Anarchist Reading Group Explores Theory, Movement and Practice.


In the first of what will hopefully become a fortnightly anarchist reading group, we have decided to look at three short texts exploring the relationship between activism and theory. A discussion of the interaction between radical theory and movement practice seems like a rather obvious starting point to kickstart an anarchist reading group. All of the chosen articles are available free online and are short and snappy. The longest is a transcription of a round table discussion that flits and darts in conversational style over areas our own discussion might cover. The first article we have chosen is a joint contribution to the US based Lip Magazine called "Action Will Be Taken" Left Anti-Intellectualism and Its Discontents. It uses an accessible journalistic style to tackle 'hyperpragmatism' and 'activistism' as reigning anti-ideologies in post-911 political 'scenes'. This anti-intellectualism is identified as a destructive force that ham-strings the political imagination of the left. Such intellectual paralysis and thoughtless activism leaves movements jumping between single issues that salve the moral conscience of activists but ironically undermines the sustainability of our movements through burn out and alienating those seeking a politics more mindful of long term aims.

Anarchism vs. Marxism: A few notes on an old theme comes from way back in 1978 and surprisingly covers terrain similar to the first more contemporary article. Coming from an anti-Leninist but Marxist background, Diermer identifies a long standing anti-intellectualism crippling the anarchist movement and reducing its theory to an under-developed patchwork quilt. This under-development of anarchist theory leads to a poverty in the anarchist press and movement with little critical discussion of movement strategy and few attempts to develop challenging analysis of the roots of capitalist social relations.

The third piece we have chosen is a transcription of a round table discussion called Anti-Capitalism and Academics: Organizing In, Around, and Despite the Academy. This discussion took place in the famous NY Bluenotes Infoshop between academic heavy weights and activist 'stars.' Aronowitz differentiates between bourgeois intellectuals radicalized through reading and his own experiences of self-education and radicalization on the assembly line. Hardt refuses the idea that academics do theory and activists do practice, to comment on how essential the linguistic creativity prevalent in the Italian social movements is to social change. Media darling of the northern Italian social centres Luci Cassarini, claims social movements represent a collective intellect eliminating the potential for vanguardism. Jeanette Gabriel discusses her experiences in teaching trade apprentices in a union college, emphasizing how capital analyses the world from its perspective but how we too need to create a liberating working class perspective.

Links to the articles up for discussion.

"Action Will Be Taken" Left Anti-Intellectualism and Its Discontents by Lisa Featherstone, Doug Henwood & Christian Parenti:

Anarchism vs. Marxism: A few notes on an old theme by
Ulli Diemer:

Anti-Capitalism and Academics: Organizing In, Around, and Despite the Academy by Stephen Shukaitis:

Our first meeting takes place on Friday October 13th. The meeting starts at seven sharp and may very well retire elsewhere for Friday evening refreshments. The venue is Dublin's increasingly bustling Seomra Spraoi Social Centre, No 6 Lower Ormond Quay. Ormond Quay is on the north side quays, between Capel street and Swift's row. If you stand over by the now decrepit Dublin Working Man's Club you'll see it humming across the river. The entrance is a big blue metal door next to Snap Printing. Ring the top buzzer. All are weclome.