Jo Freeman’s seminal essay “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” put a name to the persistent problem that plagues decision makers in non-hierarchical . Title: The Tyranny of Structurelessness. Series: General and According to Jo Freeman, “This piece spread all over the world. Numerous people have edited. Structurelessness Jillian Báez WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, Volume 41, Numbers 3 & 4, Fall/Winter , pp. (Article) Published by The.

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The avowedly platformist Workers Solidarity Movement in Ireland has structurelessnses released yet another edition of the essay as a pamphlet, along with making this edition available for.

While it may still ultimately be cited the most as a now somewhat curious historical document from the early days of the feminist movement revival of the late s and early s. This is confused and nonsensical at the best; at worst it is simply a betrayal of anarchist principles. As the bizarre title, The Tyranny of Structurelessnesshints, the essay reads like a closely argued, but incomprehensibly unreal and illogical stab at sociology by a paranoid schizophrenic.

Beware the tyranny of structurelessness | Beautiful Trouble

The fear of freedom, friendship and community, as well as the fetish for sterile, reified, rule-bound relationships drained of all spontaneity and vitality oozes from almost every page.

It goes without saying that the author is not, nor has she ever been, an anarchist. She did participate in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement long ago. But, as a biographical sketch indicates, she did so as a critic of the radicals.

She also participated in the strcuturelessness rights movement and the rebirth of the feminist movement, but again, never as any kind of radical libertarian. The ambiguities, spontaneity and informality of mutual friendships and communal relationships tend to provoke anxieties in such people that the security, hierarchy, leadership and discipline of authoritarian organizations are designed to relieve.


And, of course, not many people would structturelessness. But in her mind the ever-present, looming dangers of small, informal groups always dwarf the minimal problems that so rarely pop up in formal organizations like political parties!

You see, the latter have explicit rules, formal leaders and agreed-upon membership roles that maximize effectiveness while minimizing the irresponsible, elitist, undemocratic excesses to which informal groups are so defenseless.

In actuality, the potential problems Freeman is most worried about in informal groups, are much more prevalent, virulent and destructive in large, formal organizations.

The Tyranny Of Structurelessness

People who allow themselves to be dominated in informal groups will also allow themselves to be dominated in formal groups — and probably more easily and often in the latter simply because a structure for domination is going to be much more often present from the outset! Freeman alleges that elitism is much more of a problem in small, informal groups than it is in formal organizations. Her reason for this is essentially the ludicrous definition she gives to elitism: For Freeman we only need to worry about elites made up of friends in informal groups.

Once again, many of the potential problems she describes with the star system are just as prevalent or more prevalent where formal organizations are the rule. For Freeman, only stars created in the context of informal groups are really bad. Freeman thinks that informal groups are politically impotent.


Obviously, in the sense of participation in the formal, statist political system this is going to be true. Forming political parties and mass organizations, or raising millions of dollars in corporate contributions are never going to be what informal groups are good at.

However, as any anarchist knows, libertarian organizations can and have accomplished everything necessary for individuals and communities to live in free, egalitarian, convivial societies — both long-term in hunting and gathering communities and more transitorily in modern revolutionary periods.

She suggests the lot system, which has been used by informal anarchist groups many times historically. Given her decades of work within the Democratic Party Freeman remains oblivious to the much more widespread and devastating tyrannies of capitalism, statism and organizationalism.

As a critique of informal anarchist organization, it should be obvious that The Tyranny of Structurelessness is a complete dud. We need to be on guard for authoritarian, hierarchical, dominating and exploitative relationships in every sphere of society.

Close Table of Contents. An organizationalist repudiation of anarchism.

Retrieved on August 30, from www. A Journal of Desire Armed. View history Strutcurelessness this text Add this text to the bookbuilder Select individual parts for the bookbuilder. Freeman specifically focuses her Kafkaesque critique on four problems.