at once. As Chomsky observes,
the concept of the "enemy" i s often used to brand "people who are com
mitted to these dangerous heresies, such as usi ng thei r resources for their
own purposes or bel ieving that the government is committed to the wel
fare of its own people. "
Taking the anal ysi s further, he concl udes that
"the United States qui te consistently tries to create enemi es . . . because
that j ustifes us in carrying out the vi ol ent attacks whi ch we must carry
out, given the geopolitical conception under which we organize and con
trol much of the worl d. "
In the end, Chomsky discerns that the greatest
actual threat to U. S. domi nance may wel l be " s ucces s ful soci al and
122 Anarchism Today
economic development in one area, " which can have the effect of encour
agi ng others to extri cate themsel ves " from the system of mi sery and
oppression that we' ve helped t o impose. "
Chomsky' s analysis provides a useful point of departure for interpret
ing gl obal pol itics i n the age of empire bui lding, likewise for understand
ing ( at l east i n part) the attempt to crush examples of i ntransigence and
i nsurgency-incl udi ng those fomented by anarchists around the worl d.
But it al so leaves many unanswered questions and poi nts i n need of fur
ther refnement, i ncl udi ng what exactly is to be done (or perhaps more
to the poi nt, undone) in the face of a rapi dl y escalating global hegemony
that i s being faci l itated by new technologies and the combi ned effect of
mi litary-economic conquest. To some extent, despite his radical approach
and maj or i nfuence, Choms ky remai ns ent renched wi t hi n the
Westphal i an order that ( a) constructs geopolitical i nsi ghts ( even critical
ones ) around nation-states as the essential pi eces of the puzzle, ( b) views
ideological rifts as key battl egrounds, and ( c) takes institutional political
power as the pri me mover of worl d events . Thi s i s not to say t hat
Chomsky prefers i t this way but merely that i t i s the paradigm i n which
he is working-and there remains much to be said for this line of thought.
Still, as John Clark counsels, the landscape is rapidly changing: "The pre
vai l ing world systems 0 0 0 no longer offer us a hopeful prospect of resolv
i ng the vas t s oci al and ecol ogi cal cri s es whi ch now confront
humani ty. 0 What i s necessary i s an al ternati ve vi si on of soci ety, the
future, and i ndeed real i ty itsel f: a vi si on whi ch departs from the tradi
tional ideologies. "
1 1
For Clark, that new vision is i n fact anarchism. Interestingly, it i s more
often the cas e that i nternati onal rel ati ons are s ai d to be typi fed by
anarchy, in the disparaging sense of representing chaos and potential vio
l ence, si nce there i s no formal executive authority at the global level to
enforce laws and impose coercive sanctions as a means of securing com
pl i ance. The United Nati ons i s not such an enti ty, nor i s the force of an
incipient international l aw and its relatively toothless tri bunal s. The oper
ative premise i n internati onal theory is actually a proj ection of the logic of
the nati on-state, that i s, that l eft to thei r own devi ces, i ndi vi dual units
( states themselves, in the international order) are fundamentally untrust
worthy and bent on asserting their power for personal (or national ) gai n.
Perhaps i roni cal l y, i n the case of nati on-states vi s-a-vi s the internati onal
communi ty, thi s Hobbesi an logic often appears true. Assertions of supe
rior power by gl obal hegemons l i ke the United States are thus tolerated
(if not celebrated) as necessary-if at times unfortunate-attempts to fll
the vacuum and impose a police-like sense of order upon an anarchic state
From the Local to the Global 1 23
of world affai rs. However, as Richard Falk contends, the purported " sol
ution" has by now become a primary driver of the probl em: "The mod
erni st rel i ance on the soverei gn terri tor i al st ate . . . is i ncreas i ngl y
anachroni sti c and dysfuncti onal when i t comes to gl obal pol i cy and
probl em-sol vi ng. The pri macy of the state as the foundati on of human
community and the state system that continues to constitute the operative
framework for world order needs to be superseded, or modi fed, i deo
logically and behaviorally as rapi dl y as possi ble. "
1 2
Thi s real i zat i on has l ed Andrej Gr ubac i c , i mpl i ci t l y fol l owi ng
Cl ark' s i nsi ght, t o concl ude that " the answer t o ' gl obal anarchy' . . . i s
'global anarchism. ' "
1 3
Simply put, an anarchical world order composed of
nati on-states i s not a condi ti on of anarchism but one of opportuni stic
a uthori tari ani sm, i n whi ch state and corporate el ites j ockey for pos
ition among themselves, while neither power nor wealth genuinely circulates
among the masses. As Fal k notes, i t increasingly appears that we have
reached a ti ppi ng poi nt defned by " the ideological exhaustion of state
centrism as a transformative nexus"-with the bare teeth of empire and nas
cent fascism steadily being reasserted in response, through means including
"hyper-nationalism, intensifed militarism, xenophobic immigration policy,
and an endless search for enemies within and without state boundaries. " 1 4
Against this, Falk concludes that the "genuine challenge for a revived tradi
tion of anarchism [is] to develop a global vision that al lows its overriding
concern with freedom of the i ndi vi dual , autonomy of the group, and
harmony among groups to be responsive to the planetary imperatives of a
sustainable social life in the early 21 st century. "
1 5
Anticipatig the coming
challenge, Clark has sketched an anarchist vision based on
the repl acement of nati on-states by federati ons of communal and
workpl ace associ ati ons; repl acement of corporate capi tal i st and
state ownershi p by self-management of production by the produc
ers; replacement of the patriarchal authoritari an family by libertar
i an family and living arrangements; replacement of the megalopolis
and central i zed popul ati on di stri buti on by decentral i zed, ecol ogi
cal l y balanced popul ati on patterns; and repl acement of centralized,
high technology by more humanly scaled alternative technol ogi es,
which are compati bl e wi th decentralized, democratic deci si on mak
i ng, and whi ch are not destructi ve of the s oci al and nat ur al
environments .
1 6
In thi s sense, by exposi ng regi mes of domi nati on at every l evel and
" offeri ng paths to thei r di smantl i ng that pl aces the autonomy of the
124 Anarchism Today
i ndi vi dual and the col lective at its heart, " anarchi sm " provides a useful
intellectual toolkit for scholars of the gl obal , and brings a new perspective"
of rigorous critique and i magi native reconstructi on. 1
Recognizing that
anarchists in general have engaged in too little "sustained analysi s of 'the
i nternational ' " i n favor of more micro-level considerations of indivi dual s
and communities, Alex Prichard has worked to devel op a " deeper anar
chism; one that does not ignore the international nor retreat to the utopian
visions of the transformative powers of revolutionary class struggle anar
chism. " 1 8
Prichard i s responding to anarchism's historical impetus toward
international workers' sol i darity as a means of promoting gl obal revol u
ti on. Thi s trend i n anarchi sm has been greatl y i nformed by Mi chael
Bakunin' s col lectivist, insurrectionist approach, which has been both com
plemented and counterbal anced by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon' s mutual i st
federalism that incl uded the possibi l ity of "constitutional ized anarchy" as
a basi s for pol i ti ca l order.
1 9
I n practi ce, whi l e nei ther Bakuni n ' s nor
Proudhon' s formulation was ultimately successful i n surmounting state/cor
porate power, the lessons of their examples serve as important reminders of
anarchism's simultaneous anti-statism and i nternationalism.
Whi l e these ( and other) approaches from the cl assi cal era certai nl y
served thei r purposes and have i nfuenced generati ons of anarchi sts i n
the process, today the emphasi s for engagi ng the i nternational frame i s
more on the "translation or circul ation of struggles [ and] the el aboration
of cooperation among people i n the struggl e. "
The path to globalism, i n
thi s vi ew, i s to become more deeply rooted in local struggles and to fnd
ways to link them together. As Cl ark expl ai ns, " unl ess the i nhumane,
bureaucratic, obj ectifying rel ati onshi ps created by the state, capital i sm,
and hi gh technology are repl aced by personal i stic, cooperative relation
ships arising i n the pri mary communal group, i t cannot be hoped that
people will have a deep concern for humanity as a whole. "
Clark wisely
di s cerns t hat anarchi s ts-far from bei ng i ns uffci entl y attenti ve to
internati onal concerns-have i n actuality infused them within the context
of everyday exi stence, communal rel ati onshi ps, and l ocal struggles for
dignity, j ustice, and ecologically bal anced lives . This refects anarchi sm' s
penchant for grassroots, bottom-up organizing as a means of promoting
an "organi c interdependence beginning with the most basic social units
and bui ldi ng, through federation, to humanity as a whole. "
The ques
ti on thus becomes what l evel of affl i ati on we wi l l take as the uni t of
anal ysi s; despite the geopolitical domi nance of nati on-states ( even in the
age of corporate power ) , anarchi sts rej ect t hei r ut i l i ty as a bas i s
for association.
Beyond the State
From the Local to the Global 125
Anarchists by and large consider the state to be a poor choice for manag
ing human and environmental affairs . Nation-states exist within the con
fnes of arti fci al boundaries, often acquired and mai ntai ned through
processes of warfare or col oni al i sm. States are mi l i tari sti c, capital i sti c,
and governed through hierarchical processes that at best cl ai m the prob
l emati c mantl e of " representati on " and at worst devol ve upon naked
fasci sm. Anarchists were early critics at the dawn of i ndustri al i sm to point
out how state and corporate i nterests were i ntertwi ned and mutual l y
rei nforci ng despi te at ti mes conveyi ng a publ i c face of opposi ti on that
serves to generate a fal se sense of " checks and bal ances " and spi ri ted
political debate as a means of placating the populace. Anarchy by defni
ti on rej ects the state, as we know, and l ikewi se all forms of rule based
on coerci ve authori ty and pyrami dal power structures. But as we have
al so seen, anarchi sts do not reject governance per se, and in fact they are
ardent proponents of sel f-management, communi ty- based deci si on
making processes, and the active participation of al l who will be impacted
by any parti cul ar course of acti on contempl ated by the group. In thi s
sense, anarchism i s not governance-averse but rather government-averse,
and thus it abhors the state.
Interestingly, this critique of the state comes from two directions, as Clark
observes: "There are two sides to the anarchist rej ection of the nation-state:
one is communal i sm, and the other is internati onal i sm. "
On the one
hand, the state does violence to individual autonomy and communal rela
tionships by imposing "l aw and order" from above, under penalty of pun
ishment ( or worse ) ; unlike an anarchi st community in which peopl e live
and work as rel ati ve equal s and no authority i s ever reifed i n coerci ve
power, the state i s an abstracti on that mandates uni versal obedi ence ( at
least as to the governed) without equal voice in the process of governance.
On the other hand, the state refuses to yield its sovereignty in globally cog
nizable matters such as the environment and human rights, asserting its ple
nary powers over its resources and peoples alike. In this sense, the anarchist
denunciation of the state i s both bottom-up and top-down, that is, the state
i s i ns uffci entl y l ocal and gl obal at the same ti me-representi ng an
" unhappy medi um" that has served more often than not as an agent of
oppressi on, and even genocide, rather than as a locus for human dignity
and of-invoked rights of "l ife, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. "
There is a popul ar notion in internati onal relations and peace-building
ci rcl es about how nati on-states, particul arl y ones that are ostensi bl y
" democrati c" in nature, do not general l y wage war upon one another.
126 Anarchism Today
There i s also the view that most gl obal conficts are actual l y internecine
and that cross-border wars are the excepti on. Despite the force of these
concepts, they are l i mited by i nterpretati on and the intrusi on of real ity,
as even a cursory glance at U. S. foreign policy over the past century al one
( i n whi ch the nati on has been at war conti nuousl y) might reveal . The
creation of nation-states has not served to forestall confict, and i n fact it
has mai nl y exacerbated it; simply put, the state di d not save the world
from the scourge of vi ol ence, but merel y normal i zed i ts use. A wel l
known aphorism from Randolph Bourne counsels that "war i s the health
of the state, " and the bl oody hi story of the twentieth century aptly con
frms this. Ultimately, the rise of the nation-state as the locus for promot
ing confi ct resol uti on i n the Westphal i an worl d order si mpl y has not
brought much of it. As Thorstei n Veblen once famousl y noted, " Born in
i ni quity and conceived i n sin, the spirit of national i sm has never ceased
to bend human i nsti tuti ons to the service of di ssensi on and di stres s . "
Graspi ng thi s, anarchists rej ect the state and its nati onal i sti c software
"as an ideology that i s ultimately rooted i n authoritarianism and bigotry,
recognizing that it i s an ideology that came into its own with the fourish
ing of the capital i st state. "
A 20 1 1 a rti cl e by Fal k rai s es the central questi on " I s the State a
Monster ? " and observes that " for many the state becomes an i dol to be
uncondi ti onal l y obeyed as i f an i nfal l i bl e god, a forfeiture of freedom, a
renunci ation of citizenshi p in a humane pol itical community, and a vol
untary acceptance of subj ugation of the spirit. Such a ' patriotic' process
has drasti cal l y di mi ni shed the qual i ty of democrati c l i fe al most every
where, and has gi ven the state a green l i ght to wage wars of choice,
regardless of their bloody consequences. "
25 Fal k cites chi l l i ng hi storical
examples, i ncl udi ng "the Nazi death camps, the atomic bombs dropped
on Japanese ci ti es, the genoci dal di spossessi on of i ndi genous peopl es
throughout the worl d, the cruel t i es of col oni al rul e, the l ong si ege
imposed on the people of Gaza, " asserting that a gl obal superpower such
as the United States " remains ready to incinerate tens of millions of inno
cent civilians for the sake of regime survi val for itsel f and al l ied govern
ments . What coul d be col der ? What coul d be more anti - human ? "
As Crispin Sartwell concurs, "the state is a self-referenti al hi story, a self
rei nforci ng i nfnite spi ral of oppressi on . . . . The modern nati on-state i s
an absol utel y necessary condi ti on for the wars and extermi nati ons of
the twenti eth and the present century that have expended human beings
as i f they were i nani mate . . . . It may wel l be, when all i s said and done,
that the nati on-state i s responsi bl e for the extermi nati on of our speci es
or the extinction of our pl anet. "
From the Local to the Global 127
Despite this legacy, nation-states have largely retained their legitimacy
by eradi cati ng vi abl e alternati ves, from the local to the gl obal , and by
fomenting antipathies between people based on groundl ess nati onal istic
passi ons. Against this, anarchi sm " advocates i nternati onal i sm to break
down ideologically imposed national di vi si ons i n order to reveal the real
di vi si ons whi ch our rul ers are constantl y trying to mask: the di vi si on
between ri ch and poor, between capi tal -owners and workers, between
the international fnanci al elites and the rest of us. "
The anarchist tradi
tion, i n the view of the authors of Black Flame, has thus devolved upon
"an i nternati onal i st movement; i t strove to uni te the popul ar cl asses
across al l state borders, stressed the common i nterests of the worki ng
cl ass and peasantry of al l countries, and aimed at an international social
revol uti on. "
Reflecting thi s universal ity of human i nterests and al l e
gi ances, the Mexican revol uti onary Ri cardo Fl ores Mag6n stated i n a
Los Angel es federal courtroom in 1 9 1 6 : "We are al i ens to no country,
nor are we al iens to any people on earth. The world is our country and
al l men are our countrymen. "
Anarchists embrace such notions of obl i
terated borders and common humanities and thus oppose the state as the
enemy of such pursuits.
Whatever hi storical utility the nation-state model may have represented
appears to have run its course. Perhaps it was a necessary step away from
absol uti sm and toward l i berty and democracy, but the rubri c by now
appears to be working at cross-purposes to these ai ms. States are repres
sive, mi l itaristic, authoritari an, expansi oni st, opportunistic, and intoler
ant . Even in the best cas e s cenar i o, the state breeds dependency,
obedi ence, and central izati on of power; i n t he end, t he ri s e of nati on
states has yi el ded precisely what i t was al leged to forestal l . Conversely,
as anarchi sts have long mai nt ai ned, abol i s hi ng nati on- states woul d
encourage people to live and work together regardless of territorial boun
dari es, al l owi ng for a freer exchange of communi ti es and cul tures.
3 1
Local i ti es woul d become the l ocus of peopl es' l i ves and in that sense
woul d promote more sustai nabl e lifestyl es. The tendency to simplify con
fict into " us versus them" would be severely undermined, and the ability
of hardl iners to hi j ack the "wi l l of the peopl e " for destructive purposes
greatly diminished. Permanent war economi es would be rendered imprac
ticabl e i f not impossible, and the pervasive leveraging of corporate power
over democratic governance woul d become a virtual nullity. While some
believe that the waning infuence of nation-states would yield greater cor
porate power, i t appears i nstead that the two are i n fact j ointly opera
ti onal and that the obsol escence of one coul d bring about an end to the
other. Beyond both governments and corporati ons lie i ndi vi dual s and
128 Anarchism Today
communi ti es-seemi ngl y forgotten enti ti es that may wel l reemerge if
given suffcient room and encouragement to do so.
Even so, anarchi sts do not suggest that the abol iti on of nati on-states
would be a panacea, or that this would not bring about its own set of di f
fculti es. There is al so some ambivalence in the mi l i eu, such as with Fal k
himself, who has argued that
even most of those among us who try to be ci tizens i n the proper
sense woul d sti l l not opt for the chaos of an ungoverned soci al order
if gi ven a free choi ce . Our task is to bui l d a j ust and ethi cal l y
accountabl e state, not t o abandon t he enterpri se as futi l e . . . . We
al so need to resist the temptati on to fall into a deeper sleep by adopt
ing a posture of unreal i zabl e and unaccepta bl e negati on of thi s
strange pol itical creature called the state. In the end, the state i s not
b k
a monster, ut a wor progress.
Others have likewise recognized the i mplicit, pragmatic di lemma that " in
a situation where state power more or less extends to every corner of the
globe, anarchy becomes practical ly impossi bl e. "
Another cri ti cal questi on concerns the appearance of "s truggl es for
national l i beration [that are] frequently infused with national ism, " some
t hi ng that anarchi sts that have gr appl ed wi th as embodyi ng both
revol utionary and nati onal i stic potential s.
Indeed, anarchists through
out hi story have fought i n nati onal l i berati on struggl es, from Nestor
Makhno i n the Ukrai ne to Buenaventura Durruti ( among many others )
in the Spani sh Civil War. Yet given today' s cl i mate, in which an increas
ingly integrated gl obal system has shown a remarkabl e capacity to co
opt and/or crush resistance that remai ns too frmly rooted within its stat
i st confnes, " i t coul d equally be argued that nati onal l i berati on efforts
can only end up creating new state-sponsored nati onal i sms. "
Shoul d
anarchi sts thus rej ect popul ar upri si ngs agai nst dictators, such as those
evi denced by the Arab Spri ng in countri es l i ke Egypt, on the basis that
they seek not to abol i sh the state but to reform i t? Shal l anarchists navi
gate the Israel -Palestine confict by seeki ng a multiplicative "two-state sol
ution" or through some other mechanism?
We wi l l consi der these particul ar exampl es in more detai l below. The
salient point for now i s that anarchi st engagement with the nation-state
is compl ex, defned by the real i ti es of living i n a state-bound paradi gm
yet al so recognizing that thi s must be resisted i f we are to achieve a sus
t ai nabl e worl d based on freedom and equal i ty. Whereas some anti
capi tal i st activists have "tended to underpl ay the relevance of nati onal
From the Local to the Global 1 29
state practices as part of global ization" in the belief that corporations and
emergi ng technol ogi es are erodi ng the central i ty of the state i n dri vi ng
worl d affai rs , anarchi sts have been quick to poi nt out that " nati on
states have provided the mi l itary force for the expansion and institution
of capi tal i st ventures. "
3 6
In thi s sense, for many anarchi sts, paradoxi
cal l y, "the state needs to be returned to the center of cri ti cal anal ysi s
and oppositi onal politics, " and thus any temptation to see it as a bulwark
agai nst the ravages of corporate capi tal must be forceful l y resi sted.
3 7
Anarchists likewise rej ect the tendency ( sometimes reinforced by national
liberation struggles that seek to win support of the military) to view " self
defense " through a statist lens of mi l i tari sm, instead seeking communal
forms such as the popul ar mi l i ti as of the Spani sh Ci vi l War that were
organi zed on egal i tari an pri nci pl es .
As we have seen throughout thi s
vol ume, anarchi sts i nstead embrace bottom- up, do- i t-yoursel f, and
l oosel y affl i ated modes of associ ati on that seek t o preserve autonomy
and promote community.
From Federations to Networks
As noted in the Introduction to this vol ume, anarchism has enj oyed a dra
matic resurgence in recent years, seei ng its core val ues and methods of
organizing i nfused throughout gl obal movements against corporate glob
al i zation, Western mi l i tari zati on, and el ite i naction on cl i mate change,
among other pressi ng i ssues . It woul d be an overstatement to say that
these movements of the new mi l l enni um are in themselves anarchi st by
nature, si nce they are compri sed of di verse i ndi vi dual s, organi zati ons,
and coal iti ons that do not necessari l y agree on methods and goal s, l et
alone on thei r vi si ons for what an alternative gl obal society woul d l ook
l i ke in practice. Sti l l , from tactical diversity and affnity groups to solidar
ity actions and large-group consensus models, there i s no doubt that anar
chi s m has been at the heart of movement cul t ure i n the era of
gl obal i zati on. As Ri chard J. F. Day surmi ses, thi s i s due i n part t o the
realization that "the struggle between community 0 . 0 and state and corpo
rate forms i s i ndeed the struggle of the ( post) modern condi ti on, " and
anarchi sm' s longstanding and uncompromising rejection of both the state
and capital have placed it i n good stead to be at the fore of this contest.
Davi d Graeber further fnds that "anarchist principles-autonomy, vol
untary associ ati on, sel f-organi zati on, di rect democracy, mutual ai d
have become the bas i s for organi zi ng new s oci al movements from
Karnataka t o Buenos Aires, " even i f the word " anarchi st" i s not always
explicitly utilized. 4
1 30 Anarchism Today
One of the remarkabl e features of this emerging gl obal anarchi sm is
that, as Day notes , " those on the margi ns are showi ng the way [ i n]
exploring the possi bi lities of non-statist, non-capitalist, egalitarian modes
of soci al organizati on. "
The reasons for this may be self-evident, includ
ing that for many of the pl anet's i nhabi tants who live and work i n sl ums,
shantytowns, and maqui l adoras-wi th l i ttl e hope for the future and
havi ng seen thei r al ready-tenuous materi al foothol ds eroded i n rapi d
fashi on-it i s cl ear that the apparatuses of the state and capi tal have
utterly fai led them. The purported " ri si ng tide " of corporate gl obal i za
ti on has not served to " l i ft al l boats , " as the sayi ng goes, but rather
for many i n the margi ns i t has threatened to drown them al together.
Unsurprisingly, then, many of these people have been "working to reverse
the col onization of everyday life by taking control over-and responsibility
for-the conduct of their own affai rs, " most directly by " bui lding, linking,
and defendi ng a utonomous communi ti es. "
Thi s combi nati on of
autonomy and community, of self-management and responsibility, i s part
and parcel of anarchi sm, and thus it has served as a natural place from
which to resist oppression.
I n previ ous chapters we have consi dered many exampl es of gl obal
anarchi st networks, i ncl udi ng Food Not Bombs, the Anarchi st Bl ack
Cross, and Indymedi a. A particul arl y intri gui ng exempl ar of emerging
autonomist resistance is Peoples' Gl obal Action ( PGA) , a gl obal network
of grassroots groups that " bui ld local alternatives to gl obalizati on; rej ect
' al l forms and systems of domi nati on and di scri mi nati on' ; have a con
frontati onal attitude towards domi nant ( governmental and economi c)
structures of power; organi ze based on pri nci pl es of decentral i zati on
and autonomy; and employ methods of di rect action and ci vi l di sobedi
ence. "
The PGA " is an i nstrument for co-ordi nati on, not an organi za
ti on, " and thus " no organi zati on or person represents the PGA, nor
does the PGA represent any organi zati on or person. "
The PGA was
formed i n 1 998 out of encuentros ( encounters ) that drew thousands of
people in opposition to neoliberalism; key entities comprising the founda
ti ons of the PGA i ncl ude the Zapati sta Army of Nati onal Li berati on
( whi ch launched an upri si ng i n Chi apas, Mexi co, on January 1, 1 994,
the day the North Ameri can Free Trade Agreement took effect ) , the
Brazi l i an Landl ess Workers' Movement ( whi ch occupies unused l ands
and uses them to create farms ) , and the Karnataka State Farmers Union
from India ( which util izes direct action campaigns on behalf of traditional
agricultural methods ) . As an umbrella entity, the PGA spells out i ts ai ms
in "hal lmarks, " the frst of whi ch sums up i ts basic shared val ue: "A very
cl ear rej ecti on of capi tal i s m, i mperi al i s m and feudal i s m; al l t rade
From the Local to the Global 1 31
agreements , i nsti tuti ons and governments that promote destructi ve
global izati on. "
The Zapatistas themselves have been instrumental in pointing the way
toward resistance to gl obal ization and modeling constructive, anarchi stic
al ternatives. Si nce taki ng up arms for a bri ef peri od i n 1 994 and thus
announcing thei r presence t o the world, thi s autonomi st movement has
l ooked l i ke no other " army " i n recent hi story. The Zapati stas have
focused l ess on confrontati on wi th the state than on " the creati on of
autonomous, democratic, self-governing communities, " always conscious
of the necessity to work "in al l i ance with a gl obal network of like-minded
democrati c revol uti onari es . "
As Graeber notes, the Zapati stas are
" about the l east vi ol ent ' army' i magi nable, " mirroring a pattern i n evi
dence with other groups that are part of the PGA: "In moving away from
mi l itary tactics they often also ended up-often rather despite themselves
-movi ng towards much more anarchi sti c forms of organi zati on. "
What these entities ( i n particul ar, the sustained example of the Zapatista
Army of Nati onal Liberation and its capacity to preserve vi l l age l i fe and
i ndi genous l i feways in the face of hegemoni c forces) have demonstrated
is "that municipal ities can strive to become autonomous from statecraft
and capi tal , to put human and ecological concerns frst, while retai ni ng
regi onal and gl obal l i nks of sol i dari ty and mut ual ai d. "
What the
Zapatistas recognized in the mi d- 1 990s turned out to be the key insight
that helped launch the global movement against neol i beral i sm, namel y,
that any struggle for self-determi nation ( at any scal e of engagement) wi l l
wi nd up confronting the worki ngs of the enti re system and not j ust the
local authorities or apparatuses of the nation-state.
Anarchi sts at the dawn of industri alization focused more specifcally on
creating federations of sel f-managi ng communi ties, both withi n nati ons
and i nternati onal l y, rej ecti ng the state as the basi s for federal i sm but
remai ni ng wedded to a framework i n whi ch i ndi vi dual uni t s mi ght
remai n relatively separate i n their affairs and would always possess "the
right of secession. "
As Bakuni n asserted in 1 868, "we will never recog
ni ze any rights or duti es other than those founded upon freedom. The
right to free assembly and equal freedom to secede is the prime and most
i mportant of all pol iti cal rights: without which confederation woul d be
nothing more than centralization i n disguise. "
Bakuni n' s vi si on i s still
germane, i ncl udi ng his insight that a unity could be achi eved through
the " federation of autonomous parts i nto the whol e, i n such a way that
the l atter, no longer the graveyard where al l local prosperities are forcibly
i nterred, becomes i nstead the confrmation and well-spring of all these
autonomies and al l these prosperiti es. "
5 1
The presumpti on i n Bakuni n ' s
1 32 Anarchism Today
time was that individual units could choose whether to become imbricated
within the larger workings of a global system, or they could simply opt out;
in this manner, autonomy and decentralization would be grounded in the
power of the local community versus the imposition of the global federa
tion. This is a worthwhile perspective, to be sure, but the realities of the
modern era have rendered at least parts of it effectively moot.
Today' s world i s i nherently gl obal , and communi ti es are thus neces
sari l y ( rather than opti onal l y) i ncorporated i nto i ts matri x. This i s due
i n large measure to the force of gl obal ization and i ts impetus to interlink
economi es and technol ogi es, creati ng the web of telecommuni cati ons
and i nternational fnance that now encircles the world even out to its far
thest reaches . Additionally, many of the byproducts of the i ndustri al age
have contri buted to conditions of i nescapabl y gl obal i mport, i ncl udi ng
cl i mate change, l oss of arabl e l ands, food shortages, drought, and the
escal ati ng toxi fcati on of the bi osphere. Local communiti es si mply no
longer have the option of wholly " opting out" since the character of the
crises being confronted i s increasingly global i n nature. In the face of this
eventual ity, and coupled with the Zapatistas' i nsight that local struggles
are necessarily global ones as wel l , anti-state and anti-capital i st activists
i n the contemporary milieu often begin from a premise of interconnected
ness that has moved the discussion from a vision of vol untary federation
to one of requi site networki ng.
