The Spectre of Utopian Anarchism
This being my first venture into the “Anarchist Utopian Fiction” realm I was rather excited to see what this story was made of. I’d have to admit that as far as fiction goes while horror mysteries, romantic love stories, futuristic sci-fi, tales of james bond like spies, and street fiction are all the craze, I was interested in seeing a story told from a place that I’m personally struggling to help create everyday. The future seems bleak but in this story the future of anarchist principles and everyday praxis thereof have arrived and are espoused through the story in the different situations the characters find and have found themselves in.
The story begins with a journalist who is sent to report back on the war and in particular the army and army general’s valiant commanding of the army and it’s war against a distant land, one the narrating journalist has no clue of. The rest of the story if I told you would spoil it but the most important part of the story isn’t the story and what happens in the end, it’s the why and how of the story that projects classic anarchist principles into the light of a future that seems somewhat plausible.
Many issues that are discussed in the story are ones that different fields of studies are dedicated to in the framework of anarchism and analysis of the primary goals and principles the general view of anarchism as an “ideology” is suppose to deliver in practice. There is nonchalant dialogue amongst characters in the Anarchist country of Honople that convinces the reader that some of the concepts that we as a society struggle with everyday kind of work themselves out in a collective way. At times when the certain issues in society including, murder, decision making, law, prisons, work, war and even who will “do the dishes” in essence are explained in a way that would make you think it was as easy as a simple vote for these things to be hammered out in real life, it feels kind of rushed. There is a seemingly democratic and collective flow to how decisions are made and loosely stated “laws” are created and enacted. This book deals with a lot but to me the issue is so complex I’d rather the book get into the details of how some of those decisions were arrived at. The book is a quick fun read I wish was a little more detailed in the nitty gritty of figuring out how the collective solutions that tend to work themselves out in a non-hierarchically democratic, and egalitarian way come about more realistically than some vague agreement amongst the characters.
This being my first fiction novel in a while it kept me interested enough to blow through it in a day and was relevant to the main issues in society and in particular in the Utopian Anarchist future people are striving to create. It gives hope that things really can be worked out in the future and there are solutions that actually might work depending on the circumstances. There are still details that need to be worked out in practice and that is the spectre of this book that hasn’t been fully detailed and haunts my interpretation of the story. It was a fun read and worth it. This book has now opened me up and made me curious of other anarchist, futurist, sci-fi, utopian themed fiction novels in particular The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. Overall it has me interested in exploring other works by the author including What Lies Beneath the Clocktower, a choose your own adventure story, which is on my to-read list now.