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Chapter: Anarchism Are we the 99%? © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Learning aims: Understand the myth “We are the 99%” Understand the central elements of anarchism, its theoretical developments and how it relates to libertarianism Understand David Graeber’s rethinking of the concept of debt Critically engage with the myth’s notion of the public and the private, the individual and the collective © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Last week: Environmentalism Myth: “human-made climate change is an inconvenient truth” Key concepts: Green politics, climate change, truth Gore’s environmentalism is neoliberal economics by other means © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Anarchism flashcard: Key concepts: Liberty Public/Private Action Myth: ‘We are the 99%’ Key thinker: David Graeber © 2014 Cynthia Weber
What do IR scholars mean when they talk about anarchy? 1. International politics is composed of sovereign nation-states 2. There is no world government which means there is no international orderer 3. The absence of a world government or orderer by definition means that international politics is anarchical © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Difference in how IR theorists and anarchists value states and anarchy? (table 10.1) IR theorists State = Good Anarchy = Bad Anarchists: State = Bad Anarchy = Good Anarchists reject Hobbes premise that anarchy implies a “state of nature” where life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” (Hobbes, 1651/2008: 37) © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Graeber’s definitions of anarchism: “Anarchism is the commitment to the idea that it would be possible to have a society based on principles of self organization, voluntary association and mutual aid” (Graeber, 2006) Anarchism is “democracy without the government” or “direct democracy” (Graeber, 2006) “Anarchism is much more than simply grassroots democracy: It ultimately aims to eliminate all social relations, from wage labor to patriarchy, that can only be maintained by the systematic threat of force” (Graeber, 2011c). Anarchism is “acting as if you are already free” (Graeber, 2006) Anarchy is what enables the pursuit of the good life © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Three basic assumptions of anarchism (table 10.2) Assumption aboutExplanation LibertyExpanding the realm of individual liberty is both desirable and possible Human Capacity for Self- Organization Human beings are, under ordinary circumstances, about as reasonable and decent as they are allowed to be, and can organize themselves and their communities without needing to be told how (Graeber, 2012:2) PowerPower corrupts (Graeber, 2012:2) © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Key Concepts of (New) anarchism (table 10.3) ConceptDefinition Horizontal Direct DemocraciesLeaderless, self-organizing structures like the “General Assemblies” that were popularized by OWS, in which decisions are made collectively and consensually Utopian PreconfigurationsEnacting the anarchist belief that “another world is possible by taking direct action to live that other world now through peaceful means, rather than taking on the state through any violent resistance” (Graeber, 2002: 72) Ethical Common Decency“Having the courage to take the simple principles of common decency that we all live by, and to follow them to their logical conclusion” (Graeber, 2012: 2) Taken to its extreme, this means we need to fundamentally rethink how we ought to behave toward one another in terms of what we each of us really owes one another (Graeber, 2011a) © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Theory activity: Rethinking the meaning of debt Aim To allow students to reflect on David Graeber’s rethinking of debt and what it might mean for international politics Research In SMALL GROUPS use the textbook, the theory lecture, your notes and the Internet to understand David Graeber’s explanation of debt. Discuss What kinds of debts are there? What is the difference between economic and mathematical debt and social debt? What is the relationship between debt and violence historically and currently? What is a debt jubilee? Imagine Who would benefit? Who would lose out? What would have to change? © 2014 Cynthia Weber
What is typical and deviant in the world of The Hunger Games? (box 10.1 & 10.2) Typical The annual pageant of “The Hunger Games” structures Capitol-District relations as creditor-debtor relations, in which the Districts have a moral obligation to pay their debt for their failed Rebellion to the Capitol with the lives of their children Deviant For the creditor-debtor relationship established in The Treaty of Treason and enacted yearly through “The Hunger Games” to be opposed or reinterpreted © 2014 Cynthia Weber
How to understand Katniss Everdeen (table 10.4) What is Katniss Everdeen’s (nearly) fatal flaw? Katniss confuses social obligations with calculable debts. This causes her to act as if she believes that living with social, non-familial obligations is the same thing as living with debts that are anchored in state violence and brutal mathematics How does Katniss Everdeen overcome her flaw? Katniss learns that social relationships are the key to true liberty, not debts that restrict liberty © 2014 Cynthia Weber
What must go without saying for the myth “We are the 99%” to appear to be true (box 10.3) Just because a person battles for their private liberties in public does not mean they are battling for the public or constituting a new public like the 99% © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Film activity: Communitarian and individualist anarchism in The Hunger Games and beyond Aim: Drawing on The Hunger Games and Katniss Everdeen’s activism, reflect on the difference between communitarian and individualist anarchism 1. Divide Your group is EITHER driven by communitarian OR individualist anarchist ideals You are part of a wider movement in the US (like the OWS) 2. Organize Find one or more central issue of your particular group (environmental, political, social, economic), bearing in mind your association with EITHER communitarian OR individualist anarchism. You should also come up with a slogan for your group 3. Answer Using what you know about OWS and Katniss Everdeen: How would you make decisions? How would you relate to the media? How would you get people involved? 4. Discuss Do communitarian and individualist anarchists think alike about issues? Do they think alike about decision-making? Is their media strategy different? How? Which media strategy do we think would be most effective – an individualist anarchist or a communitarian? © 2014 Cynthia Weber
Next week: Conclusions What does it all mean? How does IR theory makes sense of the world? How can we make sense of IR theory? © 2014 Cynthia Weber
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