A Little Philosophical Lexicon of Anarchism from Proudhon to Deleuze

A Little Philosophical Lexicon of Anarchism from Proudhon to Deleuze
Daniel Colson
Translated by Jesse Cohn

A provocative exploration of hidden affinities and genealogies in anarchist thought

Is the thought of Gilles Deleuze secretly linked to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s declaration: “I am an anarchist”? Has anarchism, for more than a century and a half, been secretly Deleuzian? In the guise of a playfully unorthodox lexicon, sociologist Daniel Colson presents an exploration of hidden affinities between the great philosophical heresies and “a thought too scandalous to take its place in the official edifice of philosophy,” with profound implications for the way we understand social movements.

“In a creative and yet precise way, Daniel Colson brings together two lines of thought – philosophy from Spinoza to Leibniz – and anarchism from Proudhon to the present day. At their intersection he discovers an affirmative and expressive anarchism that rejects all forms of resentment and negativity. This is anarchism as joy and empowerment rather than sadness and accusation.” – Todd May, author of The Political Philosophy of Poststructuralist Anarchism

“Colson’s Lexicon is an inspiring resource for conceptualizing anarchism: it offers new, exciting paths for exploring anarchism with French thought and French thought with anarchism.” – Iwona Janicka, author of Theorizing Contemporary Anarchism

“This is a fantastic (and anarchist) way to arrange a book. Reading these various entries in any order offers a line of thinking that connects disparate thinkers ranging from Proudhon to Simondon to Nietzsche to Deleuze within the term anarchism. This is done not to bind these thinkers with the kinds of straightjackets that names – even the name anarchism – often perform but rather to associate, interconnect and arrange these thinkers in a way that speaks across several centuries, practices and ways of thinking. What emerges is a radical challenge to the insistence on dialectic resolution, to occult left teleologies, and to the certainty that past anarchists have nothing to say to contemporary anarchists (and visa versa). In his claim that anarchism first of all is a “rejection of first principles,” Colson shows how, far from being disabling and rendering the world incoherent, this understanding recognizes the affirmative nature of an anarchism that has not ceased to function amidst between and even through myriad forms of capitalist and archist oppression.” – James Martel, author of The Misinterpellated Subject

Bio: Daniel Colson is a professor of sociology at the Université de St.-Étienne in Lyon. He is the author of Trois Essais de Philosophie Anarchiste: Islam, Histoire, Monadologie (2004) as well as several studies of French labor history.

Jesse Cohn is an associate professor of English at Purdue University Northwest. He is the author of Anarchism and the Crisis of Representation: Hermeneutics, Aesthetics, Politics (2006) and Underground Passages: Anarchist Resistance Culture, 1848–2011 (2014). Continue reading →