1. — How would you most succinctly define anarchism? Is there a shared “anarchist project” — and, if so, how would you characterize it?
Anarchism is a rejection of and tendency against coercion, as well as against hierarchical and coercive structures of all kinds – in large part enacted through a tendency against political and normative mediation of various kinds (in particular, those derived from a transcendent metaphysics). At a minimum, it is against all structures of domination and their processes of subject-making, like the state, and racism, but also is against those relations that tend to create and exacerbate those structures of domination, like capitalism. The shared anarchist project is one of destroying the structures of coercion and the processes of subject-making that they create, through an immanent ethic of direct action rather than one that seeks to install mediators that take on the responsibility for our own freedom and separate/alienate us from our capacities to do it ourselves.
2. — What is the relationship between anarchism and the concept of anarchy?
I don’t think that there is a single concept of anarchy, so I can’t tell what you mean.
3. — What is the value of tradition within the anarchist milieus and what might be its uses?
So far as I can tell, tradition, like habits, can be useful insofar as they are situated and constantly under review. For example, a useful tradition might be one made to do the work of cutting down to appropriate size those people in one’s political space who have started to build domineering habits. Often, traditions are mediating structures that no longer serve the purpose they emerged to serve, or have been repurposed by structures of power, so these must be destroyed or remade.
4. — What, specifically, is the role to be played in the present by the anarchist literature — whether theoretical or artistic — of the past?
It’s not for me to decide, and many people will have different reasons for why they look backward. I’m sure that there are useful insights to be found there, and would encourage people who are already looking to make those insights plain to anarchists today, or to do the important work of giving anarchism a broader group of representatives in the past beyond mostly dead old white men, and to highlight those past anarchists who spoke then in a way that would make people today feel that they are a part of that past. Work like Ursula Le Guin’s seems to do a lot often to predispose people to take on anti-hierarchical views and give people a sense of their options, and I think it is useful for that. I am always on the lookout for weapons, and they may come from the past – but they are often weak and harmful if they are not also emergent together with the very specific context I am located in. Often now that I have grown a strong anarchist disposition, I would rather read non-anarchist work to incorporate appropriate parts into my anarchism, and to better locate me in my context. So I’m much more interested in the immediate past (what worked, what didn’t) than the distant. having practical tools/approaches to give people has been useful for me.
5. — What are the most significant challenges facing anarchists — and anarchism, as you understand it — in the present?
Thinking at a grand scale is beyond my capacities. The world is huge; global state-capitalism and the subjectivities it creates need to be tackled at every level, but I couldn’t say much more beyond that because it will be different in different places, and also because I suspect it’s authoritarian to do so. In my specific context – South Africa – anarchism is even lesser known and in some ways more-maligned than most other places I hear about. I am more interested presently at nurturing active anti-authoritarian groups based on their specific needs and desires (but also aware of problems at a global political scale, and insofar as possible opening up connective pathways of communication and aid between these groups and groups globally).
6. — How would you characterize the present state of anarchist activity (outside the realm of theory and propaganda)?
I don’t think that they can be separated. I also would not characterise it – because it is different in different places in the world. Here in South Africa, it’s weak, in part because there are so few anarchists, in part because much of what anarchist do here is feels dead and not of this place. People doing interesting things here are often quite anarchistic – like certain subgroups of the Fallists – but authoritarian socialisms overwhelmingly dominate.
7. — How would you characterize the present state of anarchist theory and propaganda?
I don’t know about all the different places in the world. I’m experiencing a tension where I ask myself if this a US-centric questionnaire or if I should speak so generally as to grossly reproduce my own prejudices, or just speak to my context and ignore the broader parts of the question. I think that anarchists have so far failed to do the work of making new classics that speak to the changes in anarchism. The Conquest of Bread has the N word in it. I’d like to see people producing texts that capture anarchism’s complete nature at present. Aside from that, small, localised pieces speaking to specific situations seems to me overall desirable, and I’m not sure who is doing that, and where.
8. — What are the most urgent changes to be made in anarchist practice moving forward?
I don’t know enough to say without a more localised context. Also if it is not asked together with the the people involved, taking into account their desires and capacities, it feels quite meaningless. Which is not to say that we could come up with a good answer even then. Talking about changes to Anarchist Practice like anarchism is some kind of transcendent entity seems to me antithetical to anarchism.
9. — What is the role of some kind of “anarchist unity” moving forward? What form could or should that unity take?
Not for me to decide. I will take a case-by-case approach.
10. — What are the greatest needs with regard to new anarchist theory, propaganda, literature and art?
Aside from saying more, better, and more effective, I don’t know what else to say (and don’t think it’s very useful to say) without knowing what is possible with other people. Presumably we’re all already doing our best. Where I’m from it seems more useful to experiment, because there isn’t a lot of anarchist history to learn from – that is, it’s hard to tell ahead of time what tactics would be effective or not because many have not been tried and many others would likely be shunned.
11. — Do you currently identify with any particular anarchist current or tendency — and, if so, how do you characterize your position?
I have been doing the slow work of trying to create a new tendency emergent from my location and position within it. I can say that I am heavily influenced by specific elements of decolonial theory, postcolonial theory, race theory, black feminism, queer theory, intersectional feminism, poststructuralist theory (in particular Deleuze & Guattari), and post-left/post-situationist critique. I treat each as a tool and identify only insofar as it is useful to in a context.
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?