Contemporary Anarchism

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Anarchism-literally, a society without government-is less a political philosophy than it is a temperament. Anarchists are defiant people who seek to organize for the purpose of destroying organization. For its adherents, anarchism means a grand struggle against evil, a plea for the new, a secular crusade against the debasement of self, a fight against the degradation of mankind that organized society seems to represent. Anarchism is anti-politics, anti-economics, anti-authoritarianism in all forms. Anarchism is a mood of perpetual rebellion. The decade of the sixties witnessed a revival in the anarchist temperament, which Perlin finds evident in such diverse efforts as the women's liberation movement, student demonstrations, civil rights marches, free schools, the back to the land movement, demands for birth control and other-usually controversial-causes and activities. This new anarchism had few conscious links with the old anarchism. It was instead a response to changed conditions in the social fabric of American and European life, a reflex to the structural, cultural and psychological tensions that made those years turbulent, strife-filled and rebellious. Perlin concludes that while a revolution was not made in the sixties, a revolutionary life-style became a possibility. The spokesmen for the marginal groups whose interests achieved a new kind of legitimacy during the sixties were anarchists or their sympathizers. A representative cross-section of their writings is included in this volume.