‘This Nothing Held in Common’: Towards a Theory of Activism Beyond the Community of One

  • Barry Watt
Part of the Studies in the Psychosocial book series (STIP)


This chapter attempts a psychoanalytic argument, affirming a version of some of the central tenets of anarchist social and political philosophy. To do so, it opens with a critical appraisal of the contemporary work of political theorists Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams and Jeremy Gilbert. It suggests that, to be adequate to the demands of organising for a post-capitalist world, it is necessary to avoid implicitly positing communities and subjectivities as reified, self-enclosed and self-identical to themselves, or with reference to what is here referred to as the covert but often unrecognised assumption underpinning many social and political philosophies, of a ‘community of one’. It is suggested that, to subvert this supposition, we are obliged to draw out the radical implications for political thought and praxis, of the deep and abiding connection within the Western philosophical tradition, of its reliance upon ontological notions of property and the emergence and dominance of liberal capitalism’s legal and economic categories of rights to and relations between property ownership. Via recourse to the recent work of Italian philosopher Roberto Esposito on the nature of community, the chapter concludes by seeking to uphold political demands for the abolition of private property whilst insisting upon the priority, for activists engaged in anti-capitalist struggle, of pursuing this through the establishment of organisational networks of ‘mutual aid’, formulated as a free exchange of gifts that makes no expectation of a counter-gift or a return in kind.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Watt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of RoehamptonLondonUK

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