Best of Social Anarchism

Social Anarchism 2

Just got my copy of The Best of Social Anarchism, a collection of articles and reviews from Social Anarchism, the US published review that has been coming out since 1980. It has some great stuff in it, some of which I had forgotten about, including a critical survey of the so-called “new anarchism” by Brian Morris, not to be confused with Volume Three of my anthology, Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, The New Anarchism (1974-2012). The only article in both anthologies is Jeff Ferrell’s “Against the Law: Anarchist Criminology,” so there isn’t much overlap, which is nice. It’s very reasonably priced, and covers a very wide range of topics showing the continuing relevance of anarchism today.


The Best of Social Anarchism also includes my essay on “Chomsky’s Contributions to Anarchism,” which was part of a special issue of Social Anarchism marking the publication of Chomsky on Anarchism, edited by Barry Pateman, a collection of essays by and interviews with Noam Chomsky focusing on anarchist related topics. The introductory note to my piece on Chomsky incorrectly identifies it as the introduction to Chomsky on Anarchism, which was actually written by Barry Pateman. The introductory note also makes my essay on Chomsky sound much more critical than it really is (see for yourself by clicking this link).


I don’t “divorce” Chomsky’s linguistic ideas from any relevance to political ideology but simply quote his own remarks to the effect that his linguistic theories are only “suggestive as to the form that a libertarian social theory might assume.” Some of the political implications of his linguistic theories are drawn out by Chomsky himself in one of the selections I included in Volume Three of the Anarchism anthology, under the title “Human Nature and Human Freedom” (which incidentally is not included in Chomsky on Anarchism). When I suggest that perhaps Chomsky’s most lasting contribution to radical political theory is his analysis and critique of the role of the media and intellectuals in modern society, “manufacturing the consent” of the general population to their own exploitation, I refer to Chomsky’s own acknowledgement that much of this critique originated with the anarchist revolutionary, Michael Bakunin, who warned that rule by intellectuals would constitute “the most aristocratic, despotic, arrogant and elitist of all regimes.”

Michael Bakunin

Michael Bakunin

My description of Chomsky as an anarchist “fellow-traveller” is again a quote from Chomsky, not my description. I also give credit to Chomsky for introducing many people, including myself, to anarchist ideas, particularly the constructive achievements of the anarchists in the Spanish Revolution and Civil War. My comment that Chomsky’s contributions to specifically anarchist ideas are modest is consistent with Chomsky’s own self-evaluations, and not an attempt to belittle his role in making anarchist ideas better known to the general public.

Volume 3

Anarchism Volume Three Coming Out Soon

I sent the manuscript for Volume Three of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas to Black Rose Books in September 2010. I hope it will be published soon. The mock up cover pictured above will hopefully be changed to show that Volume Three goes all the way to 2010, with a short piece on the 2008-2009 revolt in Greece added to the chapter on direct action. Below I reproduce the Preface and the Table of Contents. Volume Three concludes with my Afterward in which I analyze the history, development and evolution of anarchist ideas from the ancient Chinese Daoists to the present day.

Preface to Volume Three

This is the third and final volume of my anthology of anarchist writings from ancient China to the present day. Volume One, subtitled From Anarchy to Anarchism (300CE-1939), begins with an ancient Daoist text, “Neither Lord Nor Subject” (300CE), and ends with the positive accomplishments and defeat of the Spanish anarchists in the Spanish Revolution and Civil War (1936-1939). Volume Two, subtitled The Emergence of the New Anarchism (1939-1977), deals with the remarkable resurgence of anarchist ideas and movements following the Second World War, particularly during the 1960s. This final volume canvasses the many different currents in anarchist thought from the 1970s to the present day and another remarkable resurgence in anarchist ideas and action within the context of global justice movements against neoliberalism.

These movements against neoliberalism are commonly grouped under the rubric of anti-globalization, an inaccurate description for the reasons set forth by David Graeber in Selection 1. While anarchists and assorted left libertarians oppose the global dominance of corporate capitalism, they remain committed internationalists, seeking justice, freedom and equality for all. Anarchists have always been critics of capitalist exploitation and continue to emphasize the interconnections between capitalism, the state, imperialism and domination (Selections 16 & 42 and Chapter 9).

