Anarchism's Posthuman Future

Issue: 
Spring 2018

In previous work, we have argued that there are considerable areas of overlap between anarchism and complexity thinking, in particular because both explore the possibilities for the development of order without a specific source of authority. In more recent interventions we have developed a posthuman world view as a political project based on a foundation in complexity thinking. Hierarchical and exclusive forms of social organisation are usually understood by anarchists to be forms of domination. It is unsurprising then, that the history of anarchist thought and practical political engagement demonstrates a concern with an eclectic range of dominations. In this paper, we argue that in questioning our treatment of the environment, or ‘nature’ and in problematising some of our relations with non-human beings and things, some anarchism usefully informs the politics of posthumanism. We trace the past and contemporary linkages between anarchism and posthumanist thinking, drawing on literature in the overlapping fields of political ecologism, new materialism and animal studies. However, we also argue that there is a contradiction embedded in arguments for the liberation of human and non-human beings and things and a recognition that our world was ever more-than-human. The western conception of the human as an autonomous, rational being able to make decisions and choices about actions has only developed alongside,and in contradistinction to, the ‘animal’. These conceptions of autonomy and rationality have been important to all western left political projects, including much of the politics of ecologism and anarchism, where the notion of ‘freedom’ is writ large. If anarchism is to have a posthuman future, we consider that it needs to interrogate and perhaps loosen its ties to some established conceptual building blocks of the western political tradition.

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Anarchist Studies Volume 26 No 1