1. — How would you most succinctly define anarchism? Is there a shared “anarchist project” — and, if so, how would you characterize it?
I would define “anarchism” as a diverse range of social theories reaching the conclusion – for whatever reason(s) – that social life ought to function without institutionalized authority. There can be no single, shared anarchist project because there is no single, shared anarchist analyses, nor goals.
2. — What is the relationship between anarchism and the concept of anarchy?
Anarchy defines the qualities of social situations themselves. Anarchism defines theories that evaluate those social situations and conclude they are desirable.
3. — What is the value of tradition within the anarchist milieus and what might be its uses?
Tradition seems to be less valued today than it had been even 10 years ago. For example, less anarchists are out in the streets for May Day celebrations. Tradition itself has always been an uncomfortable concept for anarchist thinkers. Traditions can be useful devices for passing on lessons from the past, for enriching the cultural experience of participating in anarchist milieus, and for maintaining an anarchist identity. But tradition also has the potential to impede beneficial changes and stifle challenges that new insight can bring to old ideas.
4. — What, specifically, is the role to be played in the present by the anarchist literature — whether theoretical or artistic — of the past?
I think anarchist literature is an invaluable source of historical analysis, theoretical argumentation, expressions of anarchist practice, conflicts between anarchists among themselves and with others, and documentation of the depth and breadth of opposition to and rebellion against authority.
5. — What are the most significant challenges facing anarchists — and anarchism, as you understand it — in the present?
The biggest challenge has been and still is the international network of governments that cooperate in maintaining the State as the sole legitimate form of social organization and their geopolitical competitions for superiority. This competition leads to some diversity in the way that states generate wealth. There is also some diversity in the distribution of state power among citizens; however, the State is the largest obstacle to anarchy. Advancements in technology continue to asymmetrically benefit states and make the possibility for organization outside the state evermore remote.
6. — How would you characterize the present state of anarchist activity (outside the realm of theory and propaganda)?
Unfocused. There are anarchists around the world that are engaged in an exciting number of interesting projects. However, communication within the anarchist milieus about these projects is difficult and this difficulty produces barriers in the realization of more extensive projects.
7. — How would you characterize the present state of anarchist theory and propaganda?
From what I know of contemporary anarchist theory, a lot of it seems to have very little practical application and I think this is an extreme weakness. The manner in which anarchist theory seems to conceptualize the world today does not seem very grounded.
8. — What are the most urgent changes to be made in anarchist practice moving forward?
The theory it is based on.
9. — What is the role of some kind of “anarchist unity” moving forward? What form could or should that unity take?
I don’t think anarchist unity is very important. At least not anywhere near as important as what I said in response to #8.
10. — What are the greatest needs with regard to new anarchist theory, propaganda, literature and art?
Anarchism in North America needs to come to terms with the fact that there are huge discrepancies between the way the world actually works and the way the world is discussed by most people. The way the world actually works is not very exciting to talk about. It is a mess of institutions granted various degrees of authority to govern various aspects of life. It is a tangled web of bureaucracy and regulation, revenue generation and government spending, geopolitical competition, complexes of relationships between the Public and Private sector, quiet and secret use of technologies, and unintelligible market behavior. Anarchists need to at least try and address this world as it actually functions and identify existing potential for anarchist practice. This is far more urgent than any transvaluation of values or defense of traditional positions. Anarchists will always be at the disadvantage of not participating in electoral systems where hot button issues and dogmas can stimulate the degree of support needed to vote on candidates and policies. When anarchists want to do something, they need to know how it’s actually done because they’re going to be the ones doing it… not some politician that represents them and directs subordinates to carry out the work.
11. — Do you currently identify with any particular anarchist current or tendency — and, if so, how do you characterize your position?
12. — What additional questions would it be useful to pose to a broad anarchist audience?
Ask about their theoretical influences and the mediums through which they engage with anarchist theory: books, music, conversation, etc.
13. — Would you be interested in participating in future surveys, perhaps addressing more specific elements of anarchist theory, practice and culture?