How to be an Anarchist with Ruth Kinna

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How to be an Anarchist with Ruth Kinna

At the turn of the millennium, David Graeber wrote a short essay, ‘Are you an Anarchist? The Answer may Surprise You!’ Dismissing cliches about bomb-throwers and masked agitators, he imagined a few scenarios about everyday life to explain anarchist principles. The object was to show that anarchism is a friendly, commonsense politics.

This course makes a similar pitch: anarchy is for everyone.

There’s no dress code, no programme, no party dues. But anarchism takes a particular squint at the world and the ways we conduct our public affairs, and it challenges some deeply held ideas about freedom, ownership and political responsibility.

These sessions unpack some of those ideas to explain anarchist perspectives and consider how they can change the everyday to make it better!

About the Tutor

Ruth Kinna is a political theorist at Loughborough University, home of the anarchism research group. She teaches an undergraduate courses in history of ideas and anarchism. Her research encompasses the history of anarchist ideas and contemporary anarchist politics. She is the author of The Government of No One (Pelican, 2019) and Great Anarchists (Dog Section Press, 2020) and co-editor of the scholarly journal Anarchist Studies.

What you Get

On-demand videos: six video lessons to watch any time

Live online session: “Meet the Tutor” Q&A with Ruth Kinna

Audio: the option to download and listen to the lessons in podcast form

Downloadable notes: in your printable notes you’ll find a course introduction, lesson summaries, a reading list, and a timeline of anarchism

Exclusive course forum: here you can chat and swap tips with fellow students from the Idler community

Quiz: test what you’ve learned with our fun multiple choice quiz

Certificate: when you pass the quiz you will be sent a personalised Idler Academy Certificate of Completion


Course Outline

Lesson One: Why not be an Anarchist? (18 minutes)

What are the barriers to anarchism?

What do we fear in anarchy?

How have anarchists responded to our fears?

Lesson Two: Volunteering (25 minutes)

Volunteering and freedom

  • Text: “On the Road” by Emma Goldman

What’s the difference between charity and mutual aid?

  • The ethics of mutual aid
  • Examples of mutual aid

Lesson Three: Sharing (19 minutes)

What can we share?

  • Text: “Appeal to the Young” by Peter Kropotkin

Sharing, ownership and possession

Examples of sharing

Lesson Four: Taking Responsibility  (20 minutes)

Responsible and irresponsible action

  • Text: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Power and responsibility

The irresponsibility of government

Being responsible

Lesson Five: Dreaming (21 minutes)

Imagining futures

  • Text: “Marriage and Love” by Emma Goldman

Initiating futures: prefiguration

  • Ends and Means
  • Simplification

Configuring futures: Mott Green and the Grenada Chocolate Factory

Lesson Six: Struggle (25 minutes)

Myths and histories: anarchism and violence

Struggle as hope

Struggle as the disablement of power

Struggle and collective action

Meet the Tutor: Ruth Kinna (6pm, Wednesday 14 February 2024)

This is your chance to meet Ruth and ask her questions directly on Zoom.

All Idler Academy and Digital Academy members will receive an invitation to this exclusive event. You will find more information and a booking link on the course page.