Anarchy, Foraging and P&Ls

2 Mar|Tom Hodgkinson

Prince Kropotkin, the cheerful Russian anarchist who lived in Bromley

I was cheered to read in The Times this morning that the 19th century French anarchist philosopher Proudhon – from whom the Sex Pistols took their most famous line, “I am an anarchist” – has been added to the syllabus for A level Politics. This might help anarchism, a deeply convivial and responsible idea, to shed its anti-social reputation.

For our part Idler Books are planning to republish Prince Kropotkin’s great defence of anarchism, Mutual Aid, in a popular edition. I would also urge everyone to read a contemporary book on the subject, Two Cheers for Anarchism (2012) by Princeton social scientist James C. Scott. It is a very beautiful collection of essays which celebrate self-responsibility. Scott argues that the oft-maligned petty bourgeois class – the shopkeepers, smallholders, peddlers and artisans – are in fact the true anarchists: “The petite bourgeoisie,” he writes, “represent a precious zone of autonomy and freedom in state systems increasingly dominated by large public and private bureaucracies. Autonomy and freedom are, along with mutuality, at the centre of an anarchist sensibility.”

So let us open shops and sell our wares in the marketplace! Let us be free!

It was at a discussion of these sorts of issues at Ilfracombe library many moons ago that I met the forager Robin Harford. Robin runs the top foraging site eatweeds.co.uk and has appeared on the telly talking about wild plants. He’s led many foraging walks for us and we’re delighted to have him back. Robin will be leading a walk around west London in May. Read more here.

Thanks to everyone who came along to our recent business-themed soirées at Soho House and the HQ of Vrumi, the workspace rental site. Yea, I shall not rest till we are all petty bourgeois and we can all manage to produce a P&L! We look forward to seeing some of you on our forthcoming Business for Bohemians course with Serena Rees of Agent Provocateur fame, Pip Jamieson (CEO of The Dots), Nigel House of Rough Trade Shops and many more brilliant speakers and teachers. Read more here.

Tom

PS Mr Mash in our bookselling department has just informed me that he has a handful of signed copies of the new book on Woodstock by top music writer Barney Hoskyns. To read an extract from the book click HERE and to purchase a signed first edition click HERE.