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The cover illustration is Archive, from To Archive the Shape of Memory, 1999-2000, right panel of diptych, digitally reproduced

Lamda print. Copyright Freda Guttman, Freda Guttman is an installation artist whose work has been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions across Canada and internationally. Guttman has a long history of political activism that parallels and intersects with her artistic preoccupations. Presently, she is one of a host of Montreal anarchists involved in Palestinian Solidarity work. This activism is particularly important in a city that is home to many Palestinians struggling to obtain status in Canada against the threat of deportation. Archive is from a series of five installations (Notes From the 20th) inspired by Walter Benjamins belief that we must awaken from the myth of history as progress if we are to free ourselves from hitherto endless cycles of violence and despair a message that the world of the twenty-first century seems reluctant to heed. Allan Antliff

Open form and the abstract imperative: Herbert Read and contemporary anarchist art
ALLAN ANTLIFF allan@uvic.ca ABSTRACT During the 1930s, in a series of articles defending abstraction in art, Herbert Read argued an anarchist society is liberating because the order it generates is founded upon the free creativity of its participants. The precondition of social freedom under anarchism was communism without authoritarianism, an organicist social order without closure in which art could evolve unceasingly, in accord with the impetus of its creators. On this basis, Read regarded the abstract art of his time as amenable to anarchism: because not only did abstracting artists refuse the didactic artistic programs of communism and fascism. They created art that, like anarchism, mirrored the open structure of nature itself. Arguably, Reads legacy lies at this point of intersection, where anarchist art encounters living reality. But whereas Read searched for art that prefigured anarchisms open structures on a metaphorical level, as form, contemporary anarchists are developing art that fosters anarchist politics in practice, by transforming art-making into an egalitarian process that is itself unbounded. Herbert Read discovered, in abstract art, a prefiguration of the open politics of anarchism. Anarchism is characterized by an insistence that you cannot achieve social freedom through authoritarian means. Anarchists call for egalitarian socio-political structures wherein hierarchical relations are done away with and everyone is empowered to participate in the running of society. Anarchist self-governance would involve organizations, communities, associations, networks, and projects on every conceivable scale, from the municipal to the global, freely cooperating in ways that have yet to be worked out. The point is, so long as the participants act through anarchist modes of self-governance, the social structure is a sphere of freedom responsive to the desires of each and every participant. Conflicts will be dealt with through consensual processes rather than the rule of force, and no individual or group will exercise power over any one else.1 Anarchists have often compared this open cooperative social structure to a biological organism. Organisms are living beings which evolve of their own free will through a process of perpetual becoming that is unbounded and nondeterministic. Similarly, an anarchist society emulates this openness through a harmonious social structure that is free, dynamic, and ever-evolving. It 6

OPEN FORM AND THE ABSTRACT IMPERATIVE comes as no surprise, then, that Read would appeal to this metaphor when identifying parallels to anarchism in art. And in this regard, one of his most succinct statements on abstraction, published on the eve of World War 2 in the London Bulletin, is instructive. Read wrote that the abstracting artist was concerned with certain proportions and rhythms inherent in the structure of the universe which govern organic growth. Attuned to these rhythms and proportions, the artist created microcosms which reflect the macrocosm by rejecting an exact presentation of the external world in favour of the essential forms underlying natures casual variations.2 By way of example, he illustrated his discussion with an Untitled painting by Piet Mondrian and a sculpture, Two Forms (1937), by Barbara Hepworth. These works expressed tendencies in abstraction towards, on the one hand, an exploration of natures geometric structures and, on the other, its organic materiality. What united them both was their capacity to evoke, in the viewer, an idea of organicism that lay beyond the object at hand. As Read put it, they expressed the living cosmos held not in a grain of sand, but in a block of stone or a pattern of colours.3

Barbara Hepworth, Two Forms, 1937 So far so good, but Reads considerations were not confined to the art object. He also addressed abstract arts social function by adjudicating what kind of art was desirable on the basis of its amenability to the anarchism of the natural scientist and geographer, Peter Kropotkin. On this basis he brought abstract art under the umbrella of anarchism, and defended it against Communist Party assertions that socialist realism was 7

ANARCHIST STUDIES the only revolutionary art form. Which is to say that the abstract imperative in art was profoundly bound up with the open politics anarchism. In his edited collection of Kropotkins writings, published in 1942, we have a succinct outline of Reads anarchism. The anarchist goal was a society where the needs of everyone would be met through a system of decentralized self-governance and a socialized economy. Whereas Marxists argued the centralized state could serve as a means of realizing socialism, Kropotkin argued the state was an authoritarian institution that would undermine economic egalitarianism and repress the social freedoms that were fundamental for progressive development.4 The state, therefore, had to be abolished at the same time as capitalism. Both generated social conflict that went against humanitys collective interest. Developing his argument, Kropotkin extrapolated, from nature, fundamental laws that pertained to humanitys evolution.5 He posited that the natural world tended toward a condition of dynamic equilibrium, in which each species spontaneously adapted to its environment and in so doing, contributed to the make-up of the ecological organism as a whole. Nature was dynamic because as species evolved and new ones came into being the conditions of equilibrium changed. The well-being of nature, therefore, lay in the spontaneous development of species and ever increasing diversity in the ecological makeup. The prime force in nature was mutual aid the universal law of organic evolution.6 Kropotkin observed that the vast majority of species thrive because of spontaneous patterns of cooperation that also permeate interspecies relationships. Humanity was natures most social animal and amongst us the practice of mutual aid had attained the greatest development. This gave rise to cooperative modes of social organization and ethical ideals such as altruism and the desire for justice founded on the principle of equal rights for all. It was in humanitys species interest, therefore, to increase cooperation and to cultivate correspondingly harmonious relationships with the environment.7 Anarchism was the means of achieving this goal. An anarchist society, wrote Kropotkin, would not be crystallized into certain unchangeable forms, but will continually modify its aspect, because it will be a living, evolving organism; no need for government will be felt, because free agreement and federation will take its place.8 Such a society would be animated by the freedom to grow and develop spontaneously, with mutual aid as the guarantor of progressive, as opposed to regressive, development. This would mark it as a healthy social system, as opposed to capitalism, where these conditions did not prevail. And so we return to art. Reads compendium of Kropotkins writings ends with a chapter on Art and Society in which Kropotkin wrote, Art is, in our ideal, synonymous with creation. The artist invented new forms 8

OPEN FORM AND THE ABSTRACT IMPERATIVE which were powerful and expressive, but only when cities, territories, nations or groups of nations adopted the free order of anarchism would art become an integral part of the living whole.9 Produced by individuals from every walk of life and rooted in community diversity, art would spread and flourish in painting, sculpture, architecture, and the everyday environment. It would transform everything that surrounds man, in the street, in the interior and exterior, into pure artistic form.10 It followed, therefore, that the cause of the arts was the cause of revolution.11 Ideally, the social function of the artist was to express the inner most impulses of the mind in such a way as to contribute to the material organization of life.12 However art could only flourish if there was social and economic liberty for the artist to develop and evolve. And these conditions could only be realized in a classless, anarchist society.13 How, then, did abstract art figure in anarchisms programme? Read addressed this question in an essay published in 1935, where he defended the revolutionary potential of modernism. Here he mounted a critique of the condition of art under capitalism and its role under state dictatorship. Capitalism fostered a culture that favoured mass conformity over originality of expression while utilitarian products devoid of aesthetic value flooded the social landscape.14 Indeed, Kropotkins vision of art transforming everything that surrounds man into pure artistic form was impossible under capitalism because capitalist economics disbarred artists from playing any significant social role.15 Capitalism degraded the material world and repressed artistic activity in the process, but it was not the only social system hostile to the arts. Soviet Communism and Fascism were equally damaging. Both subordinated all aspects of society, including art, to the central control of the state.16 In these societies there was no recognition that imaginative expression through art was a fundamental human need. Instead art was treated instrumentally. Communist art celebrated the achievements of socialism while in Nazi Germany the ideals of nationalism were glorified, but the necessary method, wrote Read, was the same. The regimes fostered a rhetorical realism, devoid of invention, deficient in imagination, renouncing subtlety, and emphasizing the obvious.17 A brief examination of Nazi art and the art promoted by Communists in the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom will enliven Reads critique. Hans Schmitz-Wiedenbrcks Workers, Farmers and Soldiers (c. 1940) communicates its message in a realist style following the Nazi dictum that German art be understandable to the masses. The paintings theme is racist collectivism; the German nation is subdivided into spheres of productivity, with war-making at its apex.18 Similarly, Soviet artist Arkadi Platsovs Collective Farm Festival (1937) depicts ideological themes in a realist style so as to arouse a revolutionary relationship to reality.19 Under a 9


Hans Schmitz-Wiedenbruck, Workers, Farmers and Soldiers, c. 1940

Arkadi Platsov, Collective Farm Festival, 1937 sunny sky, symbolic of the bright future, the figure of Stalin gazes over prosperous peasants who are enjoying the fruits of socialism in one country, including ownership of a combine harvester. The banner, flanked by a five-pointed star and Soviet flag, reads Living has gotten better, living has gotten merrier. This slogan, coined by Stalin in 1933, by and large set the tone for how life in the socialist fatherland was depicted during the era of the five year plan.20 Socialist realism in the Soviet Union also set the pace for the type of art promoted by the British Communist Party. New realism was the term coined by one of the partys leading critics, Anthony Blunt, to describe this art.21 New realist artists were sympathetic with the progressive sections of the proletariat and expressed Communist-inspired themes of class struggle.22 10

OPEN FORM AND THE ABSTRACT IMPERATIVE Viscount Hastings Historic Growth of the British Labour Movement, a mural completed in 1935 for Londons Karl Marx House, is a textbook example of the style. Flanked by Marx and Lenin, the worker of the future pulls down the economic chaos of the present. Smaller groupings on the left and right represent the origins of the British labour movement and its current composition.23 Epic murals like this were, according to Blunt, bell-ringers of the coming new culture after the socialist revolution.24 Let us return, then, to Reads position on what made art revolutionary. Like Blunt, Read opposed capitalism and Fascism, but he did so in the name of an organicist politics of anarchism. And this was the basis for his defense of abstract art and work such as Barbara Hepworths Two Forms of 1937. Whereas Blunt tossed bourgeois abstraction in the garbage, 25 Read argued it was integral to the only type of post-capitalism worth fighting for, namely anarchism. There was a historical explanation for why so many artists were drawn to abstraction. Hostile towards capitalism, fascism, and communism, they were seeking to escape into a world without ideologies through art that focused on biological structures independent of human history.26 In other words, abstract art entailed a politics of resistance. However, its revolutionary import lay elsewhere, in its potential to infuse the man-made environment with universal aesthetic qualities that mirrored the organicism of the natural world.27 And here we arrive at the crux of the matter. An anarchist society would be liberating because the order it generated would be founded upon the free creativity of its participants. The precondition of social freedom under anarchism was communism without authoritarianism, an organicist social order without closure in which art could evolve unceasingly, in accord with the impetus of its creators.28 And on this basis, Read regarded the abstract art of his time as amenable to anarchism: because not only did these artists refuse the didactic programmes of communism and fascism; they created art that, like anarchism, mirrored the open structure of nature itself. Now the work of print artist Richard Mock (d. 2005) might seem as far from Reads abstraction as you can get: however there is a relationship that bears telling. Mock began his artistic career in the late 1960s, in the midst of the Vietnam war. His anarchism dates to that period, when the hypocrisy of capitalism and its relationship to the state, was, in his words, self-evident. Along the way he read a number of works by Read, notably, Anarchy and Order, which contains the essays that make up the 1942 collection Poetry and Anarchism. Later still, in the 1990s, he followed the anti-technological, anti-capitalist critiques developed in the Fifth Estate and Anarchy Magazine. Simultaneously, Mock was making a name for himself as a print maker and graphic 11


Richard Mock, War Stinks 2003 artist, publishing syndicated editorial illustrations in the New York Times and other venues.29 The prints convey a sense of his political concerns. The Planets Death (2001) is a condemnation of the consumption of the planets very ecological viability. Its slogan, Eat the consumer, is a call to arms against the capitalist assault on nature, which, as every one knows, has reached its terminal stage. War Stinks (1994) takes aim at the rampant corruption driving the military aggression of the US. Whereas the government dresses up its wars as patriotic struggles defending freedom, Mock regarded them as so much excrement squeezed out the ass of the American eagle. The politics were overt, but the intent was more subtle. My prints, Mock once related,
deal with the maladies of capitalism. They create thought, they create comradeship, by pointing to what we are all seeing and experiencing. And they urge solutions. I give my illustrations freely to anarchist publications because I have a responsibility to do so. I am part of the information wave making the space clear so that people can feel their own anarchistic tendencies.30


OPEN FORM AND THE ABSTRACT IMPERATIVE In other words, Mock did not seek to dictate a political programme, he sought to awaken peoples critical capacity to adopt an anarchist understanding of the world. Which brings me to abstraction. Paralleling his illustrative work, before his death Mock had been painting abstractly for over two decades. And these paintings were integral to his politics. Asked what an anarchist social order would be like, Mock stated: We would create harmony between man and nature. And we would discover, in an anarchist society, new dimensions of being human. We would take down our armor and be revelatory, revelatory in allowing the growth of collective attachments to the earth and to other people.31 Mocks abstractions, such as Untitled, 2004, are an artistic expression of this ideal. He sought to communicate the idea of harmony visually through rhythmic flecks of bright colour that unfold organically in a dynamic interplay that finds resolution in the whole. Mock characterized these paintings as cosmic and transcendent because they create a visual field that expands beyond the picture plane, an aesthetic evocation of the open structure of an anarchistic order.32 The paintings are revelatory, not didactic; experiential, not explanatory. That said, there are distinctions to be made between Mocks abstractions and the abstract art Herbert Read championed during the World War 2 era. Take, for example, Construction in Space (1937-39) by Reads close friend and

Naum Gabo, Construction in Space, 1937-39 13

ANARCHIST STUDIES fellow anarchist Naum Gabo. In accord with Reads credo concerning abstraction, Gabo works with geometrical forms derived from the growth patterns of the natural world.33 One searches in vain for a parallel mirroring of nature in Mocks paintings. Mocks style, in fact, bares the mark of modernism as it evolved after World War 2 in New York, where the key demand was the prioritizing of formal properties, namely paint on a flat surface. These values were codified most famously by Barnett Newman, who described his paintings as spontaneous creations free of the abstract qualities derived from geometric or natural forms. They were specific embodiments of feeling to be experienced, each painting for itself.34 Of course I cite Newman because the politics of his art is pertinent for our discussion. Onement #1 (1948), for example, depicts the elemental act of creation through division a jagged break instantaneously fills the void with its presence.35 Newman regarded this painting as an anarchist statement, and towards the end of his life he told an interviewer,
if my work were understood it would be the end of state capitalism and totalitarianism. Because to the extent that my painting was not an arrangement of objects, not an arrangement of spaces, not an arrangement of graphic elements, it was an open painting, in the sense that it represented an open world to that extent I thought, and I still believe, that my work in terms of its social impact denotes the possibility of an open society, of an open world, not of a closed institutional world.36

Elsewhere, he was even more explicit. In his preface to a 1968 reprinting of Kropotkins Memoirs of a Revolutionist, Newman likened the quality of openness in his paintings to the freedom animating Kropotkins society of spontaneous, self-organized communes.37 Openness is what unites Mock with Newman, Gabo and Read. The anarchist abstractionist seeks to create art that transcends closure, art that is capable of signifying the freedom and spontaneity that constitutes the foundation of anarchisms political programme. The public that is receptive to this aesthetic will be receptive to its politics or at least, that is the ideal. In practice there are a myriad of mediating forces that come between anarchist art and genuine communication. Thus the abstract imperative entails another imperative, namely the social struggle for an anarchist society. The political biographies of Read and these artists speak for themselves in this regard. Arguably, then, Reads legacy lies at this point of intersection, where anarchist art encounters living reality. But whereas Read searched for art that prefigured anarchisms open structures on a metaphorical level, as form, contemporary anarchists are developing art that fosters anarchist politics in practice, by transforming art-making into an egalitarian process that is itself unbounded. 14

OPEN FORM AND THE ABSTRACT IMPERATIVE Take, for example, Art and Revolution. This is a loosely organized network of North American artists whose mandate is to infuse radical social movements with art, theatre, and creativity. They identify as anarchists and model their work on the consensus process of decision-making that is a fundamental tenet of anarchist-style organizing.38 I first encountered Art and Revolution at a week-long anarchist conference held in Toronto, Canada in 1998. There I joined a host of other activists, including Art and Revolution members, in making giant puppets, banners, street theatre, and drums to accompany a demonstration scheduled for the end of the gathering. Through a process of discussion over several days it was decided that the protest would call for an end to the harassment of homeless youth by city police. Accordingly we designed the puppets and street theatre around this theme. Demonstration events opened with a theatrical performance that spelled out the reasons for the protest. Then a 1000-plus crowd marched through Torontos downtown behind a giant puppet whose out-stretched arms unveiled a banner declaring, Hands off Street Youth! Cheerleaders chanted anti-capitalist slogans and waved pompoms made from police-line ribbons; demonstrators strutted around on stilts; banners and flags were raised; and a masked theatre contingent snaked through the procession to the rhythm of drums.39 Here we have art-making that evolves spontaneously out of the desires and concerns of the participants within an larger open social structure, namely an anarchist gathering. But the enactment of open structures in art need not be confined to demonstrations. For example, Ambience of a Future City (2003) by Kika Thorne and Adrian Blackwell, was a collaborative exercise involving three Toronto-based collectives that are self-run, non-hierarchical, and critical of capitalist urban development.40 In a series of meetings with each group, Thorne and Blackwell discussed specific areas of the city and how they could be transformed along anti-capitalist, communitarian lines. They then created site plans of these collective visions and put them on display in the areas concerned. One of the plans, Anarchist Cooperative for Kensington Market (2003), was developed by a group of anarchists living in Kensington Market. The market is a lively area of the downtown and has long been a center of anarchist activity. The Kensington anarchists focused on a parking lot connected to a busy shopping street by an alleyway. The group imagined replacing the parking lot with a co-operatively run communally-owned building that would provide a home for anarchist projects and affordable housing. The building complex would feature a publicly-accessible court yard and walk-through between two streets. Activist organizations, a bike shop, a film space and an area for people to relax and enjoy themselves would be located on the ground level, while the upper stories would house 15

ANARCHIST STUDIES apartments. This addressed the need for a building that anarchists could call their own, where they would be free to develop long-term projects without fear of eviction at the whim of a landlord. And in accord with its social purpose, a billboard display of the plan was erected on site to show up the contrast between the anarchist vision for the parking lot and the present, capitalized reality.41

Kika Thorne and Adrian Blackwell, Anarchist Cooperative for Kensington Market, 2003 A third experiment in open structure is Luis Jacobs traveling exhibit, Anarchist Free School Minutes (1999-2002).42 The exhibition presents the record of meetings related to an Anarchist educational project that began in Toronto in the late 1990s. Visitors can track the creation of an operating structure and the formulation of the schools identity by reading these minutes. Before each exhibition, Jacob contacts anarchists around North America and asks them to donate publications that visitors can read or take away with them. The free distribution of anarchist publications during the exhibit mirrors the Anarchist Free School project itself, and in the course of doing so, breaks the frame confining art to the realm of contemplative appreciation.43 In this way Jacob folds his art into his anarchist politics, creating an educational event that perpetually changes from gallery to gallery. By developing open structures such as these, artists are carrying anarchism forward into the new century. And if there is a case for Reads 16

OPEN FORM AND THE ABSTRACT IMPERATIVE continuing relevance, I would argue it is here, in the artistic practices of the contemporary anarchist avant-garde. ENDNOTES
1. Allan Antliff, Only A Beginning: An Anarchist Anthology (Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2004), passim. 2. Herbert Read. An Art of Pure Form, London Bulletin no. 14 (1939): 8-9. 3. Herbert Read. An Art of Pure Form: 8-9. Mondrian distilled features in nature down to their unchanging essence. A tree, for example, would be reduced to a basic geometric structure then rendered abstractly. In this way he imagined he was creating a universal artistic language that prefigured the rise of a new spiritual consciousness destined to bring about the unification of humanity; Charles Harrison, Francis Frascina, Gill Perry, Primitivism, Cubism, Abstraction: The Early Twentieth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 225-26. Similarly, Barbara Hepworth wrote that her sculptures were emotional projections that radiate the intensity of the whole. Abstracted from nature, these living forms embodied universal aesthetic qualities. However there is no indication she shared the spiritual-political orientation of Mondrian; Barbara Hepworth, Untitled Statement, Unit 1 (London: Cassell: 1934), 19-20. 4. Herbert Read, Introduction. Peter Kropotkin, Kropotkin: Selections from his Writings Herbert Read, ed. (London: Freedom Press, 1942):14-15. 5. Brian Morris has outlined Kropotkins biocentrist anarchism in Brian Morris. Kropotkins Metaphysics of Nature, Anarchist Studies 9 (2001): 165-80. 6. Kropotkin, Kropotkin: Selections, 130-1. 7. Ibid., 124-5. 8. Ibid., 114. 9. Ibid., 144; 146. 10. Ibid, 146. 11. Herbert Read, Why We English Have No Taste, Poetry and Anarchism. (New York: MacMillan, 1939) 40. The essay was originally published in the French Surrealist journal Minotaure no. 7 (June, 1935): 67-8 12. Herbert Read. Art and Society (London: Faber and Faber, 1956), 95. 13. Art could only realize its social potential in a post-capitalist communal type of society, where within one organic consciousness all modes of life, all senses and all faculties, function freely and harmoniously. Read, Why We English Have No Taste, 40. 14. Read, Why We English Have No Taste, 39. 15. Ibid., 40. 16. Read. Poets and Politicians, Poetry and Anarchism, 23. 17. Read, Poets and Politicians, 26. 18. Bertold Hinz. Art in the Third Reich. New York: 1979, 114. 19. I am paraphrasing Maxim Gorki cited in Matthew Cullerne Bown. Socialist Realist Painting. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 143. 20. In 1933 Gorki, writing in the journal Soviet Art, referred to the slogan while instructing artists to depict the joyous spirit animating life in the Soviet Union. Our pictures should be joyous, infections, he wrote. They should contain


more smiles; Maxim Gorki cited in Bown, 143. Later, in 1935, it was adopted as the official slogan of the Stakhanovite (shock-worker) movement at the first all-Union Congress of Shock-Workers. During this period British Communist Party-oriented artists organizations such as the Hogarth Group, the Euston Road School, and the British Communist Party Artists Group worked with party critics such as Anthony Blunt, A.L. Lloyd, Aleck West, and Francis Klingender to promote new realist aesthetics and class struggle themes in art; Tony Rickaby. Artists International. History Workshop. 6 (Autumn, 1978): 154-168. Anthony Blunt, Art Under Capitalism and Socialism, The Mind in Chains: Socialism and the Cultural Revolution C. Day Lewis, ed. (London: Frederick Muller, 1937), 115. Blunt, who was art critic during the 1930s for the Communist-oriented Spectator magazine and the British Communist Partys theoretical journal Left Review, was also a recruiter for the Soviet spy network in the United Kingdom. In 1939 he was appointed to London University as reader in the history of art attached to the prestigious Courtauld Institute. He went on to serve as art advisor to the Monarchy and surveyor of the Royal art collection. Blunt was knighted in 1956. This is Viscount Hastings description of his mural in the Daily Mirror 10 (October 1935) cited in Morris and Radford, AIA: The Story of the Artists International Association: 1933-1953 (Oxford: Museum of Modern Art, 1983), 15. Anthony Blunt, The Realist Quarrel, Left Review. (April 1937) cited in Lynda Morris and Robert Radford, 16. Blunt dismisses abstraction in Art Under Capitalism and Socialism, 122. Herbert Read, The Nature of Revolutionary Art, The Politics of the Unpolitical. (London: Routledge, 1946), 127. This is a reprint of Reads essay,What is Revolutionary Art? first published in 5 On Revolutionary Art, Betty Rea, ed. (London: Wishart and Co., 1935). Ibid., 130-131. The role of abstract art in a post-capitalist society is also discussed in Herbert Read, Art and Industry (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1935), 39-40. Herbert Read, The Necessity of Anarchism, Poetry and Anarchism, 96-97. Elsewhere, Read observed that the vitality of art depends on the free operation of the unconscious forces of life. Read, Art and Society, 123. Richard Mock: Interview with Allan Antliff, June 25, 2001. Richard Mock cited in Allan Antliff, Richard Mock, Quivers: Twenty Linocuts (Omaha, NB: Gallery 72, 2002): 10. Ibid. Richard Mock: Interview with Allan Antliff, June 25, 2001. On Naum Gabos anarchism and his artistic debt to organic forms see Martin Hammer and Christina Lodder, Constructing Modernity: The Art and Career of Naum Gabo (London: Yale University Press, 2000), 385-387. Barnett Newman, Statement: One Man Exhibition, Betty Parsons Gallery, Jan. 23-Feb. 11, 1950, Barnett Newman: Selected Writings and Interviews (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), 178. Jonathan Fineberg, Art After 1940: Strategies of Being (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1995), 101. Barnett Newman: Interview with Emile de Antonio, Barnett Newman: Selected Writings and Interviews, 306-308.