Anarchists have been at the forefront of transnational and transclass liberation movements (Selection 2 and Chapter 11), seeking to develop new and imaginative ways of achieving social liberation, from creating “temporary autonomous zones” (Selection 3) to antiauthoritarian forms of direct democracy (Chapter 2). Anarchists have continued to champion various forms of direct action as means of self-empowerment (Chapter 3), adapting anarchist tactics to a variety of situations and circumstances around the globe (Chapter 11).

Anarchists have sought to uncover the origins of domination, in patriarchal societies and incipient state forms with self-reinforcing and interlocking hierarchies of power (Selections 14 & 29), exploring the interrelationships between the state and the subjection of women (Chapter 7), technology, power and capitalism (Chapter 5), and the human subjugation of nature (Selection 23). At the same time, anarchists have continued to present positive alternatives to the status quo, such as human scale technology (Selection 21), community and worker’s self-management (Chapter 10) and bioregionalism (Selection 25), culminating in a vision of an ecological society where people live in harmony with nature and each other (Selections 23, 26 & 27).

Rejecting the authoritarian hierarchical relationships of exploitation and domination inherent to capitalist economic forms, anarchists have presented a number of libertarian economic proposals, such as directly democratic control through community assemblies (Selection 45), consumer and producer cooperatives (Selection 46), and the elimination of the wage system (Selection 47). As Luciano Lanza argues in Selection 48, in the context of his critique of proposals that emphasize the need for a planned economy, anarchist economic proposals have always sought to maximize individual freedom within the context of a radical egalitarianism.

The idea of anarchy as a counter-cultural current and alternative aesthetic sensibility is explored by Richard Sonn and Max Blechman in Chapter 8. Ba Jin reflects on the negative relationship between authority and creativity (Selection 34). Edward Herman, Noam Chomsky’s long time collaborator, defends their analysis of the corporate media as one of the primary means of manufacturing consent to state policies and capitalist economic relations (Selection 37). Anarchy as a form of social transgression and personal liberation is discussed by Jeff Farrell in his piece on anarchist criminology (Selection 17). Similar ideas have been developed within the context of the anti-psychiatry movement (Selection 28).

Notions of personal and social identity as both constraints on autonomy and as a basis for oppressed groups to further their own liberation, whether psychiatric patients, women, nonheterosexuals or people of colour, are discussed by Alan Mandell (Selection 28), Jamie Heckert (Selection 33), and Ashanti Alston (Selection 61). Richard Day explores recent attempts to go beyond “identity politics,” utilizing post-modernist concepts of groundless solidarity and infinite responsibility (Selection 69).

In the concluding chapter, Todd May and Saul Newman set forth the case for a post-structuralist anarchism (Selections 63 & 64). That perspective is criticized by John Zerzan within the context of his general critique of technology and civilization (Selection 67). Jesse Cohn challenges the accuracy and fairness of the post-structuralist critique of of anarchism (Selection 65), while Daniel Colson extends that critique by showing the connections between post-modernist approaches to anarchism and the “classical” anarchism of Proudhon and Bakunin (Selection 68). Mark Leier discusses the relevance of Bakunin’s anarchism today in the context of his critique of the “post-structuralists” of his own day.

In the Afterword, I discuss the continuity and change in anarchist thought documented in the three volumes of this anthology. Throughout these volumes, I have tried to present the anarchists in their own words, but within their historical context. I believe that they are more than capable of speaking for themselves and that readers can form their own judgments without the editor trying to impose a predetermined conceptual framework. While I have included material on a wide variety of topics, I have focused on anarchist writings that emphasize anarchism as an alternative kind of politics, whether on the personal, social or international level, eschewing more simplistic approaches which conceive of anarchism as simply an “anti-politics” with little or no positive content of any lasting value. I agree with Kropotkin that various anarchist currents can by perceived running throughout human history, representing anti-authoritarian approaches to social change and alternative forms of organization in opposition to the hierarchies of power, control, domination and exploitation characteristic of so-called “civilization.” I hope that the readers of these volumes will come to appreciate the variety and richness of anarchist ideas, and will continue to be inspired by them. Additional material can be found at my blog,, for those interested in continuing their exploration of anarchist ideas.

