John Asimakopoulos

Interview completed: 02/24/2014

So, just to start off with, this is the question I’ve enjoyed quite a bit reading people’s responses to, just because I think it’s one of the more personal questions. How did you first hear about anarchism and how would you characterize that encounter? What was it like?

It’s quite interesting, because although I was born in the United States when I was still a young boy, my family moved back to our native Greece, Athens, where I went to public school and spoke the Greek language. I had heard about anarchism early on as a teenager, but mostly in the context of chaos, kids in the streets throwing bottles at cops, and just being against authority in that general sense. Nothing much more than that. As I found out later in my life what anarchism really is, I was very surprised to be living in Greece studying in a system with a Greek curriculum, but not a word about anarchy. Maybe something about Marxism, maybe something about socialism or communism as systems. But you don’t really hear them talk about anarchy. Other than, yes, it’s these hooligans who throw bottles at the cops, right?

So, then I come to the United States. I’m a student here, going through college as an undergrad. And again, I’m taking courses in Sociology (I was a co-major in Economics and Sociology) being taught everything you want to hear about Marxism, feminism. Even in Economics courses, I heard about Marx, Marxian economics, but never anything about anarchism. Then I went to the conferences, because I had to publish or perish, as I was told by my employers. Part of that I thought was going to the conferences, and the same thing. You don’t really hear anything about anarchism. A lot about Marxism and all the other -isms.

Then one day I was talking with some colleagues at work that I just met who said “oh, so you’re that anarchist”. I didn’t know that I was an anarchist or that my writings were considered anarchist. Having first heard about this in a deeper level I said, “oh, so basically this is the other side to Marxism that nobody bothered to tell me about”. I remember how furious I was learning about anarchism in a more meaningful way, not in graduate school (I went to the Graduate Center of the City University of New York—CUNY), where you would imagine this would have been bread-and-butter there… you have some pretty famous radicals at the CUNY Graduate Center. So, keep in mind, I graduated with my doctorate in the year 2000—I don’t know how things have changed since, I assume they have—but, I was very angry to say I had to learn about anarchism, basically on my own! Yeah, right.

Just as a total aside, that’s an interesting thing you said about someone else had to tell you that you were an anarchist. I had a very similar experience once where a close friend of mine told me that that was how she described me to other people sometimes. And, I thought, “wow… how interesting that she would know me better, my politics better than I would be aware of them”. I just found that very fascinating.

And I have an even more interesting note to that story. I always thought of myself as being a Marxist maybe a communist, in a theoretical sense. Not in a Soviet, bureaucratic sense. But then when I learned what these different strands are, I said, they really are complimentary. And that’s what got me intellectually involved in these perspectives, seeing how futile it was to separate them, and just totally neglect one and just focus on the other.

Right, yeah. Since you’re starting to talk a little bit about those other academic disciplines, I wonder if we can move on to a second question. So, what within sociology and anarchism do you perceive to be the most compatible with each other?

My new book, with Brill, is titled Social Structures of Direct Democracy. I make the argument—I am teaching as a sociologist—that direct democracy is in essence (whether you look at ancient Athens with all the shortcomings of women not voting, and having slaves)… well, direct democracy is conceptually no different than anarchism, really. But people don’t realize that, and they often don’t think of anarchy as a structure, as a social structure.

And if you think as a sociologist, as someone who looks at structures, whether you’re a structural functionalist or a conflict theorist, or the other theories we have in our field, you kind of come to the conclusion that Ralf Dahrendorf did, that combines Marxism with the structural-functionalism of Robert Merton. Which is that there are structures here; even if you’re a Lefty, you have to look at structures. And if you believe in anarchism as something that really is a way out of our current malaise, as maybe a logical evolution of human relations, you have to assume there’s going to be a structure. And I think especially American anarchists—or those that consider themselves practitioners more than academics—think that structure is anathema to anything that has to do with anarchy.

