ABSTRACT

Michael Freeden (1996; 2003) has argued that ideologies consist of core and peripheral concepts. For Marxists, class conflict would be a core concept; the Marxist who rejects all formulations of this idea ceases to be a Marxist. For anarchists, it is more of a challenge to identify such core concepts (Bates 2017). Anarchism as an ideology is necessarily difficult to characterise. We might argue that there is not so much an ideological identity called “anarchism” as there are many “anarchisms.” Moreover, the various expressions of anarchism have emerged in contexts of opposition. One such context is the historical opposition between anarchism and Marxist communism. Another is the opposition between the various historical formations of anarchism itself – considered practically and philosophically. Consequently, anarchist ideas of agency – to use a term of Quentin Skinner (1968) – have always had an illocutionary dimension; that is, they were developed (not always intentionally) as a performative political response to their contexts of articulation. This makes it exceptionally difficult to provide a positive definition of agency from an anarchist point of view. The latter part of this chapter will suggest that we can start to rethink agency beyond its anarchist (and Marxist) horizons by drawing on the work of thinkers such as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri.