“Malatesta in Brexitland: locating the geographies of democracy”

By Federico Ferretti, Richard J White, and Anthony Ince

This paper aims to make a timely and original contribution to the long-standing debates regarding the interrelationships(s) between democracy, anarchism and the state in two key ways. The first is by exploring more fully the work of Errico Malatesta, particularly focused on critical discussions around ‘the nation’, ‘federation’ and ‘democracy’. Cognisant of these Malatestian insights, the second part of the paper reflects a resurgent interest in anarchist geographies more generally, and foregrounds a contextual focus of the divisive politics associated with Britain’s attempts to leave the European Union (‘Brexit’). Here the paper argues for the need to recognise that the crisis of representative democracy is always social and spatial in nature. This is illustrated primarily by highlighting the importance the state places by repeatedly appealing to popular “nationalist” sentiments. In doing so, the state draws on a spatial mechanism of control, one which relies heavily on imagined and real geographical senses of sovereignty, territory and boundaries. Thinking though the implications that a more explicitly spatial reading of democracy, anarchism and the state presents, the paper concludes by considering how post-statist democratic futures might be better envisaged and enacted more fully.


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