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                            What is Communalism?

                    The Democratic Dimension of Anarchism

                             by Murray Bookchin

Seldom have socially important words become more confused and divested of
their historic meaning than they are at present. Two centuries ago, it is
often forgotten, "democracy" was deprecated by monarchists and republicans
alike as "mob rule." Today, democracy is hailed as "representative
democracy," an oxymoron that refers to little more than a republican
oligarchy of the chosen few who ostensibly speak for the powerless many.

"Communism," for its part, once referred to a cooperative society that would
be based morally on mutual respect and on an economy in which each
contributed to the social labor fund according to his or her ability and
received the means of life according to his or her needs. Today, "communism"
is associated with the Stalinist gulag and wholly rejected as totalitarian.
Its cousin, "socialism" -- which once denoted a politically free society
based on various forms of collectivism and equitable material returns for
labor -- is currently interchangeable with a somewhat humanistic bourgeois

During the 1980s and 1990s, as the entire social and political spectrum has
shifted ideologically to the right, "anarchism" itself has not been immune
to redefinition. In the Anglo-American sphere, anarchism is being divested
of its social ideal by an emphasis on personal autonomy, an emphasis that is
draining it of its historic vitality. A Stirnerite individualism -- marked
by an advocacy of lifestyle changes, the cultivation of behavioral
idiosyncrasies and even an embrace of outright mysticism -- has become
increasingly prominent. This personalistic "lifestyle anarchism" is steadily
eroding the socialistic core of anarchist concepts of freedom.

Let me stress that in the British and American social tradition, autonomy
and freedom are not equivalent terms. By insisting the need to eliminate
personal domination, autonomy focuses on the individual as the formative
component and locus of society. By contrast, freedom, despite its looser
usages, denotes the absence of domination in society, of which the
individual is part. This contrast becomes very important when individualist
anarchists equate collectivism as such with the tyranny of the community
over its members.

Today, if an anarchist theorist like L. Susan Brown can assert that "a group
is a collection of individuals, no more and no less," rooting anarchism in
the abstract individual, we have reason to be concerned. Not that this view
is entirely new to anarchism; various anarchist historians have described it
as implicit in the libertarian outlook. Thus the individual appears ab novo,
endowed with natural rights and bereft of roots in society or historical

But whence does this "autonomous" individual derive? What is the basis for
its "natural rights," beyond a priori premises and hazy intuitions? What
role does historical development play in its formation? What social premises
give birth to it, sustain it, indeed nourish it? How can a "collection of
individuals" institutionalize itself such as to give rise to something more
than an autonomy that consists merely in refusing to impair the "liberties"
of others -- or "negative liberty," as Isaiah Berlin called it in
contradistinction to "positive liberty," which is substantive freedom, in
our case constructed along socialistic lines?

In the history of ideas, "autonomy," referring to strictly personal
"self-rule," found its ancient apogee in the imperial Roman cult of
libertas. During the rule of the Julian-Claudian Caesars, the Roman citizen
enjoyed a great deal of autonomy to indulge his own desires -- and lusts --
without reproval from any authority, provided that he did not interfere with
the business and the needs of the state. In the more theoretically developed
liberal tradition of John Locke and John Stuart Mill, autonomy acquired a
more expansive sense that was opposed ideologically to excessive state
authority. During the nineteenth century, if there was any single subject
that gained the interest of classical liberals, it was political economy,
which they often conceived not only as the study of goods and services, but
also as a system of morality. Indeed, liberal thought generally reduced the
social to the economic. Excessive state authority was opposed in favor of a
presumed economic autonomy. Ironically, liberals often invoked the word
freedom, in the sense of "autonomy," as they do to the present day.2

Despite their assertions of autonomy and distrust of state authority,
however, these classical liberal thinkers did not in the last instance hold
to the notion that the individual is completely free from lawful guidance.
Indeed, their interpretation of autonomy actually presupposed quite definite
arrangements beyond the individual -- notably, the laws of the marketplace.
Individual autonomy to the contrary, these laws constitute a social
organizing system in which all "collections of individuals" are held under
the sway of the famous "invisible hand" of competition. Paradoxically, the
laws of the marketplace override the exercise of "free will" by the same
sovereign individuals who otherwise constitute the "collection of

