(adcs.anarchyplanet.org) Duane Rousselle: Post-anarchism has come to mean different things to different people. In the anglophone world, Saul Newman has described a Lacanian/Stirnerian “post-anarchism,” Todd May has called for a practice-oriented “post-structuralist anarchism,” Lewis Call has described a time of “post-modern anarchism,” and Hakim Bey has called for a reinvention of traditional anarchist discourse in his 1987 essay “post-anarchism anarchy.” In my own research, I have noticed that there is a striking difference in the way post-anarchism has been conceived in the non-anglophone world. I would like to ask you a bit about what post-anarchism means for you and for your audience.
Jürgin Mümken: In order to answer the question of what post-anarchism means to me, I must first of all discuss my ‘philosophical beginnings.’ While I was studying architecture during the end of the 1980s, I grappled with the problem of prison architecture. I was struck by Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. This was serendipitous for me because at that time in Germany, Foucault barely played any role in those discourses that occurred outside of philosophy.
In the 1990s, I began to bring together Foucauldian thought with anarchism. When, in 1997, my first article on this topic—“No Power for Anyone: Attempts at an Anarchist Appropriation of the philosophical project of Michel Foucault”—was published in an anarchist newspaper, I did not know about the analogous argument in the Anglo-American world. In this article I referred also to the method of deconstruction present in Judith Butler’s work. I called my approach a “deconstructive anarchism.” However, I now argue that this ought not to be a new anarchist trend, as I had formulated it at the time, but rather a form of anarchist thought with wide-reaching consequences in intercourse with the dominant categories and concepts of our time.
While doing research on the Internet I discovered the work of a student in Berlin, whose thesis was that I had in fact been carrying on the thought of Todd May. As I have said, I made recourse to Judith Butler’sdeconstructivism, elaborating that an anarchist society ought not to be identified through the absence of power but rather that it is founded upon a reversal of power relationships in accordance that no rigid state of authority be permitted to develop. At that point in time, I had just published my book Freedom, Individuality and Subjectivity: State and Subject in Postmodernity from an Anarchist Perspective but I had not yet heard of Todd May or Saul Newman. I began to research their work on the Internet and came upon the term “post-anarchism.” I considered (and then adopted) the term as my ‘label.’ Later I registered the websitehttp://www.postanarchismus.net. Today post-anarchism remains for me a label within, but increasingly tightly-bound with, the multifaceted approaches to the contemporary actualization of anarchist theory and practice.
However, I do not use the term “post-anarchism” to set myself apart from “classical anarchism.” Foucault, Derrida, Butler, Deleuze, among others, can help us to read classical anarchism again. For example, there are many new and interesting things to discover in Stirner and Bakunin. In the anglo-American world, the German and French approaches to post-anarchism are largely ignored, whereas May, Newman, Call and Day have had no real relevance in the debates in German.
To me post-anarchism means an actualization of anarchist theory and practice with help from the “post-structuralist toolbox.” The prefix “post” stands for challenging and rejecting some of the basic assumptions of classical anarchism, but not for the abandonment of anarchist goals. For me, post-anarchism holds fast to the goal of a classless and stateless society, the term only makes sense within that context.
This is part one of an ongoing conversation about post-anarchism with Jürgin Mümken, Süreyyya Evren, and Anton Fernendaz de Rota. It has been translated from German to English by Enkidu (enkidu[at]AngryNerds.com) with adaptations by Duane Rousselle.