One of the difficulties in explaining the anarchist critique—and of distinguishing anarchist tendencies from those that propose only partial breaks with authority—has been the fact that the two fundamental critiques associated with anarchist thought—anti-capitalism and anti-governmentalism—have been difficult to unite, despite indications that they emerged together as part of a single critique in the work of Proudhon. […]
It wasn’t really a vacation, but I did take about ten days off Facebook and I shirked some other social media responsibilities while I cleared my head a bit and reworked some projects. It’s satisfying to at least challenge the inevitability of those connections once in a while and to get a clearer sense of just what they are contributing to the ongoing work. And it was past time for me to look back through my stack of nearly completed book projects and see which of them still made sense to me, as a step toward deciding if they are likely to make sense to anyone else. […]
There is an element of anarchist theory that keeps imposing itself on my studies, often in the most unexpected times and places, which I think of — very imprecisely, I’ll admit — as a kind of vitalist tendency. By this I mean that there is a surprisingly common tendency, when attempting to speak about anarchy in its positive aspects, to make a connection to a range of ideas (life, sex, fecundity, progression, etc.) that are at once “natural” and disruptive of any very fixed, authoritative form of living or organizing social life. […]
Despite the potentially daunting number of research and publishing projects I have in progress, I really don’t get overwhelmed by the variety.
That’s not to say, of course, that I don’t get overwhelmed. I do, at fairly frequent intervals, but what is truly daunting about the project-load that I’ve accumulated over the last decade or so is the fact that it is all really just one big project.
Somehow — for my sins, as like as not — I’ve found myself committed to some deep explorations of just how the anarchist tradition developed in its earliest, formative years […]
If we want a clear indication of the gulf between the possible (resultant) anarchism suggested by Proudhon’s mature work and the historical anarchism that emerged in the late 19th century, we probably don’t have to look beyond the almost universal suspicion that Proudhon’s final works themselves mark a retreat from the anarchist project — and the fact that the resultant anarchy that seems to occupy a central place in that work simply does not seem to register among our theoretical options. […]