James Scott taught us what's wrong with seeing like a state. Now, in his most accessible and personal book to date, the acclaimed social scientist makes the case for seeing like an anarchist. Inspired by the core anarchist faith in the possibilities of voluntary cooperation without hierarchy, Two Cheers for Anarchism is an engaging, high-spirited, and often very funny defense of an anarchist way of seeing--one that provides a unique and powerful perspective on everything from everyday social and political interactions to mass protests and revolutions. Through a wide-ranging series of memorable anecdotes and examples, the book describes an anarchist sensibility that celebrates the local knowledge, common sense, and creativity of ordinary people. The result is a kind of handbook on constructive anarchism that challenges us to radically reconsider the value of hierarchy in public and private life, from schools and workplaces to retirement homes and government itself.
Beginning with what Scott calls "the law of anarchist calisthenics," an argument for law-breaking inspired by an East German pedestrian crossing, each chapter opens with a story that captures an essential anarchist truth. In the course of telling these stories, Scott touches on a wide variety of subjects: public disorder and riots, desertion, poaching, vernacular knowledge, assembly-line production, globalization, the petty bourgeoisie, school testing, playgrounds, and the practice of historical explanation.
Far from a dogmatic manifesto, Two Cheers for Anarchism celebrates the anarchist confidence in the inventiveness and judgment of people who are free to exercise their creative and moral capacities.
James C. Scott is the Sterling Professor of Political Science, professor of anthropology, and codirector of the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University. His books include Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed; Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts; and most recently, The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a mediocre part-time farmer and beekeeper.
"In a new book, Two Cheers for Anarchism, James C. Scott, a highly regarded professor of anthropology and political science at Yale, commends anarchism precisely for its 'tolerance for confusion and improvisation.'. . . Two Cheers for Anarchism conducts a brief and digressive seminar in political philosophy, starting from the perspective of the disillusioned leftist."--Kelefa Sanneh, New Yorker
"With the 'A' on its covered circled in red, Two Cheers might at first appear to be preaching to the converted, but in fact it's an attempt to explain and advocate for an anarchist perspective to a readership not already disposed to smash the state. . . . Touching all the familiar progressive touchstones along the way, Scott makes the case for everyday insubordination and disregard for the rules in pursuit of freedom and justice."--Malcolm Harris, Los Angeles Review of Books
"[I]ntriguing . . ."--Michael Weiss, Wall Street Journal
"Alternately insightful, inciteful, and insulting, Scott makes an idiosyncratically intellectual case that technocratic elites aren't to be trusted, and insubordination is a virtue to be cherished. . . . Two Cheers for Anarchism deserves more than two cheers in review because Scott usefully expands the vocabularies that leaders and managers need to have around the critical issues of power, control, and resistance. Every effective leader I know loses sleep over how best to empower their talent and constructively align their people. And all the successful leaders I know--especially the entrepreneurs--have at least a little streak of anarchism--of creative destruction--inside of them. For this reason alone, they will find Scott's insights and incites worth their time."--Michael Schrage, Fortune
Table of Contents:
one The Uses of Disorder and "Charisma" 1
two Vernacular Order, Official Order 30
three The Production of Human Beings 57
four Two Cheers for the Petty Bourgeoisie 84
five For Politics 101
six Particularity and Flux 129