24. 25. 26.



29. 30. 31. 32. 33.


35. 36.



37. Barnett Newman, The True Revolutionist is an Anarchist!, Barnett Newman: Selected Writings and Interviews, 51. 38. Allan Antliff, Active Resistance, Only a Beginning: An Anarchist Anthology, 353. 39. Ibid. 40. Adrian Blackwell: Interview with Allan Antliff, September 21, 2004. 41. Ibid. 42. Luis Jacob: Interview with Allan Antliff, September 21, 2004. 43. Ibid.


Leo Tolstoy on the state: A detailed picture of Tolstoys denunciation of state violence and deception

ABSTRACT Leo Tolstoys peculiar religious and political thought has been discussed in numerous studies, yet few of these address a core anarchist concern: his criticisms of the state. Tolstoy denounces not just war but also law and the economy as violent and enslaving, all under the ruthless mechanical supervision of the state machine. Moreover, for him, state authorities are deliberately and hypocritically deceiving the masses, promoting a system that destroys any sense of responsibility, and keeping people hypnotised by regularly whipping up patriotic sentiments the army being the best example of the strength of all this deceit. Not only is Tolstoys denunciation of the state as violent and deceptive eloquently written, but much of it has not lost relevance since he first wrote it more than a century ago. Leo Tolstoy believed that the state is a violent and deceitful institution and that in a truly Christian society, the state would be obsolete. In a previous issue of Anarchist Studies, Terry Hopton summarised Tolstoys political thought and justified its location within the anarchist tradition.1 The purpose of this article is to complement Hoptons broad overview by scrutinizing Tolstoys critique of the state. Whereas Hoptons article offers a general discussion of the continuity of Tolstoys thought with his earlier fictional work and then briefly reviews Tolstoys stances on religion, the state, the economy and revolutionary change, this article examines Tolstoys condemnation of the state, but does so in considerably more detail. Thus the aim is to enrich Hoptons excellent introduction to Tolstoys political thought by elaborating on a fundamental anarchist theme and by making more room for Tolstoys poignant literary style, through use of verbatim quotes. The many arguments against the state that Tolstoy articulates in numerous books and pamphlets are here reorganised thematically, often by substantially expanding on themes already briefly touched upon by Hopton. These themes constitute the headings of the two main sections of the article. The first of these two sections (section 2) focuses on Tolstoys condemnation of state violence, by exploring his views on war, law, economic exploitation and the effect of the structure of the state on its 20

LEO TOLSTOY ON THE STATE members. The second (section 3) then explores the states mechanisms of deception: the hypocrisy of its leaders, the ingrained evasion of responsibilities, the hypnotic power of patriotism and the ultimate paradox of universal conscription. These two central sections are introduced (in section 1) with a review of the secondary literature on Tolstoy and followed (in section 4) by a short conclusion which hints at the contemporary relevance of Tolstoys writings on the state. Tolstoy often contrasts the modern state with an ideal Christian society to illustrate the incompatibility of Jesus principles, which he admired, with the state, which he loathed. His understanding of Christianity was deeply rationalistic: for him, Jesus was simply the highest representative of [humanitys] wisdom2 what he taught was actually confirmed by reason, and superstitions like the Resurrection were all fantastic stories later added by elites whose interest was to distort the essential teachings of Christianity.3 A critical discussion of this understanding of Christianity, however interesting, is too big a subject for this article. The contention to note here is that for Tolstoy, the essence of Jesus rational teaching is to be found in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus supersedes Old Testament law with his new commandments not to be angry, not to judge, not to swear oaths, to love ones enemy, and in particular not to resist evil but to turn the other cheek.4 Even when nominally Christian, Tolstoy argues that the state breaks all these guidelines. The comparison with Jesus standards is often made in the same breath as the more empirical description of the state. Together, they combine to form a moving condemnation of the modern state. Some of the power of Tolstoys writing rests precisely in the contrast between the reality of officially Christian statehood and the Christian ideal. So although the specific aim of this article is to present Tolstoys critique of the state without considering his alternative, references to Jesus and Christianity have been kept to preserve all its intensity. 1. SECONDARY LITERATURE ON TOLSTOY Before examining his critique of the state, a short review of the secondary literature on Tolstoys social and political views (leaving aside the enormous amount of studies focusing solely on his fiction) may be helpful in order to contextualise this article within that literature and show why so few of these secondary sources are of direct substantial value to anarchist studies. 1.1. Biographies Many biographies of Tolstoy have been published over the years.5 These vary in the space devoted to any critical engagement with Tolstoys political views. For instance, Greenwood and Bayley focus mostly on Tolstoys 21

ANARCHIST STUDIES fiction while also discussing his intellectual influences and some of his theories about life and society in general,6 whereas Maudes detailed biography allows itself to drift into brief reflections about and criticisms of these views but also shies away from more in depth engagement with Tolstoys radical political writings.7 In any case, by definition, biographies of Tolstoy focus more on his life than on his thought. On a different tone, one also finds essays on Tolstoys life which seek to ponder certain traits of Tolstoys idiosyncratic character: Orwell on Tolstoys lack of tolerance or humility, Sampson on his courageous quest for truth, or Berlin on whether Tolstoy was more of a hedgehog who knows one big thing or a fox who knows many.8 But few biographical works give more than passing consideration to Tolstoys political views. Slightly more interesting perhaps for students of anarchism is the debate on whether Tolstoys thought and writings can be divided into two distinct parts: a world-renown author of Russian literature on the one hand and a nave political thinker on the other.9 Some believe this division to be obvious,10 but most perceive strong lines of continuity between Tolstoys pre- and post-conversion writings.11 Indeed for Greenwood, Tolstoy himself exaggerates the contested split in an attempt to emphasise the novelty of his discovery.12 Yet existential crises, the search for truth, and his expression of these in artistic works accompanied his entire life.13 Moreover, Tolstoy seemed to have envisioned the founding of a new religion and seen the state as a conspiracy much before his conversion to Christianity.14 Either way, whether or not Tolstoys life and thought can be divided into two parts, as Stepun notes, his fame is certainly twofold: as an artist and as a social prophet.15 1.2. On Tolstoys Views on Religion and Politics Much has been written about Tolstoys view of religion and how it affects his ethics. Usually, the aim of such publications is mainly limited to summarising Tolstoys answer regarding the meaning of life and some of its immediate consequences, often with a few added reflections or quick criticisms of it.16 One can also find some debate on whether Tolstoys is really a Christian type of ethics.17 But most relentless and detailed among these publications is Spences exposition and critique of Tolstoys dualism and all the problems Spence thinks this creates for Tolstoys ethics.18 Moving closer to politics, one can find various discussions of specific sub-themes extracted from Tolstoys political thought. Maude, for instance, often returns throughout the second volume of his biography to non-resistance and arguments against it, and devotes a chapter to his divergence from Tolstoys views on government and patriotism.19 Kennans article reports a conversation with Tolstoy on non-violence, and his disagreements with it.20 Hopton (in one part of his article) summarises 22

LEO TOLSTOY ON THE STATE Tolstoys political ideas in War and Peace, and Sampsons book focuses in particular on Tolstoys views of power and war in the same novel.21 Crosby offers a short summary and approval of elements of Tolstoys moral and social code.22 Redfearn dismisses cheap criticisms of Tolstoy and spends the second half of his book on Henry Georges single tax and Tolstoys position on it.23 Wenzers book and article offer an even more detailed analysis of Tolstoys advocacy of Georgism as a transition towards anarchy.24 Finally, Stanoyevitchs articles purport to take a closer look at Tolstoys views on law, money and property, but in the end disappoint in the relative shallowness of their dismissal.25 What these studies have in common, however, is that they focus on only one aspect of Tolstoys description of and prescription for society; a more extensive and exhaustive analysis that covers most of his social thought remains to be written. 1.3. On Tolstoy in the Anarchist Literature When turning to publications focusing more directly and explicitly on anarchism be they popular journals, academic studies and textbooks or publications by well-known anarchists one finds mostly very brief declarations simply affirming his anarchism, despite his dislike of the word and the violence widely associated with it.26 Likewise, Tolstoy is often named as the best exemplar of Christian anarchism.27 There is still very little thorough discussion on Tolstoy in anarchist circles. The two best examples continue to be Hoptons and Marshalls excellent broad introductions to Tolstoys religious belief, his critiques of government and the economy and his strategy for change (Marshall also considers the fate of Tolstoyism after Tolstoys death).28 Woodcocks treatment also deserves a mention even though it is more descriptive of Tolstoys fondness for anarchist themes than critically engaged with his specific version of anarchism.29 Similarly, Stephens introduction offers a good indication of Proudhons and Kropotkins early influence on Tolstoy, and a good overview of Tolstoys thoughts on true religion, non-violence and personal revolution.30 Morriss very short piece focuses more on Tolstoys conversion and summarises his What Then Must We Do?, and an old article in Peace News makes the case for Tolstoys contemporary relevance.31 Aside from these, one can also find many short introductions to Tolstoy on the internet, but they tend to remain rather short and superficial. 1.4. On Tolstoys Influence What all this suggests, therefore, is that the substance of Tolstoys anarchism has largely been left aside (albeit usually respectfully acknowledged) by academic analyses of anarchism, and thus also largely forgotten by society as a whole. There have in fact been several publications on the initial impact and eventual demise of Tolstoyism and 23

ANARCHIST STUDIES Tolstoyan communities in the West,32 and on the repression of Tolstoyism in Soviet Russia.33 Some further argue that the only lasting legacy of Tolstoys writings on society has turned out to be his influence on the pacifist movement, especially through Gandhi.34 It is probably fair to say, then, that Tolstoy has never really been given the proper critical engagement and respect that such a thoughtprovoking, methodical intellectual and eloquent writer deserves. It may be that most anarchist thinkers have suffered that same fate, but this is no reason not to look at him anew, not least since none of the problems he identified with society have really gone away. Tolstoy may not have helped his own cause: he was a prolific writer who repeated views with slight modification, depending on the immediate polemic he was contributing to, in the course of writing a huge number of essays and books. It can therefore take long hours of (nevertheless artistically rewarding) reading to familiarise oneself with the main elements of his political theory. Hence the aim of this article: to bring his often scattered ideas together and consider them thematically. The hope is to stimulate students of anarchism into engaging further with Tolstoys unique Christian anarchist writings. 2. STATE VIOLENCE The main lesson that Tolstoy learnt from his rediscovery of Christianity was that violence is never justifiable, because it always causes more violence further down the line.35 It is therefore not surprising that his criticisms of the state focus on various aspects of state violence. 2.1. War Although Tolstoy came to denounce war as one of the most brutal instances of state violence, one must concede that his earlier novels, including of course his classic War and Peace, betray a much less condemnatory fascination with the physiognomy of war.36 E. B. Greenwood thus remarks that in several of his early novels, Tolstoy not only accepted war as a necessary part of life but was even comfortable enough with the phenomenon to describe it in epic, poetic terms.37 After his conversion to Christianity, however, Tolstoys fascination turned to outright aversion both of the process of war and of the hypocrisy by which Christian states justified an activity which was blatantly opposed to Jesus instructions. However eloquent Tolstoy might have been in his description of war in his novels, he now applied his literary talent to portray it as an intolerable picture of mindless brutality. In Christianity and Patriotism, this is how he looks forward to the next war that Russia is inevitably going one day to engage in: 24


And hundreds of thousands of simple kindly folk, torn from their wives, mothers, and children, and with murderous weapons in their hands, will trudge wherever they may be driven, stifling the despair in their souls by songs, debauchery, and vodka. They will march, freeze, suffer from hunger, and fall ill. Some will die of disease, and some will at last come to the place where men will kill them by the thousand. And they, too, without themselves knowing why, will murder thousands of others whom they had never before seen, and who had neither done nor could do them any wrong.38

Whatever his earlier acceptance or even aesthetic admiration of war, after his conversion to Christianity, Tolstoy abhorred it (suggesting at least some degree of rupture in Tolstoys intellectual development). Tolstoys view is that war is the inevitable outcome of the existence of armed men that is, of armies.39 Each government justifies the existence of an army to defend itself from neighbouring states, but that is what all governments say of one another, so in the end, [t]he power of the State, far from saving us from attacks by our neighbours, is on the contrary itself the cause of the danger of such attacks.40 Only because (other) armies exist can we be convinced that we also need an army, but then the very existence of our army is also what convinces others that they, too, need an army of their own. The argument is circular and self-defeating. But the real purpose of armies, Tolstoy suspects, is the defence of privileges stolen by the elites stolen, that is, from neighbouring brigands as well as from their own enslaved subjects.41 In an epigraph to one of his chapters, Tolstoy quotes the following words from Lichtenberg: If a traveller were to see a people on some far-off island whose houses were protected by loaded cannon and around those houses sentinels patrolled night and day, he could not help thinking that the island was inhabited by brigands. Is it not thus with the European states?42 What armies protect is only what has been unduly earned from plundering other states, as well as what has been stolen from the enslaved domestic population. And the main tool used by the state to enslave its people, Tolstoy says, is law. 2.2. Law Tolstoy declares that the essence of slavery lies [] in the fact that legislation exists that there are people who have power to decree laws profitable for themselves.43 The one characteristic of all laws is that their enforcement is based on the threat of punishment: if one man does not fulfil them, those who have made these laws will send armed men, and the armed men will beat, deprive of freedom, or even kill, the man who does not obey the law.44 Violence or the threat of it is critical to the enforcement of law, and for Tolstoy self-evidently a sign of enslavement: 25

ANARCHIST STUDIES being compelled to do what other people wish, against your own will, is slavery.45 As long as violence is used to compel people to obey a law against their will, there will be slavery. The problem, Tolstoy argues, lies in the combination of law with social pluralism. Every state action is considered good by some and pernicious by others in other words, there are always disagreements about state action. As long as there are some people who disagree with any given state action, with any given law, then all state activity eventually requires violence to be enforced.46 Thus all state activity logically results in slavery. The very existence of the state is inescapably bound to violence and slavery. Tolstoy furthermore rejects the idea that laws reflect the will of the whole people since, he says, those who wish to break these laws are always more numerous than those who wish to obey them.47 More to the point, if laws expressed the will of the people, violence would not be necessary to enforce them. In fact, Tolstoy insists,
everyone knows that not in despotic countries only, but also in the countries nominally most free England, America, France, and others the laws are made not by the will of all, but by the will of those who have power, and therefore always and everywhere are such as are profitable to those who have power: be they many, or few, or only one man.48

Tolstoy thus rejects the standard case for preferring representative democracy to authoritarianism. In an anonymous epigraph to one of Tolstoys chapters, the tone of which suggests it was actually written by him, one can read:
When among one hundred men, one rules over ninety-nine, it is unjust, it is a despotism; when ten rule over ninety, it is equally unjust, it is an oligarchy; but when fifty-one rule over forty-nine (and this is only theoretical, for in reality it is always ten or eleven of these fifty-one), it is entirely just, it is freedom! Could there be anything funnier, in its manifest absurdity, than such reasoning? And yet it is this very reasoning that serves as the basis for all reformers of the political structure.49

According to Tolstoy, the idea that the rule of the majority is somehow an embodiment of justice, of freedom, is utterly ridiculous. Democratic or not, Laws are rules, made by people who govern by means of organised violence for non-compliance with which the non-complier is subjected to blows, to loss of liberty, or even to being murdered.50 Laws are written by those in power, in line with their own interests; and since they require violence to be enforced, they amount de facto to slavery. 26

LEO TOLSTOY ON THE STATE Tolstoy also addresses the argument that people need to be guided, that they need to be taught how to live in a way that ensures the well-being of the entire community. Fine in principle, says Tolstoy, but what proof is there that those legislators are wiser than those on whom they inflict violence?51 Actually, he continues, [t]he fact that they allow themselves to use violence towards human beings, indicates that they are not more, but less wise than those who submit to them.52 A violent guide is neither wise nor rational. As another anonymous epigraph to one of his chapters reads, Why does man have reason if he can only be influenced by violence?53 For Tolstoy, reason and violence are mutually exclusive:
One of two things: either people are rational beings or they are irrational beings. If they are irrational beings, then they are all irrational, and then everything among them is decided by violence, and there is no reason why certain people should, and others should not, have a right to use violence. In that case, governmental violence has no justification. But if men are rational beings, then their relations should be based on reason, and not on the violence of those who happen to have seized power. In that case, again, governmental violence has no justification.54

For Tolstoy, no government can rationally justify the use of violence to educate the population. Social order is maintained either by reason or by violence. In the last years of his life, while Tsarist Russia was in increasing political turmoil, Tolstoy wrote a pamphlet in which he insisted that both the government and the revolutionaries were equally immoral in their use of violence to justify their aim.55 But, he noted, revolutionaries only acted as the government taught them to. They were educated by a violent state under enslaving laws, so their violent conduct was like that of a misbehaved child mimicking unruly parents. Yet just as the childs behaviour is understandable, Tolstoy argued that the revolutionary policy was at least coherent: unlike the government, revolutionaries did not pretend to be Christians but repudiated all religion; unlike the government, their actions were consistent with their proclaimed philosophy.56 In short, Tolstoy considered all laws to amount to violence and thus slavery, be they passed by democratic or by despotic governments. By their very nature, these laws cannot educate they can only exhaust reason. And their purpose is none other than the economic exploitation of the populace. 2.3. Economic Slavery As Hopton remarks, for Tolstoy, exploitation is a product of the economic system just as violence is a product of the state system; but economic exploitation is in fact violence, only a form of violence that is more subtle 27

ANARCHIST STUDIES and more pervasive precisely because it is less obvious yet equally restraining than direct physical violence.57 Tolstoy argues that the state uses its legitimised monopoly of violence against its own poorer citizens in order to maintain the wealth of the privileged. Throughout his writings, he describes several instances of such economic exploitation that he himself witnessed, and then uses these cases as starting-points for his ensuing reflections on the ills of state power.58 Tolstoy argued that all states were exploitative no matter how they were constituted: authoritarian Russia was using more visible methods than liberal regimes, but that was the only difference. In fact, his critique could easily be adapted by those who, today, see capitalism as slavery disguised under benevolent investment. The following cynical statement, for example, has hardly lost any of its potency in the twenty-first century:
If the slave-owner of our time has not slave John, whom he can send to the cess-pool to clear out his excrements, he has five shillings of which hundreds of Johns are in such need that the slave-owner of our times may choose anyone out of hundreds of Johns and be a benefactor to him by giving him the preference, and allowing him, rather than another, to climb down into the cess-pool.59

Although modern slavery is not as explicit and visible as it was in preemancipation America, it is slavery nonetheless. In fact, economic slavery is even worse than the slavery described in history books, because it is veiled under the illusion of free choice, and is considered natural, even beneficial. The slave-owner of today is not the wealthy colonist anymore, but the benevolent business owner, the shareholder. Indeed, the poorer members of any (local or, today, global) community face little choice: for a bare subsistence, people, considering themselves freemen, [think] it necessary to give themselves up to work such as, in the days of serfdom, not one slave-owner, however cruel, would have sent his slaves to.60 Just to get bread on their table, poor employees are obliged to put up with humiliating working conditions. The economic model championed by the enlightened state and protected by its laws ensures that one way or the other, the labourer is always in slavery to those who control the taxes, the land, and the articles necessary to satisfy his requirements.61 Todays labourer is no better than yesterdays slave, and the state system ensures that things remain that way. Why, other than to protect the wealthy, would laws (hence violence) need to be invoked, for instance, to defend the private ownership of land? Only large swathes of misused land, of stolen property, need to be protected by aggressive legislation. For Tolstoy, [t]hings really produced by a mans own labour, and that he needs, are always protected by custom, 28

