Let me start by saying this has been a long time coming. When Will brought up the idea of my taking over as coordinating director at last September’s Please Try This At Home conference, it wasn’t the first time the idea had been raised. I did, however, want to wait until I felt I could dedicate the appropriate time and thought to the project and that I had enough of a team together to make sure other key aspects of the center’s day to day functioning wouldn’t be abandoned.
Now, I’m excited to announce that, with all (or at least most) of the pieces in place, I’ll be taking on the mantle of coordinating director, effective November 1st, 2020.
Those familiar with what goes on behind the scenes at C4SS will know that I’ve been working as an editor and then editing coordinator for the center since the beginning of 2018. At the time, I had written a few pieces for the center and was looking for a way to maintain my connection to anti-authoritarian political thought while working a series of odd jobs.
As one of the many who came to C4SS from the larger US libertarian movement, I found myself at a crossroads when I realized I had moved further left than the leftward reaches of that milieu. I’d become a libertarian in large part through opposition to war and imperialism, and you can read a bit about that intellectual journey in my piece “A Meditation on Violence” (CW: this has descriptions of graphic violence).
But after working for a series of libertarian non-profits, including, finally, Students For Liberty, I became frustrated with a movement that was purportedly all about individual liberty, but seemed a lot more focused on carrying water for conservatives and further confusing the discourse around markets, the state, and capitalism. I left the US briefly after Trump was elected and was gone from SFL shortly after that. When I returned to the states to be with my partner – and live out the principle of doikayt (Yiddish term meaning “hereness”) together – I was looking for a way to re-engage in the fight against authoritarianism without slipping back into the role of stool pigeon for capitalism.
I’d always been aware of C4SS, and had written a few pieces for the site, but it wasn’t until this full break with mainstream libertarianism that I started helping with editing and site upkeep and seeing the center as my intellectual home. While most of my friends and loved ones are social anarchists or anarcho-communists, I’m still staunchly in favor of markets and heavily influenced by the more individualist of my anarchist forerunners. Emma Goldman, Max Stirner, and Voltairine de Cleyre are among my favorite thinkers and I often describe myself as a religious egoist when pressed to go beyond “anarchism” plain and simple. So the center has provided me with a wonderfully radical community that still recognizes some of the economic principles I feel are important to accurate analysis of political questions and solid formulations of a political project. After all, my undergraduate degrees are in Economics and International Relations, with an emphasis on trade norms, deals, and frameworks.
This is one of the things I still appreciate greatly about the work we do here: it is careful and well researched, and it does not shy away from modern advancements in any field of thought. I feel confident that, unlike so many left-wing intellectual movements, we won’t get stuck in some out-dated framework trying to rebuild some new, better version of societies that no longer exist. We are future-oriented, and I intend to continue that trajectory.
Similarly, we are intellectually humble and open to differing points of view. For someone who combines such unlikely threads as Jewish anarchism and stirnerite egoism, that’s important to me personally, but it also sets us up for success. No one person or viewpoint defines us, and so it is easier to admit when we’re wrong, to consider new ideas, and to be part of many different political conversations at once. There are, of course, limits.
C4SS will continue to be an anarchist project and while we may sometimes publish left-libertarian minarchists and anarcho-communists, this will be in the service of debate (as exemplified by our recently concluded symposium on Decentralization and Economic Coordination) or in order to nurture the anarchist tendencies in those who aren’t quite in the camp yet. We remain fiercely committed to progress on issues of social justice, advocating for the rights of LGBT+ folks, the liberation of Black and Indigenous people worldwide, and the empowerment of all people with full agency over their own lives. It should be said, though, that we will also remain committed to individualism and economic freedom (rightly held). This is not a blind commitment. Rather, we recognize that – instead of being at odds with human flourishing – the right to buy and sell, and the technology of prices are key components to a thriving and equitable society.
On the practical side, in addition to editing for the site, I’ve served as producer on our podcast – which will soon have two seasons in the books – and I intend to keep growing our library of audio and video content, beginning with the re-birth of Feed 44 on YouTube. We’ve also discussed continuing to grow the publishing arm of the center, which will involve more and closer relationships with infoshops across the US (and hopefully beyond!). Perhaps most importantly though, we are growing again in terms of writers, editors, coordinators, and everyone else who works hard to keep this venture going.
I wouldn’t be taking on this position if I didn’t feel I had a solid and growing team to work with. Not to mention this thorough retrospective and explainer Will has put together in anticipation of this transition. So take this as proof positive that many of the pieces missing in the past have fallen into place. And while growth always comes with some amount of pain – we’ve had to re-think our vetting process as more and more people want to be involved – I’m excited to see what we’re capable of with many more hands than we’ve been used to lately.
In order to keep up with this growth, myself and James Tuttle, our financial coordinator, will be heavily focused on fundraising in the coming months. We’ve made it easier than ever to support C4SS by moving ongoing monthly donations to Patreon. You can now support us there for as little as $2 a month. And we’re going to work to improve donor communication as well, so our supporters have a better idea of how we’re using the funding and are aware when we need a bump for special projects or to fill out a gap.
Many, many thanks to those of you who already support us. As I’m sure you know, our light administrative structure and reliance on motivated semi-volunteers make us a very lean operation, regularly punching way above our “weight class” in terms of what we can do with a small stream of donations. And people are starting to notice. Firestorm Collective in NC now regularly carries our stickers, pins, and books. And there are translators working to make just about everything we’ve published available in their native languages.
One big dream I have for the future is a C4SS conference. Whether in-person or virtually, I’m setting a goal to bring together all the left-wing market anarchists, from our various corners of the world, sometime in the next two years.
While the mainstream left seems unable to rid itself of auth-left influence, and the libertarian movement collapses under the weight of the shifting political landscape, our position may be precarious, but I’m convinced it’s the most solid one out there. We are nimble, and principled, passionate, and careful. If anyone can navigate the coming political storms, I am confident we have those people in the center and its orbit. Thank you all for giving me an intellectual home, hope for the future of humanity, and an amazing group of people with which to push onward.