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Anarchy as a Way of Life

Lecturer: Valery Vinogradovs

Originally Taught: Winter School 2021

Anarchy is ordinarily associated with the breakdown of social operations and order, with the possibility of personal and collective chaos. Why is anarchy mistaken for disorder and uncertainty, while its proponents seek ways to embrace original order and understanding? In our circumstances, this common lapse may be explained by the phenomenon of contemporary urban life and culture, sustained by a chain of man-made body-structures. Gyms and supermarkets, schools and universities, public services and transport, the government and police forces, -- all are hierarchical structures inculcating us with a sense of authority’s legitimacy. Anarchists, on the other hand, are persons who entertain, design and practice ways of thinking, living and cooperation that assent to no worldly authority, neither private nor centralised, who trust neither currency nor law. A search for an anarchistic sensibility and lifestyle, therefore, is defined by hands-on resistance to the influence of hegemonic values, left or right, praxis, and a mode of self-consciousness.

Our short course investigates the basic principles of anarchistic thought, its historical tenacity and niche, internal tensions, as well as examples and criticisms:

  • Responding to Authority: Diogenes the Dog to Plato, Daoism to Confucianism
  • Renaissance of Doubt: La Boetie and Montaigne, Servitude and Custom

- Etienne de La Boetie (1975). The Politics of Disobedience: The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude. Translated by Harry Kurz. Montreal: Black Rose Books

- Diogenes Laertius (1925). Lives of Eminent Philosophers vol. 2. London: William Heinemann

- Lao-Tzu (1996). Tao Te Ching. Translated by j.h. mcdonald. Public Domain

- Michel de Montaigne (1993). The Complete Essays. London: Penguin Classic

2.1 Anarchy, Enlightenment, Progress: Godwin’s Revolution

2.2 The State as Criminal: Bakunin’s Revolution

- William Godwin (1793). An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. London: G.G.J. and J. Robinson

- Mikhail Bakunin (1873). Statism and Anarchy. Berlin: Shady Books

3.1 Collectivism: Proudhon

3.2 Individualism: Stirner and Thoreau

- Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1890). What is Property? New York: The Humboldt Publishing Co.

- Max Stirner (1907). The Ego and His Own. New York: Benj. R. Tucker

- Henry David Thoreau (2000).”Resistance to Civil Government”. In Transcendentalism: A Reader, edited by Joel Myerson. Oxford: OUP.

4.1 Garden of Love: Tolstoy, Armand, Executions, Nietzsche-

4.2 Criticisms

- Lewis Call (2001). “Toward an Anarchy of Becoming: Post-Modern Anarchism in Nietzschean Philosophy”. Journal of Nietzsche Studies vol. 21: pp. 48-76

- Theodore Christov (2016). “Hobbes against Anarchy”. In Before Anarchy: Hobbes and his Critics in Modern International Thought. Cambridge: CUP

- Émile Armand (1956). Anarchist Individualism and Amorous Comradeship. Public Domain

- Melissa Lane (2017). “Antianarchia: Interpreting Political Thought in Plato”. Plato Journal vol. 16: pp. 59-74

- Benjamin Noys (2008). “Through a Glass Darkly: Alain Badiou’s Critique of Anarchism”. Anarchist Studies vol. 16 (2): pp. 107-120

- Robert Nozick (1980). Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Oxford: Blackwell

- Leo Tolstoy (1900). On Anarchy. Public Domain

5.1 Post(-Lacan-Foucault-Deleuze)Anarchisms

- Simone Bignall (2016). “On Property and the Philosophy of Poverty: Agamben and Anarchism.” In Agamben and Radical Politics, edited by Daniel McLoughlin. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

- Judith Butler and Jamie Heckert (2011). “On Anarchism: an Interview with Judith Butler”. In Anarchism & Sexuality, edited by Jamie Heckert and Richard Cleminson. London: Routledge.

- Lewis Call (2002). Post-Modern Anarchism. Oxford: Lexington Books.

- Saul Newman (2015). Postanarchism. Cambridge: Polity Press