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Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2007
Ward quotes Martin Buber: "All forms of government has this in common: each possesses more power than is required by the given conditions." Buber calls this this "political surplus". One only has to look around the world to see how such political surplus is spent.

I was surprised at the extent of anarchist influence. Ward devotes 4 pages to how anarchism functioned practically is Spain in the 1930's, where 3 million people were organized in anarchist communes.

Anarchists have been at the forefront of considering ecological sustainability. Ward cites authors who believe that anarchism is the only approach that can meet the ecological challenges we face.

Given the problems socialism has faced, Ward argues it is too soon to write off anarchism when looking for alternatives to present forms of government. We may have been taught little about anarchism except to be dismissive of it, but Ward's book is an excellent start to understanding what anarchism offers. There are many references to the works of anarchists.

If capitalism seems to work, albeit at a considerable ecological cost, the growing ecological crises may force us within our lifetimes to explore alternative ways of living. Socialism may not be a big enough change, retaining as it does a strong central government with its own political surplus. If you think you can manage more political participation that casting a vote every few years, anarchism may be worth studying.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 29 January 2009
At university I studied a lot of "-isms" , but anarchism wasn't one of them.Clearly it was considered to be either of little consequence or too extreme to be taken seriously. This little pocket book is a reasonably good introduction to the topic. After reading it I got the impression that the classic anarchist position of desiring an absence of state power and voluntary co-operation are more ideals than anything else and that anarchists would have more realistic goals today such as the devolution of political and economic power and the support for minorities rights and various social liberation movements.They appear to have a lot in common with socialists apart from their attitude toward state power. Unfortunately anarchism seems to be associated with violence and terrorism, but at heart it appears to be a libertarian, peaceful ideology ;it's just that it's goals of removing the state are inevitably going to provoke confrontation. A lot of anarchist ideas are appealing but it has an optimistic, perhaps naive view of "human nature", thinking that people will co-operate peacefully in the absence of a state, rather than the more likely prospect of the greedy, violent and cunning having a field day.After reading this book I might investigate the topic in more depth.It is a good introduction.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2009
Highly informative & well written. Bakukin could have written 1984. Clearly shows the core importance of individual freedom in all things & the all too well known failings of "the system".

Ideas on rehabilitation rather than impisonment make sense to a point, but what would solution be for murder?

A very good brief introduction & it has encouraged me to read more on the subject.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 6 April 2009
This book is a great addition to the bookshelf of both neophyte anarchists and those who have already read some anarchist classics. Easy to read, the book gives a light, nuanced insight into where anarchists come from. It isn't supposed to be comprehensive but is extremely insightful all the same.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2013
This book is an excellent place to begin for those who would like to learn about anarchism – in both its classical and modern forms, and both theoretical works and practical applications – but are unsure where to begin.

The book gives a small but perfectly formed introduction to the subject, with an overview of the individuals (from Godwin, Proudhon, Bakunin and Kropotkin through to Woodcock and Marshall) and the events (in particular the Spanish Civil War) that form the foundations of anarchist thought, and then brings you up to date with the myriad of places that modern anarchism has penetrated (employment, education, individualism/libertarianism, feminism, housing and the Green movement). There’s something for every taste, and regardless of your own special interests, you may be surprised – as I was – to find that anarchism can provide a novel viewpoint from which to develop fresh insights into your subject.

Finally, this book serves as a great advertisement for one of the finest modern anarchist writers that Britain has produced, namely the author Prof Ward. I hope that this little book encourages the reader to seek out the many texts that he authored over his long and diverse career.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2012
Ward has succeeded in presenting anarchist ideas in a short, digestible form that is quite simply brilliant.

I cannot recommend this book any more highly.

Anarchism is a commonly overlooked and derided philosophy, yet has played and will continue to play a significant part in world history. Arguable to a much greater degree, particularly when you consider the methods of some of the most significant contemporary social movements. This book is a great stepping stone in to the subtle and provocative world of anarchist thought.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 April 2013
Ideal introduction to the subject - read it in an afternoon, and used it as springboard for deeper reading. Well-structured, detailed without making your head spin!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2013
Another good introduction and text for exploring the basics and setting out the distinctions between other forms of socialism. Good as a primer
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on 11 April 2014
It never fails to amaze and disappoint that Anarchism as a serious theory and concept is not considered more widely. Colin Ward provides a good general overview that should be considered by anyone with the slightest interest in thinking about fairer, more equitable and just ways of living.
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on 14 July 2015
Broke down the subject into manageable bites and pointed out further reading for the reader to pursue if they are so minded
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