In this l i ght, decentral ized entities such as the PGA may be less i nnova
ti ve than they are mere survival strategies; they represent an effort to cre
ate a counter-network to the one being plied by neol i beral i sm, the one
that seeks to erase di fferences and eradicate non-commerci al vestiges. In
other words, if we are forced to become integrated, then the optimal strat
egy i s to do so i n a manner that preserves and promotes autonomy, com
munity, sel f-governance, di versity, and sol i darity-in short, anarchism.
As such, an emerging network l i ke the PGA "can be seen as a signifcant
step i n the possi bl e construction of an anarchist counter-hegemony, as it
tries to deepen the pol itical l i nkages between vari ous radi cal groups in
order to strengthen both feelings of col l ective sol i darity and anarchi sts'
capacity to resi st repression by acti ng as a tool of communication and co
or di nat i on. "
5 2
Today' s movements " c al l s i mul taneous l y for s el f
determination and gl obal connectivity [in order to] develop creative strat
egi es to organi ze agai nst the l ocal agents of l ocal capi t al , i ncl udi ng
nati on-states , whi l e seeki ng to create pol i ti cal spaces and communities
beyond appeals for state protecti oni sm. "
Sometimes this i s refected i n
anarchists' rej ecti on of nati onal borders, a tack which has the dual ( and
seemi ngly contradictory) effect of strengtheni ng l ocal communi ti es by
From the Local to the Global 133
al l owing them to become more integrated within gl obal networks-aki n
to what Fal k has described as " achieving sel f-determi nati on above and
bel ow the l evel of the state. "
In thi s manner, the l ocal and the gl obal
converge, creati ng a space for the potenti al devel opment of " shared
ethico-political commitments that al l ow us to achieve enough sol i darity
to effectively create sustai nabl e al ternatives to the neol i beral order . . . .
The goal i s not to ' stri ve to be one communi ty' . . . but to bui l d many
linked communities. "
We mi ght cal l thi s attempt to preserve l ocal/community autonomy i n
the face of a rel entlessly gl obal i zi ng worl d something like " scal i ng down
and l i nking up. " As Jeffrey S. Juri s has observed, such efforts represent
a confuence " between anarchist principles and a wider networking logic
associ ated with l ate capitalism. "
In fact, for Juris, anarchism is the "cul
tural logic of networki ng, " which i s ironically refective of " the logic of
informational capitalism. "
Still, "there i s nothing inherently anarchi st
or even progressive about network forms, " but rather their effcacy ( and
anarchy ) are determi ned l argel y by the s pi ri t i n whi ch they are
depl oyed.
5 8
Thi s i s not so much a questi on of technol ogy ( hardware)
but more so one of val ues ( software) ; for anarchi cal l y i ncl i ned entities
such as the PGA, the l atter i ncl udes horizontal i sm, diversity, autonomy,
decentralization, consensus, self-direction, and the " free and open circu
l at i on of i nformat i on. "
5 9
I n an i ntervi ew di s cus s i ng hi s book
Networking Futures, Juris di stinguishes
between two ideal organizati onal logics: a vertical command logic
and a hori zontal networki ng l ogic, both of whi ch are present to
varyi ng degrees, and exi st i n dynami c tensi on wi th respect to one
another, wi thi n any particul ar network . . . . PGA refects a particul ar
commi tment to new forms of open, col l aborati ve, and di rectl y
democratic organizati on, thus coming cl oser to the horizontal net
working logics. 0 0 PGA does refect something of an anarchist ethic,
although this has more to do with the confuence between network
i ng l ogi cs and anarchi st organi zi ng pri nci pl es than any ki nd of
abstract commitment t o anarchi st pol itics per s e . . . . The network
structure of PGA thus provides a transnational space for communi
cati on and coordi nati on among activists and col lecti ves . . 0 0 PGA
provi des the kind of communi cati onal i nfrastructure necessary for
the rise of contemporary networked social movements.
As Juri s concl udes, " the gl obal j usti ce/al ternati ve gl obal i zati on/anti
capi tal i s t frame i s a good one i n that i t encompas s es an array of
1 34 Anarchism Today
movements and struggles, while mai ntai ni ng a focus on systemic i nter
connecti ons . I thi nk it woul d be an error to revert back to si ngle i ssue
pol i ti cs and struggl es at t hi s poi nt, as such connecti ons woul d be
obscured and the soci al , pol i ti cal , and cul t ural capi ta l of the gl obal
j ustice movement woul d be squandered. " 6 1
Here again we fnd the i mplicit recognition that i n an i nevitabl y inter
linked world (at least as thi ngs presently stand) , the choice is not so much
whether to be networked, but how we will do so. By choosing proactively
to embrace the decentral i zed and autonomi st potenti al s of the gl obal
age-always cognizant of the ever-present potenti al for co-optation and
l i nearization-anarchists ( and thei r associated movements ) have bol dl y
stood up i n the midst of a maelstrom, counter-posing "voluntary associa
tion" to "free trade," "conscious community" to "conspicuous consump
tion, " and, ultimately, "global anarchism" to "gl obal anarchy. " Taki ng
such transformati ve l essons seri ousl y, there may be no other regi on of
the world where these quasi -heroic pursuits are more poi nted, chal leng
ing, and revol uti onary than i n the Mi ddle East.
In the Middle of the Action
As prophetical l y predicted by Graeber, among others, "anarchi st i deas
and i mperati ves have become more and more i mportant everywhere i n
the world, " and accordingly, "revolution wi l l , in the twenty-frst century,
take on increasingly unfami l i ar forms. "62 More than a century ago, anar
chi sts recogni zed the comi ng i nterconnectedness of revolution, even as
today' s modes of gl obal networki ng were not yet i magi ned, l et al one
implemented: "An isolated nati onal revolution cannot succeed. The social
revol uti on inevitably becomes a world revolution. "63 Some anarchi sts i n
the hi storical mi lieu could see the seeds of contemporary di lemmas bei ng
sowed i n the early stages of i ndustri al i sm, as di d James Gui l l aume, writ
ing i n 1 876:
The Revol uti on cannot be confned to a si ngl e country; on pai n of
death, it is obl iged to subsume i nto i ts movement, i f not the whol e
world, then at least a considerable portion of the ci vi l ized countries.
Indeed, today no country can be suffcient unto itself: i nternati onal
relati ons are a necessity of production and consumpti on, and they
could not be severed. Shoul d the neighboring States around a coun
try i n revol uti on manage to i mpose an i mpregnabl e blockade, the
Revolution, being isolated, woul d be doomed to perish.64
From t he Local to the Gl obal 1 35
What Gui l l aume was refecting upon-the necessity of an i nternati onal
perspecti ve and acti ve gl oba l sol i dar i ty i n matters of revol ut i onary
praxi s-has been aptly demonstrated i n the set of popul ar upri si ngs com
prising what has become widely known as the Arab Spring.
Across the Mi ddl e East and Northern Afri ca duri ng much of 20 1 1 ,
peoples' revol uti ons confronted dictators ( oftentimes those empl aced or
supported by the Uni ted States ) and sought to i mpl ement substanti al
democrati c reforms. Whi l e not necessari l y anarchi st i n thei r demands
and visions, these uprisings appeared "to require no guardi an intel lectual
authori ty, no political l eadershi p, no organized parties [ and] there is no
party of the revolution anywhere, no l eader emerges to embody its his
torical spirit. Viewing these loosely interlinked uprisings ( which have
taken pl ace i n nati ons incl udi ng Egypt, Tuni si a, Yemen, Syri a, Al geri a,
Jordan , and Li bya ) through a l ens of " anarchi st techni que, "
Mohammed Bamyeh summarizes the dramatic i mport:
The Arab revol uti onary experi ments seem to be based on the newly
shared presumption that ordi nary i ndi vi dual s are capable of enl i ght
enment wi thout leadership or guardianshi p, wi thout even organi za
t i ons i n the common sense of the word . . . . The agent of t hi s
revol uti onary enl i ghtenment is t he l i ttle person, not t he histori cal
fgure, the hero or the savi or. It i s i n thi s sense that the current
Arab revolutionary wave is closest to anarchist i deal s, which high
light spontaneous order and posit the pri nciple of unimposed order
as the highest form of a rational society . . . . The revolutionary styl e
is anarchi st, i n the sense that i t requires l ittle organi zati on, l eader
shi p, or even coordi nati on; tends to be suspi ci ous of parti es and
hi erarchi es even after revol uti onary s uccess; and rel i es on sponta
neity, mi ni mal pl anning, local i nitiative, and i ndi vi dual will much
more than on any other factors.
Bamyeh's cogent anal ysi s highl i ghts the critical factors for revolutionary suc
cess, i ncl uding spontaneity, solidarity, conviviality, anti-authoritarianism,
non-violence, organic expression, and a historical sensi bi l ity. 67 In noting
that the ai m of these movements i s less than an anarchist "total revolution"
i n favor of more li beral reforms constrained by the unit of the nation-state
and i nternational norms, this assessment also signals in part the processes
of retrenchment that have been observed fol l owi ng the i ni ti al waves
of rebel l ion. 68
Tese real-time lessons have encouraged movements around the world to
cons i der matters of means and ends, practi cabi l i t, and sol i dari ty i n an
136 Anarchism Today
instructive light. Perhaps nowhere have these processes been more starkly
proj ected ( for anarchists i n particul ar) than in Egypt. Writing in Waging
Nonviolence, Nathan Schneider refects on a statement by the Egypti an
then-President Hosni Mubarak that "i f I resign today there will be chaos"
to which Schneider responds: "This is a claim dictators love to make, that they
are the only ones maintaining order, and that without them, everything would
fall apart. [But] you're the one creating the chaos. The thousands upon thou
sands of your people in the street against you today are behaving quite well in
contrast. "
In a subsequent article specifcally considering anarchist poten
tialities in the Egyptian uprising, Jake Olzen posited alternatives to the poten
tial "demoratic tyranny" that could ensue if the people "re-brand themselves
as passive citizens of the Egyptian state rather than direct participants in soci
ety. "
Olzen notes that in the context of an organic mass mobilization such
as that in Egypt, which seemingly caught the world by surprise, "it is remark
able the anarchy that emerged-that is, rule and organization without a con
sol i dated authority, NOT chaos and di sorder, " and he further cites the
positive, anarchistic potential in the movement as represented by "the crea
tion of make-shift clinics, protester-organized security, and the youth leader
ship networks [that] indicate the real possibility of alternative institutions
paving the way forward. "
As expl ai ned by Egypti an anarchi st Ni dal T ahri r, peopl e spontane
ousl y organized committees for security and sol i darity during the upri s
i ng: "Anarchists i n Egypt j oi ned both protests and popul ar committees
to defend the streets from thugs. Anarchi sts in Egypt put some hope i n
[ these] counci l s . . 0 0 For us, as anarchi sts, we are anti -capi tal and anti
state too-we will try to strengthen the committees that have been formed
to protect and secure the streets , and try to turn them into real coun
ci ls . "
A subsequent anal ysi s explored the key rol e of i mages adapted
from the flm V for Vendetta ( whi ch chroni cl es an anarchi sti c anti
hero' s efforts to bri ng down an Orwel l i an government and foment an
anti-authoritarian peoples' movement) i n helping t o spark the revoluti on:
"The potent imagery and eminently quotable l i nes from the flm permeate
i ndi vi dual Facebook pages and the ' We are al l Khal ed Sai d' [a youth
ki l led by Mubarak' s forces i n 201 0] Facebook Fan Page. 0 0 0 What i s cer
tain i s that the i dea for change has been frmly pl anted and cannot be
eradicated. Ideas after al l , as V procl ai ms, are bulletproof. The struggle
conti nues. "
Fi nal l y, i n a piece l ooki ng back on the " groundswel l of
decentral i zed but well coordi nated opposi ti on [ that had] overpowered
the Egypti an regime' s mai n coercive instituti ons, " the di ffculties of mai n
tai ni ng a post-revol uti onary praxi s were reaffrmed: " Outsi de of the
pol ar opposi tes of post-Apartheid South Africa ( a good outcome none
From the Local to the Global 1 37
can replicate) and Iraq ( a catastrophe no one wants t o recreate) , there i s
scant gui dance about the conditions that best enabl e citizens t o retrench
coercive i nstituti ons, punish or reconci l e with torturers and kil l ers, and
convert ministries of interior into civilian departments. " 74
At the Nexus of Global Conflict
Thi s brief look at the Egypti an case underscores several themes that are
fami l i ar to anarchists, most notabl y the dual i sti c, prefgurati ve spi rit of
si multaneously contesting authoritari ani sm and modeling the alternative
soci ety i n the process . For anarchi sts i n Israel and Pal esti ne, this task
has been ( qui te fttingly) both enormousl y chal l engi ng and i nspi ri ng at
once. A 2006 bl og descri bed some of the anarchi st acti vi ti es i n Israel
and provides a useful overview:
The smal l anarchi st movement in Israel is very active i n the wider
movement of radical anti-occupation activists. There are a number
of col lectives that organize i n many forms, i ncl udi ng protests and
street theatre, education and direct action. Many have served j ail time
for refusing their compul sory service in the Israeli army. Additionally,
many Israeli anarchists are also involved i n the small Israeli ani mal
ri ghts and envi ronmenta l movements. The l argest group i s
Anarchists Against The Wal l . AATW works with Pal esti ni an com
muni ties and organizations to oppose the barrier Israel i s bui l di ng
around ( and within) the West Bank . . . 0 Many members of AATW
are al so involved in a group called Bl ack Laundry, a radi cal queer
anti-occupation group that has been involved in both di rect actions
in the occupi ed terri tori es and street theatre wi thi n I srael . . 0 0
Another group with anarchist involvement is the Israel i Committee
Against House Demolitions. ICAHD focuses on preventing the dem
ol ition of Palestini an houses by the Israeli army both via legal meth
ods and di rect acti on. 0 0 0 Lastl y, Sal on Mazal is an anarchi s t
infoshop i n Tel Aviv, with a bookshop, library, vegetarian cafe and
space for meetings, lectures and flm screenings. 75
Israel i anarchi st Uri Gordon ( author of the i nfuenti al book Anarchy
Alive!) observes that i n Israel " anarchi sts are few i n numbers. Though
no hard data exist, on my own rough estimate there are up to three hun
dred Israelis who are pol itical l y active and who woul d not obj ect to being
called anarchists. " 76 Gordon provides a deeper context for understanding
their efforts:
138 Anarchism Today
In Palestine/Israel, anarchism has been a continuous undercurrent for
decades, from the libertarian socialism of the early kibbutz movement
to the Yiddish anarchist publishing and cultural cl ubs of the 1 950s.
Contemporary Israeli anarchism frst emerged in the punk scene of
the late 1 9 80s, at a time of parallel growth i n army refusal and eva
sion during the frst i ntifada. The Israeli animal l iberation movement
emerged from the same milieu, and many Israeli anarchists have been
part of both movements. The maj or boost arrived i n the l ate 1 990s
with the wave of resistance to capitalist globalizati on?
Of the explicitly anarchist proj ects in the region, Anarchists Against the
Wal l ( AATW) i s perhaps the most promi nent. Establ i shed in 2003 as a
di rect action group opposed to the construction of the wal l bei ng built
by I srael in the West Bank, AATW has worked i n cooperati on wi th
Palesti ni ans in a j oint struggle, regul arly partici pating in demonstrati ons
and di rect actions against the wall in parti cul ar, and the occupation in
gener al , across the West Bank. As Gordon observes : " Re j ecti ng the
appeal to governments to modi fy thei r behavi or, and i ndeed the institu
tion of the state itself, [AATW] cal l s instead for di rect action-physi cal
intervention agai nst i nj ustice-in forms that by themsel ves prefgure an
a l ternati ve to present systems of domi nati on and expl oi tati on. "
AA T asserts that it is "the duty of Israeli citizens to resist immoral pol
icies and actions carried out in our name. We believe that it i s possible to
do more than demonstrate inside Israel or parti ci pate i n humanitari an
rel i ef acti ons. I srael i aparthei d and occupati on i sn' t goi ng to end by
itself-it will end when it becomes ungovernabl e and unmanageabl e. "
In thi s sense, AA TW is more than merely a protest group; it is di rectly
confronting the impetus of the nation-state as a locus of dehumanizing,
expansionist, and mil itaristic policies. As their l i terature notes,
the mere presence of I srael i s at Pal esti ni an ci vi l i an acti ons offers
some degree of protection agai nst army violence . . . 0 Even though
many Israeli activists have been wounded at the demonstrati ons,
some of them seriously, it i s the Palestinians who have pai d the high
est tol l . . . 0 The army and the Israeli government try to put an end to
Palestinian popular resistance using every form of repressi on, and to
prevent Israeli activists from j oining this struggl e. Under the occupa
ti on' s l aw i t is possi ble to i ndict peopl e for si mpl y participating in
a demonstrati on. I n the course of the l ast several years , AA TW
From the Local to the Global 1 39
activists have been arrested hundreds of times and dozens of indict
ments were fled agai nst them. The l egal repressi on by the Israel i
authorities i s j ust another front for the Israel i authorities to try and
crack down on resistance.
Thi s ongoi ng repressi on of anarchi sts was confrmed in a report by
Haaretz, whi ch documented how the Israel i security force ( Shin Bet) had
put " anarchists i n the crosshai rs" through a variety of measures designed
to foster i nti mi dati on through harassment and the monitoring of activ
8 1
In response, Gordon laments that " it' s pretty rough being an anar
chi st i n Israel these days " even as he affrms that they "are demoni zed
because thei r acti ons are coherent and bol d. "
Defantly, Gordon openly
rej ects al l forms of authoritari ani sm and imposed rule-both Israeli and
Palestinian al i ke-and asserts that the success of Israeli anarchism in par
ticul ar " i s a question of starting to practice deserti on, refusal , sabotage,
attack agai nst every vi ol ent authori ty, al l coerci ve power, and every
state. " Indeed, thi s i s not work for the fai nt of heart, and anarchi sts i n
the regi on have been copi ng with i ssues of burn-out, attrition, l egal sanc
tions, and ostraci sm. As Gordon writes, there is an " uncommon degree of
state violence faced by the Israel i and internati onal anarchists " who par
ticipate in anti-occupation actions, and as a result many of them "experi
ence not onl y phys i cal wounds but al s o anxi ety, gui l t, depres s i on,
irritability and feelings of al ienation and isolation. "
Sti l l , there is strong motivation to conti nue the work, not in the l east
due to the fact that the I srael - Pal esti ne confi ct " i s a l i nchpi n of the
Cl ash of Civilizations ideology-and, for the same reason, a uni que acu
puncture poi nt for anarchi st acti vi ty. " 8 4 Gordon' s i nci si ve ana l ysi s,
informed by hi s direct participation and scholarly acumen alike, grapples
with the complex questions of nationalism and statehood involved in this
seemingly intractable and globally central confict. While anarchists reject
the state as a desirable unit of human association, there i s some tension i n
thi s bl anket position when it comes to the nati onal l i beration struggles of
oppressed peoples ( as i n Egypt)-and the question of what to do vis-a-vis
statel ess peoples, whose condi ti on creates greater vul nerabi lity, i s even
thornier for anarchi sts, as Gordon notes : "The overwhel mi ng maj ority
of Pal esti ni ans want a state of thei r own al ongsi de Israel . So how can
anarchi sts reconci l e thei r support for Palesti ni an l i berati on with thei r
anti-statist princi ples ? How can they promote the creation of yet another
state i n the name of ' national l i beration' ? "
140 Anarchism Today
A No-State Solution?
In addressi ng these central questi ons Gordon propounds a number of
potenti al sol utions, none of which are completely satisfactory, including
that anarchists might: recognize the contradiction but stand i n solidarity
with the Palestini ans' desire for statehood; comprehend that the addition
of one more state does not signifcantly al ter the Westphal i an map of the
world; support a Palesti ni an state as a strategic step toward liberalization
of democratic possibilities; or shi ft the focus of the argument to the provi
si on of sol i dari ty and support " wi thout reference to the questi on of
statehood. "
8 6
The i ntricate realities of the Israel -Palestine dilemma are
such that any preconcei ved noti ons based on i deol ogical purity ( e. g. ,
anarchi sts must rej ect al l states ) rapi dl y fa l l away i n actual practi ce.
For i nstance, Gordon anal yzes t he efforts of enti ti es s uch a s AA TW
through a l ens of a bi - nati onal i sm that seeks to foster a mobil i zati on
devolving upon
manifestly different relations between Israelis and Palestinians-ones
based on partnership, sol i darity, and empathy rather than estrange
ment, separat i on, and fear . The j oi nt campai gn agai ns t the
Segregation Barrier has thus become a protracted experiment in bi
nationalism, a face-to-face encounter at the barricades where Israelis
and Pal esti ni ans can shed their stereotyped i dentities toward one
another and create shared communities of struggle . . . . The practice
of j oi nt struggle takes pl ace i n ful l recogni ti on of the i nequal ities
between the Israel i and Pal esti ni an partici pants-in terms of eco
nomic resources , freedom of movement, safety from arbitrary state
violence, and so on. This recognition i s partly made possi bl e by the
Israeli partici pants ' anarchi st perspective, which so di stances them
from the Zionist narrative as to render unnecessary the artifcial neu
tral ity maintained by the discourse of coexistence. Rather, the j oint
struggle remai ns infused with a spirit of shared antagonism toward
the regime of occupation, and a refusal of false normalization.
In the end, Gordon endorses a bi oregional approach, whi ch seeks to
move the uni t of analysi s from the state to the geographi cal area i tsel f,
thus openi ng up a space for "personal and col l ective i dentities that can
fl ouri sh wi thi n and al ongsi de it, " constituting a new view of the l and
scape that " is i ncompati bl e not onl y wi th war and occupati on but al so
wi th capi tal i sm, raci al and rel i gi ous bigotry, consumeri sm, patri archy,
and any number of other trenchant features of hi erarchi cal soci ety. "
8 8
From the Local to the Global 141
This perspective is akin to what has been termed a "no-state sol ution, "
and, as James Horrox has observed, it refects "a renewed move towards
the kind of stateless commonwealth originally envi saged by many of the
[ ki bbutz] movement's founders. "
Such a provocative position has been
arti cul ated from a number of contemporary fronts, i ncl udi ng by the
American-Israeli anarchi st Bi l l Templer, who wrote i n 2003 :
Reinventing pol itics in Israel and Palestine means l aying the ground
work now for a ki nd of Jewish-Palestinian Zapatismo, a grassroots
movement to " recl ai m the commons. " Thi s woul d mean movi ng
towards di rect democracy, parti ci patory economy and genui ne
autonomy for the peopl e; towards Marti n Buber' s vi si on of "an
organi c commonweal th . . . t hat i s a community of communi ti es. "
We might cal l i t the " no-state sol uti on. " Forms o f neol i beral gov
ernmental ity do not work here, are unsustai nabl e. At all spati al
scal es, Israel i s and Palestini ans have l earnt they have no security
from the bankruptcy of its i terati ons . . . . In a sense, thi s confi ct i s
embl emati c of the " perverse perseverance of soverei gnty, " i ts
"vi ci ous, security- based ontology. " We need to turn that authoritar
ian ontology on its head. 9
Ultimately, Templer envisions a process of "staged transformation: mov
i ng from two states ( Stage One) to a uni tary, bi - nati onal state ( Stage
Two ) , and on to what we mi ght cal l the 'Jerus al em Cooperati ve
Commonwealth. ' " 91
Fol l owi ng Templ er, James Herod seeks to circumvent the transiti on
phases; he argues in terms that recall those deployed by anarchists in the
cl assical mi l i eu:
Neither the two-state nor the one-state sol uti on will sol ve the prob
lem i n Pal estine. Only the no-state sol uti on wi l l . The no-state sol u
ti on ca l l s for di s mantl i ng the I srael i state and abandoni ng any
attempt t o establ i sh a Pal esti ni an state. Rather, t he peopl es l i vi ng
i n the territory of historical Pal estine will progress to the advanced
decentral i zed soci al form of an associ ati on of a utonomous sel f
governing communities based on direct democracy. 0 . 0 This beauti
ful anarchi st proposal-an obvi ous sol uti on-has unfortunatel y
not even been on the agenda . 0 The capitali st-control l ed nati on
state system i s so strong and entrenched that it is hard to thi nk out
side that framework, and hardly anyone has. Now, however, a few
142 Anarchism Today
innovative voices are being heard in favor of the idea, for example,
those of Bi l l Templer or Uri Gordon. 92
In mi d-201 1 , I j oi ned the di scussi on wi th a short piece expl ori ng these
themes, argui ng that the wi del y preferred "two-state framework coul d
deepen the confict by further solidifying i t, i nstitutionalizing i t, and render
ing i t suscepti ble to even greater outsi de infuence " ; I further posed this
question: " Mi ght the wal l ( both l i teral l y and cultural l y) between these
two emergent nati ons grow even hi gher and the di stance between them
even greater when separateness becomes nati onal l y rei fed ? "
In the
end, I opined that "starting with the pl anet's most intractable confict as a
linchpin for creating a nation-free world would be a powerful statement
of hi stori cal i mport . I ndeed, the ' road map to peace' i n the Mi ddl e
East ( and el sewhere ) shoul dn' t l ook merel y l i ke an atl as of states. " 94
Acknowledging the utopi an sensi bi lities of such a perspecti ve, it never
theless remai ns the case that the statist versi on of gl obal order has not
exactly been idyllic, nor has it yielded a more j ust, peaceful , or sustainable
worl d.
Where to from Here?
In this chapter we have seen, once again, the uni quely anarchist tendency
to both negate and construct, i n the bel i ef ( as Bakuni n once famousl y
s ai d) that " the passi on for destructi on i s a creati ve passi on, too. " In
today' s interconnected yet multifari ous world, however, anarchists bear
a greater burden to arti cul ate and i mplement a coherent al ternative to
the present set of arrangements promul gated by capi tal and the state.
Corporate gl obal i zati on and state mi l i tari zati on both possess unitary,
monol ithic qualities, and yet they have al so shown themselves to be fexi
ble, mutual l y supportive, and capable of absorbi ng even those epi sodes
that at frst gl ance appear as chal l enges to thei r l egi ti macy and sustai n
abi lity. This sort of crisis-based capitalism has demonstrated an envelop
ing res i l i ency that keeps peopl e and communi ti es around the worl d
frml y entrenched wi thi n i ts confnes-someti mes by force, and some
times by choice. The destruction of this system, even if it coul d somehow
be accompl i shed, provides no guarantee that a better world wi l l sponta
neously emerge out of the sudden, widespread experience of human free
dom. In fact, it is pos s i bl e t hat the net res ul t woul d be more
authoritari ani sm i nstead, as the vestiges of the fal l en order seek t o reas
sert themselves i n a world of tenuous sustenance.
From the Local to the Global 143
Agai nst thi s, anarchists everywhere { l iteral ly) have been worki ng to
devel op a new model based on a l i beratory, ecol ogi cal , and vi si onary
praxis that seeks to suppl ant the present system ( and i ts apocalyptic sen
si bi l i ti es ) through a combi nati on of open contestati on and alternati ve
i nterrel ati on. Anarchi sts organi ze l ocal l y, l i nk thei r efforts through net
works, make collective deci si ons whi l e preserving i ndi vi dual l i berty and
community autonomy, and steadi l y strive to mani fest "a nascent gl obal
movement" ( as promised at the outset of thi s chapter) that integrates the
best of the anarchi st tradi ti on from the past, responds di rectl y to the
needs and desires of the present, and articul ates the non-prescriptive con
tours of a dynamic and abundant future. Far from taki ng it on faith that
this future will necessarily emerge fol l owing either a successful revolution
or systemi c col l apse, anarchi sts and thei r al l ies i nstead strive tirelessl y
( and at ti mes at great personal cost and/or ri sk) to hel p create a vi abl e
space for humanki nd wi thi n the l arger worki ngs of a pl anetary system
that i ncl udes both nature and culture equal ly in i ts calcul us. The question
before us, then-one which i s rarely broached i n substanti al detai l -i s
whether these efforts have been, or are l i kel y to be, successful . Thi s i s
where we wi l l venture i n the next chapter.
Assessing Anarchism's Impact
p to this poi nt we have l ooked at anarchism from a number of di s
tinct yet interrelated perspectives: theories, practices, tactics/ethics,
ecologies, communities, and global i ssues. Spanning this range of appl ica
tions, it has become apparent that anarchi sm represents a compl ex bal
ance of tensi ons, interventi ons, and i deal s, greatl y exceeding the base
cari cature of anarchy as mere chaos or uni nformed naivete. Sti l l , key
questi ons remai n: Has anarchi sm' s resurgence i ncreased i ts concrete
effectiveness? Is it a passi ng trend, or will anarchism be a potent presence
for the foreseeabl e future ? I n some ways, anarchi sm' s successes are al so
potenti al trouble spots, as i ndi cated by the appearance of mai nstream
anarchist characterizations and commerci al attempts at marketing "anar
chi st chi c " as an apol itical style rather than a coherent force for change.
Even more disconcerting has been the overt repression of anarchi sts and
anarchi st organi zi ng in general , yet this i roni cal l y al so may serve as an
i ndi cati on of anarchi sm' s effcacy. The task i n thi s chapter wi l l be to
frankly assess anarchi sm' s effectiveness on a number of l evel s, including
i n the pol itical , soci al , and cultural real ms. Such an endeavor has yet to
be undertaken systematical ly in the anarchist mi l i eu, and while a compre
hensive evaluation would be beyond the scope of this work, my intention
here is to sketch the outlines of a framework that coul d be useful for ana
lyzing anarchi sm' s impact whi l e pointing toward questions for the future.
