Occult Features of Anarchism: with attention to the conspiracy of kings and the conspiracy of the peoples [Audio]

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Speaker(s): Dr Erica Lagalisse | Erica Lagalisse explores the relationship of 19th century anarchism with the clandestine fraternity, challenges leftist attachments to atheism, and intervenes in current debates concerning “conspiracy theory”. In the nineteenth century anarchists were accused of conspiracy by governments afraid of revolution, but in the current century various “conspiracy theories” suggest that anarchists are controlled by government itself. The Illuminati were a network of intellectuals who argued for self-government and against private property, yet the public is now often told that they were (and are) the very group that controls governments and defends private property around the world. Intervening in such misinformation, Lagalisse works with primary and secondary sources in multiple languages to set straight the history of the Left and will illustrate the actual relationship between revolutionism, pantheistic occult philosophy, and the clandestine fraternity. Exploring hidden correspondences between anarchism, Renaissance magic, and New Age movements, Erica Lagalisse also advances critical scholarship regarding leftist attachments to secular politics. Inspired by anthropological fieldwork within today’s anarchist movements, challenging anarchist atheism insofar as it poses practical challenges for coalition politics in today’s world. Studying anarchism as a historical object, Lagalisse will show how the development of leftist theory and practice within clandestine masculine public spheres continues to inform contemporary anarchist understandings of the “political,” in which men’s oppression by the state becomes the prototype for power in general, how gender and religion become privatized in radical counterculture, a historical process intimately linked to the privatization of gender and religion by the modern nation-state. Erica Lagalisse, author of Occult Features of Anarchism, is an anthropologist and Postdoctoral Fellow at the International Inequalities Institute, LSE. Mathijs Pelkmans is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, LSE. The International Inequalities Institute (@LSEInequalities) at LSE brings together experts from many LSE departments and centres to lead critical and cutting edge research to understand why inequalities are escalating in numerous arenas across the world, and to develop critical tools to address these challenges.

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