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Paul Goodman: Prefiguring the past

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posted on 17.01.2020, 09:40 authored by Ruth KinnaRuth Kinna, Paola Chiarella
Over forty-years since this death, Paul Goodman remains a controversial figure, his critical engagement with the countercultural and student politics of the 1960s provoking admiration and revulsion by turns. Goodman's ability to polarise opinion can be explained by the unorthodoxy of his political thought. He described himself as both conservative and anarchist but unlike George Orwell, who coined the epithet Tory Anarchist to express his politics, Goodman sidestepped discussion of synthesis, preferring to leave the relationship undefined. In Goodman's political writings Jefferson, Coleridge and Calvin happily rub shoulders with Kropotkin, Thoreau and Malatesta, but not obviously pulling in the same direction or exercising the same force. Goodman was also an unabashed utopian and his treatment of utopia is not only, therefore, an appropriate lens to examine his thought, it also helps to illuminate the distinctiveness of his anarchism. His utopianism anticipates the prefigurative politics of contemporary anarchist activism and it is not surprising that his admirers and critics alike acknowledge this relationship. Yet his utopianism is peculiar because Goodman abjures the blueprint he sketches and he offers countless practical proposals for social change whilst remaining profoundly pessimistic about its achievement, finding neither an agent capable of delivering social transformation, nor a route for imaginative escape.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Politics and International Studies

Published in

Diritto e potere nel pensiero anarchico

Pages

207 - 226

Publisher

Wolters Kluwer Italia / CEDAM

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© Wolters Kluwer Italia / CEDAM

Publisher statement

This book chapter was published in Kinna, Ruth; Chiarella, Paola (2020): Paul Goodman: Prefiguring the past. in: Chiarella, P. (ed.) Diritto e potere nel pensiero anarchico, © Wolters Kluwer Italia / CEDAM, Milan / Padua (Italy) /, 2020

Publication date

2019-11-19

ISBN

9788813374495

Language

en

Editor(s)

Chiarella Paola

Depositor

Prof Ruth Kinna Deposit date: 15 January 2020

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