From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Post-anarchism or postanarchism is an anarchist philosophy that employs post-structuralist and postmodernist approaches (the term post-structuralist anarchism is used as well, so as not to suggest having moved beyond anarchism). Post-anarchism is not a single coherent theory, but rather refers to the combined works of any number of post-modernists and post-structuralists such as Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard; postmodern feminists such as Judith Butler; and alongside those of classical anarchist and libertarian philosophers such as Zhuang Zhou, Emma Goldman, Max Stirner, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Thus, the terminology can vary widely in both approach and outcome.


The term "post-anarchism" was coined by philosopher of post-left anarchy Hakim Bey in his 1987 essay "Post-Anarchism Anarchy". Bey argued that anarchism had become insular and sectarian, confusing the various anarchist schools of thought for the real experience of lived anarchy.[citation needed] In 1994, academic philosopher Todd May initiated what he called "poststructuralist anarchism",[1] arguing for a theory grounded in the post-structuralist understanding of power, particularly through the work of Michel Foucault and Emma Goldman, while taking the anarchist approach to Ethics.

The "Lacanian anarchism" proposed by Saul Newman utilizes the works of Jacques Lacan and Max Stirner more prominently. Newman criticizes classical anarchists, such as Michael Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin, for assuming an objective "human nature" and a natural order; he argues that from this approach, humans progress and are well-off by nature, with only the Establishment as a limitation that forces behavior otherwise. For Newman, this is a Manichaen worldview, which depicts the reversal of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, in which the "good" state is subjugated by the "evil" people.

Lewis Call has attempted to develop post-anarchist theory through the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, rejecting the Cartesian concept of the "subject." From here, a radical form of anarchism is made possible: the anarchism of becoming. This anarchism does not have an eventual goal, nor does it flow into "being"; it is not a final state of development, nor a static form of society, but rather becomes permanent, as a means without end. Italian autonomist Giorgio Agamben has also written about this idea. In this respect it is similar to the "complex systems" view of emerging society known as panarchy. Call critiques liberal notions of language, consciousness, and rationality from an anarchist perspective, arguing that they are inherent in economic and political power within the capitalist state organization.[2]

Post-anarchism and space

Postanarchist theory has many implications for social and political space and, seeing as space is always political, seriously considers the question of space for radical politics and movements today. Much postanarchist theory is centered around an extensive critique of hegemony and the neoliberal societies of control. The logic of hegemony contains all conceptions of freedom and justice narrowly within the confines of the state, creating a “political climate in which radical notions of justice are seen as a threat to the very existence of” society, perpetuating the liberal ideological myth that “unity requires homogeneity”.[3] Postanarchism “conceives of a political space which is indeterminate, contingent and heterogeneous – a space whose lines and contours are undecidable and therefore contestable”.[4] Saul Newman defines this postanarchist conception of political space as “a space of becoming”.[4] If we see current conceptions and arrangements of space as frameworks for “dominant political and economic interests,” postanarchist theory explores the “ways in which this hegemonic space is challenged, contested and reconfigured, as well as the fantasies and desires invested in political spaces [4] and looks to the occupation of space as a means to “prefigure and create autonomous alternatives”.[5]

Newman sees postanarchist political space as “based around the project of autonomy”.[4] In keeping with a postanarchist affinity with contingency, Newman theorizes autonomy as “an ongoing project of political spatialization, rather than a fully achieved form of social organization”.[4] These autonomous political spaces can be considered insurrectional as they “defy the idea of a plan imposed upon society by institutions”,[4] engendering forms of organization that emerge “spontaneously, and which people determine freely for themselves”.[4] These insurrectional spaces work to foster alternative ways of being while continually undermining the logic of hegemony as they work non- rather than counter-hegemonically, exposing the cracks within the “dominant social, political, and economic order”.[4] A distinctly postanarchist conception of politics can be “understood in terms of an ongoing project of autonomy and a pluralization of insurrectional spaces and desires”,[4] exemplifying “prefigurative practices, which seek to realize alternatives to capitalism and statism within the current order”.[4] Newman sees this “re-situation of the political dimension away from the hegemony of the state [...] as central to postanarchism”.[4]

