Mutual Aid, Collectivism and Solitude: On Being Together and Being Alone?

The (neo)liberal praise for the individual initiative as the driving machine for success – whatever the cost may be – often makes anarchists and other radicals to identify (and in most cases rightly so) solitude or the state of being alone as a symptom of the highly competitive and “anthropophagic” societies that we live in. From Kropotkin’s mutual aid principles of cooperation and solidarity, the anarcho-syndicalists of the Spanish civil war, the Invisible Committee’s call to “find each other” to the occupied social spaces in Exarcheia and beyond, the collective is seen as the antidote to the neoliberal machine. So far so good. Then, what about solitude, the feeling that you need to be alone sometime? What about the feeling that you do not want to find anyone or you may want to lose someone? The poet and composer Léo Ferré says that “anarchy is extreme solitude. But a solitude that is not cut off from others.” Likewise, Emma Goldman’s wisdom recognised that collectivism and individualism (of a certain kind) are not mutually exclusive but rather integral parts of a truly emancipated society. In our discussion, we aim to discuss these issues, questioning what it means to be together and to be alone and how these are to be imagined in anarchist politics and way of life. Participants: Elena Loizidou (, James Martel ( and Christos Marneros (

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