Pushing up Against the Boundaries of Liberalism

London Anarchist Federation

A Review of The Dictator’s Handbook.


The Dictator’s Handbook is both a deeply enlightening and a deeply frustrating book to read. Not because it is badly written, or inaccessible, or because its main points are wrong, but because it fails to follow through on its conclusions. This book is one of the most theoretically coherent arguments against political authority I have ever read, but it was written by a pair of authors who can not escape the limits of liberalism in dealing with the implications of their own critique.

The main thesis of the book, neatly summed up by its tag line, is that bad behaviour is almost always good politics. Its analysis is consistently materialist, although the authors of The Dictator’s Handbook would likely never use the term and the book is thankfully free from the kind of overly academic obtuseness that afflicts much avowed materialist analysis. It treats…

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