Anarchism and the politics of utopia

By Ruth Kinna

There is a curious paradox at the heart of contemporary debates about the relationship between utopian and anarchist studies. While anarchistic ideas have gained some purchase in utopian studies, there is a strong anti-utopian trend in modern anarchism. What is puzzling about this paradox is that both positions seem to be shaped by a common set of concerns. The anarchistic aspect of modern utopianism is marked by an engagement with an imaginative and open-ended exploration of alternative ways of being. Valérie Fournier’s embrace of ‘grassroots utopianism’ flows from a rejection of utopias that prioritise ‘destinations’ over ‘journeys’ and ‘“better states”’ over ‘movement and process’ The anti-utopian bent of modern anarchism is shaped by a worry that utopianism threatens precisely these kinds of practice.  Jason McQuinn’s anarchist treatment of utopianism is informed by a suspicion of ends. All preconceived ideals, he argues, necessarily constrain free thought. Anarchists must, therefore, take particular care when discussing the nature of anarchy for any such discussion runs the risk of embedding in the  analysis an ‘idealized, hypostatized vision.

Categories: Anarchism/Anti-State

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