Rather than focusing merely on a rejection of the state and capitalism, activists involved in the collective visioning took as their starting point a more expansive view of the interdependent and entangled nature of their own and others’ multiple struggles. Thus, in Chapter 5 – ‘Activating the agapeic web’ we first explore (r)evolutionary love as a radical solidarity – producing spontaneous mutual aid at times of rapid social change, and acting to establish affinity both in and across movement organisations. Next, the chapter examines how throughout history revolutionary movements have been co-opted by political parties in order to gain power for their own self-interest rather than completing the task of dismantling the institutions of state domination. The perceived antinomy of revolutionary and evolutionary theories of social change is then questioned and the central concept of (r)evolution unpacked and proposed as an alternative model for radical social transformation. And drawing on contemporary anarchist debates, the temporal gap between current struggles and imagined futures is problematised, prefigurative praxes critiqued and a politics of immanence suggested in remedy. And finally, the question of how a free society might respond to the potential of violence and ongoing political contestation is examined, arguing that (r)evolutionary love might offer the ethical/relational basis for the development of new processes of agonistic pluralism to augment consensus-based approaches.
Chapter 1 – ‘The anarchy of love’ first isolates and traces a distinct lineage of (r)evolutionary love that has acted to animate radical social transformation throughout history. Starting with the anarchists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the chapter also follows their Marxist revolutionary cousins; feminist perspectives on love; the anti-colonial revolutionaries of the twentieth century; the civil rights activists of the 1960s; and in recent years the number of anarchist political philosophers and social movement theorists who have explored whether love can be utilised as a useful key concept for a new political theory of global revolution. Next, in order to further define the (r)evolutionary love this book explores, a close analytical reading is undertaken of the works of influential anarchist revolutionary and theorist Emma Goldman and autonomist theorist Michael Hardt, who have both pursued such a political concept of love. And through exploring themes of love as domination, love as transformation, and love as freedom, the chapter examines the relevance and potentialities of this political force for contemporary ecological, anti-capitalist, feminist and anti-racist activists. We explore how the disorienting of conventional political schemas and the expansive trajectory of their political imaginary prealign Goldman and Hardt with aspects of emerging work in posthumanism in which a number of scholars are starting to extend their thinking about love to include non-humans, the environment, technology and even matter itself – to which the chapter then turns.
This chapter explores Sheffield City Council’s policies in the late 1970s and 1980s and the ideology behind them. It examines the ideal of the ‘Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire’ as imagined by David Blunkett and others on Sheffield City Council, showing how policy was influenced by new urban left thinkers and left-wingers working in local governments elsewhere in Britain to come up with a workable alternative to Thatcherism. Highlighting four key policies – the development of nuclear-free zones, the protection of cheap bus fares, the Community Work Apprenticeship Scheme and the campaign against ‘Right to Buy’ sales of social housing – it explains how Sheffield’s ‘local socialism’ took on a local character, addressing issues seen as being specific to the city and surrounding area, whilst also speaking to national debates and incorporating themes explored elsewhere in the British left.
Chapter 6 – ‘The collective heart: Co-constituting free society’ argues that the agency of (r)evolutionary love offers a direct (and directable) causal effect on our multiple entangled relations, and to the extent to which they will lead to intimate and social relations of domination or liberation. Strategically developing political praxes grounded in this love might therefore provide the basis upon which to co-constitute free society here-and-now – as an imaginative/responsive ongoing process rather than reverting to default capitalistic, patriarchal, racist or anthropocentric modes of reproduction, and thus provide a means of sustaining such a system in the absence of domination. But (many will undoubtedly ask) how realistic can such a profound reconfiguration actually be? And the answer, somewhat unsurprisingly given the sheer scale of struggle visible today, is that there are in fact many living, vibrant examples of such societal formations across the world right now which might inspire us. The chapter first turns to the Zapatista revolution as one such example, and specifically the Indigenous concept of O’on or ‘collective heart’, examining its central role in the social reproduction of their communities and organisational structures. A critique of contemporary international relations theory and its reification of the state as sole political actor follows, and finally a second example is explored – of the extraordinary experiment in horizontal participatory democracy taking place in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.
Chapter 2 – ‘Collective visioning: Utopia as process’ briefly locates this enquiry within a strong tradition of knowledge co-production between political activists and the academy: from the workers enquiries of the nineteenth century; experiments in direct democracy of the early twentieth century; the participatory research methods that emerged from the campesino movements of Africa and Latin America in the 1960s; Italy’s Operaismo and Argentina’s Argentinazo; and more recently the Zapatista-inspired encuentros and the dialogical spaces of the World Social Forum. The chapter then outlines the specific Collective Visioning approach used for this book and introduces the participants themselves, exploring how the process works to reveal images of future worlds, and of the seeds of liberation already existing in the present. This method, as we discover, utilises utopia as process – transitioning the functionality of utopia from noun to verb, and operationalising imagination as a productive power in the pursuit of new knowledge and praxis.
