Ideologies of Self-Organisation

  • Alex WilliamsEmail author
Part of the International Political Theory book series (IPoT)


The emergence of forms of order form the interactions of many individuals is a common interest of complexity theory, sociology, and political theory alike. This chapter examines two trajectories of thought in order to explore some of the political implications of social self-organisation. One strand is the proto-complexity thinking of the economist and social theorist Hayek, the other a sequence of anarchist thinkers of self-organisation. This chapter develops a critical reading of both these ideologies of self-organisation. It outlines a critique of Hayek as failing to pay proper attention to the mechanisms by which social systems coordinate themselves, in favour of the overarching catallaxy order which emerges. Conversely, anarchist-leaning thinkers of self-organisation tend to stress the consensuality of relations between human components over the order which they collectively form. Seeking to avoid such flaws, the author concludes that we need a kind of ‘really complex’ complexity that avoids the kind of misguided notions of ‘pure’ hierarchies and networks that bedevil many thinkers of self-organisation.


Self-organisation Hayek Bookchin Networks Hierarchies 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication StudiesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

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