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Anarchist Studies

Volume 4, 1996 No.2

Autonomy and Community: William Godwin and the Anarchist Project

Paul Nursey-Bray

The opposition, in the work of William Godwin, between individual autonomy, described as the right to private judgement, and co-operation, necessary if society is to be a possibility, poses problems for anarchist theory. His concern for defining the freedom of the individual in terms of the absence of state interference appears to lead to an opposition between the free individual and society itself. But the anarchist project is misunderstood if it is construed solely in terms of autonomy and the absence of authority. It must be understood rather as being about autonomy in community, a community that must be founded on equality and liberty. The demonstration that the anarchist project has broader aims than simply the removal of the state, that it is about the creation of the kind of community in which free individuality can be realised, enables a clear distinction be drawn between anarchism and modern Libertarianism. It follows that the tensions in Godwin's work between individual autonomy and the community reveal him to be both a proto-anarchist and a proto-Libertarian.

Anarchy on the Internet: Obstacles and Opportunities for Alternative Electronic Publishing

Chris Atton

The article summarises the constraints on alternative (print) publishing: economic, legal and social. It suggests that electronic publishing on the Internet might dispense with such constraints. After a discussion of anarchist views of the Internet, it examines current anarchist publishing ventures on the Internet. It then compares their operation to the constraints on conventional publishing, finding that, whilst some constraints no longer apply, new ones have appeared: the most significant are capital costs of equipment and legal action (combined with campaigns of disinformation) taken against some publishers.

Debate: Anarchism and the Politics of Individualism

L. Susan Brown and Janet Biehl

A number of issues central to anarchist political philosophy were raised firstly in L. Susan Brown's The Politics of Individualism and then in Murray Bookchin's reply to this work, Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism. These two papers continue their debate. Brown argues that Bookchin's analysis of her ideas is incomplete, and stresses that her notion of 'existential individualism' is compatible with a free and voluntary form of communism. Janet Biehl develops Bookchin's critique of Brown, arguing that Brown's notion of individualism suffers from the same weakness as that previously put forward by Sartre and de Beauvoir

 

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