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'Colin Ward has never been on the bestseller lists, but his fan club is distinguished, and his influence wider than he himself may know'
—Times Literary Supplement
'Ward sets out his belief that an anarchist society was not an end goal ... Ward saw all distant goals as a form of tyranny and believed that anarchist principles could be discerned in everyday human relations and impulses. Within this perspective, politics was about strengthening co-operative relations and supporting human ingenuity in its myriad vernacular and everyday forms'
The argument of this book is that an anarchist society, a society which organizes itself without authority, is always in existence. Like a seed beneath the snow, it is buried under the weight of the state and its bureaucracy, capitalism and its waste, privilege and its injustices, religious differences and their superstitious separatism.
Anarchist ideas are so much at variance with ordinary political assumptions that all too often people find it hard to take anarchism seriously. This classic text is an attempt to bridge the gap between the present reality and anarchist aspirations, 'between what is and what, according to the anarchists, might be'.
Through a wide-ranging analysis—drawing on examples from education, urban planning, welfare, housing, the environment, the workplace, and the family, to name but a few—Colin Ward demonstrates that the roots of anarchist practice are not so alien or quixotic as they might at first seem but lie precisely in the ways that people have always tended to organize themselves when left alone to do so.
We desperately need to find new ways of organizing our society, as we face the fallout from a global pandemic on top of existing injustices and looming environmental collapse. This accessible introduction is perfect for anyone who is new to anarchism—and it will give pause for thought for those who are too quick to dismiss it.
Colin Ward (1224-2010) was Britain's foremost anarchist writer and the author of over thirty books, in which he patiently explained anarchist solutions to everything from vandalism to climate change—and celebrated unofficial uses of the landscape as commons, from holiday camps to squatter communities. Ward was an anarchist journalist and editor for almost sixty years. He was also a columnist for the New Statesman.