Political Theory

On some of the most common understandings of “anarchism” and “the political,” the phrase “anarchist political theory” ought to be redundant (of course, according to another popular definition, it ought to be oxymoronic). Thus, it’s terrifically difficult to draw any useful boundaries around “anarchist political theory” as a subject area. Nonetheless, there seems to be a shared desire to draw up some list(s) of the most useful, important, and/or persuasive statements of anarchism as a political philosophy. This list ought to be read in conjunction with many of the others and there is much overlap between them. The professionalisation of anarchist studies may bring clearer conventional distinctions between the subject areas, but this may ultimately be to the detriment of the richness of anarchist thought.

Anarchist Political Philosophy: Some Major Statements

Bakunin, Mikhail (1972). Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works By the Activist-Founder of World Anarchism. Ed. and trans. Sam Dolgoff. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

– – – (1992). The Basic Bakunin: Writings, 1869-1871. Trans. and ed. Robert M. Cutler. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus. <–Cutler’s introduction is interesting.

– – – (1970). God and the State. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

– – – (1998). Marxism, Freedom and the State. Trans. and ed. K.J. Kenafick. London: Freedom Press.

– – – (1953). The Political Philosophy of Bakunin: Scientific Anarchism. Ed. G.P. Maximoff. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.

– – – (1990). Statism and Anarchy. Ed. and trans. Marshall Shatz. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bookchin, Murray (1971). Post-Scarcity Anarchism. San Francisco: Ramparts Books.

– – – (1990). Remaking Society: Pathways to a Green Future. Boston, MA: South End Press.

Goldman, Emma (1969). Anarchism and Other Essays. New York: Dover Publications.

Kropotkin, Peter (1972). The Conquest of Bread. Ed. Paul Avrich. New York: New York University Press.

– – – (1970). Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets. New York: Dover Publications.

– – – (1992). Words of a Rebel. Trans. George Woodcock. Montréal: Black Rose Books.

Landauer, Gustav (1978). For Socialism. Trans. David J. Parent. St. Louis: Telos Press.

Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph (1989). The General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century. Trans. John Beverly Robinson. London: Pluto Press.

– – – (1979). The Principle of Federation. Trans. Richard Vernon. Toronto: U. of Toronto Press.

– – – (1969). Selected Writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Ed. Stewart Edwards. Trans. Elizabeth Fraser. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.

– – – (1970). What is Property? An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government. Trans. Benjamin R. Tucker. New York: Dover.

Stirner, Max [Johann Kaspar Schmidt] (1907). The Ego and His Own. Trans. Stephen Byington. New York: Benjamin R. Tucker.

Anarchist Political Philosophy: Analyses and Exegeses

Baldelli, Giovanni (1971). Social Anarchism. Chicago: Aldine, Atherton.

Biehl, Janet (1998). The Politics of Social Ecology: Libertarian Municipalism. Montréal: Black Rose Books.

Buber, Martin (1996). Paths in Utopia. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. <–The chapter on Landauer alone is a classic.

Carter, Alan (2000). “Analytical Anarchism: Some Conceptual Foundations.” Political Theory 28.2: 230-53.

Carter, April (1971). The Political Theory of Anarchism. New York: Harper & Row.

Colson, Daniel (2001). Petit lexique philosophique de l’anarchisme de Proudhon à Deleuze. Paris: Librairie Générale Française.

Guérin, Daniel (1970). Anarchism: From Theory to Practice. New York: Monthly Review Press.

McLaughlin, Paul (2002). Mikhail Bakunin: The Philosophical Basis of His Theory of Anarchism. New York: Algora Pub. <–A forceful rereading of Bakunin’s works that avoids the reductive tendencies of most of the rest of the English-language literature on him.

Morris, Brian (2004). Kropotkin: The Politics of Community. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books.

Personal reflections on anarchism and the political

Alexander Berkman (2000) ABC of Anarchism. London, Freedom Press

Emma Goldman (1998) Red Emma Speaks: An Emma Goldman Reader. Compiled and edited by Alix Kates Shulman. New York, Humanity Books.

Errico Malatesta (1995) The Anarchist Revolution: Polemical Articles 1924-1931. Edited and introduced by Vernon Richards. London, Freedom Press.

Errico Malatesta (2005) At the Café: Conversations on Anarchism. Edited and introduced by Paul Nursey Bray. Translated by Paul Nursey Bray and Piero Ammirato. London, Freedom Press.

Errico Malatesta (1993) His Life and Ideas. Compiled and edited by Vernon Richards. London, Freedom Press.

Rudolf Rocker (1989) Anarcho-Syndicalism. Preface by Noam Chomsky. Introduction by Nicolas Walter. London, Pluto Press.

Works of Political Philosophy With Affinities to Anarchism

Agamben, Giorgio (1998). Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. <–Agamben’s book poses the problem of State power in relation to Foucault’s biopolitics (the politics of the administration of life) and its creation of bare life (vita nuda) — life left exposed in the no-man’s-land between life and death. He proposes the development of a new politics and new philosophy in exodus from the State.

Agamben, Giorgio (2000). Means Without End. Trans. V. Binetti and C. Casarino. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press. <–A collection of essays by Agamben, which form reflections on anti-Statist, anti-spectacular politics, including a diary section focus on the Italian situation.

Karatani, Kōjin (2003). Transcritique on Kant and Marx. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. <–Fascinating rereading of Marx which seems to place him, weirdly enough, in the camp of Proudhon.

Significant Critiques of Anarchism

Koch, Andrew M. (1993). “Poststructuralism and the Epistemological Basis of Anarchism.” Philosophy of the Social Sciences 23.3: 327-51.

Marx, Karl (1995). The Poverty of Philosophy. Trans. H. Quelch. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

May, Todd (1994). The Political Philosophy of Poststructuralist Anarchism. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Newman, Saul (2001). From Bakunin to Lacan: Anti-Authoritarianism and the Dislocation of Power. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.