For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Specters of Anarchy
Literature and the Anarchist Imagination
  • Jeff Shantz
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Specters of Anarchy. Literature and the Anarchist Imagination
Sound Bite
Anarchy. The word alone conjures strong emotional responses.

Anarchism is one of the most important, if maligned, radical social movements. In the 21st century, anarchist politics have enjoyed a significant revival, offering a positive vision of social change and an alternative to the injustice and inequality associated with states and corporate dominance. Yet anarchism remains misunderstood and misrepresented in mass media and government accounts that associate the term with chaos and disorder.

Despite the negative portrayals anarchism, in fact, has always been a movement of intense creativity. More than a political movement, anarchism has, for over a century, made important contributions to cultural developments, especially in literature and art. Often overlooked are the vital creative expressions of anarchism.


About the Author

Jeff Shantz, the editor, is an engaged activist scholar who has taught anarchist theories in a variety of university classes and community-based courses, and who has decades of community organizing experience within social movements.

Jeff teaches critical theory, elite deviance, community and human rights in the Department of Criminology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Metro Vancouver, Canada. He is the author of the book Living Anarchy: Theory and Practice in Anarchist Movements. His writings have appeared in leading international journals including Critical Sociology, Critique of Anthropology, Feminist Review and New Politics as well as numerous anthologies. A longtime community organizer, he has been a member of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and host of the weekly "Anti-Poverty Report" on radio stations CHRY and CKLN in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Shantz received his Ph.D. from York University in Toronto.

About the Book
This lively volume featuring works by innovative scholars presents the compelling potency of anarchist literature through distinct voices. Anarchism has greatly influenced literary production and provided inspiration for a diversity of writers and...
This lively volume featuring works by innovative scholars presents the compelling potency of anarchist literature through distinct voices. Anarchism has greatly influenced literary production and provided inspiration for a diversity of writers and literary movements.

Edited by a longtime anarchist theorist, this exciting collection of engaging works highlights the rich articulations of anarchism and literary creations. It places anarchism at the center of analysis and criticism. Authors examined include Octavia Butler, John Fowles, James Joyce, Ursula LeGuin, Eugene O’Neill, B. Traven, and Oscar Wilde, among others. The collection shows the richness of anarchist movements in politics and culture.

Specters of Anarchy examines critically the generally overlooked intersections, engagements, debates and controversies between literature and criticism and anarchist theories and movements, historically and in the present period. Synthesizing literary criticism with the theory and practice of anarchism, this book offers a re-reading of important literary and political works.

Anarchist politics is a major, and growing, contemporary movement, yet the lack of informed analysis has meant that the actual perspectives, desires and visions of this movement remain obscured. Lost in recent sensationalist accounts are the creative and constructive practices undertaken daily by anarchist organizers imagining a world free from violence, oppression and exploitation. An examination of some of these constructive anarchist visions, which provide examples of politics grounded in everyday resistance, offers insights into real world attempts to radically transform social relations in the here and now of everyday life.


Introduction
Culture and politics in the first decades of the twenty-first century are once again haunted by a specter that some had declared vanquished only a few decades earlier - the specter of anarchism. This is the very specter that haunted political and economic power holders in the first decades of the twentieth century and against which vast...
Culture and politics in the first decades of the twenty-first century are once again haunted by a specter that some had declared vanquished only a few decades earlier - the specter of anarchism. This is the very specter that haunted political and economic power holders in the first decades of the twentieth century and against which vast repressive resources (arrest, imprisonment, deportation, and execution) had been deployed in great acts of social exorcism. From the early 1990s, and particularly with the impetus of alternative globalization movements and uprisings against neoliberalism, anarchism as an explicitly self-identified force has enjoyed a rather incredible resurgence. In a period of less than 20 years anarchism has gone from appearing to be dead and buried as a political movement and idea to revive and become perhaps the most significant oppositional political force in Western liberal democracies.

