Since March 2013, the main Kersplebedeb website has been migrated to a primarily wordpress format.
What this means in practical terms is that everything you are used to seeing on Sketchy Thoughts is now being posted straight to Kersplebedeb and simply being automatically mirrored here. So in general, you will probably have a better reading/viewing experience if you head over to Kersplebedeb.
For those who prefer the Sketchy Thoughts blogger layout for whatever reason, this page will continue to be automatically updated whenever something is posted to Kersplebedeb, for at least the short-term future. However, as additional functionality is added to the Kersplebedeb site via wordpress, the Sketchy Thoughts page will probably begin to show its age more and more.
Saturday, April 08, 2023
Since March 2013, the main Kersplebedeb website has been migrated to a primarily wordpress format.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Expozine is an annual small press fair held every November in Montreal. Every year, the organizing team asks each of the more than 270 exhibitors to submit a copy of their best new publication for consideration for the Expozine Alternative Press Awards. Last year, Kersplebedeb Publishing submitted Lumpen, just weeks after it had arrived back from the printers. On June 10, 2016, it was declared the best book submitted by the Expozine organizers.
As the Expozine jury put it, Lumpen is “An entertaining and bracing memoir of activist Ed Mead, who takes us through his journey from an impoverished youth through incarceration in a prison for boys, criss-crossing the country and opening windows on the harsh realities of incarceration in the western world’s largest prison system. An often alarming yet extremely inspiring tale well worth reading.”
Indeed, Ed Mead’s incarceration at the age of 13, was the first step in a story of oppression and revolt that ultimately lead to the foundation of the George Jackson Brigade, a Seattle-based urban guerrilla group, and to Mead’s re-incarceration as a fully engaged communist revolutionary, well-placed and prepared to take on both his captors and the predators amongst his fellow prisoners. While incarcerated, Ed organized against solitary confinement, and then with queer prisoners in the legendary Men Against Sexism, an experience that lead to his exile from Washington to the dungeons at Marion, Brushy Mountain, and Florence. Throughout Lumpen, Ed mixes anecdotes and observations about specific prison struggles, with broader discussions of revolutionary strategy and philosophy, all with an eye towards the goal of winning.
Kersplebedeb Publishing is very happy and grateful to the Expozine jury for helping to bring attention to this important book.
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/28MUfTm
Tuesday, June 07, 2016
Kersplebedeb’s Leftwingbooks.NET website is currently offering FREE SHIPPING on any order of $50 (US) or more. Don’t delay: this offer is good throughout the month of June, only!
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/1RWuDxz
As regular readers of this blog will be aware, though I tend to be sympathetic to many of the positions expressed by some Maoist Third Worldist groups, particularly the Maoist Internationalist Movement [MIM], I identify with the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist movement that comes through the groups involved in the now-defunct RIM project, as well as the Communist Party India (Maoist) and the Communist Party of the Philippines. Since I’ve outlined the reasons for this theoretical commitment elsewhere, I feel no reason to go into it here in any real detail, nor waste time expressing why I disagree with MIM’s assessment and critique of the RIM experience (which, to be fair, would conversely contain a recognition of aspects of their critique of the RCP-USA). I bring up this theoretical demarcation, therefore, not to get into it in any real detail but to highlight the fact that, despite this qualification, I still enjoyed––and indeed highly recommend due to the fact that I believe it is an extremely useful text––Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, a book produced by a MIM(Prisons) study group. Despite placing myself in a different Maoist trajectory, and one that the people in MIM(Prisons) disagree with, I have a general respect for any work produced within the family of Maoism.
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/1VKJx0M
The following review by Ryan Conrad has appeared in the May-June 2016 issue of the Gay and Lesbian Review. Remember, Lumpen is available from leftwingbooks.net, AK Press, and Amazon, amongst other places.
Tear Down the Prison-Industrial Complex!
Ed Mead’s autobiography is a welcome addition to a growing corpus of recent nonfiction that examines the relationship between GLBT people and the prison industrial complex (PIC). Released from prison in 1993, Mead spent eighteen years serving time for his role in a Seattle-based revolutionary Communist group responsible for the bombing of banks, government buildings, and corporations accused of racism during the turbulent 1970s. Now in the late stages of lung cancer and well into his seventies, Mead has shared with us his epic tale of life on the front lines of class war for over half a century.
