Social life was thus eminently unpredictable, creation of groups was random, culture was complex. Charles Macdonald is a social and cultural anthropologist. Most social scientists have never gone beyond a notion that these societies were just simple, defined by a “lack of,” and not worth theorizing too much. Mauss, Marcel. The term anarchy comes from the Greek, and essentially means “no ruler.” Anarchists are people who reject all forms of government or coercive authority, all forms of hierarchy and domination. Anarchy means not chaos, or a lack of organisation, but a society based on the autonomy of the individual, on co-operation, one without rulers or coercive authority. Paris: Albin Michel. But if aggregates are not permanent, they recreate themselves constantly and the general result in this constant shift of individual units between aggregates is the stability of the whole. From hominoid evolutionary prehistory, chances are that several diverging forms of adaptation survived and still exist side-by-side. And there is a book currently in the bookshops entitled The Anarchists’ Cookbook all about how to make bombs and dynamite. et sous la Renaissance. Conservative writers like Roger Scruton take great pleasure in berating Marxists for having closed their eyes to the realities of the Soviet regime: they themselves, however, have a myopia when it comes to capitalism. ). This concept is similar to “tolerated theft,” a notion used in the study of primate behavior. Ward, C. Anarchy in Action (London: Allen & Unwin, 1973). In a sense, however, I will not completely reject the other meaning of the word, “chaos” or “disorder”; I will show that a state of anarchy implies immanence, randomness, unpredictability and complexity, all concepts that dwell uneasily in a standard notion of what an ordered society is or ought to be. British anthropologists have less connection with anarchism, but it is worth noting that one of the so-called “fathers” of British anthropology, A.R. Alan Barnard looks at the issues of “primitive communism” and “mutual aid” among the Kalahari hunter-gatherers, while Joanna Overing discusses “anarchy and collectivism” among the horticultural Piaroa of Venezuela. they are, but of course their complexity is not what we use to mean when we speak of large modern urban societies. His minor classic, on the Indian communities of South America—specifically the forest Guayaki (Ache)—is significantly titled Society Against the State (1977). Ward, Colin. For the underlying philosophy of the Tao Te Ching is fundamentally anarchist, as Rudolf Rocker long ago noted. Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology is one of a series of pamphlets published by Prickly Paradigm Press in Chicago. The binary of structure and anti-structure is reminiscent of the opposed poles of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft posited by Tönnies ([1887]1955), two radically different forms of associative processes resulting, one from a natural communitarian will, the other from a rational individualistic will (Adair-Toteff 1995: 59). Sociology.” Sociological Perspectives 37(3):375–389. For Clastres, primitive society is not without state; it is anti-state. The market socialist David Miller expresses this view very well in his book on Anarchism (1984). An Anthropological Investigation of Suicide in the Southern The communities I have in mind are stateless societies characterized by egalitarian behavior devoid of status competition, mainly foragers and horticulturalists, who generally lead a peaceful and ordered life. This is why sharing, even if it is not the only way people allocate resources, is a moral dimension of equality and a requirement in maintaining a state of anarchy.[10]. Most anarchists tend to think humans have both good and bad tendencies. And this was the third point in Taylor’s list of requirements, the dimension of sociality that insures not only a just allocation of goods, but a fair relationship between economic actors. Peterson, Nicolas. Bakhtine, Mikhail. Don't show me this again Welcome! The Semai: A Nonviolent People of Malaya. Barclay, Harold. New York: Zone Book. Volume I & II. Pre-Capitalist Modes of Production (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975). Anarchic communities are therefore producing small aggregates (bands are around 25 persons, neighborhoods around 50 or less) of fellows or companions bound by a variety of interests and ties requiring a certain amount of emotional intimacy to develop. The papers in this series differ widely in their topics, methods, and disciplines. Removing a dangerous individual—a hazard to his community—was apparently not done to set an example or create a deterrent. But it is quite misleading to portray the anthropology of the past as being simply the study of so-called “primitive” people or the “exotic” other, and thus largely engaged in a kind of “salvage” operation of “disappearing” cultures. Without calling itself “anarchist,” a topicality has been present in anthropological discourse that could begin to point in the direction of anarchist thinking. One of the earliest ethnographic texts was a book by Elie Reclus called Primitive Folk. Sociality is there defined as coalescence requiring co-presence, in a physical sense, of participants. 