David Graeber writes:
What sort of social theory would actually be of interest to those who are trying to help bring about a world in which people are free to govern their own affairs?
For starters, I would say any such theory would have to begin with some initial assumptions. Not many. Probably just two. First, it would have to proceed from the assumption that, as the Brazilian folk song puts it, “another world is possible.” That institutions like the state, capitalism, racism and male dominance are not inevitable; that it would be possible to have a world in which these things would not exist, and that we’d all be better off as a result. To commit oneself to such a principle is almost an act of faith, since how can one have certain knowledge of such matters? [...]
The second, I’d say, is that any anarchist social theory would have to reject self-consciously any trace of vanguardism. The role of intellectuals is most definitively not to form an elite that can arrive at the correct strategic analyses and then lead the masses to follow. But if not that, what? This is one reason I’m calling this essay “Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology”—because this is one area where I think anthropology is particularly well positioned to help. And not only because most actually-existing self-governing communities, and actually-existing non-market economies in the world have been investigated by anthropologists rather than sociologists or historians. It is also because the practice of ethnography provides at least something of a model, if a very rough, incipient model, of how nonvanguardist revolutionary intellectual practice might work. [...]