Castells on Anarchism and the internet

Anarchism’s great difficulty has always been reconciling personal and local autonomy with the complexities of daily life and production in an industrialized world on an interdependent planet. And here technology turns out to be anarchism’s ally more so than Marxism’s. Instead of large factories and gigantic bureaucracies (socialism’s material base), the economy increasingly operates through networks (the material foundation of organizational autonomy). And instead of the nation-state controlling territory, we have city-states managing the interchange between territories. All this is based on the Internet, mobile phones, satellites, and informational networks that allow local-global communication and transport at a planetary scale. This is not only my interpretation; it is also explicit in the discourse of the social movements, as Jeffrey Juris’s recent book on the topic splendidly documents. There too we see a call for the dissolution of the state and the construction of an autonomous social organization based on individuals and affinity groups, debating, voting and acting through an interactive network of communication. Is this utopia? No, it is ideology. Consider the distinction: utopia prefigures a desired world. Ideology configures practice. With utopia one dreams. With ideology one struggles. Anarchism is an ideology. And neo-anarchism is an instrument of struggle that appears commensurate with the needs of the twenty-first century social revolt.

from negations via Pat Kane

8 thoughts on “Castells on Anarchism and the internet”

  1. Anarchism’s other great problem from the late 20th century onwards is the perception that its proponents tend to be little more than nihilistic bomb throwers. The role of anarchists in maintaining the social revolution during the Spanish Civil War in the face of Communist oppression, for example, have been almost written out of history. To profess to a belief in political anarchy is akin to admitting to train spotting as a youth: condescending smiles and a dismissal of any other views you might hold follow.

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  2. I think you may have stumbled on an ism of your own: "iffyism" – the belief that all ideologies contain within them the very things that make them invalid.This morning on twitter, DA Howlett made the point about social media and farting in your space suit. Isms are like that – as soon as you try to define (and limit) the behaviour of humans with grandiose (and not so grandiose) terms, you lose sight of the initial benefits and aims.Then again, I may just be defining "iffyism" again!

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  3. Consider the distinction: utopia prefigures a desired world. Ideology configures practice. With utopia one dreams. With ideology one struggles. Anarchism is an ideology. And neo-anarchism is an instrument of struggle that appears commensurate with the needs of the twenty-first century social revolt.Hmmm … Thanks got posting this. I wish I was clearer on what he means by "neo-anarchism is an instrument of struggle". I think I may understand, but not sure. Struggle against, with or for what, though … not quite clear.And ooh, tricky … "twenty-first century revolt" … revolt against ?Against what prevents this, combined with struggle for this ?There too we see a call for the dissolution of the state and the construction of an autonomous social organization based on individuals and affinity groups, debating, voting and acting through an interactive network of communication.Hmmm .. I recognize that.

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  4. Yeah I agree. The "struggle" bit seemed so 70’s and brought back the folks flogging Socialist Worker outside Television Centre. Funny how people still need a them for there to be an us. Oooh might tweet that!

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  5. Don’t fret about "them and us" too much. It’s a fundamental motivator. We identify with people who have similar interests, attitudes, sexual orientation, birthplace etc. We always feel that we need to struggle against ‘them’ when they are doing things that we don’t approve of.What’s important is how we think of ‘them’ and how we treat them. Let’s describe it as struggling *with* them (not against) and we’ll make progress!

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