Anarchism and Nonviolence: Exploring Common Ground

This event took place at the Metta Center on Sunday, March 14, 2010. The  full audio of the workshop is now available here:

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Please see the rest of the original event announcement, below, for more information and related resources!

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Dear Beloved Community,

Please join us at the Metta Center for an exciting and timely workshop this coming Sunday, March 14, on a cool (and perhaps controversial) topic: Anarchism and Nonviolence.

We will be welcoming activist and socio-political scholar Randall Amster, who has generously offered to share his knowledge and expertise of Anarchism and Nonviolence with us, in the spirit of finding commonality and practical balance between these two important, grassroots-based, and often misunderstood philosophies. Randall is an author, activist, and educator in areas including peace, ecology, homelessness, and anarchism, and he puts on a great workshop — you will leave his talk entertained but also informed.

See below for event details, followed by the full announcement (including suggested readings). We hope to see you there — please help spread the word to anyone you think would benefit from this!


Anarchism & Nonviolence: Exploring Common Ground

Anarchism is perhaps the most misunderstood of all political philosophies. This may be due to a variety of factors including anarchists’ own reluctance to create blueprints or rigid definitions, as well as the mainstream culture’s caricature of the “violent anarchist” that has led to numerous examples of repression and demonization. Far from being a theory of violence, anarchism in both historical and contemporary milieus is actually much more closely aligned with the principles and tenets of nonviolence.
Some of these parallels and points of agreements include a deep-seated rejection of coercion, the necessary connectedness of means and ends, a spirit of fluidity and spontaneity, and a radical notion of egalitarianism based on mutual respect. Indeed, strands of anarchism can be found in the teachings of Gandhi and Tolstoy, among others; as Gandhi once observed: “That state is perfect and nonviolent where the people are governed the least. The nearest approach to purest anarchy would be a democracy based on nonviolence.” Still, it remains the case that anarchists are sometimes suspicious of nonviolence devotees, and the same is often true in reverse. This workshop will explore the interconnections between two paradigms of thought and action that could strongly benefit from deepening their mutual synergies.
Randall Amster, J.D., Ph.D., teaches Peace Studies and chairs the Master’s Program in Humanities at Prescott College, and also serves as the Executive Director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent books are the co-edited volumes Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009) and Contemporary Anarchist Studies: An Introductory Anthology of Anarchy in the Academy (Routledge, 2009), and Lost in Space: The Criminalization, Globalization, and Urban Ecology of Homelessness (LFB Scholarly, 2008). He regularly writes columns and essays on social and ecological issues for publications including Truthout, Common Dreams, and the Huffington Post.


Recommended Reading/Food for Thought:

Anarchists & Nonviolence: http://spot.colorado.edu/~chernus/NonviolenceBook/Anarchism.htm

Nonviolence Definition (Metta Center): http://www.mettacenter.wpengine.com/nv/nonviolence/intro

Is Anarchism Pacifistic?: http://www.infoshop.org/page/AnarchistFAQSectionA3#seca34

Anarchism Primer: http://question-everything.mahost.org/Socio-Politics/BasicAnarchy.html

In Defense of Anarchism: http://wagingnonviolence.org/2010/01/in-defense-of-anarchism-what-kind-of-peace-does-government-provide/

Was Gandhi an Anarchist?: http://www.calpeacepower.org/0201/gandhi_anarchist.htm

Gandhi & Anarchism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchism_in_India#Gandhi_and_anarchism

Tolstoy’s Anarchism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Tolstoy#Religious_and_political_beliefs