Definitions, Pluralism, Anarchy

The discussion that follows this article is interesting.

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from Libertarian Labyrinth

Constructing Anarchisms: Definitions, Pluralism, Anarchy

More Notes for a Preface

The Difficulty of Defining Terms

One of the ideas driving Constructing Anarchisms has been the notion that “anarchy” and “anarchism” mark problems that it is necessary to return to again and again, that “becoming an anarchist” is an ongoing and arguably interminable project. And, while that idea may not be exactly popular in anarchist circles, it is undoubtedly connected to the widely-shared intuition that we must allow anarchist theory and practice to retain some significant degree of pluralism. We certainly expect anarchy to manifest itself in a variety of ways, to be amenable to discussion in a variety of vocabularies, to be approachable from a variety of contexts, etc.—and we seem to share a sense that denying some similarly protean qualities to anarchist theory and practice would be some kind of fundamental betrayal of our anarchic ideals. Critiques of “absolutism”—specifically connecting anarchism and anti-absolutism—are surprisingly common lately in online debate.

So far, so good… We might be led to believe that anarchists are well on our way to confronting the “blind men and the elephant” character of our engagement with anarchy and its practical manifestations. Surely, some widespread outbreak of ideological modesty and an embrace of development through synthesis are just around the corner…

The problem, of course, is that our attachment to pluralism, like our attachment to anarchy, tends to remain largely a matter of intuitions, applied “on the fly” and often rather opportunistically. So, for example, there may be opposition to “absolutism” when it is a question of distinguishing “anarchy” and “democracy,” because “words mean different things to different people,” from those who would wave off the idea of “anarchist” capitalism or nationalism with no hesitation at all. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that, in their treatment of basic concepts and beliefs, anarchists share a tendency to waver between dogmatism and dispersion, with consequences for both individual and collective practice that are all too predictable.


Categories: Anarchism/Anti-State

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