I Wanna Be Literated #142

I Wanna Be Literated #142

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

What is Anarchism?: An Introduction 2nd Ed.
by Donald Rooum, Andrej Gruba?i?, and Vernon Richards

Lord knows we need more books dedicated to bringing Anarchist ideas to the masses, and one thing that’s appealing from Donald Rooum’s What is Anarchism is how inviting it looks at a glance. First of all, it’s slender but not comically so (about 150 pages), and the chapters are organized to address very important and specific questions, like Approaches to Anarchism, and Anarchism and Violence. Also, there are some cartoons here and there. I have read some very exhaustive Anarchist anthologies (like No Gods, No Masters, and the Anarchist FAQ), and honestly, a concise version that gets to the point is a very welcome entry.

Rooum’s approach is to pick relevant pieces by the who’s who of Anarchism to address each topic, and sure enough the big hitters are here, like Kropotkin, Proudhon, and Bakunin along with the more modern theorists like Murray Bookchin and Colin Ward. So as a greatest hits of Anarchism, What is Anarchism nails it. However, I was expecting a little bit more from this book…

I think the fact remains that even though these topics are still relevant, at this point a lot of Anarchist literature is dry and written for a completely different audience, so its age really shows. I was hoping What is Anarchism could bring these ideas up to date for the modern reader, much like Socialism, Seriously! by Danny Katch does so well. As such, What is Anarchism seems outdated and is hard to connect with.

So I’ve seen most of this stuff before, but at the same time I can still recognize the importance of Rooum’s book. For newcomers curious with the Anarchist classics, this book can be very valuable. It just might do the trick

Get your books from the good folks at PM Press.

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