Anarchy Alive by Uri Gordon is an overview of the modern Anarchist movement. Dr. Gordon is an active member of the Anarchy scene and he wrote this book from his perspective as an activist. The book attempts to explain the characteristics of the modern Anarchist movement and the issues Dr. Gordon thinks it needs to address.
What is modern anarchism?
Dr. Gordon explains that the modern anarchist movement is incredibly rich in diversity. So trying to come up with a single dogma to describe it isn't useful. Instead he identifies the anarchist movement as having three defining characteristics.
The first and foremost is resistance to domination. The idea is that no one should be forced to submit to domination of any kind, societal, work based, sex based, race based, financial, etc. So one of the key goals of the anarchist movement is to create a world free of involuntary domination. The term 'involuntary' is key because if someone wants to be dominated (insert obvious jokes here) then they should have that choice. Freedom from domination is extended to animals and the earth as part of the anarchist animal rights and ecologist movements.
The second characteristic that Dr. Gordon identifies is what he calls prefigurative politics. The idea is that for anarchist ideas to become real then anarchists must live those ideas. This can range from anarchist collectives like IndyMedia to the organization of various direct action groups such as those that protest at G8 summits. The idea is to create organizations free of domination where groups are formed on an ad-hoc basis based on the consent of the members and where action is taken in rough but not absolute concert. In other words there are in fact many small affinity groups, each with own agenda, who will work together on an ad-hoc basis to engage in 'actions' such as summit protests. The key idea here is to organize the Anarchist movement itself along Anarchist principals.
The third characteristic is open endedness. This is the explicit idea that there is no 'end point' for the revolution. That anarchism is a constantly growing and changing entity. This intentionally means that the movement doesn't try to answer questions like 'what does the world look like under anarchism?' Because the answer would be 'we won't know till we get there and not even then since it will constantly change.' This is also about trying to create a very big tent. Almost anything that seems to have some component of resistance to domination can find a space in the movement. It also means that no one is allowed to tell anyone else what is and is not anarchism (which itself is almost an inevitable conclusion given the axiom of resistance to domination).
The rest of the book
The rest of the book honestly wasn't that interesting to me because I didn't feel like there were really informative points being made. A long discussion was held on the nature of power and the kinds of power within the movement which I think can be summarizes as 'influence is good, domination is not'. Another section discussed violence and its role in the movement which I think can be summarized as 'violence to resist domination is legitimate but given the overwhelming violence that modern society has at its call there is no way the revolution can win by violence.' There is then a really painful discussion of technology that mostly shows that Dr. Gordon couldn't be bothered to do much research (for example, no the Internet was not invented to be resistant to nuclear attack and no there is no inherent reason to believe that smaller scale technology should be any less advanced than large scale technology) but whose summary seems to be 'an anarchist society would have to be a more technologically backwards society'. The book then ends with a discussion of the Anarchist movement in Israel/Palestine and the question of - can anarchists support a two party state if they don't believe in states? Dr. Gordon's answer is that yes, they can, tactical alliances are fine on the road to the true anarchist paradise.
Like all political systems there are always conflict between rights. If two people want the same object or space then somehow this conflict has to be resolved. It doesn't matter if there is property or not, there will still be conflict. It's unclear to me how anarchists propose to resolve these conflicts in a non-trivial manner. So I will have to look elsewhere to see if anyone has any reasonable suggestions on the topic in the context of anarchism or if anarchism is just another silly ism.