LEO TOLSTOY ON THE STATE by public opinion, by feelings of justice and reciprocity, and they do not need to be protected by violence;62 but [t]ens of thousands of acres of forest lands belonging to one proprietor, while thousands of people close by have no fuel, need protection by violence.63 Laws on private property only protect those who should not own what they have appropriated for themselves. Laws protect the wealthy. Throughout history, new excuses have constantly been sought to justify the uneven distribution of the burden of labour across society. Thus [i]n olden times, men who utilized the labor of others asserted, first, that they belonged to a different race; and secondly, that they had from God a peculiar mission, caring for the welfare of others; in other words, to govern and teach them.64 The justification was biological and theological. But over time, this justification gradually lost its ground.65 So, Tolstoy submits, new excuses have had to be devised, and this time science provided the explanation.66 This new justification for the idleness of all so-called educated people (and the concomitant slavery inflicted upon the rest of the population), according to Tolstoy, runs like this: We men who have freed ourselves from the common human duty of taking part in the struggle for existence, are furthering progress, and so we are of great use to all human society, of such use that it counterbalances all the harm we do to the people by consuming their labor.67 In other words, this apparently uneven division of labour is the best possible distribution to ensure the progress of society as a whole. Society is like a natural organism, with different members performing different functions, so the current distribution of labour is the most natural to reach it is the natural equilibrium of a healthy, organic society.68 Of course, for Tolstoy, this scientific justification for an unjust economic system is, quite simply, another cunning lie concocted by those who benefit from it. For a start, this theory is not drawn from the natural properties of human societies, but merely from a particular case.69 That a society must reach such uneven division of labour is not a universal truth, but only what happens under specific circumstances. And the defining feature of these circumstances is the presence of a privileged minority in charge of a powerful state that defines the rules by which the majority is to live, and that uses force to ensure compliance with these rules. Under these conditions no division of labour can be described as natural. If the division of tasks happens by itself, guided by reason and conscience, then this division of labour is a right one; but as soon as any form of coercion distorts the workforces choices, then the result is usurpation of other mens labor, which is far from natural or just.70 Tolstoy accepts that there has always been a division of labour, but it is what guides it that defines whether or not it is acceptable. If guided by 29

ANARCHIST STUDIES reason and conscience, by the free and rational choice of workers, then the division is just; but if distorted by violence, then it cannot be right.71 And it is no good to declare that this division of labour allows science to flourish or humanity to progress because new technology multiplies the poor workers plight at least as much as it allegedly relieves it:
Though a workingman, instead of walking, can use the railway, it is this very railway which has caused his forest to be burned, and has carried away his bread from under his very nose, and put him into a condition which is next door to slavery to the railway proprietor.72

The new knowledge and technologies made available by science are much more accessible to the wealthy few than to the enslaved workforce, which means that it is the privileged slave-owners, rather than the slaves, that stand to gain the most from scientific progress. So those who invoke sociological laws to justify their comfortable position in the current economic system are just fortunate liars. They may say [i]t is not we who have done all this; it has been done of itself; as children say when they break any thing, that it broke itself. [] But that is not true.73 One need only watch the lifestyle of these people and realise that they are not innocent. They like to think that their prosperous lifestyle has no connexion with the economic and political violence perpetrated by the state,
[t]hey like to believe that their privileges exist of themselves, and result from voluntary agreement among people, and that the violence enacted also exists of itself, and results from some general, higher juridical, political, or economic laws. They try not to see that they enjoy their advantages as a result of the very thing which forces the peasants who have tended the wood and are of great need of the timber to yield it up to a wealthy landowner, who took no part in tending it during its growth and is in no need of it that is, the knowledge that if they do no give it up they will be flogged or killed.74

But it is not so. Even if they try to hide from the truth and do their best to forget it, these wealthy few and the state system they grandiloquently defend are responsible for the economic exploitation of the masses.75 2.4. A Violent Machine with Violent Elites In sum, because it instigates wars against its neighbours, because it imposes laws upon its people, and because it exploits its workforce, the state is a vicious, brutal and pernicious machine. The state kills, steals and enslaves. Hence [a]ll that well-being of the people which we see in socalled well-governed States, ruled by violence, is but an appearance, a 30

LEO TOLSTOY ON THE STATE fiction. Everything that would disturb the external appearance of wellbeing, all the hungry people, the sick, the revoltingly vicious, all are hidden away where they cannot be seen.76 Even if it tries its best to appear holy, the state structure is a malicious system that transgresses all that Jesus rational teaching stands for. The state, therefore, is an organisation that resembles a cone of which all the parts are completely in the power of those people, or that one person, who happens to be at the apex, an apex which is seized by those who are more cunning, audacious, and unscrupulous than the rest.77 So even in a democracy, one must not be deluded into thinking that the rulers are honest representatives of the aggregate of citizens, because all they are is a set of men who do violence to others.78 Democratic or not, the leaders of a state can only be bullies: To seize power and retain it, it is necessary to love power, but love of power comes with pride, cunning, and cruelty.79 Because of the very structure of the state, to reach its apex, one needs characteristics that come with immorality and viciousness. In any case, supposing that good persons can reach this apex, they would quickly be corrupted since the states mechanisms require the transgression of the most basic principle of morality:
All men in power assert that their authority is necessary to keep bad men from doing violence to the good, thus assuming that they themselves are the good who protect others from the bad. But ruling means using force, and using force means doing what the man subjected to violence does not wish done, and to which the perpetrator would certainly object if the violence were applied to himself. Therefore to rule means to do to others what we would not have done to ourselves that is, doing wrong.80

Hence only the wicked can ever be rulers. No good person can ever head a state. In other words, by the very nature of the state, [t]he evil always domineer over the good and inflict violence on them.81 The states existence is justified on the grounds that it prevents violence and injustice, yet it brings about violence and injustice of itself. Tolstoy borrows a comparison made by Eugen Schmitt: Governments, justifying their existence on the ground that they ensure a certain kind of safety to their subjects, are like the Calabrian robber-chief who collected a regular tax from all who wished to travel in safety along the highways.82 The state sells itself to its subjects by proposing to keep them safe, yet the only real threat to their security comes from the state itself and sure enough, if the subjects do not pay and obey, various laws ensure that their safety is indeed at risk. Moreover, the system is very cunning: once established, the state (like the Calabrian robber-chief) can easily 31

ANARCHIST STUDIES maintain itself, as taxes are collected by troops which are maintained by means of these very taxes.83 The state justifies its existence to curb internal dissent and violence, but in the process grants itself a monopoly of violence that, in this case, is unchecked by any moderator so it freely uses and misuses its supremacy, and thereby behaves exactly like the villain it is supposed to eradicate, only on a much broader scale.84 But coercion can only work while the other is weaker: one day the weak will grow strong and retaliate by using the same brutal techniques that had kept them in check.85 In other words, state violence breeds more violence, and the ensuing vicious cycle brings society further and further away from Jesus teaching. In sum, for Tolstoy, a state cannot but be violent and must therefore be un-Christian and irrational. Christian states do not escape this verdict: all the states that have allegedly adopted Christianity have forced both their own peoples as well as neighbouring ones to act against their will.86 Because of its very structure and because those who lead it cannot be anything but immoral and self-interested, the state is necessarily violent and domineering. 3. ORGANISED DECEPTION Over and above its inherent violence, Tolstoy fiercely denounces another key characteristic of the state: its structure of deception.87 This section examines Tolstoys understanding of deception and the ways in which it becomes manifest in the state. 3.1. Hypocrisy of State Authorities Since for Tolstoy, the cause of state violence lies in the very existence of the state, war, for instance, cannot be eradicated by peace conferences and alliances for the scourge of war to disappear, the state itself must disappear. To pretend that international treaties and alliances can eradicate war, Tolstoy says, is sheer hypocrisy. Who would enforce such treaties anyway?88 Other states using their armies? How would that be different from war? Peace treaties are based on cooperation between existing states, but according to Tolstoy, it is the very existence of these states that causes wars in the first place.89 Besides, these treaties are never honestly lived up to: soon enough, state leaders always find a way to argue that this or that war does not actually contravene this or that international treaty.90 They sign treaties with the stated aim of ensuring peace, but months later argue that this or that new danger faced by their people is an exception to the treaty and must be dealt with using the tools of war.91 As to bilateral alliances to allegedly guarantee peace, they are blatantly alliances for war.92 Tolstoy devoted a whole essay on the 1893 celebrations 32

LEO TOLSTOY ON THE STATE for the then recent Franco-Russian alliance, warning that although state leaders pretended that this alliance was a peaceful one, it was in fact a clear declaration of warlike intentions against Germany.93 Why else would millions continue to be spent on the military, and why else would the military advantage of this alliance be stressed by the press?94 These alliances are agreed precisely because of their military advantage; they are clearly geared towards future wars. But the hypocrisy of state authorities and associated elites does not apply only to the international sphere. Whether about war or about more domestic concerns such as economic slavery, they only propose amendments to current arrangements that do not deprive them of their privileges.95 They defend the feebleness of the changes they introduce by the need to preserve culture or civilisation.96 The current state and its economic system, they say, is what brought about culture, so we must guard against introducing too radical a change lest it destroys this unique cultural heritage. But a culture that is the product of violence rather than reason and which results in oppression is not one that Tolstoy is prepared to preserve and defend. Affluent elites will also invoke iron laws, such as the natural division of labour mentioned above, to claim that things cannot be changed substantially anyway. Some will rely on the theological justification, inspired by official Christianity, which states that people have different destinies; others will point to the Hegelian idea that the state is a historical necessity; others still will put forward the scientific view whereby society is like a biological organism but they will all hide behind some false theory to explain why they do not implement the only change that really would improve the condition of the people: the abolition of the state and the honest implementation of Jesus rational teaching.97 None of these iron laws, Tolstoy argues, are immutable. Instead, the current conditions of society merely result from human laws concerning taxes, land, and above all, [] concerning property.98 Thus it is not some sociological iron law, but ordinary man-made law, that produces slavery.99 Man-made laws are written precisely to enslave the people, and the claim that their plight cannot be radically improved is just another hypocritical statement by the elites to defend the status quo. Clearly, then, the authorities do not live by the Christian values that they profess. Christianity proclaims the equality of men, yet these elites are busy justifying the unequal system that they happen to benefit from.100 Moreover, their hypocrisy corrupts, embitters, and brutalizes people because it wipes out in mens consciousness the difference between good and evil and thereby debars them from avoiding evil and seeking good, depriving them of the very essence of true human life and therefore blocking the path to all improvement.101 33

ANARCHIST STUDIES The irresponsible lifestyle daringly enacted by the upper-class in the name of Christianity corrupts the consciousness of those that look up to it. Instead of changing their way of life and becoming shining beacons of Jesus sensible teaching, these elites try by all means to stifle and deaden consciousness.102 The pinnacle of their hypocrisy is finally reached when, having thus brutalised people, they then produce these same people [] to prove that it is impossible to deal with people except by brutal violence!103 This completes the self-fulfilling logic of the elites hypocrisy. 3.2. Evasion of Responsibility As already mentioned, economic and political elites shrug their shoulders at the exploitation of the masses, as if there was no other choice.104 They actually believe their own lies about this being the result of unalterable laws.105 Tolstoy in fact suggests that people of the well-to-do classes, believe this because they must believe it.106 That is, either they must realise that their whole way of life is based on robbery and murder, and that they are very dishonourable men; or they must believe that all that takes place, takes place for the general advantage, in accord with unalterable laws of economic science.107 Consciously or unconsciously, they shut their eyes to their true responsibility and blame external iron laws: they must believe that they are not at fault, because otherwise, surely, they would stop. Furthermore, the state system is so arranged that it becomes easy to think that somebody else is responsible for state violence. Hopton explains how each individual unit shifts responsibility either higher up or lower down the system.108 But in line with the aim of scrutinizing themes raised by Hopton, Tolstoys own words deserve to be reproduced here:
At the bottom of the social ladder soldiers with rifles, revolvers, and swords, torture and murder men and by those means compel them to become soldiers. And these soldiers are fully convinced that the responsibility for their deed is taken from them by the officers who order those actions. At the top of the ladder the Tsars, presidents, and ministers, decree these tortures and murders and conscriptions. And they are fully convinced that since they are either placed in authority by God, or the society they rule over demands such decrees from them, they cannot be held responsible. Between these extremes are the intermediate folk who superintend the acts of violence and the murders and the conscriptions of the soldiers. And these, too, are fully convinced that they are relieved of all responsibility, partly because of orders received by them from their superiors, and partly because such orders are expected from them by those on the lower steps of the ladder.109


LEO TOLSTOY ON THE STATE At each rung on the ladder, men think they are merely fulfilling their duty, they are just doing the job they were appointed to do.110 Some are bound by oaths of allegiance; others are just honouring their professional function but they are certainly not answerable for the cruel deeds committed by the state as a whole. As a result, the moral responsibility that men are built to feel is diluted in the system. Tolstoy explains:
Not a single judge will consent to strangle with a rope the man whom he has condemned to death in his court. No one of higher rank will consent to snatch a peasant from his weeping family and shut him up in prison. [] These things are due to that complicated machinery of Society and the State, which makes it its first business to destroy the feeling of responsibility for such deeds, so that no man shall feel them to be as unnatural as they are. Some make laws, others apply them. Others again train men and educate them in the habit of discipline, in the habit, that is to say, of senseless and irresponsible obedience. Again others, and these are the best trained of all, practise every kind of violence, even to the slaying of men, without the slightest knowledge of the why and wherefore. We need only clear our mind for an instant from the network of human institutions in which we are thus entangled, to feel how adverse it is to our true nature.111

This subdivision of tasks is the only explanation for why men collectively commit such barbarous acts. They lose sight of the fact that their own contribution is at least partly morally responsible, along with the contribution of all the other individual units in the complex machinery, for the violence they inflict upon others.112 Thus all the units of the state system are hypnotised into feeling they have special duties.113 They forget that they are just men, equal to other men, and instead represent themselves to others as being [] some special conventional beings: noblemen, merchants, governors, judges, officers, Tsars, ministers, or soldiers, not subject to ordinary human duties but to aristocratic, commercial, governatorial, judicial, military, royal, or ministerial, obligations.114 They are intoxicated by their social function and overlook their most basic moral responsibilities as human beings. Even the ruling classes hypnotise themselves to some extent.115 Still, consciously or unconsciously, they are the ones who perpetuate the system: Tolstoy believes that the subdivision of tasks that alleviates any feeling of responsibility for a public execution is carefully arranged and planned by learned and enlightened people of the upper class.116 To some extent, state authorities are hypnotised just like everybody else; but as the men lucky 35

ANARCHIST STUDIES enough to get an education, as the men formally in charge of the state machinery, they also ensure that the various tasks of any act of state violence remain cleverly subdivided so as to alleviate anybodys potential feeling of responsibility. And of course, when the church (with its alleged moral aura) then comes in and approves of public executions, people are led to believe that it is not such an immoral or evil thing after all.117 So the complex machinery of the state, supported as it is by the church, ensures that nobody takes moral responsibility for the immoral acts committed in the name of the state (or Jesus). People blame immutable laws for the social ills they do nothing to improve; and they shift responsibility for acts of state violence either above them, to those who formally ordered them, or below, to those who asked for these orders to be sent or to those who will actually commit the dirty work for them. The result is moral depravity on a collective scale. Hence Tolstoys quotation from Kant: We live in an age of discipline, [] but it is still far from being a moral age.118 Morality is sacrificed for discipline; it is diluted in the state machinery. 3.3. The Hypnotism of Patriotism This discipline, this hypnotic delegation of morality to the state, is further supported by the blind emotional reverence of patriotism. Tolstoy thus sees patriotism as a deadly myth, a gross and harmful delusion, a deceptive dream, a stupid and immoral sentiment, a cruel tradition that he even compares to a psychical epidemic.119 As Hopton notes, the sole purpose of patriotism is to bind together rulers and ruled in a common delusion.120 Patriotism ensures devotion and submission to the existing government.121 It is orchestrated by the ruling classes in order for them to retain their position.122 These ruling classes inflame patriotism by perpetrating every kind of injustice and harshness against other nations, provoking in them enmity towards their own people, and then in turn exploit that enmity to embitter their people against the foreigner.123 It is aroused artificially to divide and rule, to stimulate crude hatred and war upon which the government can then further its ambitious and mercenary aims.124 Seen this way, patriotism therefore amounts to slavery.125 The state needs it to survive: patriotism is its spirit, its blood without it, the state would die.126 Patriotism is also incompatible with the Sermon on the Mount: as a preference for ones own nationals, patriotism contradicts Jesus instructions to love your neighbour and your enemy. It may have been useful in former times, but Jesus replaced this Law of Violence with the higher idea of a brotherhood of man, with the Law of Love.127 Nonetheless, two millennia after Jesus, patriotism is still widespread: it continues to kindle artificial enmities, arms races, violence and instability, and reduces the 36

LEO TOLSTOY ON THE STATE peoples of the so-called Christian world to a state of brutality.128 A lot of thinking remains to be done for true Christian consciousness to shake off this cruel feeling of patriotism.129 But if patriotism continues to brutalise even the people who come across Jesus rational teaching, it is because these people are hypnotised into adoring their nation and their state system from very early childhood.130 The state will use every trick in the book to instil patriotism in all its citizens, from outright bribery to the use of new technology.131 From childhood on, people are taught to respect what is directly contrary to Jesus teaching to consider violent institutions as sacred, to avenge insults, to judge, condemn, resist and make war.132 As they grow older, men are often obliged to enrol in the army, where brutal discipline is used as another means of stupefying even the softest, most Christian souls.133 Tough training there deprives men of their humanity, of their rationality,134 and turns them into fit instruments for murder.135 When conflict eventually breaks out, all Christians come together and blindly join in the war effort. Tolstoys own words are so moving, and so typical of his style, that they merit their extended quotation:
Wealthy people contribute insignificant portions of their immorally acquired riches to this cause of murder, or to the organization of assistance in the work of murder, while the poor, from whom the government annually collects two milliards, deem it necessary to do likewise, offering their mites also. The government incites and encourages crowds of idlers who walk about the streets with the Tsars portrait, singing and shouting hurrah and under the pretext of patriotism committing all kinds of excesses. All over Russia from the capital to the remotest village the priests in the churches, calling themselves Christians, appeal to the God who enjoined love of ones enemies, the God of love, for help in the devils work the slaughter of men. And stupefied by prayers, sermons, exhortations, processions, pictures, and newspapers, the cannon-fodder hundred of thousands of men dressed alike and carrying various lethal weapons leave their parents, wives, and children, and with agony at heart but with a show of bravado, go where at the risk of their own lives they will commit the most dreadful action, killing men whom they do not know and who have done them no harm. And in their wake go doctors and nurses who for some reason suppose that they cannot serve the simple, peaceful, suffering people at home, but can serve only those who are engaged in slaughtering one another. Those who remain rejoice at the news of the murder of men, and when they learn that a great many Japanese have been killed they thank someone whom they call God.136


ANARCHIST STUDIES These are the dreadful successes of patriotism. Stupefied, hypnotised, brutalised, entire nations of Christians unite (sometimes against one another), each pooling all their resources into the killing of fellow men. They thereby forget the social problems back at home, let alone Jesus wise commands. The folly of patriotism succeeds in making men do the very opposite of what they regard as reasonable. All men say they want peace, but are (artificially made to be) prepared to go to war to defend the Fatherland, their faith, their honour, even civilisation itself; some will moreover feel obliged to go because they have already sworn an oath of allegiance to their government against Jesus very warning not to do so.137 And if asked to explain the obvious contradiction, they will say they are too busy for such discussions, which anyway they regard as idle besides, there is no time to argue when the entire nation is calling for help.138 In other words, patriotism is an incredibly successful method to hypnotise men into submitting to the will of the state. 3.4. The Ultimate Paradox: Universal Conscription Tolstoy therefore maintains that men are caught in a circle of violence made up of four methods that join and support one another.139 The first is intimidation, whereby the state organisation is presented as something sacred and immutable that punishes barbarously any attempts to alter it.140 The second is corruption, which consists in taking wealth from the working population to enrich officials who then use this remuneration to strengthen peoples enslavement.141 The third is hypnotisation of the people, which retards the spiritual development of men and is organised in a complex manner from early schooling to the encouragement of patriotic and religious superstitions using monuments, festivals, censure and so on.142 The fourth method consists in selecting some strong men from the stupefied masses in order to stupefy and brutalise them further and thus make them submissive instruments for government brutality that is, military conscription.143 And for Tolstoy, universal military conscription perfectly exemplifies the profoundly contradictory way of life of Christian states.144 Christian children are sent to Sunday school where there are told that they should turn the other cheek, only to be then duly sent to the army where they learn to resist, to hate, to kill.145 That is to say, men are taught to be at the same time Christians and gladiators;146 and the official teachers of Christianity are paradoxically involved in both.147 The church plays an important role by using its authority to sanction what would otherwise appear blatantly opposed to Jesus rational teaching. On the whole, the methods of instruction used to mould new conscripts are: deception, stupefaction, blows and vodka.148 Together, they ensure that within a year, good, intelligent, healthy-minded lads will 38

LEO TOLSTOY ON THE STATE become brutalised beings just like their instructors.149 These conscripts stop thinking, stifle their conscience and learn to obey blindly and submissively to the point that they do not even realise that by joining the army, they ironically become the perpetrators of their enslavement.150 It is therefore hardly surprising that Emperor Frederick the Great said: If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one of them would remain in the army.151 The existence of the army depends on the brutalisation and stupefaction of conscripts. Otherwise, they would realise how contradictory it is to be Christian and to be a soldier let alone an accomplice in ones own enslavement. This paradox of conscription, however, quickly leads Tolstoy to a comparison of the current state of affairs with the ideal Christian society which, although a very interesting area of Tolstoys thought, is one that falls outside the remit of this article. The point here is that for Tolstoy, instead of recording the social revolution implied in Jesus teaching, history narrates the composition, by political and ecclesiastical elites, of a brutal, dishonest and hypnotic social system that tramples over Jesus rational commandments and enslaves those that navely believe themselves to be his followers. This paradox, according to Tolstoy, is most glaringly obvious in Christian states enforcement of military conscription. 4. THE CONTEMPORARY RELEVANCE OF TOLSTOYS CRITIQUE What, then, does Tolstoys thought tell us? His recurring theme is that the state is a prison that humanity must break out of, but this can only happen if the violence and deception that it is guilty of is exposed. Tolstoy was not comfortable with being called an anarchist because the violence that was then routinely associated with the term was contrary to the non-violence that formed the basis of his own condemnation of the state. Yet this condemnation and his hopes for a stateless society make him an important figure in the broad and eclectic pantheon of anarchist thinkers.152 Besides, he found it curious that people are afraid of anarchists bombs, and are not afraid of this terrible organization which is always threatening them with the greatest calamities153 they fear exceptional and sporadic bombs but not permanent oppression by the state. Even though he was active a hundred years ago, Tolstoys accusations of state violence continue to be (almost self-evidently) relevant today.154 As the recent history of the Middle East indicates, wars continue to be waged (at least partly) to exploit other countries resources, and they continue to cause more conflict further down the line. Laws still lead to violence in the sense that Tolstoy described, and will continue to do so until consensus replaces the tyranny of the majority. Economic exploitation has now spread to a global scale which if anything makes the hiding 39

ANARCHIST STUDIES away of what disturbs any external appearance of harmony even easier. And power is still said to corrupt even the initially most promising political leaders. As to the states structure of deception, again, little seems to have changed. The United Nations was created to eradicate war, and yet great powers still seek, hypocritically, either to use its mechanisms to legitimise their next war or to bypass these mechanisms altogether. Domestically, too, leaders shy away from truly radical reform by citing timeless laws of social science. Units within the state system continue to evade responsibility for state violence: police officers using the full force of the law on demonstrators will say they followed orders, the legislators who passed the initial law will say they were just representing the views of their constituency, and those in between will similarly argue they are just fulfilling their duty. Patriotism today may in some countries not rely much on church collaboration anymore, and may be slightly less pervasive than at the end of the nineteenth century, but in an age of citizenship classes, flag burning and international football, it remains a key hypnotic tool that benefits the state. Universal conscription may be the only element of the states structure of deception that seems to have lost importance since Tolstoys death. Then again, Tolstoy only used it as an illustration of the contradiction inherent in an allegedly Christian society justifying the recruitment of a standing army. If this contradiction is less glaring today, it is not only because many states have returned to professional armies, but also because the role of Christianity has lost much of the importance it still enjoyed in those days. Be that as it may, regardless of his comparisons with any ideal Christian society, and even if Tolstoy passed away long ago, his critique of the state as violent and deceptive continues to resonate in the twenty-first century which means that he does indeed continue to be a worthy member of the family of classical anarchist thinkers. This article has sought to analyse Tolstoys anarchist critique thematically to introduce him to new readers and to invite further readings of his work. If his assessment of the state is even partly right, then his call to humanity to shake itself out of its selfinflicted hypnosis and live in love and forgiveness which he saw as the only possible solution to all this violence and deception might be considered anew. The author wishes to thank Stefan Rossbach, Nassos Christoyannopoulos, Sharif Gemie, Ruth Kinna, and the three anonymous referees for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.



