After a longish hiatus, the Fantin Reading Group has returned for 2018 with a course of readings in classical political ideology. The texts have been chosen both to provide a general introduction to modern political thought, as well as a grounding in the broader philosophical context with which anarchism must contend. Discussion will aim to subject the texts to anarchist critique, as well as improve participants’ understanding of anarchism by situating it amongst its siblings and rivals.
The seven readings selected here are presented with a gesture of gratitude to Verity Burgmann, who delivered her excellent course on Modern Political Thought at the University of Melbourne from 1981–2012, and from whose reader from that subject the following excerpts were taken.
The Enlightenment (and Romanticism)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality” 
(2pm, Sun. 13 May)
John Stuart Mill, “On Liberty” 
(2pm, Sun. 10 June)
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, “The Communist Manifesto” 
(2pm, Sun. 8 July)
Mikhail Bakunin, “State and Society” [1867–1871]
(2pm, Sun. 12 Aug.)
V. I. Lenin, “The State and Revolution” 
(2pm, Sun. 9 Sept.)
Benito Mussolini, “The Doctrine of Fascism” 
(2pm, Sun. 14 Oct.)
Oscar Wilde, “The Soul of Man Under Socialism” 
(2pm, Sun. 11 Nov.)
The Fantin Reading Group returns this winter with a selection of interviews and essays from Cornelius Castoriadis. The texts have been selected as introductory-level readings with relevance to anarchism. While they should be of interest to those already familiar with Castoriadis’ thought, no specialist knowledge is required.
Sunday 22 June, 4pm
“The Project of Autonomy Is Not a Utopia” (1993), ASA
“Autonomy Is an Ongoing Process” (1990), ASA
Sunday 6 July, 4pm
“Revolutionary Perspectives Today” (1973), ASA
“Market, Capitalism, Democracy” (1990), ASA
Sunday 20 July, 4pm
“Is it Possible to Create a New Form of Society?” (1977), ASA
“The Stakes Today for Democracy” (1986), ASA
Sunday 3 August, 4pm
“Ecology Against the Merchants” (1992), ASA
“The Revolutionary Force of Ecology” (1993), RTI
All readings can be found in the following two texts, which have been translated and published anonymously as a community service and hosted on the website of the autonomous journal Not Bored!:
Over the Summer months, the Fantin Reading Group will be tackling Chris Ealham’s Anarchism and the City: Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Barcelona, 1898-1937 (2010, AK Press). It has been described by Barry Pateman as “the finest study of working-class anarchist life and culture since Paul Avrich’s The Haymarket Tragedy [… and] comes closer than any other English-language work in understanding what anarchism and its practice meant to Spanish working class people at the time.”
The Fantin Reading Group will be discussing a chapter each fortnight as follows:
- Ch.1 The making of a divided city (Nov 17, 2pm)
- Ch.2 Mapping the working-class city (Dec 1, 2pm)
- Ch.3 The birth of a republican city (Dec 15, 2pm)
«New Year Break»
- Ch.4 The proletarian city and the Second Republic (Jan 12, 2pm)
- Ch.5 The struggle to survive (Jan 26, 2pm)
- Ch.6 Militarised anarchism (Feb 2, 2pm)
- Ch.7 Cultural battles: class and criminality (Feb 16, 2pm)
- Ch.8 An ‘apolitical’ revolution (Mar 2, 2pm)
Copies may be found on sale at the MAC Info-shop, or ordered directly from AK Press. Alternatively, online and eBook versions of the 2005 Routledge impress of the same work (published under the title Class, culture and conflict in Barcelona, 1898-1937) may accessed at lib.com by following the link provided.
In October, the Fantin Reading Group will turn its attention to the next in a series of essays from the pen of Cornelius Castoriadis, tacking his 1964 article, “Recommencing the Revolution”, originally published in Issue 35 of Socialisme ou Barbarie.
The article is both theoretically and historically important. In it, Castoriadis announces his formal break with the philosophy of Marxism, arguing that if the socialist revolutionary project has stalled, it is due both to the various aporia that exist within orthodox Marxism, and the fact that Marxism has itself become an orthodoxy. Thus, if the revolution is to recommence, it must start with a critique of Marxian theory. In “Recommencing the Revolution, Castoradis begins this critique, which he will continue in next month’s reading “Marxism and Revolutionary Theory”.
“Recommencing the Revolution” is also significant in that it provoked a split, that ultimately lead to the break-up and demise of the Socialism or Barbarie group, between Castoriadis – who felt the revolution could only be progressed by radicalising the project of critical interrogation, even if it meant, as he believed it did, going beyond Marx – and those committed to defending the continuing validity of Marx’s theoretical legacy.
The a photocopy of the text can be downloaded here: Castoriadis Reader Ch4 – Recommencing the Revolution (1964). All welcome.
Fantin is returning for 2013, commencing with some readings from Cornelius Castoriadis, social theorist, philosopher, economist, psychoanalyst, and animating figure behind the Socialisme ou Barbarie group. Combining a critique of Marxism with lessons drawn from studies in phenomenology, German Idealist and Romantic Philosophy and the emergence of democracy in Ancient Greece, Castoriadis developed a highly distinctive theory of human creativity and historical change, and was a life-long promoter of the possibility of re-creating society around the values of individual and collective autonomy and worker’s self-management of production.
“On the Content of Socialism” is a collection of excerpts from a series of papers of same title, which were published in the journal Socialisme ou Barbarie between 1955 and 1957, and which were collated and summarised for publication in The Castoradis Reader (ed. David Ames Curtis, 1997, Blackwell Publishing). Also planned for discussion is the introductory statement published in the first edition of SouB in 1949, expressing the aims of the journal. Photocopies of the relevant sections can be downloaded through the following links: