This book attempts to convey the different sociological contexts for how contemporary anarchist theory and practice is to be understood. It concentrates on the issue of broadening the parameters of how anarchist theory and practice is conceptualized. The book compares the major philosophical differences and strategies between the classical period (what Dave Morland calls 'social anarchism') and the contemporary anti-capitalist movements which he regards as being poststructuralist in nature. It also documents the emergence of the now highly influential anti-technological and anti-civilisational strand in anarchist thought. This offers something of a challenge to anarchism as a political philosophy of the Enlightenment, as well as to other contemporary versions of ecological anarchism and, to some extent, anarcho-communism. The book further provides a snapshot of a number of debates and critical positions which inform contemporary anarchist practice. The specific areas covered offer unique perspectives on sexuality, education, addiction and mental health aspects of socialisation and how this can be challenged at a number of different levels. The fact that anarchism has largely premised its critique on a psychological dimension to power relations, not just a material one, has been an advantage in this respect. Ecological anarchism, which has been the driving force behind much contemporary anarchist theory and practice, has been committed to thinking about the relationships between people and 'nature' in new ways.
This book focuses on the apparently surprising convergence between anarchism and eugenics. By tracing the reception of eugenic ideas within five different anarchist movements –Argentina, England, France, Portugal and Spain – the book argues that, in fact, there is ample evidence for anarchist interest in, and implementation of, some form of eugenics. The author argues that this intersection between anarchism and eugenics can be understood as an emanation from anarchism’s nineteenth-century legacy, which harnessed science as a means to change the social world and an ideological commitment to voluntarism as a political praxis. Through the articulation of interest in birth control, ‘neo-Malthusianism’, freedom to choose for women and revolutionary objectives, many anarchists across these five countries provided the basis for the creation of ‘anarchist eugenics’ in the early twentieth century.
Although Marxism and even anarchism are sometimes treated as if they are simply varieties of socialism, we consider that they have sufficiently distinctive characteristics to warrant separate treatment. Starting with Marxism, we examine Marx’s theories of history, economics and politics before discussing the controversies within Marx-inspired political organisations in the
1 Dave Morland Anti-capitalism and poststructuralist anarchism1 Introduction Social anarchism has a long reputation as a disparate and incoherent ideology. Commentators, sympathetic and objective alike, have frequently accused social anarchism of being too diverse to constitute a singular, recognisable ideology at all (Chomsky, 1970; Miller, 1984; Ball and Dagger, 1991). To a degree this is true: social anarchism is a loose and diverse ideology that may be too elusive for some commentators to categorise neatly and clearly. However, other commentators, myself
1 The ‘paradox’ of anarchism and eugenics Introduction In 1933, the anarcho-pacifist Romanian intellectual Eugen Relgis explored the conundrum of humanitarianism as applied to eugenics in the Valenciabased anarchist cultural review Estudios.1 Could there be, the author asked, a community of interests or any compatibility between the philosophical and ethical concept of humanitarianism and the new science of eugenics? Relgis, active in the anti-war movement and a supporter of the Spanish Republic, certainly thought so. Nevertheless, his attempt to articulate a
7 British anarchism in the era of Thatcherism Rich Cross British anarchism in the era of Thatcherism The late 1970s and early 1980s were a period of unexpected resurgence for the British anarchist movement, and for wider libertarian political initiatives circling in the orbit of an expanding anarchist core. The renaissance of anarchism in the UK was not something which many contemporary commentators on the British political fringe had anticipated. But British anarchism’s recovery and renewed confidence was not only unexpected, it took on political hues, adopted
3 Early discourse on eugenics within transnational anarchism, 1890–1920 In his opening address to the 1919 conference of the Permanent International Eugenics Committee, the geologist, palaeontologist and eugenicist Henry Fairfield Osborn lamented the existence of a dire ‘political sophistry’ in his own country, the United States. The assumption that ‘all people are born with the equal same rights and duties’ had become entangled with the notion that ‘all people are born with equal character and ability to govern themselves and others.’1 Osborn went on to impress
who see the world as an open conflict between different and competing nations (with the invariable threat of anarchism always lurking in the shadows), to modernists more generally who see the world as being threatened by the tensions caused between secularism and religious orthodoxy, and to those liberals who have appropriated Carl Schmitt’s point about politics being all about friends versus enemies. Difference, then, is the problem to be solved or at least safely managed. Violence results not from violence but from forced homogenisation and the colonisation of
Part 1 Thinking One of the principal reasons for the endurance of anarchism is the fact that regardless of context it asks challenging questions about the nature of power. This collection premises itself on the idea that anarchist concepts of power are changing to reflect the extensive and varied shifts that are taking place in political culture, and on increasingly larger stages. The anarchist critique, as will be argued in this first section of the book, has deepened in terms of its willingness to consider power as having multiple and interconnected
.15 By contrast, from this conservative position, there arose ‘another vision of progress as a sequence of distinct episodes or cycles, with each species, race or 22 Anarchism and eugenics civilization rising to new heights and then making room for its successor’.16 Embedded within these different models of progress was a commonly acknowledged and gnawing fear: the constant threat of ‘evolutionary arrest and organic collapse’.17 Galton himself was sceptical about the certainty of social progress, and contemporary observers in Britain referred to a disbelief in