The Beauty of Anarchism: Relational Geography, Mutual Aid, Spatial Emancipation
Let us become beautiful ourselves, and let our life be beautiful! - Élisée Reclus
Anarchism is a beautiful enabler. As a political praxis it allows us to embrace our capacity for living now and doing for ourselves in this moment what we would otherwise leave to authority. Strength is to be found not in what is dreamed possible but as an illumination of the powerful beauty we collectively represent. Anarchism insists upon the development of new relationships with our world and, crucially, with each other. Recognizing such connection implies a relational geography as an aesthetic realization that we all matter, that we are all part of the beauty of immanence. Within this recognition of our capacity for the beautiful comes the seed of something new, nourished by the possibilities of our desire for a better world. A relational geography is consequently a way to try to make sense of a world that is infinitely complex and in an ever-changing process of becoming. Geography’s recent reengagement with anarchism brings us closer to the possibility of shaking off the chains that fetter us to statist, capitalist, racist, sexist, and imperialist ideas by maintaining that our greatest resource is our bonds to one another. In anarchist geographer Élisée Reclus’s notion of ‘universal geography’ we see an early iteration of such a politics of possibility, which looks to connection, or relationality, as its impetus. For Reclus, all people should share the Earth as siblings by expanding our circle of empathy and reorganizing the landscapes of power though strengthened bonds of solidarity. So rather than simply always becoming, for anarchists, geography is about becoming beautiful.
Simon Springer joins the University of Newcastle, Australia as Professor of Human Geography this coming September, where he will assume the role of Head of Discipline for Geography and Environmental Studies, and Director of the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies. He is currently based at the University of Victoria, Canada. His research agenda explores the social and political exclusions that neoliberalism has engendered, particularly in post-transitional Cambodia, where he emphasizes the geographies of violence and power. He cultivates a cutting edge theoretical approach to his scholarship by foregrounding both poststructuralist critique and a radical revival of anarchist philosophy. Simon’s books include The Anarchist Roots of Geography: Towards Spatial Emancipation (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), The Discourse of Neoliberalism: An Anatomy of a Powerful Idea (Rowman & Littlefield), Violent Neoliberalism: Development, Discourse and Dispossession in Cambodia (Palgrave Macmillan), and Cambodia’s Neoliberal Order: Violence, Authoritarianism, and the Contestation of Public Space (Routledge). His edited books include The Handbook of Neoliberalism (Routledge), The Handbook of Contemporary Cambodia (Routledge) and the Anarchism, Geography and the Spirit of Revolt trilogy (Rowman & Littlefield). He serves as Managing Editor of ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies and is co-editor of the Transforming Capitalism book series published by Rowman & Littlefield.