No rationally formed society can exist without institutions and if a society
as a "collection of individuals, no more and no less" were ever to emerge,
it would simply dissolve. Such a dissolution, to be sure, would never happen
in reality. The liberals, nonetheless, can cling to the notion of a "free
market" and "free competition" guided by the "inexorable laws" of political

Alternatively, freedom, a word that shares etymological roots with the
German Freiheit (for which there is no equivalent in Romance languages),
takes its point of departure not from the individual but from the community
or, more broadly, from society. In the last century and early in the present
one, as the great socialist theorists further sophisticated ideas of
freedom, the individual and his or her development were consciously
intertwined with social evolution -- specifically, the institutions that
distinguish society from mere animal aggregations.

What made their focus uniquely ethical was the fact that as social
revolutionaries they asked the key question -- What constitutes a rational
society? -- a question that abolishes the centrality of economics in a free
society. Where liberal thought generally reduced the social to the economic,
various socialisms (apart from Marxism), among which Kropotkin denoted
anarchism the "left wing," dissolved the economic into the social.3

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as Enlightenment thought and its
derivatives brought the idea of the mutability of institutions to the
foreground of social thought, the individual, too, came to be seen as
mutable. To the socialistic thinkers of the period, a "collection" was a
totally alien way of denoting society; they properly considered individual
freedom to be congruent with social freedom and, very significantly, they
defined freedom as such as an evolving, as well as a unifying, concept.

In short, both society and the individual were historicized in the best
sense of this term: as an ever-developing, self-generative and creative
process in which each existed within and through the other. Hopefully, this
historicization would be accompanied by ever-expanding new rights and
duties. The slogan of the First International, in fact, was the demand, "No
rights without duties, no duties without rights" -- a demand that later
appeared on the mastheads of anarchosyndicalist periodicals in Spain and
elsewhere well into the present century.

Thus, for classical socialist thinkers, to conceive of the individual
without society was as meaningless as to conceive of society without
individuals. They sought to realize both in rational institutional
frameworks that fostered the greatest degree of free expression in every
aspect of social life.


Individualism, as conceived by classical liberalism, rested on a fiction to
begin with. Its very presupposition of a social "lawfulness" maintained by
marketplace competition was far removed from its myth of the totally
sovereign, "autonomous" individual. With even fewer presuppositions to
support itself, the woefully undertheorized work of Max Stirner shared a
similar disjunction: the ideological disjunction between the ego and

The pivotal issue that reveals this disjunction -- indeed, this
contradiction -- is the question of democracy. By democracy, of course, I do
not mean "representative government" in any form, but rather face-to-face
democracy. With regard to its origins in classical Athens, democracy as I
use it is the idea of the direct management of the polis by its citizenry in
popular assemblies -- which is not to downplay the fact that Athenian
democracy was scarred by patriarchy, slavery, class rule and the restriction
of citizenship to males of putative Athenian birth. What I am referring to
is an evolving tradition of institutional structures, not a social "model."4
Democracy generically defined, then, is the direct management of society in
face-to-face assemblies -- in which policy is formulated by the resident
citizenry and administration is executed by mandated and delegated councils.

Libertarians commonly consider democracy, even in this sense, as a form of
"rule" -- since in making decisions, a majority view prevails and thus
"rules" over a minority. As such, democracy is said to be inconsistent with
a truly libertarian ideal. Even so knowledgeable a historian of anarchism as
Peter Marshall observes that, for anarchists, "the majority has no more
right to dictate to the minority, even a minority of one, than the minority
to the majority."5 Scores of libertarians have echoed this idea time and

What is striking about assertions like Marshall's is their highly pejorative
language. Majorities, it would seem, neither "decide" nor "debate": rather,
they "rule," "dictate," "command," "coerce" and the like. In a free society
that not only permitted, but fostered the fullest degree of dissent, whose
podiums at assemblies and whose media were open to the fullest expression of
all views, whose institutions were truly forums for discussion -- one may
reasonably ask whether such a society would actually "dictate" to anyone
when it had to arrive at a decision that concerned the public welfare.

