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Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction by…
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Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction

by Colin Ward

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'Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction,' by Colin Ward, is a very good introduction to the basic ideas and philosophies of the various branches of anarchism. The author covers individualist anarchism, Green anarchism, among others, though the author spends the majority of his time discussing the anarchists who advocated socialism, like Michael Bakunin and Emma Goldman.

Ward walks the reader through the anarchists' criticisms of government and what it is that they desire to see replace it. For example, the author has a chapter where he discusses the anarchists' protests against the inhumane prison system and gives several examples throughout history of anarchists setting up purely free, socialist, leaderless forms of organization, such as when anarchists took control of several factories, land, and forms of transportation during the Spanish Revolution in 1936.

Another fact that I was not aware of when I first read this book a few years ago was the fact that anarchists have been partially responsible for some of the most notable civil rights actions, such as the one that took place in India by Mohandas Gandhi, who modified ideas by anarchists such as Peter Kropotkin and Leo Tolstoy. Another civil rights advocate influenced by anarchists was Martin Luther King, Jr., who was greatly influenced by Henry David Thoreau and his ideas of non-violent resistance.

While basic, this introduction is a well-written source of information for anyone interested in anarchism. However, due to the fact that the author spends the majority of his time on the socialist branch of anarchism (as opposed to the individualist branch for example) and because this is only a basic introduction, for those seeking a more thorough history or an outline of the ideas of major anarchist thinkers I would recommend other books on the topic, which the author does provide some good references. ( )
1 vote PrimeTruth | Apr 27, 2012 |
According to Uri Gordon, "the assumptions and sources for discussion" in Ward's book "remain [...] those of nineteenth and early-twentieth century anarchists". See Uri Gordon: "Anarchism And Political Theory: Contemporary Problems" p. 15-6. ( )
  tyrnimehu | Jul 21, 2009 |
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Despite a history of defeat, he insists that it "continually re-emerges in a new guise or in a new country". He argues that the desire of the libertarian right "to roll back the frontiers of the state" is an excuse to erode community services and open up the market for exploitation: "Freedom for the pike means death for the minnow."
 
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The word 'anarchy' comes from the Greek anarkhia, meaning contrary to authority or without a ruler, and was used in a derogatory sense until 1840, when it was adopted by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon to describe his political and social ideology.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192804774, Paperback)

What do anarchists want? It seems easier to classify them by what they don't want, namely, the organizations of the State, and to identify them with rioting and protest rather than with any coherent ideology. But with demonstrations like those against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund being blamed on anarchists, it is clear that an explanation of what they do stand for is long overdue.

Colin Ward provides answers to these questions by considering anarchism from a variety of perspectives: theoretical, historical, and international, and by exploring key anarchist thinkers, from Kropotkin to Chomsky. He looks critically at anarchism by evaluating key ideas within it, such as its blanket opposition to incarceration, and policy of "no compromise" with the apparatus of political decision-making. Can anarchy ever function effectively as a political force? Is it more "organized" and "reasonable" than is currently perceived? Whatever the politics of the reader, Ward's argument ensures that anarchism will be much better understood after experiencing this book.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:22 -0400)

What do anarchists want? It seems easier to classify them by what they don't want, namely, the organizations of the State, and to identify them with rioting and protest rather than with any coherent ideology. But with demonstrations like those against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund being blamed on anarchists, it is clear that an explanation of what they do stand for is long overdue. Colin Ward provides answers to these questions by considering anarchism from a variety of perspectives: theoretical, historical, and international, and by exploring key anarchist thinkers, from Kropotkin through to Chomsky. He looks critically at anarchism by evaluating key ideas within it, such as its blanket opposition to incarceration, and policy of 'no compromise' with the apparatus of political decision-making. Can anarchy ever function effectively as a political force? Is it more 'organized' and 'reasonable' than is currently perceived? Whatever the politics of the reader, Ward's argument ensures that anarchism will be much better understood after experiencing this book.… (more)

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