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2023 | Buch

Anarchism and Social Revolution

An Anarchist Politics of the Transitionary State

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This monograph provides an update to anarchist philosophy, advocating for a paradigm shift beyond neoliberalism and liberal democracy. The book’s central thesis has two components. First, it is argued that the maximization of equal liberty requires historical progress beyond the sovereign state system. In contrast to Fukuyama’s (1992) argument that liberal democracy is the end of history, it is argued that liberalism contains two contradictions (socioeconomic inequality and the shortcoming in equal liberty inherent to state power) with the potential to propel history further. This book’s argument – libertarian social democracy – provides a framework to guide that final stage of history.

Second, while anarchist philosophy offers a vision beyond the sovereign state, it can be rendered more suitable as an alternative paradigm. Specifically, it is argued that anarchism is hampered by its traditional adherence to prefigurative strategy, according to which the state cannot be used as a means to achieve a free and equal society. By contrast, libertarian social democracy incorporates a role for a democratic transitionary state (described here as gradualist anarchism) thus addressing mainstream “Hobbesian” concerns about bad anarchy (where decentralization yields a net loss in equal liberty). In so doing, the book reveals the full spectrum of anarchist strategy from prefigurative to gradualist.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Anarchism

Frontmatter
Chapter 1. The Arc of History
Abstract
This chapter establishes a historical context for the book’s argument, focusing especially on the rise of the modern sovereign state and capitalism, the spread (and recent stagnation) of liberal democracy, and the current systemic crises facing neoliberalism and liberal democracy. In contrast to Fukuyama’s argument in The End of History, I argue that liberal democracy contains contradictions (socioeconomic inequality and sovereign state hierarchy) rather than mere problems that can be resolved within liberal democracies. I also introduce the argument at the heart of the book – libertarian social democracy – emphasizing its contrasts with traditional (prefigurative) anarchism, as well as its essential distinctions from political liberalism and Marxism. Next, I describe the potential benefits of a new interdisciplinarity between anarchism and comparative politics as a byproduct of the libertarian social democracy argument.
Brian Williams
Chapter 2. Anarchism in the Political Realm
Abstract
This chapter focuses on libertarian social democracy in the political realm. Specifically, the chapter discusses the limits of liberal democracy as a vehicle for advancing freedom and equality (or equal liberty) and anarchism’s potential as an alternative paradigm. However, it also presents a critique of traditional prefigurative anarchism, and argues for a more comprehensive vision of anarchist strategy spanning from prefigurative (non-state) to gradualist (statist), which more effectively addresses public concerns about “bad anarchy” and helps to clarify the relationship between anarchism and mainstream political participation. The elements of gradualist anarchism – just law, consensus, and decentralization – are also introduced and analyzed.
Brian Williams
Chapter 3. Anarchism in the Economic Realm
Abstract
This chapter focuses on libertarian social democracy in the economic realm. After clarifying some key terms, an argument for a libertarian mixed economy is presented, addressing both economically liberal (i.e., pro-market) and left-wing class struggle counterarguments. As a starting point for balancing public and private, I treat the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a primary source – specifically the right to property (Article 17) and positive rights to public goods and services (Articles 22–26). Next, I discuss the goal of applying libertarianism to the mixed economy, addressing collective action problems in the public sphere, and regulation in the private sphere.
Brian Williams
Chapter 4. Anarchism in the Cultural Realm
Abstract
This chapter focuses on libertarian social democracy in the cultural realm. I begin by addressing the possibility of revolutionary cultural change, followed by a discussion on the democratic transitionary society and, more specifically, views toward the social contract (specifically, when it should be accepted or rejected). Next, the goal of maximizing self-government is taken up, concentrating on intersectionality (i.e., different sources of domination), anarchist views toward decentralization, and civic participation. Finally, the chapter addresses the topic of the international community, emphasizing the importance of collective security as a prerequisite to decentralization.
Brian Williams

Social Revolution

Frontmatter
Chapter 5. An Elite-Class Theory of US Politics
Abstract
In Chap. 5, an elite theoretic perspective on contemporary US politics is presented as an alternative to the prevailing pluralist theoretic perspectives. The first half of the chapter provides some context and background about elite, class, and pluralist theories, including a brief review of the post-World War II “community power debate” between political scientists and sociologists. The ongoing centrality of pluralist theory to political science, mainstream intellectual analysis, and political culture is also emphasized. In the second half of the chapter, I outline an elite cooptation model of US politics depicting a strategic bargaining interaction between political elites and the masses in an unequal democracy.
Brian Williams
Chapter 6. The Political Landscape
Abstract
This chapter aims to demonstrate the moral justification for social revolution in the USA. To that end, this chapter first illustrates the need for radical reforms via a review of recent public policy outcomes in the neoliberal context. Second, this chapter endeavors to show that the Democratic Party (and the Republican Party) cannot reasonably be expected to bring about those reforms in the absence of revolutionary pressure. It is asserted that, even if one believes, consistent with pluralist theory, that Democratic Party representatives strive in good faith to serve their constituent’s interests, revolution will be needed to transform the political institutions in order to remove the problem of congressional gridlock.
Brian Williams
Chapter 7. Revolutionary Objectives
Abstract
A successful social revolution requires transformative change in all three realms of social life: political, economic, and cultural. This chapter examines what the pursuit of those goals might look like in the USA today. This chapter begins with a focus on the political realm and, more specifically, post-revolutionary constitutional design. An argument is made for, among other structural changes, a more proportional system of representation for the House of Representatives. Turning to the socioeconomic realm, this chapter emphasizes the goal (and challenges) of achieving and sustaining an egalitarian (i.e., post-class) society. That is followed by a look at revolutionary objectives in the cultural realm, focusing on the transition from neoliberalism to libertarian social democracy as well as post-imperialism foreign policy.
Brian Williams
Chapter 8. Revolutionary Strategy
Abstract
Chapter 8 is organized into six parts. First, I elaborate on the meaning of reformist, revolutionary, and hybrid strategies. Second, the advantages of revolutionary strategy, in terms of both utilitarian harm minimization and equal liberty maximization, are explained. Third, the chapter aims to demonstrate the limits of reformism in an unequal democracy, focusing specifically on the USA. Fourth, I turn to the topic of revolutionary coalition building, arguing for a broad-based non-partisan approach. Fifth, I discuss revolutionary tactics, focusing separately on electoral abstentionism (low risk), independent assemblies (medium risk), and militant actions (high risk). Finally, it is argued that, after a successful social revolution, a hybrid strategy of prefigurative (bottom-up) and gradualist (top-down) approaches will be equal liberty maximizing (thus returning full circle to the topic of gradualist anarchism central to Part I).
Brian Williams
Backmatter
Metadaten
Titel
Anarchism and Social Revolution
verfasst von
Brian Williams
Copyright-Jahr
2023
Electronic ISBN
978-3-031-39462-1
Print ISBN
978-3-031-39461-4
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-39462-1