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February 02, 2007

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Nice discussion, chris. Another important piece on the distinctions between power, authority, violence, strength and force can be found in Hannah Arendt's essay "On Violence", which is collected in a book of essays called "Crises of the Republic." Its a critical discussion of the student and civil rights movements in the 60's in the US and France, which is neither grounded in Marxism, liberalism, or anarchism, but rather Arendt';s own singular, unique political position. I think her views on power and authority are completely different than Wolff's. She also has an essay called "What is Authority?" in her book, "Between Past and Future."

Now, the thing about an anarchist reading of power and authority, is that you somewhat have to trailblaze your own path. For although all anarchist(ic) writers, organizations, and movements discuss power, authority and hierarchy, there is no consensus on what they mean, how they are organized, their origins, how to resist them, and more. Reading Chomsky on authority, Voltereine de Clyre on power, Stirner on the state, Geert Lovink on media, or James C. Scott on resistance all entail different epistemological and ontological committments on the nature of society, mankind, ethics, and knowledge. The point is to tease out the insights in a way that builds on each others, rather than negates them.

Also, a novel way of looking at command and control in a post-decentralized society, or in a distributed network society, was worked out in Alexander Gallaway's "Protocol: How control exists after decentralization." Its about the nature of radical freedom and total control inherent the structure of the internet and, hence, our society as well. He's trained in Marx and Deleuze, so its a crypto-anarcho-marxist reading. Very intriguing stuff.

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