To which now you open yourself to the criticism of, well, exactly how will this system of yours function? How do you deal with globalization if you go back to these autonomous communities? And I think that’s where you start seeing that opens them up to the pejorative use of the word “utopian”.

So, I think society really is compatible just as much with anarchism as it is with Marxism.

So, anarchism as a structural study of some kind? (or structural analysis?)

Yeah, I think that’s what we really need to develop. That’s also something that excites me regarding your project because we don’t see an academic focus on this tremendous theoretical perspective that dates as far back as Marxism, if not further back. In fact it predates Marxism, it’s been identified to go as far back as antiquity in ancient Greece. So why do we have total disregard for this perspective?

It’s incomprehensible, really.

Do you think up to this point that anarchism has contributed anything to sociology?

I think that I, and a lot of my colleagues with the Transformative Studies Institute (and I really want to point out a fellow colleague, Dr. Deric Shannon, who is in Atlanta, Emory University), what we focus on is bridging, and we have publications with those titles: Bridging Marxism with Anarchism.

I think there’s a lot that can be informed through anarchism. And just move away from this artificial divide that one is separate from the other.

So, do you think anarchism has actually had some kind of tangible impact on sociology or it sort of something that still remains to be developed?

It has, and since we started this in about 2008—and we started this [the TSI], we have a journal called Theory In Action, that has a reminder of the anarchist colors if you look at the cover. And we have published anarchist analyses and conference papers on the topic. One of our main goals was to legitimize the academic study of anarchism. We really couldn’t find anyone who was doing that, so that’s why we created the journal, the institute as well, and then somehow going back a year, or maybe two years ago, you start noticing that there’s a lot of people who are starting to use words like “scholar activist”, which was one of our catch phrases. To be considered scholar-activists and consider that to be legitimate.

So, I think together with anarchism we have to consider what we mean be social justice studies, social justice movements, what we mean by scholar activism. Because I think all of this is intertwined together with critical pedagogy and now it’s really catching on. I think it’s starting to happen and we’re at the ground floor right now.

Yeah, great! So, with that focus of looking ahead, what do you think anarchism either as a philosophy or as a practice (or whoever you might want to think about it), what kind of things do you think it could actually start contributing to sociology in the future?

We need new theories. It’s not enough to study the dead theorists and the dead theories. Because while they may be applicable today, they still have to be modified, maybe built on, and maybe discarded in some cases. And maybe some totally new ones that we have to come up with. So, what anarchism does, I think, is come to the conclusion that, it’s not so much that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I’m being influenced by Ralf Dahrendorf in my case. I think we’re moving to the idea that authority corrupts and basically any kind of authority is going to corrupt absolutely.

Now how do we deal with that? It means we can’t have kings, it means we can’t have representatives, it means that somehow we have to decentralize authority, and by extension power. And that’s where I make the connection between anarchism and direct democracy. Because what better system than one where each and every individual has a say over matters of their everyday life, collectively with their community?

So, what kind of theories can we come up with now that are going to take that theory and implement it in practice? And it’s not going to happen with revolutionary theories of structurally changing society anew with a revolution; if people don’t understand what you’re saying, that’s not going to work. You have to take what’s there and modify it. And that’s where it gets tricky, that’s where you really have to allow people to participate in the building of a system that is supposed to work for them, by them.

I can’t build it, you can’t built it. And all these questions seem to be answered in one way or another by anarchism. Which has many strands and there really isn’t any one singular definition what it really means, but I think it’s a strength rather than a weakness, because everything else has been tried and pretty much… we see the results! Whether it’s capitalist theory, Marxist theory, or what passes as Marxist theory…. none of that seems to be a way out at this point.

That was really interesting; one other thing you said that I also found interesting was referencing Ralf Dahrendorf who I am sort of a closeted fan of, I suppose. I know a lot of people consider him to be a functionalist, but I very much like a lot of his ideas, from his major book on class conflict. But, you were also referencing how a lot of these older theories don’t seem to “work”.

