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Anarchism Today [Hardcover]

John Clark , Randall Amster

Price: £42.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

9 Mar 2012
In Anarchism Today, an acclaimed scholar and one of the world's foremost advocates for the anarchistic tradition cuts through common misconceptions and caricatures to explore what is perhaps the most poorly understood of all political theories. As author Randall Amster explains, rather than being an anti-everything rationale for defiance and destruction, anarchism is in fact a coherent set of values and practices with a rich history and contemporary relevance. Passionate and provocative, Amster's book offers readers an expert's perspective on what anarchism really means, including its relationship to other political approaches, its careful balancing of individual liberty and a functioning society, and its controversial image as a wellspring of violence. Along the way, Amster addresses a number of current issues from the perspective of anarchism, including corporate globalization, environmentalism, warfare, nationalism, education, technology, alternative economics, criminal justice, and even spirituality. He concludes with a frank assessment of anarchisM's impact and the role it can play in building a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world.

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"A professor and respected philosopher in his own right, Amster's approach to anarchism is a refreshing break from scholars who've historically dismissed the movement as a kind of "anti-everything" ideology. Anarchism Today is a much-needed contemporary read... From self-described anarchists and amateur sociologists to political scholars and concerned citizens, Amster's book is sure to broaden the conversation about an important theory that continues to shape the current social and political landscape. " - Philadelphia City Paper

About the Author

Randall Amster, JD, PhD, is graduate chair of humanities at Prescott College, AZ. He is executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association, and serves as contributing editor for the blog New. Clear. Vision. ( Among his recent books are Lost in Space: The Criminalization, Globalization, and Urban Ecology of Homelessness and the coedited volume Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action.

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4.0 out of 5 stars A very good introduction to anarchist ideas 15 Jun 2014
By Martin Firestein - Published on
In my original review, I gave this book 5 stars. After further consideration, I have to change my rating and reduce it to 4. I still maintain this book does an excellent job at describing anarchist principles.

According to the author, anarchism can be defined as "a harmony obtained in society through voluntary associations which replace or take over the functions of the state". As a result, anarchists:
- are anti authoritarian
- are naturalists (they believe humans are intertwined with the larger environment)
- are egalitarian
- are anti capitalist
- believe people should have the freedom to act in both self governance and in local/regional actions to combat the policies of the state
- believe in the necessity of solidarity and equal treatment for all people

After reading Peter Kropotkin's writings, however, I have come to realize that there is an inherent contradiction within anarchist thought. According to Kropotkin, solidarity is the foundation for the establishment of society, as it makes mutual aid possible, and allows us to treat others as we would want to be treated. BUT at the same time, anarchists would eliminate any kind of punishment for people who perpetrate crimes. Indeed, in his book, Randall Amster believes that in an anarchist society people should have the freedom to act and choose their own constraints. I'm no huge fan of Ayn Rand, but I think something she said (paraphrasing: "an organism that struggles against its own needs can't survive") is oddly appropriate here. How can a society function if people can't be punished for the injuries (or deaths) they inflict upon others? And how does this foster a sense of solidarity or mutual aid? It just doesn't make sense, and unfortunately, Mr. Amster's book doesn't address this point.
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