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Organisation and formal activism: insights from the anarchist tradition

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Published in International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy. 2016
Abstract Elisée Reclus (1830-1905) argued that ‘anarchy is the highest expression of order’. This assertion, clashing with the bourgeois interpretation of anarchy as chaos, perfectly captured the theories that were being elaborated by Reclus and other anarchist geographers including Pëtr Kropotkin (1842-1921). At the centre of these theories lay the conviction that societies organised around mutual aid and cooperation would be infinitely more rational and empowered than societies organised under the State and capitalism. Then, militants like Errico Malatesta (1853-1932) and Luigi Fabbri (1877-1935) advocated the need for formal anarchist organisation - to put in practice the principles of a horizontal and federalist society in daily life - and prepare the grounds for revolution. Acknowledging the importance of better understanding the past to inform the present, this paper first shows the link (generally overlooked by anarchist historiography) between Reclus’s and Kropotkin’s idea of order and Malatesta’s and Fabbri’s idea of organisation; then, it presents the model of anarchist organisation as a possible resource for present-day social movements, which often act as spontaneous networks of activism without a deep reflexion on organisational issues. According to the tradition of organisational communist anarchism, represented today by the International of Anarchist Federations, organisation is a key point, being not only a necessity, but the method for social transformation: without clarity on this, social struggles are likely to fall either in reformism either in Jacobinism. Finally, I show how present-day anarchist geographies can contribute to these points through their effort to prefigure new spaces for new societies.
Keywords Anarchist organisationMutual aidAnarchist geographiesTransnational anarchismInternational of Anarchist Federations
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FERRETTI, Federico. Organisation and formal activism: insights from the anarchist tradition. In: International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 2016. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:87879

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Deposited on : 2016-10-02

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