How, then, would society make dynamic collective decisions about public
affairs, aside from mere individual contracts? The only collective
alternative to majority voting as a means of decision-making that is
commonly presented is the practice of consensus. Indeed, consensus has even
been mystified by avowed "anarcho-primitivists," who consider Ice Age and
contemporary "primitive" or "primal" peoples to constitute the apogee of
human social and psychic attainment. I do not deny that consensus may be an
appropriate form of decision-making in small groups of people who are
thoroughly familiar with one another. But to examine consensus in practical
terms, my own experience has shown me that when larger groups try to make
decisions by consensus, it usually obliges them to arrive at the lowest
common intellectual denominator in their decision-making: the least
controversial or even the most mediocre decision that a sizable assembly of
people can attain is adopted -- precisely because everyone must agree with
it or else withdraw from voting on that issue. More disturbingly, I have
found that it permits an insidious authoritarianism and gross manipulations
-- even when used in the name of autonomy or freedom.

To take a very striking case in point: the largest consensus-based movement
(involving thousands of participants) in recent memory in the United States
was the Clamshell Alliance, which was formed to oppose the Seabrook nuclear
reactor in the mid-1970s in New Hampshire. In her recent study of the
movement, Barbara Epstein has called the Clamshell the "first effort in
American history to base a mass movement on nonviolent direct action" other
than the 1960s civil rights movement. As a result of its apparent
organizational success, many other regional alliances against nuclear
reactors were formed throughout the United States.

I can personally attest to the fact that within the Clamshell Alliance,
consensus was fostered by often cynical Quakers and by members of a
dubiously "anarchic" commune that was located in Montague, Massachusetts.
This small, tightly knit faction, unified by its own hidden agendas, was
able to manipulate many Clamshell members into subordinating their goodwill
and idealistic commitments to those opportunistic agendas. The de facto
leaders of the Clamshell overrode the rights and ideals of the innumerable
individuals who entered it and undermined their morale and will.

In order for that clique to create full consensus on a decision, minority
dissenters were often subtly urged or psychologically coerced to decline to
vote on a troubling issue, inasmuch as their dissent would essentially
amount to a one-person veto. This practice, called "standing aside" in
American consensus processes, all too often involved intimidation of the
dissenters, to the point that they completely withdrew from the
decision-making process, rather than make an honorable and continuing
expression of their dissent by voting, even as a minority, in accordance
with their views. Having withdrawn, they ceased to be political beings -- so
that a "decision" could be made. More than one "decision" in the Clamshell
Alliance was made by pressuring dissenters into silence and, through a chain
of such intimidations, "consensus" was ultimately achieved only after
dissenting members nullified themselves as participants in the process.

On a more theoretical level, consensus silenced that most vital aspect of
all dialogue, dissensus. The ongoing dissent, the passionate dialogue that
still persists even after a minority accedes temporarily to a majority
decision, was replaced in the Clamshell by dull monologues -- and the
uncontroverted and deadening tone of consensus. In majority decision-making,
the defeated minority can resolve to overturn a decision on which they have
been defeated -- they are free to openly and persistently articulate
reasoned and potentially persuasive disagreements. Consensus, for its part,
honors no minorities, but mutes them in favor of the metaphysical "one" of
the "consensus" group.

The creative role of dissent, valuable as an ongoing democratic phenomenon,
tends to fade away in the gray uniformity required by consensus. Any
libertarian body of ideas that seeks to dissolve hierarchy, classes,
domination and exploitation by allowing even Marshall's "minority of one" to
block decision-making by the majority of a community, indeed, of regional
and nationwide confederations, would essentially mutate into a Rousseauean
"general will" with a nightmare world of intellectual and psychic
conformity. In more gripping times, it could easily "force people to be
free," as Rousseau put it -- and as the Jacobins practiced it in 1793-94.