At the outset, di scussi ons of radical pol i tical theories or underground
sub-cultures often omit any actual assessment of thei r effcacy and utility,
i nstead either ( a) strenuousl y arguing the case for the theory/movement,
or ( b) taki ng i t as a given that i t i s val i d and thus si mpl y expl ori ng its
workings i n philosophical and/or practical terms. In essence, this vol ume
has been a combi nation of both, si multaneousl y assumi ng anarchi sm' s
146 Anarchism Today
basic tenabi l i ty yet taki ng pai ns to articul ate and i l l ustrate for readers
who are ei ther uni nitiated or unconvinced exactly why thi s i s so. In thi s
penultimate chapter, I will conti nue in thi s vein, specifcally referring back
to some of the guiding questions referenced in the Preface to this vol ume:
Does anarchi sm work i n theory and/or practice ? What woul d an anar
chi st soci ety l ook l i ke i n actual ity, and how do anarchi sts manage the
maj or i ssues of our ti me, from war to the economy ? Does anarchi sm
requi re at the outset that we alter our view of human nature, or woul d
people l iving i n anarchist societies simply change for the better over time?
Throughout thi s vol ume, i nci pi ent answers to these queri es have been
offered; here, I will step back a bi t and more directly assess anarchi sm' s
successes and fai l ures, frami ng the di scussi on around the fundamental
questi on that any soci opol i ti cal movement eventual l y must confront,
namely: is it working?
This issue of functionality is more than merely a tactical assessment. It
requi res a broader sense of what the goals are, who we are trying to reach,
what the criteri a are for effectiveness, how our movement compares to
others, and whether one's aims are short- or long-term i n nature. For in
stance, it could be argued that violent methods of change "work" i n the
sense of removi ng speci fc targets or i mpos i ng certai n condi ti ons on
others; this i s, in essence, the logic of warfare that has domi nated much
of human affairs for centuri es. Yet the continuity of war and its enormous
associ ated costs i ndi cate that its uti l ity for promoti ng peace i s greatly
del i mi ted i f not altogether i mpracticabl e, yi el di ng a scenari o in whi ch
warfare mi ght work i n terms of accompli shi ng "regime change" but not
for achi evi ng wi der ai ms of democrati zati on, l i berati on, and the l i ke.
Soci al movements ( loosely defned as col lective " sustained chal lenges to
authorities " ) confront si mi l ar realities, and anarchi sm is no exception as
it grapples with issues of tactics and ethics.
However, the uni quel y di f
fuse nature of anarchi sm requires more nuanced treatment in order to
ful l y understand its impact, since it generally l acks many of the formal i
ti es ( e. g. , structured organi zati ons, l eaders, pol i ti cal parti es, fnanci al
i nstruments, representati ves ) that are commonl y found wi thi n move
ments aiming to alter prevailing societal conditi ons.
Moreover, the cl ai ms advanced by anarchists, coupl ed wi th the inher
ently non-reformi st nature of anarchi sm, l i kewise suggest that standard
eval uative methods may not ful l y appl y. Shal l we count anarchi sm as a
fai l ure si nce authoritari an power sti l l exi sts, and there has not been a
worl dwi de revol ut i onary upr i s i ng to throw off the domi nat i on of
nation-states and capital ? Revolutions tend t o refect an " al l or nothing"
qual ity, such that they may appear to have failed right up until the time
Assessing Anarchism' s Impact 147
that they succeed; as Marco Giugni notes, "revolutionary movements are
only rarely successful , but when they do succeed, the changes they bring
about are fundamental and often l ong-l asti ng reversal s of the exi sti ng
soci al and pol itical structures. "
Anarchism further possesses the qual ity
of not simply agitating for a revolution in which one set of leaders repl a
ces another, but for a fundamental reorientation of val ues whereby there
are no longer any " leaders " in the sense that they have come to exist. As
argued i n previ ous chapters, anarchi sm takes the vi ew that noti ons of
equalit and freedom must be applied everywhere i n order for them have
meani ng at al l . But how can this be accompl i shed, wi thout resort to
decidedly un-anarchistic forms of persuasion, i f not coercion? " An anar
chist society, if ever realized, will be realized universal l y. But any attempt
to create a worldwide organization for the specifc purpose of achieving
thi s soci ety would be like bui l di ng a house starting from the roof, and
woul d defeat its purpose because it would cl aim a competence of interest
that it has not. "
A further challenge to any attempt at systematic assessment is the proc
es s ual , fui d, spontaneous, and open- ended nature of anarchi sm. As
Rudolf Rocker has observed, anarchism " does not believe in any absol ute
truth, or i n any defni te fnal goal s for human devel opment, but in an
unl i mited perfecti bi l ity of soci al patterns and human l i vi ng condi ti ons
whi ch are al ways strai ni ng after hi gher forms of expressi on, and to
whi ch, for thi s reason, one cannot assign any defni te termi nus nor set
any fxed goal . "4 Anarchi sm cons i sts i n l arge measure of a seri es of
" fragi l e yet exceedi ngl y beauti ful experi ments " that strive to create i n
the present "the l ived practice of freely constituting one' s community col
lectivel y" and si mul taneously to " supply messages i n bottles to future
generations, " as Cindy Mi l stei n intones.
Sti l l , it i s equal l y the case that
" anarchi sm cannot be fl ed away as an outburst of the romantic mood
in pol itics [or] as an incoherent voice of protest. "
As we have seen, anar
chi sm may not constitute a "program" i n the typi cal sense, but it clearly
devolves upon certain loosely-shared val ues ( e. g. , autonomy, community,
equal i ty) , and it likewise manifests those i n a number of concrete scenar
ios ( e. g. , col lectives , networks, bl ocs ) . These qualities provi de suffcient
grounds for assessment, remai ni ng cogni zant of the l i mits to applyi ng
standard eval uative criteria given anarchism' s uni que proclivities.
Measures of Success
As a general matter, sociological assessments of movement effectiveness
often focus the i nqui ry ar ound t radi ti onal benchmarks connot i ng
148 Anarchism Today
" systemi c gai ns , " i ncl udi ng " el ectoral success, greater representati on
wi thi n offci al instituti ons, [ and] a l arger share of collective resources. " 7
Another common basi s for eval uati on i s to " exami ne the written goal s
of organizations as well as interview or observe those in leadership posi
tions, " i n order to determine how closely the movement' s activities come
to meeting i ts stated aims.
Movements can al so be assessed i n terms of
how well they serve as a " vector for the democrati zati on of soci ety, "
oftentimes constructed i n pl uralistic terms such as the promotion of due
process, economic opportunities, equal rights, or political participation.
In these formulations, we can already see the reliance upon numerous pre
supposi ti ons that are wholly antithetical to anarchi sm; thus, an " anar
chi st pol i ti cs does not need to hol d itsel f agai nst those domi nant, and
domi nati ng, terms of a ' cul ture of eval uat i on, ' " as Jami e Heckert
asserts. 1
Instead, anarchi sm represents a "pol i ti cal l ogi c t hat escapes
the categories of tradi ti onal soci al movement theories, " focusi ng not on
"gradual i st or reformist" pursuits but on emergent ones, measured si mul
taneousl y i n the constructive "s mal l steps of everyday l i fe " and i n " the
amplitude of the paralysis of the economy, of normal i ty. "
1 1
Fortunatel y, even among the cl assi ca l strands of soci al movement
anal ys i s , a number of cri teri a have been devel oped that appl y more
di rectly to the workings of anarchi sm. These include: the utility of disrup
tive tactics; cultural changes rather than only political or economic ones;
the directi onality of change rather than j ust specifc outcomes; the recl a
mati on of space for movement activiti es; changing the sal ience of i ssues
in the publ i c debate; reframi ng the meani ngs of terms and i nteractions;
focusi ng on the empowerment and i denti ty constructions of movement
actors; highl ighting the worthiness and commitment of participants; the
creation of a "credible threat" to established authorities; and the level of
repressi on experi enced by the movement, ei ther overtly or covertly.
1 2
On a more bas i c l evel , the questi on coul d even be bl untl y posed as
Staughton Lynd does: " Are we wi nni ng ? " 1
Wi th due regard t o anar
chi sm' s anti -authori tari ani sm and thus i ts i mpl i cit rej ection of wi nners
and losers , we might reframe the question as stated above ( " Is i t work
i ng ? " ) , but the essenti al spi ri t remai ns i ntact. The task here wi l l be to
as s es s anarchi s m' s i mpact, drawi ng upon the more organi c cri teri a
gl eaned from the soci al movement l iterature and remai ni ng mi ndful of
the notion that "we shoul d use methods appropriate to the form of our
problem and to the character of the world we are studying"-always with
the ai m of discerning what is working, what is not, and how we might tra
verse the arduous path toward a worl d bui l t upon the best vi rtues of
1 4
Assessing Anarchism' s Impact 149
Sociopolitical Chane
Anarchism resides in the fringes of the maj or pol itical theories to emerge
out of the Enlightenment, and even though it rej ects most of the principles
embedded i n the dominant order-hierarchy, competition, proft, stratif
cati on, representati on, and the l i ke-it still remai ns within its l i ngui stic
parameters to a l arge extent; thus i t remai ns wi thi n i ts i deol ogi cal con
fnes as wel l . In frami ng i tsel f as anti-authoritari an, anti -capi tal i st, and
anti - state, anarchi s m refects an i nherent i mpet us to rej ect al l s uch
appearances of archy ( as t he name itsel f counsel s ) , yet t hi s neglects to
clearly convey anarchi sm' s constructive sense of not simply doing away
with these structures but repl aci ng them with radical l y egalitarian alter
nati ves. In thi s sense, as Edward Abbey has sai d, we mi ght argue that
" anarchy i s democracy taken seri ously. " 1 5 Al though it rej ects the sense
of democrati c pl ural i s m t hat devol ves upon ei ther proporti onal or
republ i can forms of electoral process, i n i ts fullest di mensi ons we come
to see that " anarchism represents the condi ti on in whi ch the optimal state
of external pl urality can exist. "

Anarchism thus remains within the scope o f many established sociopo
l itical notions but carries them to their logical extreme, argui ng for a new
s oci al and pol i ti cal l andscape that i n some ways ( as Abbey' s famous
quote suggests ) takes seri ousl y the sacrosanct values of the dominant cul
ture-at l east i ns ofar as they are wri tten, if not act ual l y pract i ced.
Anarchi sts believe deeply i n autonomy and i ndi vi dual i sm, for exampl e,
but not the bourgeoi s concepti ons that are bound up wi th l egal ri ghts
and the pri vati zati on of wealth. Anarchi sm i s a theory of maxi mal free
dom, arguing that this is a precondition for a healthy soci al order based
on vol untary association and mutual aid, and thus it transcends the nar
row scope of constitutional li berties that are ci rcumscri bed by the coer
cive apparatus of the state and the capital i st proft moti ve. Anarchi sm
offers no bl ueprint, maintaining instead that the liberation of humanki nd
from i ts consumerist, compul sory shackles will restore relations to a base
of true equal ity that more closely resembles the deeply rooted virtues of
human communities from ti me i mmemori al . In thi s sense, anarchism does
not seek to compete wi th dominant theories but to surmount them:
Within political philosophy, anarchism is the position that we should
l et go and see what happens. Thi s means that anarchi sm cannot
be the ri val of any theory of j ustice. Anarchi sm, rather, constitutes
the realm that is as a whole the rival of the real m of theories of j ustice.
It corresponds to a noninstrumental consciousness of our relations to
1 50 Anarchism Today
one another and the world. It i s a sort of consciousness that does not
set an ideal and then try to force the world into that confguration,
but allows the world and ourselves to grow wild.
1 7
As such, i t i s diffcul t to gauge whether anarchi sm has served to bring
about sociopolitical change, since its ai m is the replacement of the real m
rather than a reassignment of values within i t. Still, we can discern the pres
ence of movements from the political left and right al ike that have taken up
the mantle of anarchism ( again, i n words i f not deeds) and its penchant for
political processes that begin with the primacy of the individual rather than
the plenary powers of the state. The mainstream coding of this, of course, is
l argely negative; power hol ders and profteers need do l ittle more than
throw the "A-word" around to conj ure popular images of dangerous rad
icals with inimical aims i n our midst. In so doing, however, an argument
can be made that less overtly ominous entities-including some with agen
das that embrace portions of the anarchi st vision-may fnd greater space
for publ i c acceptance within the strictures of the existing pol itical order.
When anarchists break windows or set a pol ice car on fre at a protest, it
can someti mes tar the movement as a whol e, but i t can al so serve to
embolden mainstream players with a seat at the table who resonate (at least
partly) with the radical criti que of corporate gl obal ization, for instance.
Perhaps thi s is not quite "success, " but it i s not abj ect failure either.
Culturl Penneation
Beyond the political real m, there is the capacity to infuence soci al mores
and styles at a level that can have even greater potenti al impact in terms
of arousing the populace to a new vision. Anarchism has been associated
with vari ous cul tural forms ( i ncl udi ng punk rock, radi cal fol k musi c,
graffti, raves ) , and it most notably has been at the forefront of the inde
pendent media movement since its incepti on. Anarchists have l aunched
i nnumerabl e documentary fl mmaki ng proj ects, publ i shi ng collecti ves,
Web si tes, " zines , " bookstores, and artistic ventures in recent years. The
ci rcl e-A symbol has been resurrected from the dustbi n of hi story and
can be found tagged on wal l s around the worl d, not to menti on on
t-shi rts, stickers, pi ns, and tattooed body parts as wel l . Anarchist fcti on,
and sci ence fcti on i n particul ar, has become a vi abl e sub-genre i n litera
ture, and i ts contours have even found thei r way i nto a handful of feature
flms ( e. g. , SLC Punk, Cecil B. DeMented, The Anarchist Cookbook, V
for Vendetta) -of course, not al ways wi th fatteri ng representati ons.
Assessing Anarchism' s Impact 1 5 1
Yet i f we accept the theory that "there i s no such thing a s bad publ icity, "
i t certai nl y appears at t he l eas t t hat anarchi sm has i nserted i tsel f i nto
popul ar cul ture i n a way that seemed unl i kely ( i f not i mpossi ble) onl y a
few short decades ago.
In additi on, the resurgence of anarchi sm i n academi a has been quite
nearly phenomenal si nce the turn of the new mi l l enni um. A si gni fcant
body of explicitly anarchi st-themed works has appeared, covering topics
ranging from protest to phi losophy, steadi ly comprising an emerging feld
of " anarchist studies " complete with j ournals, professi onal societies, con
ferences, and the l i ke. Despite concomitant processes of margi nal ization,
it has become somewhat safer i n recent years to identify as an anarchist,
even to the point where it tends to attract intellectual and activist "tou
ri sts " to the mi l i eu as wel l as genui ne adherents . Indeed, thi s i s the
doubl e- edged nature of c ul t ural permeat i on, na mel y the pot enti al
watering-down of the concept as well as the tendency of marketing strat
egists to fnd ways of co-opting it. As with other radical movements and
sub-cultures, anarchi sm sometimes suffers the dual process of repression
and incorporati on, which serves to further i l l uminate state/corporate syn
ergy i n its capacity to turn di ssent into a commodity and excise from the
cul tural landscape those embracing the actual ideals rather than merely
i ts styl i s ti c appurtenances. The net resul t for eva l uati ve purposes i s
another ambi valent one, but on bal ance there i s no doubt that anarchism
today i s part of the cultural lexicon, and its intellectual and activist ranks
have unquesti onabl y seen a marked increase in the past decade-signif
cantl y, among young peopl e i n parti cul ar, whi ch may pay further di vi
dends in the future.
Resource Mobilization
The capacity to mobi lize resources is a hal lmark of social movement eff
cacy, whi ch " emphasizes the i nteracti on between resource avai l abi l ity,
the preexisting organization of preference structures, and entrepreneurial
attempts to meet preference demand. "
1 8
Translating, the basi c notion i s
that movements are essenti al l y demand-mak ing enterpri ses, and the
degree to whi ch they are successful depends upon ( a) the level of resources
they bring to bear on their efforts, ( b) the resources they are able to pro
cure from the system agai nst which they are acting, and ( c) how much
their adherents are able to beneft from the resources thus procured. In a
linear sense, a "resource " in this context is generally conceived as fnan
ci al i n nature, but more broadl y we can al s o count as res ources l ess
1 52 Anarchism Today
tangible items including opportunities, spaces, empowerment of movement
participants, and the capacity to i nfuence public debate and increase the
salience of issues through action. On another level , anarchists have served
to draw away resources from the state and its security forces-in i tself a
taci t offci al admi ssi on of anarchi sm' s effcacy-to a not-i nsi gni fcant
extent i n recent years , yielding another way of thinking about "resource
mobi l ization" for a movement. In particul ar, the resource of space ( both
i n its physical and psychological senses) i s a critical item for the success of
any movement, since without it there are few opportunities to i ncubate
ideas privately and/or to demonstrate them in a public manner.
While anarchists do not generally spend a great deal of time fundraising
or l obbying, and in fact they widely reject the sort of " money fetishism"
that underlies capitalism, ofentimes they do engage directly around issues
of space . For i nstance, anarchi sts wi l l squat i n abandoned bui l di ngs,
recl ai m publ ic space through di rect i nterventi ons ( e. g. , Cri ti cal Mass,
Recl ai m the Streets, Food Not Bombs ) , set up infoshops and community
centers, and grow food in "guerrilla gardens" scattered throughout urban
centers. Anarchi sts organize to create greater space in their communities
around issues of housing, economic and environmental j ustice, race rel a
tions, immigrants' rights, anti-gentrifcation, police brutality, and more. 1 9
Additional ly, anarchists are ofen at the front lines { literal ly) of mass dem
onstrations in which both the physical space of the protest and the political
space of claims-maki ng are actively taken back ( if only temporarily) from
the forces of the prevailing order. Anarchists strive to promote safe spaces,
free spaces, and other versions of autonomous zones that serve to provide
loci for networki ng and movement-bui l di ng and, perhaps more i mpor
tantl y, for peopl e to gai n a sense of what it might be l i ke to live outsi de
the strictures of the existing society-that is, to experience anarchy. The
production of such l i berated spaces may be the primary resource promul
gated by anarchi st movements; other i mportant resources mobi l ized in
the milieu i ncl ude the l i terature base di stri buted through publishers and
alternative media outlets, as well as the personal accoutrements of style.
Anarchists sometimes possess a fairly remarkable entrepreneurial spirit
that makes the production of these resources possible on a do-it-yourself,
smal l -scal e basi s. The prol i ferati on of anarchi st resources-from garb
and music to l i terature and i nfoshops-does not necessari l y correl ate
wi th wi der forms of soci opol i tic al s uccess, a s Joel Ol s on poi ntedl y
Surpri si ngly much of the contemporary anarchi st mi l i eu has aban
doned movement bui l di ng . . . . Di vorced from a soci al movement,
Assessing Anarchism' s Impact 1 53
t he strategy of bui l di ng autonomous zones or engagi ng i n di rect
action with smal l affnity groups assumes that radicals can start the
revolution. But revol utionaries don' t make revolutions. Mi l l i ons of
ordinary and oppressed people do. Anarchist theory and practice to
day provides little sense of how these people are going to be part of
the process, other than to create their own "free spaces " or to sponta
neously j oin the festival s of upheaval . This is an ideal istic, ahistorical ,
and, i roni cal l y, an el i tist approach to pol itics, one that i s curi ousl y
separated from the struggles of the oppressed themselves.
In this sense, analyzing anarchi sm as an effective movement i s problem
atic, insofar as the domi nant modes of anarchist organizing ( protest and
autonomy) are not necessari l y consti tutive of what mi ght properl y be
termed a social movement i n the frst i nstance. Even taki ng the broader
view of a movement as simply a sustained, collective chal lenge to author
ity, today's anarchism still leaves much to be desired in terms of whether
the resources it has thus far mobi l ized actual l y constitute a seri ous threat
to the domi nant forces i n society. Sti l l , there are some formulations sug
gesting that anarchism may not be completely off-track in this regard.
Credible Threat
Ol son' s cri ti que rai ses an i mportant poi nt of refecti on for anarchi sts,
namely whether our efforts are building toward a bona fde movement at
al l , l et alone a revolutionary one. Charles Ti l l y has further counseled that
we must take care not to confuse " al l relevant popular collective action"
with an actual social movement, that we do not confate organizations or
networks with the movement itself, and that we do not reduce complex
" i nteracti ons among acti vi sts " into a single uni tary " movement" that
undermi nes a more pl ural i stic sense of understandi ng soci al change.
2 1
Tilly's formulation takes a broad view of viable movement tactics, includ
ing demonstrations, direct action, and occupations, but he also notes that
social movement activists general ly concentrate their public efforts on more
amel i orati ve acti ons that i nvol ve l obbyi ng, broadcasti ng, or movi ng
authorities to take action through legal means.
Ti l l y further posits a
framework called "WUC" for analyzing the potential impact of a given
movement, which considers worthiness, unit, numbers, and commitment
as bases for gauging effect; for instance, a small number of movement par
ticipants who undertake actions with "simultaneous risk or sacrifce ofen
have as l arge an impact as a l arge number of people who sign a petition,
wear a badge, or march through the streets on a sunny afternoon. "
1 54 Anarchism Today
In the end, Tilly suggests that the critical factor for a movement i s the
degree to whi ch it represents a "credi bl e threat " to entrenched powers:
"The general effectiveness of soci al movement organi zi ng as a way of
maki ng publ ic cl aims depends on the constitution of credi ble col lective
actors that could di srupt existing pol itical arrangements . "
In order to
accompl i sh thi s wi thout turni ng i nto either a cl iche or a terrori st cel l ,
Tilly argues that movements shoul d pay attention to attributes including
conti nual i nnovation, expanding their repertoires of acti on, dramatizing
their claims, and highlighting the intelligibility of their messages.
In this
vein, a number of analyses have indicated that "the use of force or disrup
tive tactics by soci al movements improves their chances of reaching their
goal s , " and that " di srupti on i s the most powerful resource that move
ments have at thei r disposal to reach thei r goal s, si nce they lack the insti
tuti onal resources possessed by other actors, such as pol itical parties and
i nterest groups. "
The cl ass ical formulation of the uti l i ty of di sruptive
tactics was offered by William A. Gamson:
Groups that were active and disruptive have fared better than those
that were passive when attacked and that never used constraints as a
means of i nfuence . . . . It is more accurate to i nterpret the[se] results
as " fei sti ness works " rather than " vi ol ence works . " Fei sti nes s
includes the wi l l ingness t o break rules and us e noni nstituti onal ized
means-to us e di s rupt i on as a strategy of i nfuence . . . . We do
not know i f these unrul y chal l engers real l y had a hi gher success
rate than those who stuck to election campaigns, l awsuits, and l ob
bying, but the spread of such unruly tactics from one movement to
another s uggests that chal lengers, at least, were convinced of their
Another way of getting at these i ssues has been suggested by Ol son,
who l ooks at patterns of extremism through a l ens of hi stori cal uti l ity
and political effcacy:
What i s needed, then, i s a theory of zealotry that does not defer to
the pej orative traditi on. Such a theory must recognize zeal otry as a
form of collective action rather than simply an indivi dual affiction.
It must not automatically presume that fanatical activity i s undemo
cratic, yet it must acknowledge the antagonistic, us/them character
of extremi sm. Zeal otry i s an activity practiced not so much by di s
turbed temperaments as by collectivities worki ng to transform rel a
tions of power by creating an "us " in struggle against a "them, " and
Assessing Anarchism' s Impact 1 55
by pressuring those i n between t o choose si des . Accordingly, zeal
otry i s political activity, driven by an ardent devotion to a cause,
which seeks to draw clear lines along a friends/enemies dichotomy
in order to mobilize friends and moderates in the service of that
In hi s "Letter from a Birmingham Jai l , " Martin Luther King, Jr. , similarly
inquired: "The question i s not whether we wi l l be extremi sts, but what
ki nd of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love?
Will we be extremists for the preservation of inj ustice or for the extensi on
of j ustice ? . . . Perhaps the South, the nati on and the worl d are i n dire need
of creative extremists. "
With the stakes for humanki nd escalating every
day, it can pl ausi bl y be argued that extremism is preferable to complicity,
and that the l atter i s far more dangerous than the former.
The upshot here for anarchi sm is that a movement' s effectiveness i s at
times keyed to how well it defes authority and contests the workings of
establ i shed power. Among movement actors, both hi storical and contem
porary, anarchi sts certai nl y score well on this front. Through dramati c
demonstrati ons of di rect action, mi litant protest, property destruction,
and even at times the use of violence, anarchists have sought to awaken
the popul ar conscience from its dol drums of co-optati on and compl a
cency. At times, however, the message i s in j eopardy of getting lost amidst
the medi a' s sanitizing gaze, and tactics that were once provocative ( e. g. ,
smashi ng corporate wi ndows) can become routi ni zed and stal e when
regul arly repeated. Anarchists have successful l y learned how to be disrup
tive; the chal lenge now is to continue doing so i n creative and evolution
ary ways that continue to pose a credi bl e threat to established authority
while communicating a coherent narrative i n the process. Ironical l y, a pri
mary method for accompl i shi ng thi s is located within the seat of power
itself and its tendency toward repressi on.
De legitimation
One of the patterns we have seen throughout thi s vol ume is that author
ities will go to great lengths to reinforce the i mage of the " vi ol ent anar
chi st, " parti cul arly through medi ated representati ons of anarchi sts as
thugs , ri oters , cri mi nal s, and the l i ke. Moreover, such i nvocati ons wi l l
often be ci ted as j ustifcati ons for offci al repression of anarchi sts in par
ticul ar and wider movements i n general . Anarchists sometimes court this
demonization process by choosi ng di sruptive tactics for change, rai si ng
the prospect of a double-edged qual i ty to di srupti on in which the use of
1 56 Anarchism Today
force (or even the suggestion of i t) works i n both di rections: activists can
use confrontati onal tactics to increase thei r effecti veness, but the state
can al so gai n greater l atitude in empl oyi ng force agai nst them in return.
As Gamson has observed, " when aut hori ti es have used vi ol ence and
arrests to control [ di sruptive chal lengers] , s uch means di d not backfre
on them . . . . Furthermore, the more fei sty the chal lenger . . . the easi er it
is to frame the challengers as ' asking for it'. With the hel p of cooperating
j ournal ists, the most provocative expressions of the challengers wi l l draw
the medi a spotl i ght and wi l l hel p frame i t for the general audi ence
regardless of how typical or isolated they might be. ,. Jo On the other hand,
" chal l engers who l i nk thei r acti ons to the nonvi ol ent tradi ti on get an
extra measure of protection from the medi a spotlight [ and] overt repres
si on of such chal l engers becomes an especi al l y ri sky tactic. "
1 At the
end of the day, Gamson counsel s movement actors to " be ready to use
disruptive, extrainstitutional means of i nfuence si nce you may wel l need
them to s ucceed, but do not be surpri sed if you become the target of
covert and disruptive means of social control . "32
These i nsights are i nfuenti al and important to consi der, but they also
ect something of an outmoded view i n the post-9/1 1 era. Today, tech
nol ogi es of overt and covert soci al control have become commonpl ace
and almost bl i thely accepted by a l arge porti on of the popul ati on, espe
cial ly i n the United States . Security scans, warrantless wiretappi ng, and
the pervasive presence of vi deo cameras have become part of the fabric
of l i fe i n modern society, and activists i n particul ar routinely anti ci pate
hei ghtened scruti ny, i nfl trati on of thei r organi zati ons, and even the
deni al of travel and other basi c rights of expression and associ ati on.
Authorities have not shown the sort of restrai nt toward non-viol ent activ
ists that Gamson posits, given the overarchi ng j ustifcation of "combating
terrori sm" that i s regularly plied. Anarchists have been pai nted with this
broad brush, from bei ng declared a leading domestic terrori st threat i n
the Uni ted States to pol ice i n Engl and aski ng ci ti zens to provi de them
wi th any avai l abl e i nformati on on known anarchi sts i n thei r mi dst.
Anarchists have been killed at mass demonstrati ons and have been speci al
targets for offci al beati ngs, gassi ngs, and mass arrests i n recent years.
Whi l e these incidences of repression perhaps do not quite ri se to the levels
experienced i n past eras-which included executions, mass deportations,
and other forms of offci al brutal i ty-they nonethel ess consti tute an
i mportant bas i s for understandi ng t he i mpacts of "soci al movement
performances. " 34
Scholars often expl ore the intentional actions of movements, as well as
the uni ntended consequences that " are not al ways re l ated to t hei r
Assessing Anarchism' s Impact 1 57
demands. "
5 For anarchists, one example of an unintenti onal effect might
be the police using teargas or effecting mass arrests on peaceful demon
strators i n an action where the Black Bloc ( discussed i n more detail i n
Chapter Two) has engaged in direct action somewhere away from the site
of the l arger protest. This can have ( and has had) the effect of pol arizing
activists, creating antipathies, and undermining sol i darity-al l of which
might be viewed as intenti onal effects on the part of authoriti es. But such
actions have al so served to delegitimize the state, which has increasingly
resorted to extral egal measures, deni al s of due process, and the use of
di rect force agai nst non-vi ol ent protestors, i ncl udi ng even members of
the medi a who are ostens i bl y there as obs ervers and chroni cl ers .
