The Impossible Community: Realizing Communitarian Anarchism

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    John P. Clark

    Publisher: PM Press

    Year: 2022

    Format: Paperback

    Size: 360 pages

    ISBN: 9781629637143

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The Impossible Community confronts a critical moment when social and ecological catastrophes loom, the Left seems unable to articulate a response, and the Right controls public debates. This book offers a fresh and highly readable reformulation of anarchist social and political theory to develop a communitarian anarchist solution.

In this stunningly original work, John P. Clark, author, lifelong activist, and one of the most fascinating anarchist luminaries of our time, skillfully argues that a free and just social order requires a radical transformation of the modes of domination exercised through social ideology, the social imaginary, the social ethos, and social institutional structures. Communitarian anarchism unites a universalist concern for social and ecological justice while recognizing the integrity and individuality of the person. The Impossible Community is a renewed examination of the anarchist principles of mutual aid and voluntary cooperation and provides convincingly lucid examples in various contexts, from the rebuilding of New Orleans after Katrina to social movements in South Asia.

Ambitious in scope and compelling in its strength and imagination, The Impossible Community offers readers an accessible theoretical framework along with concrete case studies to show how contemporary anarchist practice continues a long tradition of successfully synthesizing personal and communal liberation. This provocatively innovative work will appeal not only to students of anarchism and political theory but also to activists and anyone interested in making the world a better place.

What People Are Saying

“In this often insightful and illuminating book John P. Clark sets out his vision for a radically democratic ‘communitarian anarchism.’ . . . Clark’s deep commitment to the anarchist ethics that he advocates, and his work in putting them into effect, lend weight to the distinction between ethics as working ideals and the kind of ‘abstract moralism’ he criticizes. . . . This book is valuable for several important reasons. . . . Clark adeptly deploys Marx, Hegel, Aristotle, Enlightenment philosophers, Žižek, and a host of other modern and ancient thinkers, making this work erudite and rich.” Chris Tomlinson, Red Pepper

“In The Impossible Community, John Clark proposes something that is sorely lacking in today’s landscape: the prospect of going beyond our obsessions with catastrophe in all its guises—environmental, geopolitical, financial, etc.—to the exploration of new forms of social organization based on voluntary anarchist cooperation. Clark is able to bring to bear his immense erudition and experience with alternative modes of social organization, both historical and geographical, and thus can lead us, like Ariadne with her thread, out of the labyrinth of our present-day paralysis.” Ronald Creagh, professor emeritus, Université Montpellier 3, France

“At a time of growing social and ecological crisis, John Clark is a very welcome voice, bringing hope with his version of communitarian anarchism. He writes very vividly and persuasively, whether it be general theory or particular case studies. The Impossible Community should be widely discussed and realized, as it shows brilliantly a way out of our present predicament.” Peter Marshall, author of Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism

The Impossible Community is a magnificent book, distilled from a lifetime of radical practice. I know of no other work that so successfully integrates rigorous philosophical inquiry with on-the-ground struggle. Generous and compassionate in spirit, fierce in critique, prodigious in learning, and universal in scope, this celebration of the anarchist way is a beacon of hope for our afflicted times. Joel Kovel, author of The Enemy of Nature

“A text that is wide-ranging and challenging in the best sense of the word. It fuses passion, will, and reason. It combines deep theory with practical examples of social transformation. Where there is sustained complex analysis, it is not gratuitous; it is pertinent to the overall argument, demonstrating how anarchism’s account of social solidarity alongside a creative individualism is not idealist, abstract, or contradictory. The intricate arguments are well illustrated in the reflective chapter on the Katrina tragedy and the sections on contemporary communal movements in the Indian subcontinent. The Impossible Community makes a valuable contribution to those interested in the growing anarchistic social movements and how they link the local to the global.” Benjamin Franks,

About the Author

John P. Clark is a philosopher, activist, and educator. His books include The Anarchist Moment; Anarchy, Geography, Modernity; and Between Earth and Empire, and, as Max Cafard, The Surregionalist Manifesto and Other Writings, Surregional Explorations, and Lightning Storm Mind. He is director of La Terre Institute for Community and Ecology.

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