An Other State of Mind is Possible: Anarchism and Psychology

By Vishwam Jamie Heckert

When order is presumed to rely upon centralised authority, anarchy is assumed to mean violent chaos. However, anarchists have long argued, and demonstrated, that other forms of order are both possible and beneficial: ecologically, socially and psychologically. While anarchism has been influential in the development of psychology and is currently being taken up in related disciplines, with the exception of Dennis Fox’s body of work anarchism has yet to be taken seriously in contemporary psychology. Drawing on anarchist, poststructuralist and feminist theory as well as personal experience, this paper offers an introduction to anarchism as not only a public social practice, but also an inner state of mind. This is offered in contrast to the state of mind which underpins the state as institution. The statist state of mind is characterised by representation over and above direct experience, an attraction to domination and control, and a continual reliance on fear. An other state of mind, necessary for and produced by anarchist(ic) social relations, is characterised by vitality (freedom-equality), non-attachment to memory and love. Such a state of mind, I argue, is cultivated through (spiritual) practice both internally and through free, equal and loving relations with others. Such nano- and mico-level processes networked together potentially result in the macro-level anarchist social relations more commonly associated with anarchist thought.


Categories: Anarchism/Anti-State

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