Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Anarchist authorities : Rebel signifiers and the struggle for control of the anarchist text

Gordon, Gareth. 2006. Anarchist authorities : Rebel signifiers and the struggle for control of the anarchist text. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

[img] PDF - Accepted Post-Print Version
Download (7MB)


Anarchism rarely turns its revolutionary energies towards questions of textual politics. While anarchists have historically offered an uncompromising rejection of state authority, this thesis applies this position to the discourse of anarchism, mapping its critique onto a consideration of the authority in certain key texts. By investigating such anti-authoritarianism, this study marks the beginning of an anarchist theory of textual politics. Understanding the text in both its literary and political guises, this study draws on the work of Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault to interrogate the figure of authority legible within anarchist discourse. Commencing with a critical reappraisal of Emma Goldman's writings on theatre, chapter two compares them to the radical theatre criticism of Bertolt Brecht and Augusto Boal, establishing the centrality of the question of form, and identifying how anarchism does not depend on the figure of the author in order to produce meaning. Turning to the political texts of anarchism, chapter three deconstructs the work of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, bringing his logic of authority to a point of crisis while at the same time maintaining the force of his analysis. Focusing on Michael Bakunin, chapter four shows how critical authority can enforce a univocality on its subject which simultaneously restricts interpretative freedom. Chapter five turns to Goldman's political writing, demonstrating how her textual constructions divorce the reader from the (revolutionary) referent. Returning to literature, chapter six is informed by recent autobiographical theory, and establishes how questions of faith, interpretation and memory underwrite textual authorities in the overlooked genre of anarchist autobiography. Chapter seven ends the study with a consideration of the internally contradictory rhetorical strategies of contemporary anarchist writing. Concluding that anarchist discourse has too long left the figure of authority unchallenged within its own texts, this thesis argues that if anarchism is to maintain the commensurability of its means and ends, new textual forms must be sought.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Chemistry
Subjects: Q Science > QD Chemistry
ISBN: 9781303204609
Funders: Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2016 23:15

Citation Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics