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Anarchy and Order : Essays in Politics by Herbert Read ; Introduction by Howard Zinn

Anarchy and Order : Essays in Politics by Herbert Read ; Introduction by Howard Zinn


Boston : Beacon Press, 1971. Hardcover. 235 pages ; 22 cm. $7.50 dust jacket with minimal wear. Address label on front free endpaper. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding is firm.

By Herbert Read Introduction by Howard Zinn

"The word anarchy unsettles most people in the Western world; it suggests disorder, violence, uncertainty. We have good reason for fearing those conditions, because we have been living intimately with them for a long time, not in anarchist societies (there have never been any) but in exactly those societies most fearful of anarchy—the powerful nation-states of modern times . . ."

So writes Howard Zinn, the noted American historian, in his introduction to Anarchy and Order, a book which is previously unpublished in the United States, and which comprises all the essays which the late Herbert Read wrote specifically on the subject of anarchism. Given the present revival of interest in the subject, Anarchy and Order is remarkable for its lucidity of purpose and presentation. The book is, in effect, a theory of anarchism, ranging broadly over matters of philosophy, history, art, and religion. Read's thinking revolves around some fairly basic concepts relevant to man in society—e.g., differentiation as the real measure of progress, the need for ad hoc politicians and not professional ones, the non-synthetic quality of genuine religion, the structural balances which underlie the notions of art and social equity alike, anarchism as necessarily pacifistic.

As Zinn comments, "The order desired by anarchists is different from the order ('Ordnung' the German called it; 'law and order say the American politicians) of national governments. They want a voluntary forming of human relations, arising out of the needs of people. Such an order comes from within, and so it is natural. People flow into easy arrangements, rather than being pushed and forced. It is like the form given by the artist, a form congenial, often pleasing, sometimes beautiful. It has the grace of a voluntary, confident act. Thus there is nothing surprising in
Herbert Read, poet and philosopher of art, as an anarchist."

This marks the first American publication of Anarchy and Order, which will be a useful and provocative contribution to the current criticism of centralized power, and the tendency toward overcentralization, in the contemporary political world.

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