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ANARCHISM
By Sean M. Sheehan
Reviewed by Cardinal Cox


Write Dope on Pnuk part 67

This slim volume takes as its starting point the demonstration against the World Trade Organisation in Seattle in November 1999. From this point the writer surveyed back to the nineteenth century roots as well as outwards to encompass the Zapatista uprising in Mexico and forward to other mass protests in Prague (against the International Monetary Fund), Quebec (against the Free Trade Area of the Americas) and others.

Amongst the writers seen as influencing the early days of anarchism are both Bakunin and Oscar Wilde. The book also strives to present different viewpoints of anarchism, from the libertarian free-market approach of some (such as Robert Nozick) through the individualist anarchist (such as Max Stirner) to the more communist anarchist principles of others (e.g. Murray Bookchin). One chapter even attempts to reclaim both Marx and Nietzsche for the contemporary radicals.

Another chapter looks at the history of overtly anarchist attempts to destroy the state, starting with Gerrard Winstanley’s Digger movement of the 1640’s. From there it takes in elements of the French Revolution, the attack upon Kronstadt by Bolshevik forces in 1921, Nestor Makhno’s actions in the Ukraine and then the Spanish Civil War, amongst others.

While many books are referenced through this volume, the writer also mentions many films that are of interest as well, an important fact in our more visually literate world. The author tends to look at how anarchistic societies have been portrayed in science fiction by authors including Ursula Le Guin, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.

Early on the author acknowledges his debt to previous chroniclers including Peter Marshall’s excellent 'Demanding the Impossible'. Sean Sheehan briefly covers elements of that much thicker tome and then updates to cover the following ten years. An important addition to the bookshelf.

www.reaktionbooks.co.uk

 

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