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Ursula Le Guin and Anarchism

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Thought Experiments in Anarchism | Le Guin on Anarchism | Discussions of Le Guin and Anarchism | Other Links


Thought Experiments in Anarchism

The Dispossessed
Le Guin's most clearly anarchist work is The Dispossessed.

Always Coming Home

"The Day Before the Revolution"
Short story about Odo, the founder of the Anarres society (the anarchist world in The Dispossessed).
Dedication: "In memoriam Paul Goodwin, 1911 - 1972."
Originally published in Galaxy, 1974; republished in The Wind's Twelve Quarters

Le Guin on Anarchism

"Odonianism is anarchism. Not the bomb-in-the-pocket stuff, which is terrorism, whatever name it tries to dignify itself with; not the social-Darwinist economic 'libertarianism' of the far right; but anarchism, as pre-figured in early Taoist thought, and expounded by Shelley and Kropotkin, Goldman and Goodman. Anarchism's principal target is the authoritarian State (capitalist or socialist); its principal moral-practical theme is cooperation (solidarity, mutual aid). It is the most idealistic, and to me the most interesting, of all political theories." -- From the prefatory remarks to "The Day Before the Revolution," in The Wind's Twelve Quarters (HarperCollins: 1975).

"I read Lao-tzu and the Tao Te Ching at 14. My father had it around the house in the old edition with the Chinese text. I sneaked a peek and was and remain fascinated. Taoism is still an underlayer in my work. It begins talking about what we can't talk about -- an old mysticism that intertwines with Buddhism and is practical and not theistic. Before and beyond God. There's a humorous and easygoing aspect to it that I like temperamentally and that fits in with anarchism. Pacifist anarchism and Lao-tzu have a lot in connection with each other, especially in the 20th century." Quoted in "Summer Reading," Mother Jones May / June 1995 v. 20 no. 3 (p. 34).


Discussions of Le Guin and Anarchism

Paul Brians' Study Guide on The Dispossessed

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updated 06/13/07 .