Changing Anarchism: Anarchist Theory and Practice in a Global Age

By Jonathan Purkis; James Bowen | Go to book overview

James Bowen


6
Moving targets: rethinking anarchist
strategies

Introduction

In the anarchist movement in Britain and across the world today, there are a number of reasonably prolific publishing projects and a few moderately successful groups and organisations. It is even true that the word anarchism has lost much of its popular perception as a source of terror and chaos, particularly in 'anti-globalisation' and environmental circles; but anarchism per se simply does not have an impact on the vast majority of the population. This is not to say that change is not happening all around us at all times, and that there aren't elements of that change relating to the central themes of anarchism, namely promoting liberty, equality, solidarity and community and opposing exploitation, oppression, dehumanisation and environmental degradation. However, the relatively marginal position that anarchism occupies in terms of both the popular and critical imagination suggests that the subject of anarchist strategy is one worthy of reassessment.

This chapter suggests that some of the impediments to the acceptability of anarchist ideas lie in often dogmatic, exclusive and fundamentalist approaches to effecting change. This is as true for the use of narrow conceptual categories that juxtapose 'revolutionary' strategies against 'reformist' ones as it is for unrealistic expectations about what people are capable of doing politically on a daily basis and whether some social groups are more likely to effect change than others. This is relevant both at the level of small-scale projects such as co-operative housing through to strategies for opposing globalisation or militarisation. For anarchist ideals to be either explicitly or implicitly practised, it is necessary to consider the potential for influence in areas other than those which anarchists are naturally prepared to consider. This necessitates a greater flexibility about notions of inclusion and community as well as a preparedness to take part in networks or broad-based coalitions.

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