The de facto leaders of the Clamshell were able to get away with their
behavior precisely because the Clamshell was not sufficiently organized and
democratically structured, such that it could countervail the manipulation
of a well-organized few. The de facto leaders were subject to few structures
of accountability for their actions. The ease with which they cannily used
consensus decision-making for their own ends has been only partly told,6 but
consensus practices finally shipwrecked this large and exciting organization
with its Rousseauean "republic of virtue." It was also ruined, I may add, by
an organizational laxity that permitted mere passersby to participate in
decision-making, thereby destructuring the organization to the point of
invertebracy. It was for good reason that I and many young anarchists from
Vermont who had actively participated in the Alliance for some few years
came to view consensus as anathema.

If consensus could be achieved without compulsion of dissenters, a process
that is feasible in small groups, who could possibly oppose it as a
decision-making process? But to reduce a libertarian ideal to the
unconditional right of a minority -- let alone a "minority of one" -- to
abort a decision by a "collection of individuals" is to stifle the dialectic
of ideas that thrives on opposition, confrontation and, yes, decisions with
which everyone need not agree and should not agree, lest society become an
ideological cemetery. Which is not to deny dissenters every opportunity to
reverse majority decisions by unimpaired discussion and advocacy.


I have dwelled on consensus at some length because it constitutes the usual
individualistic alternative to democracy, so commonly counterposed as "no
rule" -- or a free-floating form of personal autonomy -- against majority
"rule." Inasmuch as libertarian ideas in the United States and Britain are
increasingly drifting toward affirmations of personal autonomy, the chasm
between individualism and antistatist collectivism is becoming unbridgeable,
in my view. A personalistic anarchism has taken deep root among young people
today. Moreover, they increasingly use the word "anarchy" to express not
only a personalistic stance, but also an antirational, mystical,
antitechnological and anticivilizational body of views that makes it
impossible for anarchists who anchor their ideas in socialism to apply the
word "anarchist" to themselves without a qualifying adjective. Howard
Ehrlich, one of our ablest and most concerned American comrades, uses the
phrase "social anarchism" as the title of his magazine, apparently to
distinguish his views from an anarchism that is ideologically anchored in
liberalism and possibly worse.

I would like to suggest that far more than a qualifying adjective is needed
if we are to elaborate our notion of freedom more expansively. It would be
unfortunate indeed if libertarians today had to literally explain that they
believe in a society, not a mere collection of individuals! A century ago,
this belief was presupposed; today, so much has been stripped away from the
collectivistic flesh of classical anarchism that it is on the verge of
becoming a personal life-stage for adolescents and a fad for their
middle-aged mentors, a route to "self-realization" and the seemingly
"radical" equivalent of encounter groups.

Today, there must be a place on the political spectrum where a body of
anti-authoritarian thought that advances humanity's bitter struggle to
arrive at the realization of its authentic social life -- the famous
"Commune of communes" -- can be clearly articulated institutionally as well
as ideologically. There must be a means by which socially concerned
anti-authoritarians can develop a program and a practice for attempting to
change the world, not merely their psyches. There must be an arena of
struggle that can mobilize people, help them to educate themselves and
develop an anti-authoritarian politics, to use this word in its classical
meaning, indeed that pits a new public sphere against the State and

In short, we must recover not only the socialist dimension of anarchism but
its political dimension: democracy. Bereft of its democratic dimension and
its communal or municipal public sphere, anarchism may indeed denote little
more than a "collection of individuals, no more and no less." Even
anarcho-communism, although it is by far the most preferable of adjectival
modifications of the libertarian ideal, nonetheless retains a structural
within present conditions as a valid point of departure for achieving what
should be in a rational society.

