Constructing Anarchisms: A New Phase

This project continues work from the Libertarian Labyrinth.

I've been wrestling with the idea of an introductory site, an Anarchism 101, for a long time. The problem, of course, is that any attempt to condense anarchism down to its rudiments is likely, given the complexities of the tradition we have inherited, to appear as a kind of partisan attack on all those who might disagree.

It seems necessary that each of us who are drawn to the beautiful idea of anarchy should find the means to apply that idea in our own circumstances, to “make anarchism our own” or even “make our own anarchism.” This was the problem that we tried to address in the original “Constructing Anarchisms” workshop, but it was only possible to take things so far.

A Schematic Anarchism” was an attempt to establish a clearer foundation for explorations of a similar type. Where the proposed final exercise for “Constructing Anarchisms” rested on the practical, but not terribly elegant notion that if you clarify enough of the terms you are going to use to define your “anarchism,” your general clarity will at least increase, the follow-up was bold about proposing not just a minimal set of basic terms, but also their fundamental relations. The resulting “formula” is very abstract, but seems to be holding up to the rigors of application, at least as a means of examining historical texts.

It is, however, very abstract — and its utility as a means of addressing our lack of introductory resources remains unproven. So I have been on the lookout for a logical way to return to the experiment originally proposed for “Constructing Anarchisms” with the new toolkit in hand.

This is where things stood when recent events provoked a bit of a stamped toward the Fediverse and I started thinking about how best to adjust the kind of work I have been doing on the beleaguered birdsite so that it was findable and useful to readers on Mastodon. I'm still tinkering with tag formats for auto-posted Wordpress posts, as it's obvious that reach in the Fediverse depends a good deal on that kind of “packaging.” But one of the things I noticed while exploring the present use of hashtags was the lack or inaccessibility of introductory material on anarchism seems even more striking there than on other social media platforms.

Right away, that seemed like at least a good excuse to see what I could provide in the way of findable, relatively well organized introductory material on anarchism. Then it occurred to me that it might be more fun to tackle the problem with company. From there, quick rethinking that unachieved third phase of “Constructing Anarchisms” was enough to get me where I find myself today, with a new WriteFreely instance, a desire to tell some comparatively simple stories about anarchism and a hope that some other folks will want to work with me, or at least in parallel with my efforts.

I have established the site and started to sketch out some minimum principles for collaboration. It is important to me that others involved in this effort center anarchy in their anarchisms, that they recognize the anarchist tradition as a living tradition, with its best manifestations almost certainly to come, and that they see a role for synthesis in the further development of anarchist projects and tendencies. Beyond that, all I'm really looking for is others who are willing to take on the task of exploring the rudiments of anarchism. That might take the form of working through the construction of an anarchism as it was proposed in the original “Constructing Anarchisms” workshop—offering an opportunity for those who wanted to work through that process—but it could certainly take other forms. I am going to spend at least part of my time attempting to build up a sort of generic anarchism, making use of the “schematic anarchism” toolkit. But I am also exploring a range of other possible projects: close readings of “classic” texts, explorations of concepts in the style of the Anarchist Encyclopedia, brief introductions to historical anarchists, etc. Some of that material may end up on the Libertarian Labyrinth site, where it is likely that at least my contributions to this project will also be archived. For now, I'll play all of that by ear and refine things as inspiration strikes.

Anyone already interested in maintain their own blog as part of this project is welcome to contact me through the Libertarian Labyrinth.

More soon.