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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The author covers a widely misunderstood subject with great clarity. Dispels they myth that anarchism is all about bombs and sinister plots. Colin Ward provides plenty of examples of anarchist-style principles in operation and offers plenty for the reader to think about.