1. Terry Hopton, Tolstoy, God and Anarchism, Anarchist Studies 8 (2000): 2752. 2. Leo Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government, in The Kingdom of God and Peace Essays, trans. Aylmer Maude (New Delhi: Rupa, 2001), 507. 3. Leo Tolstoy, What I Believe <My Religion>, trans. Fyvie Mayo? (London: C. W. Daniel, [1902?]); Leo Tolstoy, Church and State, in On Life and Essays on Religion, trans. Aylmer Maude (London: Oxford University Press, 1934); Leo Tolstoy, A Reply to the Synods Edict of Excommunication, and to Letters Received by Me Concerning It, in On Life and Essays on Religion, trans. Aylmer Maude (London: Oxford University Press, 1934). 4. Tolstoy, What I Believe. 5. The classic biography is Henri Troyat, Tolstoy, trans. Nancy Amphoux (Garden City: Doubleday, 1967). 6. John Bayley, Leo Tolstoy (Plymouth: Northcote House, 1997); E. B. Greenwood, Tolstoy: The Comprehensive Vision (London: Methuen, 1975). 7. Aylmer Maude, The Life of Tolsty (London: Oxford University Press, 1930). 8. Isaiah Berlin, The Hedgehog and the Fox (London: Mentor, 1957); George Orwell, Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool, available from http://www.orwell.ru/ library/essays/lear/english/e_ltf (accessed 7 June 2006); Ronald Sampson, Tolstoy on Power, Journal of the Conflict Research Society 1/2 (1977): 66-74. 9. For Urban, the mystery of the two opinions on Tolstoy mirrors that of the two opinions of Russia. Wilbur B. Urban, Tolstoy and the Russian Sphinx, International Journal of Ethics 28/2 (1918): 220-239. 10. Rene Fueloep-Miller, Tolstoy the Apostolic Crusader, Russian Review 19/2 (1960): 99-121, 99; Marc Slonim, Four Western Writers on Tolstoy, Russian Review 19/2 (1960): 187-204, 190. 11. For instance: J. H. Abraham, The Religious Ideas and Social Philosophy of Tolstoy, International Journal of Ethics 40/1 (1929): 105-120; Archibald A. Bowman, The Elements and Character of Tolstoys Weltanschauung, International Journal of Ethics 23/1 (1912): 59-76, 75; W. B. Gallie, Tolstoy: From War and Peace To The Kingdom of God Is within You, in Philosophers of Peace and War: Kant, Clausewitz, Marx, Engels and Tolstoy (London: Cambridge University Press, 1978); Richard F. Gustafson, Leo Tolstoy: Resident and Stranger: A Study in Fiction and Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986); Hopton, Tolstoy, God and Anarchism, part 1; Slonim, Four Western Writers on Tolstoy, 196, 203; David Stephens, The Non-Violent Anarchism of Leo Tolstoy, in Government Is Violence: Essays on Anarchism and Pacifism, by Leo Tolstoy, ed. David Stephens (London: Phoenix, 1990); George Woodcock, Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975). 12. E. B. Greenwood, Tolstoy and Religion, in New Essays on Tolstoy, ed. Malcolm Jones (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 162; Greenwood, Tolstoy, 125. 13. B. M. Eikhenbaum, On Tolstoys Crises, in Tolstoy: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Ralph E. Matlaw, trans. Ralph E. Matlaw (Englewood Cliffs:


Prentice-Hall, 1967), 53-54; Jane Kentish, Introduction, in A Confession and Other Religious Writings, by Leo Tolstoy (London: Penguin, 1987), 12. R. F. Christian, ed., Tolstoys Diaries, 2 vols., vol. 1 (New York: Scribner, 1985), 101; R. F. Christian, ed., Tolstoys Letters, vol. 1 (London: Athlone, 1978), 95-6. Fedor Stepun, The Religious Tragedy of Tolstoy, Russian Review 19/2 (1960): 157-170, 157. Abraham, The Religious Ideas and Social Philosophy of Tolstoy; Antony Flew, Tolstoi and the Meaning of Life, Ethics: An International Journal of Social, Political, and Legal Philosophy 73/2 (1963): 110-118; Fueloep-Miller, Tolstoy the Apostolic Crusader; A. A. Guseinov, Faith, God, and Nonviolence in the Teachings of Lev Tolstoy, Russian Studies in Philosophy 38/2 (1999): 89-103; Maude, The Life of Tolsty, chap. 2; Stepun, The Religious Tragedy of Tolstoy. Nicolas Berdyaev, The Voice of Conscience from Another World: An Introduction, in Essays from Tula, by Leo Tolstoy, trans. Free Age Press (London: Sheppard, 1948); Greenwood, Tolstoy, chap. 14; Greenwood, Tolstoy and Religion. G. W. Spence, Suicide and Sacrifice in Tolstoys Ethics, Russian Review 22/2 (1963): 157-167; G. W. Spence, Tolstoys Dualism, Russian Review 20/3 (1961): 217-231; G. W. Spence, Tolstoy the Ascetic (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1967). Aylmer Maude, The Life of Tolsty: Later Years (London: Oxford University Press, 1930), chap. 13. George Kennan, A Visit to Count Tolstoi, The Century Magazine 34/2 (1887): 252-265. Hopton, Tolstoy, God and Anarchism, part 1; R. V. Sampson, Tolstoy: The Discovery of Peace (London: Heinemann, 1973). Ernest Howard Crosby, Tolstoy and His Message (BoondocksNet Edition), available from http://www.broondocksnet.com/editions/tolstoy/index.html (accessed 18 August 2003). David Redfearn, Tolstoy: Principles for a New World Order (London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1992). Kenneth C. Wenzer, An Anthology of Tolstoys Spiritual Economics (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 1997); Kenneth C. Wenzer, Tolstoys Georgist spiritual Political Economy (1897-1910): Anarchism and Land Reform, American Journal of Economics and Sociology 56/4 (October 1997): 639-667. Milivoy S. Stanoyevich, Tolstoys Theory of Social Reform. I, The American Journal of Sociology 31/5 (1926): 577-600; Milivoy S. Stanoyevich, Tolstoys Theory of Social Reform. II, The American Journal of Sociology 31/6 (1926): 744-762. For academic textbooks, see for example Andrew Heywood, Political Ideologies: An Introduction, Second ed (London: Macmillan, 1998), 209; Andrew Vincent, Modern Political Ideologies, Second ed (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995), 297. For an example of an academic journal article, see R. B. Fowler, The Anarchist Tradition of Political Thought, The Western Political Quarterly 25/4 (1972): 738-752. Note also that Tolstoys writings have made it into respected readers on anarchism, such as George Woodcock, ed., The Anarchist


15. 16.



19. 20. 21. 22.

23. 24.





Reader (Glasgow: Collins, 1977); Leonard I. Krimerman and Lewis Perry, eds., Patterns of Anarchy: A Collection of Writings on the Anarchist Tradition (Garden City: Anchor, 1966). For more popular press, see for instance Imminent Anarchy Press, The Greatest Violence Is Committed by the State: Reassessing the Works of Tolstoy, Peace News, 28 October 1983, 10. For statements by other anarchists, see for example Peter Kropotkin, Anarchism, from the Encyclopaedia Britannica (Anarchy Archives), available from http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/Kropotkin/britanniaanarchy.ht ml (accessed 26 April 2007); Jim Missey and Joan Thomas, eds., The Book of Ammon by Ammon Hennacy, Second ed. (Baltimore: Fortkamp, 1994), 152. Michael C. Elliott, Anarchism: An Annotated Bibliography, available from http://anz.jesusradicals.com/elliott.doc (accessed 17 July 2006); Michael C. Elliott, Freedom, Justice and Christian Counter-Culture (London: SCM, 1990) 125, 212; D. Novak, The Place of Anarchism in the History of Political Thought, The Review of Politics 20/3 (1958): 307-329, 315; J. Philip Wogaman, Christian Pacifist and Anarchist Perspectives, in Christian Perspectives in Politics (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2000), 57. Hopton, Tolstoy, God and Anarchism; Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism (London: Fontana, 1993), chap. 22. Woodcock, Anarchism, chap. 8. Stephens, The Non-Violent Anarchism of Leo Tolstoy. Brian Morris, Tolstoy and Anarchism (Spunk Library), available from http://www.spunk.org/library/pubs/freedom/raven/sp001746.html (accessed 29 July 2003); Imminent Anarchy Press, The Greatest Violence Is Committed by the State. Peter Brock, Pacifism in Europe to 1914 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972), 465-467; Peter Brock, Tolstoyism and the Hungarian Peasant, Slavonic and Eastern European Review 58/3 (1980): 345-369; Fueloep-Miller, Tolstoy the Apostolic Crusader, 114-119; M. J. de K. Holman, The Purleigh Paul Avrich, Russian Anarchists and the Civil War, Russian Review 27/3 (1968): 296-306; Brock, Pacifism in Europe to 1914, 464-467; Fueloep-Miller, Tolstoy the Apostolic Crusader, 116-119; Kentish, Introduction, 9-10; Viktor Postnikov, Russian Roots: From Populism to Radical Ecological Thought, Anarchist Studies 12/1 (2004): 60-71, 67; Gleb Struve, Tolstoy in Soviet Criticism, Russian Review 19/2 (1960): 171-186; Woodcock, Anarchism, 218. Christian Bartolf, Tolstoys Legacy for Mankind: A Manifesto for Nonviolence, paper presented at Second International Conference on Tolstoy and World Literature, Yasnaya Polyana and Tula, 12-28 August 2000; Brock, Pacifism in Europe to 1914, 468-470; Marshall, Demanding the Impossible, 82, 382; Stephens, The Non-Violent Anarchism of Leo Tolstoy, 18. Kennan, A Visit to Count Tolstoi; Leo Tolstoy, The Law of Love and the Law of Violence, in A Confession and Other Religious Writings, trans. Jane Kentish (London: Penguin, 1987). Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, trans. Aylmer Maude and Louise Maude (Ware: Wordsworth, 1993). Greenwood, Tolstoy, especially chap. 4. Leo Tolstoy, Christianity and Patriotism, in The Kingdom of God and Peace


28. 29. 30. 31.





36. 37. 38.


Essays, trans. Aylmer Maude (New Delhi: Rupa, 2001), 449. At this point, it is worth confessing that Tolstoys language is clearly male-centric: he always speaks of men, never or very rarely of women. Given the stated aim here of frequently quoting Tolstoys own words to convey his poignant voice, this unfortunate bias cannot but be regretfully reflected in this article. Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government, 520. Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, in The Kingdom of God and Peace Essays, trans. Aylmer Maude (New Delhi: Rupa, 2001), 199. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 190-192. Leo Tolstoy, Bethink Yourselves!, in Recollections and Essays, trans. Aylmer Maude (London: Oxford University Press, 1937), 253. Leo Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, in Essays from Tula, trans. Free Age Press (London: Sheppard, 1948), 108. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 110. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 120. Lyof N. Tolsto, What to Do? (London: Walter Scott) 148. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 109-110. This argument is, admittedly, rather questionable; but Tolstoys point is that since laws are made by the affluent minority against the interests of the poor majority, a majority of people are bound to disagree with such unfair legislation such laws certainly do not represent their will. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 111. Tolstoy, The Law of Love and the Law of Violence, 165. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 112. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 118. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 118. Tolstoy, The Law of Love and the Law of Violence, 161. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 119 (Tolstoys emphasis). Leo Tolstoy, I Cannot Be Silent, in Recollections and Essays, trans. Aylmer Maude (London: Oxford University Press, 1937). Tolstoy, I Cannot Be Silent, 404-409. Hopton, Tolstoy, God and Anarchism, 39. For instance: Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, chap. 12; Tolsto, What to Do? chap. 1-2; Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, chap. 1. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 95. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 71. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 100. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 117. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 117. Tolsto, What to Do? 143. Tolsto, What to Do? chap. 26. Tolsto, What to Do? chap. 26. Tolsto, What to Do? 145.

39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47.

48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67.



68..Tolsto, What to Do? chap. 28-30. 69. Tolsto, What to Do? 76. 70. Tolsto, What to Do? 173, and more generally chap. 31. 71. Tolsto, What to Do? chap. 32. 72. Tolsto, What to Do? 183-184. 73. Tolsto, What to Do? 133. 74. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 315-316. 75. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 315-318. 76. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 113-114. 77. Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government, 516. 78. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 162. 79. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 164. 80. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 265. 81. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 267 (emphasis removed). 82. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 124-125. 83. Tolsto, What to Do? 106. 84. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 186-187. 85. Kennan, A Visit to Count Tolstoi; Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 269. 86. Tolstoy, The Law of Love and the Law of Violence, chap. 2. 87. Thus the two main lines of criticism articulated by Tolstoy of state violence and deception reflect the two forms of anarchist criticism of government highlighted by Kinna. Ruth Kinna, Anarchism: A Beginners Guide (Oxford: Oneworld, 2005), 46. 88. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 160; Tolstoy, Bethink Yourselves!, chap. 5. 89. Brock, Pacifism in Europe to 1914 460. 90. Tolstoy, Bethink Yourselves!, 226-227; Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government, chap. 5. 91. Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government, chap. 5. 92. Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government, chap. 5; Tolstoy, Christianity and Patriotism, chap. 5. 93. Tolstoy, Christianity and Patriotism. 94. Tolstoy, Christianity and Patriotism, 442. 95. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 91; Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 237. 96. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, chap. 7; Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 398. 97. Tolsto, What to Do? chap. 38. 98. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 101. 99. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 101. 100. Tolsto, What to Do? chap. 26.


101. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 378. 102. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 181. 103. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 287. 104. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, chap. 2. 105. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, chap. 3. 106. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 85 (emphasis added). 107. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 85-86. 108. Hopton, Tolstoy, God and Anarchism, 37. 109. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 351; the same idea is expressed pages 325-326. 110. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 320, 352-358. 111. Tolstoy, What I Believe 46-47. 112. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 349. 113. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 358. 114. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 354. 115. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 360. 116. Tolstoy, I Cannot Be Silent, 396. 117. Tolstoy, I Cannot Be Silent, 399-402. Tolstoys extensive criticisms of the church constitute too big a topic for this article suffice to note here that he was just as critical of the church as of the state, and that in fact he considered them accomplices in each others depravity. 118. Tolstoy, The Law of Love and the Law of Violence, 211. 119. Respectively: Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government, 503; Tolstoy, Christianity and Patriotism, 460, 469, 472, and 435. 120. Hopton, Tolstoy, God and Anarchism, 38. 121. Tolstoy, Christianity and Patriotism, 466. 122. Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government, 508. 123. Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government, 509. 124. Tolstoy, Christianity and Patriotism, 474. 125. Tolstoy, Christianity and Patriotism, 475. 126. Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government, 527. 127. Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government, 507. 128. Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government, 511. 129. Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government, chap. 9. 130. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 466; Tolstoy, Christianity and Patriotism, 332-333. 131. Tolstoy, Christianity and Patriotism, chap. 15. 132. Tolstoy, What I Believe 21. 133. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 30-33. 134. Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times, 123. 135. Leo Tolstoy, Thou Shalt Not Kill, in Recollections and Essays, trans. Aylmer Maude (London: Oxford University Press, 1937), 196.



136. Tolstoy, Bethink Yourselves!, 212-213. 137. Tolstoy, Bethink Yourselves!, chap. 4. 138. Tolstoy, Bethink Yourselves!, 221-222. 139. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 211. 140. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 211-212. 141. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 212. 142. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 212-214. 143. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 214-215. 144. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, chap. 7. Although since the Second World War, many such states have taken a step back towards the maintenance of a professional army (but only by relying on the threat of nuclear weapons as a deterrent to compensate for the loss of manpower), the very fact that they had come to such a low shows how unchristian the state essentially is. Besides, Tolstoy would probably see the return to professional armies as a cunning way for elites to make this particular contradiction inherent in Christian societies less glaring. Either way, for Tolstoy, universal conscription is only an example, albeit a powerful one, in support of his case against the state it is not the cause of his dislike of the state, but merely the ultimate illustration of the fundamental contradiction upon which the state is based. 145. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 139. 146. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 146. 147. Tolstoy, What I Believe 95; Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 338339. 148. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 341. 149. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 341. 150. Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is within You, 195. 151. Quoted in Tolstoy, Bethink Yourselves!, 229. 152. Hopton, Tolstoy, God and Anarchism. 153. Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government, 517. 154. Equally relevant today is his call for humanity to forego once and for all the use of violent means to try to achieve however laudable ends (a view that obviously defines Tolstoys position in the everlasting debate among anarchists over the use of violence). This particular call and its relevance to the war on terrorism is discussed in Alexandre J. M. E. Christoyannopoulos, Turning the Other Cheek to Terrorism: Reflections on the Contemporary Significance of Leo Tolstoys Exegesis of the Sermon on the Mount, Politics and Religion 1/1 (2008): forthcoming.


Beyond primitivism: Towards a twenty-first century anarchist theory and praxis for science and technology
CHARLES THORPE AND IAN WELSH Dr Charles Thorpe Department of Sociology University of California, San Diego Dr Ian Welsh School of Social Sciences Cardiff University ABSTRACT The authoritarian and ecologically destructive juggernaut of statesupported big science and technology in the twentieth century understandably fostered a deep pessimism and suspicion towards science and technology among many in the green, anarchist, and libertarian-left milieu. This reaction has been crystallized in the anti-civilization primitivist anarchism of John Zerzan. In opposition to this drift towards primitivism, this paper argues that a vision of a liberatory and participative science and technology was an essential element of classical anarchism and that this vision remains vital to the development of liberatory political theory and praxis today. The paper suggests that an anarchist model of science and technology is implicit in the knowledge-producing and organizing activities of new social movements and is exemplified in recent developments in world, regional, and local social forums. INTRODUCTION This article develops an anarchist political theory of science and technology that highlights the latent forms of anarchist praxis present within a diverse range of social movement engagements with contemporary techno-science. We argue that there is a marked congruence between contemporary social movement engagement and the key concepts and principles underpinning anarchist writing on science and technology from the nineteenth century onwards. By exploring the tensions and ambivalences in established anarchist approaches towards science (cf. Restivo 1994) we demonstrate that classical nineteenth-century anarchism emphasised the centrality of socially accountable science within libertarian thinking. Elements of this tradition are 48

BEYOND PRIMITIVISM discernible in the emphasis on liberatory technics by twentieth-century writers such as Lewis Mumford, Murray Bookchin, and Paul Goodman. This later work on liberatory technics developed during a period dominated by state-sponsored big science. The twenty-first century, however, is dominated by neo-liberal ascendancy characterised by the early transfer of near market science to the private sector. This transition to a neo-liberal era requires clarification of, and debate on, the relationship of anarchism to science. Further, such debate must address the global movement milieu in which traditionally conceived social movements combine with network movement actors to form an antagonistic and proactive social force emphasising autonomy. Important features of this movement milieu are unqualified opposition to: the alignment of capitalist and state forces through global institutions such as the World Bank and IMF; the military sequestration of public and corporate scientific research and development (R&D) budgets; the imposition of market solutions across all areas of public provision and the pursuit of modernisation agendas which simultaneously degrade ecological and human integrity. Global social movements also challenge the prevailing cognitive order by defining key knowledge stakes regarded as vital to the other worlds that are possible. The recognition and respect for difference is a central part of these linked political and epistemological objectives raising significant challenges for conceptions of science based on universal laws. Key questions explored here are what does the philosophical and political tradition of anarchism have to contribute to such contemporary challenges to dominant social-epistemic orders and is there a theory of science embedded in anarchist political thought that is relevant and applicable to contemporary struggles? Given the continuing importance of science to modern states and the neo-liberal global knowledge economy, a critical anarchist theory of science and technology needs to overcome the limitations within various forms of primitivism exemplified by the writings of John Zerzan (1996). Zerzans criticisms of alienation in modern life and of the nihilism of contemporary technological culture are trenchant. But, from this critique, Zerzan leads his readers to a quasi-religious ideal of a return to a wild Eden (cf. Aufheben, 1995). Primitivism neglects the anarchist intellectual tradition examined here. Rather than a return to simpler technics, we argue that the ideas and the epistemic practices of contemporary social movements constitute the basis for non-totalising forms of scientific knowledge and scientific practices resonating with anarchist emphases on decentralisation, horizontal structures, and diversity. This emergent anarchist or proto-anarchist politics of science and technology is necessary to transcend the limits of contemporary state-corporate science which has reached a plateau (Mumford 1934/1972) encountering paradigm limits, which can only be tran49

