Living Anarchy: Theory and Practice in Anarchist Movements


Shantz, Jeff


Ph.D York University (Ontario)Sociology; Kwantlen University College

Anarchism stands as one of the the most vital social movements of the twentieth century. Yet the lack, and growing, contemporary movement remain obscured. Lost in recent accounts are the creative and constructive practices undertaken daily by anarchist organizers seeking a world free from violence, oppression and exploitation. An examination of some of these constructive anarchist projects, which provide examples of politics grounded in everyday resistance, offers insights into real world attempts to radically transform social relations in the here and now of everyday life.

In order to bring their ideas to life, anarchists create working examples. To borrow the radical union phrase, they are "forming the structure of the new world in the shell of the old." These experiments in living, popularly referred to as "DIY" (Do-It-Yourself), are the means by which contemporary anarchists withdraw their consent from authoritarian institutions and begin contracting other relationships. This book represents the first detailed analysis of contemporary anarchist movements in North America. It critically examines the possibilities and problems facing attempts to build DIY community-based social and political movements, which seek radically to transform social relations. The work also engages theoretical developments around these emerging political practices

The text is organized to illustrate the development of the diversity of anarchist strategies and tactics over time beginning with shorter term or temporary, and often more dramatic, practices such as black blocs and street reclaiming before moving to a discussion of more durable projects such as alternative media projects, free spaces and infoshops. Attention is also given to anarchist involvement in non-anarchist community-based movements, including anti-poverty and squatting struggles. The case studies also include a look at do-it-yourself anarchist food preparation and publishing. Because the presence of the state and the possibility of repression is a constant threat facing anarchists a chapter is devoted to the criminalization of dissent. Finally attention is given to debates over organization within anarchist circles and theoretical attempts to understand anarchist practices as attempts to develop autonomy from authoritarian social relations via “transfer cultures” in which self-determined community values are opposed to processes of capitalist valorization.

Politics, Sociology/Social Movements, Social Analysis, Social Relations, Political Economy, Community Organization
Release Date: 
Cloth: 978-1-933146-53-9 /193314653-2
Trim Size: 
6 x 9

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