Book: Two Cheers for Anarchism

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Two Cheers for Anarchism

James C. Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science, professor of anthropology and forestry and environmental studies

(Princeton University Press)

In this book, James Scott makes the case for seeing like an anarchist. Inspired by the core anarchist faith in the possibilities of voluntary cooperation without hierarchy, “Two Cheers for Anarchism” is a defense of an anarchist way of seeing — one that provides a unique and powerful perspective on everything from everyday social and political interactions to mass protests and revolutions. Through a wide-ranging series of anecdotes and examples, the book describes an anarchist sensibility that celebrates the local knowledge, common sense, and creativity of ordinary people. The result is a kind of handbook on constructive anarchism that challenges one to radically reconsider the value of hierarchy in public and private life, from schools and workplaces to retirement homes and government itself.

Beginning with what Scott calls “the law of anarchist calisthenics,” an argument for law-breaking inspired by an East German pedestrian crossing, each chapter opens with a story that captures an essential anarchist truth. In the course of telling these stories, Scott touches on a wide variety of subjects: public disorder and riots, desertion, poaching, vernacular knowledge, assembly-line production, globalization, the petty bourgeoisie, school testing, playgrounds, and the practice of historical explanation.