Perspectives on Anarchist Theory

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Vol. 2 - No. 1
Spring, 1998

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Recommended Reading

We asked two authors to tell us about their favorite books on a vital topic: radical politics after the fall of the Soviet Union?

One World, Ready or NotArif Dirlik, author of many works including Anarchism in the Chinese Revolution (California, 1993) and After the Revolution: Waking to Global Capitalism (Wesleyan, 1994), writes: "In these days of globalization craze, it is difficult often to distinguish critiques from celebrations of globalization. While there are many books on globalization, I am particularly fond of William Greider’s, One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism (Simon & Schuster, 1997) for its comprehensiveness, its revelations about globalization through the eyes of those who are creating it, and its keen critical edge. In the same vein, Manuel Castell’s, The Power of Identity; Vol.2 of The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture (Blackwell, 1997), offers a most sensitive analysis of the various kinds of politics bred by globalization, and the levels at which an appropriate resistance politics may be formulated. Finally, place-based resistance is the theme taken up by Jeremy Brecher and Tim Costello’s Global Village or Global Pillage: Economic Reconstruction From the Bottom Up (South End, 1994).

Kathy Ferguson, author of A Feminist Case Against Bureaucracy (Temple, 1985), writes: "Two thoughtful recent books represent for me two contrasting dimensions of politics with which States of Injuryanarchism has historically engaged: broad philosophical efforts to conceptualize key concepts in politics; and specific, grounded inquiries into practices of political change. One is Wendy Brown's States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity (Princeton University Press, 1995). Brown's book is highly theoretical, drawing intellectual tools from Nietzsche, Marx, Foucault, Weber, and contemporary feminist theory. Brown targets the liberal regulatory state (e.g., the contemporary U.S.) for collapsing our ideas of citizenship and identity into narrow bureaucratic channels. Looking at some contemporary identity politics, Brown finds what Nietzsche called ‘ressentiment’ a debilitating politics in which ‘paralyzing recriminations and toxic resentments [parade] as radical critique’ (p. xi). She challenges feminism to be radical; to contest the dominant terms of debate rather than just demand a share of the existing pie."

"The second book enacts this process of contesting the dominant terms of political debate. In Streets of Hope: The Fall and Rise of an Urban Neighborhood (South End, 1994), Peter Medoff and Holly Sklar give a hands-on account of the rebuilding of a blighted urban area in Boston by its determined residents. The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative brought together a racially and ethnically diverse group of residents to fight not only City Hall but capitalism and racism as well. They confront the specific obstacles and dilemmas familiar to most people who have attempted radical political change on a local scale: there are endless negotiations with funding organizations, city agencies, state and federal authorities, local landowners, banks, and courts. While Brown's book is helpful for pushing us to think radically (that is, to go to the root of our ideas) about power and freedom, Street's of Hope sketches concrete examples of such radical pushing against our society's dominant institutions."