31 – 01 – 2008
in Siyahi, Istanbul
Anarchists do not try to find domination in the throne –they look in their own palms. Politicians will never like anarchists. Anarchists destabilize the field of politics, blur the borders deliberately drawn before and do not give priority or a pioneering status to politics. Anarchism downplays big targets and magnifies small ones. Anarchism pulls politics into life, drags it into the streets, and there, on the streets, under heavy clouds of dust, takes it by the arm. They walk together there, hand in hand, and sit in a park.
There is a post-anarchist reduction of classical anarchism seen in texts of some key writers on post-anarchism (like Todd May, Saul Newman, Lewis Call or more recently Richard Day). Up until now, this feature of the post-anarchist tendency has been criticized by various anarchists.
But actually, ‘anarchists’ should admit that, ‘post-anarchists’ didn’t invent this! ‘Post-anarchists’ have been using the common anarchist history writing on classical anarchism which can be found anywhere in any reference book. The problem is, because of the reference to post-structuralism, they could be expected not to rely on that canonized history of anarchism without interrogating it, without questioning it at all.
When post-anarchists take the findings of a modernist, Eurocentric history writing of anarchism as a given truth and start working on this ground, it is likely to see them (post-anarchists) reproduce many problems already existing in this practice of history writing. (Jason Adams has given a basic critical questioning of this while he was talking on the “constructed history of anarchism”.) As someone working on post-anarchism as well, what Adams did in this early article was quite a good start – you have to turn your critical investigation to the given history of anarchism as well. Before comparing classical anarchism with post-structuralist philosophy, or before making a genealogy of affinity in the realm of ‘classical anarchism’ (that’s what Day does in “Gramsci is Dead”) one must first endeavour to make a genealogy of the anarchist ‘canon’. These questions should be asked: how did the anarchist history writing developed? When and how were the main anarchist writers selected? Who were the fathers of the ‘fathers of anarchy’? Were there different tendencies in describing the main body of ‘classical anarchism’ and which tendency dominated the resulting history and how? How were the classical anarchists represented? Can we trace any hierarchy in these histories; were they modernist in their approach; can we trace any kind of discrimination?
My first critique to post-anarchist literature  so far is that it has not undertaken a new reading of the anarchist canon, that they didn’t investigate the classical anarchism from their post-structuralist perspectives, but instead compared post-structuralist theory with what was readily available in a classical anarchism written mostly from a modernist perspective. Many problems are rooted in this choice I believe.
As it is with the history of anarchism, what I understand from post-anarchism has many folds, and one crucial fold is about anarchist history writing, a new post-anarchist thinking should bring a new anthology, a new history of anarchism. At least, a new sensibility towards existing anarchist histories…
1. A long quote can be useful in showing Adams’ conception: “So by employing the label “Western” I am not referring to the actual history of anarchism but rather to the way in which anarchism has been constructed through the multiple lenses of Marxism, capitalism, eurocentrism and colonialism to be understood as such. This distorted, decontextualized and ahistoric anarchism with which we have now become familiar was constructed primarily by academics writing within the context of the core countries of the West: England, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Canada, United States, Australia and New Zealand. Since there was virtually no real subversion of the eurocentric understanding of anarchism until the 1990s, the vast majority of literature available that purports to deliver an “overview” of anarchism is written in such a way that one is led to believe that anarchism has existed solely within this context, and rarely, if ever, outside of it. Therefore, the anarchism that becomes widely known is that which has come to be identified with the West, despite its origins in the East; Kropotkin, Bakunin, Godwin, Stirner, and Goldman in first wave anarchism: Meltzer, Chomsky, Zerzan, and Bookchin in second and third wave anarchism. Rarely are such seminal first wave figures as Shifu, Atabekian, Magon, Shuzo, or Glasse even mentioned; a similar fate is meted out for such second and third wave figures such as Narayan, Mbah, and Fernandez — all of non-Western origin. This construction of anarchism as Western has unfortunately led to an unintentional eurocentrism that has permeated the writings of many second and third wave theorists and writers. Their work then becomes the standard-bearer of what anarchism actually means to most people, as it is printed and reprinted, sold and resold perennially at anarchist bookfairs, infoshops, bookstores and other places, as it is quoted and analyzed, compared and debated in reading circles, academic papers, at socials, parties, demonstrations, meetings and on picketlines. Clearly, there has been a great deal of reverence in second and third wave anarchist movements for this “Western anarchism” — the result has been that much of anarchism has moved from being a popular tradition amongst the most exploited in societies the world over to being little more than a loose combination of an academic curiosity for elite Western academics and a short-lived rebellious phase of youth that is seen as something that is eventually, and universally, outgrown.” In “Postanarchism in a Nutshell”, Jason Adams, http://info.interactivist.net/article.pl?sid=03/11/11/1642242, accessed on 15 / 11/ 2007.
