Kris Dingus is a no-coast anarchist organizing mutual aid projects with Any Means Necessary Collective in so-called Kansas City, Missouri. The AMN Collective is a loose group of individuals who join together to help the necessary work along in Kansas City; utilizing direct action and mutual aid to support those most affected by capitalism in our communities and offer education and outreach about anarchist action, history, and theory. Kris finds affinity with terms such as ex-worker, vegan, and has been and continues to be involved in a variety of projects in North-Western Missouri.
1, What first sparked your interest in social justice and activism and what
ideologies did you go through to get where you are now?
Well, I started calling myself an anarchist by name after reading a wikipedia article when I was in middle school. It wasn’t really until college that my interest in anarchism began to materialize as anything other than individual rebellion without much greater political context. At the time I was a graphic design student and I was able to get a paid flight to New York City to look at art galleries through the college I was attending. This was only a few weeks into the Zucotti Park occupation so I used my time in New York as a way to check it out. It was really seeing so many people engaging in variations of an ideology I had obsessed over for years, specifically the free library that anyone could and were taking from and giving to, that made me realize that there really were people on the continent I live actually trying to do something about this terrible garbage world we are all trapped in. It felt like a collective sigh. After a couple days I came home and got involved with the local occupy group where I was living at the time. I’ve been active ever since. I feel affinity with a variety of milieus, theories, and movements past and present all coming back to the basic principles of mutual aid & autonomy.
2. How can we combat sectarianism in our social movements?
I think there are two really important things to remember when contemplating a question like this. The first one being that we are all born into a toxic society which holds information hostage, keeps experiences separated from ourselves, and that each day people are working to undo the hurtful things they have been taught by this culture. So with that in mind I do not go into every action or conversation expecting everyone to be perfect, but I also do expect folks to have the courage of self and peer criticism if they are doing something that is harmful to others or is not working to expand our individual and collective autonomy. If I expected everyone I meet to be at the exact same point in their analysis and development as I am, then I would often be working alone, the same is true if others expected as rigid standards out of myself I am sure.
The second thing that I think is important is understanding that there are different degrees of affinity necessary for different actions. There are some actions in which you may only want to collaborate with people who you agree and trust completely and there are very broad large actions in which you may come together based on a vague interest in the same thing. The specific results you are seeking will influence the type of relationships you seek out. It is important to learn to recognize meaningless affinity as well as self imposed isolation. To live in a communist society we must convince large amounts of people to treat each other better and to do that you will need to engage with folks who do not think the exact same way as yourself.
3. how do we prevent near term human extinction?
I honestly don’t know that we can at this point, but I can think of some steps in the right direction that would be worthwhile even if we can’t. This all can be centered on a very simple praxis I generally follow; nurture actions and projects that create a world that you would want to live in and ruthlessly destroy anything that steps in the way of that. Another way to phrase it would be to take the actions necessary for both survival and the fulfillment of desire to flourish and to engage in self defense against any force that aggresses upon either. Something that absolutely has to be dismantled is the way mass amounts of people consume commodities. I have survived for years off of other people’s waste. We need to distribute resources rather than throw them away we need to stop purchasing things as a replacement for authentic experiences. We need to influence culture until it is no longer normal to cause mass extinctions so that we can have endless supplies of tennis balls and pez dispensers. Personal lifestyles are not the primary cause of this destruction but I feel it is important to discuss when so many aren’t even willing to do something so simple and with such a large impact as going vegan. We’ve known for a long time that the earth was being killed its entirely up to each of us what we do with that information.
4. How do you see Automation, 3d printing, and other new tech as changing
the conversation about means of production?
I think within capitalism it has generally been true with the exception of medicine that technology has been used to better oppress masses of people. It is often also true that the amount of energy necessary to produce certain devices is often far more trouble than just expending the small amount of human labor to accomplish the task especially if that labor is communal and made enjoyable. I’m in my mid twenties and throughout my entire life I have watched people waste the majority of their time alive on meaningless service orientated tasks that could disappear tomorrow. This is somewhat due to jobs in the United States being outsourced to workers elsewhere as well as internally to the largest prison population in human history which does produce for private industry. What I’m getting at is that much of the labor currently being forced upon people is not only unnecessary but actually something that needs to be confronted. Folks are already doing tasks that don’t need to be done. So capitalism very well may create new jobs for labor to be wasted on. Still I’m interested in where this technology is headed AMN Collective hopes to eventually be able to afford a communal 3d printer. Under capitalism automation will definitely increase the pool of folks that capitalism has no work for. We’re starting to hear a lot of talk about the concept of a universal income. I think this shift will cause some folks to rethink the relation of themselves, their labor, and the product of that labor. We have to push it further though, if we are to have machines, they should be producing resources for all not commodities and the dead labor of capital.
