Leviathan’s Body: Recovering Fredy Perlman’s Anarchist Social Theory

Anarchist Studies - ISSN 2633-8270
Volume 31 Number 1 (2023)

Leviathan’s Body: Recovering Fredy Perlman’s Anarchist Social Theory
Uri Gordon pages 58-81
DOI: 10.3898/AS.31.1.04


Fredy Perlman’s anarchist maximalism had a formative influence on the movement’s post-1960s revival, quite apart from his later and better-known critiques of domestication. Perlman’s long-neglected books, pamphlets and parodies from 1968-1972 show him championing an anti-vanguardist ethos of direct action and practical de-alienation, while working towards an original and distinctly anarchist social theory of domination. This article traces the influences of Isaak Rubin, C. Wright Mills, and possibly Henri Lefebvre and Peter Kropotkin, on Perlman’s thought. Perlman’s originality was to generalise a heterodox Marxian critique of social reproduction, including but exceeding productive relations. Thus, he explicitly sets the state in analytical parity with capital, theorising authority as a fetish distinct from exchange value. Implicitly, he points to other containers for alienated powers, including the family, religion and scholarship. Perlman’s account of self- and community powers remains incomplete, however, eliding constitutive violence and inviting engagement with current intersectional approaches.

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To cite this article
Uri Gordon (2023) Leviathan’s Body: Recovering Fredy Perlman’s Anarchist Social Theory, Anarchist Studies, 31(1), 58-81. https://doi.org/10.3898/AS.31.1.04

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