3 6
" Del egi ti mati on, " as Uri Gordon di scerns, " refers to the sum total of
anarchi st interventi ons i n publ i c di scourse, verbal or symbol i c, whose
message i s to deny the basi c l egi ti macy of domi nant soci al i nsti tuti ons
and eat away at the premises of representative pol itics, cl ass society, patri
archy and so on. "
3 7
To take another example, the techni ci ans of gl obal
capitalism have l ost legitimacy as the use of force to protect their meetings
has expanded, and as they have i ncreasi ngl y retreated to more remote
( and thus less transparent) venues to conduct the business of the corpo
rate economy.
In thi s sense, anarchi st acti vi ti es have weakened the
legitimacy of the state and capital by showing that they do not even fol
low their own rules and that their power is not exercised j ustly.
Power Relation
Thus, another key feature of soci al movements i s how they transform
power relations in society. Anarchism advocates an egalitari an, horizon
tal mode of power di stri buti on, and while this has not yet permeated
the l arger cul ture, i t has undoubtedl y i nfused acti vi st ci rcl es around
the worl d, from small-group and community-based processes t o gl obal
networks . As we have seen throughout thi s vol ume, anarchi sts seek to
bal ance power among individual s, between indivi dual s and social struc
tures, between l ocal uni ts as they affl i ate and/or federate, and among
the peopl es of the worl d across geopol itical and economi c di vi des. To
an extent, we can fai rl y say that these methods have been s uccessful
within the locales i n which they have been appl ied, but their circumscrip
tion largely withi n the activist mi l ieu has prevented further reformation of
overal l power rel ati ons in the l arger society. Indeed, this i s one of those
qualities that renders anarchism as i nherently revolutionary, and its fail
ure to as yet be real i zed i s part of the ongoing process of remaki ng the
map of the world in which anarchi sts are regularly engaged.
1 58 Anarchism Today
A relevant conundrum that has plagued revolutions throughout hi story
is sometimes referred to as antipower, or the tendency of any force to pro
duce " an equal and oppos i te reacti on, " as I s aac Newton s urmi sed.
Someti mes this opposi ng force takes the form of repressi on, but it al so
at ti mes comes about withi n the very source of the i ni ti al force i tsel f.
" Ant i power i s the moti ve force of genui ne revol ut i ons [ and often]
becomes power as soon as i t i s tri umphant, " as Gi ovanni Bal del l i has
What i s uni que about anarchi sm, i n theory at l east, i s i ts
refusal to exercise power i n the tri umphal i st sense; j ust as one cannot be
forced to free, by defni ti on, neither can anarchi sm be i mposed by coer
cive means. "You can impose authority but you cannot impose freedom, "
as Col i n Ward notes. 4
Sti l l , some in the mi l i eu advocate tactics-either
physical or moral isti c-that possess a coercive qual ity, raising the ques
tion of whether anarchi sm at ti mes runs the ri sk of becomi ng the very
thi ng that it i s struggling against: "That movement and those organi za
ti ons will show themselves truly anarchist that will not practice, and wi l l
not structure themsel ves accordi ng to, the very methods they condemn
in others. Power i s power under any name. A revolutionary power, want
ing the end of one system of oppressi on, i s no guarantee agai nst itsel f
embodying another such system. "4 1
Si mi larly, soci al scientists sometimes refer to a process of reifcation, in
which an abstract notion i s brought into being, oftentimes through pro
cesses ostensi bl y intended to contest it. Thus, i n directly confronting the
state, anarchists run the risk of further concretizing it as a thing worthy
of such contestati on, thereby el evati ng its posture. The same i s true i n
reverse, of course, so that anarchi sts can gai n stature as the state perse
cutes them as wel l . The di fference, however, i s that the state has far
greater control over representati ons of power ( particularl y vi s-a-vi s i ts
sway over the mai nstream medi a) , such that in the publ ic' s mi nd anar
chist actions might serve to reify the state as a bastion of order and protec
tion, whereas anarchists are often reifed as hooligans or terrorist threats.
This was true even in the propaganda put forth as far back as a century
ago: "Thus, i n the name of the revol ution, the Anarchists serve the cause
of reaction; in the name of morality they approve the most i mmoral acts;
in the name of i ndi vi dual li berty they trample under foot al l the rights of
their fel l ows. "
Now, thi s sort of hysterical pronouncement i s certainly
overbl own, and anarchi sts are hardly al one among movement actors
who confront potential hypocrisies in navigating an opposi tional stance
withi n such a totalizing society. But the i mplicit cautionary tal e i s val i d,
and anarchists woul d do wel l to continue heeding i t.
Assessing Anarchism' s Impact 1 59
Identity Cntruction
Perhaps the greatest success for which anarchism can claim at least partial
credit-and likewise comprising a pl atform for anarchist power relations
coming into greater clarity-is the theory' s position of maxi mal equality
and how it has endeavored to span identity attri butes including race, class,
gender, sexual orientation, ability, and more. Anarchists believe in the innate
equality and the capacity for productive empowerment of every individual ,
at least i n principle. This becomes more challenging to maintain i n the face
of viewing political adversaries ( e. g. , coercive state offcials, corporate proft
eers, hate groups, and supremacists ) as " the enemy" within a movement
context, and anarchi sts have not al ways been especi al l y tolerant of or
respectful toward those among the power elite in particul ar. But by and
large, anarchists are busier building communities and facilitating movements
than they are engaging in direct ( and potentially dehumanizing) confronta
tions with adversaries. Indeed, anarchism focuses on the "cop in your head"
as well as the one on the street, indicating that the true test of overcoming
hierarchy i s to confront the roots of it that we unconsciously embrace and
enact in our lives. In this sense, anarchism i s about indivi dual character
development as much as instituti onal chal lenge; " it is not a program for
political change but an act of social self-determination. "43
Despite the fact that "anarchi sm remai ns a largely white ideology in
the U. S. , " as Olson observes, it i s al so the case that "American anarchist
thought and practice can provi de a powerful anal ysi s of race. "44 Ext
ending the point, Olson concludes that a thoroughgoing deconstruction of
hierarchy " has broadened contemporary anarchi sm into a critique of al l
forms of oppression, including capitalism, the state, and organized religion
but also patriarchy, heterosexism, anthropocentrism, racism, and more. "45
Anarchism is uni que among political theories in its attempt to " attack al l
forms of oppression, not j ust a ' mai n' one, because without an attack on
hierarchy itself, other forms of oppression will not necessarily wither away
after capitalism ( or patriarchy, or col oni al i sm) i s destroyed. "46 Si mi l ar
themes have been sounded by anarcha-feminists, who assert that "anarchists
challenge any form of organization or relationship which fosters the exercise
of power and domination, " likewise that "anarchism understands that al l
oppressions are mutually reinforcing. "47 As L. Susan Brown articulates,
not onl y is anarchi sm inherently femi ni st, but al so it goes beyond
feminism in i ts fundamental opposition to al l forms of power, hier
archy, and domination . . . . Whi le race, class, age, gender, sexual ity,
or abi l i ty, for i nstance, may pose anal yti cal probl ems for other
1 60 Anarchi sm Today
movements, anarchism is capabl e of deal i ng with all these issues as
legitimate because of its fundamental commitment to freedom for al
people. No one oppression is given speci al status in anarchism-ll
oppression is equal l y undesi rabl e. Anarchists fght for human free
dom against each and every form of power and domination, not j ust
a particul ar historical mani festation of power. 48
Soci al movement anal ysts have begun to embrace the tenor of these
i nsi ghts, noti ng that there has been a " shi ft to i dentity constructi on "
along with a redefnition of movements in part as "i dentity-creating struc
tures . "49 These anal yses further i ndicate the i nterli nked nature of per
s onal trans format i on and pol i t i cal cha nge, t hus connecti ng t he
development of identities and societies.
In addition to race and gender issues, anarchi sm di rectly and critically
engages matters of sexuality, as well as confronting disabilit issues by pos
iti ng new rubrics such as "al ter-abi l i ty" that seek to "encourage the less
able to bui ld their own alternative structures of useful activity i ntegrated
withi n a cooperative framework. "50 In recent years, anarchism has found
productive i ntersections with felds including "postcolonial thought, queer
studies, black and Chicano studies, cultural studies, and feminism," among
other schools of thought and practice:s Anarchism has had a long tradi
tion of confronting issues of class, economic j ustice, and the conditions of
labor; more recently, it has found appl ication i n critical i nvestigations of
homelessness, marginal ization, and forms of underground economics that
exi st beneath the veneer of capitalist society:52 Anarchists wade i nto areas
often neglected by other movements, such as parenting and fami l y roles,
l i kewise i ncl udi ng an ethical orientation that asks us to ful l y consider the
impact of al l of our interpersonal rel ationshi ps-from families and fri end
ships to neighborhoods and workplaces-as sites for collective construc
ti on:5 3 The contemporary anarchi st mi l i eu i s thoroughl y gl obal and
includes voices from both maj oritari an and subaltern perspectives, repre
senting the ful l range of identity constructi ons found across human cul
tures. Sti l l , the actual practice of a fully non-hierarchical worl d remai ns a
work in progress, and anarchism must conti nue to grapple with its own
i mbricati ons within structures of oppression that refect outmoded ways
of thinking about personal relations and soci al locations al ike.
Buildin Alterntives
Ultimatel y, the pri mary eval uative measure for social movements-what
ever defnition we ascribe, and regardless of their l evel of organization-is
Assessing Anarchi sm' s I mpact 161
how wel l they bui ld alternatives and construct new narratives that chal
l enge prevai l i ng arrangements and poi nt the way forward. Throughout
thi s vol ume, I have attempted to depict a productive, proactive, and pos
itive vi ew of anarchi sm that i ndicates its si mul taneous capacities for con
tes tati on and constructi on. Taken together, the exampl es ci ted and
theories analyzed throughout the foregoi ng chapters present a vi si on of
anarchi sm that i s grounded i n the autonomous acti ons of i ndi vi dual s,
communi ti es, and wi der networks i n managi ng the condi ti ons of thei r
l ives withi n the context of cooperati ve, mutual ly benefci al endeavors.
As previously noted, anarchi sm eschews concrete bl ueprints or formul as
i n favor of an organi c and evolutionary approach to social organization,
on the theory that chal l enges and con
icts are best handled i n real time
by the people closest to them, oftentimes spontaneously but also i nformed
by the lessons of the past. Indeed, human hi story from i ts earl i est under
pi nni ngs refects the i nherent abi l i ty of i ndi vi dual s and communi ties to
navigate crises, promote j ust rel ati ons, federate and exchange with others,
and live wi thi n the carrying capaci ty of the planet-all without imposi ng
ri gi d hi erarchi es and regi mes of control that by now appear increasi ngl y
l i ke a sl ippery s lope to technocrati c total i tari ani sm. As Peter Marshal l
concl udes, " for most of human evol uti on and hi story people have l i ved
peaceful , cooperati ve l i ves wi thout rul ers, l eaders, pol iticians, sol di ers,
pol icemen and taxmen. "
This is not to say that every pre-existing culture has been anarchistic, or
that we want to return to some earl i er "gol den age" (even i f it was pos
sible) when people l ived i n perfect harmony. Quite l i kel y, such a state of
affai rs was never trul y evi dent, and history refects a compl ex range of
societal forms among the many cul tures that have exi sted. Whatever we
make of the past, i t i s the challenge of the present that we must confront
i f the human experi ment is to conti nue. Li ke many others, anarchists
struggl e to cope wi th the rapi d changes i n technol ogi es of survei l l ance
and control , the destabi l izati on of the envi ronment, wi deni ng gaps of
weal th and opportuni ty, the waste and destruction of a permanent war
economy, the l i neari zi ng a nd pri vati zi ng i nfuence of gl obal capi tal ,
increasing vul nerabi lities as to essentials includi ng food and water, media
hegemony, toxifcation and decl i ning health, the centralization of politi
cal power, and all of the myriad crises presented by the world as i t i s cur
rently confgured. Anarchi sts have been steadi l y bui l di ng a l ternati ve
arrangements to tackle these cri ses-i ncl udi ng i ntentional communities,
ant i -capi tal i st economi es, free school s, seed banks, and i ndependent
medi a centers. One i ntrigui ng exampl e is that of the Rai nbow Fami l y of
Li vi ng Li ght , wh i ch has hel d regul ar "gat heri ngs " on publ i c l ands
1 62 Anarchi sm Today
( attracting tens of thousands) for over four decades, approxi mati ng the
compl ex range of initiatives that defne human communi ties. 55
Sti l l , to somehow overcome ( or even address) al l of the chal l enges pres
entl y confronting humanki nd woul d be wel l beyond the capacity of any
si ngl e movement or theory. The total i ty of these cri ses-knowl edge of
which is in fact widely known-promotes a sense of detachment, despai r,
and di sempowerment that onl y serves to feed back i nto the downward
spi ral . Some may be hopi ng that the "powers that be" wi l l step in and
save us, and i ndeed there may wel l be technol ogical i nnovati ons on the
horizon that appear to promise abundant energy and resources, as wel l
as greater control over the vari abl es that contri bute to desta bi l i zati on.
But without a concomitant change in val ues, from a mi ndset of domi na
tion and competition to one of equal i ty and mutual ism, we are l ikel y to
fnd oursel ves back i n a pl ace of dependency and subj ugation. Perhaps
some woul d opt for a gi l ded cage that obscures thei r view of the world
outside the bars; anarchists emphatically rej ect such resignations and urge
peopl e everywhere to rattl e those cages unti l a resonance frequency is
found that breaks them down once and for all. This may well be the cen
tral anarchi st val ue and vision, namel y that we still have the abi l ity and
opportuni ty to turn the Titani c around and avert the catacl ysm ahead.
Indeed, we can even dismantle i t altogether and creatively use the pieces
to bui l d a new shi p right now.
Metaphors aside, anarchists have acnt al l y come a long way i n terms of
del ineati ng a non-prescriptive vision for alternative societies as against the
hegemony of the dominant order. Agai n, the essence is contained more in
the process than the result, more about what an anarchist soci ety does than
what i t is . In thi s regard, we have exami ned processes i ncl udi ng sel f
management, mutual ai d, sol i darity, di rect action, prefguring, consensus
decision making, restorative j ustice, l i beratory educati on, partici patory
governance, egalitarian distribution, networking, and more. None of these
in itsel f tel l s us exactly what an anarchist society will look l ike, and indeed
di fferent communi ti es may appl y these processes i n divergent ways. The
basic uni fying premise, however, is that i n doing so they wi l l at least leave
open the prospect of heal thy social evol ution, rather than the apparently
destructive path we are on today. Anarchism cannot solve all of our prob
lems, but it does offer a way of looking at the world-and the people in it
as a complex system comprised of sel f-actual ized units that are equal ly enti
tled to defne the conditions of l i fe and the course of history. Capitalists and
statists have al ready pronounced the "end of hi story" with the purported
tri umph of thei r paradigm, but anarchi sts mai ntai n through their words
and deeds that the future is yet to be written. That may be as good as it gets.
Assessing Anarchi sm' s I mpact 1 63
Buying Time
In this chapter, I have sought to assess the relative impact and effective
ness of anarchi sm in theory and practice, traci ng the broad outl i nes of
an eval uati ve framework for anti -systemi c and revol uti onary pursui ts
that often defy the terms of tradi ti onal soci ol ogi cal measuri ng devi ces.
Overal l , i t appears that anarchi sm today has actual l y progressed qui te
wel l i n terms of expandi ng i ts scope, refni ng i ts poi nts of tensi on, and
promoti ng i ts vi si on. Nonethel ess, much remai ns to be done, and there
probabl y is not a s i ngl e anarchi st who bel i eves that the revol uti on i s
won and the task accompl i shed. Indeed, anarchists i n general accept the
basic facts that the work wi l l never be done, that the mai ntenance of free
dom and equal i ty will always be unfol di ng, and that humanki nd wi l l be
engaged i n an eternal process of l earni ng how to l i ve in bal ance wi th
one anot her and the rest of non- human nature; as Harol d Barcl ay
observes, "even i f anarchy were t o be achieved, eternal vigilance woul d
be the bare mi ni mum price for even a modi cum of s uccess . "
6 I n thi s
sense, the ultimate ai m of anarchism is to conti nue this process, holdi ng
open the window of opportuni ty in which to invent and i mplement new
vi si ons for as long as possi bl e, even in the face of escal ati ng crises and
long odds. The totality of anarchi st praxi s, i n conj uncti on wi th movement
actors from many other fronts, has at least served to " buy time " ( ironi
cal l y, a capi tal i st construct i f ever there was one) and l i berate space for
the creation of alternatives. This quest for the future is perhaps the defn
i ng task before us, and i ts expl orati on wi l l ftti ngl y serve as a tentati ve
conclusion to this vol ume.
Anarchism as Future Vision
narchi sm possesses an intri gui ng temporal perspective that equal l y
credi ts the past, present, and future i n i ts anal yses and acti ons .
Sometimes anarchists embrace the notion of "primitivism" as an expres
sion of longing for a bygone day, at times explicitly cal l i ng for a return
to the Paleol ithic "hunter-gatherer" age in which humans are sai d to have
lived without rigid social hierarchies and within the carrying capacities of
the habitat. Even those that do not issue such a call still oftentimes draw
lessons from the stateless societies that predominated our shared past, as
well as from more recent historical examples of " anarchy i n action" such
as the Spanish Civil War. At the same time, anarchists deploy a wide spec
trum of " di rect action " tactics in the present that seek to undermine and
alter the prevailing order, carve out spaces of autonomy and resi stance,
and build a set of sustai nabl e alternatives to meet the needs of indivi dual s
and communities whi l e forestal l i ng the ongoing degradation of the envi
ronment. And anarchists also have one eye on the future, not i n a pre
scri ptive sense but more so in the practice of " prefguri ng"-that i s, in
the recognition that actions taken i n the present will ( and shoul d) model
the new society i n the making, serving not onl y to contest power but to
create the basi s for tomorrow' s anarchi sm. Interestingly, sometimes thi s
imagined future looks a bit like the past.
In thi s deep-seated temporal l i nkage, anarchi sm refects a cruci al sen
si bi l ity that often goes unacknowledged in social theory, namely that we
are all futuri sts all the ti me-for good, bad, or otherwi se . As Noam
Chomsky poi nts out, through the choices we make today we are continu
al l y asserting " our control over the fate of future generati ons, " creating a
" basi c moral i mperative " that underscores much of envi ronmental i sm
and anarchi s m al i ke. 1 Col i n Ward further a s serts that "a soci et y
1 66 Conclusion
advanced enough to accept the environmental imperatives of the 21 st cen
tury will be obl iged to reinvent anarchism as a response to them, " indicat
i ng that " anarchi sm is the only pol itical i deology capable of addressi ng
the chal l enges posed by our new green consci ousness to the accepted
range of pol itical i deas. "2 Uri Gordon concurs that " in a future plagued
by energy scarcity, cl i mate instabi l ity and fnanci al meltdown, anarchist
values and forms of organizing wi l l become increasingly i mportant . . . .
The challenge anarchists and their al lies face today i s to disseminate their
skills and ideas, creating a better chance that the move through i ndustrial
col l apse will lead to a truly l i berated worl d. "
Conti nui ng i n this vei n,
Peter Marshal l concludes that anarchi sm " is more urgent than ever i f we
are to survive the ecological cri ses and reverse the growing inj ustice and
i nequal i ty in the worl d. We need to i magi ne and real i ze an alternative
future and soci al real ity, one based on autonomy, indivi duality, commu
nity, sol i darity and a deep concern for the natural worl d. "4
Indeed, the probl ems confronting humankind are mani fol d, and they
have potenti al l y dire impl ications for the future. At the same time, anar
chi sts ( and other dedicated activists) have been steadi l y arti cul ating and
implementing the seeds of a new vi si on. Given its inherently revol utionary
posture and its comprehensive critique of power, domi nati on, and hier
archy, anarchi sm hol ds great promi se for accompl i shi ng the task of
" bui l di ng i ndependent, sustai nabl e al ternati ves and communi ty sel f
s uffci ency " and l i kewi se " displ ayi ng attractive models that people can
implement. "5 Uncompromising in i ts rej ection of technocratic rul e, anar
chi sm possesses the capacity to directly engage "today' s most pressi ng
i ssues, including: food shortages, the distribution of resources, the rol e of
technology, access to political power, the roots and sources of confict, the
origins of oppression and marginal ization, and the potentially i rreparable
harm being done to the biosphere. "6 To cope with this ever-expanding list
of crises, anarchism itself has continued to evolve new forms, such as "insur
rectionali sm, pri mi ti vi sm, anarcha-femi ni sm, Si tuati oni st anarchi sms,
especifsmo, and platformi sm, " pl us establishing productive intersections
with areas of inquiry i ncl udi ng "radical anti-racist politics such as 'Race
Traitor,' radical queer theories, environmentalism( s) , and animal liberation
ism, as well as anarchist practices emerging from post-colonial states and
indigenous populations. "
Increasingly, a sense of impending collapse looms l arge in the modern
psyche. Anarchi sts are among the rel ati vel y few ( wi thi n the pri vi leged
nati ons, i n particul ar) who choose neither to ignore this through sel f
medi cati on and functi onal di stracti on, nor to pretend that it is si mpl y
part of busi ness as usual wi th no cause for al arm. "We have taken a
Conclusion 167
monstrousl y wrong turn, " as John Zerzan poi ntedl y asserts, " from a
pl ace of enchantment, understandi ng and wholeness to the absence we
fnd at the heart of the doctrine of progress. Empty and emptyi ng, the
l ogi c of domestication, with i ts demand to control everything, now shows
us the rui n of the civilization that rui ns the rest. "
Even against this stark
real ization that the facade of progress and plenty has steadily pushed the
world to the bri nk, perhaps irreversibly so by some ecological measures,
anarchi sts refuse to "go gentle i nto that good night" and i nstead con
sci ousl y choose to " rage, rage agai nst the dying of the light, " as the oft
quoted l i nes by the poet Dyl an Thomas s uggest. Wri t i ng on " The
Transformati on of the Future, " anarcha-femi ni st Peggy Kornegger thus
I used to thi nk that i f the revol uti on di dn' t happen tomorrow, we
woul d al l be doomed to a catastrophic ( or at l east catatonic) fate.
I don' t believe anymore that that is necessarily true. In fact, I don' t
even believe i n that ki nd of before-and-after revolution, and I think
we set ourselves up for failure and despair by thinking of it i n those
terms. I do bel ieve that what we all need, what we absol utely require
i n order to continue struggl i ng ( i n spi te of the oppressi on of our
dai l y l i ves ) , is hope, that i s, a vi si on of the future so beautiful and
so powerful that i t pul l s us steadily forward in a bottom-up creation
of an inner and outer world both habi tabl e and sel f-ful fl l i ng for
all. 0 0 .
0 0 0 Nothi ng we can do i s enough, but on the other hand, those
" smal l changes " we make i n our mi nds, i n our lives, in one anoth
er' s lives , are not total l y futile and ineffectual . It takes a long time
to make a revol uti on: i t i s somethi ng that one both prepares for
and lives now. The transformation of the future will not be instanta
neous, but i t can be total 0 0 0 a conti nuum of thought and acti on,
individuality and collectivity, spontaneity and organization, stretch
i ng from what i s to what can be. Anarchism provi des a framework
for this transformati on. It i s a vi si on, a dream, a possi bi l i ty which
becomes "real " as we live it.
Holding a Vision
The central question before us, then, might simply be stated as: "Where
do we go from here ? " 1

From Starhawk to Peter Gelderl oos-who can
be taken to represent the poles of a spectrum of anarchi sm from prefg
urative pagani sm to mi l itant mobi l i zati ons-there i s actual l y a nascent
1 68 Concl usion
convergence of future vi si ons in the anarchi st mi l i eu. For her part,
Starhawk begi ns from the premi se that revolution i s "what we are, not
what we wi l l become; what we do, not what we wi l l do someday . . . a
l i vi ng process happeni ng now"; in thi s vi ew, the si mul taneous task of
evolution i s equal l y cruci al , entai l i ng an effort to "provi de the al terna
ti ves, bui l d the model s, i nvent the new l i fe-fri endl y technol ogi es, and
demonstrate that ecol ogi cal sani ty i s actual l y more proftabl e. "
1 1
ul ti mate vi si on for both today and tomorrow i ncl udes: protecti ng the
l i fe- sustai ni ng systems of the pl anet; resi sti ng commodi fcati on and
recl ai ming the sacred; restoring communities' control over their resources
and desti ni es; respecti ng and l earni ng from i ndigenous cul tures; con
ducting our busi ness wi th due regard for future generations; promoting
opportuniti es for all peopl e to meet thei r needs and ful fl l their dreams;
treati ng l abor and l aborers j ustl y and wi th digni ty; ensuri ng the basi c
means of l i fe for all ; and creating participatory structures i n which people
have a voice in all decisions that affect them.
This is a thoroughly anarchist vision, though it need not be called that
to appreci ate its i nnate logic and desi rabi lity. Gelderloos approaches sim
i l ar themes from a revol uti onary starting point that "visi ons make us
stronger, and we wi l l al l need the courage to break once and for al l
with the existing i nstituti ons and the false solutions they offer, " segueing
i nto the evol ut i onar y tas k of descr i bi ng " how an ecol ogi cal , a nti
authori tari an soci ety coul d mani fest i tsel f. " 1
Articulati ng hi s vi si on,
Gelderloos focuses on attri butes i ncluding: bri ngi ng about an end to fossi l
fuel extracti on; repl aci ng i ndustri al food producti on wi th sustai nabl e
growi ng at local l evel s; rejecting the exploitative mental i ty of the market;
abandoni ng some cities and greeni ng others; produci ng energy and other
essenti al resources local l y; conveni ng neighborhood assembl ies and other
forms of decentralized decision making; returni ng control of dai ly l i fe to
i ndi vi dual s and smal l groups; establ i shi ng a gi ft economy; removi ng the
compul si on of work and i nstead maki ng it enj oyabl e; a bol i s hi ng the
pol i ce and other forms of coercive force; mai ntai ni ng vi abl e transporta
tion and communication between local units; and heal i ng the world from
the ravages of capi tal i sm through permacul ture and sustai nabl e soci al
and ecological practices . 1 4
We can s ee i mmedi at el y how much synergy exi sts between these
vi si ons, whi ch agai n come from fai rl y di sparate sources wi thi n contempo
rary anarchism-and addi ti onal affrmi ng vi si ons abound i n the mi l i eu.
Marshal l , for i nstance, sees a worl d i n whi ch peopl e can run free, l i nk
wi th nei ghbors, become rooted i n their bi oregi on, cooperate routi nel y,
decentral i ze communicati ons, and establ ish hori zontal modes of soci al
Concl usi on 1 69
organizati on-taking the broad vi ew that, ulti matel y, " no one path i s
paramount: there are many di fferent ways up a mountai n. " 1 5 Cri spi n
Sartwel l aspires t o an anarchi sm that devolves upon sel f-sovereignty and
i ndi vi dual responsi bi l i ty, l oosel y formed col l ecti ves and associ ati ons,
deeper connecti ons to one another and nature, greater compl exity i n
human i denti ti es beyond mere capi tal i st forms, consci ence and sel f
di sci pl i ne, and non- prescri pti ve vol untari sti c forms of soci al associ a
ti on. 1 6 Carissa Honeywel l di scerns a Briti sh traditi on of anarchi sm that
encompasses " vi rulent rejections of war, universal opportuni ties for aes
thetic expressi on, experimental student-led techni ques i n educati on, the
devolution of political and economic control to the lowest possi ble com
munity level i n various spheres, popul ar control over the use of technol
ogy and land, and the re-eval uati on of soci al mores accordi ng to thei r
i ndi vi dual and soci al beneft and authenticity, " wi th the combi ned effect
of "encouraging vol untari sm, empowering communities, bui l di ng social
rel ationshi ps, l and] supporting l i berating opportuni ties for self-hel p. "
And Donal d Bl ack subtl y proj ects the rise of a "new anarchy lthat is] nei
ther communal nor situational , yet both at once. "
These burgeoni ng vi si ons are representative of the anarchist tendency
to focus on pragmatic possi bi l i ties and i deal alternatives at the same time.
