Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780192804778

Colin Ward
128 Pages
111 x 173 mm
Pub date
Oct 2004
Very Short Introductions


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  • Colin Ward explains what anarchism means and who anarchists are in this illuminating and accessible introduction to the subject
  • Topical: anarchists have been blamed for the violent protests against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Is there an ideology behind their actions?
  • Covers the latest developments in anarchist theory

The word 'anarchism' tends to conjure up images of aggressive protest against government, and - recently - of angry demonstrations against bodies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. But is anarchism inevitably linked with violent disorder? Do anarchists adhere to a coherent ideology? What exactly is anarchism?
In this Very Short Introduction, Colin Ward considers anarchism from a variety of perspectives: theoretical, historical, and international, and by exploring key anarchist thinkers from Kropotkin to Chomsky. He looks critically at anarchism by evaluating key ideas within it, such as its blanket opposition to incarceration, and policy of 'no compromise' with the apparatus of political decision-making. Among the questions he ponders are: can anarchy ever function effectively as a political force? Is it more 'organized' and 'reasonable' than is currently perceived? Whatever the politics of the reader, Ward's argument ensures that anarchism will be much better understood after reading this book.


1: Definitions and ancestors
2: Revolutionary moments
3: States, societies, and the collapse of socialism
4: Deflating nationalism and fundamentalism
5: Containing deviancy and liberating work
6: Freedom in education
7: The individualist response
8: Quiet revolutions
9: The federalist agenda
10: Green aspirations and anarchist futures
References and sources
Further reading

About the author: 

Colin Ward
Formerly an editor of his much-translated Anarchy in Action (Freedom Press), and from Five Leaves Books of Nottingham, Cotters and Squatters, and (with David Crouch) The Allotment: Its Landscape and Culture, as well as (with Dennis Hardy) Arcadia for All: The Legacy of a Makeshift Landscape.

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