ANARCHIST STUDIES scended through alternative epistemic practices consistent with the autonomous self-organization of society. We deliberately re-emphasise the potential for the socially shaped and negotiated democratic technics advanced by Mumford (1964). As Bookchin argued, resistance to authoritarian science and technology makes the formulation of an alternative liberatory conceptualization of science a critical political task. Indeed, whilst many contemporary social struggles are perceived as against established science they also contain liberatory promise and alternative epistemic practices and priorities. Such struggles hold out the promise of a liberatory science with an affinity toward anarchist modes of self-organization as an increasingly diverse range of citizens learn to combine observational, recording, and analytical capacities constituting a potential for proactive grassroots initiatives. An anarchistic organization of science requires such decentralized, networkordered and bottom-up cognitive and material structures consistent with the political ideal of anarchist(ic) social freedom. SCIENCE, STATIST MODERNITY AND OPPOSITIONAL MOVEMENTS Our contemporary focus combined with the use of anarchist theory from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries makes a concise account of key state science society relations important for purposes of clarity. This section not only identifies key analytical objectives but also offers some explanation for the retreat from anarchist accounts of liberatory science and technology into primitivism. The centuries-old relationship between science and the military and political power of the state (Carroll 2006, Bennett and Johnston 1996) was transformed with the scientization of warfare during the twentieth century. Unprecedented levels of state funding of science, combined with large bureaucratic establishments, marked a transition to big science (Galison & Hevly 1992). Big science is widely theorised as part of a military-industrial complex and best known for the atomic bomb and large-scale civilian nuclear power programmes; and it requires cadres of technocratic experts to administer complex systems. The success of the US Manhattan project in building an atomic bomb (Welsh, 2000; Thorpe, 2004, 2006) and the subsequent application of general systems theory within post-war military nuclear projects were central in consolidating and aligning politics and science around a shared belief in technocratic solutions to problems of both technical and social order. Faith in the institutional ability of science to ensure progress by producing technical and social order, the use of scientific prowess as a measure of state legitimacy and the importance of technology as a strategic state resource resulted in a period of peak modernity (Welsh 2000). 50

BEYOND PRIMITIVISM The commitment to large-scale techno-scientific approaches was not confined to the West but found forms of expression within Soviet Communism. Despite ideological differences and clear distinguishing features such as Lysenkoism, the commitment to national techno-scientific projects in the US and the USSR had many similarities. In both West and East nuclear techno-science agendas in particular were pursued irrespective of local opposition, general population risks, and scientific uncertainty by utilising secrecy and surveillance techniques combined with high profile symbolic declarations of national prominence and world leadership. The associated practices included denying any significant risks from the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons and asserting the categorical safety of nuclear reactors, whilst at the same time injecting unknowing citizens with plutonium to assess the actual health effects (Welsome, 1999). The sciences most closely intertwined with the military-industrial complex were characterized by increasing technological dependence upon the state as the scale, complexity, and cost of the necessary apparatus increased exponentially. Science became deeply embedded within the statemilitary nexus as an expression of a hierarchical social order extending far into the fabric of civil society. The rise of corporate big science often in partnership with state big science projects grew in the post-war era. In the late twentieth century the ascendancy of neo-liberalism resulted in the transfer of near market science to the public sector and free market competition replaced ideological competition. Neo-liberal ascendancy consolidated state sponsorship of computing and bio-technology within the knowledge economy whilst the cost of pursing big science physics agendas like nuclear fusion required multi-state partnerships. A free market/multi-state phase shift reconfiguring techno-science has taken place whilst residual examples of multi-state big science persist. Near market sciences, like human genetic engineering, thus carry both technical and social risks through the exercise of individual market choices raising the prospect of neo-liberal eugenics (Habermas 2003). Simultaneously, state legal and security resources are used to protect companies and research facilities linking environmental activism with terrorism (Welsh 2007) as global trade agreements structure and secure global markets for GM crops. Critical commentary on the associated science and technics in all but this most recent phase shift are well established within the anarchist canon. Lewis Mumford captured the essential features of the centralized high-modern state and large-scale complex technological systems with his notions of authoritarian technics and the megamachine (Mumford 1964). Deeply affected by the use of the atomic bomb, Mumford argued that democratic culture was being eroded by the development of sociotechnological systems embedding authoritarian relations of command and 51

ANARCHIST STUDIES control and the rise of centralised global power over life and death (Mumford 1953). The existence of nuclear weapons states led by men able to unleash devastation threatening centuries of human civilization called for an urgent re-ordering of relations between science and society. Mumfords central guide to this re-ordering was the evaluation of all scientific and technical developments in terms of the potential to enhance life and human welfare and the restoration of the organic, the human and the personal to a central place in economics (Mumford 1954: 290). Mumfords emphasis upon agency in the face of the megamachine deserves re-examination within the contemporary milieu where the totalising accounts of science and technology as technique, such as those of Jacques Ellul, tend to dominate. Elluls notion of autonomous technique (Ellul 1965) and its centrality to what he saw after Nietzsche - as that coldest of all cold monsters, the modern state (Ellul 1988: 2) are important. However, the influential focus on autonomous technique as the precursor of autonomous technology (Winner 1978) pre-empts the potential for social shaping of techno-science, neglecting the ways in which social actors reject, subvert and hybridise techniques vital to state corporate initiatives (Welsh 2000: 26-27). The techno-scientific projects of peak modernity drew on cultural narratives of rational progress which simultaneously legitimised state authority. State-centric attempts to mobilise modernity stalled in the latter part of the twentieth century as the associated narratives were increasingly undercut and challenged by new social movements, confronted by technological disasters such as Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, the increased public awareness of risk, and the fiscal burden that continued support for big science imposed on states. The decline of the nuclear industry in Britain and the US in the latter decades of the twentieth century vividly illustrates the erosion of legitimacy of narratives and forms of peak modernity. Welsh (2000) has demonstrated how the epistemic issues underpinning this process were initially formalised by citizens at a local level during the 1950s before accumulating sufficient social force to counter official pronouncements and thereby making social acceptability a central feature of science policy. Rather than the universal acceptance of technique and the imposition of autonomous technology it is important not to lose sight of science and technology as socially contested and socially constructed enterprises. The process of contestation and construction is continuous and iterative in practise and difficult to divide up into distinct phases. Zygmunt Bauman, for example, has argued that the collapse of the USSR represented the end of modernity, because what collapsed was the most decisive attempt to make modernity work (Bauman 1992: 222). Whilst the end of the Cold War also threatened to undermine the legitimacy of the American military52

BEYOND PRIMITIVISM industrial complex and associated big science projects, pronouncements of the death of modernity were premature. Modernity was in effect reinvented in the guise of neo-liberal market efficiency and rationality recasting state alignment with techno-science. The pursuit of post-Cold War American hegemony beginning with the first Gulf War in 1990 and the post 9/11 war on terror have seen the construction of new grand narratives and renewed state support for science as a component of the military-industrial complex, with projects from the missile shield to total information awareness. In the European Union, the bio-society was initially defined as the conscious management of self-organizing systems for sustenance and enrichment of human life and purposes and vital to the knowledge economy (Green & Griffith-Jones 1984:9). The mapping of the human genome in 2000 implicitly extends the potential for management and efficiency to human life itself (Welsh 2007a). The contemporary situation is thus characterised both by the attempt to relegitimise techno-scientific state projects of peak modernity, such as nuclear power, and promote emergent market forms of techno-science. The accompanying grand narratives simultaneously support state power and the efficacy of the market. The failure of these new grand narratives (whether the export of democracy, or biotech visions of progress associated with GMOs) to become hegemonic owes much to the challenges posed by social movements. The scientific and technocratic claims of neo-liberalism in economics, development, R&D, and wider social policy domains have been increasingly challenged and contested by established and emergent collective actors. From trades unions to a third generation of social movements advancing a nonrepresentational politics prioritising direct interest representation and action there are few areas of the so called Washington consensus that have not been challenged (Chesters & Welsh 2006, Notes from Nowhere 2003). Whilst the vitality of this movement of movements is attributed to the new anarchists (Graeber 2002) and actively addressed within contemporary anarchist debates (e.g. Welsh & Purkis 2003, Chesters 2003) the contemporary relationship between anarchism and techno-science receives little attention. We aim to redress this by showing how the key concepts and analytical concerns of Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin relate to the work of twentieth-century writers emphasising the liberatory potential of science and technology and by examining contemporary examples of engagements with techno-science. BAKUNINS CRITIQUE OF THE SAVANTS Bakunins most systematic sociology of knowledge appears in his 1871 essay God and the State (Bakunin 1970). The essay presents a classic critique of religion as ideology and alienation, exposing the function of 53

ANARCHIST STUDIES religion in pacifying society, mystifying social relations, and legitimating domination by elites. However, what makes God and the State so intellectually original, and provides its chief continuing relevance is Bakunins analysis of science and the relationship between science and the revolutionary project of anarchism. The primary targets of Bakunins critique of science were Auguste Comte and Karl Marx, both of whom Bakunin saw as constructing blueprints for the government of society by scientific elites (or as Bakunin labelled them, savants). The idea of scientists as a new priesthood put forward by Comte as a programme for social and political reform was adopted as a critical term by Bakunin. The idea of a scientific priesthood for Bakunin epitomized the potential for science to become a force of hierarchy and reaction. Bakunin saw similar authoritarian and reactionary potential in Marxs notion of scientific socialism, particularly when combined with the notion of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This combination, Bakunin argued, would tend towards the dictatorship of intellectuals and bureaucrats, justified as acting on behalf of the proletariat. These were not just critiques of the particular political programmes of Comte and Marx, but more broadly applicable formulations of a new class theory i.e. a theory of the potential for intellectuals and knowledgeelites to constitute themselves as a new dominant class (King and Szelenyi 2004, esp. 21-24). We would suggest that Bakunins critique of government-by-science and his political scepticism regarding expert authority can be applied not only to Comtean and Marxian social engineering, but also to the ways in which the natural sciences have frequently been partnered with the state in the government of both natural and social orders. For Bakunin, like Marx, the celebration of scientific materialism as an emancipatory movement of thought was a corollary of the critique of religion. Yet, unlike Marx, Bakunin highlighted the danger of a scientific elite taking over the socially pacifying functions of religion. This caution and ambivalence around science, has been, along with contrasting positions on the state and revolutionary organisation, a key axis separating anarchist and Marxist traditions. Bakunin celebrates science as a humanizing force, expressive of humanitys break with its animal origins, and indeed a rebellious force overturning traditional and religious preconceptions (Bakunin 1970: 2021). Yet he suggests that over time, science has tended to become routinized and incorporated into structures of power: a process akin to Max Webers routinization of charisma. The revolutionary prophet of science gives way to the institutionalized member of a new scientific priesthood. Bakunin made a distinction between the absolute laws of nature discovered by science and the laws of government: the former being descriptive, the latter prescriptive (cf. Morris 1993: 130-131). Laws of nature, he 54

BEYOND PRIMITIVISM suggested, encompassed not only causal regularities of Newtonian physics, but also regularities of human behaviour and patterns of history (although the science of history was in its infancy). Nevertheless, Bakunin rejected any role for scientists as philosopher kings, as a Baconian-Comtean learned academy, or as Marxist scientific party intellectuals, handing down directives to the masses based on knowledge of these natural and social regularities (Bakunin 1970: 30-31). In rejecting these institutionalizations of scientific authority, he provided the key insights of his political theory of science. Bakunin asserts that there is a difference between accepting a fact of nature based on ones individual reason and sense experience and accepting it on the basis of deference to the authority of the expert. But his critique is more complex and sophisticated than just the liberal empiricist idea that individuals should trust experience over authority. He recognized that it is not always possible to rely on ones own senses and that there exists therefore a cognitive division of labour. So his writing acknowledges the authority of a variety of savants or experts whilst emphasising that the acceptance of this authority is an act of individual rationality not subordination (Bakunin 1970: 33). The key distinction is between being an authority and being in authority (Friedman 1990: 76-80). The scientific thinker is legitimately an authority in their field, but the Comtean idea of the new priesthood illegitimately seeks to place scientific intellectuals in authority as rulers of society. Bakunin argues that any attempt to translate scientific knowledge into governmental omniscience faces insuperable barriers. These are firstly limits on the knowledge of any individual. There can be no universal man, no genuine polymath (Bakunin 1970: 34). The growth and increasing complexity of the stock of knowledge makes us increasingly interdependent, fostering mutual aid. But even more fundamentally for Bakunin, it is one thing to know abstract science, but it is another thing to apply that science to life. This distinction between science and life is the key axis around which Bakunins epistemology and sociology of science and his defence of freedom against the dominance of experts turns (Knowles 2002: 10-11). Science is abstract and general, but life is concrete and particular. For Bakunin, [s]cience comprehends the thought of the reality, not reality itself; the thought of life, not life. That is its limit, its only really insuperable limit (Bakunin 1970: 54). All knowledge is mediated through human perceptual and interpretative faculties, introducing an inescapable element of contingency. The ordering of the world into categories involves a process of abstraction. Such abstraction is necessary for the generation of knowledge, but we ought not to think that our abstract accounts of reality can capture the complexity of reality itself (Bakunin 1970: 54-55). 55

ANARCHIST STUDIES For Bakunin, this gulf between science and life means that the technocratic ideal of a society legislated for and ordered by savants would be unworkable (as well as being tyrannical). The Comtean ideal of a system of government based on a universal science of sociology runs into the problem of the inherent limits of abstract social science faced with the particularity of individuals within society:
Positive science, recognizing its absolute inability to conceive real individuals and interest itself in their lot, must definitely and absolutely renounce all claim to the government of societies; for if it should meddle therein, it would only sacrifice continually the living men whom it ignores to the abstractions which constitute the sole object of its legitimate preoccupations (Bakunin 1970: 60-61).

Individual freedom eludes the determinism of scientific law precisely because of the particularity and concreteness of the individual which escapes abstraction. The complexity and richness of the concrete and particular life always escapes scientific description: Life, Bakunin writes, is wholly fugitive and temporary, but also wholly palpitating with reality and individuality, sensibility, sufferings, joys, aspirations, needs, and passions (Bakunin 1970: 55). All science, whether natural or social, is inherently limited by its abstractness. However, Bakunin suggests that the scientific intellectual is wedded to abstractness, indeed that the very mark of such an intellectual is the fetishism of abstract knowledge. This fetishism can involve the confusion of description for reality, in the assumption that life is just as it is described by science. It can involve also the privileging of abstract knowledge over concrete life. For this reason, Bakunin describes scientific intellectuals, alongside theologians, as priests of abstractions (Bakunin 1970: 59-60). He suggests that the scientific intellectual posits abstract or codified knowledge as superior to concrete life in a similar manner to the fetishism of religious doctrine or of a transcendent divine order. The fetishism of abstract knowledge constitutes a social group of intellectuals, a new priesthood, outside and above concrete life. Science has been constituted outside of life, it is represented by a privileged body; and it has posited itself as an absolute and final object of all human development (Bakunin 1970: 60). The prioritisation of abstract knowledge over concrete life tends towards the governance of the concrete, particular, and quotidian by the representatives of abstraction. Further, Bakunin suggests that where the gap between scientific abstract ideas and reality becomes apparent, the scientific priesthood attempts to mould reality in the image of the abstract idea. As science feels its vital impotence (Bakunin 1970: 55) in the face of the intractable complexity of life, it seeks to discipline life (social life 56

BEYOND PRIMITIVISM and nature) to fit its abstract models. Hence, the scientific will to knowledge becomes a will to power. Science becomes, therefore the perpetual immolation of life, fugitive, temporary, but real, on the altar of eternal abstractions (Bakunin 1970: 57). For Bakunin, vivisection, as a literal sacrifice of life, embodied this tendency. Whilst Bakunin thought it well nigh certain that a savant would not dare to treat a man to-day as he treats a rabbit, he suggested that if science was denied access to the bodies of individuals, they will ask nothing better than to perform [experiments] on the social body (Bakunin 1970: 56). Bakunins use of experiments on the social body was aimed at Comtean and Marxian schemes to reorder society according to a social scientific model. However, a 21st century perspective extends the scope of the idea with critical science studies scholars in India using the term vivisectionism to refer to the Western project of dominating nature through science and technology in combination with a colonial arrogance, as exemplified in the Bhopal disaster (Nandy, 1988). The big science ambitions of democratic states have resulted in experiments on citizens such as injecting human subjects with doses of plutonium and ordering soldiers to march towards atomic mushroom clouds akin to those which Bakunin thought even the savant would eschew (Welsome, 1999; Moreno, 2000). Experiments on the social body have been conducted by both social and natural scientists. High-risk, complex technological systems such as nuclear power stations are always real-world experiments since theoretical laboratory-based models can neither adequately predict the complex interactions of their components with the subjectivity of human operators nor the behaviour of radionuclides in open environments. Significant reactor accidents at Windscale in 1957, Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986 all involved gaps in scientific and/or technical knowledge, combined with operator actions or errors, underlining the way in which modern techno-science routinely jeopardises the natural and social world (Krohn and Weingart, 1987; Weingart, 1991, Welsh 2000). The introduction of genetically modified organisms into open ecological systems is similarly an experiment conducted in and with the real natural and social world (Levidow 2007). Further, Bakunins idea of attempts to subjugate life to abstract ideas could be applied to the techno-scientific re-engineering of nature. The reduction of ecological complexity to monoculture in agricultural biotechnology, which reaches its apotheosis in cloning (Bowring 2003), brings to mind Bakunins statement that every time that scientific men, emerging from their abstract world, mingle with living creation in the real world, all that they propose or create is poor, ridiculously abstract, bloodless and lifeless, still-born. (Bakunin 1970: 55). Whether intended or not, a powerful, and strikingly contemporary, ecological message can be found 57

ANARCHIST STUDIES in Bakunins conception of life, just as it can be found also in Kropotkins Mutual Aid (1902). This dominatory aspect of modern science, for Bakunin, derived from its hierarchical organization and relationship to the broader society. In that sense, Bakunin was describing what Bookchin termed an epistemology of rule structures of thought or mentalities that are patterned after and reinforce lines of command and obedience (Bookchin 1982: 89). The separateness of science from life and the quest of science to master life derive, Bakunin suggests, from the position of science in a structure of social hierarchy and domination. The impulse toward the domination of life is driven by the existence of science as a privileged class or professional monopoly, with institutionalized interests in maintaining hierarchy and power (Bakunin 1970: 63). TOWARD A LIBERATORY SCIENCE Bakunin called for the revolt of life against science, or rather against the government of science (Bakunin 1970: 59, emphases in original). But he explained that what he meant was not to destroy science that would be high treason to humanity but to remand it to its place (Bakunin 1970: 59). Remanding science to its place means abolishing the hierarchical relationship between science and the life of society. Against the monopolisation of scientific knowledge by a priestly hierarchy, Bakunin urged a Reformation of science targeting the established social institutions which simultaneously consolidate its power base and ossify its theories. The tension between recognizing science as indispensable to the rational organization of society, on the one hand, and strenuously avoiding government by science, on the other, can, Bakunin says, be solved only in one way: by the liquidation of science as a moral being existing outside the life of all. Instead, science must be spread among the masses. This social democratization of science, Bakunin suggests, will tend to break down the epistemic separation of knowledge from life: it will become one in fact with the immediate and real life of all individuals. Through this process of democratization, science can begin to play its genuine historical role as the property of everybody, science can represent societys collective consciousness (Bakunin 1970: 62). But is Bakunins conception of a democratized science and the dissolution of the divide between science and life merely utopian fantasy? Bakunin suggested that rebelling bourgeois students could act as fraternal instructors of the people (Bakunin 1970: 64). Yet, characteristically, he left the detail of an anarchistic organization of science unspecified. The key concrete measure discussed is the extension of scientific education to the mass of the population and the development of an integral education breaking down 58

BEYOND PRIMITIVISM the division between mental and manual work (Bakunin 1869). This is consistent with anarchist aversion to laying out blueprints and the desire to let emancipated people discover modes of association for themselves. Bakunin probably thought that a liberatory science would organically emerge from a society in which hierarchy had been dissolved. Yet, it is clear to us that the development of liberatory and participatory forms of science and technology cannot be projected idealistically into the future, but must develop simultaneously and hand-in-hand with any broader liberatory movement. As we go on to argue below, participatory forms are indeed discernible within contemporary social movement milieux. Whilst liberal thinkers such as the American philosopher John Dewey call for the dissemination of scientific knowledge, method, and habits throughout the polity, Bakunins vision was that science itself would be transformed in this process with radical democratization fundamentally reordering the epistemic values and goals of science and the relationship between theory and phenomena. So whereas liberal philosophers have frequently treated science as a model polity, for Bakunin, science and its epistemic values were to be modelled on (and thereby assimilated into) the ideal polity. The notion of the transformation of science in line with anarchist principles is also found in the work of Peter Kropotkin. As a naturalist, Kropotkin emphasized the role of scientific knowledge in providing an empirical and theoretical foundation for anarchist political ideas (Todes 1993; Morris 2002, 2003).1 To Kropotkin, the political ideal of mutual aid could be scientifically demonstrated to be a fundamental principle of nature, in that way naturalizing the anarchist polity. He asserted that anarchism as a political movement was founded on scientific principles: Anarchism is a worldconcept based upon a mechanical explanation of all phenomena Its method of investigation is that of the exact natural sciences, and every conclusion it comes to must be verified by the method by which every scientific conclusion must be verified (Kropotkin 1976: 60). His rejection of metaphysics and the Hegelian and Marxist dialectic favoured natural-scientific method based on induction and deduction (Kropotkin 1976: 62). Much of his discussion of science in Modern Science and Anarchism appears to be nave empiricism and hints at latter day logical positivism (however, see Morris 2003). But in other ways, Kropotkins views on science can be seen to echo Bakunins. Kropotkins avowed privileging of the inductive method building theory via the accumulation of empirical evidence and subjecting it to empirical verification can be seen as equivalent to Bakunins prioritization of concrete life over abstract theory. So, while Kropotkin describes anarchism as following the scientific method, he also asserts that the anarchist movement sprang up in response to the lessons of actual life and originated from the practical 59

ANARCHIST STUDIES tendencies of events. Anarchism was not an attempt to model politics and society on theory; rather, it originated from the demands of practical life (Kropotkin 1976: 64, 63). Interestingly, the inductive method also mirrors the structure of Kropotkins ideal political structure of anarchist federalism. Just as in an anarchist federation of communes, where primacy is given to the grassroots, in the cognitive structure of induction the concrete grassroots of observation is privileged over the autocracy of high theory. Kropotkin could therefore be seen to be constructing a conception of science congruent with the political order of anarchism. It is also clear that Kropotkin shares Bakunins view that the professional monopoly of science by the savants has to be broken. So, despite his assertion of the close relationship between science and anarchism, Kropotkin emphasized that [n]ot out of the universities does anarchism come anarchism was born among the people; and it will continue to be full of life and creative power only as long as it remains a thing of the people (Kropotkin 1976: 57). Science was not born among the people: most [men of science] either belong by descent to the possessing classes and are steeped in the prejudices of their class, or else are in the actual service of the government (Kropotkin 1976: 57). But Kropotkin thought that science too had to become a thing of the people. In other words, the possessing classes had to be dispossessed of science. Like Bakunin, Kropotkin saw that the social extension of science required its epistemic transformation. Crucially, this would require and make possible the breakdown of the division between mental and manual labour, the pretext (Kropotkin 1998: 169), around which science was constructed in class society resulting in a fundamental distortion of the scientific ideal (Kropotkin 1927: 101). Whilst the early modern science of Galileo and Newton did not despise manual work and handicraft (Kropotkin 1998: 169), modern science becomes compromised through the class-based separation of science from manual labour and the related distinction between pure and applied science. Kropotkin therefore calls for the collective and popular organization of scientific work (Kropotkin 1998: 182; Smith, 1989). For Kropotkin, science should not be the property of an elite, but a participatory-democratic activity practised in common in free association. In this way, Kropotkin, like Bakunin, sought to root science in life, and in the common life of society. Bakunins critique of a science separate from life also finds more recent echo in Murray Bookchins The Ecology of Freedom. Bakunins protest of life against a mechanized, hierarchical, and alienating science is ecologized by Bookchin. Bookchin puts forward an epistemology that privileges the concreteness of nature against abstractions of theory or reductionism. In language reminiscent of Bakunin, Bookchin writes: To recover the supremacy of the concrete with its rich wealth of qualities, differentia and 60