All of the notions mentioned above are practicable ( at least in part) i n the
present, and yet each poi nts toward a potenti al future that remai ns a
gl eam in the vi si onary' s eye. Thi s is the essence of prefguri ng and of
anarchi sm as wel l , namel y that we desi re a worl d that i s al ways i n the
making, that eschews total or fnal visions for the sake of ongoing exper
i mentation, that remai ns open to rethi nki ng its own basic premises, that
restores the capacity to make any such decisions to i ndi vi dual s and com
munities that are locally rooted yet working i n concert, that respects the
si ngul ar and the whole si mul taneousl y as necessary refecti ons of one
another. As P. M. observes i n articul ati ng the compl ex, evol uti onary
vi si on of a gl obal network of autonomous communities contained in the
l andmark work bolo'bolo, what we seek is "not a system, but a patch
work of micro-systems. "
9 As such, Ci ndy Mi lstein observes, "anarchism
asks that people 'build the road as they travel . ' "
Thus, as Mi lstein counsels, "the 'end' of anarchism is not a fnal desti
nati on . . . nor a revol uti on after whi ch al l becomes and remai ns per
fect. ''
1 Anarchism i s not a "bl uepri nt or ri gi d plan, " rather taki ng the
view that "no one can dictate the exact shape of the future "; unl i ke think
ers from other tradi tions, "anarchi sts exercise extreme caution when dis
cussi ng ' bl uepri nts' of future soci al rel ati ons si nce they bel i eve that it is
always up to those seeki ng freedom to decide how they desire to l i ve.
1 70 Conclusion
As Chomsky concurs, " though our vi si ons can and shoul d be a gui de,
they are at best a very partial one. They are not clear, nor are they stable,
at least for people who care about the consequences of their acts. Sensible
peopl e will look forward to a cl earer arti cul ati on of their ani mati ng
vi si ons and to the criti cal eval uati on of them i n the l i ght of reason and
experi ence. "
Ul ti matel y, then, " we shoul d be ca uti ous i n tryi ng to
sketch out the nature of the future society in too much detai l " and instead
" try and experi ment and chip away at exi sti ng structures. "
nowhere i s thi s " experi mental futuri s m" more evi dent than i n the
ongoi ng debate about what rol e technol ogy is to pl ay i n any anarchi st
vi si on for today, or tomorrow.
Techno-topia, or Future Primitive?
In Chapter Four we looked in detail at primitivi sm, critiques of ci vi l i za
tion, and competing vi ews over technology. I will not rehash that analysis
here, except insofar as to note that anarchism (as i n many other contexts )
refects a curi ous dual tendency to embrace Luddi sm and hi gh technol
ogy, to both ignore and infltrate modern machinery, to "get back to the
garden " and " bol dl y go where no one has gone before " al l at once.
Even anarchi sts who utilize modern technol ogies of communication and
conveyance-which i s nearly everyone-often express ambivalence about
the effcacy and ethical ity of such devices. The obj ections are over the eco
nomic arrangements in which these technol ogies are produced, the inher
ent ant i - envi ronme nta l i s m cont ai ned wi t hi n t hei r worki ngs , t hei r
dehumanizi ng aspects of automati on and medi ati on, t he capacities for
greater soci al control embedded in their use, and the mechani stic world
view they refect. Above all, anarchists rej ect the specialized, central ized
knowledge necessary to mai ntai n a technol ogical society, as well as the
concomitant dependency it fosters among a populace increasingly reliant
upon remote machi nery to run our dai l y l i ves, l argel y i mmune from
accountabi lity and beyond our capaci ty to either regulate or even ful l y
understand i t. Zerzan l aments: "As we have become more al i en from
our own experi ences, whi ch are processed, standardi zed, l abel ed, and
subj ected to hierarchical control, technology emerges as the power behind
our misery and the mai n form of ideological domination. "
Still, Zerzan' s future primitive worldview is by no means ful l y accepted
by anarchi sts. Historical l y, in the more halcyon early days of i ndustri al
i sm, agrari an and ecol ogical anarchi sts ( incl udi ng Peter Kropotki n and
El i see Recl us, among others ) actual ly saw great hope i n technol ogy to
al l evi ate the toi l s of l abor and enabl e greater sel f- suffci ent production
Conclusion 1 71
of food. Graham Purchase observes, for instance, that Reclus "was much
more willing to enthusi astical l y endorse developments in technology than
perhaps he might have been, had he been living today; believing that the
intell igent and ecologically informed use of science and technology could
produce harmony, beauty, and abundance for all.
Even today, many
sti l l pl ace great faith i n technology to sol ve the myri ad cri ses before us,
perhaps more out of a sense of necessity than desire, but the resul t i s the
same. How are we to feed seven bi l l i on people without agribusiness and
i ndustri al food producti on methods ? Can we reverse the thres hol d
crossing processes driving climate change without employing technologi
cal fxes ? Will the global economy be able to function without the internet
i nfrastructure ? What would become of the ability to travel and stay con
nected to others i f mass technol ogies were to di sappear? Can we survive
sans machinery?
These sorts of queri es i ndi cate at l east partl y why technology enj oys
such wi de acceptance in society, to the degree of feti shi sm by now, and
why so many seem willing to accept even greater technological i nterven
ti ons i n order to try and fx the problems already caused by it. Thi s sort
of " doubl i ng down" perspective i s potenti al l y di sastrous, both for per
sonal freedom and ecol ogical survival ali ke. The proposed " sol uti ons "
to today' s crises read like a Pandora' s box of science-fction scenarios that
portend further potenti al destabilization of the biosphere, increased cen
tral i zati on of state-corporate power, and deeper i ncursi ons into human
integrity. Nuclear power is by now an obvious "fal se solution, " as i s bi o
technol ogy, but ri ght around the corner are even more di sconcerti ng
devel opments l i ke the geoengi neeri ng of the envi ronment ( i . e. , alteri ng
the pl anet' s basi c cycl es ) and nanotechnol ogy ( i . e . , mani pul ati on of
matter at the molecul ar l evel ) . Anarchists are, by and l arge, as future
ori ented as anyone, and there are even cel ebratory i nvocati ons to be
found i n the mi l i eu, such as the asserti on that " technol ogi cal soci ety
may serve as an appropri ate model of anarchist utopi a " by producing a
"positive chaos " or "Techno-verse" that chal l enges the total i zi ng view
of order and control .
Fortunatel y, as Ri chard J. F. Day descri bes, " the basi c pri nci pl es of
engi neeri ng work agai nst the fantasy of a total l y integrated worl d. As
any computer user knows, the more complex a system becomes the more
di ffcult it i s to mai ntai n, the more often and catastrophi cal l y it fai l s.
The i nternet may be the quintessential exampl e of thi s phenomenon: i n
order to sustain i ts utility, it has been increasingly brought under central
control and regul ati on ( i n fact, i t ori gi nates from the mi l i tary-security
appa rat us ) , mak i ng i t a more attracti ve target for hackers , bl ack
1 72 Conclusion
marketers, and other high-tech pirates who are abl e to impinge upon this
expandi ng monol i th from l i teral l y anywhere in the wor l d. Decen
tral i zati on and diversi fcati on are actual l y far more stabl e methods of
organizati on, as anarchi sts have been asserting for centuri es, but these
val ues do not serve the i nterests of st ate and corporate hegemony.
Gordon thus concludes that, despite appearances of decentralized open
ness, the internet's "enabling infrastructures have the more usual charac
teri sti cs of modern technol ogi cal systems , " i ncl udi ng not onl y the
resource-i ntensi ve creati on of computer hardware but al so the " enor
mous level of preci si on and authoritative coordination" requi red for both
production and reproduction of the system.
In answer to such eventual ities, Haki m Bey offers a creative response
that cel ebrates chaos and rej ects both " anti-Tech anarchi sm [ and] the
concept of the Technological fx as well, " asserting bl untly that " if a given
technology, no matter how admirable in potential (in the future) , i s used
to oppress me here and now, then I must either wield the weapon of sab
otage or el se sei ze the means of production. "
Indeed, the stakes are
hi gh, and anarchi sts-even wi th thei r compl ex l ove-hate rel ati onshi p
wi th technol ogy-stand i ncreas i ngl y i sol ated among soci al movement
groups in offering resistance to and a critique of expandi ng technocratic
control . Gordon urges us to grasp the basic di lemma of our time: "No
amount of fnanci al specul ati on or hi gh-tech interventi on wi l l buy the
system out of i ts i nevi tabl e crash. The ti me of the turni ng has come,
and we are the generation wi th the dubi ous fortune to l i ve and die in its
throes . "
As such, " anarchi sts and thei r al l i es are now requi red to
proj ect themselves into a future of growing instabil ity and deterioration,
and to re-i magi ne thei r tactics and strategies i n vi ew of the converging
crises that will defne the twenty-frst century. "
Sti l l , ami d the decayi ng fabri c, there remai n opportunities for " l ow
tech i nnovati on i n areas l i ke energy, bui l di ng and food producti on, "
and perhaps t hi s i s what fgures l i ke Kropot ki n and Recl us had i n
mi nd over a century ago.
3 3
Maybe we cannot go back-there i s " no
escape backward i n time, " as Bey notes-but we can certainly go forward
by reviving the traditi onal knowledge of the past, selecting human-scaled
technologies that can be crafted and serviced by a wide range of users, let
ting l ocal communities decide the appropriate tool s for their needs, and
ul t i matel y t urni ng today' s mounti ng technol ogy- dri ven cri s es i nto
new opportunities for "creati vi ty, convi vi al i ty and cooperati on. "
34 I n
the end, as Gordon advi ses, " there are no guarantees , " and anarchi sts
wi l l need to remai n engaged, vi gi l ant, critical , and constructive to hel p
surmount the unfolding catacl ysms.
Anarchi sm is uni quely situated to
Conclusion 1 73
foster the growth of communities that embrace real i stic strategi es-not
merely for survival , but toward a renai ssance of new ideas and practices
that possess a long hi storical pedigree. This may sound a bit like the plot
of a science fction tale, and indeed it has been recorded as such on more
than one occasi on.
Science Friction
In working out its future visions, anarchism has found a willing venue in
the annal s of science fcti on.
Expl orati ons of anarchi stic themes have
appeared i n the " cyberpunk " wri ti ngs of Wi l l i am Gi bs on, Bruce
Sterl i ng, and Rudy Rucker; t he technol i bertari an vi si ons of Robert A.
Heinlein, Ken MacLeod, and Vernor Vinge; and the sociopolitical works
of Michael Moorcock, lai n M. Banks, and Norman Spinrad. Some of the
most instructive anarchist futures have been developed by science fction
writers, helping to popularize anarchism for a wide readership in the pro
cess. The best known of these works i s l i kel y Ursul a K. Le Gui n' s The
Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia ( 1 974) , which explores the develop
ment of a l unar anarchi s t soci ety as i t compares with its capi ta l i st
authoritarian parent planet; her work further considers the ways i n which
centralization and bureaucratization can become entrenched even in an
ostensible anarchist society when eternal vigilance i s abandoned in favor
of a static utopi ani sm. Si mi l ar themes are found i n James P. Hogan' s
Voyage from Yesteryear ( 1 982) , where a renegade anarchi st col ony i s
i nvaded by capi tal i st- autocrati c forces attempti ng to recl ai m it-with
the l atter being confronted by mass non-vi olence and eventual l y becom
i ng subsumed within the decentral i zed, cooperative soci ety. Eric Frank
Russel l ' s The Great Explosion ( 1 962 ) l i kewi se features the cl assl ess,
gi ft-economy soci ety of the " Gands" ( after Gandhi ) using passive resis
tance against i nvading mi l itary authoritari ans.
The theme of contrasting futures i s further explored i n Marge Piercy' s
Woman on the Edge of Time ( 1 976 ) , i n which a young woman trapped
in a brutal , repressive society travels to the future where two competing
"real i ti es " are on the verge of war: an el itist autocracy versus a culture
based on enchantment, androgyny, human-scal ed technology, and eco
logical bal ance. Adopting a revol uti onary posture i n her own time, the
young woman' s actions become a pivotal point i n history for the realiza
ti on of a future worl d bas ed on equal i ty, harmony, and s ani ty. Pat
Murphy' s bri l l i ant The City, Not Long After ( 1 9 8 9 ) depicts a band of
post-cataclysm survivors in San Francisco successful l y deploying a wide
rangi ng campai gn of resi stance ( mai nl y uti l i zi ng non-compl i ance and
1 74 Conclusion
monkeywrenching tactics ) against a mil itary uni t bent on restoring " l aw
and order" in the aftermath of col l apse. "We don't have a representative
form of government, " the resisters tel l one of the military commanders.
"We fol l ow more of a town counci l model . When we want to deci de
somethi ng, we al l get together and di scuss i t. But you' d be surpri sed
how few thi ngs real l y affect everyone . Most deci si ons can be made i n
smaller groups. "
I n Starhawk' s The Fifth Sacred Thing ( 1 993) , a si mi l ar
post-apocalyptic battle ensues between egal i tari an eco-topi an survivors
and authoritarian militaristic aggressors . The book notably opens with a
"Declaration of the Four Sacred Things " ( " ai r, fre, water, and earth" ) ,
whi ch procl ai ms in part: " No one has the right to appropri ate them or
proft from them at the expense of others. Any government that fai l s to
protect them forfeits i ts legiti macy. "
These are merely glimpses from an expandi ng genre, intended to pro
vide another perspective from which to consider the potential realization
of an anarchi st future. Taken together, the combi ned l esson of these
schol arly and l iterary works i s that i f we fai l to take steps to actual ize that
vision right here i n the present, the notion of having any future at all i s
speculative at best. Thi s is not al armi sm but merel y extrapol ati on; the
i nsights of these authors are intended to push us out of our comfort zones,
creati ng a sense of friction as we move through the confnes of our dai l y
routi nes, one that coul d serve to mobi l i ze our untapped capaci ti es for
acti on. Kim Stanley Robinson ( himself an anarchist science fction author,
noted for hi s Mars series among other works ) writes in the introduction
to Future Primitive that the "consensus vision of our future " i s marketed
back to us " i n great i ndustri al ci ty-machi nes, wi th peopl e as the l ast
organi c units i n a denatured, metal l i c, cl ean, and arti fci al worl d. '.
Robinson conti nues:
We are beginning to understand that thi s imagined future is impos
si bl e to enact . . . 0 Industri al existence cannot save us from the com
i ng envi ronmental cri si s; i ndeed, i t i s part of the probl em. In al l
l i kel i hood we have al ready overshot our envi ronment' s carryi ng
capacity . . . . We are i n a race to i nvent and practice a sustai nabl e
mode of l i fe before catastrophe strikes us. So we are in the process
of rethi nki ng the future, of inventing a new consensus vision of what
i t mi ght be . . . . Al l manner of al ternati ve futures are now bei ng
i magi ned, and many of them i nvoke the wi l derness, and moments
of our distant past, envi si oni ng futures that from the point of view
of the i ndustri al model l ook ' pri mi ti ve . ' . 0 0 These sci ence fcti ons
rej ect the i nevi tabi l ity of the machi ne future. 0 0 0 These vi si ons are
Conclusion 1 75
utopi an statements of desi re, ful l of j oy and hope and danger,
re- openi ng our not i on of t he future to a whol e range of wi l d
possi bilities.
Back to the Future
As we move toward our desti nati on, new paths al so appear j ust ahead.
This i s the essence of the anarchi st readi ng of the future, namel y that i t
i s the moment where the present-always contested, never perfected
opens onto fresh vistas in which to conti nue the experiment. The anar
chi st utopi a is one of process and not pl ace, open-ended, defned by its
practices rather than a program. Throughout this work, I have attempted
to give voice to this ever-changing anarchist vision, highl ighting its poi nts
of tensi on and convergence al ike, depicting it concretely but on perpet
ual ly wet cement that can be rewritten over and over agai n. Anarchy i s
ordered chaos, the resiliency of diversity, the stabi l ity of change. It harks
back to the best virtues of human hi story and devel opment, proj ecting
ahead to a world where the wisdom of the past i s i ntegrated with the
knowl edge of the present. Anarchis m: the i nfni tude of the cos mos ;
the sol itude of the sel f. In the end, there i s l ess separating the one from
the many than i t otherwise appears. Being and becomi ng, locked i n an
eternal dance; free spirits i n the presence of fate, never resting yet always
at peace; gazing upon the l i mi tl ess horizon i n the recogni ti on that the
road ahead wi l l be arduous, adventurous, and, ul ti matel y, wi l l l ead us
back agai n to the place from which we embarked.
1 . Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities
That Arise in Disaster (New York: Viking Press, 2009) .
2. Alex Martin, " On a Street Named Desire, " Newsday, September 26, 2005.
3 . Mi chael Tomasel l o, Why We Cooperate ( Cambri dge, MA: MIT Press,
2009) .
1 . Al ex Pri char d, " I nt roducti on: Anar chi s m and Worl d Pol i t i cs , "
Millennium: Journal of International Studies 39, no. 2 ( 201 0) : 373.
2. Kennet h C. Wenzer, " Godwi n' s Pl ace i n the Anarchi st Tradi ti on-A
Bicentenni al Tri bute, " Social Anarchism: A Journal of Theory and Practice 20
( 2006 ), http://www . socialanarchism. org/mod/magazine/displa y/2 7 /index. ph p.
3. Ibid.
4. For example, see George Woodcock, Anarchism: A History of Libertarian
Ideas and Movements ( New York: Meri di an Books, 1 962) ; George Crowder,
Classical Anarchism: The Political Thought of Godwin, Proudhon, Bakunin,
and Kropot kin ( Oxfor d, UK: Cl arendon Press, 1 9 9 1 ); Peter Mar s hal l ,
Demanding the Impossi ble: A History of Anarchi sm ( New York : Harper
Perenni al , 2008) .
5. Peter Kropotki n, The Conquest of Bread and Other Writings, ed. Marshal l
Shatz ( Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1 995) , 233-34.
6. I bi d. , 235.
7. Emma Gol dman, Anarchism and Other Essays ( Port Washi ngton, NY:
Kennikat Press, 1 969) , 68-71 .
1 78 Notes
8. Uri Gordon, " Anarchi sm: The A Word, " New Internationalist, June 1 ,
2 0 1 1 , http: //www . newi nt . org/feat ures/20 1 1 106/0 1 /anarchi s m- expl ai ned;
Marshal l , Demanding the Impossible, xi .
9. Sta ught on Lynd and Andrej Grubaci c, Wobblies & Zapatis tas:
Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism and Radical History ( Oakl and, CA: PM
Press, 2008) .
1 0 . Sam Mbah and I . E. lgari wey, African Anarchism: The History of a
Movement (Tucson, AZ: See Sharp Press, 1 997) , 27-35.
1 1 . Lui s A. Fernandez, Policing Dissent: Social Control and the Anti
Globalization Movement ( Brunswi ck, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2008) , 5 1 ;
Sireyyya Evren, " Introducti on: How New Anarchi sm Changed the Worl d
( of Opposi ti on ) a fter Seattl e and Gave Bi rth to Post- Anarchi s m, " i n Post
Anarchism: A Reader, ed. Duane Roussel le and Sireyyya Evren ( London: Pluto
Press, 201 1 ) , 1 .
1 2. Uri Gordon, Anarchy Alive! Anti-Authoritarian Politics from Practice to
Theory ( Ann Arbor, Ml : Pl uto Press, 2008 ) , 5; Cri spi n Sartwel l , Against the
State: An Introduction to Anarchist Political Theory ( Al bany, NY: SUNY Press,
2008) , 14.
1 3 . Starhawk, Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising ( Gabri ol a
Isl and, BC: New Society Publishers, 2002) , 1 5.
1 4. Janet Thomas, The Battle i n Seattle: The Story Behind and Beyond the
WTO Demonstrations ( Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 2000) , 1 0.
1 5. Ibi d. , 209.
16. Ibi d. , 46.
1 7. Teoman Gee, " ' New Anarchi sm' : Some Thoughts , " Alpine Anarchist
Productions, January 2003, 5.
1 8 . David Graeber, "The New Anarchi sts, " New Left Review 1 3 (January
February 2002) , http://www. newleftreview. org/A2368.
1 9. Starhawk, Webs of Power, 208.
20. Jeff Ferrel l , Tearing Down the Streets: Adventures i n Urban Anarchy
( New York: Palgrave, 200 1 ) , 234.
2 1 . I bi d. , 20.
22. I bi d. , 34.
23. Graeber, "The New Anarchists . "
24. Ibi d.
25. Ferrel l , Tearing Down the Streets, 243.
26. Gee, "New Anarchism, " 4.
27. Frankl i n Foer, " Protest Too Much, " New Republic, May 1, 2000, http:/
greenspun. com/b board/q -and-a -fetch-msg. tel ? msg_i d=003 3 Wy
28. Cindy Mi l stei n, Anarchism and Its Aspirations ( Oakl and, CA: AK Press,
201 0) , 4.
29. Chris Dodge, "Anarchism 1 01 , " Utne Reader, May-June 200 1 .
3 0 . Gee, "New Anarchism, " 4.
3 1 . Fernandez, Policing Dissent, 1 57-6 1 .
Notes 1 79
32. Sean Robi nson, "The El usi ve Face of Anarchi sm, " The News Tribune,
Jul y 1 0, 2 0 1 1 , http: //www. thenewstr i bune. com/2 0 1 1 /07/ 1 0/ 1 73 9559/the
-elusive-face-of-anarchism. html.
3 3 . Randal l Amst er et a ! . , eds . , Contemporary Anarchis t Studies: An
Introductory Anthology of Anarchy i n the Academy ( New York: Routl edge,
2009) , 5.
34. Mi l stei n, Anarchism and Its Aspirations, 5.
35. Davi d Graeber and Andrej Grubaci c, " Anarchism, or the Revolutionary
Movement of the 2 1 st Century, " Irvine Infoshop, n. d. , http: //i rvi nei nfoshop
. fles. wordpress. cor2009/01/anarchism-graebergrubacic. pdf.
36. Gordon, "Anarchism: The A Word. "
37. Gee, "New Anarchism, " 4.
38. See, for example, Starhawk, Webs of Power; and Davi d Graeber, Direct
Action: An Ethnography ( Oakl and, CA: AK Press, 2009) . An impressive com
pendium on Canadi an anarchism in particul ar highlights the post-Seattle actions
there as well as the roots to which it owes its exi stence, in part: Alan Antliff, ed. ,
Only 'A' Beginning: An Anarchist Anthology ( Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pul p
Press, 2004 ) .
39. Gordon, Anarchy Alive! 5.
40. Abe Greenwa l d, " The Ret ur n of Anarchi s m, " Commentary,
March 2 0 1 1 , http: //www . commenta rymagazi ne. com/art i cl e/the- return- of
41 . Ibi d.
42. Ezra Klein, '"You' re Creati ng a Vision of the Sort of Society You Want
to Have i n Mi niature' , " Washington Post, October 3, 201 1 , http:/www. washing
-want-to-have-in-miniature/201 1/08/25/giQAXVg7HL_blog. html.
43. Zach Wi l l i ams, " O. W. S. Through the Lens of Anarchy, " Downtown
Express, November 23, 201 1 , http://www. downtownexpress. com?p=4864.
44. Davi d Graeber, " Occupy and Anarchi sm' s Gi ft of Democracy, " The
Guardian, November 1 5 , 201 1 , http: //www. guardi an. co. uk/commenti sfree/
cifamerica/20 1 1/nov/1 5/occu py-anarchism -gift-democracy.
45. Col i n Ward, Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction ( Oxford, U. K. :
Oxford University Press, 2004) , 1 0.
46. Gee, "New Anarchism, " 1 .
4 7. See Cri met hl nc . , Recipes for Disaster: An Anarchi st Cookbook
( Ol ympi a, WA: Crimethlnc. Ex-Workers' Col lective, 2004) ; Gabriel Kuhn, ed. ,
Neuer Anarchismus in den U. S. : Seattle und die Folgen ( Minster, Germany:
Unrast-Verlag, 2008) .
Chapter 1
1 . Bri an Morri s, " Anthropol ogy and Anarchi sm, " Anarchy: A journal of
Desire Armed, Spri ng/Summer 1 9 9 8 , 4 1 ; Harol d Barcl ay, People Without
1 80 Notes
Government: An Anthropology of Anarchy ( Seattl e, WA: Left Bank Books,
1 990) , 12.
2. Crimethlnc. , "Fighting for Our Lives: An Anarchist Primer, " n. d.
3 . Ibi d.
4. Royce Logan Turner, "Anarchism-A Political Phi l osophy for the Age ? "
Contemporary Review, n. d.
5. Graeber and Gr ubaci c, " Anarchi s m" ; Mi l stei n, Anarchism and Its
Aspirations, 1 1 .
6. Ibi d. ( quoting Mal atesta) .
7. Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays, 69-73.
8. Leo Tolstoy, Government Is Violence: Essays on Anarchism and Pacifsm,
ed. Davi d Stephens ( London: Phoeni x Press, 1 990) , 1 5.
9. Li sa Kemmerer, " Anarchy: Foundat i ons i n Fai th, " i n Contemporary
Anarchist Studies: An Introductory Anthology of Anarchy in the Academy, ed.
Randal l Amster et al . ( New York: Routl edge, 2009) , 2 1 0; Gordon, Anarchy
Alive! 1 9.
1 0. Peter Kropotki n, Kropotkin 's Revolutionary Pamphlets, ed. Roger N.
Baldwin ( New York: Benj ami n BJ or, 1 927/1 968) , 39-41 .
1 1 . Peter Kropotkin, Fugitive Writings, ed. George Woodcock ( New York:
Black Rose Books, 1 993) , 149.
12. Peter Kropotki n, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, ed. Paul Avri ch
( New York: New York University Press, 1 972) , 20.
1 3 . Haki m Bey, T. A. Z. : The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological
Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism ( Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 1 99 1 ) , 1 0.
1 4 . John P. Cl ar k and Cami l l e Mart i n, eds . , Anarchy, Geography,
Modernity: The Radical Social Thought of Elisee Reclus ( New York: Lexington
Books, 2004) , 23-24.
1 5 . Murray Bookchi n, "What I s Soci al Ecol ogy ? " i n Environmental
Philosophy: From Animal Rights t o Radical Ecology, 2nd ed. , ed. Mi chael E.
Zi mmerman et al . ( Englewood Cl i ffs, NJ: Prentice Hal l , 1 993) , 355 ( emphasi s
i n original ) .
1 6 . Todd May, " I s Post - Struct ur al i s t Pol i t i cal Theory Anarchi s t ? "
Philosophy and Social Criticism 1 5, no. 2 ( 1 989) : 1 71 .
1 7. Crimethlnc. , "Fighting for Our Lives. "
1 8 . Colin Ward, Anarchy in Action (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1 973) , 12.
1 9. Gee, "New Anarchism, " 1 1-12.
20. Starhawk, Webs of Power, 1 41 .
2 1 . Quoted in Gordon, Anarchy Alive! 27.
22. See Todd May, The Political Philosophy of Poststructuralist Anarchism
( University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1 994) , 66.
23. Ward, Anarchy i n Action, 1 1 .
24. Marshal l , Demanding the Impossible, 43.
25. Mi chael Bakuni n, God and the State ( New York: Dover Publ i cati ons,
1 970) , 33.
Notes 1 81
26. Herbert Read, Anarchy and Order: Essays i n Politics ( Boston, MA:
Beacon Press, 1 954) , 155.
27. Gustav Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader, ed.
and trans. Gabriel Kuhn ( Oakland, CA: PM Press, 201 0) , 214 ( emphasis in original ) .
2 8 . James Horrox, A Living Revoluti on: Anarchism in the Kibbutz
Movement ( Oakl and, CA: AK Press, 2009) , 2.
29. Crimethinc. , " Fighting for Our Lives" ( emphasi s i n original ) .
30. P. M. , bolo ' bolo ( Brooklyn, NY: Semiotext( e) , 1 995) , 1 9.
31 . Gol dman, Anarchism and Other Essays, 64.
32. Ibi d. , 68.
33. Gordon, Anarchy Alive! 5.
34. Noam Chomsky, Chomsky on Anarchism, ed. Barry Pateman ( Oakl and,
CA: AK Press, 2005) , 1 23.
35. Jean-Jacques Rous s eau, The Social Contract and the Discourses
( London: Everyman' s Library, 1 973 ) , 84.
3 6 . Dani el Gueri n, Anarchi sm: From Theory to Practice, trans . Mary
Klopper ( New York: Monthly Review Press, 1 970) , 1 3 .
3 7. Ward, Anarchy in Action, 28 .
38. Milstein, Anarchism and Its Aspirations, 25.
39. Ibi d. , 73.
40. Peter Kropotki n, The Conquest of Bread, ed. Charl es Weigl ( London:
Taylor and Francis, 2006) , 70.
4 1 . See Randal l Amster, " Anarchy, Utopi a, and the St ate of Thi ngs to
Come, " i n Contemporary Anarchist Studies: An Introductory Anthology of
Anarchy in the Academy, ed. Randal l Amster et a! . ( New York: Routl edge,
2009) , 290-301 .
42. Chomsky, Chomsky on Anarchism, 1 78.
43. Ibi d. , 222.
44. Rudol f Rocker, Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism ( London: Freedom
Press, 200 1 ) , 33.
45. Ward, Anarchy i n Action, 52.
46. See Duane Roussel l e and Sireyyya Evren, eds. , Post-Anarchism: A
Reader ( London: Pluto Press, 201 1 ) .
47. Andrew M. Koch, " Poststructural i sm and the Epistemol ogi cal Basi s of
Anarchism, " Philosophy of the Social Sciences 23, no. 3 ( September 1 993 ) : 341 .
