Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The ANARCHISMS Project

Among the bridges from "Two-Gun Mutualism" to the broader project I'm taking on, one of the most important is probably the ANARCHISMS Project that I launched last month. The new research and writing program takes off from my always-increasing sense of anarchism's ungovernability, part of which is displayed in the enormous number of ways in which it has, and continues to be, summarized and advance. The real diversity of anarchist positions is hardly reducible to the sort of short-list of tendencies we tend to rely on, and our reliance on that short-list arguably stifles a considerable amount of past, present, and potential future diversity. There is, I think, a lot of room between narrow, sectarian categorizations and the sort of abandonment of basic anarchistic principle which perhaps we think we're guarding against . 

The immediate interest in an ANARCHISMS anthology has complicated my initial plans, in a pleasant enough way. I certainly have enough, and varied enough material in hand to put together a "representative" collection demonstrating the real internal diversity of the tradition, but by the time that collection appears it would be preferable to also have assembled a larger body of manifestos, short intros, personal statements, etc., for those really interested in exploring anarchism's possibilities. Assembling that collection will also undoubtedly be a good first step to launching the new thing—for now, let's just grin and wink and call it Codename: Atercracy—which will take the ungovernable diversity of anarchism as its basic premise.

My goal for the ANARCHISMS Project is to construct an archive and index—and eventually a body of commentary—of the mass of introductory texts produced between roughly 1820 and 1920. And I would like to see the collection grow as comprehensive as possible. But that's no small task, since it was common in the late 19th century for anarchist periodicals to include one or more such summary statements in any given issue. So obviously it would help if others who are working their way through the literature could keep their eyes open for this sort of material. (Take a look at any of the first three pamphlets for a listing of what I've published so far.) My own list is currently considerably longer, and I'll try to post that on a project page within the next week or so, but in the meantime I would welcome comments here or contact through my profile page with additions, suggestions, links, etc.

As I said in the essays on ungovernability, I have little or no interest in attempting to end the debates over "true anarchism." I think they are a necessary part of the evolution of the idea, and obviously the ungovernability arguments mark my own position in the debate. But I also have a strong preference for better fighting—if fighting is what we have to do—and figure there are worse things to do at this stage of anarchism's development than make sure there is lots of high quality fuel for whatever fires we feel the need to set. I'm sure there will be some people, for whom the question of anarchism seems eminently governable and already decided, for whom these new projects will be an even greater affront than the mutualist resurrection, but I doubt many of those people ever see this blog. Among those still reading, and those likely to follow the project into its next stages, I have some hope that a catalog of anarchist diversity—and perhaps untapped anarchist potential—may hold some real attraction.

4 comments:

Charles said...

Hey Shawn,

Concerning other items in addition to what you've got -- do you have a copy of the Philly Social Science Club's A CATECHISM OF ANARCHY (1902)? If not, I'd be happy to send you a copy.

Shawn P. Wilbur said...

Charles, I don't seem to have a copy of that text (although I thought I did somewhere.) Thanks a lot!

Charles said...

Sure, no problem. Just sent along some scans of the original, as well as a typed-up version that should be more useful for extracting text.

Unknown said...

Well Shawn, I've been out of the loop for awhile, so I missed much of this whole "thing". I know you and I have never really conversed in any detail about the subject (or any subject really), but I still think you have done an amazing job, and I will definitely be following your work in the future.