Anarchism, ethics and art: a politics of peculiarity

PhD Thesis

Sharkey, T. 2021. Anarchism, ethics and art: a politics of peculiarity. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Law. Policing and Social Sciences
AuthorsSharkey, T.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy

This thesis seeks to enunciate a meta-ethics for anarchist praxis. Postanarchism has identified that authoritarianism and hierarchy are lurking in our structures and patterns of thought in the form of essentialism and foundationalism, and has attempted to make use of the lessons of poststructuralist philosophy. Essential visions of the subject can recreate hierarchical thought and encode oppressions into our political structures. Who, then, is to decide what the subject is? And how will this knowledge be operationalised? Foundationalist thought can compound these problems, providing us with an unfounded certainty in our epistemological reasoning. These are positive answers to questions of both where our meta-ethics come from, and how we arrive at our ethics. What is required is the shifting, opaque and critical denial of these forms of knowledge.

This thesis explores what happens when we put postanarchist thought into practice, offering an original contribution in the area of postanarchist ontological politics. It will provide a consonant anarchist meta-ethics which will provide the underpinning for liberatory praxis. It does this through the development of original methods, arts practices, and pedagogies that take seriously the power that we hold in the world and the systems of power we exist in. Beginning from a position of ontological pre-freedom, we can fix an intersubjectivity into this practice by foregrounding you. By placing you back at the centre of our ethico-political tactics, I will posit a radical politics which answers the question: what is of use to you.

Drawing on the lessons of postanarchism, and advancing a new reading of Stirner’s thought, I propose a ‘politics of peculiarity’, or of the “things” which are peculiar to you. Left without foundations to our knowledge we have only the world we encounter, without recourse to essentialism. You, stripped of neoliberal categories and positivist truth-claims, are the only vehicle for your politics.

KeywordsAnarchism; Ethics; Art; Postanarchist thought; Practice; Politics
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Deposited16 May 2022
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Politically engaged artistic practice: Strategies and tactics
Bates, D. and Sharkey, T. 2020. Politically engaged artistic practice: Strategies and tactics. Tate Papers. 34.