In his book, Gramsci is Dead, Richard Day examines many such insurrectional spaces and non-hegemonic movements and practices. The TAZ concept is one such example and the utilization of such a tactic is seen regularly throughout contemporary society. Critical of the fleeting and potentially over-individualistic nature of the TAZ, Day posits the Semi-Permanent Autonomous Zone, the SPAZ, as a potential mode of organization that is “neither utterly fleeting nor totally enslaving”,[5] “breaking out of the temporary/permanent dichotomy”.[5] Day theorizes the SPAZ as “a form that allows the construction of non-hegemonic alternatives to the neoliberal order here and now, with an eye to surviving the dangers of capture, exploitation and division inevitably arising from within and being imposed from without”.[5] The SPAZ embraces a postanarchist spirit of contingency and indeterminancy, fostering relationships and links of solidarity based on voluntary association without falling into the trap of hegemony by refusing the aspiration of total permanence.

Gustav Landauer’s concept of structural renewal features prominently in much postanarchist theory and practice, influencing concepts such as Day’s idea of the SPAZ, as well as the deeply ethical aspects of postanarchist theory and practice. Structural renewal advocates for the creation of new institutions “alongside, rather than inside, existing modes of social organization,” involving “a complementary pairing of disengagement and reconstruction”.[5] Structural renewal aims to reduce the efficacy and reach of hegemonic institutions “by withdrawing energy from them and rendering them redundant,” appearing “simultaneously as a negative force working against the colonization of everyday life by the state and corporations, and as a positive force acting to reverse this process via mutual aid”.[5]

Most important for contemporary postanarchism is Landauer’s analysis of the state as a “certain relation between people: a mode of behaviour and interaction”.[6] Following this logic, the state can be “transcended only through a certain spiritual transformation of relationships,” without such a transformation “the state will be simply reinvented in a different form during the revolution”.[6] Postanarchism consistently takes up this notion, seeing the political as intimately tied up with the social and guided by a deeply ethical framework geared towards transforming social space. According to Landauer’s analysis, although it is possible to “rid ourselves of particular states, we can never rid ourselves of the state form [as] it is always already with us, and so must be consistently and carefully warded off”.[5] Postanarchism recognizes that “states require subjects who desire not only to repress others, but also desire their own repression,” and that, consequently, “warding off the state [...] means primarily enabling and empowering individuals and communities”.[5] Postanarchism takes up the problem of voluntary servitude in order to figure out “how to get more people in more places to overcome not only their desire to dominate others, but their own desire to be dominated as well”.[5] This involves an “unbinding of the self from his or her own attachment to power”[4] and the creation of spaces and subjectivities “which rely upon an amoral, postmodern ethics of shared commitments based on affinities rather than duties based on hegemonic imperatives”.[5]

Day identifies the “interlocking ethico-political commitments of groundless solidarity and infinite responsibility” as central to postanarchist ethics. He defines groundless solidarity as “seeing one’s own privilege and oppression in the context of other privileges and oppressions, as so interlinked that no particular form of inequality [...] can be postulated as the central axis of struggle,” while infinite responsibility “means always being open to the challenge of another Other, always being ready to hear a voice that points out how one is not adequately in solidarity, despite one’s best efforts”.[5] He identifies these commitments as central in guiding affinity-based relationships, rejecting a hegemonic conception of community in order to embrace “the coming communities, in the plural”.[5] Postanarchism conceives of ethics as “open to a certain spontaneous and free self-determination by individuals, rather than imposed upon them from above through abstract moral codes and strictures”,[6] conceiving of freedom as an “ongoing ethical practice, in which one’s relationship with oneself and others is subject to a continual ethical interrogation”.[6] The intensely ethical dimension of postanarchism allows for the conception of a “system of networks and popular bases, organized along rhizomatic lines [...] and populated by subjects who neither ask for gifts from the state [...] nor seek state power for themselves,” conceiving of movements that “take up ethico-political positions while refusing to try to coercively generalize these positions by making foundational claims”,[5] empowering subjects that are capable of thriving outside of existing paradigms and contributing to real and lasting social and political change.

