Changing Anarchism: Anarchist Theory and Practice in a Global Age

By Jonathan Purkis; James Bowen | Go to book overview

John Moore


3
Lived poetry: Stirner, anarchy, subjectivity
and the art of living1

Introduction

At the heart of the new anarchism(s) there lies a concern with developing a whole new way of being in and acting upon the world.2 Contemporary revolutionary anarchism is not merely interested in effecting changes in socioeconomic relations or dismantling the State, but in developing an entire art of living, which is simultaneously anti-authoritarian, anti-ideological and antipolitical. The development of a distinctively anarchist savoir-vivre is a profoundly existential and ontological concern and one rich in implication for the definition of contemporary anarchist practice, activity and projects. Central to this process is the issue of anarchist subjectivity and intersubjectivity, as well as related concerns about language and creativity.


Hakim Bey, language and ontological anarchy

Hakim Bey's essay 'Ontological anarchy in a nutshell' (1994) provides a concise but landmark formulation of this issue. The opening passage of the essay focuses on the existential status of the anarchist and anarchist practice:

Since absolutely nothing can be predicated with any certainty as to the 'true nature
of things,' all projects (as Nietzsche says) can only be 'founded on nothing.' And
yet there must be a project – if only because we ourselves resist being categorized
as 'nothing.' Out of nothing we will make something: the Uprising, the revolt
against everything which proclaims: 'The Nature of Things is such-&-such'. (Bey,
1994: 1)

Drawing upon Nietzschean perspectivism, Bey mounts an anti-foundationalist argument: given the collapse of the philosophical concept of truth, there is no foundation, no basis upon which anarchist subjectivity or activity can be grounded – no foundation, that is, except nothingness itself. Developing his perspective from this epistemological premise, Bey identifies a distinctively anarchist mode of being: ontological anarchy. The anarchist hangs suspended in space

-55-

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