Libertarian municipalism is above all a politics, to use this word in its
original Hellenic sense, that is engaged in the process of remaking what are
now called "electoral constituents" or "taxpayers" into active citizens, and
of remaking what are now urban conglomerations into genuine communities
related to each other through confederations that would countervail and
ultimately challenge the existence of the state. To see it otherwise is to
reduce this multifaceted, processual development to a caricature. Nor is
libertarian municipalism intended as a substitute for association as
such--for the familial and economic aspects of life--without which human
existence is impossible in any society.9 It is rather an outlook and a
developing practice for recovering and enlarging on an unprecedented scale
what is now a declining public sphere, one that the state has invaded and in
many cases virtually eliminated.10 If the large size of municipal entities
and the decline of the public sphere are accepted as unalterable givens,
then we are left with no hope but to work with the given in every sphere of
human activity--in which case, anarchists might as well join with
social-democrats (as quite a few have, for all practical purposes) to work
with and merely modify the state apparatus, the market, and a commodity
system of relationships. Indeed, on the basis of such commonsensical
reasoning, a far stronger argument could be made for preserving the state,
the market, the use of money, and global corporations than could be made
merely for decentralizing urban agglomerations. In fact, many urban
agglomerations are already groaning physically and logistically under the
burden of their size and are reconstituting themselves into satellite cities
before our very eyes, even though their populations and physical
jurisdictions are still grouped under the name of a single metropolis.

Strangely, many life-style anarchists, who, like New Age visionaries, have a
remarkable ability to imagine changing everything tend to raise strong
objections when they are asked to actually change anything in the existing
society--except to cultivate greater "self-expression," have more mystical
reveries, and turn their anarchism into an art form, retreating into social
quietism. When critics of libertarian municipalism bemoan the prohibitively
large number of people who are likely to attend municipal assemblies or
function as active participants in them--and question how "practical" such
assemblies could be--in large cities like New York, Mexico City, and Tokyo,
may I suggest that a Communalist approach raises the issue of whether we can
indeed change the existing society at all and achieve the "Commune of

If such a Communalist approach seems terribly formidable, I can only suspect
that for life-style anarchists the battle is already lost. For my part, if
anarchy came to mean little more than an aesthetics of "self-cultivation,"
an titillating riot, spraycan graffiti, or the heroics of personalistic acts
nourished by a self-indulgent "imaginary," I would have little in common
with it. Theatrical personalism became too much in style when the sixties
counterculture turned into the seventies New Age culture--and became a model
for bourgeois fashion designers and boutiques.


Anarchism is on the retreat today. If we fail to elaborate the democratic
dimension of anarchism, we will miss the opportunity not only to form a
vital movement, but to prepare people for a revolutionary social praxis in
the future. Alas, we are witnessing the appalling desiccation of a great
tradition, such that neo-Situationists, nihilists, primitivists,
antirationalists, anticivilizationists and avowed "chaotics" are closeting
themselves in their egos, reducing anything resembling public political
activity to juvenile antics.

None of which is to deny the importance of a libertarian culture, one that
is aesthetic, playful, and broadly imaginative. The anarchists of the last
century and part of the present one justifiably took pride in the fact that
many innovative artists, particularly painters and novelists, aligned
themselves with anarchic views of reality and morality. But behavior that
verges on a mystification of criminality, asociality, intellectual
incoherence, anti-intellectualism and disorder for its own sake is simply
lumpen. It feeds on the dregs of capitalism itself. However much such
behavior invokes the "rights" of the ego as it dissolves the political into
the personal or inflates the personal into a transcendental category, it is
a priori in the sense that has no origins outside the mind to even
potentially support it. As Bakunin and Kropotkin argued repeatedly,
individuality has never existed apart from society and the individual's own
evolution has been coextensive with social evolution. To speak of "The
Individual" apart from its social roots and social involvements is as
meaningless as to speak of a society that contains no people or

Merely to exist, institutions must have form, as I argued some thirty years
ago in my essay "The Forms of Freedom," lest freedom itself -- individual as
well as social -- lose its definability. Institutions must be rendered
functional, not abstracted into Kantian categories that float in a rarefied
academic air. They must have the tangibility of structure, however offensive
a term like structure may be to individualist libertarians: concretely, they
must have the means, policies and experimental praxis to arrive at
decisions. Unless everyone is to be so psychologically homogeneous and
society's interests so uniform in character that dissent is simply
meaningless, there must be room for conflicting proposals, discussion,
rational explication and majority decisions -- in short, democracy.

Like it or not, such a democracy, if it is libertarian, will be Communalist
and institutionalized in such a way that it is face-to-face, direct, and
grassroots, a democracy that advances our ideas beyond negative liberty to
positive liberty. A Communalist democracy obliges us to develop a public
sphere -- and in the Athenian meaning of the term, a politics -- that grows
in tension and ultimately in a decisive conflict with the State.

