Anarchism Today

Anarchism Today

Anarchism Today

Anarchism Today

Synopsis

With all of the provocative, sometimes highly destructive acts committed in the name of anarchy, this enlightening volume invites readers to discover the true meaning of anarchism, exploring its vivid history and its resurgent relevance for addressing today's most vexing social problems.

In Anarchism Today, an acclaimed scholar and one of the world's foremost advocates for the anarchistic tradition cuts through common misconceptions and caricatures to explore what is perhaps the most poorly understood of all political theories.

As author Randall Amster explains, rather than being an anti-everything rationale for defiance and destruction, anarchism is in fact a coherent set of values and practices with a rich history and contemporary relevance. Passionate and provocative, Amster's book offers readers an expert's perspective on what anarchism really means, including its relationship to other political approaches, its careful balancing of individual liberty and a functioning society, and its controversial image as a wellspring of violence. Along the way, Amster addresses a number of current issues from the perspective of anarchism, including corporate globalization, environmentalism, warfare, nationalism, education, technology, alternative economics, criminal justice, and even spirituality. He concludes with a frank assessment of anarchism's impact and the role it can play in building a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world.

Highlights

Explains the fundamentals of anarchism to a general audience, including those repelled by its inaccurate portrayals
Makes sense of a theory often viewed as violent, incoherent, and even irreconcilably contradictory
Examines the role of anarchism in addressing critical issues that define our era, from environmentalism to economics
Shows how applying the tenets of anarchism can potentially lead to a better, safer, and more just world
Explores anarchism's relationship to local actions and global visions, linking its theories and practices to a wide range of contemporary movements, including anti-globalization, economic justice, criminal justice reform, homelessness & housing, and alternative education.

Excerpt

The best political 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 is one of those works.

I first met Randall in September of 2005, shortly after Hurricane Katrina. My friend Leenie Halbert had just 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 anarchist-influenced Common Ground Collective that had organized a week before. Randall and a group of wonderful student volunteers from Prescott College appeared, and they immediately 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 world, here and now, in the midst of the crisis. This is what Rebecca Solnit writes about beautifully in her excellent book A Paradise Built in Hell. It seems to me that this was very much what occurred in our little solidarity community. I think that we had the good fortune, in those difficult times, to experience vividly some of the most basic things that anarchist community is all 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 “people who believe in do-it-yourself action within small groups,” who wanted to “feed the hungry and bring water to the thirsty, to fix the broken homes of the neighbors and to offer a sense of community in their deserted streets.” As Leenie explained it, “I just wanted to bring love back to my neighborhood.”

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