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Lantern Library: Cousins of Anarchism

James Herod

These political currents are considered cousins of anarchism because they are generally anti-authoritarian, usually anti-capitalist, often anti-state, or contribute in one way or another, directly or indirectly, to fleshing out an anarchist social philosophy and political practice. Council communism was essentially an anarcho-syndicalist tendency, with its strong focus on workers councils. Situationism likewise had a strong workers control aspect. Surrealism is definitely closely allied with anarchism. Libertarian Socialism is practically synonymous with anarchism. The Frankfurt School was anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian, and probably anti-state, and added critical theory and cultural studies to the tool kit for opposing hierarchy. Early French Socialists, writing as they did before Marxism derailed the anti-capitalist struggle into capturing the state, advanced a view of communism as a stateless society composed of democratic autonomous communities. The recent upsurge of interest in the commons is a more mixed bag. Some try merely to enhance or strengthen the commons within the existing social order. Others seek to transform that order. But at least this current is picking up on a core belief -- common ownership -- of anarchism/libertarian socialism at least since Gerrard Winstanley in the English Revolution of the 1640s. Autonomous Marxism, Midnight Notes, and Open Marxism are currents of unorthodox Marxism (non-mechanical, non-vulgar Marxism) which generally reject the statist strategy for defeating capitalists. Often their writings can hardly be distinguished from anarchism, although they are loathe to admit it. Finally, it is hard to know what to do with primitivists, egoists, and post-left anarchists (a peculiar American occurrence mostly). They are definitely not social anarchists in the historical sense. Yet they claim to be anarchist, and in some limited sense are, and in any case are prominent presences in contemporary US anarchism. So they have been stuck here, under Questionable Cousins.

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These political currents are considered cousins of anarchism because they are generally anti-authoritarian, usually anti-capitalist, often anti-state, or contribute in one way or another, directly or indirectly, to fleshing out an anarchist social philosophy and political practice. Council communism was essentially an anarcho-syndicalist tendency, with its strong focus on workers councils. Situationism likewise had a strong workers control aspect. Surrealism is definitely closely allied with anarchism. Libertarian Socialism is practically synonymous with anarchism. The Frankfurt School was anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian, and probably anti-state, and added critical theory and cultural studies to the tool kit for opposing hierarchy. Early French Socialists, writing as they did before Marxism derailed the anti-capitalist struggle into capturing the state, advanced a view of communism as a stateless society composed of democratic autonomous communities. The recent upsurge of interest in the commons is a more mixed bag. Some try merely to enhance or strengthen the commons within the existing social order. Others seek to transform that order. But at least this current is picking up on a core belief -- common ownership -- of anarchism/libertarian socialism at least since Gerrard Winstanley in the English Revolution of the 1640s. Autonomous Marxism, Midnight Notes, and Open Marxism are currents of unorthodox Marxism (non-mechanical, non-vulgar Marxism) which generally reject the statist strategy for defeating capitalists. Often their writings can hardly be distinguished from anarchism, although they are loathe to admit it. Finally, it is hard to know what to do with primitivists, egoists, and post-left anarchists (a peculiar American occurrence mostly). They are definitely not social anarchists in the historical sense. Yet they claim to be anarchist, and in some limited sense are, and in any case are prominent presences in contemporary US anarchism. So they have been stuck here, under Questionable Cousins.


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June 29
2017
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