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Post-anarchism or postanarchism is the term used to represent anarchist philosophies developed since the 1980s using post-structuralist and postmodernist approaches. Some prefer to use the term post-structuralist anarchism, so as not to suggest having moved "past" anarchism. It is not a single coherent theory, but rather is different for each thinker, who utilize the differently combined works of any number of post-structuralists (Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze), postmodern feminists (Judith Butler), and post-Marxists (Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Jean Baudrillard), with those of classical anarchists, with particular concentration on Emma Goldman and Max Stirner, thus varying rather widely in both approach and outcome. It also draws from a wide range of ideas including autonomism, post-left anarchy, situationism, postcolonialism and Zapatismo.


The prefix "post-" does not mean 'after anarchism', but refers to the challenging and disruption of typically accepted assumptions within frameworks that emerged during the Enlightenment era. This means a basic rejection of the epistemological foundations of classical anarchist theories, due to their tendency towards essentialist or reductionist notions – although post-anarchists are generally quick to point out the many outstanding exceptions, such as those noted above. Such an approach is considered to be important insofar as it widens the conception of what it means to have or to be produced rather than only repressed by power, thus encouraging those who act against power in the form of domination to become aware of how their resistance often becomes overdetermined by power-effects as well. It argues against earlier approaches that capitalism and the state are not the only sources of domination in the moment in which we live, and that new approaches need to be developed to combat the network-centric structures of domination that characterize late modernity. Although thinkers such as Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida, Butler, Lacan, and Lyotard are not explicitly self-described anarchists, their ideas nevertheless serve of great importance, given that their thought is certainly some of the most thoroughly anti-authoritarian to emerge in the history of philosophy and since most of these actively engaged in the events of May 1968.

Some concepts common within post-anarchism include:


Todd May initiated "poststructuralist anarchism" in 1994,[1] arguing for a theory grounded in the poststructuralist understanding of power, particularly through the work of Michel Foucault and Emma Goldman as a corrective to more circumscribed notions, while taking the anarchist approach to ethics as a mode through which to recast the poststructuralist lack of elucidation in this domain.

The "Lacanian anarchism" proposed by Saul Newman utilizes the works of Jacques Lacan and Max Stirner more prominently. Newman criticizes classical anarchists, such as Michael Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin, for assuming an objective "human nature" and a natural order; he argues that from this approach, humans progress and are well-off by nature, with only the Establishment as a limitation that forces behavior otherwise. For Newman, this is a Manichaen worldview, which depicts only the reversal of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, in which the "good" state is subjugated by the "evil" people.

Lewis Call has attempted to develop post-anarchist theory through the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, rejecting the Cartesian concept of the "subject". From here a radical form of anarchism is made possible; the anarchism of becoming. This anarchism does not have an eventual goal, nor flow into "being", it is not a final state of development, nor a static form of society, but rather becomes permanent, as a means without end. Italian autonomist Giorgio Agamben has also written about this idea. In this respect it is similar to the "complex systems" view of emerging society known as Panarchy. Call critiques liberal notions of language, consciousness, and rationality from an anarchist perspective, arguing that they are inherent in economic and political power within the capitalist state organization.[2]


  • Call, Lewis: Postmodern Anarchism, Lanham, Lexington Books 2002 - 0739105221
  • Day, Richard J.F.: Gramsci is Dead: Anarchist Currents in the Newest Social Movements, London, Pluto Press 2005 - ISBN 0-7453-2112-7
  • Ferguson, Kathy: The Feminist Case Against Bureaucracy, SAGE Publications 1984 - ISBN 0-87722-400-5
  • Franks, Benjamin: 'Postanarchisms: A critical assessment', Journal of Political Ideologies, No. 12(2) (June 2007), (Routledge) ISSN 1356-9317 and ISSN 1469-9613
  • May, Todd: The Political Philosophy of Poststructuralist Anarchism, The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park 1994 - ISBN 0-271-01046-0
  • Mümken, Jürgen: Freiheit, Individualität und Subjektivität. Staat und Subjekt in der Postmoderne aus anarchistischer Perspektive, Frankfurt am Main 2003 - ISBN 3-936049-12-2
  • Mümken, Jürgen (editor): Anarchismus in der Postmoderne. Beiträge zur anarchitischen Theorie und Praxis, Frankfurt am Main 2005 - ISBN 3-936049-37-8
  • Newman, Saul: From Bakunin to Lacan. Anti-Authoritarianism and the Dislocation of Power, Lanham, Lexington Books 2001 - ISBN 0-7391-0240-0
  • Moore, John (2004). I Am Not a Man, I Am Dynamite!: Frederich Nietzsche and the Anarchist Tradition, p. 160, Autonomedia.

The Post-Anarchism Reader[edit]

The Post-Anarchism Reader: Writings at the Intersection of Anarchism and Post-structuralism is, in the words of co-editor Duane Rousselle, an "attempt to take what are now scattered, yet important, articles and combine them into an accessible anthology, it will be just one shameless attempt at sustainable community."[3] The anthology will include reprints of the pivotal texts from Todd May, Saul Newman, among others, and an interview with Lewis Call. The editors, Rousselle and Jason Adams, have been in contact with anarchist publisher Autonomedia and hope to publish the Reader in late 2008 or early 2009.


  1. Antliff, Allan. "Anarchy, Power, and Poststructuralism. SubStance - Volume 36, Number 2, 2007 (Issue 113), pp. 56-66
  2. Martin, Edward J. "Call, Lewis Postmodern Anarchism.(Book Review)", Perspectives on Political Science, June, 2003
  3. Rousselle, Duane Infoshop News - The Postanarchist Reader – Call for Papers. Infoshop News. Alternative Media Project. URL accessed on 2008-03-11.

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