Peter Beilharz - John Anderson and the Syndicalist Moment

Author/editor: Peter Beilharz
Year published: 2015

Abstract

'Who was John Anderson? Challis Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney from 1927-1958, Anderson was arguably one of the most influential of local intellectuals in modern Australian history. Yet he wrote little: no single book; he lectured and persuaded at a time when the university on the hill was small and even more exclusive than it is now…Andersonianism these days is identified vaguely as a kind of libertarian current which—it is typically assumed became naturally right wing during the Cold War. If Anderson’s Marxism is acknowledged, in conversation, it is in that patronizing strain of Marxism-as-measles, if you’re not a socialist before thirty you’ve no heart, and if you are after thirty you’ve no head. What I want to suggest is that a certain crimson thread runs through Anderson’s thinking, a logic of a peculiar kind which is in its genesis caught up in the syndicalist movement. Marxian without being Marxist, in a sense, it often beckons the thinking of Sorel, for it speaks of the ethics of the producers and takes up a position against servility as the central social ill…’

 

Originally published 1993

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