Anarchist Studies

Volume 11, 2003 No.1

The direct action ethic

Benjamin Franks

Direct action has long been associated with European anarchism, from the industrial sabotage espoused by Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century anarcho-syndicalists to the anti-Poll Tax activities and DiY culture of more recent British movements. A particular ethic is identified within anarchist direct action, which has two features: The first requires that the means be in accordance with the ends (prefiguration); the second concerns the identity of the subjects involved in the act. Prefiguration distinguishes direct action from both Leninist consequentialism and the deontological approaches of liberal and anarcho-capitalist traditions. The identities of the agents involved and created through direct action illustrate important differences between anarchist direct action and that of right wing groupings such as the Rural Rebels. The paper not only clarifies the category of (anti-) political behaviours known as direct action, but also considers whether a prefigurative ethic necessitates non-violence. Additionally, the paper answers the question of why direct action is embraced by the anti-hierarchical anarchist tradition, explaining the attraction of such methods to contemporary movements, and illustrating parallels between contemporary anarchism and politically engaged post-structuralisms. Examples are drawn from recent actions; the publicity and discussion materials of contemporary groups and their critics as well as texts more centrally located within the academy.

Shape shifting: civil society, complexity and social movements

Graeme Chesters

This paper suggests that a process of democratic renewal catalysed by grassroots social movement networks has led to the re-imagining and re-defining of global civil society. It argues that the 'alternative globalization movement' indicates the antagonistic and transformative potential of this domain and demonstrates how anarchist praxis has been crucial to the development of complex adaptive behaviour, leading to the emergence of unanticipated macro-outcomes in social movement networks. The paper utilises insights drawn from the literature on social movement theory, 'discursive' and 'deliberative' democracy and the contemporary complexity sciences.

Anarchy in art: strategies of dissidence

Allan Antliff

In recent years North American anarchism has been invigorated by a wave of activity in the artistic realm. This essay provides an overview of some (by no means all) art-related activism in the United States and Canada. When making art anarchists consider not only what they express, but also how best to effect meaningful resistance to capitalism in a social context. Thus there is no single 'aesthetic' demarcating anarchism in the arts. Artists engage in strategic considerations as they communicate anarchist values in a myriad of media and spheres as varied as streets, protests, and art galleries.

Tribute to John Moore, 1957 - 2002

Sharif Gemie

In November last year I received the shocking news that John Moore, one of the Associate Editors of Anarchist Studies, had died of a heart attack on his way to work. This was a dreadful blow to all who knew him. John had had no previous history of heart problems, and his sudden death was a complete surprise.

John had played an important part in Anarchist Studies from its beginning in 1993. He was a swift, efficient and generous reader of papers, always willing to note the strengths in a text. His interests and concerns were extremely broad, from American novelists, through Situationist theory, to current debates on aesthetics.

He contributed two articles to Anarchist Studies: 'Composition and Decomposition: Contemporary Anarchist Aesthetics', AS 6:2 (1998), pp113-22; and 'The Insubordination of Words: Poetry, Insurgency and the Situationists', AS 10:2 (2002), pp145-64. John also guest-edited the 'Anarchism and Science-Fiction' special edition of AS 7:2 (1999), and wrote a number of important book reviews.

I asked his partner, Leigh Starcross, to write an obituary for him. She decided that the best way to express her feelings was in a poem. This is followed by a number of notices by people who knew him, who worked with him and who read him. The section ends with a poem by John himself to celebrate Anarchist Studies's first decade.

Sharif Gemie


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