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Autonomism is a growing force on the global left and an important influence on the “movements of the squares.” Often misidentified by anarchists as a Marxist deviation, and by Marxists as a form of anarchism, autonomism is something in between: a form of Marxism with a strong bent toward localism, horizontal decision-making, and anti-authoritarianism. Surveying its history, four aspects of its theoretical distinctiveness may be identified: its understanding of autonomy, its approach to the question of the social versus the individual, its effort to broaden ideas about who counts as workers and what counts as resistance, and its focus on making decentralization a question of principle. Three lines of critique focus on the relation of class and race, the refusal to work with organized labor, and the fetishism of autonomy itself. Despite these problems, autonomism is an important trend for all leftists to understand.


Institute for Social Justice

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Journal Article

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