I defined myself for a long time as a moderate or centrist, and despite my leftward march in recent years, it still feels weird to be aspirationally reading a book on anarchism. As Branson points out early in this book, there are plenty of people who would never identify with the word but agree with anarchist ideas in science fiction, and I guess that’s how I got here. Twice in 2023, I read Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway, and on the second read, I realized that there were some strong anarchist themes in that book. That led me to Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God Is Within You, and that led me here.
I felt more or less the same about this book as I did about Tolstoy: I felt drawn to the ideals that are in there but unsure about whether they were overly optimistic. Recently, I’ve felt unsatisfied with the world as it is and drawn to some kind of radical action to change it; however, when confronted with radical thinking, I’m reminded of just how comfortable I am with the status quo.
This book’s thesis—that we don’t have to wait for a revolution to start living a care-focused anarchism today—really spoke to me, and I’ll be thinking about it for a while. Too often, though, I felt like it fell short of the promise of the title. I wasn’t always clear on what the day-to-day takeaways were supposed to be, and there were a number of points where a premise was taken for granted rather than backed up with argument. I wasn’t necessarily opposed to those premises, but I’m not familiar with them and needed to be walked through them to be brought on board.
I loved parts of this book and was disappointed by others. I’m sure I’ll come back to it in the future.
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