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Two Cheers for Anarchism

Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Two Cheers for Anarchism
    Book Description:

    James Scott taught us what's wrong with seeing like a state. Now, in his most accessible and personal book to date, the acclaimed social scientist makes the case for seeing like an anarchist. Inspired by the core anarchist faith in the possibilities of voluntary cooperation without hierarchy,Two Cheers for Anarchismis an engaging, high-spirited, and often very funny defense of an anarchist way of seeing--one that provides a unique and powerful perspective on everything from everyday social and political interactions to mass protests and revolutions. Through a wide-ranging series of memorable anecdotes and examples, the book describes an anarchist sensibility that celebrates the local knowledge, common sense, and creativity of ordinary people. The result is a kind of handbook on constructive anarchism that challenges us to radically reconsider the value of hierarchy in public and private life, from schools and workplaces to retirement homes and government itself.

    Beginning with what Scott calls "the law of anarchist calisthenics," an argument for law-breaking inspired by an East German pedestrian crossing, each chapter opens with a story that captures an essential anarchist truth. In the course of telling these stories, Scott touches on a wide variety of subjects: public disorder and riots, desertion, poaching, vernacular knowledge, assembly-line production, globalization, the petty bourgeoisie, school testing, playgrounds, and the practice of historical explanation.

    Far from a dogmatic manifesto,Two Cheers for Anarchismcelebrates the anarchist confidence in the inventiveness and judgment of people who are free to exercise their creative and moral capacities.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4462-3
    Subjects: Political Science, Philosophy, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xxviii)
  5. ONE The Uses of Disorder and “Charisma”
    (pp. 1-29)

    I invented this law in Neubrandenburg, Germany, in the late summer of 1990.

    In an effort to improve my barely existing German-language skills before spending a year in Berlin as a guest of the Wissenschaftskolleg, I hit on the idea of finding work on a farm rather than attending daily classes with pimply teenagers at a Goethe Institut center. Since the Wall had come down only a year earlier, I wondered whether I might be able to find a six-week summer job on a collective farm (landwirtschaftliche Produktionsgenossenschaft, or LPG), recently styled “cooperative,” in eastern Germany. A friend at the...

  6. TWO Vernacular Order, Official Order
    (pp. 30-56)

    I live in small inland town in Connecticut called Durham, after its much larger and better-known English namesake. Whether out of nostalgia for the landscape left behind or a lack of imagination, there is scarcely a town in Connecticut that does not simply appropriate an English place-name. Native American landscape terms tend to survive only in the names of lakes and rivers, or in the name of the state itself. It is a rare colonial enterprise that does not attempt to rename the landscape as a means of asserting its ownership and making it both familiar and legible to the...

  7. THREE The Production of Human Beings
    (pp. 57-83)

    In the unpromising year of 1943 in Copenhagen, the architect for a Danish workers’ housing cooperative at Emdrup had a new idea for a playground. An experienced landscape architect who had laid out many conventional playgrounds, he noticed that most children were tempted to forsake the limited possibilities of the swings, seesaws, carousels, and sliding boards for the excitement in the street and to steal into actual building sites or vacant buildings and use the materials they found there for purposes they invented on the spot. His idea was to design a raw building site with clean sand, gravel, lumber,...

  8. FOUR Two Cheers for the Petty Bourgeoisie
    (pp. 84-100)

    It is time someone put in a good word for the petite bourgeoisie. Unlike the working class and capitalists, who have never lack for spokespersons, the petite bourgeoisie rarely, if ever, speaks for itself. And while capitalists gather in industrial associations and at the Davos World Economic Forum, and the working class congregates at trade union congresses, the one and only time, as near as I can tell, the petite bourgeoisie gathered in its own name was at the 1901 First International Congress of the Petite Bourgeoisie in Brussels. There was no Second Congress.

    Why take up the cudgels for...

  9. FIVE For Politics
    (pp. 101-128)

    When the teaching and testing implications of No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 finally reached the classroom, there was a flurry of student resistance, of which Mia Kang’s brave stand was only a small example. Fifty-eight students at Danvers High School in Massachusetts signed a petition against being required to take the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam, and those who refused to sit for the test were suspended from school. Students at other high schools in the state joined them. What might be called “elements of refusal” popped up throughout the country: large numbers of Michigan students opted...

  10. SIX Particularity and Flux
    (pp. 129-142)

    The heroism of the French town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, in the Haute-Loire, which managed to shelter, feed, and speed to safety more than five thousand refugees in Vichy France, many of them Jewish children, is by now enshrined in the annals of resistance to Nazism. Books and films have celebrated the many acts of quiet bravery that made this uncommon rescue possible.

    Here I want to emphasize theparticularityof these acts in a way that, though it may diminish the grand narrative of religious resistance to anti-Semitism, at the same time enlarges our understanding of the specificity of humanitarian...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 143-150)
  12. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 151-152)
  13. Index
    (pp. 153-170)