Table of Contents





1. David Graeber: The New Anarchists (2002)

2.  John P. Clark: The Politics of Liberation (1980)

3.  Hakim Bey: Temporary Autonomous Zones (1985)

4.  The Gaucho Anarchist Federation: Especifismo (2000)

5.  Alfredo Errandonea: Anarchism in the 21st Century (2001)


6.  David Graeber: Democracy and Consensus (2004)

7.  Eduardo Colombo: On Voting

8.  Amedeo Bertolo: Libertarian Democracy (1999)


9.  Murray Bookchin: From Direct Action to Direct Democracy (1979-82)

10.  Alfredo Bonanno: From Riot to Insurrection (1985)

11.  Andrea Papi: Violence and Anti-Violence (2004)

12.  Benjamin Franks: The Direct Action Ethic (2003)

13.  A.G. Schwarz: The Revolt in Greece (2010)


14.  Harold Barclay: Anarchy and State Formation (2003)

15.  Alan Ritter: Anarchy, Law and Freedom (1980)

16.  Alan Carter: The Logic of State Power (2000)

17.  Jeff Ferrell: Against the Law: Anarchist Criminology (1998)

18.  Uri Gordon: Israel, Palestine and Anarchist Dilemmas (2007)


19.  Campaign Against the Model West Germany: The Nuclear State (1979)

20.  David Watson: Nuclear Power (1979)

21.  C. George Benello: Putting the Reins on Technology (1982)

22.  Brian Tokar: Biotechnology (2003)


23.  Murray Bookchin: Toward an Ecological Society (1974)

24.  Noam Chomsky: Human Nature and Human Freedom (1975)

25.  Graham Purchase: Anarchism and Bioregionalism (1997)

26.  Chaia Heller: Ecology and Desire (1999)

27.  Peter Marshall: Liberation Ecology (2007)


28.  Alan Mandell: Anti-Psychiatry and the Search for Autonomy (1979)

29.  Rossella Di Leo: On the Origins of Male Domination (1983)

30.  Nicole Laurin-Frenette: The State Family/The Family State (1982)

31.  Ariane Gransac: Women’s Liberation (1984)

32.  Carole Pateman: The Sexual Contract (1988)

33.  Jamie Heckert: Erotic Anarchy (2006)


34.  Ba Jin: Against the Powers that Be (1984)

35.  Richard Sonn: Culture and Anarchy (1994)

36.  Max Blechman: Toward an Anarchist Aesthetic (1994)

37.  Edward S. Herman: The Propaganda Model—A Retrospective (2003)


38.  Brian Martin: Capitalism and Violence (2001)

39.  Normand Baillargeon: Free Market Libertarianism (2001)

40.  Peter Marshall: Anarchism and Capitalism (1993)

41.  Interprofessional Workers’ Union: Russian Capitalism (1999)


42.  Madrid Declaration: For a New Libertarianism (2001)

43.  Luc Bonet: Beyond the Revolutionary Model (2005)

44.  Graham Purchase: Green Anarcho-Syndicalism (1995)

45.  Murray Bookchin: Municipal Control (1986)

46.  Kevin Carson: Mutualism Reconsidered (2007)

47.  Adam Buick and John Crump: The Alternative to Capitalism (1986)

48.  Luciano Lanza: Settling Accounts with Economics (2003)


49.  Sharif Gemie: Beyond the Borders (2003)

50.  An African Anarchist Manifesto (1981)

51.  Sam Mbah and I.E. Igariwey: African Anarchism (1997)

52.  Mok Chiu Yu: An Anarchist in Hong Kong (2001)

53.  Mihara Yoko: Anarchism in Japan (1993)

54.  Kurdistan Anarchist Concept (1999)

55.  The Cuban Libertarian Syndicalist Association: Anarchism and the Cuban Revolution (1960/2003)

56.  Ruben G. Prieto: Anarchism in Uruguay (2001)

57.  Marina Sitrin: Horizontalidad in Argentina (2003)

58.  Andrew Flood: What is Different About the Zapatistas (2001)

59.  CIPO-RFM: Enemies of Injustice

60.  Colectivo Alas de Xue: Strengthening the Anarcho-Indian Alliance (1997)

61.  Ashanti Alston: Black Anarchism (2003)

62.  Harsha Walia: No One is Illegal (2006)


63.  Todd May: Post-Structuralism and Anarchism (1989)

64.  Saul Newman: The Politics of Post-Anarchism (2003)

65.  Jesse Cohn: Anarchism and Essentialism (2003)

66.  Mark Leier: Bakunin, Class and Post-Anarchism (2009)

67.  John Zerzan: An Abolitionist Perspective (2003)

68.  Daniel Colson: Belief and Modernity (2005)

69.  Richard Day: Groundless Solidarity and Infinite Responsibility (2005)


Robert Graham: The Anarchist Current: Continuity and Change in Anarchist Thought



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