James D(ouglas) Forman Kirkus Reviews - Essay

Kirkus Reviews

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Which of the following "represent" anarchism today: Ralph Nader, hippies, student activists, astrologists, Hell's Angels, citizen-action groups, Maoist youth, Black Panthers, feminists or Gay liberation groups? Well, according to Forman [in Anarchism: Political Innocence or Social Violence] they all do. And if you can accept that, this is an otherwise fairly serious and responsible roundup of anarchist thought and practice. Of course, Forman gives only a sketch of each notable anarchist thinker; there is only a pale reflection of Bakunin, and a tenuous analogy between existentialism and anarchism is finessed in a few short paragraphs. As a first outline of the subject, this serves some purpose by defining the perimeters of anarchist philosophy—including Tolstoy and the Christian anarchists—and relating it to the bomb-throwing activists who became the bogeymen of bourgeois society. But it might be worthwhile to read some of these works in the original before agreeing with Forman who seems to second [George Bernard] Shaw's opinion that "it (anarchism) would never do: we should get tired of it in no time." And why a basically intelligent commentator would shove the whole counterculture into the anarchist bag is simply a mystery.

"Young Adult Non-Fiction: 'Anarchism: Political Innocence or Social Violence'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1975 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XLIII, No. 3, February 1, 1975, p. 129.