Will-be-ism?

Nicolas Walter

  • Demanding the impossible: A History of Anarchism by Peter Marshall
    HarperCollins, 783 pp, £25.00, January 1992, ISBN 0 00 217855 9
  • The Self-Build Book by Jon Broome and Brian Richardson
    Green Books, 253 pp, £15.00, December 1991, ISBN 1 870098 23 4

We live in interesting times, alas. The new world order isn’t bringing much order to the world. What used to be called ‘actually existing socialism’ is no longer existing in most places, and while capitalism is existing it isn’t doing much better for most people. The warfare state and the welfare state (right or left) are both falling under their own weight, as the economy (market or command) fails to supply their rising demands. Many ‘isms’ are becoming ‘wasms’, and many ‘wasms’ are becoming ‘isms’ again. Old imperialism and Communism are dying, but old nationalism and racialism and older religious fundamentalism and fanaticism are being reborn, and even older despotism and gangsterism are as lively as ever. The Cold War is over, but the hot wars are getting hotter. As the world collapses into what is conventionally called ‘anarchy’, it may be worth taking more serious thought about alternatives to the way we live now, and in particular about what is more correctly called ‘anarchy’. Conveniently, if coincidentally (and indeed curiously), a major Anglo-American publishing conglomerate has produced what is intended to be a new standard book on anarchism. It may not be that, but it was well worth writing and is well worth reading.

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