Debate on Anarchists against/in Academy

Lesedauer: 4 Minuten

Auf der Mailingliste des Anarchist Studies Network entspann sich eine ausgiebige Debatte über das Verhältnis von Anarchist*innen zu Universitäten. Der Redebedarf und die kontroversen Beiträge verdeutlichten, dass hierzu noch längst nicht alles gesagt ist, bzw. weiterhin ein Meinungsaustausch zu diesem Thema stattfinden muss. Übrigens betsehen hierzu längst nicht nur zwei Positionen, sondern mehrere – entsprechend der unterschiedlichen Erfahrungen, welche Menschen in diesem Zusammenhang gemacht haben. Dass Uni-Strukturen und der Wissenschaftsbetrieb insgesamt nicht ansatzweise Vorstellungen einer libertären Wissensproduktion und -vermittlung entspricht, versteht sich dabei von selbst. Wie mit den Widersprüchen in dieser und anderen Institutionen aus anarchistischer Perspektive umgegangen werden soll, dazu gibt es hingegen verschiedene Ansichten. Es folgt mein Beitrag zu dieser Debatte mit 13 Punkten als Anregung für die Aufgaben anarchistischer Theoretiker*innen.

Dear collegues and comrades,

it seems to me, that there’s a need to disucuss the relation of anarchists and the academy much further. At the one hand from the persons who want to carry out a critic, one the other hand from persons who want to defend the attampt to gain space in academic contexts for anarchists.

Firstly I would say, it’s important to reflext on these attempts for all of us. What’s laying behind my effort to critize something? What laying behind my effort to defend something?

Secondly, debating on anarchy and academy, we all share similar experience, but have also different and our own ones with that issue. So a debate on that should to my mind not aim to generate a „right“ position how to deal with that highly complex and contradictory theme (hierarchies at universities as institutions, relation of scholars and teachers, function of education in a statist-capitalist society …). It seems to me that it’s a fact, that we primarly act as individuals, in the academic context. So we should be aware on hierrchies (etc.), our function in the system, the limits of reasearching and educating and so on. Therefore there could not be a „right“ ethicial point of view to this, but just an ongoing debate.

Thirdly, for me all this is a question of organising. Organising starts, when we are related on each other and aim to develop collective projects. This is something else and more than just having an exchange of individuals, interested in a specific topic. Organising means to create a (counter)power within, against and beyond the institution of state-capitalist-patriarchal society. Anarchist academics mirror in a blurred way how strong, organised, broad and plural, convinced and visionary anarchist groups and anarchist inspiried social movements are generally. So in discussion on that complex theme, we really have to search for (no easy) answers, what ressources anarchist could take from the academy, how we really can educate people and develope their critical mind and attitude, and how we can create and foster spaces of non-academic autonomous theory-building.

To give you a personal example: As my parents are pastors, I’m still a believer – in anarchy. For that reason to be an anarchist is for me less an identity, but an always ongoing search and positioning. After years of grassroots-activism and finishing my MA, I got a scholarship for a PhD-work. I took the money and wrote plenty of non-academic but theoretical texts explicitly for the anarchist scene and I did unpaid talks there. Now my funding is finished, but I’m not sure if, how and when I can finish (and finance) my PhD – as well as if I really should do this. So let’s see what happens. But was I wrong in doing so much altruistic things for „the“ scene, were I can’t get either money or fame? I think not, because that’s my freedom.

All in all I think anarchists who work in the academy should at least create and support spaces of autonomous, non-academic theory work and education beyond universities. That’s an attempt to empower people and challenging the system, not only with some contents but on an institutional level. At least some points that I collected as tasks for an actualised anarchist theory (doesn’t matter, if it is worked out by academics or not). Maybe that’s interesting for somebody -> You’ll found it below.

In solidarity,


Anarchist theoreticisans should

1) bring anarchist theory to live, not worshipping some „anarchist“ saints or abstract ideas

2) fill anarchist thinking and acting with content, explain anarchism and rejeced prejudges against it

3) work and spread common anarchist basic thoughts

4) show and critically discuss, where some people already orientate on anarchist ethics, organisational principles and live them

5) show that people already live in „alternative“ social relation (eco-socialist, horizontal, decental, autonom, equal, borderless, …)

6) search for new anarchist strategies than mainly walking old paths

7) investingate social movements on their libertarian-socialist potencial and strengthen it

8) open groups, who are struggeling, an libertarian-socialst interpretation of their situation and position

9) collect knowledge and experiences in social movements and facilitate reflextion on it

10) intervene in public debate and struggles, to demonstrate anarchist perspectives

11) create common working-processes of theory and education (conferences, workshops, seminars, debating circles …) that are inclusive, creative, empowering and strenghting personal relations between participants

12) decribe, what social-revolutionary processes are and were, respectivly to what extent, they are already happening

13) give inspiration for reflections of anarchist organisational priciples, ethical values and initiiate debate on them