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from "heteros" ("other") and "archon" ("power"): 1. A system that involves complex "nesting," or "strange loops" of relations of power, so that one node may be simultaneously above and below itself. Example: a is above b, b is above c, c is above a. Real life example: checks and balances in the United States government. The Judicial Branch, for example, is "above" the Executive, in that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of constitutionality, and therefore can rule a Presidential Order unconstitutional and strike it down; but the Executive is "above" the Judicial, in that the President appoints Supreme Court Justices. No one node is at the top of the hierarchy, and therefore the system is heterarchical. 2. A movement whose purpose is to establish a heterarchy. 3. A movement that subverts, destabilizes, and seeks to abolish hierarchical relations, without (necessarily) believing in a utopian future where there will be no more power relations (in this sense, heterarchism is distinct from anarchism). 4. Any movement that seeks to empower those who are excluded from existing power elites - i.e. that seeks to empower "the others" (thus "other power" - heterarchy).
I'm not an anarchist, I'm a heterarchist. I'm pretty skeptical that there will ever be any kind of perfect society in which no one has power over anyone else, but I think that instead of focusing on this magical world in the future, we should focus on how we can fight oppression here and now. That's why I believe in heterarchism.
by hanuman1976 July 27, 2013
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