The Anarchist Studies Initiative (ASI) is a project of the Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies at SUNY Cortland. ASI is the first interdisciplinary scholarly center in higher education dedicated to expanding the field of anarchist studies.
Soon after the 1999 alter-globalization protest in Seattle against the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting there was a significant reemergence of scholarly and activist interest in anarchism, which opposes capitalism and envisions a society based on solidarity and mutual aid. These ideas are becoming ever more relevant as we enter a global depression that sees workers all over looking for an alternative to a corrupt and hierarchical method of distributing resources. As the world has watched as authoritarian "socialist" governments like the USSR and China have abandoned their commitment to workers or simply imploded from their bloated bureaucracies, people on the Left, and beyond, are looking for libertarian alternatives. This has provided a space for anarchists to make inroads in sharing this vision and getting people from all walks of life interested in the anarchist ideal -- a society free of domination and exploitation.
However, despite this interest, anarchism remains widely misunderstood. Littered with misconceptions about violence and chaos, anarchism in actuality has little to do with either. It is, in the words of Noam Chomsky, the "libertarian wing of the socialist movement," centered on direct democracy and creating a participatory present and future. To have no master while respecting diversity, anarchists maintain that everyone should be treated with respect, allowed autonomy, and accorded a measure of power in all decisions that affect them. This radical notion too often has been chastised, ridiculed, and falsely represented, rather than honestly explored as an alternative to the exploitation, environmental degradation, and oppression guaranteed by capitalist society.