So, my next question was, and you can answer it in a contemporary way to, but I was mainly thinking about classical theorists. Which classical sociologist do you think has had the most anarchistic ideas or theories?

Again, I think that all of us, as theorists in one way or another are anarchists and Marxists without knowing it at some point. Because you really can’t slice-n-dice knowledge in either academic departments or in theoretical fields. It’s really interchangeable, it’s intertwined

So, if you’re going to accept certain Marxist premises, as I do, because I’m not throwing all the old theories just because they’re old. And I do believe there’s much in Marxism that we all benefit from applying to today’s society and updating Marx with basic concepts. So, having said all that, I think that the only sociologist who was a classical anarchist was probably Bakunin, Marx’s arch-enemy. But, he wasn’t exactly a sociologist either.

So, in terms of sociology we don’t really have any. We have contemporary people like Noam Chomsky but they’re from linguists not sociology. We have David Graeber, a very accomplished historian, anthropologist. So, there’s a lot of people, but I’m not personally aware of sociologists-anarchists, at least classical ones, except for the ones that show up in history books.

Sometimes when I’ve asked this question, I’ve wondered what people think about all the classical sociologists that people will learn about in a theory class, from the Marx, Durkheim, Weber, and Simmel, DuBois and all these other folks. And I wonder if you’ve ever seen any anarchistic elements in them, because it’s interesting, they lived during a lot of the same time as the classic age of anarchism itself. Marx of course, Weber was. I was wondering if you’d seen any of that at all.

Not really, not consciously. But, I did see a lot of it in Marx, when I was reading Marx. Because that’s one they assign to you. They don’t assign anything to you from anarchists… and this includes graduate schools in sociology. I am appalled the more I reflect upon it. I don’t recall anyone having anything in their syllabi—that I ever had—that said you’re actually going to read a book by Proudhon or Kropotkin or Bakunin. But there was plenty of Marx, plenty of Weber and Durkheim, and so on. Feminists, all sorts of things, race, gender, you name it. Nothing on anarchists. They came up maybe in passing, as a label.

What you’re saying is so interesting, because, of course, Marx lived during the time of most of those classic age anarchists, if not wrote so much in response (or in attack) toward anarchists. Proudhon, Stirner (not necessarily an anarchist, but very anarchistic), and obviously, as his very well-known spats with Bakunin in the International. But…

And that’s why we have to question even academe at this point, because it’s not that it’s necessarily done on purpose (although, if we get to this question, it is in other ways): how do you teach Marx (when as you mentioned), for most of his life was defined as in opposition to the anarchist ideas and people identified as anarchists?

How can you teach about Marx and not talk about who he was talking to? It’s sorta like hearing one side of a conversation and not knowing why those things are being said. And in a similar vein, I’m embarrassed to say that it wasn’t until fairly recently that I also learned that Marx had very active correspondence with Abraham Lincoln, over abolition. That wasn’t talked too much about, either.

Yeah, right. I think I’ve actually seen a book that was purportedly about some of that correspondence.

Just a couple minutes ago you mentioned how other ideas—and even other movements, like Marxism and feminism—have made their way into sociology as a discipline, into our classes, into journals, as ideas influencing the kind of work that sociologists do. Why do you think that anarchism hasn’t itself had the same kind of institutional influence upon sociology as those other things, like Marxism or feminism had?

At least for the United States, I think a lot of it has to do with popular movements. There weren’t really any popular anarchist movements, in terms of numbers and popular culture, in recent times as there were people involved in civil rights or labor rights. Although ironically—I’ve written about this myself—the most indispensable leaders of these movements, were themselves anarchists.

And they were typically the first to be identified by the security forces for harassment and executions, and even from their own ranks, the Communists would identify the anarchists to have them purged and whatnot, even though they were the most useful and committed people to the ideology of what the cause was.

