Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Jeff Pruchnic


My study suggests there is a homology between the Platonic critique of rhetoric and the critique of anarchism made by both Marxism and liberalism. I investigate this problematic by taking up a genealogical examination of anarchism in America that begins with America's founding and concludes with a discussion of the resurgence of populist/anti-Statist rhetoric(s) in the early twenty-first century. In doing so, I argue that anarchism is a politics "without content;" it is a rhetorical politics that challenges the (re)turns to metaphysics and Marxism in the wake of poststructuralist and postmodern thought. Specifically, in light of the contemporary Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, I develop what I call "anarchic rhetoric," and suggest that rhetoricians, critical theorists, and those on the Left would do well to look beyond the dialectical and State-based models of communicative interaction that undergird metaphysics and Marxism to the "anarchistic" facets of rhetoric, which includes an emphasis on the affective, aesthetic, and non-teleological.

Included in

Rhetoric Commons