Author:Fretwell, Nathan
Position:'The Politics of Postanarchism' & 'Post-Anarchism: A Reader' - Book review

Saul Newman, The Politics of Postanarchism

Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010, 200 pp.; ISBN: 978-0-7486-3496-5

Duane Rousselle and Sureyyya Evren (eds), Post-Anarchism: A Reader

London & New York: Pluto Press/ Black Point & Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, 2011, 268 pp.; ISBN: 978-1-55266-433-9

Taken together, the two works under consideration here represent what might be regarded as postanarchism's coming of age. Having burst into life in the Noughties with all the verve and energy of youth, it is a more measured form of postanarchism that stands before us today. A reflexive, more confident postanarchism, one assured of its own status within radical political thought. Indeed, such has been its influence in some quarters that Lewis Call, in his contribution to the edited collection ('Buffy the Post-Anarchist Vampire Slayer'), is compelled to declare that 'a kind of postanarchist moment has arrived' (p.183). A moment, if these two works are anything to judge by, which shows little sign of abating. Pausing to take stock, these works focus not on staking out the philosophical terrain on which anarchism and poststructuralism meet, as in earlier texts, but on assessing postanarchism's impact and import. And in this respect they count amongst the most interesting and important works yet to have emerged out of the postanarchist milieu.

The development that postanarchism has undergone in recent years is no more clearly in evidence than in the basic shift in tenor between Saul Newman's original foray into postanarchism, From Bakunin to Lacan (2001), and his latest extended treatment of the subject, The Politics of Postanarchism. Although the rubric 'postanarchism' (now generally accepted as a shorthand for all the various, often competing, strands of poststructuralist/postmodernist inspired anarchism) received its initial airing in the former work, in reality we find that the term itself plays therein a rather muted, marginal role, despite the prominence afforded to it in the title of the closing chapter. By the turn of the decade, however, much has changed, with 'postanarchism' now taking centre-stage, being proffered as an independent body of work with its own philosophy, tactics and ends. To the extent, even, that sections of The Politics of Postanarchism read as though Newman were proposing something of a postanarchist manifesto.

Whilst perhaps best considered a companion piece to the more philosophically oriented From Bakunin to Lacan, Newman's latest book also functions as a kind of primer for those looking to engage with postanarchism for the first time. Several chapters of...

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