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What is the relationship between post-left anarchy and post-anarchism anarchy?

+6 votes
asked Mar 28, 2010 by Saint_Schmidt (2,450 points)
This question begs a very complex answer. I would say that post-left anarchy is a way of updating traditional anarchism to the times and this is where it converges, or is subsumed beneath (I'm ready to die by sword for saying this), post-anarchism. Post-anarchism describes the contemporary way of thinking anarchism. It is not an empty term but it is surely an impotent one. Post-left is more nuanced and actually takes a position, it remains more explicitly committed to the ethics of anarchism: the Left and politics in general no longer prove useful for the anarchist problem. Anarchism is such a powerful force that it continues to consume all that once hindered it.

1 Answer

+3 votes
Best answer
As I see it none. post-left anarchy is a description of the critical endeavors of a number of active anarchists (including me) who see the continuing attachment of most anarchists to leftism (and to politics in general) as a hindrance to anarchist endeavors. Post-anarchism refers to a conceptualization of academics with some anarchist sympathies that attempts to wed post-structuralism to what they in their academic ivory towers see as the useful (to their careers?) parts of anarchism.
answered Mar 28, 2010 by apio ludd (1,190 points)
I would caution you against your knee-jerk reaction to post-anarchism. I admit, there is some truth to the claim -- the new postanarchism book is made up of all but one academic. But, post-anarchism anarchy was something proposed by Hakim Bey -- and, this piece it seems quite clear that there is a relationship between post-anarchism and the post-left position. You know, I was told by a Turkish friend that it is mostly in our continent that people have an aversion to post-anarchism because of its supposed academic foundations.

If we are serious about ridding our lives of authority then we need to begin to let the 'subject' speak and we need to be attentive to the ways the subject thinks s(he) is thinking when in fact somebody else is thinking for her/him. People in academia are a part of different discourses and while many of the post-anarchist crowd are from academia not all of them speak 'the discourse of the university' (admittedly, I would say some of them do). If you are familiar with Lacan's four discourses then I would say that some (Todd May, for example) speak the university discourse, others speak the hysteric's discourse (Tadzio Mueller, for example and Richard Day to a certain extent), and some really do speak the 'discourse of the analyst'. Likewise, there is some value in calling some contemporary anarchists "post-anarchist" even if they do not adopt the label. You will recall that Derrida and Foucault rejected the label post-structuralist and yet still, today, there is a certain descriptive power in using these labels to describe their work. The AJODA crowd, for the most part, I consider to be post-anarchist, for example -- they reject essentialist binaristic conceptions and are critical of rigidly traditionalistic dogmas. However, one still sees traditionalist anarchists playing around, as if to deny the present: see http://libcom.org/ or http://www.anarchistblackcat.org/ucp.php or read the news at infoshop.org ;-)
Saint Schmidt couldn´t have give us a more academic answer. To me an important difference between post-left anarchy and this post-anarchism is precisely their concentrations. As such while post-left anarchy tends to deal with issues surrounding anarchist practices, tendencies and forms as they appear out there it activist and lifestyle circles, post-anarchism focuses on discussing french academics.

As i see it post-left anarchy can find little interest in post-anarchism writings.
I guess I'm confused since much of what counts as anarchism is derived FROM academics. And some of them were even french!

I think there is a strong conflation of intellectualism, academicism, and philosophy in your post. What the hell do you mean by academic? What is an academic answer and how is it any different from what you write about? How is Proudhon's work not French academic and why is this never discussed when people write about Proudhon, or when Proudhon himself wrote? It is all such resentful bullshit, and it makes absolutely no sense.

"This is academic" is a great way to shut down communication before actually communicating. It is meaningless, and seems to function as some stupid ad hominem. A really effective way to argue, but absolutely illogical.
Well. Proudhon, unlike Jacques Derrida, Saul Newman and Michel Foucault was not really connected to a University or something like that. Proudhon was of poor peasant origin and he was mostly a self-educated intellectual and activist.

You say "I guess I'm confused since much of what counts as anarchism is derived FROM academics. And some of them were even french!"

It is clear to me you know very little about the lives of the major thinkers of anarchism. Lets have a brief look at their lives besides the already touched upon Proudhon. Mikhail Bakunin renounced his noble origins and decided to travel around Europe to propagandize about anarchism and participating in every insurrection that erupted. In his travels and many times in jail he produced his writings which were published in the anarchist press, hardly such things will be accepted or acceptable in academic journals. Max Stirner actually failed to gain acceptance to study a Doctorate (Phd) degree in the University of Berlin and had to teach classes at a girl´s school. He died in financial ruin. Errico Malatesta also has a similar lifestyle to that of Bakunin and even less academic credentials. Peter Kropotkin could be said to be an academic since he became in a point a very well respected geographer in Russia. Nevertheless he renounced this life, exiled himself from Russia and lived mainly in Switzerland and England writing for the anarchist press. Emma Goldman also was mostly self taught in his literary and philosophical readings. She didn´t hold a university degree from what i know although she was a well established and popular public speaker. Her publication, "Mother Earth" was not really a "scholarly publication" but an anarchist specific one which nevertheless diverse eclectic issues dealt with.

As far as Post-anarchism, it happens that it is not really that much associated with Hakim Bey, who is not currently connected to university academia as far as i know and who is more or less an independent writer without academic positions. Post-anarchism is mostly associated with the academics Saul Newman and Todd May who work in Universities and from that one can expect with nice academic salaries. I have never heard of them being anytime close to any actual street protest. On the other hand the current most well known anarchist academic besides Noam Chomsky (i know some anarchists think he is not an anarchist), David Graeber, Graeber is actually a very visible personality within Ocuppy Wall St. and he has many writings on actual anarchist activism and strategy unlike Newman and Todd May who mostly deal with the similarities between anarchist theorists and french "post-structuralist" academics such as Michel Foucualt, Gilles Deleuze and Derrida.

So that is what i mean by "carrerism" and "academicism".

Now lets deal with the "AJODA crowd". Bob Black from what i know does hold a PHD degree  but the main texts he is known for were read mainly by an anarchist and related audience and you wont really find him mentioned in academic journals and the like. Wolfi Landstreicher is so un-carrerist and un-academic that he writes with a pseudonym which he, on top, decides to change every decade more or less. In the eighties and nineties he went by the pen name "Feral Faun",  in the 2000s "Wolfi Landstreicher" and now he apparently writes under the name of "Apio Ludd". John Zerzan is well known to live from babysitting and help from friends.

The issue seems to me is very clear. Not that i declare myself anti-"post-anarchism". I have read some Saul Newman texts and found one or two interesting things on them. It is just that they reflect well their origins and so i didn´t really say they are "bad". i just said they are academicistic and manny times full of complex academic philosophical jargon which i could understand some anarchist not really caring to go find out what they mean.