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NEWMAN, Saul. Postanarchism and space: revolutionary fantasies and autonomous zones
Article published on 4 January 2013
last modification on 29 November 2015

by r-c.
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In this paper, I call for a re-consideration of anarchism and its alternative ways of conceptualising spaces for radical politics. Here I apply a Lacanian analysis of the social imaginary to explore the utopian fantasies and desires that underpin social spaces, discourses and practices – including planning, and revolutionary politics. I will go on to develop – via Castoriadis and others – a distinctly post-anarchist conception of political space based around the project of autonomy and the re-situation of the political space outside the state. This will have direct consequences for an alternative conception of planning practice and theory.

Only the autonomous can plan autonomy, organize for it, create it’ Hakim Bey, T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone 1991p.100).

Social theory has in recent times taken a spatial turn. In the case of political theory, dis­cussions about the spatial dimensions and imaginaries of politics have drawn on political geography in order to investigate the contours of pluralism, the public space, democratic agonism, social movements, and the post-national spaces of globalisation (see Massey, 2005; Sassen, 2008; Mouffe, 2000; Connolly, 2005). Here the question of planning – the planning of cities, urban landscapes, autonomous spaces, aesthetic communities and so on – inevitably arises. Indeed, politics and urban planning have always been intimately connected, whether we think of utopian imaginaries of Fourier or Saint-Simon, with their rationally planned communities, or the way that the planning of modern cities and metropolises has always been haunted by the spectre of insurrection and dissent. Planning practices and discourses may be seen as a sublimation of politics, as well as a crystalliza­tion of conflict. If one casts a parallax gaze on our cities today, one finds traces everywhere of the repressed political dimension.[1] Space is therefore always political. Indeed, as Henri Lefebvre shows, space is a particular constellation of power and knowl­edge that reproduces the social relations of production; space has a political function in providing a kind of integrative framework for the capitalist mode of production and for political power (1991: 9).

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