Peter's Reviews > Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction

Anarchism by Colin Ward
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Mar 29, 12

Read in March, 2012

This book is reasonably good, though I wouldn't call it an all encompassing survey. For example, the author openly admits to having never finished reading Stirner's 'ego and it's own', which seems like a pretty significant omission. Ward states that he found the work unreadable, but that is probably because Stirner was influenced by Hegel, who is notorious for being one of the most difficult philosophers to understand. While Ward seems to focus on the political nature of Anarchy, he makes no attempt to contextualize it's themes within the narratives of European philosophy, of which there are many connections.

Further, at least some points were poorly researched, such as Ward declaring Grey Walter the founder of cybernetics. Not only was the book titled 'cybernetics' published by Norbert Wiener 2 years before Walter's first book, but Walter was not even in attendance at the first Macy Conference, which is universally accepted as the birthplace of cybernetics as a discipline. It isn't really a significant point, but this, plus the lack of coverage of significant figures such as Stirner, suggest the author has focused his research in the areas that interest him and glossed over the rest.

That being said, the book is informative, and I did learn about thinkers I was not familiar with. I appreciated the attempts to link Anarchist thought to liberal movements (as well as criticisms of liberalism) that have had a significant impact on modern life. However, at times it almost felt like it was trying too hard to demonstrate the influence of anarchist thought, to the point that at times it seems a bit of a stretch.
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