Despite the intervening passage of a century of time, it appears that anarchism remains widely misunderstood. Popular representations and perceptions of anarchism are based largely on fabrication, falsification, and fear as social mythologies continue to construct anarchism as a synonym for chaos and disorder. In some public proclamations political and economic elites present anarchy as even more than this - as another word for terrorism (in the Age of Anti-Terrorism). The image of the anarchist as a frightening presence has been played up in mass media representations that have focused on anarchist activities particularly during protests against meetings of global capital such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), Organization of American States (OAS), and World Bank (WB). Over the last decade and a half, sensationalistic media stories involving angry, black-clad, masked youth demonstrating against the global meetings of government and corporate power holders, often accompanied by property damage and running battles with police, has fueled a moral panic over anarchism similar to that which marked the beginning of the twentieth century and eventually found expression in the first Red Scare. Acts of direct action, or "uncivil" disobedience, especially where it is believed to involve damage to corporate property, attributed to so-called "black bloc" anarchists during global capitalist summits since the 1999 World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle have returned anarchists to the headlines and landed them on the covers of major national and international publications, including Time and Newsweek, as well as making them the subject of feature stories on leading news programs. In addition to this, police assaults on anarchists during economic summits, including the use of pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets along with mass arrests, shootings, and even killings of anarchists have suggested to the general public that anarchists are indeed something to be feared - something against which force is necessary. This view has been reinforced in mainstream media depictions of anarchists as "criminals," "thugs," and "hooligans."

In the popular imagination, anarchism is largely a phantom. The continued absence of any real, informed analysis and discussion of anarchist politics, popularly, has meant that the actual, as opposed to imagined, perspectives, visions, and activities of this major, and growing, contemporary movement remain obscured. Overlooked or ignored in recent sensationalized accounts are the creative and constructive practices undertaken daily by people who identify as anarchists as they pursue a world free from violence, oppression, and exploitation. A close examination of some of these constructive anarchist visions, which provide examples of politics (and cultures) grounded in everyday resistance, offers needed insights into real world attempts by individuals and collectives to radically transform social relations in the here and now of everyday life (while seeking broader social change).

The works in this collection examine historical and contemporary engagements of anarchism and diverse expressions of cultural production. Together they show that anarchists have used various forms of literary production to express opposition to values and relations characterizing advanced capitalist (and socialist) societies while also expressing key aspects of the alternative values and institutions proposed within anarchism. Among favored themes are anarchist critiques of corporatization, prisons, and patriarchal relations as well as explorations of developing anarchist perspectives on revolution, ecology, sexuality, and mutual aid.

Table of Contents
Introduction: The Anarchist Imagination: Literature/Culture/Anarchy 1. Wilde and the Victorian Mould: The Artist's Individualism through Anarchy 2. Anarchy, Ecology, and the Care of the Se
Introduction: The Anarchist Imagination: Literature/Culture/Anarchy
1. Wilde and the Victorian Mould: The Artist's Individualism through Anarchy
2. Anarchy, Ecology, and the Care of the Self: The Legacies of Emerson and Thoreau
3. Suspicious of the State: The Anarchist Politics of James Joyce
4. Representing Chaos: Spanish Anarchism in Literature
5. The Anarchist Imagination and the Materiality of Cultural Production: Anonymous Authorship in B. Traven
6. "The Freedom that Allows Other Freedoms to Exist": Anarchistic Influence in The French Lieutenant's Woman
7. "One Who, Choosing, Accepts the Responsibility of Choice": Ursula K. Le Guin, Anarchism, and Authority
8. Anarchy in Critical Dystopias: An Anatomy of Rebellion
9. Staging Anarchy: On Anarchism and Drama
10. What Things Could Come? Xenogenesis and Post-Anarchist Feminism
List of Contributors

Categories

Pages 296
Year: 2015
BISAC: POL042010 POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Anarchism
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-1-62894-141-8
Price: USD 22.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-1-62894-142-5
Price: USD 32.95
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ISBN: 978-1-62894-143-2
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