Academic journal article Anarchist Studies

Anarchism and Political Modernity

Academic journal article Anarchist Studies

Anarchism and Political Modernity

Article excerpt

Nathan Jun, Anarchism ana Political Modernity New York & London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2012, 250 + xviii pp. ISBN: 978-1-44116-686-9

Anarchism and Political Modernity is an ambitious philosophical project that draws on various aspects of philosophical thought from different eras. Nathan Jun's philosophical journey starts from the usual point of departure, Ancient Greece, and ends at the postmodern world. Throughout this journey the author examines, identifies and redefines a number of philosophical concepts, on which he constructs his argument. The size of the book, however, could be extended, to cover a journey of this magnitude. But Jun presents a well-structured argument and an intriguing approach to anarchism that may draw criticism from within and outside the anarchist cycles.

The author identifies the political philosophy of anarchism as perhaps the first kind of postmodernism and provides a definition that focuses on the rejection of representation, which he, among others, detects as the foundational characteristic of political modernity. The whole book can also be described as Jun's argument against the fairly new anarchist school of thought known as post-anarchism, and especially Todd May's thesis about the incompatibility between the views on the concept of power of, what he calls, 'classical' anarchism and that of the poststructuralist thinkers, such as Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze.

The book contains six chapters, but it seems as if it is also divided into three parts that contain two chapters each. In the first part of the book, the author tries to establish a framework within which to think about political philosophy in general. Within this context Jun compares political power with the concepts of force, motion and change as they were conceived by Aristotle and Heraclitus. He ends up defining politics as 'social physics' because they are concerned with power relations between and among humans, which always involve relations of force, motion and change. 'Social physics' is a result of the tension of actual and possible power relations, he says. Based on this definition the author provides a new taxonomy for political philosophies that concentrates on the way they evaluate power relations and on how they regard themselves in relation to power relations. The crucial point in the examination that takes place in the first part of the book is Jun's characterisation of all ancient and medieval political thought as 'archie', one that presupposes a natural cosmologica! …

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