Libertarian Labyrinth

Margins and Problems: Anarchic Encounters with the Anarchist Past

Let’s say that, taking inspiration from Déjacque’s bilge-rat, we decide that our present experience of anarchism is too constraining—and decide to scuttle this particular vessel. What happens next? As the anarchist past floods in, how do we make sure we stay at least afloat enough that a bit of ideological constraint doesn’t become the least of our worries?

Margins and Problems: Reflections on “Constructing an Anarchism”

Reflections on “Constructing an Anarchism”

The first phase of “Constructing Anarchisms” was an experiment—and, I think, a relatively successful one. But it was also a fairly complex experiment, for which there were not perhaps many precedents, so, despite the fact that it often felt like the commentary on method was overwhelming the project itself, it is probably worth reviewing and reflecting a bit here, so we can begin again with a clearer shared sense of the project moving forward.

Anarchist History: Margins and Problems

from Libertarian Labyrinth

We opened our year-long experiment in making anarchism « our own » with a lengthy and not always straightforward example, as I both laid out some of the basic concepts that figure in my own synthetic approach to anarchist ideas and attempted to highlight a range of questions, concerns and difficulties that others could expect to encounter in their own attempts to put the material of the anarchist past to present use. It was, frankly, a bit meta at times—as perhaps it had to be.

Constructing an Anarchism: « My Anarchism »

But the butterfly motif...what does it mean? We need to know!

from Libertarian Labyrinth

It was sort of a wild idea: to propose a year-long course on anarchist ideas, on short notice, for an audience of whoever shows up, and to start off with the elaboration, largely on the fly, of an idiosyncratic anarchist synthesis, drawing on a wide variety of source material. But here we are, finishing up that first and probably most difficult phase of things.

Constructing an Anarchism: Encounter and Entente

from Libertarian Labyrinth

I’m going to tackle two concepts together this week—and start to set up the final summary for this portion of the workshop as well. As an experimental space assembled quickly and redecorated on the fly, “Constructing an Anarchism” has served me pretty well. But it was a space designed for more activity, more encounters with other participants, than it has actually seen—and I would be lying if I said it hasn’t felt just a bit cavernous when I give myself time to think about it. So I want to get the last two components of my anarchism on the table and then perhaps move fairly quickly into the summary.

Constructing an Anarchism: Guarantism (Application)

In resultant anarchy the basic social unit will be marriage with Proudhonian analysis.

from Libertarian Labyrinth

I had anticipated the need for one last serious theoretical intervention at this point, in order to set up the comparatively programmatic elements in the remaining posts. The emergence of some new details in the “social system” section of Proudhon’s Justice—as discussed in the last post—offers a different and more direct path forward. But let’s start by quickly examining the road we won’t be traveling.

Constructing an Anarchism: Guarantism (Theory)

from Libertarian Labyrinth

For Charles Fourier, Guarantism was one of the stages between Civilization, the undesirable present state of things, and Harmony, a state in which the harmonious expression of the passions would occur more or less naturally, thanks to lessons learned and tendencies developed along the way. Guarantism wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough that he resisted describing it too fully, lest we be tempted by its relative splendors.

Constructing an Anarchism: Individualism

Regina : "Shawn, stop trying to make Proudhon happen! It's not going to happen!"

from Libertarian Labyrinth

We’re in a stage of the construction of this first anarchism where we have to focus on the ideological and practical implications of the theory of collective force and unity-collectivities we have been exploring. I had originally intended to address these questions in a different manner, focusing on the concepts of mutualism and federation, but the concerns remain much the same.

Constructing Anarchisms: Halfway to Anarchism

Are we there yet?

from Libertarian Labyrinth

We’re halfway through the process of constructing our experimental anarchism and, with the hardest part of my work now done, I’ve been spending more time thinking about how we might continue things in 2022, with the work done this year serving as a foundation.

Constructing an Anarchism: Aubaine

from Libertarian Labyrinth

Aubaine is not, like anarchy, one of those notions that anarchists could hardly do without. It perhaps not even, like governmentalism, an old term that anarchists might consider reviving. Proudhon settled on the term in his early critique of property, but his usage was, I think, somewhat idiosyncratic and led Benjamin Tucker in some odds directions in his translation. Frédéric Tufferd made good, if perhaps equally idiosyncratic use of the term in “Unity in Socialism,” but the shift in anarchist language he discussed there would continue—and within a few decades it appears that the term was used in the anarchist press primarily in its more general sense of “windfall” or even “godsend.” So, rather than building this concept into the foundation of the anarchism under construction, it probably makes sense to use our encounter with it as an occasion to clarify a few points already on the table—and then let it go.

Constructing Anarchisms: The Anarchist and «Their Own»

from Libertarian Labyrinth

The level of difficulty in this works varies considerably from post to post—or from paragraph to paragraph—and from moment to moment. Thoroughly stuck in the middle of this post, for example, I turned to the material on collective force and worked through it in record time. Then I puttered at translation and went to bed. Or tried to go to bed. Got up and re-outlined the opening for this post. Went back to bed. Got up again and scribbled a bit more in a notebook. Made a bit of headway the next day. Ran errands. Took the afternoon ramble—and came back with the outline for a short, but potentially book on individualism and anarchist practice…

Constructing an Anarchism: Collective Force

from Libertarian Labyrinth

In general, I’ve had pretty good luck keeping up with the demands of the project, despite all of the distractions of multiple crises. This weekend I’m running a bit low on steam. So the post connecting the discussion of governmentalism with that of collective force will follow this post—which is perhaps not a bad thing—and should then be followed by a post discussing the polity-form, before I get to next week’s discussion of the question of the aubaines and exploitation.

Constructing an Anarchism: Governmentalism

from Libertarian Labyrinth

GovernmentalismArchy, particularly in the political realm; the organization of social relations according to the principle of authority or governmental principle, as well as the ideology that holds that form of social organization as superior or necessary. Governmentalism was the target of anarchist critique in the era before the emergence of statism as a primary concern.

Constructing an Anarchism: Synthesis

Constructing an Anarchism: Synthesis

From Libertarian Labyrinth

We have been presenting an understanding of anarchist practice centered around the repeated reconstruction of what it means to “be an anarchist” in each new context. Proudhon claimed that “humanity proceeds by approximations”—and perhaps that’s a useful way to think about anarchism as well, whether we are thinking about the development of shared ideologies and tendencies or about the more individual process of applying anarchistic ideas to the objects of daily practice.

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