Survey: Response by Cyclidéon

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 theory and movement to abolish all forms of authority, and create anarchy — i.e. free and equal social relations among people, untouched by privilege. Although a shared anarchist project makes the most sense to me, we just have a bunch of separate anarchisms right now. A shared anarchism would probably involve far less infighting about what economic system and worldview we ought to adopt, and more about how all these things factor into anarchy, and how to clarify anarchy in general.

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

Anarchy is the principle, and anarchism is the theory and movement around that principle.

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

Tradition is an educational tool. You can learn a lot of things from Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin — things you may not have known, or couldn’t explain. This is especially important because we don’t read enough of the old stuff. But we shouldn’t stay stuck in the 1800s; we need to be constantly adopting our theory and practice for new conditions. We can’t neglect the old or the new. They should strengthen each other.

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

Old literature should be a source of study. Reading it can link us to the past, not only strengthening our anarchism today, but creating more of a shared experience: that we’re carrying on a fight that began long ago.

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

Anarchists aren’t very tolerant of different perspectives. We have the sectarian infighting that I mentioned earlier. But we also have members of marginalized groups (people of color in particular) that are ignored, partly due to dogmatic class-struggle and individualist perspectives. We need to approach these issues with more nuance. We also don’t seem to be strong in Asia or Africa, This is a shame, because not only are there anarchic elements in past Asian and African societies, but Africa in particular has suffered from centuries of imperialism and colonialism.

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

Recent actions against ICE (particularly in Portland) are promising. I would like to see more stuff like it. But anarchist activity in the US is still underdeveloped. Good things are happening elsewhere, like KUMAN’s struggle against Uber in Indonesia, the creation of new anarchist organizations in the Middle East and Bangledesh, and the anarchists in Greece building social centers, housing refugees, and attacking Golden Dawn members.

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

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

In general, I’d like to see anarchists everywhere be more tolerant to one another. But I’d also like us to take a page from the Greeks and find ways to provide food, shelter, and medicine to people, be more militant in the face of fascist and police violence, as well as build an anti-authoritarian culture within working-class communities. As reaction rises across the west, we need alternatives.

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

“Liberty is unity in diversity.” Anarchists must learn to get along, but we shouldn’t smother unique perspectives and points of view in the name of unity. We should be able to do what serves our individual needs while understanding that the part is not the whole, and focusing more on anarchy itself. By doing so, we can embrace a much wider diversity of tactics, make ourselves more coherent to non-anarchists, and more easily identify authoritarian garbage like anarcho-capitalism, national-anarchism, anarcho-monarchism, etc.

10. — What are the greatest needs with regard to new 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?

I call myself either an anarchist without adjectives or just an anarchist.

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

  • What can we learn from non-anarchist theories and movements?
  • What do our past revolutions (the Free Territory and Revolutionary Spain in particular) have to teach us today?
  • What made you into an anarchist?

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

Sure.