So, when you have a lot of people that devoted their lives through popular culture to, let’s say, the women’s movement, that’s going to legitimize in popular culture the women’s movement. Once that gets legitimized then universities pick up on the study of it because they’re not going to get attacked by conservatives for studying it. It’s legitimate in society as a topic to touch, it’s not risky anymore. You’re not going to be that professor who may or may not be fired because you teach on the topic. And, at the same time people may have a demand for it, you have people available to teach about it. So, it makes its way in academia.

But, that hasn’t really happened with the anarchists, until our lifetimes, at least for this country. And to this day, I think what keeps it out of academia. When you’re told that you have to publish or perish, you don’t have to publish squat if the administration loves you; you’re going to get your tenure. But, if they don’t like you, you better do exactly what you’re told, so that you don’t give them reason to retaliate against you if they don’t like you.

So, when you publish, you’re told that “we want to see peer-reviewed publications”. Problem is you don’t have that many anarchist peer-reviewed publications, because many anarchist groups consider that to be antithetical to their ideology, to have a structured peer-reviewed publication and whatnot… So, now, I can send to a Z Magazine, I can send it to some other places, but when I submit it to these committees for my re-appointment that have the power of life-and-death over me, if they don’t like me, they’re going to turn around and say “this is not peer-reviewed” and technically speaking, they’re right, they’re correct—it’s not. And therefore it’s journalistic, it’s popular, or whatever. It doesn’t count for your promotion or for your appointment, or tenure, because it’s not peer-reviewed. Now, the peer-reviewed journals, they’re not going to publish anything that has to do with anarchy. Especially, associational ones, that’s not what they do.

They do mathematical sociology, they do scientific sociology, not anarchism stuff. Now, the Marxist peer-reviewed journals, ironically, if they see that you’re an anarchist, will say “on ideological grounds, there’s no way we agree with you, we’re not publishing you”. And, surprise, surprise, a lot of these peer-reviewed Marxist journals are extremely sectarian and close-minded as you can find. Which makes you wonder, what exactly do they understand Marxism as? The study of the past that’s metathesized, or something that’s alive and changing? Which is what I think a journal is all about. So, now you’re a professor, you have very few options. You may dabble in it—so that’s going to keep it out of academia. You don’t want to be attacked by conservatives that are tenured that can block you because you’re identified as an anarchist. Popular culture thinks of anarchy as these kids who throw rocks at the cops.

So, until we can have a mass movement that identifies anarchy, not as a smelly hippy that needs to take a shower and that never will have a job (I don’t know if you’ve seen my Facebook), but rather somebody who can wear a suit and tie and look clean. And that person can still be an anarchist. Once people understand that, that’s going to be legitimized in society, that’s when you’re going to have people like me and others who will now be offered jobs—not just for the community college (because they didn’t know who we were, theoretically, before they hired us)—but at the more prestigious places. Places where you can actually do a lot more with your career because of the resources that they have.

And that’s another problem. When people who are anarchists can only find jobs at the lower ranks of this universe (the community colleges, the high schools, and whatnot), you don’t have time to do a lot of research. That limits you, because you’re teaching so much more than at a more prestigious school, four-year institution, or a graduate institution. So, you don’t have time for that. And you don’t have resources. You can’t go to conferences, there’s no money for conferences. You can’t even present a paper at a conference that nobody would have minded that you did present. And that’s another way they keep you oppressed, keep you from having a voice. Because without resources, who is going to hear you?

It sounded like you’re almost describing that classic Catch-22, that academia doesn’t want to hear about anarchism because of the caricatures and stereotypes about anarchism, and it being viewed as illegitimate. And, then amongst anarchists—whether it’s the nature of peer-review or the institutionalization of a discipline, or whether it’s the elitist language, or whatever it might be—it also marginalizes that kind of theorizing. Maybe not as much as academia might, but I’ve found that to be a real interesting Catch-22 that you were describing.