5. What are your thoughts on Post Left anarchism?
I have met a lot of great comrades who fall into many of the categories attacked by folks who identify as post leftist. It has not been rare for anarchists in Kansas City to engage with maoists and even progressive liberals but we do so on our own terms. Some folks who don’t even identify as anarchist have been there when we really needed them and have been better comrades with more affinity than many anarchists I’ve met. That being said I’ve always really enjoyed anarchism as being the anti-thesis of dogma. I think the establishment left is an archaic dinosaur. It is still here haunting us and for that reason it is still relevant to engage with. I am personally very interested in the works of Max Stirner as well as the Situationist International and when post-leftism is at its best you can see the influence from both. I’m not sure on the theoretical distinctions but post-left often seems intertwined with insurrectionist ideas and I think that is a positive thing I particularly enjoy Wolfi Landstreicher as well as Alfredo Bonanno. The idea of anarchism as a constant tension, easily repeatable & spreadable actions, recognizing the totality of your own life, a union of egoists, the breakdown of social roles, détournement, the pursuit of desire, playfulness, the creation of situations, work avoidance, and the focus on the immediate here and now are all concepts that appeal to me whether they come under the brand of post-leftism or something else entirely. Though I will say as is true with many milieus, a lot of the writers and readers of post-leftist literature seem to embrace their ideas dogmatically and without the ability to self critique. Many embracing the aspects of post-leftism that appeal to me the least while ditching the ideas that make it useful.
transforming culture?Art at its worst is symbolic and recuperated. Art at its best is that deeply human aspect in which something is created simply for the act of creating it and as a result of desire deeper than that of mere survival. I actually thought it was funny when that person punched a hole in the Monet painting. The kind of art that I usually enjoy or find useful is often temporary. Written on walls or on protest banners. Art like most performance mediums seems to lend itself more to skeptical audiences than something like writing or protesting. In that respect it can be a great tool for the beginning of opening someones mind to the possibilities of doing something other than what we find ourselves engaged in currently. I personally enjoy those printed carvings that are prevalent in anarchist propaganda. I think its interesting that Marcel Duchamp read Stirner. It’s an extremely easy skill to make wheat paste I would love to see every artist aim their sights at the dominant culture and really cover public space in unapologetic art.7. What can we do to mobilize mass groups of people to direct action?
First off people have to know direct action is an option. Second a person has to know that direct action can be successful. Take direct action in your own life and neighborhood and make it accessible for others to get involved and you should slowly see people take part. If someone doesn’t know your event is happening then they won’t be able to go. If your event is boring then people wont want to go. If no one feels like anything is at stake or if there are no sides drawn to join then many people will remain uninterested. People are spectators you have to surprise them a little bit and you have to drop opportunities directly into their laps before they start to seek action out on their own. Anarchism is the most rational way to organize a society, it is also the one most beneficial to every individual, we just have to put these ideas out there and always push ourselves to keep going further.8. What would a just workplace look like in your ideal society?
On fire? Joking.. I think the way in which most folks in this society view labor needs to be drastically transformed. There are three basic categories I have of labor I can choose to engage or not engage in. There is labor that benefits all of us. There is labor that is necessary for an individuals survival. And there is labor to produce luxuries. If it is labor that benefits all of us then we all need to take part. If it is labor that is necessary for an individuals survival then I think it is generally best to extend your own labor to help someone else. The labor that only benefits the individual with luxuries is up for each of us to decide how important our own luxuries are to us, if they are worth the amount of labor they entail, and if we would be interested in helping others when they are producing luxury items for themselves. Folks with disabilities should be taken care of no matter what.Something else worth thinking about is just how little of the jobs around us actually need to exist and how many people who could be performing labor and want to can’t because capitalism keeps them jobless. The amount of labor a day it would take to maintain what we need for a comfortable survival is far less than the nightmare many folks face every week of 40 hours performing services for people who could do it themselves or producing products that are then taken away from you as soon as you produce them. That few hours a day or less of work we are left with I think in and of itself can become enjoyable. Throw on some music, drink a couple beers and put in your small amount of time for the day. I have no doubt that if folks were allowed to pursue their passions and to keep the things they produced there would be no shortage of volunteers. This current way of life externalizes responsibilities and labor onto others as the default I think something like that would be a rarity with something like anarcho-communism. And in the end free association must be at the core of every relationship. Folks who do not share common interests should seek out others in which they do. Life is too short to spend it with people we hate doing things we hate. Fewer hours a day, more folks helping the work along, and transforming the work itself to become enjoyable.
9. Any projects you’d like to promote?
So many great projects; Kansas City Anarchist Black Cross, Kansas City Industrial Workers of The World, Kansas City Food Not Bombs, the Texas prisoners who are on strike, the ZAD occupation, and of course every comrade fighting for a free Kurdistan. Oh and Sean Swain as well as all the rebels targeted with state repression in the aftermath of the Ferguson rebellion should be sent letters. Seriously this is a request, their addresses are all easily found online, send them letters.
10 any final thoughts for readers?
Anarchism is about more than abolishing the state, it’s about every form of domination whether it be patriarchy, ableism, white supremacy, heteronormativity, capitalism, or something else entirely. If you see something shitty happening to someone get involved we are stronger together. Have the courage to view your own actions for exactly what they are. Learn to understand yourself, what your desires are, and how to make them a reality in the here and now without compromise. Be gentle with those you love and be ruthless with those who try to hurt you. Make no demands and occupy everything.