Modelling Power in Anarchist Perspective (Anarchist Studies 28.1, Spring 2020)



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Publication date: March 1, 2020

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Gareth Pritchard

An adapted version of the taxonomy of power developed by Starhawk and Uri Gordon can help us to construct an integrated model of power that is consistent with anarchist principles. Rather than conceptualising power as a pyramid, in which power emanates from the apex and cascades down the ranks, we should see it as a dynamic matrix within which power is continually shifting both in quantitative and qualitative terms. The overall power (power-to) of individuals and groups is derived from a combination of coercive power (power-against), social power (power-with) and power-from-within. We will only be able to survive as a species if we can find ways to limit the exercise of all forms of coercive power, to unleash the multiplier effect of social power, and to distribute power-to as widely as possible. To achieve these goals, it is necessary to reconceptualise the nature of power itself.