Anarchism Against Time

A translation from Reflexiones desde Anarres, May 2nd, 2k17

- stalkingtheearth


Anarchism Against Time[Anarquismos a contratiempo][1] is the new book by Tomás Ibáñez, recently edited by Virus in their Essay Collection, a work that invites us, from a libertarian and emancipatory spirit, radical and innovative, to reflect on the present, that is not to be confused with the march to despair.

The book compiles a series of articles by Tomás Ibáñez, that in some ways constitutes a continuation of Why A? Scattered fragments for an anarchism without dogma [¿Por qué A? Fragmentos dispersos para un anarquismo sin dogmas]. The former collected texts written over an extended period of four decades, organized chronologically, but Anarchism Against Time is organized differently. In the first place, the different articles were all written in their entirety during the 21st century, being the last ten years; a considerable smaller period of time, and also having opted to group the texts thematically rather than chronologically. The texts were published originally in several diverse publications, with the majority coming from the French Refráctions and the Spanish Libre Pensamiento, with some minor edits to the texts here and there, the main content is left intact.

Tomás Ibáñez touches upon fundamental themes for the anarchism of today, the decision was to arrange the texts into five large blocks. In the first of them, there are questions about existence of a human nature, the idea of capital R revolution (Modernity) and lowercase (Postmodernity) or paradigms of political intervention in the libertarian movement. The second block is about anarcho-syndicalism, it’s current condition in Spain; with the majority of texts here published originally on the centenary founding of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo. In the third block, appear fundamental questions for anarchism: the problem of power, differentiated domination, or political concepts of the State and of governance, and establishing a difference between the more modern notion of ‘governance’. The logical result of this is that everything presented in this thematic block, that has to do with more of less subtle forms of political domination, faces off with the question of liberty, as understood by anarchism; tremendously important for Ibáñez, as well as the ‘practices of liberation’. As readers of Ibáñez will note, the influence of Foucault is considerable, with space given as well to the relationship between power and the questions of truth and knowledge.

In the fourth block, political news and a series of recent events take center stage; and as only he can, Ibáñez scrutinizes the parliamentary temptation, from supposedly libertarian sectors, or with the ideas of collective identity and national character, so fashionable in Cataluña, that he knows well. Finally, the fifth group of texts collects various historical dates and biographies, within the anarchist movement, from the beginning of the 1960s up to today. Ibañez seeks to elucidate different political contexts from personal experience. Another familiar point for keen readers is his authentic passion for May 1968, an event of such importance for liberatory social movements, and for anarchism in particular. The book concludes with these reflections about the forms adopted by the anarchism of the past, in which the French in May can be considered an authentic point of inflection.

The effort of Tomás Ibáñez, something that should be common between all anarchist spirits, is the permanent escape from dogma and the status quo. An unorthodox anarchism, permanently critical even of itself; it’s not a pleonasm, it is the libertarian condition itself. Unfortunately, there is also in anarchism, perhaps better expressed, paradoxically, within the anarchist movement, a tendency towards orthodoxy and certain resistance to change; is most concretely evident identifying the libertarian ideas with a doctrine or mere ideology, an important legacy, not due to beauty, that cannot be limited to the chambers of history if it is not connected to the present. If we really are anarchists, as Tomás Ibáñez tries to show, we would do well to recognize that, by force, be unorthodox and innovative. Times change, and with it ourselves, we are both products of time and radically opposed to it. It’s no coincidence then that the title Ibáñez decided to give the work, to those anarchisms that are today “at odds”, as they constitute an event, in the face of generalized complacency, truly radical and emancipatory.

[1] at risk of ruining the translation altogether by getting the title wrong, not at all confident this was intended translation. The word has multiple meanings, like a setback, a mishap, an accident, sometimes no direct translation (without a hitch, something came up), but went with the music reference instead (Offbeat Anarchism).


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