Queering anarchism

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If you’re looking for something to read over the next few weeks as we deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, try Queering Anarchism.

Anarchists are a varied bunch but share a desire for social organisation in the absence of imposed centralised authority. There are anarchist ideas floating around in current society which become apparent when it feels like something is self-organising or when people take it in turns to lead across formal leadership hierarchies. “Queer” is often used as a synonym of LGBT+ but it can also mean a stance of opposition to dominant societal norms – usually concerning sexuality, relationships, and gender. It’s deliberately vague, encouraging a continuous critical stance. It’s also used as a verb, “queering”, which can be thought of as playful mode of theorising which critiques all we take for granted. This book takes these two contested terms of “queering” and “anarchism” and uses them to explore a range of topics including love, feminism, migration, non-monogamy, gender identity, disability. Give it a go for ideas to try to out or to inspire heated arguments with your pandemic cohabitants.

Social organisation without authority

Colin Ward (1966), Anarchism as a Theory of Organization:

“[…] ‘anarchy’ means the absence of government, the absence of authority. Can there be social organisation without authority, without government? The anarchists claim that there can be, and they also claim that it is desirable that there should be.

“Anyone can see that there are at least two kinds of organisation. There is the kind which is forced on you, the kind which is run from above, and there is the kind which is run from below, which can’t force you to do anything, and which you are free to join or free to leave alone. We could say that the anarchists are people who want to transform all kinds of human organisation into the kind of purely voluntary association where people can pull out and start one of their own if they don’t like it. I […] attempted to enunciate four principles behind an anarchist theory of organisation: that they should be

“(1) voluntary, (2) functional, (3) temporary, and (4) small.

“They should be voluntary for obvious reasons. There is no point in our advocating individual freedom and responsibility if we are going to advocate organisations for which membership is mandatory.

“They should be functional and temporary precisely because permanence is one of those factors which harden the arteries of an organisation, giving it a vested interest in its own survival, in serving the interests of office-holders rather than its function.

“They should be small precisely because in small face-to-face groups, the bureaucratising and hierarchical tendencies inherent in organisations have least opportunity to develop.”

Emma Goldman on equal rights

“The demand for equal rights in every vocation of life is just and fair; but, after all, the most vital right is the right to love and be loved. Indeed, if partial emancipation is to become a complete and true emancipation of woman, it will have to do away with the ridiculous notion that to be loved, to be sweetheart and mother, is synonymous with being slave or subordinate. It will have to do away with the absurd notion of the dualism of the sexes, or that man and woman represent two antagonistic worlds.”

“.. woman’s freedom is closely allied with man’s freedom, and many of my so-called emancipated sisters seem to overlook the fact that a child born in freedom needs the love and devotion of each human being about him, man as well as woman. Unfortunately, it is this narrow conception of human relations that has brought about a great tragedy in the lives of the modern man and woman.”

From over there.