Confederal, antihierarchical, and collectivist, based on the municipal
management of the means of life rather than their control by vested
interests (such as workers' control, private control, and more dangerously,
State control), it may justly be regarded as the processual actualization of
the libertarian ideal as a daily praxis.9

The fact that a Communalist politics entails participation in municipal
elections -- based, to be sure, on an unyielding program that demands the
formation of popular assemblies and their confederation -- does not mean
that entry into existing village, town and city councils involves
participation in state organs, any more than establishing an
anarchosyndicalist union in a privately owned factory involves participation
in capitalist forms of production. One need only turn to the French
Revolution of 1789-94 to see how seemingly state institutions, like the
municipal "districts" established under the monarchy in 1789 to expedite
elections to the Estates General, were transformed four years later into
largely revolutionary bodies, or "sections," that nearly gave rise to the
"Commune of communes." Their movement for a sectional democracy was defeated
during the insurrection of June 2, 1793 -- not at the hands of the monarchy,
but by the treachery of the Jacobins.

Capitalism will not generously provide us the popular democratic
institutions we need. Its control over society today is ubiquitous, not only
in what little remains of the public sphere, but in the minds of many
self-styled radicals. A revolutionary people must either assert their
control over institutions that are basic to their public lives -- which
Bakunin correctly perceived to be their municipal councils -- or else they
will have no choice but to withdraw into their private lives, as is already
happening on an epidemic scale today.10 It would be ironic, indeed, if an
individualist anarchism and its various mutations, from the academic and
transcendentally moral to the chaotic and the lumpen, in the course of
rejecting democracy even for "a minority of one," were to further raise the
walls of dogma that are steadily growing around the libertarian ideal, and
if, wittingly or not, anarchism were to turn into another narcissistic cult
that snugly fits into an alienated, commodified, introverted and egocentric

-- September 18, 1994

1 L. Susan Brown: The Politics of Individualism (Montreal: Black Rose Books,
1993), p. 12. I do not question the sincerity of Brown's libertarian views;
she regards herself as an anarcho-communist, as do I. But she makes no
direct attempt to reconcile her individualistic views with communism in any
form. Both Bakunin and Kropotkin would have strongly disagreed with her
formulation of what constitutes "a group," while Margaret Thatcher, clearly
for reasons of her own, might be rather pleased with it, since it is so akin
to the former British prime minister's notorious statement that there is no
such thing as society -- there are only individuals. Certainly Brown is not
a Thatcherite, nor Thatcher an anarchist, but however different they may be
in other respects, both have ideological filiations with classical
liberalism that make their shared affirmations of the "autonomy" of the
individual possible. I cannot ignore the fact, however, that neither
Bakunin's, Kropotkin's nor my own views are treated with any depth in
Brown's book (pp. 156-62), and her account of them is filled with serious

2 Liberals were not always in accord with each other nor did they hold
notably coherent doctrines. Mill, a free-thinking humanitarian and
utilitarian, in fact exhibited a measure of sympathy for socialism. I am not
singling out here any particular liberal theorist, be he Mill, Adam Smith or
Friedrich Hayek. Each had or has his or her individual eccentricity or
personal line of thought. I am speaking of traditional liberalism as a
whole, whose general features involve a belief in the "laws" of the
marketplace and "free" competition. Marx was by no means free of this
influence: he, too, unrelentingly tried to discover "laws" of society, as
did many socialists during the last century, including utopians like Charles

3 See Kropotkin's "Anarchism," the famous Encyclopaedia Britannica article
that became one of his most widely read works. Republished in Roger N.
Baldwin, ed., Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets: A Collection of Writings
by Peter Kropotkin (Vanguard Press, 1927; reprinted by Dover, 1970).