48. Todd May, "Post-Structuralist Political Theory, " 1 77.
49. Rocker, Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism, 14.
50. Randal l Amster, "Anarchism as Moral Theory: Praxis, Property, and the
Postmodern, " Anarchist Studies 6, no. 2 ( October 1 998) : 1 09.
Chapter 2
1 . William Powel l , " From the Author, " regarding The Anarchist Cookbook,
http://www. amazon. com/dp/0974458 902.
1 82 Notes
2. Starhawk, Webs of Power, 79, 96.
3. Quoted i n Ferrell, Tearing Down the Streets, 94.
4. Howard Zi nn, " Introduction: The Art of Revolution, " in Read, Anarchy
and Order, xi .
5. Ibi d. , xviii.
6. Ibid.
7. Starhawk, Webs of Power, 260.
8. Read, Anarchy and Order, 5 1 .
9. Ghaith Abdui -Ahad e t al . , "The Fi ght to Rescue the Arab Spri ng, " The
Guardian, Jul y 1 5 , 201 1 , http: //www. guardi an. co. uk/world/201 1/j ul/1 5/arab
1 0 . Erri co Mal at est a, " The Anarchi s t Revol ut i on, " Anarchy Archives
( c. 1 925) , http:/dwardmac. pitzer . edu/anarchist_archives/malatesta/tar . html.
1 1 . Alexander Berkman, "What Is Communist Anarchism? " The Anarchist
Librar ( 1 929) , http:/theanarchistlibrary . org/HTMU Alexander_Berkman_ What
_Is_Communist_Anarchism_. html.
1 2. Davi d Graeber, " Revolution in Reverse, " Infoshop News, October 1 6,
2007, http:/news.
1 3 . Gordon, "Anarchism: The A Word. "
14. Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays, 71 .
1 5. Voltairine de Cleyre, "Di rect Acti on, " Anarchy Archives ( 1 9 1 2) , http: //
dwardmac. pitzer . ed u/ Anarchist_Archi ves/bright/cleyre/di rect. html .
1 6. Ibi d.
1 7. Ibi d.
1 8 . Gordon, "Anarchism: The A Word. "
1 9. Graeber, Direct Action, 203.
20. Ibid. , 204-5.
2 1 . Fernandez, Policing Dissent, 53.
22. Ibi d.
23. De Cleyre, "Direct Action. "
24. Starhawk, Webs of Power, 228.
25. Gordon, "Anarchism: The A Word" ; Graeber, Direct Action, 21 0-1 1 .
26. Graeber, Direct Action, 21 0.
2 7. Rob Sparrow, " Anarchi st Pol i ti cs and Di rect Acti on, " Spunk Library
( n. d. ) , http:/www. spunk. org/texts/intro/sp001 641 . html .
28. Graeber, Direct Action, 208.
29. Starhawk, Webs of Power, 208.
30. Francis Dupui s-Deri, "The Black Blocs Ten Years after Seattle, " journal
for the Study of Radicalism 4, no. 2 ( 201 0) : 47, 53.
31 . Ibi d. , 47-49.
32. Ibi d. , 47.
33. Ibi d. , 57.
34. Graeber, Direct Action, 407; Dupuis-Deri, "The Bl ack Blocs, " 56.
35. Dupuis-Deri, "The Black Blocs, " 60.
Notes 183
36. Graeber, Direct Action, 288, 352.
37. Dupuis-Deri, "The Black Blocs, " 60-6 1 .
3 8 . Graeber, Direct Action, 407.
39. Ibi d.
40. Dupui s-Deri, "The Bl ack Blocs, " 49.
41 . Starhawk, Webs of Power, 1 22-23.
42. Ibi d.
43. Mi ke Kaul bars, " Diversity of Tacti cs: The Noise before Defeat, " News
Junkie Post, Jul y 26, 201 0, http:l/newsj unkiepost. com/201 0/07/26/diversity-of
44. Dupui s-Deri, "The Black Blocs, " 73.
45. Starhawk, Webs of Power, 1 22.
46. Teoman Gee, " Mi l i t ancy beyond Bl ack Bl ocs : An Es s ay, " Alpi ne
Anarchist Productions, December 2001 , 7.
47. Ibid. , 1 0.
48. Ibi d.
49. Starhawk, Webs of Power, 1 27.
50. Ibid. , 95.
5 1 . Kaul bars, "Diversity of Tactics. "
5 2. Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays, 69.
5 3 . Mi chael Schmi dt and Luci en van der Wal t , Black Flame: The
Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism ( Oakl and, CA: AK
Press, 2009) , 19 ( emphasis in original ) .
54. Ibi d. , 6.
55. Ibid. , 1 34.
56. Edward Abbey, " Theory of Anarchy, " i n One Life at a Time, Please
(New York: Macmillan, 1 988) , 26.
57. Graeber and Grubacic, "Anarchism. "
58 . Starhawk, Webs of Power, 236.
59. Ferrell, Tearing Down the Streets, 1 05, 1 54.
60. Crimethlnc. , Recipes for Disaster, 1 1 .
6 1 . Graeber, Direct Action, 1 0-1 1 ( emphasis i n original ) .
62. Ri char d J . F. Day, " Hegemony, Affni ty and t he Newest Soci al
Movements: At t he End of t he OOs , " i n Post-Anarchism: A Reader, ed. Duane
Rousselle and Sireyyya Evren, 1 07.
63. Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings, 21 4.
64. Jarret S. Lovell, Crimes of Dissent: Civil Disobedience, Criminal Justice
and the Politics of Conscience (New York: New York Uni versity Press, 2009) ,
1 4; Crimethlnc. , "Fighting for Our Lives. "
6 5 . Graeber, Direct Action, 527 ( quoting Crimethlnc. ) .
66. Howard J . Ehrl i ch, " How to Ge t from He r e to There: Bui l di ng
Revolutionary Transfer Cul ture, " i n Reinventing Anarchy, Again, ed. Howard
J. Ehrlich ( San Francisco, CA: AK Press, 1 996) , 349.
67. Milstein, Anarchism and Its Aspirations, 43.
1 84 Notes
68. Jeff Shantz, Constructive Anarchy: Building Infrastructures of Resistance
( Burl i ngton, VT: Ashgate, 201 0) , 4.
69. Gordon, Anarchy Alive! 35.
70. Ibi d. , 38.
71 . Mal atesta, "The Anarchist Revolution. "
72. Graeber and Grubacic, "Anarchi sm. "
73. Graeber, Direct Action, 2 1 8, 236.
74. Ward, Anarchy i n Action, 87.
75. Amster, " Anarchy, Utopia, " 298.
76 . Curi ous George Brigade, "The End of Arrogance: Decentral ization and
Anarchi st Organi zi ng, " Infoshop News, August 8, 2002, http: //news . i nfoshop
. orglarticl e. php? story=02/08/08/4834233.
77. Wi ki pedi a, " List of Anarchi st Organizati ons, " http: //en. wi ki pedi a. org/
78. Food Not Bombs, " Frequentl y Asked Questi ons , " http: //www. food
notbombs. net/faq. html .
79. Ibi d.
80. Wi ki pedi a, "Food Not Bombs, " http://en. wi ki pedia. org/wi ki/Food_Not
8 1 . Lovel l , Crimes of Dissent, 1 3 .
8 2. Ferrel l , Tearing Down the Streets, 44.
83. Graeber, Direct Action, 236.
84. Amster, "Anarchy, Utopi a, " 298.
85. Cri methl nc. , " Frequentl y As ked Questi ons , " http: //cri methi nc. com/
about/faq. html .
86. Ibi d.
87. Crimethlnc. , Recipes for Disaster, 4.
88. Wikipedia, "Crimethlnc. , " http://en. wikipedi a. org/wi ki/Crimethlnc.
89. Ibi d. , see al so Graeber and Grubacic, " Anarchism. "
90. Wikipedia, "Cri methlnc. "
9 1 . Graeber, Direct Action, 527.
92. Indymedi a, " About Indymedi a, " http: //www. i ndymedi a. org/en/static/
about. shtml.
93. Wi ki pedi a, " Independent Medi a Center, " http: //en. wi ki pedi a. org/wi ki/
Indymedi a.
94. Ibi d.
95. Graeber, Direct Action, 1 84.
96. Ibi d. , 237.
97. I bi d. , 472.
Chapter 3
1 . Sartwel l , Against the State, 66-67.
2. Berkman, "What Is Communi st Anarchism? " 1 71 .
Notes 1 85
3 . Martin Luther King, Jr . , " Beyond Vietnam: A Time t o Break the Si lence"
( Riverside Church, New York, New York, April 4, 1 967) , http://www. american
rhetoric. com/speeches/ml katimetobreaksilence. htm.
4. Berkman, "What Is Communi st Anarchism? " 1 71 .
5. Ibi d.
6. Ibi d. , 1 69.
7. Graeber, Direct Action, 282.
8 . Dupuis-Deri, "The Bl ack Blocs, " 73.
9. Starhawk, Webs of Power, 58-59.
1 0. Berkman, "What Is Communist Anarchism? " 1 68 .
1 1 . Ant hony Par e) , Gandhi, Freedom, and Self- Rule ( Lanham, MD:
Lexington Books, 2000) , 69.
1 2. Emma Gol dman, "My Further Di si l l usi onment wi th Russi a, " 1 924,
http://www. panarchy . org/goldman/russia. 1 924. html .
1 3 . Ibi d.
14. Emma Gol dman, Red Emma Speaks: An Emma Goldman Reader, ed.
Alix Kates Shul man ( Atlantic Highl ands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1 996) .
1 5. Ira Chern us , American Nonviolence: The History of an Idea ( Maryknoll,
NY: Orb i s Books, 2004 ) , http:/spot. colorado. edu/-chernus/NonviolenceBook/.
1 6. Berkman, "What Is Communi st Anarchism? " 1 65, 1 6 8; Read, Anarchy
and Order, 1 21 .
1 7. Errico Mal atesta, "Anarchism and Violence, " Zabalaza Books, n. d. , 1 , 4,
http:/ /zi nelibrary . i nfo/fles/ Anarchism_and_ Violence. pdf.
1 8 . Adam Gabbatt, " Student Protests : After the March, " The Guardian,
November 1 1 , 201 0, http: //www. guardi an. co. uk/commenti sfree/201 0/nov/1 1/
1 9. Scott Kennedy, "Violence and Anarchists: The Two Don' t Go Together, "
Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 1 6 , 20 1 1 , http: //www. s antacruzsenti nel . com/
opinion/ci_1 71 09835.
20. Kaul bars, "Diversity of Tactics. "
2 1 . Sartwel l , Against the State, 1 3 .
22. Starhawk, Webs of Power, 94.
2 3 . Wi l l i am T. Hat haway, " Anarchi s t s for Peace, " Dissident Voi ce,
February 2, 201 1 , http:/dissidentvoice. org/201 1/02/anarchists-for-peace/.
24. Starhawk, Webs of Power, 224.
25. Gordon, Anarchy Alive! 93.
26. Apri l Carter, "Anarchi sm and Violence, " i n Anarchism (Nomos XIX) ,
e d. J . Rol and Pennock and John W. Chapman ( New York : New York
University Press, 1 978) , 327.
27. Mal atest a, " Anarchi s m and Vi ol ence, " 3; Gol dman, " My Further
Disill usionment with Russia. "
2 8 . Bart de Ligt, The Conquest of Violence: An Essay o n War and Revolution
( London: Pluto Press, 1 989) , 75.
29. Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings, 21 4.
1 86 Notes
3 0 . Bryan Farrel l , " Vandal i sm, a Dead-End Tacti c at Toronto G20
Demonstrations, " Waging Nonviolence, June 28, 201 0, http:/wagingnonviolence
.org/201 0/06/vandalism-a-dead-end-tactic-at-toronto-g20-demonstrations/.
3 1 . Maria L. La Ganga, " Oakl and Offcials Praise Response to Violence after
BART Shooti ng Verdi ct, " Los Angeles Times, Jul y 1 0, 20 1 0, http: //arti cl es
. l atimes . com/201 0/j ul/1 0/l ocal/l a-me- 071 0-oakl and-201 0071 0. See al so Andy
Chan, " Anarchi sts, Vi ol ence and Soci al Change: Perspecti ves from Today' s
Grassroots, " Anarchist Studies 3, no. 1 ( Spring 1 999) : 45: "Police and senior fg
ures in government a tt ri but e ( publ i cl y at l eas t ) many commot i ons to
anarchists . . . and you will fnd regul ar al l usi ons to the provocations of ' outside
anarchist agitators. ' "
32. Al i Winston, "Anarchists, the FBI and the Aftermath of the Oscar Grant
Murder Tri al , " KAL W News, January 26, 201 1 , http: //kal wnews . org/audio/
201 1 /0 1 /26/anarchi sts- fbi - and- aftermath-oscar-grant-murder-tri al _8 1 1 029
. ht ml .
33. Ibi d.
34. Fernandez, Policing Dissent, 1 57.
35. Ibi d. , 1 57-60.
36. Gabbatt, "Student Protests " ; Kaul bars, " Diversity of Tactics. "
3 7. Carter, "Anarchism and Violence, " 326, 330.
38. Max Harrol d, " New Pol i ce Uni t Targeti ng Anarchi sts Comes Under
Fi re, " Vancouver Sun, Jul y 1 6 , 201 1 , http: //www. vancouvers un. com/news/
pol ice+ unit+ targeting +anarchists+comes+ under+ fre/5 1 1 2 79 5/story . html.
39. Ian Dunt, " Pol i ce Call for Informati on on Anarchi sts , " Politics. co. uk,
Jul y 3 1 , 2 0 1 1 , http: //www. pol i ti cs . co. uk/news/20 1 1 /07/3 1 /pol i ce- cal l - for
40. Crai g Rosebraugh, " Hi t ' Em Where It Hurts , " The Anarchist Library,
Summer 2003, http:/
_ Where_it_Hurts. html.
41 . Gordon, Anarchy Alive! 84; Graeber, Direct Action, 224.
42. The Anarchi st Studies Network, "What Anarchism Really Means, " The
Guardian, November 1 8 , 20 1 0, http: //www . guardi an. co. uk/commenti sfree/
20 1 0/nov /1 8/anarchism-direct-action-student-protests.
43. Ibi d.
44. As s oci ated Press, " European Anarchi st s Grow More Vi ol ent ,
Coordi nated, " USA Today, December 28, 201 0, http: //www. usatoday. com/
news/world/20 1 0- 1 2-28-european-anarchi sts_N . htm.
45 . Stephan Fari s, "Who Are the Anarchi sts behi nd the Rome Embassy
Bombs ? " Time, December 24, 20 1 0, http: //www. ti me. com/time/world/article/
0, 8599, 2039647, 00. html.
46. Associated Press, " European Anarchists. "
47. Li bertire Akti on Wi nterthur ( Anarchi st Acti on) , " No Sol i darity wi th
' Anarchi s t ' Letter Bombers , " Anarkismo, J anuary 6, 20 1 1 , ht t p: //www
. anarki smo. net/article/1 843 9.
Notes 1 87
48. Ward Churchill, Pacifsm as Pathology: Refections on the Role of Armed
Struggle in North America ( Wi nni peg, MB: Ar bei t er Ri ng, 1 9 9 8 ) ; Peter
Gel derl oos, How Nonviolence Protects the State ( Cambridge, MA: South End
Press, 2007) .
49. Derrick Jensen, "Actions Speak Louder Than Words, " The Earth First!
Journal ( Sept ember/ Oct ober 1 9 9 8 ) , ht t p: //www. derri ckj ens en . org/work/
publ i shed/essays-i nterviews/actions-speak-louder-than-words/.
50. Barclay, People Without Government, 1 43-44.
5 1 . Gol dman, Red Emma Speaks, 207.
52. De Ligt, The Conquest of Violence, 72.
53. Ibi d. , 8 1 .
54. Graeber, Direct Action, 225.
55. Ibi d. , 408.
56. Gordon, Anarchy Alive! 80, 1 07-8 .
57. Chaz Bufe, " Anarchi sm: What It Is & What It Isn' t, " See Sharp Press,
2003, Tucson, AZ http:/www. seesharppress. com/anarchismwhatis. html.
5 8 . Li berta ri an Soci al i s t Organi zat i on, " You Can' t Bl ow Up a Soci al
Rel at i ons hi p-The Anarchi s t Cas e agai ns t Terror i sm, " Anarres Book
Collective, 1 979, http:/libcom. org/book/export/htmU1 22.
59. Judi Bari , " Earth First! and the FBI , " in States of Confnement: Policing,
Detention, and Prisons, ed. Joy James ( New York: Palgrave Macmi l l an, 2000) ,
60. Churchill, Pacifsm as Pathology, 45 ( emphasis i n original ) .
61 . Ibi d. , 1 03.
62. Gelderloos, Nonviolence Protects the State, 87, 96-97.
63. Ibi d. , 96.
64. De Ligt, The Conquest of Violence, 75.
65. Read, Anarchy and Order, 1 1 6.
66. Carter, "Anarchism and Violence, " 324.
67. Carissa Honeywell, The British Anarchist Tradition: Herbert Read, Alex
Comfort, and Colin Ward ( London: Conti nuum, 201 1 ) , 5, 1 2.
68. Berkman, "What I s Communist Anarchism? " 205.
69. Carter, "Anarchism and Violence, " 334, 336.
70. Quoted i n Dupuis-Deri, "The Black Blocs, " 58.
71 . Graeber, Direct Action, 285.
72. Read, Anarchy and Order, 1 29.
73. See Andrew Cornell, "Anarchism and the Movement for a New Society:
Di rect Action and Prefgurative Community in the 1 970s and 80s, " Perspectives
on Anarchist Theory, 2009, http://www. anarchiststudi es. org/node/292; Morris,
"Anthropology and Anarchi sm, " 39.
74. Starhawk, Webs of Power, 21 1-12.
75. Graeber, Direct Action, 224.
76. Ibi d. , 225.
77. Marshall, Demanding the Impossible, 374.
1 88 Notes
78. Tol stoy, Government Is Violence, 8.
79. Ibi d. , 1 2-1 3.
80. Ibi d. , 1 5.
8 1 . Ibi d. , 1 0-1 1 .
82. Ibi d. , 1 0.
83. Ibi d. , 1 8 .
8 4. Josh Fattal , " Was Gandhi an Anarchi st ? " Peace Power: Berkeley 's
joural of Principled Nonviolence and Confict Transformation 2, no. l ( Wi nter
2006) : 45.
85. Sri ni vasa Murthy, Mahatma Gandhi and Leo Tolstoy Letters ( Long
Beach, CA: Long Beach Publications, 1 987) , 1 89.
86. Ibi d.
87. Marshal l , Demanding the Impossible, 422.
8 8 . Mohandas Gandhi , Benares Hi ndu University Speech ( Benares, I ndi a,
[ February 4, 1 9 1 6) ) , http: //www . emersonkent. com/speeches/benares_hi ndu
_university _speech. htm.
89. Marshal l , Demanding the Impossible, 423.
90. Ibi d. , 425.
91 . Starhawk, Webs of Power, 95.
92. Dupuis-Deri, "The Black Blocs, " 64.
93. Kaul bars, " Diversity of Tactics. "
94. Jensen, "Acti ons Speak Louder"; Gcl derl oos, Nonviolence Protects the
State, 59.
95. Li bertari an Socialist Organization, "You Can't Bl ow Up. "
96. Ibi d.
Chapter 4
1 . Andrew Flood, "Anarchism and the Environmental Movement, " Struggle
( April 1 995) , http:/struggl e. ws/tal ks/envi r_anarchism. html .
2. Daniel Guerin, Anarchism: From Theory to Practice, trans. Mary Kl opper
( New York: Monthly Review Press, 1 970) .
3. Chernus, American Nonviolence.
4. Davi d Watson, " Agai nst the Megamachi ne: Empi re and the Earth, " i n
Environmental Philosophy: From Animal Rights t o Radical Ecology, 4th ed. ,
ed. Michael E. Zi mmerman et al . ( Upper Saddl e Ri ver, NJ: Pearson Prentice
Hal l , 2005) , 488.
5. For exampl e, Vandana Shi va, Earth Democracy: justice, Sustainability,
and Peace ( Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2005) ; Joel Kovel, The Enemy of
Nature: The End of Capitlism or the End of the World? 2nd ed. ( London: Zed
Books, 2007) ; John Bel l amy Foster, Brett Cl ar k, and Ri char d Yor k, The
Ecological Rift: Capitalism's War on the Earth ( New York: Monthl y Review
Press, 201 0) .
6. Kovel, The Enemy of Nature.
Notes 1 89
7. El i see Recl us, Evolution and Revolution, 7th ed. ( London: W. Reeves,
1 8 9 1 ) , ht t p: //dwar dmac. pi tzer . edu/anarchi s t_archi ves/col doffthepress es/
evandrev . html.
8. Graham Purchase, Anarchism & Environmental Survival ( Tucson, AZ:
See Sharp Press, 1 994) , 53.
9. Ibi d. , 82.
1 0. Marshal l , Demanding the Impossible, 340.
1 1 . Gol dman, Anarchism and Other Essays, 58, 64.
12. Kropotki n, Mutual Aid, 82.
1 3 . Gr aham Purchas e, " Anarchi s m and Ecol ogy: The Hi s t ori cal
Relationship, " Jura Media, 1 998, 1 3 .
1 4. Green Anarchi st Internati onal Associ ati on ( GAIA) , "The Ecoanarchi st
Mani festo, " June 2008, http:/www. anarchy. no/eam. html.
1 5. Brian Morris, Ecology and Anarchism ( Malvern, UK: Images Publishing,
1 996) , 58 .
1 6. Mi lstei n, Anarchism and Its Aspirations, 59.
1 7. Chernus, American Nonviolence.
1 8 . Purchase, Anarchism & Environmental Survival, 87.
1 9. GAIA, "The Ecoanarchist Mani festo. "
20. Davi d Orton, " My Path t o Left Biocentrism, Part V: Deep Ecology and
Anarchi s m, " Green Web Bulletin 72 ( 200 1 ) , http: //home . ca. i nt er. net/
-greenweb/GW72-Path. html.
2 1 . Alan Carter, "Saving Nature and Feeding People, " Environmental Ethics
26, no. 4 ( 2004) : 341 .
22. Bookchin, "What Is Social Ecology? " 365 ( emphasis in original ) .
23. J ohn Cl ark, " What I s Soci al Ecol ogy ? " i n Renewing the Earth: The
Promise of Social Ecology, ed. John Cl ark ( London: Green Pri nt, 1 990) , 5-7
( emphasis i n original ) .
24. Bi l l Deval l and George Sessi ons, Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature
Mattered ( Sal t Lake City, UT: Peregrine Smith Books, 1 985) .
25. John Cl ar k, " Pol i t i cal Ecol ogy: I nt roducti on, " i n Environmental
Philosophy: From Animal Rights t o Radical Ecology, 4t h ed. , ed. Mi chael E.
Zimmerman et a! . (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hal l , 2005) , 3 8 1 .
2 6 . Paul Messersmith-Gl avi n, " Between Soci al Ecology and Deep Ecology:
Gary Snyder' s Ecological Phi l osophy, " Perspective on Anarchist Theory, 201 0,
http://www. anarchist-studies. org/node/496.
27. Ibi d.
28. Ibi d.
29. Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild ( San Franci sco, CA: North Poi nt
Press, 1 990) , 1 8 1 .
30. Mick Smith, "Wi l d-l i fe: Anarchy, Ecology, and Ethics, " Environmental
Politics 1 6, no. 3 (June 2007) : 479 ( emphasis i n original ) ; Marshal l, Demanding
the Impossible, 684.
3 1 . Smith, "Wild-life, " 479.
1 90 Notes
32. Ibi d. , 480.
33. Ibi d. ( emphasis i n original ) .
34. Fredy Perl man, Against His-story, Against Leviathan ( Detroit, MI: Black
and Red, 1 983) .
35. Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Volume 1 : The Problem of Civilization (New
York: Seven Stories Press, 2006 ) .
36. John Zerzan, e d. , Against Civilization: Readings and Refections ( Port
Townsend, WA: Feral House, 2005) .
3 7. John Zerzan, Future Primitive and Other Essays ( Brookl yn, NY:
Autonomedi a, 1 994) , 1 6.
38 . Smith, "Wil d-life, " 472.
3 9 . El i sa Aal t ol a, " Green Anarchy: Deep Ecol ogy and Pri mi ti vi s m, " i n
Anarchism and Moral Philosophy, ed. Benj ami n Franks and Matthew Wi l son
( New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 201 1 ) , 1 77-78.
40. Jason McQui nn, "Why I Am Not a Primitivist, " Anarchy: A journal of
Desire Armed ( Summer 200 1 ) , http: /www. postci vi l i zed. net/201 0/07/why-i -am
4 1 . Lawrence Jarach, " Why I Am Not an Anti -Pri mi ti vi st, " Anarchy: A
journal of Desire Armed ( Summer 2009) , http: //www. anarchymag. org/node/
1 538; Cl ark, "What Is Social Ecology? " , http:/anarchistnews. org/node/1 1 324
42. Marshal l , Demanding the Impossible, 688.
43. Ibi d. ; Jarach, "Not an Anti-Primitivist. "
44. Ki ngsl ey Wi dmer, " co- Anar chi s m, Unto Pri mi ti vi s m, " Social
Anarchism 1 8 ( 1 993 ) : 49.
45. Bookchin, "What Is Social Ecology? " 370.
46. McQuinn, "Not a Primitivist. "
47. Murray Bookchi n, Post- Scarcity Anarchism ( Berkel ey, CA: The
Ramparts Press, 1 971 ) , 10.
48. Marshal l , Demanding the Impossible, 683.
49. Ibi d.
50. Derri ck Jensen and George Draffan, Welcome to the Machine: Science,
Surveillance, and the Culture of Control ( White Ri ver Juncti on, VT: Chel sea
Green Publ i shi ng, 2004) .
5 1 . Derri ck Jensen, " Publ i shed, " http: //www. derri ckj ensen. org/publ i shed
. html .
52. Marshall , Demanding the Impossible, 688.
53. Ibid. , 687.
54. Zerzan, Future Primitive, 73.
55. Watson, " Against the Megamachine, " 479-80.
56. Ibi d. , 48 1 .
5 7 . Mi chael Truscel l o, " I mperfect Necessi ty a n d the Mechani cal
Conti nuati on of Everyday Li fe: A Post-Anarchi st Pol i ti cs of Technol ogy, " i n
Post-Anarchism: A Reader, ed. Duane Roussel l e and Sireyyya Evren ( London:
Pl uto Press, 201 1 ) , 250.
Notes 1 91
58 . Ibi d. , 257 ( emphasis i n original ) .
59. Ibi d.
60. Ibi d.
6 1 . Gordon, Anarchy Alive! 1 1 7.
62. Ibi d. , 1 1 0-1 1 .
63. Ibid. , 1 1 9.
64. Ibid. , 1 27.
65. Ibi d.
66. Brendan Story and Margie Lincita, "The Green Scare and Eco-prisoners:
A Brief Synopsi s, " i n Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the
Movements to Free U. S. Political Prisoners, ed. Matt Meyer ( Oakl and, CA: PM
Press, 2008) , 692.
67. Dave Foreman and Bi l l Haywood, eds . , Ecodefense: A Field Guide to
Monkeywrenching, 3rd ed. ( Chico, CA: Abbzug Press, 1 993) , 8 .
68. Ibid. , 8-9.
69. Ibid. , 9-1 0.
70. Ibid. , 9.
7 1 . James F. Ja rboe, " Congres s i onal Testi mony: The Threat of Eco
Terrori sm, " Federal Bureau of Investi gati on, February 1 2, 2002, http: //www
. fbi . gov/news/testimony/the-threat-of-eco-terrorism.
72. I bi d. ; Henry Schuster, " Domesti c Terror: Who' s Most Dangerous ? "
CNN. com, August 24, 2005, http: //www. cnn. com/2005/US/08/24/schuster
. col umn.
73 . Robert Muel l er III, " Statement Before the Senate Select Committee on
Intel l igence, " Federal Bureau of Investigati on, January 1 1 , 2007, http: //www
. fbi . gov/news/testimony/global -threats-to-the-u. s. -and-the-fbis-response.
74. Story and Li nci ta, "The Green Scare, " 698.
75. Crimethlnc. Workers' Col lective, " Analysis of Green Scare Repressi on:
For Those Who Came I n Late, " i n Let Freedom Ring: A Collecti on of
Documents from the Movements to Free U. S. Political Prisoners, ed. Matt
Meyer ( Oakl and, CA: PM Press, 2008) , 708.
76 . Larry Hendri cks, " Ecoterror Suspect Cal l ed ' Mastermi nd, ' " Arizona
Daily Sun, December 1 7, 2005, Al .
77. Jarboe, " Congressional Testimony. "
78. Thomas C. Shevory, " Monkeywrenchi ng: Pract i ce i n Sea rch of a
Theory, '' in Environmental Crime and Criminality: Theoretical and Practical
Issues, ed. Sal l y M. Edwards, Terry D. Edwards, and Charl es B. Fi el ds ( New
York: Garland Publishing, 2006) , 1 90-95.