Lumpen joins Dean Spade’s Normal Life, Joey Mogul, Andrea Ritchie, and Kay Whitlock’s collectively authored Queer (In)Justice, and the anthologies Captive Genders (edited by Eric Stanley and Nat Smith) and Against Equality: Prisons Will Not Protect You, edited by this writer. This is not to suggest that queer investment in fighting against the PIC is a new phenomenon: many of us know well the stories of groups like Out of Control Lesbian Committee to Support Women Political Prisoners, Vanguard, the Lavender Panthers, and the George Jackson Brigade, which Ed Mead cofounded. But this renewed energy devoted to examining the queer stakes in prison abolition has been gathering steam, and it has produced this challenging and invigorating corpus of literature.
Mead’s unique contribution to this body of writing lies in the highly personal nature of autobiography as a form (while most of the aforementioned literature comes out of scholarly and activist communities). He presents his life story in three parts, each written at different periods of his life. His childhood in the 1940s and ’50s, which included both urban and rural poverty – from the notorious streets of Compton, California, to homesteading in rural Alaska on the so-called frontier – is described in vivid detail in Part One. We learn of his resilient mother and sisters cobbling a life together in the wilderness, his childhood desire for a male peer (which he was only able to articulate in retrospect), and his pathway to petty theft and crimes of survival that landed him in prison before his political education. It was while in prison this first time that he studied criminal law, anarchism, Marxism, and different iterations of communist ideology, thanks to prison libraries and prisoner-friendly bookstores.
In part two, Mead puts his political education to work on the outside. After his release from prison in Alaska, he moves to Seattle to do activist work supporting other prisoners in the early 1970s. The Vietnam War as well as the activity of the Black Panthers, the Weather Underground, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and the American Indian Movement, among others, sets the context of this post-release period in his life. Mead’s description of his eventual embrace of armed struggle as the most viable political strategy is both quotidian and logical. It is actually the everydayness, the explicitly non-sexy side of activist organizing, that’s so fascinating in this section. It is hard to imagine today, in our largely defanged anti-globalization movement, that many people would come to the same conclusions: the necessity for armed struggle against American imperialism from within the belly of the beast.
Although Mead does not provide a detailed history of the George Jackson Brigade – he notes that this is already documented in Daniel Burton-Rose’s 2010 book, Guerrilla USA – he does reveal some of the more personal details of how this sexually and racially mixed group of class warriors came together from 1975 to ’77. This retelling is a welcome corrective to the macho posturing in many stories, both in print and on celluloid, that recount this era of radical activism, particularly those focused on the Weather Underground.
In the book’s third part, Mead focuses again on his prison organizing from within the PIC after his arrest during a botched bank expropriation with the George Jackson Brigade in 1975. Again, the everyday description of prison life and prison organizing, from the mundane to the most brutal, punctuates Mead’s story. In the pages of this last section, we learn the fascinating story of Men Against Sexism, the pro-gay, pro-trans, prisoner-run organization that defended the rights of queer and trans prisoners against a deeply homophobic and transphobic prison administration (including church chaplains, of course) and that worked to end prison rape and sexual slavery. This work, though it was short-lived due to his escape attempt, reminds us of the important objectives that can be accomplished when GLBT prisoners are empowered to change their own conditions.
Needless to add, the kind of work that Mead and his comrades embarked upon many decades ago still needs doing. According to a recent 2015 national prisoner survey conducted by Black and Pink – an organization that supports GLBT prisoners through advocacy, education, direct service, and organizing – nearly one-third of prisoners surveyed reported being raped in prison by other inmates, while more than half reported unwanted touching and physical harassment at the hands of other prisoners. These statistics do not include the nearly forty percent that reported unwanted touching by prison staff and the twelve percent that reported being raped by prison staff. Perhaps now that the story of Men Against Sexism has been told more comprehensively in Mead’s autobiography, it can serve as both an inspiration and a rough blueprint for future anti-rape organizing within the walls of the prison industrial complex today.
In a final postscript, Mead reflects on his ongoing work at supporting present-day prisoners, particularly those who were engaged in one of the largest recorded hunger strikes in the California prison system in 2011. But, like every good activist, Mead isn’t satisfied simply telling his own story but encourages all of us to learn our histories and join the struggle. The final pages provide a comprehensive list of activist organizations fighting for prisoners’ rights. For those who want to help, there’s no excuse not to get involved!
