I've only been involved in the anarchist movement formally for about a year and a half now. Before I was in a rural area and had no other contacts.
But in my short time, I've become interested in what I see as the two "tensions" of anarchist praxis, which I brought up in the insurrectionary vs syndicalist/platformist thread, of "economic action" and "political action" line. I don't think they are mutually exclusive, of course, but they do reflect theoretical underpinnings.
In examining the "economic action" line, which I find more engaging and powerful, I've spent a lot of time hanging out with the Marxists. Unfortunately, modern anarchist theory just isn't developed with solid critiques of the economy (with the exception of the market anarchists, who have an advanced, if silly and incorrect one). Here some of the work of the extreme left-wing of the communist movement, particularly the Johnson-Forest Tendency in the U.S. (particularly Martin Glaberman) and the Autonomia movement in Italy have proved remarkably useful. But while their critique is powerful, they mostly analyzed capitalist society and class composition in their epoch. What they didn't do was spent a lot of time strategizing on where to go forward.
In searching for an anarchist strategy that privileges economic action, I've come to see an important line emerging. The two authors who present some of the most compelling critiques are the anarchist anthropologist David Graeber and cranky working class intellectual James Herod. Herod's May 2007 book Getting Free takes some of the perspectives offered by Graeber (though he cities one of Graeber's lesser-known pieces instead of his hugely important Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, so it could be a coincidence) on how egalitarian societies have traditionally dealt with authority and turns them into specific suggestions for how to build an anarchist society.
Both of these thinkers' ideas boil down to what I'm calling "withdrawalism." In a few words, withdrawalism picks up on the Autonomist Marxists' notion of the "refusal of work" as a way to combat capitalism and applies it to all of social life. To me, this represents a qualitative advance on the Autonomists' position, which privileged economic struggles by marginal workers and ignored other parts of social life (at least in my limited reading of their works.) Herod calls this process "gutting capitalism," which I think is an apt description.
In the post-industrial societies of the West, anarchist strategy, I argue, cannot be constructed along traditional lines. Unions, and syndicalism broadly, have failed us. (The contradiction of being a dues-paying member of the IWW is not lost on me.) The "summit-hoping" of the white anarchist ghetto is not "breaking the spell," but rather reinscribing racist and classist dynamics and giving the primitivist and post-leftists a platform from which to speak for all anarchists.
To me, withdrawal from capitalist society reflects the newest and most important version of the historical slogan of "the new world inside the old". Organized communities of resistance, which organize along class lines in urban communities, could provide a new way forward for anarchist strategy.
(x-posted from RevLeft)