An important tool, not just for academic anarchists, but for any individual who wishes to think critically about what is presented to them by political elites, is what is known as the genealogical approach. A ‘genealogy’ is just an obtuse and elitist word which roughly means ‘a history of words, or terms and their use’, and it’s a brilliant way of undermining the machinations of political operators.
As the critical theorist James Tully notes, you ‘begin by questioning whether the inherited languages of description and reflection are adequate to the task’. Nowhere is the lack of discursive options more prevalent in British political life then the discussions surrounding the economy and around immigration; two clear preoccupations of the political elite. When it comes to the economy, we are hearing the same Thatcherite cries as before- TINA (‘there is no alternative!), and the language of the economy is tied down to a limited number of possibilities. We must tackle the deficit, how do we tackle the deficit, how much of the public sector do we sell off to our friends, how many tax breaks do we offer millionaires, how many pensions do we undermine, how many people on the breadline do we deprive of their dignity before we can no longer get away with it? When it comes to oppositional forces, aside from the quite deliberately under-interviewed and underexposed Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, the economic argument is about deficit reduction, what to cut, to what extent and for how long. The language of neoliberalism is so pervasive that even centre-right Keynesians have been excluded from the narrow mindset. Continue reading