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Anarchy in Action

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  179 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
With chapters on the family, federations, schools, housing, crime, employment, welfare, deviancy, planning, and more, this is probably the best practical example of anarchist ideas in action. As Colin Ward writes in his introduction, "This book is not intended for people who had spent a lifetime pondering the problems of anarchism, but for those who either had no idea of w ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Freedom Press (first published January 28th 1973)
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Feb 17, 2010 rated it liked it
This book is a collection of essays, and, as one would expect, therefore uneven. Some of the chapters were underdeveloped or clearly dated, but others offered very intriguing and tangible glimpses of what a (more) anarchist society might look like (the chapters on family, housing, schools, and the "self-employed society" are particularly notable).

While this book could be interpreted as anti-revolutionary, I think it is better understood as providing an alternate framework of social organization
Petter Nordal
Nov 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What makes this such a good read is not that Ward is correct in every analysis--I find that some of his arguments avoid legitimate problems by focusing elsewhere--but it's lucidity. If you think anarchy is disorder and violence, read this book and understand what anarchists actually want: a peaceful, coöperative utopia made out of the people and the planet that we already have. And really, in a world where so much focus is on idiotic commercialism, I'm happy to spend some time focusing on what p ...more
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Anarchists have always delivered the most withering of social critiques. Their shortcoming has typically been in the alternatives they offer. This book, despite the barricade-evoking title, is an attempt at remedying this. Ward sees examples of voluntary, unregulated cooperation everywhere and builds on these to provide a framework for how an anarchist society might function in a complex, industrialised world. His scope is wide - from family structure to education to housing to play. His argumen ...more
Dec 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Shelves: anarchism
exellent overveiw of anarchism as a social relationship, backed up by loads of examples of working alternatives to the state in loads of areas of life (from the international postal network to the Malinowskian gift economies in the Trobriands)

the focus on the social relationship side means that there is not much dicussion of anarchism as a politics of opposition (to capital, patriarchy, racial hierarchy etc...), and this, with Ward's rejection of things like community watch services as un-anarch
Jun 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I had no idea what anarchy as a principle of personal, political and social organization was before I read this book. Now I guess I know a tiny bit at least.
Cristina Rold
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saggi
Un testo attualissimo. Si tende a pensare all'anarchismo come a qualcosa di storico che oggi rimane solo nelle speranze utopistiche di qualche nostalgico.
Qui invece l'autore propone una riflessione molto pratica sui diversi aspetti della società che potrebbero essere modificati da questa "che non è una rivoluzione politica, ma un'autodeterminazione sociale".
Insomma, lascia con l'idea che non dobbiamo sederci aspettando che qualcuno faccia la rivoluzione (che peraltro come diceva Gaber "oggi no,
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book.
Meera Ulysses
Aug 15, 2016 added it
Recommends it for: anarchist newbies
This is a fairly thorough introduction to anarchist thought - thorough in that it covers many different (though interconnected) topics, not that it is exhaustive.
This is a collection of essays covering the practical, active implications of an anarchist society. Basically, a the-state-sucks-what-is-to-be-done manual.
Ward begins by discussing the exploitative nature of the state, and why left-leaning political ideologies are not resolutive because they attempt to solve the problem of an oppressi
Jun 18, 2011 rated it liked it
So I don't consider myself an anarchist, but I've always been one to admire certain aspects of anarchism. My views are usually more socialistic in nature, probably as a result of my upbringing. My family often found itself in less fortunate circumstances. Social welfare came to our rescue.

Ward makes great points on how we can get a community to provide the services held near and dear by people such as myself. To me, this would be fantastic. A lack of bureaucracy in this aid would be incredible.
May 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
An excellent introduction to the fundamental ideas underpinning philosophies of anarchism, though with a few major faults. Generally, Ward is very good at avoiding the romantic, pie-in-the-sky scenarios for how awesome the world COULD BE if only we just joined his ideology. His logic is very strong and occasionally extremely convincing, especially the chapter/essay "The Theory of Spontaneous Order", but in other chapters/essays, such as his arguments against welfare-state institutions, are shot ...more
The aim of the book is to show that anarchist ideas and practices exist in every day society, and that they provide a blueprint for social change on a wider scale. Basic ideas of anarchism can be drawn out of patterns in current society to make them seem more palpable than futuristic and unattainable.

I'm not sure the book really accomplishes this goal in the way I had hoped it would. Although some chapters are more developed than others, it often devolves into the classic anarchist and marxist c
Steven Peterson
Oct 25, 2010 rated it liked it
A useful brief work, outlining the views of Colin Ward, whjo served as editor of "Freedom" and "Anarchy." Despite its brevity, it provides insight into his ideas and his views as the value of anarchism as a system. One of his key points is that one can find instances of anarchy in action--whether latent or manifest--within the larger state organization. He applied his peraspective to such institutions as education, planning, and family, among others.

Many essays are a bit brief and not fully deve
Sep 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great and original overview on the idea of anarchy. Past present and future. Colin Ward doesn't make the mistake that has weakened other anarchist writers of his day. He avoids short sighted and divisive left/right antagonisms and is neither economically nor socially ignorant. The ideas espoused throughout this short book are novel, a breath of fresh air in today's anarchist environment. You will find many original and thoughtful quotes throughout this book from non mainstream anarchist writers. ...more
May 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
in this book ward makes some fascinating insights on the human mind, liberty and group psychology the book is a collection of essays so it is a little uneven and tiresome in places but overall it was good
Jul 19, 2016 rated it liked it
I can't believe that I'm marking that I read this on Goodreads. O HAI NSA.
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
The chapters on housing, crime, and the welfare state are definitely worth a read although I would recommend just reading the entire thing seeing how it isn't too long at all.
Shira and Ari Evergreen
Jan 26, 2008 marked it as to-read
recommended by bob torres/vegan freak
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Aug 22, 2012
Apr 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
It ain't so crazy.
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May 11, 2008
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Jackson Turner
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Dec 16, 2014
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Jun 29, 2013
Jena Garren
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Feb 04, 2016
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Goodreads Librari...: Another wrong page count 2 21 Feb 11, 2015 04:42PM  
Anarchist & Radic...: [April/May 2013] Anarchy in Action - Ward 6 53 Apr 18, 2013 05:58AM  
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Colin Ward was born in Wanstead, Essex. He became an anarchist while in the British Army during World War II. As a subscriber to War Commentary, the war-time equivalent of Freedom, he was called in 1945 from Orkney, where he was serving, to give evidence at the London trial of the editors for publishing an article allegedly intended to seduce soldiers from their duty or allegiance. Ward robustly r ...more
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“The important question is, therefore, not whether anarchy is possible or not, but whether we can so enlarge the scope and influence of libertarian methods that they become the normal way in which human beings organise their society.” 6 likes
“The anarchist conclusion is that every kind of human activity should begin from what from what is local and immediate, should link in a network with no centre and no directing agency, hiving off new cells as the original grows.” 6 likes
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