177–187. It is simply hostile to parliamentary or party politics. Kropotkin was concerned to examine the “creative genius” of people living at what he described as the “clan period” of human histoiy, and the development of institutions of mutual aid. Rousseauian (id.). There are various ways to achieve this. For example, large animals caught by hunters–Hazda or Inuits— are declared to be gifts of nature and must be shared, often by someone who is not the hunter. Renewing the Anthropological Ttradition. Volume 1. And history shows us that the continual accumulation of such acts can change (almost) everything.” ― David Graeber, Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology Turnbull, Colin M. 1961. Although the phrase “ordered anarchy” had been coined by Evans-Pritchard in reference to the Nuer, a pastoralist people, some of the “real anarchists,” if I may call them so, are to be found among the foragers and hunters-gatherers from different parts of the world, who live in bands, small nomadic aggregates of fifteen to fifty persons, who are egalitarian and whose leaders hold no power. Anarchy, community and equality are absolute requirements, each entailing the others, “they form a coherent set” (Taylor 1982: 167). The word derives, of course, from the Latin, Societas, which in turn derives from Socius, meaning a companion, a friend, a relationship between people, a shared activity. But anarchy, as understood by most anarchists, means the exact opposite of this. It is often the other way around: kinship ties are a way to institutionalize friendship (Macdonald 1999). The key points of Clastres’ analysis have recently been affirmed by John Gledhill (1994, pp.13–15). 2004. Cleveland and New York: The World Publishing Company. Acts of violence have been committed by the followers of every political and religious creed: nationalists, liberals, socialists, feminists, republicans, monarchists, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, democrats, conservatives, fascists...and every government is based on organized violence. But as a perusal of the anarchist movement will indicate, many anarchists or people with anarchist sympathies have been among the finest intellects of their generations, truly creative people. I think some of his insights are excellent, particularly his attention to the notion of complexity. Anthropologists & anarchism: Reclus, Bougle, Mauss, Radcliffe-Brown, Anarchists & Anthropology: Kropotkin, Bookchin, Clastres, Zerzan. Nor is it utopian or millennial. The benefits of that for a far-roaming animal like Homo, are several. Introduction à la pensée complexe. As he stated in his Twitter bio, he viewed “anarchism as something you do” rather than an identity. While Members are drawn from specific disciplines of the social sciences—anthropology, economics, sociology and political science—as well as history, philosophy, literature and law, the School encourages new approaches that arise from exposure to different forms of interpretation. 2008 b) Overwhelming Terror. London: Kahn and Averill with Service, Elman R. 1966. People were interested in peace, not in justice. Anarchist thought: schools of anarchism 15 Anarchist thought: history 27 Summary 38 two anarchist rejections of the state 44 Government, authority, power and the state 45 Anarchist critiques of the state 63 Self-government 86 [8] With thanks to Jun Song of the School of Natural Sciences, IAS, for checking the figures. State (Oxford: Blackwell, 1977). MIT OpenCourseWare is a free & open publication of material from thousands of MIT courses, covering the entire MIT curriculum. Anarchists have thus always drawn a clear distinction between society, in this sense, and the state: between what the Jewish existentialist scholar Martin Buber called the “political” and the “social” principles. Anarchists & Anthropology: Kropotkin, Bookchin, Clastres, Zerzan Kropotkin is well known. It serves only to give ideological justification to power holders in a society that is fundamentally hierarchical and undemocratic. On the one hand it can be seen as a kind of “river,” as Peter Marshall describes it in his excellent history of anarchism. Arctic Adventure: My Life in the Frozen North. Fragments of an anarchist anthropology – David Graeber Thanks to anthropology, imagining alternatives to our lived reality doesn’t have to remain in our dreams; we can do it by trying to put ourselves in the shoes of those people who walk in a a wholly alternate reality. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 28(2):153–168. "Anarchy" derives from the Greek anarkhos, meaning "without authority" (as opposed to "without government/state"). He calls a spade a spade, and puts anarchy and anarchies squarely at the center of a discussion on societies that many authors have refused to call so, instead calling them acephalous, democratic, egalitarian, etc. As Bakunin remarked: “Freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice; and socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality.” Needless to say anarchists have always been critical of soviet communism, and the most powerful and penetrating critiques of Marx, Marxist-Leninism, and the Soviet regime have come from anarchists: people like Berkmanl Goldman, and Maximoff. In the nineteenth century, thinkers like Proudhon or Bakunin were trying to construct a theory of society without government, without a state, based on individual freedom, mutualism or collectivism, and federalism. Sharing is another central dimension of anarchic sociality. (Macdonald 2008 b). Gibson, Thomas. “African Apes: The Significance of African Apes for 1982. on Bands.” Man 29(3):583–603. One is the gregarious, anarchic, egalitarian, non-social type of collective life, which proved to be adaptive and successful over tens of thousands of years (more than 90% of Homo Sapiens life on earth). 1976 [1935] . Clastres, P. Society Against the. Such a social domain is always in a sense present, imminent in contemporary society, co-existing with the state. It is because they have a realistic rather than a romantic view of human nature, that they oppose all forms of coercive authority. A student of Woodburn,[4] who was a specialist of hunters and gatherers and someone who had advocated important ideas—notably the This is, in fact, how people often use the term. Ranging far and wide, being highly mobile, he needs to frequently associate and disassociate himself from his conspecifics. Howell, Signe, and Roy Willis, eds. 2. Ellen, R.F. Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner. Let me then give you a very brief synopsis of their sociology.[5]. Sponsel, Leslie E., and Thomas Gregor, eds. He saw the emergence of political power as a mystery to be explained. His are closed social networks and some dominance, but no female alliances and hostility between groups (Wrangham 1987). They are, as such, not “kinship groups,” groups created by the automatic enforcement of kinship principles, but “groups of kinsmen.” Spatial proximity between households both creates and is created by free choices and affinities between individuals. Communities were necessarily small, based on personal, multi-stranded relations. 1970. instance, be almost by definition revolutionary acts. London and New York: Routledge. Thus, concepts that seemed to fit only foragers’ bands—sharing, immediacy, anarchy, etc.—and just the lowest stage of the evolutionary model proposed in the sixties and seventies, were found relevant not only for nomadic foragers, but for other social formations as well. Hippler, Arthur E. 1974. In spite of the drawbacks and thinness of his writings (Clastres met a premature death in a car accident in 1977), he correctly saw in primitive economies a principle of non-reciprocity and, in chiefly positions, roles without power. Community and Association (Gemeinshaft und Gesellshaft). The internal organization of the Amazonian Indian societies he took as examples made sure that the chiefs had no power and were actually in an inferior position compared to their constituents (because chiefs were the only polygamists and, as such, were in a position of indebtedness towards the other members of their group). While for Clastres and Bookchin political domination and hierarchy begin with the intensification of agriculture, and the rise of the state, for John Zerzan the domestication of plants and animals heralds the demise of an era when humans lived an authentic, free life. The other was Kropotkin, whose writings he imbibed. I will say a few things below on the band society and the study of hunters-gatherers. Anthropology in Honor of Alfred Louis Kroeber. For Landauer, as for Colin Ward, anarchy, therefore, is not something that only existed long ago before the rise of the state, or exists now only among people like the Nharo or Piaroa living at the margins of capitalism. An Anthropological Challenge to With the essay, anthropologist David Graeber attempts to outline areas of research that intellectuals might explore in creating a cohesive body of anarchist social theory . Gluckman. Cornell University Press. It partly derives from the way anarchism has been defined, and partly because Marxist historians have tried to exclude anarchism from the broader socialist movement. Albany: SUNY Press. A.D. 1760. It is said that anarchists are too innocent, too naive, and have too rosy a picture of human nature. There is a divide but the fault line lies elsewhere, not just between modern and pre-modern, but somewhere among the pre-modern. Or, to put it in another way, is anarchism an anthropology of anarchy? Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology David Graeber (2004) Most academics seem to have only the vaguest idea what anarchism is even about; or dismiss it with the crudest stereotypes. [ 17 ] Middleton, John, and David Tait. The Hunters. Mintz, J.R. Elements of Refusal (Seattle: Left Bank Books, 1988). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. This is matched of course by the dismissive attitude towards anarchism by Marxist scholars—Perry Anderson, Wallerstein and E.P. The founding fathers of anarchism, Godwin, Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin, sought to propose a recipe for a just and free society and their successors proposed many different views on how to promote a just society or what a just society exactly looks like. There are several ways to look at it, but I think it best to look at the processes through which anarchic people construct their community, to examine the system, ethos and even style of their relations. Chicago: Prickly 219+4 sentence examples: 1. It is to society what an engine is to an automobile. Graeber, David. mile), or whether the “future primitive” actually entails, in gnostic fashion, a return not to the godhead, but to hunter-gathering subsistence, Zerzan does not tell us. The main influences on his work were Paul Radin and Dorothy Lee, both sensitive scholars of native American culture. Edinburgh: AK Press. But as Alexander Berkman wrote: the resort to violence against oppression or to obtain certain political objectives has been practiced throughout human history. Lanham, Boulder: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. _____. For the time being, I will characterize it as an insistence on personal autonomy coupled with minimal self-affirmation. We have an outdated typology of societies in an evolutionist perspective, the famous sequence of band-tribe-chiefdom-kingdom-state, with peasant societies somewhere in the middle. Pp. Most anarchists were feminists, and many spoke out against racism, as well as defending the freedom of children. L’oeuvre de François Rabelais et la culture populaire au Moyen Age This is most clearly expressed in his classic text Mutual Aid published in 1903. There is very little asymmetry in status between men and women, and role specialization is best seen as two overlapping domains of mastery, rather than one being in a subordinate position to the other. Godelier, Maurice. C.M. This primeval state has been mainly defined as post-edenic and evil, overwhelmingly Hobbesian rather than 2004. Nor does it advocate a retreat into prayer, self-indulgence or meditation, whether or not one contemplates one’s navel or chants mantras. Nor is it simply a speculative vision of some future society: but rather, anarchy is a form of social life which organizes itself without the resort to coercive authority. Community, Anarchy and Liberty. Persons relate to each other not as personas in the capacity of role- or status-holders, but as immanent beings in the world, complete in themselves, not parts of any totality from which they would derive their mutual significance. 