To what degree can anarchism be an effective organized movement? Is it realistic to think of anarchist ideas ever forming the basis for social life itself? These questions are widely being asked again today in response to the forces of economic globalization. The framework for such discussions was perhaps given its most memorable shape, however, in George Woodcock's classic study of anarchism—now widely recognized as the most significant twentieth-century overview of the subject.
Woodcock surveys all of the major figures that shaped anarchist thought, from Godwin and Proudhon to Bakunin, Goldman, and Kropotkin, and looks as well at the long-term prospects for anarchism and anarchist thought. In Woodcock's view "pure" anarchism—characterized by "the loose and flexible affinity group which needs no formal organization"—was incompatible with mass movements that require stable organizations, that are forced to make compromises in the face of changing circumstances, and that need to maintain the allegiance of a wide range of supporters. Yet Woodcock continued to cherish anarchist ideals; as he said in a 1990 interview, "I think anarchism and its teachings of decentralization, of the coordination of rural and industrial societies, and of mutual aid as the foundation of any viable society, have lessons that in the present are especially applicable to industrial societies."
This classic work of intellectual history and political theory (first published in the 1960s, revised in 1986) is now available exclusively from UTP Higher Education.
About the author
George Woodcock (1912-1995) is one of Canada's best-known and most prolific authors. He was born in Winnipeg and educated in England, where he socialized with some of the century's most prominent writers and intellectuals including Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Herbert Read and T.S. Eliot. He returned to Canada in 1949 and taught at the University of British Columbia for many years. In 1959, he founded the journal Canadian Literature. His contribtution to Canadian culture is immeasurable; he either wrote or edited over one-hundred books including The Crystal Spirit, his Governor-Genral's award-winning biography of Orwell; Gabriel Dumont, another bestselling biography; and Anarchism a guide to the political philosophy which continues to be read around the world. His wide range of writing includes literary criticism, poetry, travel writing, plays, social history, biography, politics and essays.
Other titles by George Woodcock
The Orwell Tapes
Colony and Confederation
Early Canadian Poets and Their Background
This Side Jordan
Walking Through the Valley
Morley Callaghan's More Joy in Heaven
George Woodcock's Introduction to Canadian Fiction
George Woodcock's Introduction to Canadian Poetry
Power to Us All
Consititution or Social Contract?