Richard White, Simon Springer & Marcelo Lopes de Souza (eds), The Practice of Freedom: Anarchism, Geography and the Spirit of Revolt
London/New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016; 270pp; ISBN 9781783486649
This is the last part of the trilogy edited by De Souza, Springer and White, the previous two collective books having been The Radicalisation of Pedagogy and Theories of Resistance. Coming back on some of the topics addressed in the other two volumes such as anarchist education, this work especially focuses on anarchist experiences located outside the European traditions. As the authors clarify in the Introduction, anarchism has traditionally drawn upon ideas of coherence between theory and practice, challenging 'the ontological divide between "theory and practice" ... one of the most traditional dichotomies of Western political philosophical thought' (p2). Therefore, this book 'draws attention to historical and contemporary intersectional anarchist praxis familiar with other continents, particularly East Asia' (p11).
The reader will find a wide range of excellent contributions. In the first chapter, Neve Wald and Doug Hill address the prefigurative role of horizontal organisation, a typical feature of the anarchist tradition, by analysing the cases of rural grassroots groups in Argentina, often inspired by local cultures and indigenous traditions. Though anarchism is generally not explicitly labelled as the inspiration of these movements, the authors' argument is that 'horizontalism, consensus decision-making and prefigurative politics... underpin a political culture which is synonymous with anarchism' (p34). Therefore, the rich history of Argentinian anarchism still matters: this means that 'links could be drawn between the anarchosyndicalism around the turn of the twentieth century and more recent and current autonomous movements' (p37).
Yael Allweil addresses the case of the Housing Plan for Tel Aviv proposed in 1925 by Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) as a form of 'anarchist urbanism... deeply influenced by anarchist-geographer Peter Kropotkin's idea of communism without government, the communism of the free' (p43). Allweil identifies the legacy of early anarchist geographers in what was otherwise considered as a merely colonial plan, stressing the role of urban workers' agency, initiative and mutual aid implied by the Plan, and comparing it with the mechanisms of self-organisation deployed in the tent camps which characterised the 2011...