An Anarchist’s Manifesto

An Anarchist’s Manifesto

Anarchism is commonly viewed as an outdated and wholly impractical idea.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. 

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.

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 


Warbler Press

14 responses to “An Anarchist’s Manifesto”

  1. George Vockroth Avatar

    A pre-purchase, ‘good on ya,’ and an anarchic question: can I order directly from you/Incite Seminars?

  2. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Ordering from Warbler Press is just as good. The official launch is January 14th. By then there will be more indie bookstore options. Let me know if you have any difficulties. Thanks for your interest, George!

  3. geovock Avatar

    Thanks Glenn, Warbler Press is an “Amazon Associate”. Not that I don’t stoop to ordering from Amazon, (all the time) but I think you can appreciate the irony of having a book about anarchy distributed solely through them. If possible please consider setting up a digital download in an appropriate, i.e. non-proprietary, format directly from your website. Until then Warbler/Amazon it is.

  4. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Yes, life under capitalism forces us into all sorts of ironies, contradictions, and hypocrisies, doesn’t it? The book will be available through many indies on January 14th. It is officially not even “out” yet. I will pass on your concerns to Warbler. They are trying hard to figure out how to make a living independently from the corporate publishers. Its founder is a long-term Random House editor/publicist who is looking for a better way. I love Warbler’s spirit. Unfortunately, the behemoth called Amazon has placed itself firmly in the way of all such innovative publishing enterprises.

  5. wtpepper Avatar

    Looks great, Glenn. I remain unconvinced by anarchism—but am always hoping to be converted.

    For my own book, I tried searching out trees that dies of natural causes, making bleach-free paper by hand, using recycled oil as ink, and then handing out copies for free on the street corner. Not many people read it, though. I ordered a copy of your book from Amazon; so Jeff Bezos makes a few more bucks…let’s not kid ourselves that digital copies are any less implicated in capitalism.

  6. Patrick jennings Avatar

    Hi Glenn,
    Looking forward to reading your latest. Of course we (anyone who read or contributed to the blog in it’s early days) could see that you were on the anarchist side of the left divide but, for some reason, (tactical, strategic, or just plain evolving ) you never gave us the full blast. Glad to receive it at last in the form of a text I can try to steal somehow. Still penniless, more or less. Property is theft 🙂

  7. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Tom. Haha. The politics of purity is killing the left. And, yes, just think of what has to be true for “free” to happen. Everything but that final exchange of money! I have already see that on certain anarchist sites people are pulling out the self-righteous “THESE THINGS SHOULD BE FREE!” card. My response is usually along the lines of this: So, you’re saying that the money should stop circulating only when it comes to the actual laborers, the people who created the object in question? Because money did circulate to create this thing–until it comes to you!

    Patrick. I know you said it in jest, but your “property is theft” quip is actually a point of contention among anarchists. I think it is clear what Proudhon meant. He meant the large scale ownership of land, waterways, shoreline, factories and other large scale sites of manufacture. He DID NOT mean toothbrushes, or houses, or clothes—or books on anarchism!

  8. Patrick jennings Avatar

    Of course Glenn it was in jest . If any labourer is worthy of his hire it’s you for sure, if only because of the work you are doing with incite seminars! Let’s leave aside the endless hours you put into de-constructing and re-calibrating American Buddhism at the theoretical level, almost single handedly. ( I’m casting comrade Pepper in the role of Sancho Panza. Quite an honour, as he well knows given his degree [masters, doctorate??] in literary studies.)

    Then again I’m falling into the old trap they have laid for the labourer- that he must be worthy of his hire. I don’t hold much for the ideology around the campaign for a basic income but as a practical measure that is absolutely feasible, given the capitalist culture of waste, endless duplication of useless products, and weapons expenditure, a basic income should be a “no brainer”.

    Maybe if one could start local, (Bookchin’s municipalism say) and combine a basic income with a determined effort at sustainability of food, water and energy supply and an end to the production and consumption of useless commodities, some sort of Anarchism might be possible. I suppose that’s Rojava in a nut shell.

    In the present situation on the American streets though, is such a prospect feasible, given the risk of starting a process of civil conflict that might reduce American cities to rubble. Would it be worth it, I wonder? Have you American radicals even got a choice in the matter?

    I bring to mind the image of “The Wall” in Atwood’s “ Handmaids Tale”. Given the last four years it seems more and more like a prophesy. Anyway, trust in god and keep your power dry. I wish that was in jest.

  9. Andreea Dan Avatar
    Andreea Dan

    non-native english speaker, it may be abysmal but here it goes:
    in the spirit of anarchism,could SNB collection of thoughts, reflections be refashioned into more accessible book for the non academically inclined,
    and perhaps addressed to an audience that usually find Buddhist values to be at odds with the realities of the world (the dukka of this era, if you will) but still want to pursue a buddhist practice?

    Not all can stay afloat in this world by being gentle, it often attracts more aggression upon oneself or may render one invisible, for some virtually un-employable, un-promotable etc.
    Aggression may be needed to advance to an equilibrium in power and in other matters, unless we magically do away with competition logic tomorrow? And smiling compassionately at an increasingly bullying world wouldn’t help.

    SNB magazine for the proletariat!

  10. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Hi Andreea. Love it! A huge, hearty YES to an “SNB magazine for the proletariat!” Do you have editing skills (wink, wink)?

  11. Andreea Dan Avatar
    Andreea Dan

    “Do you have editing skills (wink, wink)?”

    Sure, I can give it a try, after being given a lot of feedback because english can be …hilarious and rusty if not used frequently.

  12. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Andreea, what is your native language?

  13. Andreea Dan Avatar
    Andreea Dan


  14. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Oh, nice! Like my editor for Cruel Theory/Sublime Practice…If you want to talk over your idea, please email me at Onward!

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