Anarchism and Republicanism

Event summary by our intern Owen Brown:

Professor Ruth Kinna, from Loughborough University, gave a lecture on her current project – reviving the arguments of anarchists against republicanism. Prof Kinna noted authors such as Marx, Proudhon, and Tolstoy, painting a picture of the anti-statist position. Freedom, Kinna advocated, is free from domination. Delving into the project, Prof Kinna argued that it would be a mistake for anarchists to reject constitutionalisation because it “stifles normative change,” regardless of the activity of the social body. The arguments brought forth were clear, and entirely sobering.

Prof Kinna noted the arguments of Tolstoy and Proudhon, who were writing at the time of the abolition of slavery in the 19th Century. Proudhon argued that new forms of slavery were taking the place of the traditional form. While the master could no longer send a slave down the cesspool to clean, they could simply pay the unfortunate person who was willing to do it to avoid starvation – a new kind of slavery. In such highly structured contemporary governments and societies, such as those that exist in the Western world, it is often difficult to conceptualise anarchistic forms of governance. Being used to governments enforcing arbitrary laws, spying on citizens, and inflicting judgement from “above” – it is indeed difficult to know how things might be without an “above,” a point Prof Kinna made eloquently. However, if freedom means freedom from domination, then it is the only way to have true freedom. The presentation shed light on how anarchistic societies may govern themselves, and more specifically how avoiding constitutionalisation is a fundamental mistake for anarchists who wish to do so.