Anarchisms, Postanarchisms and Ethics

Franks, B. (2019) Anarchisms, Postanarchisms and Ethics. Series: New politics of autonomy. Rowman and Littlefield: London. ISBN 9781783488292

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There has always been a substantial inter-connection between moral theory and anarchism. The classical anarchist canon – which includes William Godwin, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Michael Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin and Emma Goldman – overtly discusses meta-, normative and applied ethics. In addition, contemporary activists and theorists use moral discourse to assess contemporary social problems and promote militant interventions. However, Anglo-American philosophy has frequently overlooked the actual (and potential) rich contribution that anarchism has and can make to ethical debates. Instead, the Anglo-American tradition, has almost exclusively treated ‘anarchism’ as a near synonym for the deontological (rights-based) Realist, normative approaches drawn from Robert Wolff’s In Defense of Anarchism and Robert Nozick’s Anarchy State and Utopia. This monograph by contrast, performs four inter-connected tasks. First, it outlines, for the non-specialist reader, the various anarchist positions, explaining how the identification of the meta- and normative ethical positions, provides a substantive basis by which rival traditions can be classified. The major anarchist traditions are: Amoralism (Crimethinc, 2007); then the rival individualisms of Radical subjectivism (Max Stirner, Saul Newman) and realist, deontology (Wolff, Nozick, Knowles); the competing social anarchisms of naturalist consequentialism (William Godwin, Sergei Nechayev) and distributivism (Michael Albert). It highlights the contribution made by post-anarchism (the relatively recent combination of post-structuralist theory with anarchism). In particular post-anarchisms challenge to the universalist and essentialist assumptions of other anarchist traditions. Second, the book assesses the distinctive approaches and argues that anarchism is best viewed not as a movement that priorities rights (deontology) or one that prescribes specific revolutionary goals (consequentialism), but one that prefiguratively challenges hierarchies of power. That is to say it has a commitment to using methods that are consistent with their goals. As such anarchism is most consistent with a practice-based social virtue theory. Virtue theory approaches also illustrate weaknesses in the realist, amoralist and subjectivist meta-ethical positions. The virtue approach adopted here argues that values are immanent to particular social practices, these standards are assessable, but non-universal. Virtues, are best realised through contesting hierarchies of power. Third, the volume applies this analysis to contemporary political, social and bioethical issues. It demonstrates the relevance of anarchist theory to contemporary debates by showing how anarchist theory highlights lacunae within more standard applied ethical discussions, in particular those that assume a managerial or universal position to the resolution of conflicting demands. Thus, case studies from contemporary issues in educational practice and pertinent political conflicts are used to demonstrate the practical applicability of virtue approaches to anarchism. The fourth feature of the text makes this volume methodologically distinct. Given the text’s position that values are a necessary, immanent feature of any social practice, then the social practices and their restraints that intersect to generate the volume are explored in a parallel text that runs beneath the main text. This second part of the text runs parallel, and shares the same pages, but separated by a boundary, and set in a different font. It self-conscious adopts the alienation technique (Verfremdungseffeckt) to explore the reflections and pressures that are part of a texts construction, but which are barely acknowledged in academic works. This second auto-ethnographic narrative is often contemporaneous, written at the time of the formal academic text’s construction or drawn from notebooks and reflections, but edited and reconstructed, not verbatim. This follows a method used by Lisa Bradley, whose work first stimulated me into more critical reflection on the methods of theoretical practices.

Item Type:Books
Keywords:Anarchism, ethics, ideology, liberalism, nationalism, national capitalism, postanarchism, virtue theory.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Franks, Dr Benjamin
Authors: Franks, B.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Publisher:Rowman and Littlefield
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