Detailing Sheffield’s campaign against rate-capping and what happened when the campaign collapsed, this chapter offers some conclusions on the new urban left project of local socialism. It suggests that, although the fusion of class and identity politics was not always successful, the new urban left was by no means a failure. In Sheffield’s short-lived ‘Socialist Republic’ activists achieved a remarkable amount, some with financial provision and some emboldened by a local culture of general support for left-wing causes. Social democracy persisted. This concluding chapter argues that, to properly understand the left in Britain, we need to look locally to explore new roads to renewal.
This chapter concludes that by repositioning ourselves ontologically in the deep commons an infinite number of worlds can be co-imagined simultaneously, realising the ‘community of free communities’ theorised by generations of anarchist scholars. It is argued that it will remain crucial that the co-constitution of free society remains an ongoing process – pluralised, open, responsive and grounded in the here-and-now. Any such utopia must remain immanent both in substance and temporality. There will be no end point, and no eventual transcendence. But more than mere abstracted theory, this final chapter argues that (r)evolutionary love has been evidenced throughout the book as a common lived/felt experience, materialising as political direct action, as long-term processes of struggle, and as a radical solidarity embedded in the deep commons. It is the experience of Hassan on the streets in Syria, of Tom at the G20 protests in Toronto, of Maria and her permaculture community in Mexico, of Angelo and his comrades occupying squares in Brazil and of Dembe and his affinity group in Kampala. It is the empathic matrix of mirror neurons described by De Waal, the experience of O’on or ‘collective heart’ that infuses social reproduction in Chiapas, and the ‘level of real love’ that Öcalan argues will be necessary for the construction of a free democratic society. (R)evolutionary love, the book concludes, offers an alternative political response to the multiple crises we now face – to turn outwards, to reconnect, and in that connection to transform ourselves and the worlds we co-create.
Through struggle capital’s given terrain, including the processes and logics allowing water grabs to occur, was politicised. The tensions already outlined became lived and contested; reproductive unrest evolves from describing objective conditions to subjective experience and struggle. In the struggle worldviews emerged that were incoherent with earlier worldviews. This chapter emphasises how agency emerges in struggle, treating labour as an emergent category. In Australia, by redefining the what of water, rural communities rearticulated society and nature (revealing their internal relation), countering the alienated socio-nature relation underpinning expropriation. Understanding water and communities as co-constitutive necessitated separating questions of land ownership from private property, raising questions of dispossession and problematising terra nullius. An incoherence with the dominant logics of the state and market emerged, defining a class antagonism drawn on ecological lines. Water, through this shift, came to be understood as a constellation of contested social relations. As a result, the emergent class category ‘labour’ captured both people’s relation to the means of production and the process of expropriation, rather than a stratified position in society. In recasting the processes of capital accumulation from labour’s vantage point, the arena for class struggle was broadened to include the home, nature, and neighbourhood.
In contrast to Australia, here the argument is that the focus on water as social reproduction infrastructure instead of socio-nature relations evolved into a broader critique of the state and related institutions, including representational democracy. Water as social reproduction and related infrastructure was understood as common, a collective right, and disarticulated from processes of capital accumulation. However, in this process, the limited capacity of the state to account for this right came into sharper focus: the state was disarticulated from the common good, no longer the provider of social services, but antagonist to the realisation of working-class interests. In the process of struggle, labour as emergent category included working-class communities, some trade unions, and left political parties. Moore concludes that the wave of contestation on the terrain of social reproduction that emerged following water charges continues to build on some of these claims and culminated in the 2020 election result and tensions that have emerged in the COVID-19 crisis.
Grounded in themes emerging from the collective visioning process, Chapter 4 – ‘The deep commons’ explores the conditions of empathic entanglement that act as the basis for societal formation, and the radical loving-caring praxes which underpin many contemporary struggles. And by extending popular conceptions of the commons to include these more-than-human psycho-socio-material relations, the Deep Commons is proposed as a ground through which this (r)evolutionary love might circulate in order for new political (inter)subjectivities to manifest. This enquiry adopts the same philosophical starting point as previous green anarchisms, that is, to rethink human society’s sense of itself and its place in the wider ecology, while taking great care to navigate a path that avoids both the potential anthropocentric bias of social ecology and the holism of deep ecology. The apparent binary tension between personal autonomy and social solidarity that exists in much of contemporary political/philosophical thought is re-examined in light of these more-than-human loving entanglements, and Indigenous concepts of the deep commons are considered as alternatives to our current colonial, capitalist and anthropocentric political imaginaries. The concept of degrowth is then examined in pursuit of the temporal shift to a slower pace of life required to avert our impending ecological disaster.