4 I have never regarded the classical Athenian democracy as a "model" or an
"ideal" to be restored in a rational society. I have long cited Athens with
admiration for one reason: the polis around Periclean times provides us with
striking evidence that certain structures can exist -- policy-making by an
assembly, rotation and limitation of public offices and defense by a
nonprofessional armed citizenry. The Mediterranean world of the fifth
century B.C.E. was largely based on monarchical authority and repressive
custom. That all Mediterranean societies of that time required or employed
patriarchy, slavery and the State (usually in an absolutist form) makes the
Athenian experience all the more remarkable for what it uniquely introduced
into social life, including an unprecedented degree of free expression. It
would be naive to suppose that Athens could have risen above the most basic
attributes of ancient society in its day, which, from a distance of 2,400
years we now have the privilege of judging as ugly and inhuman. Regrettably,
no small number of people today are willing to judge the past by the

5 Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism (London:
HarperCollins, 1992), p. 22.

6 Barbara Epstein, Political Protest and Cultural Revolution: Non-Violent
Direct Action in the 1970s and 1980s (Berkeley: University of California
Press, 1991), especially pp. 59, 78, 89, 94-95, 167-68, 177. Although I
disagree with some of the facts and conclusions in Epstein's book -- based
on my personal as well as general knowledge of the Clamshell Alliance -- she
vividly portrays the failure of consensus in this movement.

7 The association of "chaos," "nomadism," and "cultural terrorism" with
"ontological anarchy" (as though the bourgeoisie had not turned such antics
into an "ecstasy industry" in the United States) is fully explicated in
Hakim Bey's (aka Peter Lamborn Wilson) T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone
(New York: Autonomedia, 1985). The Yuppie Whole Earth Review celebrates this
pamphlet as the most influential and widely read "manifesto" of America's
countercultural youth, noting with approval that it is happily free of
conventional anarchist attacks upon capitalism. This kind of detritus from
the 1960s is echoed in one form or another by most American anarchist
newssheets that pander to youth who have not yet "had their fun before it is
time to grow up" (a comment I heard years later from Parisian student
activists of '68) and become real estate agents and accountants.

For an "ecstatic experience," visitors to New York's Lower East Side (near
St. Mark's Place) can dine, I am told, at Anarchy Café. This establishment
offers fine dining from an expensive menu, a reproduction of the famous
mural The Fourth Estate on the wall, perhaps to aid in digestion, and a
maitre d' to greet Yuppie customers. I cannot attest to whether the writings
of Guy Debord, Raoul Vaneigem, Fredy Perlman and Hakim Bey are on sale there
or whether copies of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed, The Fifth Estate or
Demolition Derby are available for perusal, but happily there are enough
exotic bookstores nearby to buy them.

8 Quoted from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1978).

9 History provides no "model" for libertarian municipalism, be it Periclean
Athens, or a tribe, village, town, or city--or a hippie commune or Buddhist
ashram. Nor is the "affinity group" a model--the Spanish anarchists used
this word interchangeably with "action group" to refer to an organizational
unit for the FAI, not to the institutional basis for a libertarian society.

10 A detailed discussion of the differences between the social domain, which
includes the ways in which we associate for personal and economic ends; the
public sphere or political domain; and the state in all its phases and forms
of development can be found in my book Urbanization Without Cities (1987;
Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1992).

11 I should emphasize that I am not counterposing a Communalist democracy to
such enterprises as cooperatives, people's clinics, communes, and the like.
But there should be no illusions that such enterprises are more than
exercises in popular control and ways of bringing people together in a
highly atomized society. No food cooperative can replace giant retail food
markets under capitalism and no clinic can replace hospital complexes, any
more than a craft shop can replace factories or plants. I should observe
that the Spanish anarchists, almost from their inception, took full note of
the limits of the cooperativist movement in the 1880s, when such movements
were in fact more feasible than they are today, and they significantly
separated themselves from cooperativism programmatically.

12 For Bakunin, the people "have a healthy, practical common sense when it
comes to communal affairs. They are fairly well informed and know how to
select from their midst the most capable officials. This is why municipal
elections always best reflect the real attitude and will of the people."
Bakunin on Anarchy, Sam Dolgoff, ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972;
republished by Black Rose Books: Montreal), p. 223. I have omitted the
queasy interpolations that Dolgoff inserted to "modify" Bakunin's meaning.
It may be well to note that anarchism in the last century was more plastic
and flexible than it is today.