Review of 'Freedom, Individuality and Subjectivity: State and Subject in the Postmodern Anarchist Perspective'

by Stefan Paulus

Mümken, Jürgen 2003: Freedom, Individuality and Subjectivity - State and Subject in the Postmodern Anarchist perspective, S. 302, publishing house Edition AV, Frankfurt M., 17 €, ISBN 3-936049-12-2, Bestellfon/fax: 069-51 35,79; mail:

Jürgen Mümken investigates such questions in this book as those of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: "why do people fight for their servitude, as well as for their well-being? Why do they want for centuries to live in exploitation, abasement, slavery, and to be sure in a certain manner, that it is such not only for the other, but rather also for themselves?"

He who searches in this book for answers, can seek long. Mümken wants to deliver no prefabricated solutions, but rather he wants to invite the readers to sit down with different theoretical approaches to taking the "state" and "subject" apart in order to inquire into the discussion of Deleuze and Guattari. It does not concern here the formulation of one singular totalizing theory, but rather "separate forms of 'anarch(ist)isc thinking' that uses it as a tool to open thought through it (10)."

Mümken understands this project entirely in the sense of Foucault, in that its looks at books as tool boxes such that people can engage with it in order to use sentences, ideas or analyses as a screwdriver and in order to close, to dismantle or to destroy the power systems as well.

In order to accomplish this, Mümken engages different discourses (structuralism, poststructuralism, deconstructionism, etc.) and shows the anarchistic connections that these discourses represent in relation to anarchist state criticism (Stirner, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Rocker) and Marxist state criticism (Marx, Althusser, Poulantzas), and then goes on to the genealogy of the modern state of Foucault in order to show how behavior is structured by the national subject, and/or by power, domination, technologies and practices.

In the center of the discussion stands the subject and its subjectivation, as well as feminist theories (gender, postmodern-gender, anarchist-feminism). But also the "only" of Stirner comes to constitute itself as a criticism of middle class representation as subjectivity and as a means. These approaches to the postmodern form through the practical criticism of identity politics.

In times of capitalistic globalisation (or the postmodern era), new instruments of analyses are required, with which we can critique the capitalistic socializations that 'rationally' arranges the new structures that it later problematizes, in order to more accurately understand how domination is reproduced through the practices of everyday life.

For Mümken, the classic approaches to the criticism of domination in the present era will inevitably fail, for "each epoch brings its characteristic technologies of domination forth, so that we also again and again need new instruments of analysis (275)."

Mümkens book is to relevant both to the street battles of contemporary anarchist movements and to the "non-anarchistic" thinkers who he says can be made into "suitable tools for our goals (10)", in order that we might use them to destroy the existing relations of domination. Mümken is a connoisseur of the thinking of the French philosopher Michel Foucault, who he delivers a look at with this book not only as a detailed insight into his lifeworld, but also simultaneously as a comprehensive insight into different theories, without at the same time losing sight of the original subject. The names index and the well designed table of contents in the book enable the reader to use the theory lexicon productively. This book is an important contribution to anarchist theory and therefore also to anarchist practice.