(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.
Antón Fernández de Rota: To answer your question, Duane, I think that we can not avoid the place from where post-anarchism’s voices are heard. And that place is the Academy and its boundaries. Basically, post-anarchists understand to some degree that the collection of post-anarchists are related in one way or another with the University, with the Human Sciences, Philosophy and the Arts; many of us are university students – usually studying for doctorates. But there is also a reduction of the number of young professors born from the children formed within the crisis of the left, or, at least, during the boom years of “alter-globalization.” I do not cite the political trauma of the left by coincidence. Neither do I ignore that inside the anarchist milieu, the critics of “post-anarchism” have often reproached it for being limited to an academic phenomenon (or worse yet, a merely discursive movement, and a practice nothing more than textual, elitist, an elusive writing without any relevance or contact with the “street”).
My objective is not to argue. I also do not think that a polemical response is the best way to relate. Jürgin cited Foucault who dedicated a good part of his work to devising an ethics of the thinking subject. The polemicist, said Foucault, approaches the battle ready to debate; he does not have before himself a speaker with whom to seek the truth, but rather he has an adversary. In this fight, armed with the rights that authorize the war, the polemicist fights by suppressing the dialogue and annulling his counterpart. Paradoxically, far from putting an end to the word, what the polemic does is multiply it through debates wrapped in hostilities that become a repetitive performance – where time and again the same orders and the same phrases are exchanged. For the polemicist, the proper existence of the adversary signifies a threat that should be caught, but when the new adversary is consolidated in the demand of his space, the polemic functions like a ritual in which nobody listens and each speaks for his or her part by reaffirming his or her respective identities.
“Post-anarchists” have wanted to introduce new debates into anarchism. Post-anarchists have imported discourses, intending to create bridges between distinct traditions in order to elude the methods of the polemic. In this way, they have unfolded vectors that moved from the classical authors and from the large exploits and anarchist organizational experiences of the first third of the 20th century toward the “long sixties” and such authors as Foucault, Deleuze or Derrida. Post-anarchism has also offered a series of analysis on the contemporary transformations today’s social movements, where the content and the possibilities of anarchism are redefined. David Graeber speaks of anarchists with a little “a” to portray the thickness of the activist networks of the North American alter-global experience. A short time before the socialist Manuel Castells expressed it in the same terms, he considered that two powers were growing in the world: “new anarchism” (alter-global and post-Cold War) and “fundamentalism” (of the religion that was). Also Barbaric Epstein verified the increasing importance of the “anarchist,” in detriment of the political Marxists in the left in the USA. None of these authors are “post-anarchist,” but all these ideas agree broadly speaking with the general lines of its political diagnosis. The questions that emerge here do so with a certain optimism and are of vital importance for the anarchist tradition and the left in general: Has the Era of Revolutions happened already? And if it is so, what alternative is there to the 19th century logic of reform/revolution? Has the old political subject and the forms of its political organization arrived at its end, and if it is so how should the subject, politics, and the relation that occurs among both be thought? Is there a “beyond” to the crisis of the left and the prison of the “politics of identity” exist?
Post-anarchism, as a chiefly academic phenomenon, appeared to promote these types of questions. Likewise, it arose as a reaction from this discomfort. Eluding the polemic does not signify yielding to complacency. The discomfort has to do with the evident desertion of “expert thought” from the rows of anarchism. Post-anarchism has wanted to rectify this problem through the actualization of theory. It remains to be seen if this is the best approach. There still lacks a thinking through of the implications of the role of the academic.
This is part two of an ongoing conversation about post-anarchism with Jürgin Mümken, Süreyyya Evren, and Anton Fernendaz de Rota. It has been translated from Spanish to English by Jake Nabasny with adaptations by Duane Rousselle