Title: The Dispossessed
Author: Ursula K. LeGuin
Thoughtful, but without overt judgement, The Dispossessed highlights the problems that must constantly be fought within anarchy. Never does it try to glorify the stateless state, instead, painting it in stark terms. Slow, without a build, The Dispossessed simply is, rather than trying to be.
I read The Dispossessed when I was younger, but did not think much of it. The issue, I think, is that not only is the book slower than I was used to at the time, I didn't have the political maturity to appreciate it. After doing a lot of work with an anarchist commons, I felt like reading it again would do me, and my community, good.
I was right.
The premise is simple, but effective: a physicist struggling to survive on his anarchist utopian moon accepts a position in the twin capitalist society. The understatement throughout the book heavily highlights what we take for granted in an archist society, as well as the troubles developing in the now more maturing (and therefore more separated from its initial creators) anarchist society.
The Dispossessed highlights a lot of the trouble we've been having, from unconscious, subtle power structures and the dangers of bureaucracy to the simultaneous need to set ourselves apart, but rely on the State structure around us.
While LeGuin does not blatantly state any solutions to this (or solutions to problems in the capitalist society portrayed), the mere pointing out of the issues is enough to feed the mind with ways to vigilantly try to work around them.
Honestly, I think I'll be chewing on this work for some time. Many point out that it's a good book to reread regularly, especially for those who regularly work with or in the anarchist community. It has several layers, which reveal themselves upon multiple readings.
Would I recommend this book to everyone? Not really. It's slow and bleak in places, and I feel (although correct me if I'm wrong) that those not interested in its politics or swayed by such politics, may get little enjoyment out of it. However, as an anti-capitalist, it was a very intriguing and thoughtful read.