An Anarchist’s Manifesto
My new book has been long in the making. As I explain in the chapter “Anarchist Utopian Designs,” my experience as a student in an anarchist high school in the 1970s forever inoculated me against top-down authority and many other values that dominate our current social structure. Several years ago, I read Judith Suissa’s book Anarchism and Education: A Philosophical Perspective. That reading awoke in me a desire to return to my old anarchist roots, and to do so vocally. Of course, anyone who attends closely to my work will notice the anarchist values coursing throughout. After the event for A Critique of Western Buddhism at Harvard a couple of years ago, a professor of political philosophy came up to me afterwards and asked, “Am I correct to hear strains of Marxism in your work?” Randy Rosenthal, the organizer, was standing next to me. He blurted out, “No! Those are anarchist strains!” It was such an astute observation, in part because I have never made this connection explicit, and certainly not in that book. This silence probably holds true for this blog, too, right? Speaking of this blog, I read Laruelle as a (non-)anarchist. He is explicit about being Marxist. But his non-marxism sounds to me like anarchism in many crucial regards. In any case, order, read, and tell me what you think. I am including some of the endorsements here to stoke your interest.
Anarchism is commonly viewed as an outdated and wholly impractical idea. Worse, it has an accursed reputation for advocating chaos, violence, and destruction. The aim of An Anarchist’s Manifesto is to convince readers of the exact opposite: that anarchism is the most adaptive, humane, intelligent, singly inclusive proposal that we, as social animals, have ever envisioned.
In the bracing tradition of the manifesto, Glenn Wallis “makes public” the values informing the anarchist way of life—order, equality, mutual support, and a vitalizing rejection of authoritarianism, oppression, and exploitation. Offering examples of anarchism in action that are sure to surprise, this startling book inspires even the most skeptical readers to experiment with these values in practical ways. Along the way, it offers a succinct account of anarchism’s historical blights of violence and quixotic utopianism.
An Anarchist’s Manifesto cogently promotes and presents a transformative approach to living in harmony with others.
Acclaim for An Anarchist’s Manifesto
Glenn Wallis’s Manifesto presents a powerful, eloquent, and eminently practical case for anarchism. This is a book that one could very usefully pass on to a neighbor, if that neighbor is inspired by values like love, respect, care, mutual aid, sharing, equality, and freedom. The book will win over many through its simple and profound message that “anarchy” is in no way alien to ordinary people, but is, rather, something that we find in the most admirable ideals and practices all around us. Wallis shows that “a better world is possible” because it is and has been quite actual—at many points in history, in many places today, and most significantly, in our own lives. —John Clark, author of The Impossible Community: Realizing Communitarian Anarchism and The Philosophical Anarchism of William Godwin
This engaging but scholarly book will appeal to both anarchist activists and readers curious about what anarchism can offer to contemporary political struggles. While not shying away from posing and exploring tough questions, Wallis offers his readers a wealth of intellectual resources and inspiring historical and contemporary examples of anarchist praxis. His impassioned manifesto both argues and demonstrates that anarchism is, above all, “a way of being in the world.” —Judith Suissa, Professor of Philosophy of Education, University College London, Institute of Education; author of Anarchism and Education: A Philosophical Perspective
Anarchy—free cooperation among equals—is a principle of everyday life. It also shapes disobedient communities’ struggles against oppression, looking forward to a social order without rulers or classes. Glenn Wallis writes down to earth and up to the minute, a manifesto in the best tradition of Emma Goldman and Colin Ward. If you are not an anarchist (yet?)—this book is for you. —Uri Gordon, author of Anarchy, State and Revolution and Anarchy Alive!
“The spirit of anarchism lives! An Anarchist’s Manifesto is a perfect introduction and reframing of a much maligned and misunderstood idea. Glenn Wallis’s timely and beautifully written book is full of insight, warmth – and hope. The Manifesto appears like the visit of an old friend on a dark winter’s night!” —Stuart Smithers, Professor of Religious Studies at University of Puget Sound, contributing editor at Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and editor of Black Box: A Record of the Catastrophe
Glenn Wallis’s anarchist manifesto is a gentle, undogmatic exploration of anarchist practice. It explains how an anarchist articulation of shared values can transform failing democratic institutions and unjust systems of organization. This is not an conventional manifesto: there is no elaborate policy programme or list of empty promises. It calls for the recovery of an anarchist sensibility as the bulwark against relentless capitalist exploitation and corrupt, lawless government. —Ruth Kinna, Member of the Anarchism Research Group at Loughborough University UK, former co-convenor of the Anarchist Studies Network and co-editor of the journal Anarchist Studies
“In this seductive stroll through the realms of philosophy, history, and everyday life, Wallis guides the curious toward a meeting with anarchy—one of today’s most powerful but maligned political convictions. Whether it leads you to raise a black flag or merely to raise an eyebrow, An Anarchist’s Manifesto will leave you with little doubt about which side you’re on.” —ak thompson, author of Premonitions: Selected Essays on the Culture of Revolt
This lucid and incisive manifesto—in the full force of the term—provides a clear articulation of anarchism: what it is, what it is not, and why it is our best chance at reclaiming our world from the ravages of capitalism, exploitation, and authoritarianism. Glenn Wallis’s An Anarchist’s Manifesto is unflinchingly committed to an anarchist worldview, a worldview in which anarchism as what Wallis calls a “certain way of being” engenders mutually aiding relations between people. Refusing hierarchy, oppression, coercion, and exploitation, An Anarchist’s Manifesto is concerned, first and foremost, with acting on and changing the world. This is not starry-eyed utopianism; this is anarchism, the way to a more just world. —Marquis Bey, Assistant Professor of African American Studies, Northwestern University; author of Anarcho-Blackness: Toward a Black Anarchism
Read this Manifesto! Wallis convincingly argues that anarchism is an “ungrand tradition” of ordinary people engaging in concrete communism, practiced in societies against the state and as well as in exilic spaces at the edges of capitalism. These spaces are not “somewhere else,” they are everywhere around us, in the interstices of the dominant society. When a learned academic or a member of a local Marxist sect tells you that communism is our epic future or our mythic past, a “grand society” instituted only after the revolution, do give him this splendid book. —Andrej Grubačić, Professor of Anarchist Anthropology, CIIS-San Francisco; author of Wobblies and Zapatistas: Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism and Radical History