Specters of Anarchy: Literature and the Anarchist Imagination

Specters of Anarchy: Literature and the Anarchist Imagination

Specters of Anarchy: Literature and the Anarchist Imagination

Specters of Anarchy: Literature and the Anarchist Imagination

Synopsis

Anarchy. The word alone conjures strong emotional responses.Anarchism is one of the most important, if maligned, radical social movements. In the 21st century, anarchist politics have enjoyed a significant revival, offering a positive vision of social change and an alternative to the injustice and inequality associated with states and corporate dominance. Yet anarchism remains misunderstood and misrepresented in mass media and government accounts that associate the term with chaos and disorder.Despite the negative portrayals anarchism, in fact, has always been a movement of intense creativity. More than a political movement, anarchism has, for over a century, made important contributions to cultural developments, especially in literature and art. Often overlooked are the vital creative expressions of anarchism.

Excerpt

Culture and politics in the first decades of the twenty-first century are once again haunted by a specter that some had declared vanquished only a few decades earlier—the specter of anarchism. This is the very specter that haunted political and economic power holders in the first decades of the twentieth century and against which vast repressive resources (arrest, imprisonment, deportation, and execution) had been deployed in great acts of social exorcism. From the early 1990s, and particularly with the impetus of alternative globalization movements and uprisings against neoliberalism, anarchism as an explicitly self-identified force has enjoyed a rather incredible resurgence. in a period of less than 20 years anarchism has gone from appearing to be dead and buried as a political movement and idea to revive and become perhaps the most significant oppositional political force in Western liberal democracies.

Despite the intervening passage of a century of time, it appears that anarchism remains widely misunderstood. Popular representations and perceptions of anarchism are based largely on fabrication, falsification, and fear as social mythologies continue to construct anarchism as a synonym for chaos and disorder. in some public proclamations political and economic elites present anarchy as even more than this—as another word for terrorism (in the Age of Anti-Terrorism). the image of the anarchist as a frightening presence has been played up in mass media representations that have focused on anarchist activities particularly during protests against meetings of global capital such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), Organization of American States (OAS), and World Bank (WB). Over the last decade and a half, sensationalistic media stories . . .

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