79. Quoted i n Mot herJones . com, " Tal kback: Ecoterrori sts or Earth' s
Defenders ? " Mother Jones, February 1 4, 2002, http://motherj ones. com/politics/
8 0 . N. B. Wool f, " HR 5429 Takes Ai m at Ani mal Ri ghts Terrori sm, ''
National Animal Interest Alliance, 2000, http: //www . nai aonl i ne. org/body/
articles/archives/cunning. htm.
1 92 Notes
8 1 . Ji m Burns, " Legi sl ati on Woul d Combat co-Terrori s m, " CNS News,
June 1 3, 2001 , http://www. cnsnews. com/node/1 9720.
8 2. Judi th Lewi s , " Earth to ELF: Come In, Pl eas e, " LA Weekly,
December 22, 2005, http: //www. l aweekl y . com/2005- 1 2-22/news/earth-to-el f
8 3 . Bri an Denson and James Long, " co-Terrori sm Sweeps the Ameri can
West, " The Oregonian, September 26, 1 999, http: //www. furcommi ssi on. com/
resource/perspectdenson 1 . htm.
84. Earth First! " Free' s Statement at Hi s Sentenci ng, " EarthFirst! Journal
( August-September 2001 ) .
8 5. Vari ous Authors, " Arti cl es on Ani mal and Earth Li berati on Struggl es
from ' Green Anarchi s t, ' " The Anar chi s t Li brary, 2003 , http: //t heanar
chi s tl i bra ry. org/HT M LIV a r i ous_A u thors __ Arti cl es_ on_Ani ma I _ a nd_Earth
_Li berati on_Struggl es_from __ Green_Anarchi st . ht ml .
86. See generally Randal l Amster, " Perspectives on Ecoterrori sm: Catalysts,
Confat i ons , and Cas ua l ti es , " Contemporary justice Revi ew 9, no. 3
( September 2006) : 287-301 .
8 7. Various Authors, "Articles on Ani mal and Earth Liberation Struggles. ' "
8 8 . Crimethinc. Workers' Collective, "Green Scare Repression, " 71 2.
89. Messersmith-Glavin, " Gary Snyder' s Ecological Philosophy. "
90. De Cl eyre, " Di rect Action. "
9 1 . Gol dman, Anarchism and Other Essays, 68 ; Peter Kropotki n, Fields,
Factories and Workshops ( New Brunswi ck, NJ: Transacti on, 1 993) , 1 6 0-6 1 ;
Rocker, Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism, 7.
92. Murray Bookchi n, The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and
Dissolution of Hierarchy ( Montreal : Black Rose Books, 1 9 9 1 ) , 335.
93. Ibi d.
94. Watson, " Against the Megamachi ne, " 49 1 .
95. Purchase, Anarchism & Environmental Survival, 1 54.
96. Ti na Lynn Evans, " Understandi ng the Pol i tical Economy of Enforced
Dependency in the Gl obal i zed Worl d: A Spri ngboard for Sus tai nabi l i ty
Oriented Action, " Feasta: The Foundation for the Economics of Sustai nability,
20 1 1 , http:/www . feasta. org/documents/enforced_dependency /contents. html.
97. Mi chael N. Nagl er, " Cri si s or Opportuni ty? A Gandhi an Answer to
Fi nanci al Col l aps e , " New Clear Visi on, Augus t 1 5 , 2 0 1 1 , ht t p: //www
. newclearvision. com/201 1/08/1 5/crisis-or-opportunity/.
98. Starhawk, Webs of Power, 38, 238.
99. See Food Not Bombs, http:/www. foodnotbombs. net/; The Reall y, Really
Free Market, http://www. real l yreal l yfree. org/; Earth Activist Trai ni ng, http://
www. ea rthact i vi sttra i ni ng. org/; Gordon, Anarchy Ali ve! 1 3 7; and Errol
Schweizer, "Free t he Land! The Victory Gardens Project, " Green Anarchy, n. d. ,
http:/greenanarchy. webs . com/victorygardenproject. htm.
1 00. Graham Purchase, Anarchism and Ecology ( Montreal : Bl ack Rose
Books, 1 997) , 26.
Notes 193
1 0 1 . Ibi d.
1 02. Ibi d.
1 03 . John Cl ar k, " Bri dgi ng the Unbri dgeabl e Chas m: On Bookchi n' s
Critique of the Anarchi st Traditi on, " Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, 2009,
http://www . anarchist-studies. org/node/23 1 .
1 04. Purchas e, Anarchism and Ecology, 77; Purchas e, Anarchism &
Environmental Survival, 1 4 7.
1 05. Watson, " Against the Megamachine, " 492.
1 06. Bookchi n, Post-Scarcity Anarchism, 69.
1 07. John P. Clark, The Anarchist Moment: Refections on Culture, Nature,
and Power ( Montreal : Black Rose Books, 1 984) , 1 60.
108. Messersmith-Glavin, " Gary Snyder's Ecological Philosophy. "
1 09. Chernus, American Nonviolence.
1 1 0. Messersmith-Glavin, " Gary Snyder's Ecological Philosophy. "
1 1 1 . Peter Gel derl oos, " More Wood for the Fire: Capi tal i st Sol uti ons for
Gl obal Warmi ng, " CounterPunch, February 1 , 201 0, ht t p: //www
. counterpunch. org/gelderloos020 1 201 0 . html .
1 1 2. Ibi d.
1 1 3. Ibi d.
1 1 4. Brian Tokar, Toward Climate Justice: Perspectives on the Climate Crisis
and Social Change ( Porsgrunn, Norway: Communalism Press, 201 0) , 95.
1 1 5. Ibi d.
1 1 6. Ibid. , 1 1 9, 1 24.
1 1 7. I bi d. , 1 20-23.
1 1 8 . Ibid. , 98.
Chapter 5
1 . Kropotki n, Fugitive Writings, 1 42.
2. Howard H. Harriott, " Defensi bl e Anarchy? " International Philosophical
Quarterly 33, no. 3 ( 1 993) : 338.
3 . Kropotki n, Mutual Aid, 92; Kropotki n, Fugitive Writings, 1 39.
4. Friends of the RNC 8, "About, " http:/rnc8 . org/about/.
5. Quoted in Shantz, Constructive Anarchy, 9.
6 . St ephen Condi t, Anarchist Studies: Two Inquiries i nt o the Ideal and
Material Purposes of Philosophical Anarchism ( Fi nl and, Joensuu: University of
Joensuu, 1 987) , 56.
7. Murray Bookchi n, " Soci al Anar chi s m or Li fest yl e Anarchi s m: An
Unbridgeabl e Chasm, " Anarchy Archives, 1 995, http://dwardmac. pitzer. edu/
Anarchist_Archives/bookchinlsoclife. html.
8. Ibid.
9. L. Sus an Brown, The Politics of Individualism: Li beralism, Liberal
Feminism, and Anarchism, 2nd ed. ( Montreal : Bl ack Rose Books, 2002) , 2, 1 2.
1 0. Kropotkin, Fugitive Writings, 1 52.
194 Notes
1 1 . Larry Ti fft and Denni s Sul l i van, The Struggle to Be Human: Crime,
Criminology, and Anarchism ( Orkney, UK: Cienfuegos Press, 1 980) , 146.
1 2. Read, Anarchy and Order, 145.
13. Peter Kropotki n, Ethics: Origin and Development (New York: Benj ami n
BJ or, 1 968) , 6 1 .
14. Ibid. , 50.
15. I bi d. , 5 1-59.
1 6. May, " Post-Structuralist Political Theory, " 1 71 .
1 7. Zerzan, Future Primitive, 34.
1 8 . Kropotki n, Fugitive Writings, 1 44-5.
1 9. Ibi d. , 1 41 .
20. Mi chael Taylor, The Possibility of Cooperation: Studies in Rationality
and Social Change (New York: Cambridge, 1 987) , 1 68 .
2 1 . Ibi d. , 1 69.
22. Zygmunt Bauman, Postmodern Ethics ( Cambri dge, MA: Bl ackwel l ,
1 993) , 3 1 .
23. Kropotkin, Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets, 1 97.
24. L. Susan Brown, " Beyond Femi ni sm: Anarchism and Human Freedom, "
in Reinventing Anarchy, Again, ed. Howard J. Ehrlich ( San Francisco, CA: AK
Press, 1 996) , 1 50; Kropotki n, Fugitive Writings, 1 41 .
25. Kathy E. Ferguson, "Toward a New Anarchi sm, " Contemporary Crises
7 ( January 1 983) : 41 .
2 6 . Peggy Kornegger, " Anarchi s m: The Femi ni s t Connect i on, " i n
Reinventing Anarchy, Again, ed. Howard ] . Ehrl i ch ( San Franci sco, CA: AK
Press, 1 996) , 1 58; Kropotki n, Mutual Aid, 22.
27. Teoman Gee, " Anti i ndi vi dual i sti c I ndi vi dual i ty: A Concept, " Alpine
Anarchist Productions, January 2003, 15 ( emphasis in origi nal ) .
28. I bi d. , 7 ( emphasi s i n original ) .
29. Morris, "Anthropology and Anarchism, " 41 .
3 0 . Horrox, A Living Revolution, 4.
3 1 . Kropotki n, Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets, 201 .
32. Ibi d. , 21 0.
33. Ibi d. , 21 4.
34. Randal l Amster, " Chasi ng Rai nbows ? Utopi an Pragmati cs and the
Search for Anarchi st Communities , " Anarchist Studies 9, no. 1 ( March 2001 ) :
29-52; Randal l Amster, " Restori ng ( Di s ) order: Sancti ons, Resol uti ons, and
' Soci al Control ' i n Anarchi st Communi ties, " Contemporary Justice Review 6,
no. 1 ( March 2003 ) : 9-23.
35. Ward, Anarchy i n Action, 1 26.
36. Emi l y Gaarder, " Addressi ng Vi ol ence agai nst Women: Alternatives to
State-Based Law and Puni shment, " i n Contemporary Anarchist Studies: An
Introductory Anthology of Anarchy i n the Academy, ed. Randal l Amster et al .
( New York: Routledge, 2009) , 54.
37. Tifft and Sul l i van, Crime, Criminology, and Anarchism, 3.
Notes 195
38. Ibi d. , 7, 39-40.
39. Ibi d. , 47, 1 78 .
40. Ibi d. , 146.
41. Alexei Borovoi, "Anarchism and Law, " Friends of Malatesta, n. d. , 2.
42. Ibi d. , 4.
43. Gi ovanni Bal del l i , Social Anarchism ( New York: Al di ne-Atherton,
1 971 ) , 1 50-5 1 .
44. Tifft and Sul l i van, Crime, Criminology, and Anarchism, 44.
45. Ibid. , 72.
46. Harold Barclay, Culture and Anarchism ( London: Freedom Press, 1 997) ,
1 54 ( emphases i n original ) .
47. Ibi d. , 1 53-55.
48. Borovoi, "Anarchism and Law, " 8.
49. Tifft and Sul l i van, Crime, Criminology, and Anarchism, 74.
5 0 . Jeff Ferrel l , " Agai ns t the Law: Anarchi s t Cri mi nol ogy, " Social
Anarchism 25 ( 1 9 9 8 ) , http: //l i brary . nothi ngness. org/arti cl es/SA/en/di spl ay
5 1 . Denni s Sul l i van and Larry Ti fft, Rest orative justice: Healing
the Foundations of Our Everyday Lives ( Monsey, NY: Wi l l ow Tree Press,
2001 ) , 1 60.
52. Ibid. , 1 1 9.
53. Ibi d. , 1 43.
54. Henry Davi d Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, 1 849, http: //www. vcu. edu/
55. Robert Paul Wol ff, In Defense of Anarchism ( New York: Harper and
Row, 1 970) , 29, 42.
56. Tiff and Sul l i van, Crime, Criminology, and Anarchism, 58.
57. Sullivan and Tifft, Restorative justice, 1 0.
58. Kropotki n, Kropotkin 's Revolutionary Pamphlets, 2 1 8, 235.
59. Ibi d. , 235; Kropotkin, Other Writings, 23 8 .
60. Graham Purchase, " Evolution and Revolution, " Jura Media, 1 996, 1 07.
6 1 . Donal d Bl ack, The Behavi or of Law ( New Yor k: Academi c Press,
1 976) , 129.
62. Barclay, People Without Government, 97.
6 3 . Larry L. Ti fft, " The Comi ng Redefni ti ons of Cri me: An Anarchi st
Perspective, " Social Problems 26, no. 4 (April 1 979) : 394, 399.
64. Ward, Anarchy i n Action, 1 34.
65. Barclay, People Without Government, 24-27.
66. Black, The Behavior of Law, 126-27.
67. Purchase, " Evolution and Revolution, " 84-8 8.
6 8 . Mi chae l Tayl or, Community, Anarchy and Liberty ( New York :
Cambridge, 1 982) , 83-85.
69. Barclay, People Without Government, 24.
70. Purchase, " Evolution and Revolution, " 84-8 8.
1 96 Notes
71 . Barclay, People Without Government, 1 35.
72. Purchase, " Evolution and Revolution, " 84, 1 06.
73. Tifft, "Redefnitions of Crime, " 397-98 .
74. Barclay, People Without Government, 48 .
75. Ibid. , 48-62.
76. Black, The Behavior of Law, 1 28-29.
77. Purchase, " Evol ution and Revolution, " 86-87.
78. Baldel l i, Social Anarchism, 75.
79. Ibi d. , 86-8 8 .
8 0. Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom, 43 , 55.
8 1 . Bl ack, The Behavior of Law, 1 37.
82. Bakuni n, God and the State, 33.
83. Ward, Anarchy in Action, 28-41 ; see generally Michael I . Ni man, People
of the Rainbow: A Nomadic Utopia ( Knoxvi l l e, TN: Uni versity of Tennessee
Press, 1 997) .
84. Kropotkin, Mutual Aid, 1 33.
85. Shantz, Constructive Anarchy, 1 59.
86. Ibid. , 1 60.
8 7. Car ol i ne Est es, " Cons ens us , " i n Rei nventing Anarchy, Agai n, e d.
Howard J. Ehrlich ( San Francisco, CA: AK Press, 1 996) , 369.
8 8 . Tifft, " Redefnitions of Crime, " 399.
89. Harriott, "Defensible Anarchy? " 335.
90. Chri sti ani a, " Informati on about Chri sti ani a, " http: //www. chri sti ani a.
org/; Wi ki pedi a, " Freetown Chri st i a ni a , " ht t p: //en . wi ki pedi a . org/wi ki /
Freetown_ Christiania.
9 1 . Jacques Bl um, " Chri sti ani a-A Freetown: Sl um, Alternative Cul ture or
Soci al Experi ment ? " Working Papers of the National Museum of Denmark,
1 977, 23, 37, 44, 49.
92. Sean M. Sheehan, Anarchism ( London: Reaktion Books, 2003 ) , 1 1 7.
93. Ibi d. , 1 1 8-1 9.
94. Horrox, A Living Revolution, 7.
95. Ibi d. , 1 8 .
96. Ibi d. , 6 3 , 76.
97. Ibid. , 1 08-9 ( emphasis in original ) .
98. Bey, T. A. Z. , 1 01 ( emphasis i n origi nal ) .
99. Shantz, Constructive Anarchy, 1 50.
1 00. Ibi d.
1 0 1 . Ol d Market Autonomous Zone, " Recent Updates, " http://a-zone. org/.
1 02. Ibi d.
1 03. Mondragon Bookstore and Coffeehouse, "Home, " http:/
1 04. Mondragon Bookstore and Coffeehouse, Policy Handbook, 7th draft,
May 201 1 , http: /mondragon. ca/wp-content/u pl oads/20 1 1105/PolicyHandbook
-May-201 1 l . pdf.
Notes 197
1 05. Paul Burrows, "Participatory Economics i n Theory & Practice, " Z Net,
December 22, 2007, http://www. zcommunications. org/participatory-economics
1 06. ABC No Rio, "About, " http:/www. abcnorio. org/about/about. html .
1 07. Ibi d.
1 08. Ibi d.
1 09. ABC No Rio, "Affl i ated Projects, " http:/www. abcnori o. org/affl i ated/
affl i ated_projects. html.
1 1 0. The Iron Rai l , " Iron Rai l History, " http:/ironrai l . org/about/history/.
1 1 1 . Ibi d.
1 1 2. Ibi d.
1 1 3 . Ibi d.
1 1 4. The Iron Rai l , " Policies & Points of Unity, " http:/ironrai l . org/pol icies/.
1 1 5. Anarchi st Bl ack Cross Federati on, "What Is the ABCF? " http: //www
. abcf. net/abcf. asp?page=whats2.
1 1 6. Anarchist Black Cross Federation, " Four Basic Foundation Principles of
Federation, " http://www . abcf. net/abcf. asp? page=const2.
1 1 7. See generally Randal l Amster, "Anarchist Pedagogies for Peace, " Peace
Review 14, no. 4 ( December 2002) : 433-39.
1 1 8 . Joel Spring, A Primer of Libertarian Education ( Montreal : Black Rose
Books, 1 998) , 1 0.
1 1 9. Howard J. Ehrlich, Carol Ehrlich, Davi d DeLeon, and Gl enda Morris,
"Questi ons and Answers about Anarchi sm, " i n Reinventing Anarchy, Again,
ed. Howard J. Ehrlich ( San Francisco, CA: AK Press, 1 996) , 1 5.
1 20. I van I l l i c h, Deschooling Soci ety ( New Yor k: Harrow Books ,
1 972) , 46.
1 21 . Ibid. , 49-50.
1 22. Ibid. , 54.
1 2 3 . Larry J . Fi sk, " Shapi ng Vi s i onar i es : Nurt uri ng Peace t hrough
Educati on, " i n Patterns of Confict, Paths t o Peace, ed. Larry J. Fi sk and John
L. Schellenberg ( New York: Broadview Press, 2000) , 1 77, 1 84.
1 24. I bi d. , 1 62.
125. Ibi d. , 1 77.
1 26. Ibi d. , 1 80-8 1 .
1 27. Illich, Deschooling Society, 75-76, 8 1 .
1 28. Ibi d. , 1 04.
1 29. Cf. Foer, " Protest Too Much, " 22.
1 30. Ward, Anarchy i n Action, 80 ( emphases in original ) .
1 3 1 . Bakuni n, God and the State, 40.
1 32. Ibi d. , 41 -42.
1 3 3 . Franci sco Ferrer, The Origin and Ideals of the Modern School, trans.
Joseph McCabe ( London: Watts and Co. , 1 9 1 3 ) , http://dwardmac. pi tzer. edu/
anarchist_archives/bright/ferrer/origin. html .
1 98 Notes
1 34. Quoted i n Emma Goldman, "Francisco Ferrer and the Modern School , "
in Anarchism and Other Essays, 2nd ed. ( New York: Mother Earth Publ i shi ng,
1 9 1 1 ) , 1 5 1 -72, http: //dwardmac. pi tzer . edu/ Anarchi st_Archi ves/gol dman/
aando/ferrer . html.
1 35. Ward, Anarchy in Action, 8 1 .
1 3 6 . Leonard I . Kri merman and Lewis Perry, eds . , Patterns of Anarchy: A
Collection of Writings on the Anarchist Tradition ( New York: Anchor Books,
1 966) , 3 1 0; Paul o Frei re, Pedagogy of the Oppressed ( New York: Continuum,
1 970) ( emphasis i n original ) .
1 37. Paul Goodman, " Anarchi sm and the Ideal University, " i n Patterns of
Anarchy: A Collection of Writings on the Anarchist Tradition, ed. Leonard I .
Krimerman and Lewis Perry (New York: Anchor Books, 1 966) , 453-54 ( empha
sis i n original ) .
1 38. Herbert Read, " Art as the Basi s of Libertari an Education, " i n Patterns
of Anarchy: A Collection of Writings on the Anarchist Tradition, ed. Leonard I.
Krimerman and Lewis Perry ( New York: Anchor Books, 1 966) , 408-41 0.
1 39. Tolstoy, Government Is Violence, 1 0.
1 40. Krimerman and Perry, Patterns of Anarchy, 449.
1 41 . Ward, Anarchy i n Action, 87 ( emphasis i n original ) .
1 42. P. M. , bolo'bolo, 1 22-23.
1 43. Ibi d. , 1 23.
1 44. Free Skool, "About Free Skools, " http:/freeskool. org/.
1 45. Judith Sui ssa, Anarchism and Education: A Philosophical Perspective
( Oakl and, CA: PM Press, 201 0) , 92.
1 46 . Wi l l i am T. Ar mal i ne, " Thoughts on Anarchi s t Pedagogy and
Epi st emol ogy, " i n Contemporary Anarchi st Studies: An Introductory
Anthology of Anarchy in the Academy, ed. Randal l Amster et a! . ( New York:
Routledge, 2009) , 1 39.
1 47. Paul Routledge, "Toward a Relational Ethics of Struggle: Embodiment,
Affni ty, and Affect, " i n Contemporary Anarchist Studies: An Introductory
Anthology of Anarchy in the Academy, ed. Randal l Amster et a! . ( New York:
Routledge, 2009) , 89.
1 48. Jami e Heckert, " Listening, Cari ng, Becoming: Anarchi sm as an Ethics
of Di rect Rel ati onshi ps , " i n Anarchism and Moral Philosophy, ed. Benj ami n
Franks and Matthew Wilson ( New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 201 1 ) , 1 99.
149. Ibi d. , 1 8 9-90.
1 50. Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings, 21 4.
1 5 1 . Heckert, " Listening, Caring, Becoming, " 201 .
1 52. Horrox, A Living Revolution, 30.
Chapter 6
1 . Barclay, People Without Government, 42-54.
2. For exampl e, Frank Fernandez, Cuban Anarchism: The History of a
Movement, trans. Charl es Bufe ( Tucson, AZ: See Sharp Press, 2001 ) ; Col i n M.
Notes 1 99
MacLachl an, Anarchism and the Mexican Revolution: The Political Trials of
Ricardo Flores Mag6n in the United States ( Los Angel es : Uni versi ty of
Cal i fornia Press, 1 991 ) ; Marshall, Demanding the Impossible, 504-1 8 .
3. Marshal l , Demanding the Impossible, 5 1 9-35.
4. James C. Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of
Upland Southeast Asia ( New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009) , ix.
5. Mbah and lgariwey, African Anarchism, 47, 52.
6. For example, Mohammed Bamyeh, "Anarchist, Liberal, and Authoritarian
Enl ightenments: Notes from the Arab Spring, " ]adaliyya, Jul y 30, 201 1 , http: /
www. j adal i yya . com/pages/i ndex/22 6 8/ anarchi st- l i bera l - and - authori tari an
-enlightenments; Horrox, A Living Revolution; Uri Gordon, " Right of Repl y:
Anarchy in the Hol y Land! " Jerusalem Post, June 1 2, 2007, http:/www. j
OpinionOp-EdContributors/Article. aspx?id=64651 ; Gordon, Anarchy Alive!
7. Sebastian Kalicha and Gabriel Kuhn, eds. , Von jakarta his johannesburg:
Anarchismus Weltweit ( Munster, Germany: Unrast-Verlag, 201 0) .
8 . Noam Chomsky, The Chomsky Reader, ed. James Peck ( New York:
Pantheon Books, 1 987) , 321 .
9 . Ibi d. ( emphasis in original ) .
1 0. Ibid. , 322.
1 1 . John Cl ark, " Anarchi sm and the Present World Cri si s, " i n Reinventing
Anarchy, Again, ed. Howard ]. Ehrlich ( Oakl and, CA: AK Press, 1 996) , 85.
1 2. Richard Fal k, "Anarchism Without Anarchism: Searching for Progressive
Pol i ti cs i n the Early 2 1 st Century, " Citizen Pilgrimage, November 26, 20 1 0,
http: //ri chardfal k. wordpress . com/20 1 0/1 1 /26/anarchi sm-wi thout-anarchi sm
-searchi ng-for-progressi ve-pol i ti cs/.
1 3 . Andrej Grubaci c, "The Irresi sti bl e Charm of Gl obal Anarchi sm, " The
Defenestrator, March 7, 201 0, http://www. defenestrator. org/node/1 765.
14. Fal k, "Anarchism Without Anarchism. "
1 5. Ibi d.
1 6. Clark, "Anarchism and the Present Worl d Crisis, " 86.
1 7. Prichard, " Anarchism and World Politics, " 377, 380.
1 8. Al ex Prichard, "Deepening Anarchi sm: Internati onal Relations and the
Anarchist Ideal , " Anarchist Studies 1 8, no. 2 ( 201 0) : 30, 35.
1 9. Ibid. , 49.
20. Grubacic, "The Irresistibl e Charm. "
21 . Clark, "Anarchism and the Present World Crisi s, " 94.
22. Ibid. , 98.
23. Ibi d. , 94.
24. Workers Sol i darity Movement, " Anarchi sm, Internati onal i sm & the
Euro Zone Cri si s, " Anarchist News, Jul y 1 0, 201 1 , http: //anarchi stnews . org/
?q=node/1 4998.
25. Ri chard Fal k, " Is t he State a Monster ? Pro and Contra Nietzsche, " Z
Net, June 1 8 , 201 1 , http: //www. zcommunicati ons . org/i s-the-state-a-monster
-pro-and-contra-nietzsche-by-richard-fal k.
200 Notes
26. Ibi d.
27. Sartwel l , Against the State, 8-9.
28. Workers Solidarity Movement, "Anarchism, Internati onal i sm. "
29. Schmidt and van der Walt, Black Flame, 297.
30. MacLachlan, Anarchism and the Mexican Revolution, 1 32.
3 1 . See Uri Gordon, " Israeli Anarchi sm: Statist Dilemmas and the Dynamics
of Joint Struggle, " Anarchist Studies 1 5, no. 1 ( 2007) : 1 0-1 1 .
32. Fal k, " Is the State a Monster? "
33. Sartwel l , Against the State, 9 .
34. Schmidt and van der Walt, Black Flame, 3 1 0.
35. Gordon, " Israeli Anarchism, " 1 2.
36. Shantz, Constructive Anarchy, 1 1 4.
37. Ibi d.
38 . Clark, "Anarchism and the Present Worl d Crisis, " 99.
39. Ri chard J. F. Day, Gramsci Is Dead: Anarchist Currents i n the Newest
Social Movements ( London: Pluto Press, 2005 ) , 38 ( emphasis in original ) .
40. Davi d Graeber, " Anarchi s m, Academi a, and the Avant - Garde, " i n
Contemporary Anarchist Studies: An Introductory Anthology of Anarchy i n the
Academy, ed. Randal l Amster et al. (New York: Routledge, 2009) , 1 05.
41 . Day, Gramsci Is Dead, 203-4.
42. Ibid. , 204.
43 . Tadzi o Muel l er, " Empoweri ng Anar chy: Power, Hegemony and
Anarchi st Strategy, " i n Post-Anarchism: A Reader, ed. Duane Roussel l e and
Sireyyya Evren ( London: Pluto Press, 201 1 ) , 89.
44. Peoples' Gl obal Acti on, " Organi sati onal Principles, " http: //www. nadir
. org/nadi r/initiativ/agp/cocha/principles. htm.
45. Peoples ' Global Acti on, "Hal l marks of Peoples' Global Action, " http://
nadi r. org/nadir/initiativ/agp/free/pga/hal l m. htm.
46. Graeber, Direct Action, xi i .
47. Ibid. , 227.
48. Mi l stei n, Anarchism and Its Aspirations, 1 1 7-1 8.
49. Guerin, Anarchism, 67.
50. Mi chael Bakuni n, " An Internati onal i st Federal i sm, " i n No Gods, No
Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism, ed. Dani el Gueri n ( Oakl and, CA: AK
Press, 2005) , 1 67.
5 1 . Ibid. , 1 69.
52. Mueller, " Empowering Anarchy, " 90.
53. Shantz, Constructive Anarchy, 1 1 5.
54. Fal k, "Anarchism Without Anarchism. "
5 5 . Day, Gramsci Is Dead, 1 86, 1 8 9.
56. Jeffrey S. Juri s, " Anarchi sm, or t he Cul tural Logic of Networki ng, " i n
Contemporary Anarchist Studies: An Introductory Anthology of Anarchy in the
Academy, ed. Randal l Amster et al . ( New York: Routledge, 2009) , 21 3 .
57. Ibi d. , 21 4.
Notes 201
58 . Ibi d. , 21 5 ( emphasis in original ) .
59. Ibi d. , 21 4.
60. Geert Lovi nk, " Insi de Networked Movements : Interview with Jeffrey
Juri s, " Institute of Network Cultures, n. d. , http: //networkcul tures. org/wpmu/
geert/inside-networked-movements-interview-with-jeffrey-j uris/.
6 1 . Ibi d. See generally Jeffrey S. Juris, Networking Futures: The Movements
against Corporate Globalization ( Durham, NC: Duke Uni versity Press Books,
2008) .
62. Graeber, Direct Action, xvii.
63. Guerin, Anarchism, 69.
64. James Gui l l aume, " Ideas on Soci al Organi zati on, " i n No Gods, No
Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism, ed. Dani el Gueri n ( Oakl and, CA: AK
Press, 2005) , 266.
