Dysophia – the many worlds of green anarchism

Variations on Black

Traditionally, anarchism has been loyal to its roots in the social struggles of the 19th century, which saw the principle home of the politics as being in the workplace. For a time it vied with marxism to be the dominant philosophy of the left, taking a more radical approach to what any post-revolutionary world would look like.

After the defeats in the Spanish Civil war, it sank into the doldrums from the 1930s to the late 1960s. However, in the latter third of the twentieth century it was revitalised by the radicalisation of other political movements, in particular the environmental and human liberation movements (based on gender, race and sexuality), and by other groupings such as situationists, insurrectionists, illegalists, etc.

Following on from its roots in the early socialism movement and class struggle, the dominant form of anarchism is often referred to as red-black anarchism. Those whose analysis starts from an ecological starting point are called green anarchists, while those coming from a liberation perspective often are given the colour purple. These are not just ad hoc differences, but emphasise the various approaches by which people have come to anarchism; they bring with them additional principles which distinguish them from other strands of anarchist thought.

An important effect of integrating the thought of liberation movements has been to take anarchism out of the workplace and demonstrate that it is just as important in our personal lives. Through the concept of self-determination it has helped re-establish the importance of creative personal expression within the concept of anarchist freedom.

It also placed on a firmer basis the roles of anti-racism, feminism, queer politics and so on within anarchism. Being a feminist does not make you an anarchist, and there are many self-professed anarchists who do not adhere to feminist principles, but we will show that the two sets of politics   overlap strongly, and that anarchism requires us to pay more than lip-service to liberationist politics.

Earth-centred analyses bring in sustainability and shifts the political focus away from anthropocentric (human-centred) view points. Green anarchists argue that we must consider the environment as a whole, with decisions to take into account resource consumption, living in harmony with eco-systems, and human and ecological health and well-being. It introduces wider questions regarding our relationship with people who live under very different social and political regimes, arguing that our privileged view-point is based on a level of industrialization that comes at a cost to others.

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