I think that when people reflect on it, they may come to the same conclusion. But, you know what? That was the Catch-22 for everybody at some point. For pro-union people, for equal rights people. To be fair, it’s nothing new, really.

Just as a side-question: I imagine that as anarchism might grow in influence outside of the academy in movement, but maybe within the academy, it might gain a little bit of legitimacy internally. Maybe in the audience of sociologists. But, I wonder what you might think of how gaining that institutional legitimacy for anarchism might alienate an anarchist-sociology from anarchists. That they might view that as being an unfortunate taming or institutionalization of something that should be radical, that should be fighting to overturn systems, as opposed to joining them. And I speak as a professor in a tenure track as well, that part of that is aiding the system more than it is helping to eradicate it.

When you look at the labor rights, the labor movement (primarily in the 1800s up to the early 1900s before it died), then look at the civil rights movement: there was no such thing as peaceful, civil disobedience groups, doing what they’re doing, with some violent people on the side, that got them to win civil rights. What got them to win civil rights or union rights, were people that believed in violence, people who believed in actively fighting it out on the streets with security forces, often actual troops—and we have many examples in American history (but they don’t want to talk about it). For example, we didn’t have ghetto riots, we had ghetto rebellions in the 1960s. That was a big part of the civil rights movement, which is also forgotten history, but recently gaining more attraction and memory.

So, when you look at these movements, they had people who believed in violence, people who believed in peace, but they also had people who believed in art, as well as people who believed in academic analyses. You also had people who believed in street schools and popular education. There is no one-size-fits-all. I would say to the anarchists that look at academic approaches to the field as being futile or contradictory, I would say “it’s okay to disagree, that’s one of our premises—that it’s okay to disagree with one another—but you still have a space to fill from your perspective and from your point of view, to whatever media and modes you think are appropriate. And I think what I can do compliments you, and what you can do can complement me. Which is why we also believe, that at least the groups I’m involved with, the Institute I’m involved with, that you can’t separate honestly scholarship from activism, or activism from scholarship. You have to do both.

If I’m an activist and I’m not a scholar, I’m an idiot. Because I’m revolting for what? I don’t know what the hell I’m revolting for and if I do, then how do I get there, if I don’t know what I’m doing. How to calculate, how to think. So, I have to be educated, if I’m going to be an activist and do what I want to do. But, if I’m a scholar and I can think through everything and every detail that will bring success, but I don’t want to get off my couch, then what good am I to society? If I actually implement my theories and put them into action, now I just became a scholar-activist and vice-versa.

And I think that’s really what we need right now, just as much as the study of anarchism.

Looking at sociologists and how they could change in the future, what kinds of things do you think could happen that would make the academic sociology that we’ve been talking about more anarchist, more anarchistic?

I think a good start would be through our associations—I don’t think we can do this individually—through our professional associations, lobbying the textbook companies to include not just Marxism in the conversation in introductory sociology books, but also anarchism. With an equal level of discussion and length of page coverage, and whatnot. That’s one step, to include that in textbooks, it has to be there in the basics.

But, then the next institutional level would be convincing our colleges—through our associations, but also individual faculty, through our governance plans, our unions—to offer courses, not specifically in Marxism, but maybe libertarian socialism studies (which is a broader term that is used, that often includes Marxism and anarchism). And devote equal space in the theory courses. If you’re going to teach classical sociology, give some space to Proudhon, to Kropotkin, as much as you are to the Marxists. And make that a bread-and-butter course as well.

So, inserting anarchism into the different nooks-and-crannies that other things already are?

And not even nooks-and-crannies: instituting and implementing anarchism into the curriculum itself. When you say “anarchism”, you’re also including (for people who are scared of the word) critical pedagogy. Because I’ve come to the conclusion that when you look at theorists like Peter McLaren, Henry Giroux, that with critical pedagogy you’re looking at more or less an anarchist pedagogy.

