Newman, Saul. 2015. Postanarchism. Cambridge: Polity Press. ISBN 9780745688732 [Book]

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Abstract or Description

What shape can radical politics take today in a time abandoned by the great revolutionary projects of the past? In light of recent uprisings around the world against the neoliberal capitalist order, Saul Newman argues that anarchism - or as he calls it postanarchism - forms our contemporary political horizon.

In this book, Newman develops an original political theory of postanarchism; a form of anti-authoritarian politics which starts, rather than finishes, with anarchy. He does this by asking four central questions: who are we as subjects; how do we resist; what is our relationship to violence; and, why do we obey? By drawing on a range of heterodox thinkers including La Boétie, Sorel, Benjamin, Stirner and Foucault, the author not only investigates the current conditions for radical political thought and action, but proposes a new form of politics based on what he calls ontological anarchy and the desire for autonomous life. Rather than seeking revolutionary emancipation or political hegemony, we should affirm instead the non-existence of power and the ever-present possibilities of freedom.

As the tectonic plates of our time are shifting, revealing the nihilism and emptiness of our political and economic order, postanarchism s disdain for power in all its forms offers us genuine emancipatory potential.

Postanarchism refers to a wide body of theory – encompassing political theory, philosophy, aesthetics, literature and film studies – which attempts to explore new directions in anarchist thought and politics. While it includes a number of different perspectives and trajectories, the central contention of postanarchism is that classical anarchist philosophy must take account of new theoretical directions and cultural phenomena, in particular, postmodernity and poststructuralism. While these theoretical categories have had a major impact on different areas of scholarship and thought, as well as politics, anarchism tends to have remained largely resistant to these developments and continues to work within an Enlightenment humanist epistemological framework which many see as being in need of updating. At the same time, anarchism – as a form of political theory and practice – is becoming increasingly important to radical struggles and global social movements today, to a large extent supplanting Marxism. Postanarchism seeks to revitalise anarchist theory in light of these new struggles and forms of resistance. However, rather than dismissing the tradition of classical anarchism, postanarchism on the contrary, seeks to explore its potential and radicalise its possibilities. It remains entirely consistent, I would suggest, with the libertarian and egalitarian horizon of anarchism; yet it seeks to broaden the terms of anti-authoritarian thought to include a critical analysis of language, discourse, culture and new modalities of power. In this sense, postanarchism does not understand post to mean being ‘after’ anarchism, but post in the sense of working at and extending the limits of anarchist thought by uncovering its heterogeneous and unpredictable possibilities.

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December 2015

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Date Deposited:

09 Sep 2010 14:49

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11 Feb 2020 02:28


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