chapter  4
17 Pages

Anarchism and multiculturalism

WithURI GORDON

This chapter examines anarchist approaches to ethno-cultural difference,1 offering three main arguments. The first is that anarchists were early and consistent opponents of racism and imperialism, both in advanced capitalist countries and in the colonial and post-colonial world, reflecting the movement’s transnational connections and internationalist outlook. While anarchists remain at the front lines of anti-racist and anti-colonial politics worldwide, the universalist terms in which their predecessors constructed their cosmopolitanism have come into question, as anarchists increasingly express intersectionalist critiques of domination with distinct post-colonial and poststructuralist resonances. The second argument is that anarchists share the wider radical Left critique of multicultural policies, which obscure systemic racial and class inequality while promoting monolithic and elitedriven representations of minorities. Anarchists may also conceptualise multiculturalism as a specific case of the state’s general manner of upholding forms of domination by ameliorating their worst excesses in response to resistance. Thirdly, I argue that in order to offer a revolutionary alternative to state multiculturalism, anarchists should further develop their engagement with radical decolonial approaches. These place systemic racism at the centre of social critique, and in the context of past and present dispossession of peoples from land through military occupation, economic dominance, slavery, ethnic cleansing and genocide. Theoretically, this approach integrates critiques of racialisation and capitalism without recourse to essentialism or class reductionism. Ethically, it places the onus on white activists to offer active solidarity to struggles against racism and colonialism, while deconstructing their own privileged identities and behaviours.