BEYOND PRIMITIVISM solidity over and beyond a transcendental concept of science as method is to slap the face of an arrogant intellectualism with the ungloved hand of reality (Bookchin 1982: 308). Bookchins presentation is even vaguer than Bakunin or Kropotkins when it comes to setting out what this new approach would actually entail. Presumably, Bookchin, with his influences from Hegel and Marx, would not accept a narrowly empiricist or inductivist account of science as just the accumulation of facts. His presentation in The Ecology of Freedom is somewhat allusive. Nevertheless, Bookchin sums up the essential purpose and spirit of the anarchist engagement with science when he asserts that the critique of existing science does not entail a flight to irrationalism: Just as we can justifiably distinguish between an authoritarian and a libertarian technics, so too can we distinguish between authoritarian and libertarian modes of reason (Bookchin 1982: 302-303). Bookchin has little to say about how this liberatory science would be organised, although it is fair to assume that the breaking down of professional monopoly is a requisite for him also, following from his firm rejection of any environmentalistic technocracy (Bookchin 1982: 314). Sociologist of science Brian Martin has set out more concrete and practical proposals for achieving an anarchistic approach to science. He has made practical proposals for activists to confront, challenge, and debunk expert testimony (Martin 1991) and has gone some way to setting out an anarchist science policy aimed precisely at rescuing science from professional monopoly. Like Bakunin and Kropotkin, Martin is optimistic about the possibility of a science collectivized, popularised, and distributed as a common self-managing social activity. Martins work emphasises the significance of social movement actors as social forces constitutive of a peoples science, capable of challenging technocratic legitimations of state agencies. His work thus highlights the importance of the interaction between such actors and the prevailing institutional structures of science (Martin 1979, 1980, 1994). SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND SCIENCE A philosophical manifesto for new social movement engagement with science, and an updating of some of Bakunins key arguments, can be seen in the work of the philosopher of science, Paul Feyerabend. Whilst Feyerabends work on the philosophy and history of science is best known for the catchphrase anything goes, (Feyerabend 1975/80), his response to the ensuing debates, Science in a Free Society (Feyerabend 1978/82), remains less well known. In this book, he self-identifies as an epistemological anarchist but not as an advocate of political anarchism. Despite this, Science in a Free Society does go beyond epistemology to develop a libertarian political philosophy of science. 61

ANARCHIST STUDIES Feyerabends writing pre-figured contemporary debates and experiments in citizen science, arguing that participating in citizens initiatives was the minimum requirement to achieve wisdom and justice in dealings in this area (Feyerabend 1982: 107). His argument that [l]aymen can and must supervise science (Feyerabend 1982: 96-97) recognised that discipline-based scientific knowledge acting in conjunction with other influences of standpoint (e.g. employment in particular commercial, industrial, or political organisations) tended towards a closed circuit of elite communication. His point that [o]nly rarely does it occur to them that it is not their business but the business of those immediately concerned to decide the matter (Feyerabend 1982: 118) recognises the anarchist principle of direct representation (Franks 2003). Mature democratic behaviour is learned by active participation in decisions that are still to be made (Feyerabend 1982: 87) based on the disclosure of all available and necessary information and due time for the necessary deliberation, however frustrating the necessary timescales may be for technocratic and authoritarian demands for snap decision-making. This process of iterative and incremental learning and transformative engagement is Feyerabends preferred mode of social change towards his free society rather than revolution (Feyerabend 1982: 107). Again, this is consistent with the elements of the anarchist tradition reflected in the emphasis on libertarian education as a path for social change, for example in Francisco Ferrer, or the peaceful gradualism advocated by anarchist thinkers such as Paul Goodman (Woodcock, 1986 and Ward 1982). Popular engagement and deliberation in relation to science and technology could be regarded as a potential feature of what George Lawson has termed negotiated revolution (2005). Epistemologically, Feyerabend recognised that there are many sciences with different sets of standards and rules (Feyerabend 1982: 23), arguing that scientific practitioners should act as guides to, rather than authorities on, their specific terrains within open deliberative forums. As guide, a practitioners role includes recognition of the limits of established theorising and the necessity of developing new methods and means of engagement. Recognising the limitation of scientific models, particularly in the face of complex open systems, results in the common-sense view that theoretical or laboratory science is insufficient to render social and political decisions, which depend much more on practical reason. Further, in posthumously published work, Feyerabend advances a critique of the fetishism of abstract knowledge which echoes Bakunins critique in God and the State. The echo is presumably unwitting, although the Hegelian notion of totality seems to be a shared influence. Conceptual and theoretical abstractions, Feyerabend argues, remove entities from the totality in which they exist. When abstract knowledge is 62

BEYOND PRIMITIVISM fetishized and reified the remains are called real, which means they are regarded as more important than the totality itself (Feyerabend 1999: 5). As one interpreter of Feyerabends account puts it:
There is no escape: understanding a subject means transforming it, lifting it out of a natural habitat and inserting it into a model or theory or a poetic account of it. What Feyerabend objects to is the commitment to the results of this procedure of abstraction as reality, to the exclusion not only of other abstractions but of features of experience that may be important to us for many sorts of reasons (Munvar 2002: 522).

This is strikingly close to Bakunins account of life as constantly escaping attempts to capture it through abstract reasoning. And it has a political implication in line with Bakunins emphasis on the need to remand science to its place through breaking down institutionalized hierarchies of epistemic authority. The critique of abstraction supports Feyerabends earlier claims for democratic involvement of laypeople, and supports the kinds of initiatives carried forward by new social movements. For, these initiatives operate precisely to counteract the tendency by professionals to fetishize abstractions. So Feyerabends decentring not rejection of scientific authority supports the argument that the voices of the citizens initiatives do not have to be expressed in the language and terms of established scientific disciplines. The declaratory posture of citizen groups formalises sets of claims and relationships which in a democratic society should be granted legitimacy and access to the necessary resources required to evaluate them. Feyerabends account of lay supervision of science has little to say about how these social forces can be constituted, i.e. what types of collective action can generate momentum towards an inclusive democratic process of the kind which he advocates. Since Feyerabend wrote, however, there has been an explosion in the kind of incremental citizen initiatives he proposed and a consideration of this experience permits some modification of an anarchist praxis for a participatory public science. SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, SCIENCE, THE ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH Environmental integrity and human health are co-dependent and the increasing synergy between environmental and health social movements (Brown and Zavestoski 2004) through justice frames underlines this point (Plows & Boddington 2006). Anarchisms ambivalent relationship with science (Restivo 1994) is reflected in activists experience and practices in 63

ANARCHIST STUDIES both areas. Whilst establishment depictions of publics as innovation resistant may be ideologically useful they are difficult to sustain. Sociologist of science, Steve Yearley, is amongst those who show that environmental movements employ scientific techniques to challenge and contest dominant epistemological claims made by science (Yearley 1991). Increasingly patient groups are recognised as examples of collective action playing a critical role in defining relevant scientific knowledge (Rabeharisoa & Callon 2004). Such movements draw on, mobilize, and give social force to scientific knowledge claims which simultaneously challenging commercial and industrial interests, established hierarchies within and between scientific professions, regulatory, and political authorities. In terms of our argument, cases like these underline the importance of direct interest representation in the definition of scientific stakes and the scientific work necessary to explore them. Within the sociology of science, the notion of the co-production of knowledge and political order (Jasanoff ed. 2004; cf. Shapin and Schaffer 1985), combined with the notion of social or political imaginaries (Ezrahi 2004), are prominent approaches addressing citizen involvement. Whilst there is a great deal of value within these approaches, it is important to recognise the dominance within such work of abstract social science categories such as the citizen, democracy and polity. A paradox thus arises as the citizen whose participation is sought can also be the citizen feared as the source of a public backlash against science. Such fears are particularly prominent in the UK following categorical, though false, political assurances about the safety of humans consuming beef during the BSE out break, and subsequent media portrayals of GM crops as Frankenstein Food (Hughes 2007). Ezrahi argues that contemporary mass electronic media culture is central in spreading public distrust of public authorities and institutions and the decline of mass political activism, undermining the epistemological and institutional authority of science (Ezrahi 2004: 272-273). Depicting a crisis in the social authority of science as a contemporary phenomenon constituted through changes in techniques of visual representation overlooks the historically contested power relations surrounding science society relations. Beyond issues of science communication and representation the more fundamental issue is to realise the other science advanced within the anarchist canon. This has the consequence of differentiating the inclusive liberal notion of the citizen, disaggregating a public or general good, and foregrounding significant biological and social differences. Sciences thus interact with publics differentially constituted through age, race, gender, sexuality and class as well as spatial-ecological location and differing belief and value systems. Universal laws of science and universally applicable regulatory models simultaneously 64

BEYOND PRIMITIVISM confront difference and the increasing capacity to communicate knowledge associated with difference via electronic media. Numerous case studies within the sociology of science (e.g. Tesh 2000) reveal how environmental social movement actors operate against scientific and regulatory stances based on high order abstractions claimed to be the basis of universal standards underpinning global regulatory reach (Welsh 2000). The basic principle in such contestations is the prioritisation of situated (Haraway 1995) or local knowledge (Wynne 1996) frequently based upon the empirical observation of categories excluded or inadequately incorporated into abstract theoretical models, models which are frequently used as the basis of complex computer based simulations or predictive mathematical equations. Tesh, for example, details how activists accumulated data on cancer incidence in the USA based on local observation resulting in revisions to Federal level gold standard regulation. In these conflicts we can see the tensions between a science of life which acknowledges the specificity of local conditions and relations and the science of abstract universal law or statistical average (McKechnie 1996). Independent direct observation and popular epidemiology (Brown 1992) can often challenge the dominant wisdom consolidated within the institutions of science inhabited by the contemporary descendants of Bakunins savants. Radiological protection is one of the better documented examples. Epidemiologist Alice Stewarts examination of the medical records of women subject to x-ray examination during pregnancy revealed a correspondence between exposure to radiation and foetal abnormalities confounding International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) dose response models (Greene 2001). Stewarts work suggested that the linear threshold dose model used to set official radiological protection standards ignored low level dose effects. The idea of a threshold dose, beneath which no health effects attributable to radiation occurred, was central to the global regulatory regime covering nuclear facilities. Abandoning the threshold model and adopting more stringent standards had major implications for the economic viability of nuclear power and state liability to military personnel. Stewart and other scientists associated with the low level radiation case became the subject of a classic scientific controversy verging on professional vilification lasting decades. At the same time as Stewart was collecting data on the medical uses of radiation, managers at the UKs nuclear weapons site at Windscale, Cumbria were deliberately discharging significant amounts of radiation into the environment to enable scientific assessment (Caulfied 1990: 218-219). Stewarts work finally received open acknowledgement within the radiological community in 2006, by which time a combination of viral contagion and population mobility was being used to officially explain cancer clusters around nuclear 65

ANARCHIST STUDIES installations. Stewarts methodology stands as a clear example of how the systematic assessment of individual cases can result in findings which confound those derived from quantitative statistical techniques. In the UK, long-standing engagement with radiological protection issues through groups like the Low Level Radiation Campaign, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and numerous anti nuclear alliances has included the independent collection of data often in collaboration with university based teams. Such work has related to radon gas within homes, tritium levels in fish and fruit and strontium levels in childrens milk teeth. Combined with the associated media attention it has attracted, such work has been part of the background to the institutional re-evaluation of radiological protection standards. Like many other radical causes in the UK, an insider, in this case the former Government Minister Michael Meacher, played a key role. Meacher established the Committee Examining the Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters (CERRIE) on a balanced basis with all opposing views fully represented to formalise areas of agreement and explain the disagreements in accessible language and propose research which might resolve them (CERRIE Minority Report: 2004: 1). UK activist and critical science engagement in the area was substantively represented by Chris Busby, a physical chemist by training and member of Green Audit (Busby 1995, 2007). The combination of independent observation, critical science, and this advocacy cannot be separated from the subsequent revisions in the official dose models for Tritium derived from ICRP models by the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) (Edwards 1999, Fairlie 1992). Differences over the required magnitude of revisions in radiological protection standards, the necessary programme of further scientific work, and the need to adopt a precautionary approach in the facing of uncertainty, were formalised in a minority report (CERRIE Minority Report: 2004). Such critical scientific moves remain isolated within epistemic communities unless they become amplified within the bourgeois public sphere through social movement activity (Welsh 2000). Declaring collective stakes through the mobilisation of social force via a wide range of campaigning activities, up to and including forms of direct action, adds to critical scientific and technical arguments. It is important not to conflate such expressions with anti-science stances. Unless social force is mobilized behind scientific dissenters, critical voices can easily be marginalized and dismissed on normative social, cultural and political grounds (Martin 1999) which are exploited by contemporary savants defending the status quo. This reflects Bakunins emphasis on popular scientific literacy, a formulation implicit in the contemporary emphasis upon public understanding and acceptance of science. The complexity of the contemporary 66

BEYOND PRIMITIVISM stock of scientific knowledge and its applications exceeds the capacity of any individual member of a public to be literate in science sui generis. The crucial points here for anarchism lie in the importance of breaking down professional boundaries and building grass-roots collective actions aimed at understanding and engaging with science and technology in practice. Such praxis prioritises both the acquisition of fluency in expert debates and a focus upon the social contexts and relations required to apply that science. Claims-making by informed and engaged citizens in effect constitutes the expression of a critical sub-group within a society which can intervene at the intersection of scientific advance, commercial application and prevailing regulatory standards. These struggles over environmental and health issues should not be regarded as disconnected purely local phenomena. Unfortunately, the tradition of case studies focussing primarily on epistemological stakes rather than broader theoretical issues relating to power within the sociology of science and technology has contributed to a lack of pattern recognition in terms of repetition of forms of controversy across different social and geographical contexts. Rather than being isolated phenomena, these struggles over environmental and health issues mobilizing lay expertise share common forms of struggle and patterns of organization. Together, they present a new conception of citizen science (Irwin & Michael 2003) and, potentially, a radical reworking of civil society (Chesters and Welsh 2006). The importance of these movements in terms of anarchist praxis and social movement engagement with science lies in their ontological or social distance from the institutional habits of mind operating within institutionalised science. Whilst social movement organisations stray far into state space in their engagement with big science, social movement actors mobilizing local knowledges formalise the relevant objects of knowledge from a cognitive, political, and moral stance not primarily influenced by prevailing habits of mind. The pressure towards the democratization of science arising from such myriad local contestations remains to be adequately recognised as an emergent systemic process revealing the significance and relevance of difference in the face of universal laws and regulatory standards. Irrespective of whether the social groups doing this work self-define as anarchist, their praxis embodies basic anarchist principles prioritising the local or proximate over the universal or distanciated. Methodologically, the actions of citizen groups can be thought of as codifying the anomalies central to Kuhnian notions of paradigm change by prioritising observation informed by situated, lived experience. Whilst prominent left critiques continue to grant the state an important position in terms of regulatory activities, there are reasons to doubt the capacity of states to act in the collective global good due to institutionalised 67

ANARCHIST STUDIES interests and habits of mind prioritising the national or domestic economy and so on. This point is underlined by the inter-state wrangling which, combined with powerful corporate lobbying over the Kyoto protocols, resulted in the dilution of the original climate change targets. Global social movements and sub-nation state actors have adopted more proactive stances as key agents of change. This is perhaps clearest in the USA where the postponement of federal-level action on climate change has been justified by a faith in the possibility of a future technological fix. Confronted by this inaction a coalition of US states have declared their own action programmes orientated towards the specific needs and political will of their citizenry. What began as a series of declarations by West Coast cities is reportedly consolidating into a North Eastern coalition of states from New Jersey to Maine with green house gas emissions equivalent to those of Germany. California, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico and Arizona (the latter a state with recent experience of extreme temperature deaths) are, at the time of writing, exploring the potential to form similar coalitions (Welsh 2007). The implicit recognition of bio-regionalism inherent within these steps and the recognition of the value of pursuing local electoral politics by deep green social movement actors situate these initiatives within the remit of the kind of progressive anarchism for a global era advanced by Purkis and Bowen (2005). The appearance of candidates standing on anti-GM tickets across the corn belts of North America stands as another example of the fragmentary and shifting ground that is reconfiguring and undermining the historic political anatomy of state forms (Welsh 2006). Far from pessimism and rejection of technological advance along primitivist lines this is an era where the potential for interventions consistent with anarchist principles is perhaps greater than ever before. The challenge for anarchist praxis is to develop non-hierarchical, horizontally democratic forms of engagement with these dynamics in pursuit of the social shaping of scientific and technological trajectories. This is entirely consistent with Lewis Mumfords classic formulations (Mumford 1934). Mumfords critique of the megamachine has been a prominent justification of primitivist stances towards science and technology but this emphasis neglects the continuing capacity for human agency to direct and redirect both techno-scientific trajectories and economic priorities (Mumford 1954). Mumford recognised that the conversion of the suns energies represented the prime fact of all economic activity (1934/1972: 375), a theme returned to by Bookchin (1974: 122-127). Harnessing these free goods remains central to the reduction of anthropogenic greenhouse gases driving climate change which has been labelled the widest ranging market failure ever seen (Stern, 2007, i). The post-war techno-scientific plateau (Mumford 1934/1972: 430), based on national grid systems delivering nuclear electricity too cheap to meter 68

BEYOND PRIMITIVISM (Welsh, 2000), remains based on the transmission and sale of energy not the utilisation of free energy at the point of use. The technical means of delivering clean local energy are widely available yet the British state is amongst those using climate change to justify retaining the nuclear option. Here, we are faced with a clear civilizational choice. Climate change can be allowed to legitimize new forms of state techno-authoritarianism, seeing the emergence of authoritarian state regimes of environmental management regulating us in the name of the scarcities of an ever-degraded environment (Welsh 2007). Or, climate change can be responded to along the lines which thinkers such as Mumford, Bookchin and Paul Goodman have long-advocated with regional, decentralized, liberatory, renewable technologies (Bookchin 1974; Illich 1973; Goodman and Goodman 1989). This is a clear case where our technological choices are shaped by our political and social vision. An anarchist social theory of science and technology has never been more relevant. The anarchist vision of a liberatory science and technology is now of crucial important as a line of flight to escape the iron cage of Cold War statist techno-authoritarianism and the asserted imperatives of postCold War neo-liberal market rationality. Creative engagement, social deliberation and social shaping of scientific and technological trajectories are central to an anarchist engagement in the twenty-first century. CONCLUSIONS: ANARCHIST PRACTICE AND SCIENCE Contemporary anarchism exists amidst new forms of technology of communications constituting the capacity for both virtual and face-work communities. The origins of the internet as a means of maintaining control of nuclear weapons capability underlines the manner in which state sciences quest for control enables decentralized innovation within the very interstices of the megamachine. These developments can be colonised by social movements and radical actors who can further reconfigure such technologies and imbue them with new social and political potential. Such appropriations of technology facilitate the principles underlying Bakunins critique, and ambitions for a science of the people. Central here is the principle of unmediated interest representation and thus direct engagement of affected parties (Franks 2003), as well as the obligation and commitment to education of wider communities in the associated stakes. New communication technologies and networks can facilitate meaningful deliberation and democratic decision-making following non-hierarchical procedures. Realizing the social potential of existing and emerging technologies requires embedding technology within social milieu capable of changing the institutional uses and social practices surrounding the technologies. This appropriation of technology by creative and progressive social movements is necessary to fulfil the libra69

ANARCHIST STUDIES tory potential of techno-science inherent within the formulations of anarchist thinkers such as Bookchin. The necessary practices already exist in protean form and engage thousands of individuals through the network of networks constituting the World Social Forum (WSF) and its constituent geo-regional and city social forums (Chesters & Welsh 2006; Sen et.al., 2004). Nascent within these networks lie a myriad of weak ties which have the potential to engage a diverse range of social movement actors (properly understood). At the 2004 European Social Forum (ESF) in London sessions addressing science involved individuals and representatives from unions, science social movements, genetic interest groups, and ecological and environmental groups from across the continent (Welsh Evans & Plows, 2007). Democratic direction of the European science base represented a recurrent theme of the multiple strands within the 2004 ESF. The meeting further consolidated a Europe wide network forged at the Florence ESF meeting in 2002. The ongoing European Science Forum with ambitions to forge both professional interest networks and peoples science forums are examples of the organisation of social force with the potential to re-work and transcend more formalised experiments intended to engage the public in science after the fact. By asking the question what kind of science do we want and what do we want it for? voices from within the ESF simultaneously articulate questions of generic importance whilst engaging with specific issues in a sophisticated and informed manner. This is a dissipative process requiring immense amounts of time and energy, which like all decentralized processes appears inefficient in terms of the megamachine. The dissipative character of such convergence spaces is however intentional and embedded in the organising principles. Unlike formal bourgeois representative political systems, which are designed to reduce complexity, the WSF and ESF aim to work with complexity in the pursuit of alternative formulations in recognition of the importance of free acts (Eve et. al. 1997). Complexity theory suggests that critical sub-groups and individual free acts are key in producing significant changes in systems far from equilibrium. Mumfords argument that, in both physical systems and wider life, there occur, at rare unpredictable intervals, moments when as infinitesimally small force, because of its character and its position in the whole constellation of events, was able to effect a very large transformation (1955:476) is an early expression of such thought. Against techno-cratic domination he thus asserted the capacity for the direct impact of the human personality in history, not only by organised movements and group actions, but by individuals who are sufficiently alert to intervene at the right time and the right place for the right purpose (1955: 476). Mumfords optimism is theoretically supported by complexity theory 70

BEYOND PRIMITIVISM which concurs that individuals are historically significant agents of change (Eve et al. 1997). In the radiological cases we have used in this paper significant individuals were central in advancing and sustaining critical science stances. Their voices were heard in part through the accretion of social force around their epistemic claims. Unlike focus groups, citizen juries and representative samples, the social forum process creates convergence spaces within which the voices of those most directly affected by issues of moment perform the work of critical sub-groups, defining initial stakes for debate in wider deliberative forums within which they gain mediated expression. There is no panacea here and the co-operation representing the founding commitment of the forum process also contains conflict. An important area here is the process of recognising and allowing critical free individuals to work whilst maintaining accountability (Barker et al. 2001). This should be part of debating and promoting strategic concerns and the necessary organisational forms. The social forum movement provides an organisational example which can be built on to promote popular democratic control of scientific and technological decision-making and agendas. The current fashion for public consultation over science policy engages an abstract public in ways which are too readily open to legitimating the agendas of established elites and institutions and too far removed from direct influence. In contrast, we suggest that new social movement engagement contains models for a peoples science forum which would challenge elite dominance of techno-scientific agendas and re-orientate scientific and technological inquiry towards far-reaching democratic and liberatory social change. In contrast to dominant engagement agendas in science policy, what we are advocating is not a patching up of the legitimacy of current state-science regimes, but the grassroots development of forums for a peoples science presenting a radical challenge to the megamachine agendas of state - corporate science. ENDNOTE
1. Kropotkin was a naturalist in all the relevant senses of the word. He was a biologist and zoologist. He was also a naturalist in the epistemological sense of one who believes that knowledge has to be based on the observation of natural phenomena. And he was what philosophers call an ethical naturalist, i.e. someone who regards moral ideas or criteria as based on observable features of the world.