Speaking of pedagogy and teaching and how that could put anarchism more into the curriculum, have you yourself ever encountered any anarchists as students in the classroom and if you have, how would say they’ve responded to sociology itself?

Well, I discovered a long time ago, that when you start out by saying “So, this is what communism and Marxism is…” and then you start to explain it, you’re really not going to get too many people to like what you’re going to say by the time you’re done.

Now, to me… let me also say once more that anarchism is synonymous with communism—and starting with that premise, I say to my students… and I use one of my books that I have them read chapters from to get the conversation going on this question. I say: “Ok, all right. How would you feel if you had a system where you were asked what you think is right and wrong, where you can decide what you think people should get for their contributions? Do you think that an equal wage would make sense to you, like we all get paid exactly the same and we can buy what we want with it?” Things like that. That you can describe a system of anarchism-communism in practice, versus just ideal types. And then at the end, I say “Well, how many of you think that Marx was right that the way that I explained the labor theory of value, that if you work for somebody, they pay you less than what you’re worth. And that if you unionize and you get your full worth and there’s no profit for the employers, they’re going to close the factory. How do you solve a problem?”

And then, we’re like: “what about if you’re the owners of the factory, does it matter if you make profits or wages? No, same thing. Would you like a system like that?” Yeah, okay. “Then how many of you think from what we talked about that you’d be interested in a society like this?” And just about everybody raises their hands. And, I say “congratulations!” And another guy raises his hand, and says “but, professor, isn’t that communism?” Well, you can call it communism, some people call it “anarchism”, but it’s definitely not capitalism!

So, in a way, doing thought experiments with students and showing them how these ideas work as opposed to using a jargon-y language that would otherwise maybe turn some people off works. This is the Socratic Method, this is the Platonic approach, and this is critical pedagogy and Paulo Freire today. You’re allowing the student to learn through their own efforts, through analyzing a problem that they select to analyze that speaks to them, working through solutions. This is everything that you’d hope education could be.

Right. Yeah. So, it sounds like you discovered that there are all sorts of anarchists in your classroom, although none of them maybe knew it prior to being in the class.

Exactly! We all speak in prose, we just didn’t know it.

Right. Did you ever have any self-identified anarchists who walked in the room prior to enrolling in the class thinking about anarchism?

I have a couple people who may have looked the role of an anarchist, whether they knew what it was or not. But, I never really had anybody raise their hand and say “yep, I’m one too”.

It’s so fascinating to see anarchism emerge from within them, as opposed to some label they had to self-apply beforehand.

And that’s one of the biggest points of anarchism, whether one agrees with it or not, that it’s nothing that’s made up. It’s something that’s natural and always there. But, oppressed, so that we don’t see what it can do. God forbid the system collapses.

I had one major question left. And it’s something that I think we’ve already gotten at a little bit already, but I just wanted to add a little bit onto it. You work as a professional sociologist, I suppose you might say. In a tenure-track position in a university; clearly it’s possible for anarchists to work as professional sociologists, even within academia, but do you think that it’s something that’s worthwhile and that it’s something that could get easier over time and do you think it’s something that more people should do?

It’s kind of like, are you going to be the first openly-gay professor or openly-gay NFL player? Are you going to be the first woman amongst the men on the battlefield? At some point, someone’s going to have to “bite the bullet” and lots of us—whether it was David Graeber that was poorly treated by Yale University or myself or others, at City University of New York—there have been plenty of “first people”. And it’s slowly opening up. Is it easy? No. But, you’re not going to be the first gay guy. You’re not going to be the first Black guy. You’re not going to be the first woman at the party.

And because of that, if anyone were to come out now and say “guess what, I’m an anarchist”, then it would be done. It’s fully accepted in society—gay people and their basic human rights. It was such a big mountain to say that they should marry or that they should be allowed to marry. Or whatnot. But once we came out and took a position on it, the next day, it was like “oh yeah, why is that so controversial”? That’s normal, right?

