Survey: Response by Commoner

1. — How would you most succinctly define anarchism? Is there a shared “anarchist project” — and, if so, how would you characterize it?

Anarchism is the philosophy opposed to and rejects all forms of hierarchy and ruler-ship and domination as illegitimate social relations from the onset.

Whether it is the personal domination of humans by other humans, or the impersonal domination of all human beings by lawlike social forces like religions, markets, or concepts like “the people”.

Opposing impersonal domination resonates with Marxist critiques of reification and alienation.

To take the example of religion and Gods: Having invented God, humans then assigned to Him their own powers of creation. Some devout people act as though they lacked the powers to make and sustain the world, and yet when people worship God, they are actually worshiping their own capacities for thoughtful activity, reverencing the thinking human aggregate—what the Germans call Geist, which translates as both Mind and Spirit (and sometimes as Ghost—Germans talk about the Father, Son, and Holy Geist). There does indeed exist a supremely powerful force in the world, capable of marvels, a force both unseen and in a sense everywhere. It is not wrong to think that there exists an omnipresent spirit. But that force (spirit, Geist, mind) is just thought. Thought spans the world. When Christians go to church, then, they are worshipping thought as though it were something outside of them, a separate entity, and not their own innermost being and accomplishment. Commodities and markets are similar to that.

Anarchism would necessary involve the re-appropriation of their human powers (as power-to or what the French call “puissance”).

Of course all these powers can only be developed fully and best enacted with other people, in relations of interdependence and caring, which is what brings the mutual aid or the commoning back into the picture..

2. — What is the relationship between anarchism and the concept of anarchy?

Anarchy is the ideal that anarchism tries approximate.

3. — What is the value of tradition within the anarchist milieus and what might be its uses?

Good as long as it avoids tribalism and caricatures of the “other”.

4. — What, specifically, is the role to be played in the present by the anarchist literature — whether theoretical or artistic — of the past?

5. — What are the most significant challenges facing anarchists — and anarchism, as you understand it — in the present?

The emergence of a new fascism? The reaction of the state and other institutions to our struggle against them, where they constantly invent new forms of discipline and domination to replace the ones we’re used to and know how to fight.

6. — How would you characterize the present state of anarchist activity (outside the realm of theory and propaganda)?

Too small in numbers.

7. — How would you characterize the present state of anarchist theory and propaganda?

Beside some people like David Graeber and James C. Scott, it’s practically nonexistent. Though the thought of a libertarian Marxist like John Holloway is very anarchistic in nature.

8. — What are the most urgent changes to be made in anarchist practice moving forward?

Review and re-articulate what we oppose and what we want.

9. — What is the role of some kind of “anarchist unity” moving forward? What form could or should that unity take?

10. — What are the greatest needs with regard to new anarchist theory, propaganda, literature and art?

The need for more anarchist theory, propaganda, literature and art.

11. — Do you currently identify with any particular anarchist current or tendency — and, if so, how do you characterize your position?

Anarchist-communist, also influenced by the Libertarian Marxism of John Holloway and various feminist theorists like Beverley Skeggs and Silvia Federici.

12. — What additional questions would it be useful to pose to a broad anarchist audience?

13. — Would you be interested in participating in future surveys, perhaps addressing more specific elements of anarchist theory, practice and culture?