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(en) Czech, AFED: Anarchy works - A review of Peter Gelderloos' already popular work published in May by AF

Date Thu, 12 Sep 2019 10:05:16 +0300


If someone were deeper interested in anarchism, I would certainly recommend a book by Václav Tomek and Ondrej Slacálek Anarchism. Freedom against power , which was published in 2006, is a comprehensive overview of the evolution of anarchist ideas, both in history and in their diversity. After this year's Anarchist Book Festival, I would like to add Peter Gelderloos's book Anarchy Works , which illustrates how these ideas, whether consciously or totally involuntarily, can be put into practice. ---- It has been a great choice since the publishing house of the Anarchist Federation, as its production has in recent years been focused on great and recommendable titles, but with a particular focus on history. Anarchy worksis a multi-layered work without necessarily tending to become a multi-page creeper suitable for pressing leaves into a herbarium, however the chosen topic would allow. Its charm lies in the fact that it does not describe cases of functioning anarchy individually, but gradually translates them into topics that are closely related to the anarchist practice (and the problem of social order and the solution of various social situations). However, the author is not ideologically narrow-minded, which allows such a range of examples. They come from different times and from different places, "there are about ninety. Thirty of them are explicitly anarchist; the rest are various stateless, autonomous or consciously anti-authoritarian societies. "In addition, they try to avoid idealizing the examples given, as their weaknesses are often enlightening, including isolation, false alliances, external repression, cooperation with the current system or temporary. Gelderloos often refers to anthropological knowledge and tries to avoid the established Eurocentrism, which often does not avoid the anarchist movement. "Even the central question of this book, namely, whether anarchy can work, is inherently Eurocentric." Also sympathetic is that the author is not just an academic writing from the table. The book is understandable to the average reader and is based on many of his own observations and experiences from various places around the world.

To clarify what the book is about, Gelderloos outlines a brief definition of anarchy as "a social situation without government and coercive hierarchies that are maintained by self-organized horizontal relationships". Although anarchy can mean different things to different people, there are several basic principles on which there is consensus: autonomy and horizontality, mutual assistance, voluntary association, direct action, revolution and self-liberation.

On concrete examples, the prejudice that people are naturally selfish, aggressive and rival, that they have always lived in a patriarchy and that domination and authority is natural, is gradually refuted. Excursions to different times and places answer questions about how decisions will be taken and enforced, who will settle disputes, what will motivate people to work, who will take care of the elderly and the sick, as with education, exchange and management of large infrastructure, how cities will work, how to deal with natural disasters, what about climate change, how to do without the police, how to defeat the state and what to do next, or how to defend against an authoritarian neighbor.

But the book is not merely about informing and imparting knowledge that "anarchy is a far more common thing than we might know", it wants to inspire above all. So, if you wake up to your own activity, also pay attention to the warnings in it: "It is important not to let your efforts be channeled into one of the channels that the system creates to control and neutralize resistance. (...) To free ourselves, we must gain control of all aspects of our lives: culture, entertainment, relationships, housing, education and health care, how we protect our communities and provide food - in short, everything. (...) These stories prove that anarchy can work. But we have to build it ourselves. The courage and confidence we need, but you won't find this book. They are already in us. We just need to wake them up. "

Peter Gelderloos: Anarchy works. Examples of anarchist ideas in practice . Nakladatelství Anarchistické federac e, 2019. 232 pages A5, paperback, recommended contribution to cover 200 CZK.

https://www.afed.cz/text/7018/anarchie-funguje
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