Anarchism, the State and the Praxis of Contemporary Antisystemic Social Movements
by Morgan Rodgers Gibson
This thesis is dedicated to providing a theoretical and historical account of the way antisystemic movements have developed and changed. By examining the praxis of contemporary antisystemic movements and tracing the historical failure of ‘state-centric’ versions of these movements, this thesis will argue that an anarchistic praxis – though not a doctrinaire ideological programme – has become a primary point of reference for contemporary antisystemic social movements and that this can be seen, in many ways, as a response to the failure of ideologically motivated, state-centric
versions to bring about substantial, transformative social change once assuming power.
I utilise two different methodologies to this end: 1) narrative process-tracing, in order to demonstrate the ‘failure’ of the state and 2) two qualitative case studies to illustrate my theoretical argument. After tracing, firstly, how a ‘state-centric’ antisystemic praxis assumed centrality within antisystemic movements and, following this, the failure of this praxis and thus the ‘failure’ of the state as an agent of transformative social change, I explore what ‘anarchism’ and an ‘anarchistic praxis’ are. This is necessary due to the sheer depth of contestation and misconceptions surrounding anarchism. Central to an anarchistic praxis is the rejection of the state and externally imposed hierarchy, a conflation of means and ends and the pursuit of a directly democratic praxis independent from the state. This thesis then turns to illustrating its theoretical argument through two qualitative case studies: the Zapatistas of Chiapas, Mexico and the South African shack dweller’s movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo.
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