Postanarchism is intensely critical of current forms of representative democracy, “favouring people’s self-organization”[6] and seeking to “open the political space to alternative and more democratic modes of democracy”,[6] understanding democracy not “primarily as a mechanism for expressing a unified popular will, but rather as a way of pluralizing this will – opening up within it different and even dissenting spaces and perspectives”.[6] This notion of democracy beyond the state is in keeping with postanarchist ethics and commitments, “imposing a certain ethical responsibility upon people themselves to resolve, through ongoing practices of negotiation, tensions that may arise”.[6] Saul Newman emphasizes democracy’s own “perfectibility,” the fact that democracy “always points to a horizon beyond, to the future,” that it is “always ‘to come’”.[6] He states that, “we should never be satisfied with existing forms taken by democracy and should always be working towards a greater democratization in the here and now; towards an ongoing articulation of democracy’s im/possible promise of perfect liberty with perfect equality".[6] This is a “politics of anti-politics [...] outside, and ultimately transcendent of, the state and all hierarchical structures of power and authority,” requiring the continual “development of alternative libertarian and egalitarian structures and practices, coupled with a constant awareness of the authoritarian potential that lies in any structure".[6]

See also


  1. ^ Antliff, Allan (2007). "Anarchy, Power, and Poststructuralism". SubStance. 36 (2): 56–66. doi:10.1353/sub.2007.0026.
  2. ^ Martin, Edward J. (2003). "Rev. of Postmodern Anarchism by Lewis Call". Perspectives on Political Science. 32 (3): 186. doi:10.1080/10457090309604847. ISSN 1045-7097. Retrieved 2018-06-01.
  3. ^ [Alfred, Taiaiake. Wasase: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005. p. 112]
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Newman, Saul. “Postanarchism and Space: Revolutionary fantasies and autonomous zones.” Planning Theory 10 (2011): 344-365]
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m [Day, Richard. Gramsci is Dead: Anarchistic Currents in the Newest Social Movements. New York: Pluto Press, 2005. p. 42, 123-129, 140-141, 163-177, 203]
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k [Newman, Saul. The Politics of Postanarchism. Edinburgh University Press, 2010. p.139-180]

Further reading

  • Rousselle, Duane and Evren, Süreyyya (eds) Post-Anarchism: A Reader. London: Pluto Press. (2011)
  • Call, Lewis (2002). Postmodern Anarchism. Lexington: Lexington Books. ISBN 0-7391-0522-1.
  • Fabbri, Lorenzo. "From Inoperativeness to Action: On Giorgio Agamben’s Anarchism", "Radical Philosophy Review," Volume 4, Number 1, 2011.
  • Ferguson, Kathy (1984). The Feminist Case against Bureaucracy. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 0-87722-400-5.
  • Franks, Benjamin (June 2007). "Postanarchism: A critical assessment". Journal of Political Ideologies. Routledge. 12 (2). ISSN 1356-9317.
  • May, Todd (1994). The Political Philosophy of Poststructuralist Anarchism. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0-271-01046-0.
  • Mümken, Jürgen (2003). Freiheit, Individualität und Subjektivität. Staat und Subjekt in der Postmoderne aus anarchistischer Perspektive. Frankfurt am Main: Edition AV. ISBN 3-936049-12-2.
  • Mümken (editor), Jürgen (2005). Anarchismus in der Postmoderne. Beiträge zur anarchistischen Theorie und Praxis. Frankfurt am Main: Edition AV, Verlag. ISBN 3-936049-37-8.
  • Newman, Saul (2001). From Bakunin to Lacan. Anti-Authoritarianism and the Dislocation of Power. Lexington: Lexington Books. ISBN 0-7391-0240-0.
  • Moore, John (2004). I Am Not a Man, I Am Dynamite!: Friedrich Nietzsche and the Anarchist Tradition. Autonomedia. ISBN 1-57027-121-6.
  • Michel Onfray La puissance d'exister, Paris, Grasset, (2006) ISBN 2-246-71691-8
  • Michel Onfray Politique du rebelle: traité de résistance et d'insoumission (1997)
  • Michel Onfray La philosophie féroce : exercices anarchistes. (2004)
  • Colson, Daniel. "Anarchist Subjectivities and Modern Subjectivity".
  • Colson, Daniel. "Deleuze et le renouveau de la pensée libertaire"
  • Call, Lewis et al. "Post-anarchism today", Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies, volume 1, 2010.
  • Springer, S. 2012. "Violent accumulation: a postanarchist critique of property, dispossession, and the state of exception in neoliberalizing Cambodia." Annals of the Association of American Geographers.

External links

  • Archive of post-anarchist articles at the Anarchist Library
Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Post-anarchism"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA