‘The real revolution is internal … the most effective action is molecular.’ (Herbert Read, ‘Anarchism Past and Present’, 1947)
This chapter looks at anarchist-related ideas of mutualism and nonhierarchy with an eye on what kind of art history has and could in future be written using such principles. There is a particular focus on the work of Herbert Read, not only as a well-known figure in our discipline but as a public intellectual who shaped postwar anarchist writing beyond art history, criticism and poetry. In the main, anarchist inflections
. In their search for primitivist societies and their cultural manifestations of mutualism, these theories were just as significant for the Fauves and Picasso as they were for the art of Rousseau. 3
Clearly, anarchism had an acknowledged impact on cultural expression in revolutionary Europe of the nineteenth century – the context in which Kropotkin was writing. It has been noted by others that for him ‘ethics can be grounded in the natural world’, 4 a formulation that still has resonances in contemporary ethics and politics. But returning to his ideas with
In Part II , the study is grounded in the political – particularly anarchist and social ecologist – dimensions of ecological thought. The Russian political theorist and polymath Peter Kropotkin (1842–1921) is a giant in the early formation of anarchism. I pay particular attention to the cultural implications and possible models both he and, later, Murray Bookchin (1921–2006) offer for the humanities and arts practice. Kropotkin looks at social organisation across the biosphere, from early forms of life on earth to medieval and recent
exactly to play. Piekut argues in ‘When Orchestras
Attack’, the first chapter of his 2011 book,
Experimentalism Otherwise , that Cage’s practice,
while perhaps suggestive of utopian anarchism, actually embodied a
‘rather orthodox liberalism’, 4 in which musician subjects are
given the illusion of choice while the restrictions on the frame
ecocriticism more widely lie various versions of anti-modernity. One form of this expression is to promote a return to the medieval (a return it seems we are yet again returning to in the form of ‘neomedievalism’), considering its sociocultural, economic and political dimensions. The anarchism of Kropotkin and Bookchin, the Arts and Crafts revivalism of Morris all provide precedents for the kinds of neomedieval propositions we find taking hold today. Reviewing the territory in 2013, Vin Nardizzi captures some of its contours, arguing that ‘the Middle Ages is the era where
life and inhabit a world; the proposition that the lives of living beings are necessarily entangled with each other and with the wider systems that enable life to flourish; the proposition that symbiosis is fundamental to life on earth’. 56 The centrality of symbiosis is not then only a feature of evolutionary biology (as most notably in the work of Lynn Margulis) but lies at the heart of early anarchism of Kropotkin and others who draw transversal lines from the natural to the political world.
There are complicated and subtle lines to be drawn in the terms
horizontalising forms, such as much work in feminism and queer studies.
Part II focuses entirely on the political – particularly anarchist and social ecologist – dimensions of ecological thought, speculating on some of the possible links to creative practice and visual culture. The early formation of anarchism and its many later manifestations are discussed, particularly in an effort to capture the massive scalar range that anarchism and social ecology have brought into the discussion. The three chapters that comprise Part II also acknowledge the important
’ mistake the negative power of critique, which has a rightful place only temporarily in the context of demolishing an old system, with the positive power required for building a new one. They have turned critique into a doctrine, a kind of anarchism the main elements of which Comte identifies as hostility to government, exaggerated individualism and the notion of the sovereignty of the people. The critical doctrine divests government ‘of any principle of activity’ and reduces it ‘to a wholly negative role’ (54):
Government is no longer conceived as the head of
. (2002) ‘IMC Ireland Editorial, comment to article’, http://goo.gl/xsVmmJ (retrieved 10 August 2013).
O’Brien, J. (2012) ‘The WSM and anarchism’, http://goo.gl/uy80ev (retrieved 22 August 2012).
Oscailt (2007) ‘Oscailt documentation’, http://goo.gl/ibtWY5 (retrieved 18 July 2013). Oscailt (2012) ‘Oscailt’, www.indymedia.ie/oscailt/ (retrieved 10 July 2013).
Pine, R. (2002) 2RN and the Origins of Irish Radio , Dublin: Four Courts Press.
Reclaim The Streets (2003) ‘Reclaim The Streets Dublin respond to ‘Robocop’ trial’, Press
spiritual prophet, for others an embarrassing crank. Carpenter’s own brand of mystic, Hindu-inspired, ethical socialism, verging on anarchism (he was a friend of Kropotkin), marginalized him within the various socialist circles to which he belonged, including the Independent Labour Party. But he was close and inspirational to many female activists (such as Katherine Glasier, who converted to socialism after reading him, Olive Schreiner, Edith Lees, Annie Besant, or Charlotte Despard, whom he campaigned with). His awareness that his masculinity did not conform to the