139–236. 214–270. “The Origins of “Peace Anthropology”. Clifford, J. and G. Marcus, (Ed) Writing Culture (Berkeley: Univ. This is one of over 2,400 courses on OCW. Authority is here again understood as a capacity to influence or persuade, not as a power to give orders. North Alaska Eskimos maintained a peaceful, generally nonviolent, gregarious way of collective life with absolutely no form of punitive justice. London: Berg. Until recently, the concept of private property of land was either unknown or consciously rejected. There was in fact a close relationship between the French sociological tradition, focussed around Durkheim, and both socialism and anarchism, even though Durkheim himself was antagonistic to the anarchist stress on the individual. Pp. Cienfuegos Press. _____. Paradigm Press. Social In fact, Bakunin was scathing in his criticisms of the 18th century philosopher. It is, in Woodcock’s words “a system of social thought, aiming at fundamental changes in the structure of society and particularly— for this is the common element uniting all its forms—at the replacement of the authoritarian state by some form of nongovernmental co-operation between free individuals” (Woodcock 1962: 13). At any rate, anthropologists could be suspected of harboring anarchist sympathies, since they were finding some merit in the stateless societies they studied. New York: Holt, 1993. This is a rather biased and inaccurate portrait of anthropology, for the discipline has a long tradition of “anthropology at home,” and many important anthropological studies have their location in India, China and Japan. Hart, 3 .M. He was correct in theorizing that primitive societies could not, in normal circumstances, transform themselves into state societies (214), but the argument needs to be overhauled. It is, in fact, the first anarchist tract. It was published in 1903, and carries the sub-title “Studies in Corporative Ethnology.” It is based on information derived from the writings of travellers and missionaries, and it has the evolutionary flavour of books written at the end of the 19th century, but it contains lucid and sympathetic accounts of such people as the Apaches, Nayars, Todas and Inuits. Alfred Brown was a lad from Birmingham. Graeber, David. The Sources of Social Power. The other one is the socially-structured type of collective life, extremely successful in a different sort of way, nowadays eradicating relentlessly all survivors of the other option. Gatherers. Anarchy being on the side of the primeval and the primitive, any attempt at its sublimation smacks of anarchism and must be seen as utopian or regressive. Reconstructing Social Evolution,” in The Evolution of Human Behavior : Primate Models. concept of sharing (Woodburn 1998)—Gibson’s observations on the Buid matched those of Woodburn on the Hadza of Tanzania, particularly their sharing ethos, active pursuit of egalitarianism, and peacefulness. [10] See Macdonald 2008 a) for a full development of this argument. Norms were not enforced, or at least not negatively enforced by punishment. Sharing has been confused with what Sahlins called general reciprocity (Sahlins 1965) and with the moral concept of generosity. Oxford: Oxford University In a way, then, the data collected by anthropologists in the twentieth century supported the theories of the nineteenth century libertarians and anarchists, or at least gave some indication that these theories had a measure of empirical validity. Steward, Julian. What sets his ideas apart from those current at the moment—the seventies, when Levi-Straussian structuralism ruled the roost—is not that primitive society is stateless, something everybody knew, of course, but that primitive society was actively geared to prevent the emergence of the state. Marxism and anthropology have traded ideas and information ever since, but there has been mainly a one-way circulation of ideas between anthropology and anarchism, especially under the form of anarcho-primitivism, showing influence from anthropologists like Sahlins or Levi-Strauss. Pp 51–71. What is so repellent about primitive anarchy that is so attractive about primitive communism? Unpublished manuscript, can be consulted at This small text is not only in some ways an anarchist tract, but it is one of the foundation texts of anthropology, one read by every budding anthropologist. The Western Illusion of Human Nature. A. Kehoe and P. Doughty, eds. [6] The ethnographic present applies to the seventies for most areas, to the eighties and “What Black Elk Left Unsaid,” Anthrop. [9] The biological metaphor used in this paragraph is not the only possible one. “Anarchism: a Bibiography of Articles, 1900–1975.” Political Paris: Gallimard. Let me start with Sir James Frazer, even though he was the furthest thing from an anarchist. His advocacy of citizen’s councils and municipal self management, his emphasis on the city as a potential ecological community, and his strident critiques of the misanthropy and eco-mysticism of the deep ecologists are perhaps well known, and the centre of many debates—much of it acrimonious. 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