You’ve talked a little bit about how some of the efforts you’re involved in, such as the Transformative Studies Institute and Theory in Action journal might play a role in helping to create space for anarchist sociologists. But, could you… This might be our last question, unless you have any yourself. But, how do you think… even outside of having a journal or an institute, what other kinds of strategies do you think people—like the two of us, or other people that I’m interviewing, people who might identify with both anarchism and sociology (although maybe not always in the same moment). What can we do to transform our discipline, to transform movements, what can we do to transform society? What kinds of strategies do you think we can pursue (maybe outside of the things you’ve already talked about)?

I don’t know in terms of collective strategies or individual strategies… I think the simplest thing we can do is to continue writing. And as others before me have said, those of us who are secure, who are tenured already (and so on), come out. Send our manuscripts to presses and journals that otherwise might not be accepted as strictly academic. But at the end of the day we all recognize they are.

Whether they are strictly considered as such or not. There’s good apples and bad apples within the peer reviewed journals and the non-peer reviewed journals and magazines and other outlets. I would just broaden the scope of what is considered legitimate. It’s not just one thing or another. So, that would be the simplest thing.

But, I think that we also need to be involved with groups that are not just anarchist groups (not so much speaking to the choir); we need to be involved with mainstream groups and infusing our ideas into mainstream groups, because one of my quibbles that I have with the utopians—and I write this in my forthcoming book—somebody once told me about really, really free markets. And, I’m like, was he just stressing that it’s really free? “Really, really free markets”. And my comrade was embarrassed, he’s a seasoned anarchist, he had to school me. And he said, “no, they’re called ‘really, really free markets’ because you have to give stuff away, but that’s the actual name”. And I said to myself, “what the fuck?” Who the hell in the general population has ever heard of really, really free markets?

And what am I trying to convince them of by talking about this nonsense? How about I talk to them about, hey are you happy with someone spending a hundred billion dollars of your money without asking you about it? That’s what they’re gonna be able to identify with. And then I can talk to them about whether or not basic foods or basic needs should be provided truly freely whether in a market or not. But, if I start talking gibberish… See, I’m not one for slogans, something that nobody has ever heard about, how do you expect them to come over to your side? You don’t speak their language.

So, let me tell you this one, Dana. The Mormons were so unpalatable to everybody. And even looked the role. They had these long beards, they looked like these old men from the 1800s and they had these wacky ideas. I’m not religious myself, but they are a good example. So along comes one of their founders, big leaders (whatever he was, I saw this in a documentary) and said, “guys, if we want to go mainstream, we’ve gotta shave the beards, wear regular suits, and look like businessmen”. And as soon as they did that they exploded in success, recruitment, and whatnot.

So, if you’re an anarchist, and you want to explain why the system ain’t working for them, they’re not going to listen to you if you’re smelly, if you look like you need a change of clothing. And, basically what I consider to be life-stylers. But, if you are like a person who took a shower, like someone who is their neighbor, like someone who can say “yeah, what about them Yankees?”, then they start listening to you.

You can start—like I did with my students—telling them that there are alternatives, that they would be happy with what someone convinced them they should hate.

It seems like there’s a whole wide array of possibilities and strategies, and taking the tact that you mentioned is one that some people are doing, but not others, doing the… I was also thinking when you were talking, there are folks who work within movements, too. An example would be the Institute for Anarchist Studies, who are a group of scholarly-ish anarchists, who are writing directly for movement audiences. It seems like there’s a whole wide variety of different tacts that people could take.

And I would argue that even—and I’m familiar with many of the people in that project, in fact—I would say that, even that should be considered legitimate scholarship. Maybe not every single article that’s published, or whatever other kind of information they want to offer on their website or in print or whatnot—but there’s much that could be considered legitimately scholarship for an academic track and should be recognize for promotions as well

Why shouldn’t that Institute be given the same credibility as, let’s say, the Atlantic Council, or whatever else they have on the conservative side.