Aufheben, Civilization and its Latest Discontents, Aufheben 4 (1995): http://www.geocities.com/aufheben2/auf_4_perlman.html


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REVIEW ARTICLE Communalism or caricature: patterns of Bookchin critique

ANDY PRICE Department of Politics & Philosophy Manchester Metropolitan University Social Ecology and Communalism Murray Bookchin AK Press, Edinburgh 2007 ISBN: 978-1904869499, 118 pages Being a Bookchinite Chuck Morse Chuck Morse, New York 2007 27pp. (Also due to appear in the Spring 2008 issue of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory.) Bookchins Social Ecology and Communalism (2007), a posthumous collection of four essays, culminates in the last theoretical piece he was to write, wherein he concludes that, its often refreshing aphorisms and insights notwithstanding, anarchism is simply not a social theory (p.90, emphasis added). As forthright as ever, one can almost feel the hackles rising at Bookchins final proclamation. However, it would be all too easy here to make the same mistakes that much of the reaction to Bookchin in the 1990s made, and to read his ultimate break with anarchism as further evidence of, variously: Bookchins nefarious desire to be leader of the green-anarcho left; his desire to extinguish any other political creed but his own; or his fundamental personal failings that render his liberatory project dogmatic and irrelevant. In truth, however, this caricature of Bookchin is unfair, and Bookchins rejection of anarchism more properly reflects the two driving forces of his half-century of radical thought: the commitment to the social expression of humanitys creative potentiality; and the commitment to the continuing dialectical development of radical oppositional thought in light of the continuing development of capitalism. In Social Ecology and Communalism thanks in no small measure to the excellent selection and ordering by Eirik Eiglad, who collates and introduces the collection these two driving forces are traceable throughout and find their synthesis in the political project Bookchin outlines in his final theoretical outing. In the opening essay, What is Social Ecology? first published in 1993, we find a clear enunciation of Bookchins view of nature, both human and 76

REVIEW ARTICLE nonhuman, from which emerges his formulation of humanitys creative potential. [T]he natural world and the social, Bookchin writes, are interlinked by evolution into one nature that consists of two differentiations: first, or biotic nature, and second or social nature (p.29). What links these two natures is that they both share an evolutionary potential for greater subjectivity and flexibility (p.29). That is to say that humanity is both the expression of, and is endowed with, a creative, evolutionary potentiality for increased subjectivity, flexibility, and ultimately, self-consciousness. These evolutionary materials not only rendered humanity the most self-conscious element in nature in the present but also provide it with the creative potentiality to achieve a rational ecological society in the future. Needless to say, this creative potentiality has been arrested by the destructiveness that has thus far characterised human society and its relationship with the natural world. It is to the creation of social forms that both express this creative potentiality and ameliorate the destructive that Bookchin sets his political programme. In the two essays that follow Radical Politics in an Era of Advanced Capitalism (1989), and Social Ecology in a Period of Reaction (1996) we can trace Bookchins commitment to the dialectical development of oppositional thought in light of the ever-shifting terrain of capitalism. Here, he describes the changing nature of capitalism post-1945 (p.56; p.69). During the 1950s and 1960s, capitalism began to mutate an economic system into a social system, bringing new challenges to the Left. It is from within these changes that Bookchins critique of the stasis of Marxism would emerge. By the 1990s, however, the rules of engagement had changed again: capitalism was no longer solely a set of social relations but had transformed into the end of history itself, had become enshrined as the ultimate version of human nature, a nature predicated on its ethos to compete, win, and grow (p.73). In the light of such a shift, ideas and movements that opposed capitalism had also been deeply affected, and must therefore be subject to a constant uncompromising critique (p.75). This uncompromising critique of the movements to which he belonged, so characteristic of Bookchins career, was based on this clear understanding of the extent of the changing nature of capitalism and the changes this necessitated in anti-capitalism. Which bring us to the fourth essay, The Communalist Project (2002), Bookchins final outlining of his political project. Here, the two driving motors of his work in fact become one, intertwined whole: the project to build a society that is the expression of the creative potentiality of humanity must be drawn in light of the ultimate shift in capitalism and the crisis it fosters i.e., the threat of ecological collapse. This response, in light of the fact that capitalist crisis is now generalised (p.84) i.e., it is not solely an economic crisis, does not solely affect one particular class 77

ANARCHIST STUDIES must be predicated on a direct empowerment of the citizen through the community. It is in this sense that Bookchin argues that, Above all, Communalism is engaged with the problem of power (p.109). This engagement with power is in fact twofold. First, the empowerment of the citizen and the community would require the creation of a decentralised ensemble of institutions designed to deal with the problems of consociational life in an orderly and hopefully fair manner (p.95). This process would not only require substantial organisation but also leadership. For Bookchin, leadership always exists [and] a serious libertarian approach to leadership would indeed acknowledge the reality and crucial importance of leaders (p.111, emphasis in original), to both challenge the abusive power of present leaders and to engender the material and institutional changes necessary for the move toward communalism. Second, in order to engender this new social reality, the members of a community would need to be materially and politically empowered, today. Therefore, Bookchin argues that adherents of Communalism mobilize themselves to electorally engage in a potentially important centre of power the municipal council and try to compel it to create legislatively potent neighbourhood assemblies (p.109, emphasis added). This would constitute the minimum programme of communalism that would aim, in the here and now, to satisfy the most elemental needs of the masses, to improve their access to the resources that make daily life tolerable (p.114). In light of the extent of the spread of the ethos of capitalism, now enshrined as human nature itself (and to the extent that it permits no other conception of human nature) this tentative, material and political empowerment is indispensable to opening up even the idea of radical change. These initial steps, then, are not the start of a process through which a communalist society can be legislated into existence for Bookchin, but rather the process through which the maximum program is hopefully brought into view: they are the first tentative steps to establish new rules of engagement between the people and capital, as revolutionaries anarchist or otherwise start to envision and create lasting organizations and institutions that can play a socially transformative role in the real world (p.115). In Social Ecology and Communalism, then, we get a glimpse, uncluttered of the polemics of the 1990s, of the explicitly social nature of the whole Bookchin programme: philosophically, in his commitment to the social expression of humanitys creative evolutionary potential; and politically in his commitment to confronting the realities of the power required to start this process, today. This social focus and the commitment to the dialectical development of radical thought are the fundamentals of Bookchins revolutionary programme, and it is from these fundamentals (rather than dubious motivations or personal failings) that stem his critiques of the less-socially focused aspects of anarchism. Anyone with 78

REVIEW ARTICLE any lingering doubts about Bookchins motivations should read this concise yet comprehensive collection. Unfortunately, the second piece under review here, Chuck Morses essay, Being a Bookchinite, almost completely neglects these fundamentals. In doing so, it follows the same patterns of much of the critiques of Bookchin of the 1990s: it offers an analysis of Bookchin and his work without paying sufficient attention to his theoretical and practical programme. Instead, Morse relies on the insinuation of personal failings and insidious motives in Bookchin that render his revolutionary project a failure (p.3). Based on the three years he spent studying and working in close association with Bookchin (1989-92) which began after he selfconsciously apprenticed himself to Bookchin and became one of his core disciples (p.5) Morse offers to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of his [Bookchins] particular approach to revolutionary organising (p.6). He begins by outlining three of the cardinal tenets of membership of Bookchins core circle (p.10). These were: an emphasis on education, as a result of which, Morse tells us, he received an unparalleled education under Bookchin (p.10, fn.13); the unique framing of politics as a moral activity, which fostered an unusually strong commitment to honesty, accountability, and the principled discussion of ideas (p.12); and a commitment to a boldness of political engagement, fostering the notion of a small group of people being able to change the world if willing to take risks (p.14). For Morse, however, these cardinal tenets also presented significant problems (p.18). In terms of the emphasis on education, Morse argues that the centrality of Bookchin as the educator, and the principle focus on his thought, tended to close us off from insights that other traditions and thinkers had to offer (p.18). His followers believed that Bookchin had found the principles of social development that could replace capitalism and avert ecological disaster, and therefore Bookchins ideas played a quasi-religious role for us and he became something of a prophet (p.18). From this, since they believed that Bookchin advanced the truth, other theorists advanced deceptions by default (p.18, emphasis in original). Moreover, Bookchin often dissuaded us from exploring other writers who he seemed to fear might threaten his hold on us (p.19). However, this claim of educational closure around Bookchin jars with Morses own description of the extent and scope of that education. Only a few pages earlier, Morse describes how there were regular lectures from Bookchin on his own work but how it was also possible to participate in weekly study groups on Hegel, Marx, the French Revolution, cities, and other weighty topics and theorists (pp.11-12). Indeed, there were so many study groups, of such high quality, that people used to say that we had started an underground university (p.12). Many of these groups were student led, but Bookchin had encouraged them directly: he counselled his 79

ANARCHIST STUDIES students not only to explore key revolutionary thinkers and events, but also to acquaint ourselves with major moments in the Western tradition, in order to assimilate the best aspects of this legacy into our movement (pp.10-11). Moreover, he tells us that the extraordinary breadth of historical and theoretical references in his [Bookchins] work seemed to show this was possible, and proved to Morse that no idea was too abstract or event too remote to be incorporated into our transformative project (p.11). Quite how a thinker who encouraged such an education could then close his students off from other insights is left unclear. One can only assume here that Morse took his self-appointed role as a Bookchin disciple all too literally, and that this closing-off was a self-imposed one. The fact that Bookchin dissuaded his students from other writers or schools of thought does not automatically translate as an attempt to maintain a hold over his students. Rather, it represents the messy business of a democratic politics, and the freedom of opinion therein. Later, Morse himself openly concedes there is no evidence for this kind of intellectual domineering in Bookchin, but does so only to launch an even more problematic criticism: Although I never saw Bookchin demand obsequiousness, Morse states, he encouraged it indirectly, as he constantly spoke of his ill-health and implied that his death was imminent (p.21). For Morse, Bookchins discussions of his own mortality are all the more problematic as Bookchin did this when I first met him in 1989, almost two decades before his actual death (p.21). The insinuation here of some kind of mortal deception by Bookchin is compounded by Morse when he tells us, rather unscientifically, that he has heard accounts of similar behaviour twenty years before that, and that this created a tragic aura around Bookchin that fostered a feeling in those around him that we should treasure every moment with him (p.21). In terms of what an essay on the strengths and weaknesses of Bookchins revolutionary project should contain, we surely know that it should not be this kind of personal recollection and gossipy insinuation. Moreover, and although it is regrettable that one has to enter into this personal discussion, it should be noted in the name of fairness that Bookchin turned 70 in the period that Morse knew him (in 1991) and was in ill-health: he was three years away from his first heart attack and was increasingly crippled by osteoarthritis. Is it so surprising that a man of 70 would talk of his declining health, and even his death? And why should this present a problem? Again, this tells us less about Bookchin and his programme and more about Morse: to be lulled into obsequiousness by a septuagenarian discussing his health and death speaks more of weaknesses of the listener than those of the speaker . Next, Morse argues that the second cardinal tenet, Bookchins framing of politics as a moral activity, led to an obsession with defending his views 80

REVIEW ARTICLE against threats (a causal link he does not explain) which led to Bookchins endless stream of polemics (again, unexplained) (p.21; p.22). This tendency for defensiveness also manifested itself in Bookchin constantly inventing new names for his views his move from social ecology to radical social ecology, anarchism to social anarchism, and libertarian municipalism to communalism (p.22). That Bookchin changed the names of different aspects of his thought, that he was a strident polemicist is clear; that these things stem from defensiveness is not. As noted already in this review, this more accurately reflects the commitment to the dialectical development of radical thought throughout Bookchins career. However, Morse does not see the dialectic in Bookchin, and views Bookchins ultimate rejection of anarchism and his move toward communalism as bitter, doctrinal carping (p.24). For Morse, instead of carping, what Bookchin should have actually been doing was enjoying the triumphant moment that the re-emergence of anarchism within the anti-capitalist movement represented, given that he had done more than any other thinker to redeem the anarchist vision in the second half of the twentieth century (pp.23-4). It does not occur to Morse to ask: why would Bookchin forego such a triumphant moment? Why would he forego the enjoyment of seeing his work justified, of sitting back and resting on his laurels? Why not take the path of least resistance in what was clearly the autumn of his life? Again, the answers to these questions are to be found in Bookchins work itself, and not in the caricature that Morse falls back onto here. Finally, the third cardinal tenet Bookchins commitment to the notion that a small group of people can change the world led for Morse to Bookchins disregard of the material conditions of social change (p.18). Despite the fact that Bookchins commitment to the creation of an educated intelligentsia to lead social change stems from a detailed regard for the extent to which present material conditions preclude social change (as discussed above), Morse uses this claim to launch his most specious accusation yet: that Bookchins dismissal of the material conditions for revolutionary change was most strikingly represented by his silence on white supremacy and racism, which he never addressed in all but the most cursory fashion (p.24). Further, Morse then goes on to tell us that he remembers marvelling at how strange it was that Bookchin had settled in Vermont, the whitest state in America and how the organisations he built were always overwhelmingly white (p.24). Here, the same pattern that Morse uses in his earlier insinuation repeats itself, as he tells us that though I never personally witnessed what I recognised as an obvious act of prejudice, it was clear to me that Bookchin lived in a bubble (p.24) i.e., just as in the case of Bookchins demanding of obsequiousness, prejudice is insinuated by noting its very absence. 81

ANARCHIST STUDIES In terms of the claim that Bookchin was silent on race, then the whole of Bookchins writings on hierarchy and domination set themselves to a critique of these concepts in their entirety, including the hierarchy and domination that exists between ethnic groups. To argue for the dissolution of hierarchy as such in society is to argue for the end of white supremacy. It is ridiculous to suggest that Bookchin was silent on this issue. The instances where Bookchin discusses these hierarchies specifically are there in his work, and too numerous to list here, but we should remind ourselves in passing of his vociferous (and voluminous) late-1980s writings against those in the ecology movement who argued that population growth was the cause of the ecological crisis, writings which endlessly pointed out the implicit racism of such a position. This is to leave aside Bookchins involvement in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. In terms of the criticism of Bookchins residency in Vermont, then, to attempt to draw any conclusions from the question of where a person in their fifties (as Bookchin was when he moved to Vermont, gradually, throughout 1970s) who had lived in the US Northeast his entire life, who had a network of friends, family, political and work commitments in the region chose to live shows a complete disregard for the material conditions of social reality, not just social change; but again, on Morses part, not Bookchins. Moreover, it also overlooks one of the key political motivations for moving to Vermont in the first place: the New England town meeting tradition, which Bookchin would consistently write of (see Bookchin 1995, for example), and to which he hoped he could tap into in the construction of his new politics. Again here, and as with the rest of Morses essay, an explanation of the problems he raises can be found in Bookchins work, in an examination of his theoretical foundations and their conclusions for radical action: there is a coherence of thought and practice in Bookchin, wherein his political programme, whether one agrees with him or not, is based upon his principles. It is here where we can, and should, put Bookchin to the test, through a detailed examination of these principles and the practice they necessitate. Unfortunately, Morse does not offer this here but rather falls back into the patterns of caricature that surrounded Bookchin in the 1990s. The author would like to thank Janet Biehl for providing additional information. BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bookchin, M (1995), From Urbanisation to Cities: Toward a New Politics of Citizenship, 2nd edn., New York and London, Cassell.


Anarchy Alive! Anti-Authoritarian Politics from Practice to Theory Uri Gordon Pluto Press London 2007 ISBN 9780745326832 (Paperback), 15.99 It is widely recognised that these are exciting times for anarchist theory. Uri Gordons book is one of many by the young veterans of the varied anarchist practices of the last ten years (at least) and can only add to this excitement. It is hugely learned and yet easy to read; it is also short and to the point, un-pompous and hugely informative, for the adept or novices in anarchist thought alike. For those with more theory than practice, this book ought to be required reading. In fact, Id say that not only will it become required reading in the anarchist movement, but it will have a sizeable impact on the academy, or anarchademics (p.163). In short, I believe this will be a defining text in anarchist circles for the next few years at the very least. But why? What are the virtues of the book and where do they come from (aside from style and length of course)? Lets begin, somewhat conventionally, with the introduction. It is short but clear in positioning itself in pedagogic social praxis. It is the product of participant observation and theoretical reflection and it is unashamedly contemporary in terms of both. The book is not designed to contribute to academic debates about the fineries of anarchist theory (though, as I will show, it does), but is designed as a tool for activists trying to understand anarchism, and inadvertently helps theorists see that practice helps us understand theory. The book does this through engaging with some key practical and theoretical conundrums facing the contemporary movement. This makes it something of a users manual for anarchist activism, written by an engaged and intelligent academic that has seen his fair share of the front line. The impact of Gordons Oxford background, particularly the ideas of Michael Freeden who has blazed a trail through the study of ideologies, is clear. Gordon discuses anarchism as a political culture or social praxis, ironically simply allowing Gordon to be an anarchist in refusing to reduce ideas to other social, economic or political forces and to see anarchism as a lived plethora or network of ideas and practices in social and historical context. Unfortunately Gordons historical context does not stretch far enough back into the past and so the novelty of contemporary ideas is overplayed. For example, Gordon argues that the most prominent feature of the new anarchist formulation [] is the generalisation of the target of anarchist resistance to all forms of domination in society (p. 83

ANARCHIST STUDIES 30). This presentism is a standard flaw in contemporary anarchist literature. Anarchism has always been about more than just the state and capitalism. Emma Goldman was a feminist, Reclus an ecologist, Landauer and Rocker were concerned with race and ethnicity. Still, this is not to detract from the force of Gordons work, only to contextualise it within the dominant discursive frameworks set by Marxism as a way of understanding the lefts past. However, the book is not a history of ideas. It is about how anarchist practice can help us understand and develop anarchist theory. Chapter 3 investigates the ongoing issue of power and authority within the anarchist movement and settles a number of debates in unexpected ways. For example, Gordon argues that democratic participation is not always a good in itself, not even within anarchist communities. Rather, the values of democratic practices need to be understood in context. Protesters cannot always be transparent and not everyone wants to take part, so neither democracy nor transparency is a transcendent good. Gordon claims that while both participatory democracy and consensus are valuable in anarchist communities, they should not be imposed because anarchist organising is built on pure voluntarism (p.76). The ethic is clear here, but perhaps he overstates this a little. Anarchist organising is far messier than the concept of voluntarism implies. Gordons discussion of the effects of patriarchy within the movement being a case in point. Pure voluntarism is impossible. But this is a minor quibble, born of a rare example of overstatement. Chapter 4 looks at the issue of violence which, I found interesting to read, is no longer an issue in the movement it having been settled according to the principle of diversity of tactics. Still, violence raises important questions about anarchist praxis, which Gordon investigates at length. Here he leans on the concept of prefiguration to understand how to legitimise and understand the rationale behind acts of violence. Again this implies context. Right and wrong can only be understood in context, means are ends in the making, and that there is no mathematical formula for social right, only the constant interpenetration of theory by practice and vice versa. Chapter 5 looks at technology and its place in society and the movement. One chapter had to come last in terms of how it appealed to me and this was it though of course the bar had been raised quite high by this point. This may have been because the debate itself is rather tired and we all know the arguments about technology and power, nature and capitalism and so on. Gordon solution is also unsurprising: permaculture, low-tech lifestyles and anarchist principles. If there is one sticky issue Ive always worried about, it is how to support or effect macro-social change as anarchists, and nationalism and self-determination within a statist structure of social relations, the focus of Chapter 6, are a case in point. Again, Gordons solution is far simpler than 84

REVIEWS I had anticipated and one which makes me so glad that anarchism is in such rude health. Gordon shows that direct action helps in the here and now and that that issues of global politics cannot be lived in micro communities and by activists. Gordon suggests we ought to understand it the other way around. We ought to think about how micro social practices help generate macro change. Thus the importance of thinking about how to organise along anarchist lines. This helps us support the emergence of selfgovernance and communal modes of emancipation without the need for grand historical blueprints and appeals to mass constituencies. To paraphrase Ghandi, anarchist prefiguration is nourishing the change we want to see in the world within our groups. In sum, Gordon makes clear that anarchism is all about context and prefiguration and the constant struggle for emancipation from all forms of domination. Anarchism demands and seeks to institute the creation of forms of community and institutions that help us to achieve this without foreclosing on the idea that we may have to change our minds and our institutions as society changes in the future. In fact, as technology and ideas change society we must constantly reflect on the impact of all three on selfgovernance and structures of exploitation. Theory is important to understand how the world works; but we need to act to make theory truly valuable. But this ought to compel us to be reflective on our practices, implying that anarchism will always be in a process of change. Basically, anarchism is a messy business, but this book has the potential to chart a path through this messiness, and arm us with conceptual and practical clarity at the very least. Alex Prichard Department of European Studies and Modern Languages, University of Bath

El anarcosindicalismo espaol. Una historia en imagenes Colectivo Solidario Confederacin Sindical Solidaridad Obrera, Madrid 2007 367 pages, ISBN 978-84-611-7337-2; 12 available from http://www.nodo50.org/sobrera/ Marking the centenary of Solidaridad Obrera (Workers Solidarity), Spains most important anarcho-syndicalist newspaper, this extensive graphic history of the Spanish libertarian tradition is one of the most recent books published by the Confederacin Sindical Solidaridad Obrera. In keeping with their previous publications, this volume is reasonably 85

