I've been tagged quite a few times recently by my fellow-bloggers, so it's about time I issued a challenge of my own.
It hasn't escaped my attention that a number of the bloggers whose writings I read on a regular basis are pretty enthusiastic about anarchism and have a particular fondness for the anarchists of the Spanish republic of the 1930s. So much so that two of them even name-check particular anarchist (or anarchist-allied) grouplets from that era in their blog titles / identities. Even those whose politics have moved right- or democratic-left-wards seem to retain a fondness for their anarchist roots, evidenced in their links and reading recommendations.
I write as somebody who has never, in the many twists and turns of his political journey (from Tribunite Labourism via Gramscian Eurocommunism to anti-totalitarian liberal-democratic socialism), been drawn to anarchism, and knows precious little about it. I'm intrigued that people whose opinions I respect are still influenced by this political tradition, and wonder why they think it still has relevance.
Moreover, I question (genuinely - this is not meant to be provocative) whether their fascination with the Spanish anarchists of the Thirties is anything more than misty-eyed nostalgia for the only movement of the revolutionary left that didn't 'go bad'. (Or did it? Were the anarchist murders of priests and nuns during the Civil War any less barbarous than the Falangists' slaughter of anyone with a copy of Rousseau on their shelves?)
So I'm issuing a challenge - in the spirit of genuine intellectual curiosity, rather than political point-scoring. I'd like some of my anarchist-inclined blogging comrades (or anyone else who cares to respond) to explain to me - as briefly as they can - why they remain attracted to anarchism. Specifically, I'd like them to answer these questions:
1. What exactly do you mean by anarchism (which key ideas and thinkers are important to you)?
2. Does the anarchist experiment in the Spanish Republic have any relevance today (and if so what), or is the continuing fascination with it simply rose-tinted leftist nostalgia?
3. What exactly would it mean to implement anarchist ideas in a twenty-first century, globalised economy and polity - and would it even be possible or practicable?
Answers in the comments please - or if you want to take more space, on your own blog. I promise to include extracts from the most interesting responses in a future post.
Responses are already in (see comments below) from The New Centrist, Brian, Les and Roland, plus a 'holding' message from Bob (and a longer response from Brigada on his own blog). I'm impressed. I'll do a proper round-up (and offer my own response to the responses) after the weekend (which lasts three days here in the UK, thanks to the late-summer bank holiday on Monday). In the meantime, thanks to everyone who has contributed so far - anybody else care to join in?
A longer answer just in from The New Centrist - over at his blog. And from The Plump in the comments.
Just waiting for a couple more responses (Bob's promised one, and I'm still hoping Poumista will be tempted) before doing a final round-up. Watch this space.
It's been a busy week, so I haven't got round to posting my 'response to the responses' yet. Will try to do so tomorrow.