Interstitial/Interview Teaser: Lewis Call
Q: Your work on the intersection of post-structual political philosophy and anarchist theory led you, along with Saul Newman and Todd May, to develop a line of thinking that has come to be called 'post-anarchism', in which classical anarchist thought is coupled with postmodernism to critique Cartesian subjectivity and modernist essentialism. What prompted you to read post-structual and anarchist theory in conjunction with one another, especially with regard to the work of Nietzsche and Deleuze?
A: I remember reading Michael Ryan's excellent Marxism and Deconstruction and thinking, "I want to do for anarchism what Ryan did for Marxism." I wanted to inject the anarchist tradition with a heavy dose of radical post-structuralist philosophy. I knew that anarchism was flexible and fluid enough to accept such an injection, and I thought the results might be interesting. I admired the modern anarchist tradition, but, like Saul and Todd, I really thought that modern anarchism could benefit from an encounter with structuralism and post-structuralism. I was really just looking to update the anarchist canon by adding some new critiques. I didn't realize at the time that we were helping anarchist theory mutate or evolve into what we now call "post-anarchism." But in retrospect, I suppose it's not surprising that this happened. Again, it just shows the flexibility and adaptability of the anarchist tradition.
Nietzsche was a natural choice. I had already written my dissertation on Nietzsche's troubled, yet productive relationship with the Enlightenment. It made sense to deploy Nietzsche against certain Enlightenment ideas about subjectivity and essence. Nietzsche led directly to Foucault, whose post-structuralist genealogies strike me as quite anarchist in their political orientation. And Foucault led to Deleuze. Deleuze is absolutely indispensable. He had certain unique thoughts about spatial relations and structures of organization (the rhizome, for example). He also had some ideas about psychology and power that aren't really to be found anywhere else. It was with good reason that Foucault said this of his friend: "One day we may call the twentieth century Deleuzian." Deleuze has had a very broad influence on post-anarchism, especially in recent years. When I wrote the editorial introduction for the inaugural issue of Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies (2010), I noted that most of the essays in that issue were informed by Deleuzian theory in one way or another.