65. Bamyeh, "Notes from the Arab Spring. "
66. Ibi d.
67. Ibi d.
68. For exampl e, Abdul -Ahad et a! . , " Rescue the Arab Spring. "
6 9 . Nat han Schnei der, " Mubarak Fears Chaos , " Waging Nonvi olence,
February 4, 201 1 , http:/lwagingnonviolence. org/201 1/02/mubarak-fears-chaos/.
70. Jake Ol zen, " A Modes t ( Anarchi s t ) Propos al for Egypt , " Waging
Nonviolence, February 1 4, 2 0 1 1 , http: //wagi ngnonvi ol ence. org/20 1 1 /02/a
71 . Ibi d.
72. Beyond Res i s t ance, " Egypt Unrest : I ntervi ew wi th an Egypti an
Anarchi st, " Beyond Resi stance, February 5, 201 1 , http: //beyondresi stance
. wordpress. cor/201 1/02/05/egypt-unrest-interview-with-an-egypti an-anarchi st/.
73. Li nda Herrera, " ' V for Vendetta' : The Other Face of Egypt' s Youth
Movement, " ]adaliyya, May 30, 201 1 , http://www. j adal iyya. com/pages/index/
1 723/v-for-vendetta_the-other-face-of-egypts-youth-move.
74. Jason Brownlee, " Egypt's Incomplete Revoluti on: The Chal lenge of Post
Mubarak Authoritari anism, " ]adaliyya, July 5, 201 1 , http://www. j adaliyya. com/
75. Asher, " Anarchi st Resistance i n Israel , " Anarchia, July 27, 2006, http: /
anarchia. wordpress. cor/2006/0 7/2 7 /anarchist -resistance-in-israel/.
76. Uri Gordon, " Agai nst the Wal l : Anarchi st Mobi l i zati on i n the Israel i -
Palesti ni an Confict, " Peace & Change 35, no. 3 ( Jul y 201 0) : 41 3 .
77. Ibid. , 41 5.
78 . Ibi d. , 420.
79. Anarchi sts Agai nst the Wal l , " About AATW, " http: //awal l s. org/about
80. Ibi d.
8 1 . Ami ra Hass, " Shi n Bet Puts Israel i ' Anarchists' i n Crosshai rs, " Haaretz,
December 2 7, 20 1 0, http: //www. haaretz. com/pri nt-edi ti on/features/shi n- bet
-puts-israeli-anarchi sts-in-crosshai rs- 1 . 333 1 40.
202 Notes
82. Gordon, " Right of Reply. "
83. Gordon, Anarchy Alive! 1 48-49.
84. Ibid. , 1 39.
85. Ibid. , 1 53.
86. Ibid. , 1 54-56.
87. Gordon, "Against the Wal l , " 422-24.
8 8 . Gordon, Anarchy Alive! 1 58-59.
89. Horrox, A Living Revolution, 1 1 8 .
90. Bill Templer, " From Mutual Struggle to Mutual Ai d: Moving beyond the
Stati st Impasse i n Israel/Pal esti ne, " Borderlands 2, no. 3 ( 2003 ) , http: //www
. borderlands. net. au/vol2no3_2003/templer_impasse. htm ( citations omitted) .
91 . Ibi d. ( emphasis i n original ) .
92. James Herod, "Palestine: The No-State Solution, " February 2009, http://
www. j amesherod. info/index. php?sec=pa per&id=63&print=y&PHPSESSID=87 4
c500f1 42 1 8d34d24d0df6f0992eff.
9 3 . Randal l Amster, " The No- Stat e Sol ut i on: Can the I srael - Pal est i ne
Confi ct Provi de a Pat h to Peace ? " New Clear Vision, June 25, 201 1 , http: //
www. newclearvision. com/201 1/06/25/the-no-state-solution/.
94. Ibi d.
Chapter 7
1 . Marco Gi ugni , " How Soci al Movements Matter: Past Research, Present
Problems, Future Developments, " in How Social Movements Matter, ed. Marco
Gi ugni , Doug McAdam, and Charl es Ti l l y ( Mi nneapol i s, MN: Uni versi ty of
Minnesota Press, 1 999) , xxii.
2. Ibid. , xxix.
3. Baldell i, Social Anarchism, 1 8 8 .
4. Rocker, Anarchism and Anarcho-Syndicalism, 14.
5. Mi l stein, Anarchism and Its Aspirations, 1 21 .
6. Krimerman and Perry, eds. , Patterns of Anarchy, 554.
7. Dupuis-Deri, "The Black Blocs, " 69.
8. Howard J. Ehrl i ch, " Anarchi s m and Formal Organi zat i ons , " i n
Reinventing Anarchy, Again, ed. Howard J. Ehrl i ch ( San Franci sco, CA: AK
Press, 1 996) , 59.
9. Giugni, "How Social Movements Matter, " xxx-xxxi.
1 0. Heckert, " Listening, Caring, Becoming, " 1 90.
1 1 . Day, Gramsci Is Dead, 45; Heckert, "Listening, Caring, Becomi ng, " 1 90;
Ki l l i ng Ki ng Abacus , " Some Notes on I ns urrect i onary Anarchi s m, " KKA
Publications, 2001 , http:/www. batko. se/en_issue2_ch6. php.
1 2. See general l y Marco Gi ugni , Doug McAdam, and Charl es Ti l l y, eds. ,
How Social Movements Matter ( Mi nneapol i s, MN: Uni versity of Mi nnesota
Press, 1 999) .
1 3. Lynd and Grubacic, Wobblies & Zapatistas, 90.
Notes 203
14. Howard S. Becker, Sociological Work: Method and Substance ( Chicago:
Aldine, 1 970) , 62.
15. Abbey, "Theory of Anarchy, " 26.
16. Koch, " Poststructuralism, " 344.
1 7. Sartwell, Against the State, 1 1 5.
1 8 . John D. McCarthy and Mayer N. Zal d, " Resource Mobi l i zati on and
Soci al Movements: A Parti al Theory, " American Journal of Sociology 82
( 1 977) : 1 227.
1 9 . See Tom Knoche, "Organizing Communities, " i n Reinventing Anarchy,
Again, ed. Howard ]. Ehrl i ch ( San Franci sco, CA: AK Press, 1 996) , 350-67;
Dave, "The Intersections of Anarchi sm and Community Organi zi ng, " NEFAC,
November 9, 2002, http://nefac. net/node/92.
20. Joel Ol s on, " The Probl em wi th I nfos hops and I ns urrecti on: US
Anarchi sm, Movement Bui l di ng, and the Raci al Order, " i n Contemporary
Anarchist Studies: An Introductory Anthology of Anarchism in the Academy,
ed. Randall Amster et a!. ( New York: Routledge, 2009) , 40-41 .
2 1 . Charles Ti l l y, Social Movements: 1 768-2004 ( Boul der, CO: Paradigm
Publi shers, 2004) , 6-7.
22. Charles Tilly, " From Interactions to Outcomes i n Social Movements, " i n
How Social Movements Matter, ed. Marco Gi ugni , Doug McAdam, and Charles
Tilly ( Minneapolis, MN: University of Mi nnesota Press, 1 999) , 267.
23. Ibid. , 26 1 .
24. Ibid. , 263.
25. Ibi d. , 270.
26. Giugni, " How Soci al Movements Matter, " xvii.
27. Wi l l i am A. Gamson, " Refecti ons on The Strategy of Social Protest, "
Sociological Forum 4, no. 1 ( 1 989) : 458-59, 466.
2 8 . Joel Ol son, "The Freshness of Fanati ci sm: The Abol i ti oni st Defense of
Zealotry, " Perspectives on Politics 5, no. 4 (December 2007) : 688 (emphasis in original) .
29. Marti n Luther King, Jr. , " Letter from a Bi rmi ngham Jai l , " April 1 6 ,
1 963, http://www . africa. u penn. ed u/ Articles_ Gen/Letter_Birmingham. html.
30. Gamson, " Refecti ons, " 458, 464.
3 1 . Ibi d. , 464.
32. Ibid. , 466.
33. See Amory Starr, Luis A. Fernandez, Randall Amster, Lesley J. Wood, and
Manuel J. Caro, "The Impact of State Survei l l ance on Political Assembl y and
Association: A Socio-Legal Analysis, " Qualitative Sociology 31 ( 2008) : 251-70.
34. Tilly, Social Movements, 8 .
35. Giugni, " How Social Movements Matter, " xxi .
36. See general l y Fernandez, Policing Dissent.
37. Uri Gordon, " Dark Tidings: Anarchist Pol itics i n the Age of Collapse, " in
Contemporary Anarchist Studies: An Introductory Anthology of Anarchy in the
Academy, ed. Randall Amster et a! . ( New York: Routledge, 2009) , 253.
38. See generally Starhawk, Webs of Power.
204 Notes
39. Baldel li, Social Anarchism, 1 69.
40. Ward, Anarchy i n Action, 1 35.
41 . Baldelli, Social Anarchism, 1 77.
42. George Pl ekhanov, " Anarchi s t Tact i c s : A Pageant of Fut i l i ty,
Obstructi on, and Decadence ? " in Patterns of Anarchy: A Collection of Writings
on the Anarchist Tradition, ed. Leonard I. Kri merman and Lewis Perry ( New
York: Anchor Books, 1 966) , 499.
43. Ward, Anarchy i n Action, 143.
44. Olson, "The Problem with Infoshops, " 35.
45. Ibi d. , 37.
46. Ibi d.
47. Brown, " Beyond Feminism, " 1 50, 1 54.
48. Ibid. , 1 53 (emphases i n original ) .
49. Charles Tilly, " From Interactions t o Outcomes, " 258-59.
50. See Jamie Heckert and Richard Cleminson, eds. , Anarchism & Sexuality:
Ethics, Relationships and Power ( New York: Routledge, 201 1 ) ; Liat Ben-Moshe,
Dave Hill, Anthony J. Nocella II, and Bill Templer, "Dis-abling Capitalism and an
Anarchi sm of ' Radi cal Equal ity' i n Resi stance to Ideologies of Normal cy, " i n
Contemporary Anarchist Studies: An Introductory Anthology of Anarchism in the
Academy, ed. Randall Amster et a! . (New York: Routledge, 2009) , 1 1 6.
5 1 . Stevphen Shukaitis, "Infrapolitics and the Nomadic Educational Machine, "
in Contemporary Anarchist Studies: An Introductory Antholog of Anarchism in
the Academy, ed. Randall Amster et a! . (New York: Routledge, 2009) , 1 70.
52. For exampl e, Randal l Amster, Lost in Space: The Criminalization,
Globalization, and Urban Ecology of Homelessness ( New York: LFB Scholarly,
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7. Ibid. , 5.
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About the Author
RANDALL AMSTER hol ds a JD from Brookl yn Law School and a
PhD in Justi ce Studi es from Ari zona State Uni versi ty. He teaches Peace
Studi es and is the graduate chai r of humani ti es at Prescott Col l ege;
he al so serves as the executive di rector of the Peace and Justi ce Studi es
Associ ati on. He publ ishes widely in areas i ncl uding anarchi sm, ecology,
non-vi olence, war and peace, soci al movements, homelessness, immigra
t i on, and s usta i na bl e communi ti es . Dr . Amster i s a member of the
edi tori al advi sory boards for the Contemporary justice Review and the
journal of Sustainability Education, and i s a regul ar contri butor to
numerous publ icati ons including Truthout and the Hufngton Post; he
i s a l so the founder and editor of the news and commentary Web site
New Clear Vision.
Abbey, Edward, 34, 1 49; The
Monkey Wrench Gang, 76
ABC No Ri o, 1 06-7
Academia, anarchism and, 1 51
Acti on i n anarchy, 93-1 03; authority,
power, and consensus, 1 01-3;
conficts and resol uti ons, 99-100;
restoring order, 94-98;
sanctioni ng, 98-99
Affni ty, 87
Against Civilization ( Zerzan), 71
Against His-story, Against Leviathan!
( Perl man) , 71
AgroTerrorism Preventi on Act
of 2001 , 79
Alterati ve economies, 83
Al terati ves, bui l di ng, 1 60-62
American Nonviolence (Chernus) , 47
Analysi s of anarchi sm, 1 48;
cri teria, 148
Anarchism, 1 75; authority and, 6-7;
Black Bloc, 30-33; challenges of,
1 65-75; constructive, 37;
contemporary thought, 1 -22;
defned, 1-2; do-it-yoursel f phi
losophy, 87-1 1 7; envi ronmental
themes and, 63-86; future vision,
1 65-75; hi story, 1 1 9-20; impact
of, 1 45-3; i n acti on, 23-41 ; local
to gl obal , 1 1 9-43; movement
of, 33-36; progression of, 1 63;
revol uti on, 24-27; success of, 1 46,
1 4 7-62; technology and,
73-76; violence and, 43-62
Anarchist Bl ack Cross (ABC),
1 08, 1 30
Anarchi st Bl ack Cross Federati on
(ABCF), 1 08
Anarchi st Bl ack Cross Network
( ABCN) , 1 08
Anarchist canon, 5-21
Anarchists: ecologies, 63-86;
image of, 23
Anarchists Agai nst the Wal l (AA TW),
1 37-39
Anarchy Alive! (Gordon) , 75, 1 37
Anarchy and Order ( Read) , 25
Anarchy defned, 89, 125
Ani mal Enterprise Terrori sm Act of
2005, 79-80
Ani mal Liberation Front ( ALF) , 76,
77, 79, 80
Anthropocene, 1 4
Anti-authoritarianism, 6-8; and
revol uti on, 26
Anti-capital ism, 15-16, 65
Antipower, 15 8
Anti-slavery movement, 27
226 I ndex
Arab Spring upri si ngs, 26
Authority, 10 1-3; rej ecti on of, 6-7
Autonomi sm, 1 0-1 2
Autonomous zones, 1 03, 1 05-6, 1 52
Autonomy, 1 0-1 1
Bakuni n, Michael, 1 02, 1 24, 1 42;
educati on, 1 1 1-1 2; federati ons,
1 3 1 ; vol untarism, 8
Bal del l i , Giovanni , 95, 1 58; Socil
Anarchism, 1 01
Barclay, Harol d, 5, 96, 1 63; confi cts,
1 00; violence, 54
Belief systems, spiritual ity, 3-5
Berkman, Alexander, 26-27;
vi olence, 45-47
Black Bloc, 30-33, 51 , 1 57
Black Laundry, 1 37
Bol o' bol o, 1 69
Bookchi n, Murray, 8 1 , 86; authority,
1 01 ; The Ecology of Freedom, 68;
moral sel f, 89; nature i n anarchi sm,
68-69; Post-Scarcity Anarchism,
68; primitivism, 71-72; social
ecology, 4
Books Through Bars, 1 06
Boston Tea Party, 27
Brazi l i an Lndless Workers'
Movement, 1 30
Capitalism, 1 5-1 6, 8 1 , 88
Catalyst Infoshop, 78
Chernus, Ira, American
Nonviolence, 4 7
Chomsky, Noam, 1 5, 1 65, 1 70;
gl obal anarchism 1 21 -22; views on
utopi a, 1 9-20
Churchi l l , Ward, 53, 56; Pacifsm as
Pathology, 53
The City, Not Long Afer
( Murphy) , 1 73
Clark, john P. , 4, 69, 84; global
anarchism, 85, 1 22-25
Cl i mate change/i ssues, 84-86
Collective, 87, 8 8
Community and anarchism, 2, 86
Community gardens, 83
Confict: nati on-states, 1 25-29;
resol ution, 99-1 01
Consensus, 32, 1 01 -3
Constructive anarchism, 37
Contemporary methods, 37
Convergence center, 3 1
Credible threat, 1 53-55
Crime, 1 00
Cri me and punishment, absence of, 98
Cri methlnc. , 2, 1 2, 24, 35, 39-0,
1 08; " Fighting for Our Lives, " 2,
40; Recipes for Disaster: An
Anarchist Cookbook, 24, 40
Cultural permeation of anarchy,
1 50-5 1
Cul ture of vi ol ence, 46
Curious George Brigade, 38
Decentral ism, 20-21 ; and
technol ogy, 76
Decentralized networks, 103, 1 08-9
De Cleyre, Voltai rine, 27-28, 8 1
Deep ecology, 68-70
Defense of Anarchism ( Wol ff) , 97
Delegiti mati on, 1 55-57
Demand-maki ng enterpri se, 1 51
Deschooling Society ( I l l ich) , 1 09
Di ffuse sanctions, 99
Di rect acti on, 24, 27-30, 53; and dual
power, 29
Di sbel i ef, suspension of, 2-5
The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous
Uto[Jia ( Le Gui n) , 1 73
Di spute resol uti on, 1 02
Diversity, 1 4
Diversity of tactics, 33, 48, 60-2
Do It Yoursel f ( DI Y) , 38, 39;
phi l osophy of, 87-1 1 7
Draffan, George, Welcome to the
Machine: Science, Surveillance, and
the Culture of Control, 73
Dual power, 27-30, 38
Dynamism, 1 61 7
Earth First! , 76, 80
Earth Liberation Front ( ELF), 76,
77, 79-81
Ecoanarchism, 68
Ecoanarchist, 66, 68
Ecofascism, 72
Ecology, 63-86; soci al and deep,
The Ecolog of Freedom
( Bookchi n) , 68
co-revol uti on, 76-8 1
Ecoterrorism, 78-79
Education, criti que of formal , 1 09-1 5
Egal itarian col lectives, 1 03, 1 06-8
Egalitarianism, 1 2-1 3
Egypt, 1 36, 1 37
Endgame: The Problem of
Civiliztion (Jensen) , 71
Enemy, concept of, 1 21 -22
Enforced dependency, 82
Envi ronmental themes i n anarchism,
63-86; hidden harmony, 65-67;
rel ationships with society, 83-84
Equal ity i n anarchism, 88, 1 47
Evol utionary model , 50, 1 68, 1 69
Extremism, 1 54
Facebook, 1 36
FBI Counterterrorism Division, 77
Federati on, 1 1 , 1 3 1
Ferandez, Luis, 28; Policing
Dissent, 52
Fifth Estate (Watson) , 74
The Fifth Sacred Thing ( Starhawk) ,
1 74
" Fighting for Our Lives "
( Cri methlnc. ) , 2, 40
Food distri bution, 83
Food Not Bombs, 37, 38-39, 41 , 83,
1 06, 1 08, 1 30
Force, use of, 45-46
Frami ng, 51 -53
Freedom, i n anarchism,
8 1-84, 147
Free economy, 9
Index 227
Free skool , 1 1 4-1 5
Freetown Christiani a, 1 03-
Future of anarchism, 17 5
Future primitive, 1 70-73
Future Primitive, 1 74
Gandhi , Mohandas, 57-60, 83
Gelderloos, Peter, 85; diversity of
tactics, 6 1 ; How Nonviolence
Protects the State, 53; viol ence, 56;
vision of anarchi sm, 1 67, 1 68
Gibson, Wi l l i am, 1 73
Gi ft economy, 1 5-1 6
Gl obal anarchism, 1 1 9-3;
federations to networks, 1 29-34;
primer, 1 21-24
Gol dman, Emma, 34, 8 1 , 1 05;
changes i n views, 46-47; de Cl eyre,
27; Mother Earth, 66; natural ism,
1 3; nonviol ence, 50, 54;
spiritual ity, 3
Gordon, Uri, 1 42, 1 66; Anarchy
Alive!, 75, 1 37; delegiti mation,
1 57; di versity, 14; gl obal confict,
1 37-0; prefguring, 37;
technology, 75-76, 1 72; violence,
49, 55
Governance, 1 25
Graeber, David, 3, 35, 36, 37, 46,
1 29, 1 34; Bl ack Bloc, 32;
Crimethlnc. , 40; di rect action 27,
28; Indymedia, 41 ; thoughts
on violence, 55, 57, 58;
Zapatistas, 1 3 1
The Great Exlosion ( Russel l ) , 1 73
Green anarchism, 72, 73
Green Anarchist International
Associ ation, 66
Green Scare, 78
G20 protests, 5 1
228 I ndex
Hogan, James P. , Voyage from
Yesteryear, 1 73
How Nonviolence Protects the State
(Gelderloos) , 53
Human nature, 1 3-14
Identities i n anarchism, 1 1 5-1 7;
constr uction, 1 59-60
Il lich, Ivan, 1 09-1 1 ; Deschooling
Society, 109
Individual ity i n anarchism: moral sel f,
89-93; responsibil ity, 93
Indymedia ( IMC) , 40-41 , 108, 1 30
Informal Federation of Anarchy, 53
Intenti onal communities, 1 03-5
International i sm, 1 23-24
Iron Rail l i brary and bookstore, 1 07;
Policies and Points of Uni ty, 107-8
Israel, 1 37-39, 1 40-1
Jensen, Derrick, 53, 6 1 ; Endgame:
The Problem of Civilization, 71 ;
Welcome to the Machine: Science,
Surveillance, and the Culture of
Control, 73, 74
Juris, Jeffrey S. , Networking
Futures, 1 33
Justce, face-to-face, 96
Karnataka State Farmers Uni on, 1 30
Ki bbut, 1 04-5
King, Martin Luther, Jr. , 1 0,
45, 1 55
Kropotkin, Peter, 3, 5, 9, 8 1 , 88, 98;
autonomous zones, 1 05; consensus
views, 1 02; environmental
movement, 63, 66; moral sel f,
90-92; utopianism, 1 8-1 9; visions
of anarchi sm, 1 70, 1 72
Landauer, Gustav, 36, 1 1 6; mindful
destructi on, 50-5 1 ; mutual ism, 10
Lao-Tzu, 1 1 9
Laws, and anarchy, 93-97, 99
Le Gui n, Ursula K. , The Dispossessed:
An Ambiguous Utopia, 1 73
Lifestyle anarchism, 89
Literature, science fction, 1 73-75
London student demonstrations,
48, 53
Lower East Si de Biography
Proj ect, 1 06
Mal atesta, Errico, 3, 50; prefguring,
37; revolution, 26, 47
Marshal l , Peter, 1 61 ; Gandhi, 60;
Reclus, 66; vision of anarchism,
1 66, 1 68
Megamachine, 74
Middl e East, 26; gl obal revol ution,
1 37-39; no-state, 1 40-42;
revolution, 1 34-37
Mi lstei n, Cindy, 1 8, 66-7, 1 47, 1 69;
prefguring, 36-37; spiritual ity, 3
Mondragon Bookstore, 106
The Monkey Wrench Gang
( Abbey), 76
Moral self, 89-93, 94
Mother Earth ( Gol dman), 66
Murphy, Pat, The City, Not Long
After, 1 73
Mutual ai d, 9, 90
Mutualism, 9-1 0; egal i tarianism
and, 1 2
Nation-states: abol i tion of, 1 28;
beyond, 1 25-29; hi storical
aspect, 126-27; i nternational ,
Natural disasters, 84
Natural i sm, 4, 1 3-1 5, 63
Nature, 3; identities and relationships,
1 1 6-1 7; in anarchi sm, 63-86
Network, 87
Networking Futures (Juri s) , 1 33
Non-viol ence, 47, 49-50, 56;
Gandhi and, 59
Norms, i n l aw, 96
Norther Africa, revol ution, 1 35-37
No-state solution, 1 40-42
Ol d Market Autonomous Zone
( A-Zone) , 1 05-6
Operation Backfre, 77
Order, restoration of, 94-98
Pacifsm, and anarchism, 57-60
Pacifsm as Pathology ( Churchi l l ) , 53
Palestine, 1 37-39, 1 40-1
Palmer Raids, 51 -52
Peoples' Gl obal Action ( PGA), 1 30-33
Perl man, Fredy, Against His-story,
Against Leviathan!, 71
Permacul ture, 83
Piercy, Marge, Woman on the Edge of
Time, 1 73
Policing Dissent ( Fernandez) , 52
Pol i tical protests, 29-30, 34
Pol i tics, 36
Post-anarchism, 20-21
Post-Scrcity A1urchim ( Bookchin), 68
Power, 1 0 1 -3
Power relations, 157-58
Pragmatism, 1 8
Prefguring, 1 9, 24; the future, 36-41
Primitive chaos, 1 71
Primitivism, 7, 70-73, 74, 1 65;
future, 1 70-73
Pri nci ples, developing, 5
Propaganda, 52
Propaganda by the deed, 50
Property rights, 63
Protests, political , 29-30
Provocation, 33
Purchase, Graham, 98, 1 71 ; view of
harmony, 66-67
Quakers, 27
Radi cal horizontal ism, 1 1 6
Rai nbow Family of Living Light,
1 6 1-2
Index 229
Read, Herbert, 9, 47, 57, 1 1 3;
Anarchy and Order, 25
Recipes for Disaster: An Anarchist
Cookbook (Crimethlnc. ) , 24, 40
Recl ai m the Streets, 35
Recl us, Elisee, 4, 66; technology,
1 70-72
Regul ation, 95
Reifcation, 1 58
Relationships i n anarchism, 1 15-1 7
Religion, 3; utopia and, 1 9
Researchers and Farmers Freedom
from Terrorism Act of 2000, 79
Resistance, 36
Resolution, di spute, 1 02
Resource mobil ization, 1 5 1-53
Restorative j ustice, 94
Revol ution, 1 1 6, 168; ceo-revolution,
76-81 ; in anarchism, 24-27,
34-36, 47, 87; Middl e East,
1 35-37; nati onal , 1 34-37; theory
of, 50, 55
Rewi lding, 72
Ritual ization, 33
Rocker, Rudolf, 81, 1 05, 1 47;
decentral ism, 20-21
Russell, Eric Frank, The Great
Explosion, 1 73
Sanctions in anarchi sm, 98-99,
1 02; types of, 99
Santa Cruz demonstrations, 48
Science fcti on concept, 1 73-75
Seattle protests, 34, 41 , 55
Self-organization, 1 7
Soial anarchism, 89; movements,
1 48, 1 53, 1 60
Social Anarchism ( Baldel l i ) , 1 01
Soial control , 9 5
Soci al ecology, 4, 68-70; wild aspect,
Soial order, 1 03
Soiopolitical change, 149-50
Solidarity, 87, 89
230 I ndex
Space, 1 52
Spanish Civil War, 57, 63, 128,
129, 1 65
Spi ritual i ty, 3-5
Spokes, 3 1
Spokescouncil, 3 1
Staged transformation, 1 41
Starhawk, 28, 35, 60, 83; The Fifh
Sacred Thing, 1 74; nonviol ence,
49, 58, 1 74; revolution, 25-26,
1 68; spiritual ity, 4; violence, 49;
vision for anarchism, 1 67, 1 68
State: anarchists and, 1 58; beyond,
125-29; critique of, 1 25; no-state,
Stop Huntingdon Ani mal Cruel ty
( SHAC) , 80
Success, measures of, 1 47-2;
bui l di ng al ternatives, 1 60-2;
credi ble threat, 1 53-55; cultural
permeation, 1 50-5 1 ;
dclegitimation, 1 55-57; identity
construction, 1 59-60; power
relations, 1 57-58; resource
mobi l ization, 1 5 1-53;
sociopolitical change, 1 49-50
Sul l i van, Dennis, crimi nal j ustice,
Tactics, diversit of, 33, 48, 60-2
Technol ogy, 73-76, 156, 1 6 1 ; future
vision, 1 70-73
Techno-verse, 1 71
Terrorism, 43, 51
Thoreau, Henry Davi d, 58, 63, 97
Threat, credible, 1 53-55
Ti fft, Larry, 1 00; cri mi nal j ustice,
Tolstoy, Leo, 3; moral revolution,
58-60; thoughts on education, 1 1 3
Uni ted Nations, 1 22
United States, 1 22, 126
USA Patriot Act, 77
Utopia, 1 9
Utopianism, 1 8-20
Val ues, developing, 5
V for Vendetta, 1 36
Viol ence, 41 , 43-62; Black Bloc,
30-33; change in opi ni on of,
46-47; confict resolution and,
1 00-101 ; cul ture of, 44-46;
di versity of tactics, 60-62; framing,
51-53; mi ndful destruction, 47-5 1 ;
moral self and, 9 1
Visions, i n anarchism, 1 65-75
Vol untarism, 8-9; egalitarianism
and, 1 2
Voyage from Yesteryear ( Hogan) , 1 73
War, 57; state, 1 25-26
Ward, Col in, 4, 6, 1 58; decentralism,
20; deviance, 98; education, 1 1 2,
1 14; restoring order, 96; vi si on of
anarchism, 1 65-66
Watson, David, 65, 74-75; Fifth
Estate, 74
Welcome to the Machine: Science,
Surveillance, and the Culture of
Control (Jensen and Draffan) ,
73, 74
Western perspective, 120
Wi l d, 70-73
Wil derness, 70
Wil dness, 70-73
Wol ff, Robert Paul , Defense of
Anat"chism, 97
Woman on the Edge of Time
(Piercy) , 1 73
WUC framework, 153
Zapatistas, 25, 130-32
Zerzan, john, 71 , 74, 83, 91 , 1 67,
1 70; Against Civilization, 71
Zomia, 120

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