The Politics of Postanarchism

The Politics of Postanarchism

The Politics of Postanarchism

The Politics of Postanarchism

Synopsis

Saul Newman contends that anarchism's anti-authoritarian egalitarianism informs the ethical and political terrain of contemporary radical struggles, particularly the global movement of anticapitalism. Yet he also argues that anarchism relies on an outdated epistemology and calls for a new direction in anti-authoritarian and emancipatory politics. Newman frames a revitalized approach to politics he calls postanarchism. Drawing on classical anarchist, poststructuralist, post-Marxist, critical, and psychoanalytic approaches, this innovative method newly engages with radical politics and its relation to subjectivity, identity, globalization, equality, and the state.

Excerpt

Why be interested in anarchism today? Why be interested in this most heretical of political traditions, whose shadowy existence on the margins of revolutionary politics has lead many to dismiss it as a form of ideological mental illness? the central claim of anarchism – that life can be lived without a state, without centralised authority – has been an anathema not only to more mainstream understandings of politics, which bear the legacy of the sovereign tradition, but also to other radical and revolutionary forms of politics, which see the state as a useful tool for transforming society.

Furthermore, anarchism has often lacked the ideological and political coherence of other political traditions. While there is a certain body of thought that is unified around principles of anti-authoritarianism and egalitarianism, anarchism has always been heterodox and diffuse; while it has had its key exponents, anarchism is not constituted around a particular name, unlike Marxism. Indeed, despite the startling originality of some classical anarchist thinkers – and it is my intention in this book to bring this theoretical innovation to light – anarchists have usually been more concerned with revolutionary practice than with theory. Moreover, while anarchism has historically had a certain influence on workers’ movements, as well as on other radical struggles, it has not been as politically hegemonic as Marxism. Anarchism has flared up in brilliant flashes of insurrection – revolts and autonomous projects throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – but these have just as quickly died down again, or have been savagely repressed.

Yet, despite these defeats, and despite anarchism’s marginality, we can perhaps point to what might be called an ‘anarchist invariant’: the recurring desire for life without government that haunts the political imagination. the rejection of political authority in the name of equality . . .

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