Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Contemporary-period Sociologists on Anarchism

(I am trying to update my review of Sociology's views on anarchism to the current period. Please forgive the lack of proper citations at this point...)

Pierre Bourdieu:

“In the arguments which I develop, it seems to me that the anarchist tradition has a role to play. I consider that all who are inspired by anarchist thought, or who are close to that way of thinking, are precisely the sort of people I want to reach. Alongside others, anarchists seem to me to be particularly suitable to enter into the new international political movement which is being organized.”

Norman Dennis:

“In keeping with and reinforcing the anti-authority tendencies of the [1968] period much of the work had at least a tinge of anarchism. Far from being one of the keys to understanding best achievements the of modern society, the middle way between individualism and collectivism, and the answer to the riddle of how the ethic of service could survive among people most of whom could not possibly know one another personally”

Lewis Feuer:

“We shall not deny that, like every political theory, anarchism has certain valid insights. Its protest against authoritarianism, that is, the misuse and usurpation of authority, with its needless concentration in the hands of some individual or elite, is valid. Military elites, bureaucratic elites, clerical elites, have all functioned in authoritarian fashions. But, authoritarianism can be controlled and limited only by liberal and democratic means; to try to abolish all authority is the surest way of creating a new authoritarianism, because in the absence of authority, individuals suffer such abuses, such as the loss of freedom, that they desperately then call for a reinforced authority. That is why every anarchist social experiment has finally culminated in a new authoritarianism. One rediscovers the political truth, in George Woodcock's words, that 'a stateless society... may be very far from a free society so far as the persona lives of its members are concerned'.” 

Richard Flacks:

“I've always believed that focus on radical/participatory democracy (which my own work has often done) was in part rooted in anarchist tradition.  The SLM was started during the rising vogue of neo-marxism. I am not sure whether the SLM itself was ultimately that important in shaping 'radical sociology'. But at that time ferment around radical criminology was happening—organized under different auspicesand I would see a good dose of anarchism in that current.” 

C. Wright Mills:
You’ve asked me, “What might you be?” Now I answer you: “I am a Wobbly.” I mean this spiritually and politically. In saying this I refer less to political orientation than to political ethos, and I take Wobbly to mean one thing: the opposite of bureaucrat. (I want to tell you this in order that you may understand my own values as fully as possible and hence be able to better control your understanding of my letters to you.) I am a Wobbly, personally, down deep, and for good. I am outside the whale, and I got that way through social isolation and self-help. But do you know what a Wobbly is? It’s a kind of spiritual condition. Don’t be afraid of the word, Tovarich. A Wobbly is not only a man who takes orders from himself. He’s also a man who’s often in the situation where there are no regulations to fall back upon that he hasn’t made up himself. He doesn’t like bosses— capitalistic or communistic— they are all the same to him. He wants to be, and he wants everyone else to be, his own boss at all times under all conditions and for any purposes they may want to follow up. This kind of spiritual condition, and only this, is Wobbly freedom.”


“… I’m going to write a solid, tight little critique “Marxism today”—about 80 pages. You see, I’ve set my stuff always against various forms of liberalism because those are dominant. But it could just as well—in fact easier for me—be set against Marxism. What these jokersall of themdon't they realize that way down deep and systematically I'm a goddamned anarchist. I'm really quite serious and I'm going over the next few years to work out the position in a positive and clean-cut way.”