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What is Post-Anarchism?

+5 votes
Where is this current coming from?(historically and in relation to other schools of thought)  What "gaps in understanding" is it seeking to fill?  Is it mostly a theoretical framing or does it have a strong focus on praxis?
asked Sep 28, 2012 by jingles (2,220 points)

2 Answers

+1 vote
Best answer
The real answer is that post-anarchism comes from many places. The OG is Hakim Bey, but none of the post-anarchists ever mention his name. He was an ontologist - today's post-anarchists are epistemologists. And so you are right to ask the question about understanding. Post-anarchism is about the gap in understanding itself. It is not about the gap in being or in reality.

The big picture is this: post-anarchism is a name given *to* all schools of thought that are of the contemporary moment. It is a way of describing what anarchism has become for us today. Of course classical anarchisms live on in the present, we can never get rid of our histories. But classical anarchism is no longer the dominant anarchist position - it has receded. New traditions, new anarchist traditions, are being constructed today. We are rethinking the classics, redefining the canon, and rebuilding our basic grounding assumptions.

Dot is correct - post-anarchism began as a scholarly preoccupation. Or, at least, this is mostly true. This does not mean that there is anything wrong with the theory. It is also true that post-anarchism explains things that exist in anarchist thought and practice today but through its own lens. It does this because it is an attempt to describe broadly contemporary anarchism. Post-anarchism is not another position among positions. In many ways we are all post-anarchists, or, at least, that is the claim made by post-anarchist scholars. And so it is not necessarily an identity one claims for oneself. It is enough to claim the name anarchist.

It is mostly a theoretical framing. You are right to ask that question. But any piece of writing is a theoretical framing. When uri gordon, for example, describes his as a practical anarchism, he does so purely through a development of a theory of what practical anarchism means. We can not get outside of theory. Nor can we get outside of practice. And so these distinctions are only worth something if they can help us figure something out - and to figure out what that something is, we need theory. What would a post-anarchist practice look like? It is a good question. I propose to answer it the same way a post-leftist would answer the question. Tenderly, sure. But also honestly: we don't really know. We know that all practices today are informed and inform our theory and so we can say that they are post-anarchist. But the real question is, does post-anarchism have a theory of practice? I'm not sure. Some post-anarchists will claim yes. But I still think that the owl of minerva hasn't flown yet.
answered Sep 30, 2012 by Saint_Schmidt (2,450 points)
i love Hakim Bey´s writings. Nevertheless i have to confess the "post-anarchism" concept really doesn´t provide anything too useful to anarchist practice and it might apport more confusion instead of adressing pressing issues. Also this "post-anarchism" smells too much of academicism and its related issues with academic carrerism and distance from actual anarchist activists and lifestyle anarchists such as me.
+2 votes
i'm not sure if our friendly post-anarchist is still checking in here, so i'll jump.

my understanding of post-anarchism is that it is academics' response to classical anarchism, mostly posited by people who come from activist tendencies - so it has arrived at some of the same positions of post-left anarchists, but mostly without talking to anarchists in other tendencies. so yes, there is a deep assumption of activism, but the theory isn't particularly activist, afaict.

here are some excerpts from saul newman (one of the post@ poster boys) in "the politics of post-anarchism", which is online.

*What is more important is that the anti-globalization movement, without being consciously anarchist, embodies an anarchistic form of politics in its structure and organization1—which are decentralized, pluralistic and democratic—as well as in its inclusiveness. Just as classical anarchists like Bakunin and Kropotkin insisted, in opposition to Marxists, that the revolutionary struggle could not confined or determined by the class interests of the industrial proletariat, and must be open also to peasants,the lumpenproletariat, and intellectuals déclassé, etc, so too the contemporary movement includes a broad range of struggles, identities and interests—trade unions, students,environmentalists, indigenous groups, ethnic minorities, peace activists, and so on.

Given anarchism's contribution to radical politics and, in particular, its theoretical proximity to current post-Marxist projects, there has been a curious silence about this revolutionary tradition on the part of contemporary radical theory. However, I would also suggest that just as contemporary theory should take account of the intervention of anarchism, anarchism itself could benefit greatly through an incorporation of contemporary theoretical perspectives, in particular those derived from discourse analysis, psychoanalysis and poststructuralism. Perhaps we could say that anarchism today has been more about practice than theory, despite, of course, the interventions of a number of influential modern anarchist thinkers like Noam Chomsky, John Zerzan and Murray Bookchin. I have already pointed to the anarchy in action that we see in the new social movements that characterize our political landscape. However, the very conditions that have given rise to the anarchist moment—the pluralization of struggles, subjectivities and sites of power—are also the conditions that highlight the central contradictions and limits of anarchist theory. Anarchist theory is still largely based in the paradigm of Enlightenment humanism—with its essentialist notions of the rational human subject, and its positivistic faith in science and objective historical laws. *

there's a start, anyway...
answered Sep 29, 2012 by dot (50,140 points)
edited Oct 5, 2012 by dot