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The Possibility of an Anti-Humanist Anarchism

by Joff

Summary (English)

Please find below fragments of a work in progress. They attempt to rethink Bookchin's animus vis-a-vis the poststructuralism of Derrida & Guattari, Derrida and Foucault and the postmodernism of Baudrillard in "Re-enchanting Humanity", Todd May's "The Political Philosophy of Poststucturalist Anarchism" the triadic ecology of Guattari and a recent essay by Patrick Hayden on naturalist ontology. And here's a few of fragments of autonomous thought.

'This text was presented to the Research on Anarchist List and placed on the web with the agreement of the author, Joff (JPB1MMS@MAIL.BOLTON.AC.UK).

Résumé (Français)

Fragments d'un travail en cours. Tentative pour repenser l'animosité de Bookchin, dans Re-enchanting Humanity, à l'égard du poststructuralisme de Derrida & Guattari, Derrida & Foucault, le postmodernisme de Baudrillard, The Political Philosophy of Postructuralist Anarchism , de Todd May, la triade écologique de Guattari et un essai récent de Patrick Hayden sur l'ontologie naturaliste. Ce sont donc quelques fragments de pensée autonome.

Ce texte a été présenté dans la liste de diffusion " Recherche sur l'anarchisme " et placé sur le Web avec l'accord de l'auteur, Joff (JPB1MMS@MAIL.BOLTON.AC.UK).


My writing not only contributes to environmental philosophy for it is a work of environmental philosophy. Such a work unashamedly operates out of a radical philosophical tradition. The tradition is Enlightenment bound and humanist in emphasis.

This tradition begins, for the purposes of this thesis, with Feuerbach and Marx. Yet, the fetters of the tradition of "critical criticism" are free enough not to lead to a constriction of ideas. Thus, the position of my work is at once experimental and yet "rooted" in the Enlightenment tradition.

It is this curious in-between or interstitial zone that will be explored. The equivocation nestles in-between two apparently irreconcilable structures of thought, namely, the philosophy of the "totality" and the philosophy of otherness or "difference".

In questioning the in-between of the totality and poststructuralism's (PS) emphasis upon positive difference and the confrontation between a defence of Enlightenment humanism and its contemporary erstwhile detractors, an experimental and "monstrous" thinking emerges. In the juxtaposition of the "totality" and the "different", what is sought after is not a forced synthesis or reconciliation of difference, but a possibilising and a playfulness. In chartering unknown seas, new territories uncover generous spaces of experimentation and thought. This is perhaps the dangerous task of post-human philosophy : "the manufacture of materials to harness forces, to think the unthinkable".

In thinking this peculiar in-between, the metaphor of a "force-field" of ideas is employed. A force field of ideas abandons the search for an "extorted" reconciliation of oppositions (Hegel's will-to-system) but instead brings into the foreground the relationality of ideas which at once both attract and repel. Such a structure is dynamic, fluid and less rigid than a staid system which demands the unification of opposites "at any cost".

A defence of Enlightenment ideals that is historically situated requires the examination of the concepts of humanism and naturalism, in order to demonstrate that the "gay" abandonment of such principles by "postmodern nihilism" is never fully extricable from the tradition that is rebelled against.

The following points hope to illuminate the possibility of a "transhuman(t)" anarchism which is ecologically sensitive, tolerant of diversity, yet which sees the role of stewardship as essential for guiding the planet away from imminent collapse. Deleuze, Guattari, and Foucault are taken as representatives of the canon of PS and Bookchin's thinking is taken as representative of green (anarchist) political philosophy which roots itself in the humanist and naturalist tradition of the Enlightenment.

First and foremost, by demonstrating the interrelationship between PS and Bookchin's social ecology, it will be shown that the incommensurability argument Bookchin employs is unwarranted and ungenerous. The incommensurability Bookchin sees between classical and dialectical logic renders Bookchin's own observations contradictory. Incommensurability implies that rational standards are relative or internal to a tradition or culture or paradigm in which they are articulated. In this sense incommensurability implies relativism. Thus, Bookchin is on slippery ground when he contends that : Brute facts " are distortions of reality in dialectical reason because for dialectical reason Being is not an agglomeration of fixed entities and phenomena".

His defensive claim that analytic logic has no validity in testing the rationality of dialectical logic can be turned on his own conjectures and therefore his argument warrants further reflection. It is arguable whether such a defensive claim is a serious defect of social ecology. Furthermore, this form of argument is now disintegrating given the fact that the once opposed traditions of "continental" and "analytical" philosophy are engaging with and merging into one another. Derrida and Rorty are thinkers who attempt to bridge the gap between these two approaches to philosophy.

Therefore, notwithstanding Bookchin's protests, the question of rational dialogue, for those who have ears to listen, between PS, social and deep ecology and anarchism ought to be posed. In order to disclose the interconnections and affinities between PS, anarchist political philosophy and the possible fruitful co-optation of them by ecological thought demands that several centripetal concepts receive close attention. The concepts of the rhizome and arborescence, hierarchy, dualism, and becoming will be assessed in order to think the possibility for a commensurable discourse between two "apparently" intransigent rivals.

At first glance, it is surprising that anarchism has demonstrated such a lack of tolerance towards PS theory. PS explores indeterminacy, the realm of appearances, freakish becomings, fragmentation, and positive otherness. In summa : the celebration of chaos. Anarchism, etymologically, is a state without order, a stateless and chaotic state without the State. In celebrating the social order that emerges in the absence of the ordering principle of the State, anarchism thus emphasises creativity and spontaneity.


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