A Schematic Anarchism (Introduction)

One way to get at what is constant in the widest senses of anarchy and anarchism is to begin with what is least contestable about the elements of those terms. Etymology is certainly no definitive source of meaning — and few things are more tiresome than the attempt to resolve ideological debates with dictionaries — but if we are going to take inspiration from the interpretive freedom extended by Proudhon to his readers, we don’t really have much but the words themselves as references. […]


A Schematic Anarchism (draft)

Conscious of the difficulties faced by students of anarchist ideas, whether newcomers or old hands, it seems useful to propose some means of exploring the field with confidence. There is no question, particularly in a short piece such as this, of providing a map of that vast, complex territory, but we can certainly identify a few landmarks and propose some tools with which individuals might do their own mapping. […]

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Embracing Anarchy — Introduction

We become anarchists by embracing and internalizing anarchy. We express that internalized anarchy by constructing anarchisms. I take this to be a kind of general formula, describing the relations between three key concepts — anarchy, anarchist and anarchism — in their most general senses. This formula should be applicable to any form of anarchism that defines itself in terms of a commitment to anarchy. It should serve us as a rough schematic as we analyze and construct various anarchisms. […]

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Constructing Anarchisms: Definitions, Pluralism, Anarchy

One of the ideas driving Constructing Anarchisms has been the notion that “anarchy” and “anarchism” mark problems that it is necessary to return to again and again, that “becoming an anarchist” is an ongoing and arguably interminable project. And, while that idea may not be exactly popular in anarchist circles, it is undoubtedly connected to the widely-shared intuition that we must allow anarchist theory and practice to retain some significant degree of pluralism. We certainly expect anarchy to manifest itself in a variety of ways, to be amenable to discussion in a variety of vocabularies, to be approachable from a variety of contexts, etc.—and we seem to share a sense that denying some similarly protean qualities to anarchist theory and practice would be some kind of fundamental betrayal of our anarchic ideals. Critiques of “absolutism”—specifically connecting anarchism and anti-absolutism—are surprisingly common lately in online debate.  […]

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Constructing Anarchisms: Notes for a Preface

If asked, I generally say that I have been an anarchist for close to thirty years. And because of all the other things that I have been for much longer—a big nerd, basically—that has translated into nearly three decades of sometimes obsessive research into anarchist history and theory, art and literature, etc. At this point, it’s hard to imagine thinking of myself as anything other than an anarchist. I have worn a large number of hats over the years and continue to do so, but few of them represent anything like an identity. I have mixed feelings, in general, about identities. “I am large, I contain multitudes”—and those multitudes don’t always get along in a particularly unified or even dignified manner. With anarchist, however, the unity and the multiplicity seem to be simultaneously implied. Je suis anarchiste—I am anarchic. […]

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Anarchism: The Formula Explored

Having established a formula for anarchism-in-general, we certainly haven’t established that all anarchisms are created equal. We have simply provided a means by which those anarchisms that take the form suggested by the formula can be rendered comparable. While the proposed formula leaves considerable space for variation among the anarchisms that it will recognize, it also sets a relatively high bar for consideration.  […]

A Beautiful Nihilist

Anarchism: A General Formula

We are proposing anarchism as something that we can make our own, meaning that, in a certain sense, we can each make our own anarchism. Thus, there will be anarchisms, in the plural, that we must learn to identify by their shared characteristics. Part of our task here will be to establish the elements that must be defined in order to present an anarchism. But, in order to be recognizable as an anarchism, each instance must present itself as not just logically or ideologically complete and consistent, but also as intelligible within patterns of historical development.  […]