ANARCHIST STUDIES priced; as a pictorial history, it is lavishly illustrated, consisting of some 1,200 images, essentially photos, engravings, paintings, drawings, trade union stamps, magazine covers, newspaper headings, through which over 150 years of working-class struggle are narrated. It concludes with an appraisal of the anarcho-syndicalist movement in Spain today. Inevitably, the text generally plays a secondary role, largely introducing and contextualizing images; further context is provided by a useful introductory chronology preceding each chapter and section. The story begins with the struggle to organise in Spain in 1835 and the intense repression that followed. The unrelenting readiness of the state and its lackeys to use all possible means to repress any challenge from below whether real, potential or imagined is a constant feature of this history. It is striking that the garrotte vil, the agonisingly protracted method of strangulation first used to execute a trade unionist in 1856, was still being used in the mid-1970s, when the young Catalan anarchist Salvador Puig Antich was executed. Equal attention is given to repeated attempts at criminalizing the libertarian movement, from the Mano Negra frame-up, which resulted in 300 jailings and 8 executions in the 1880s, up to the Scala Affair of the late 1970s, when a police agent provocateur organised a petrol bombing which tragically resulted in the deaths of 4 CNT activists in an attempt to discredit the anarchist movement. The sight of troops on the streets during strikes is a recurring one, a reminder of how the army was frequently deployed as a tool of internal repression within a militarised system of industrial relations. Yet official attempts to raise the cost of protest proved futile, essentially due to the sacrifices of thousands of anonymous, largely unknown activists who sustained the movement through their sacrifices, often giving up their freedom, even their lives; inevitably, only a fraction of these militants are seen here. From the images that provide a glimpse of social and working conditions, it is easy to see how the CNT became so deeply rooted within Spanish working-class society and resistant to state repression. Even before anarchist culture flourished in Spain, we see evidence here of popular traditions of direct action street protest and armed uprisings, rebellious acts that provided fertile ground for anti-state, anti-authoritarian ideology. The CNTs resistance dovetailed with these traditions, and while driven underground soon after its birth, it surfaced during World War One on a wave of militancy, becoming the lodestar of the dispossessed, with a membership of over 700,000. By the 1930s, the union had come to organise over a million workers. Inevitably, the approach here is essentially chronological, covering all the key moments and periods, while giving special attention to the Second Republic and the revolution, which saw the highest and lowest points in the history of the CNT and anarcho-syndicalism, the legendary 86

REVIEWS short summer of liberation, the crisis opened up by wartime governmental collaboration, and then the long winter of Francoism. Considerable attention is given to what has been dubbed the constructive work of the Spanish revolution the achievements of collectivisation on the land and in factories in what was western Europes most far-reaching and extensive exercise in workers selfmanagement. We then see how members of the movement entered government: with that abandonment of anarchist principles and of the lessons of more than 75 years of working class struggles the grave of the revolution was prepared, initiating a process from which the Spanish anarchist movement would never fully recover (p. 236). Chronological chapters are interspersed with themed sections in which the movements multi-faceted identifying marks are explored. Among the myriad cultural practices covered are radical education, vegetarianism, organised hikes, nudism, feminism, free love and sexual liberation, the promotion of Esperanto, all of which gave rise to a new sociability and way of being and fighting. What emerges is a clear sense of the deep moral and ethical thrust that made this movement so unique within the corrupt society in which it was formed. Several other observations can be made about the movement from this history. There is a discernible absence of great theoreticians: not a single Spaniard ranked among the intellectual elite of the international anarchist movement. It is similarly remarkable to see the monster rallies organised by the CNT immediately after the demise of the Franco dictatorship. Another outstanding attribute was the profound solidarity underpinning strikes, perhaps most vividly reflected in the way strikers children were periodically taken in by trade unionists from other areas during protracted industrial disputes. At a time when growing numbers of people in Spain are concerned with historical memory, this book is a timely and extensive contribution to the recuperation of anarchist memory. It is also a reminder of the contemporary struggles relating to the past. While the current socialist administration in Spain pays lip service to righting the accumulated injustices from the Franco dictatorship, its approach is highly selective and partial, much the same as that of its conservative and centre-right predecessors. The CNT, which possessed a vast network of buildings and printing presses in the 1930s, has never been compensated for the assets that were seized during the Spanish civil war and subsequent dictatorship. The same is also true of Barcelonas Ateneu Enciclopdic Popular (AEP), a peoples athenaeum that served as a form of popular University for many workers and left-wingers prior to the civil war. Some of the AEPs property is currently in the possession of the Generalitat, the Catalan autonomous government. Publicly, the Generalitat is keen to emphasise the repression of Catalan rights during the Francoist years and honour the 87

ANARCHIST STUDIES victims of state terror. Nevertheless, the democratic authorities whether Catalan or Spanish are very selective and myopic when it comes to redressing Francoist piracy directed at the institutions of the popular classes of Catalonia.1 ENDNOTE
1. For the AEPs campaign for justice, see and www.firmasonline.com/1firmas/ camp1.asp?C=683.

Chris Ealham Honorary Research Fellow, Department of History, Lancaster University

Victor, Emile, Georges, Fernand et les autres Regards sur le syndicalisme rvolutionnaire Michel Pigenet and Pierre Robin (eds.) Editions dAlbret, Bopuloc: 2007 336pp., ISBN: 978-2-913055-15-5, 18 2006 saw the centenary of the Charte dAmiens, the manifesto of political independence of the French trade-union federation, la Confdration gnrale du travail (CGT), and a landmark in the history of syndicalism. The anniversary was greeted with a mixture of silence and enthusiasm: despite the obsession of the French with commemorations, official media and politicians unsurprisingly kept quiet about it, while on the other hand, militant and academic groups organised a flurry of celebrations and subsequent publications. This substantial collection of essays is one of them. The editors and contributors have adopted a very fruitful angle, highlighting the broader context and many affiliations surrounding the CGTs iconic text, emphasising its local and personal dimensions, and turning their backs on a history of ideas detached from any grassroots or human concerns. Biographical approaches are given pride of place, starting with Victor Griffuelhes, one of the co-writers of the charte and a native of Lot-et-Garonne, the region which hosted the conference on which this publication is based. The first part, Contexte social et politique does indeed delineate both the national and international political background against which the charte was proclaimed, clarifying above all the links between syndicalism and socialism (understood in its wider sense, as it was then). It begins with a welcome if hardly innovative reminder (from Ren Mouriaux) of the international background of the charte and the 1906 Amiens congress, 88

REVIEWS through the history of the ill-fated relations of the CGT and the International Federation of Trade Unions. Michel Pigenets insightful contribution addresses one of the fundamental questions behind the charte that of the French paradox, the many ambiguities in the relationship between the French working classes, parliamentary politics and the Republican legacy. Jean-Numa Ducange reverts to the international theme through an analysis of the links between the 1905 Russian Revolution and the charte, arguing that the 1905 movement afforded many comparisons with the French revolution of 1789. One is tempted to add although Ducange does not make the point explicitly that this was the first step towards the replacement of France by Russia as the motherland of the revolution, which had started by then and was only completed after the 1917 revolution. Of course, this tends to put the importance of the charte in perspective. Anthony Lorrys concise presentation of the links between anarchism and syndicalism takes up things where Jean Maitron left them in his reference work on French anarchism (Lanarchisme en France, 1975) shedding light on the intricate connections between the two movements, which shared both militants and causes, but grew increasingly apart around the time of the charte. Alain Boscus reassesses Jean Jaurss views on syndicalism, challenging the traditional image of the socialist leader as a militant of civil liberties with little interest for social questions, and showing how Jaurs strove to find syntheses between revolutionary and reformist ideals. A brief conclusion by Alexandre Fernandez emphasises the many levels of analysis to which the charte lends itself, and the well-known heterogeneity of the French working class in the period under study (which is commonly used as an explanation for the ascendancy of syndicalism in that country). The second part, Hommes et courants politiques, brings in a biographical outlook and is especially successful in showing the articulation between ideas and individuals. It is therefore absolutely relevant that this part should begin with a reprint of Les hommes dAmiens by Jean Maitron, the master of the genre. Maitrons text centres on the oftenforgotten militants behind the charte: Victor Renard, the author of the motion against which the charte was actually adopted, Emile Pouget, Georges Yvetot, Fernand Pelloutier and others. The following contributions on sympathisers and reviews linked to the movement are also very illuminating. Far from being merely presented as theorists of syndicalism (a claim which, in itself, is very dubious), Sorel and Lagardelles ideas are presented in context, through their journal, Le Mouvement socialiste (Baillet). In the same vein, David Hamelin examines the case of the Allemanistes, a political group whose significance is decidedly not in keeping with their moderate numerical strength and rather shortlived peak in the early 1890s. Laying the emphasis on the general strike, the revolution and action through unions, the Allemanistes no doubt 89

ANARCHIST STUDIES heralded much of the spirit of the charte. It is also interesting to have the focus for once on Maxime Leroy, the author of La coutume ouvrire (1913), a central reference for the history of syndicalism. Leroy, a bourgeois intellectual polymath, was not only an acute observer of French syndicalism, but also an influential figure within the Confdration up to the First World War. His eclectic itinerary shows once more how multifaceted syndicalist ideology was, and that its appeal reached far beyond the ranks of the working class. This idea is reinforced by Anne Kleins essay on a rather better-known group, that of the artists and illustrators who helped syndicalist propaganda with their art. Names like Jules Grandjouan or Maximilien Luce thus testify to the continuity between syndicalism and anarchism (a cause they had embraced more than a decade earlier), while restating the enduring love story between these schools of thought and a certain form of militant art. In the same perspective, a systematic study of the less publicised forms of militant art associated with syndicalism (theatre and literature) would actually be very instructive. This is partly tackled by Jean-Franois Tanguys study of La Vague Rouge (in the third part of the collection), a novel staging contemporary syndicalist ideas. The third part, Pratiques syndicales et luttes sociales, explores the everyday practice of syndicalism in strikes, and shows very well the complex relations between workers, syndicalists and socialist parties, as well as the subtle class alliances and divisions at play in the workplace or during strikes. Cazals thus analyses the case of the workers of the wool and leather trades at Mazamet, pointing to their two-tier union system, with a dominant Catholic/conservative union. However, the momentous 1909 strike occasioned lasting and mass rallying to the more revolutionary CGT, and saw the socialists support the strike: so, despite the CGTs proclamation of political independence through the charte, there were no such deep-seated and complete antagonisms between syndicalism and parliamentary ways. Similar conclusions emerge from Xavier Verdejos analysis of the quasi-revolutionary wave of strikes around 1906 among the winemaking workers of Languedoc, with interclassist alliances being formed as well as associations between syndicalists and socialists. The tragic events of Draveil, Vigneux and Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, narrated and analysed by Bianchi and Mac, represented the paroxysm of the revolutionary dynamics of syndicalism, further radicalised by the continued intervention of the police and the killing of workers and marked the beginning of the crisis which was to plague the CGT from then on. Pierre Robins contribution raises the interesting question of the articulation between the local and the national levels during strikes, pointing to hiatuses in the diffusion of the syndicalist ideas in concrete situations. The study also suggests that not all levels of the syndicalist networks were equally radical, and that the 90

REVIEWS impact of local circumstances and traditions should of course always be remembered. The volume paints a detailed and convincing picture of syndicalism circa 1906, branching out in many directions. There might, however, have been room for more in-depth studies on the legacy of the charte and its ideological tradition. In this respect, this collection proves very complementary with another of the 2006 publications, Le syndicalisme rvolutionnaire. La charte dAmiens a cent ans (special issue of Mil Neuf cent. Revue dhistoire intellectuelle, no.24, 2006, 224 pp.).1 Above all, a more international outlook remains needed, but this is not the object of this collection which is devoted to the local and biographical aspects. However, local and international perspectives should not be mutually exclusive, especially when discussing an internationalist creed like syndicalism; in any case, the question deserves examining. Similarly, the collection is also a little disappointing with respect to the question of women, although, ironically, several contributions hint at their separateness within syndicalist organisations and in strikes. Devoting an entire study to this question would be a good idea. Another small reservation resides in the presentation of the book, occasionally marred by typos and even a repeated page. However, with excellent syntheses of existing monographs and original studies, accompanied by appendices and beautiful illustrations, Regards does indeed provide a very interesting tour dhorizon of its subject. ENDNOTE
1. www.revue1900.org/revue/dossiers/cat.php?idcat=159.

Constance Bantman Department of Humanities, Imperial College London

THE KATE SHARPLEY LIBRARY During the late 1960s and early 1970s British anarchism was reconfigured when the Freedom Press Group, previously largely on its own, began to be confronted by a series of initiatives by Albert Meltzer, once a valued collaborator on Freedom but by now a bitter opponent, and Stuart Christie, recently released from a Spanish gaol for his involvement in an attempt on Francos life. Their total achievement was impressive, creating a variety of libertarian organizations rivalling what was perceived as a liberal and bourgeois Freedom Press, criticized as reformist, compromised, unadven91

ANARCHIST STUDIES turous and out-of-date. In 1967 they launched the Anarchist Black Cross as an international solidarity organization for imprisoned militants and its bulletin became from 1970 a new anarchist journal, Black Flag, which for many years seemed to be the principal legacy. Yet publication was suspended in 2006 and it remains to be seen whether a new annual format in which Black Flag first appeared in autumn 2007 is maintained. Christie has published books and pamphlets under a series of imprints, notably the Cienfuegos Press (which also produced the six issues of the exciting Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review), followed by Refract and most recently the Meltzer Press and Christiebooks, although neither is likely to surpass the intensity of Cienfuegoss 47 items between 1974 and 1982. Instead it appears probable that the most durable and permanently influential creation of the current is already and will continue to be the Kate Sharpley Library (KSL), a national anarchist archive in the foundation and evolution of which Meltzer was a prominent contributor. When the Brixton anarchists set up their Anarchist Centre at 121 Railton Road in 1979 it was also decided to start a library, divided into lending and reference sections after the donations of both expensive and rare books. Some years previously Meltzer had established contact in nearby Lewisham with Kate Sharpley, who had been an anarchist and antiwar activist at the time of the First World War, and it was seen to be singularly appropriate to name the library after a working-class woman who had been previously unknown. A police raid on the squat at 121 precipitated the KSL being moved in 1984, but only across the road and s into another squatted building. Removal from London and specifically from the insecurity of Brixton occurred in 1991 after which the library was located in Northamptonshire for eight years.1 The next move was transatlantic and transcontinental for the books and archive of the KSL are today housed in North California, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, the country of the Gold Rush of 1849, in a converted barn at the home of Barry Pateman and Jessica Moran, and with other outbuildings and plenty of land if future expansion is required. When Pateman retires as Associate Editor of the Emma Goldman Papers programme at the University of California, Berkeley, he will work full-time (and unpaid) for the archive, but until that day the entire KSL enterprise is voluntary and part-time. Anyone prepared to make the two-hour drive from the Bay Area to work on the books, pamphlets, periodicals or manuscripts of the KSL is welcomed and given accommodation, but necessarily the principal interaction with researchers is by email with their being sent copies of the material they require (and hence the acquisition of a photocopier is an early priority). I was fortunate enough to visit the archive last year and was most impressed by all that I saw: by not only the holdings but also the archival skills being deployed for the preservation of the materials. The latter continue to be 92

REVIEWS deposited in abundance and while the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam is always likely to house the pre-eminent anarchist archive and CIRA (Centre International de Recherches sur lAnarchisme) remains operational at Lausanne, the KSL is set to complement the Labadie Collection of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor as the major holding of libertarian materials in the Anglophone world with a similar emphasis on the English language but also with an inclusive remit. The personnel of the KSL designate it a distributed project since, whereas the collections of the physical library are now located in California, its other essential activities are still centred in the British Isles. From 1991 or 1992 a quarterly bulletin has been issued, described by its editor John Patten as usually a mixture of historical pieces (which aim to record some forgotten anarchist history but also inspire comrades who are active now), more recent studies (especially translations), obituaries and biographies (both old and new, to record the lives of otherwise unknown comrades), and news and reviews from us and other groups (libraries, archives, publishers).2 At the same time a publishing programme was launched to publicize the existence of and to raise funds for the library almost exclusively of cheap pamphlets, A5 and stapled, though usually of very real political and historical value. Production was poor in the early years with blurred photocopying, a problem long since resolved and with early pamphlets being reprinted in reset editions. To the end of 2007 sixty titles have been published, of which only nine are currently out of print. It is, though, difficult to obtain an overview of this aspect of the KSL achievement other than through the single-page, s constantly updated lists of available publications. Few of the pamphlets have, for example, been noticed in Anarchist Studies, as Jon Purkis lamented in his reflections as outgoing reviews editor, because it is the expensive books, not pamphlets priced between 1 and 3, as most of KSL are, that potential s reviewers are eager to be sent.3 By far and away the most expensive publication has been John Pattens Islands of Anarchy: Simian, Cienfuegos and Refract 1969-1987: An Annotated Bibliography (2003), priced at 30 and providing an authoritative overview of Christies early imprints, with three valuable documentary appendices. A novelty, which it is to be hoped will not mislead careless users, is the inclusion of 43 titles planned by Cienfuegos but never published. It is regrettable, though, that the bibliography does not provide a listing of the Coptic Press, run by Meltzer and Ted Kavanagh from 1964 to 1968, Simian, Black Flags pamphlet series, initially describing itself as Son of Coptic. Islands of Anarchy, running to 78 pages, is in a spiralbound A4 format as are the KSL two other (very much cheaper) s bibliographies. Patten has also compiled a Yiddish Anarchist Bibliography (1998), selling for 7.50, listing periodicals, books and pamphlets and providing even the non-Yiddisher with the geographical and temporal 93

ANARCHIST STUDIES dimensions of this very important component of international anarchism: From the shtetl of Tsarist Russia to the workshops of Whitechapel and beyond; here is a record of the publishing activities of the Yiddishlanguage Anarchist movement where Rudolf Rocker cut his teeth as an activist, the worker poets Bovshover and Edelstadt gave voice to pain and hope, and hundreds of long forgotten activists struggled for a better world. The third bibliography is the first English translation of Max Nettlaus A Contribution to an Anarchist Bibliography of Latin America (1994), originally published in Buenos Aires in 1926, and enabling one for a mere 4 to chart the regional spread and chronologies of the national movements down to 1914 in this major but much overlooked anarchist arena, from Argentina and Chile to the USA. The KSL does publish some pamphlets on contemporary or very recent politics and has reprinted others, such as David Nicolls The Walsall Anarchists, Life in British Prisons and Stanleys Exploits from the 1890s, but in general its publications are concerned with the great workers movement that flourished in the late-nineteenth and early decades of the twentieth centuries in Europe, the Americas and East Asia and are either original or the first English-language editions. While the English-speaking countries are not ignored there are, for example, Personal Recollections of the Anarchist Past (1992) by George Cores, an English anarchist pioneer; Robert P. Helmss George Brown, the Cobbler Anarchist of Philadelphia (2006); and Pattens own Ned Kellys Ghost: The Tottenham IWW and the Tottenham Tragedy (1997), whose Tottenham is in New South Wales some two-thirds of the titles are drawn from the non-Anglophone world. The major movements of France, Italy, Spain and Russia have generated the bulk of these titles. From France there are Anselme Bellegarrigues Anarchist Manifesto (2002), in a translation by Paul Sharkey intended for Cienfuegos but finally published twenty years later with an introduction by Anarchist Studies own Sharif Gemie, and Sylvan Garels Louis Lecoin: An Anarchist Life (2000); from Italy Prisoners and Partisans: Italian Anarchists in the Struggle against Fascism (1999) by Mauro de Agostini and others; from Spain Ignacio de Llorenss The CNT and the Russian Revolution (1996), Juan Garcia Olivers Wrong Steps: Errors in the Spanish Revolution (2000) and Elias Manzaneras The Iron Column: Testament of a Revolutionary (2006); and from Russia Ossip Tsebrys Memories of a Makhnovist Partisan (1993) and Efim Yartchuks Kronstadt in the Russian Revolution (1994). In addition there are three pamphlets concerned with Italian volunteers in the Spanish Civil War and two on Italian anarchists in the United States. This is an appropriate place to mention that almost all the KSL translations are by Paul Sharkey, a fourth member of the small collective, who can handle all the Romance languages and lives in Belfast. 94

REVIEWS As will have been noticed from two previous quotations the KSL is committed, most laudably, to rescuing and honouring the countless unknown members of our movement whom it is considered are ignored by official historians of anarchism. But the lost areas of anarchist history that the KSL publish are also geographical, extending far beyond the English-speaking world, Western Europe and Russia.4 No fewer than a fifth of the titles deal with Portugal, Eastern Europe and the Balkans, Japan and Latin America, an emphasis that has been increasing over the last five years. Jon Purkis seems to suggest that his reviewers lack of interest as well as of expertise in these unfamiliar areas of the libertarian world has also been responsible for their unenthusiastic response to the KSL list. So Portugal is represented by Jlio Carrapatos The Almost Perfect Crime: The Misrepresentation of Portuguese Anarchism (2004); Hungary by Martyn Everetts specially written War and Revolution: The Hungarian Anarchist Movement in World War I and the Budapest Commune (1919) (2006); Greece by both The Early Days of Greek Anarchism (2004) and Leonardos Kottiss Konstantinos Speras: The Life and Activities of a Greek Anarcho-Syndicalist (2006); Japan by both Stefan Anarkowics Against the God Emperor: The Anarchist Treason Trials in Japan (c.1993) and Victor Garcias Three Japanese Anarchists: Kokotu, Osugi and Yamaga (2000); Brazil by Against All Tyranny! Essays on Anarchism in Brazil (2003) and Santos The Barcelona of Brazil: Anarchism and Class Struggle in a Port City (2005), both by Edgar Rodrigues; Argentina by The Buenos Aires Tragedy, 29 January 2 February 1931: The Last Fight of Severino di Giovanni and Paulo Scarfo (2004) and in part by Alan OTooles With the Poor of the Earth: A Biography of Doctor John Creaghe of Sheffield and Buenos Aires (2005); and Latin America in total by, of course, Nettlaus indispensable bibliography. Where next for the KSL publishing programme? In 2008 it will bring s out its first full-length book, Abel Pazs The History of the Iron Column. In total this is one of the most interesting and worthwhile initiatives in contemporary libertarian publishing. My advice to all readers is to take out a sustaining subscription, 25 per annum in the UK (or $40 in the USA) for four bulletins, whatever pamphlets or books are published, and reduced prices for most items in the backlist. The address is: Kate Sharpley Library, BM Hurricane, London WC1N 3XX (or PMB 820, 2425 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA 94704). ENDNOTES
1. Col, The Early Days: Some Notes on the Founding of the Kate Sharpley Library, Bulletin of Kate Sharpley Library, no. 40 (November 2004), provides


a reliable account of the origins and first years of the KSL, although downplaying Meltzers input. 2. Quoted from a most informative interview with three of the leading participants: Jessamyn West, From Picas to Pixels: An Interview with Three Members of the Kate Sharpley Library, Serials Review, XXXIII (2007), p. 130. 3. Jon Purkis, Facilitating Diversity: Some Thoughts on Being a Books Reviews Editor, Anarchist Studies, XV (2007), p. 110. 4. These further quotations are taken from the KSL website: .

David Goodway

Anarchist Modernism
Art, Politics, and the First American Avant-Garde

The sheer scale of the materials that Antliff has uncovered is impressive, and powerfully reinforces his compelling recovery of the creative agency of those who invented, shaped, and implemented modernism for radical ends. . . . Anarchist Modernism is a major scholarly achievement. John Moore, Anarchist Studies
Paper $40.00