2. Especially see Chapter 4 (“Utopian Socialism Then…) in Richard J. F. Day, Gramsci is Dead, Anarchist Currents in the Newest Social Movements, Pluto Press, London 2005. Another problem with ‘Gramsci is Dead’, is seen when Day understands genealogy as simply tracing back the history of something (in this case ‘logic of affinity’). That is clearly not genealogy in the Nietzschean/Foucaultian sense –this is simply family tree. Genealogy requires asking questions about the birth, a genealogy of affinity in the Nietzsche/Foucaultian sense would begin with asking –who first wrote about affinity? Where did this affinity come from and how? What were the forces and struggles? How did it develop? etc.
3. There is a certain language gap that makes it difficult to refer to a ‘postanarchist literature’ in the world. In the English speaking world, usually there is no concern about this, and without a doubt, writers refer to ‘postanarchists’ or ‘postanarchist writers’ instead of saying ‘English speaking postanarchists’ or ‘postanarchist literature in English’, and thus ignores contributions made in different languages like French, German and Turkish. Jurgen Mumken and his friends in Germany made numerous postanarchist publications and a website for postanarchist archives, http://www.postanarchismus.net (this is the last one of a series of websites dedicated to postanarchism; Jason Adams’s Postanarchism Clearing House was the first one, followed by http://www.postanarki.net, which was prepared by Siyahi and included articles in Turkish and English, and the blog pages of Siyahi Interlocal, which was a joint project of Adams and Siyahi to make an international postanarchist magazine in English –that project hasn’t see the light till today. And web pages in Spanish are following, which can be traced through the Spanish wikipedia in es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postanarquismo). Two original books have been published in German by the same group of writers, and several books on post-anarchism saw light in Turkish. (As you can guess, these books are never mentioned when writers give a picture of ‘postanarchism so far’.) Post-anarchism is a strong theoretical current of anarchism in Turkey. The first essay combining postmodernism and anarchism, written by the author of this article, was published in 1994, in the magazine ‘Express’. Turkish post-anarchists formed a group called Karasin Anarchist Collective and made xerox publications between 1996 – 1998. Details about these photocopy pamphlets and magazines and the groups later alternative publication experiences can be found in a paper I presented in Lujubljana, 2006 (http://surmetinler.blogspot.com). Today we are publishing Siyahi, the only post-anarchist magazine in the world. Sureyyya Evren, Kursad Kiziltug, Bulent Usta, Erden Kosova, Rahmi G. Ogdul and Yasar Cabuklu are prominent Turkish writers writing on post-anarchism or with a post-anarchist tendency. All of them have contributed post-anarchist publications in Turkish on different levels from the Karasin period to Siyahi. And they are followed by new generations like A. Ekim Savran or Murat Guney. So here and in other related terms, with post-anarchists I mainly mean writers who made book length contributions to the field of English [Todd May (Political Philosophy of the Poststructuralist Anarchism), Saul Newman (From Bakunin to Lacan: Anti-Authoritarianism and the Dislocation of Power), Lewis Call (Postmodern Anarchism) and Richard Day (Gramsci is Dead, Anarchist Currents in the Newest Social Movements)]. Why is it in Turkey whenever we write on post-anarchism, we try to cover everything we can reach in the world, written in whatever language, but when an English-speaking anarchist writes on post-anarchism she finds it perfectly sufficient to refer to only English language texts on postanarchism? This situation should be discussed later more. And as I am mainly discussing the ‘postanarchist literature in English’, I will not be referring to positions on the subject which are written in other languages.
About the magazine
Siyahî (Istanbul) is a political cultural magazine based mostly on anarchist and post structuralist thought. Started in 2004 and distributed throughout Turkey, Siyahî includes interviews with various writers and political people, articles reflecting contemporary theory, critical art discussions, special dossiers on key concepts and events and such. A post anarchist perspective is shaping all Siyahî issues. Nowadays we are working at identity politics, libertarian education and concrete poetry.