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/1t67Nis
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
WHEN: Saturday June 4th, 11 AM – 5 PM
WHERE: Mac Hall at the Bronson Centre (211 Bronson Avenue) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on unceded Algonquin territory.
COVER: By donation, pay what you can. All proceeds to support the Prisoner Correspondence Project. Find information at: http://
Ace Zine Archive
Decolonizing Street Art
Femme Crimes Distro
Fight Boredom Distro
from the margins
From the Root Zine
Ghost Pine zine
Heidi Cho Makes Art
Howl! arts collective
Jac N. Vanier
Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative
Late Bloom Zines
Made by CRO
Naomi Moyer of élastiquedesigns
NCRA Indigenous Zine
Sabrina Scott / Witchbody
soft cedar – things i make
The Piece of Work
We’ll Never Have Paris
Zines or Something Press
Full list of tablers with descriptions at this link: https://
*The Bronson Centre is wheelchair accessible, with ground-floor, push-button entrance and ramps. There are physically accessible washrooms in the building.
*Washrooms in Mac Hall will be made gender neutral for the day.
*OZF strives to be scent free. There will be unscented soap in the washrooms. We ask that all attendees, volunteers and tablers come scent-free. Please take the time to read the following resources about how to be scent-free and why it’s important:
*This event will not be serving alcohol and we ask that people not consume alcohol or other substances on site. Folks who need drink or use other drugs prior to attending the event will not be turned away.
*There will be complimentary snacks, tea and coffee available for attendees, volunteers and tablers.
*We hope to have support liasons on site to assist and provide support including active listening, ushering and corresponding with event organizers. Please let us know on our volunteer form if this is something you feel able to do.
SAFE(R) SPACE (?)
It would be awesome if we could promise a you safe space. The thing is, we don’t think any space is ever safe. What we can strive for, though, is to be welcoming, inclusive, and committed to accountability.
We value zines as a way for marginalized stories and experiences to be represented. We will not tolerate racist, culturally appropriative, ableist, cissexist, transmisogynistic, homophobic, classist materials or behaviour.
Please do not touch anyone or take anyone’s photo without their permission. Please ask someone’s pronouns before you assume how they should be referred to.
VOLUNTEERING + BILLETING
It is a lot of work to make a zine fair, and we would love your help! We need volunteers in a variety of areas, including hosting travelling zinesters!
Please fill out the form below if you want to volunteer or can offer a place for an out-of-town tabler to stay: http://ift.tt/jCE3DI
If you have any questions, comments or concerns (or just to get in touch), please email OZF at email@example.com
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/1P0ZCZe
Friday, May 27, 2016
These oppressor reflexes can both express and reinforce the dominant position of the oppressor, though not necessarily to equal degrees.
Silence and meaningless agreement as much as noise and constant disagreement all can constitute oppressor reflexes.
Under neocolonialism, oppressor reflexes can be harnessed by all “sides” in a conflict.
Reflexive action will be determined by underlying structure (thus the “reflexive” element). Certain structures will tend to produce points of polarization around particular questions, which act as lightning rods.
The tendencies towards polarization which inhere in these lighting rod questions, are further encouraged by the fragmentary nature of communication, so that different aspects of opposing positions can be patched together into cohesive if not coherent escalatory positions, despite no one person necessarily holding those positions. And so we escalate.
Reflexes can both express and reinforce the determining nature of the underlying structure, though not necessarily to equal degrees.
Oppressor reflexes do not depend on the initial challenge to members of oppressor groups being “correct” or “incorrect”. Oppressor reflexes are conditional upon the underlying (oppressive) structure, not on the perspicacity or lack thereof of whomever is challenging them.
Where an initial position holds anti-liberatory politics, but provokes an oppressor reflex against these anti-liberatory politics, the reflexive expression (reflecting the underlying structure) of things will at times override the content. Anti-liberatory content can then be conveyed into the future as the content of formally liberatory struggles.
Acting non-reflexively is key.
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/1X0EniL
Thursday, May 26, 2016
The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair will open on Friday, May 27 at CEDA with the launch of Art & Anarchy, a special screening of films by Insurgent Projections, as well as a “mini-Bookfair” of selected participating groups. For details, visit: http://ift.tt/1TCwvgS
Art + Anarchy 2016 brings together creations by more than 50 artists from our communities. The pieces in the exhibit vary widely in their styles, medium, and subjects. We invite everybody to come see the art* on the 3rd floor of CEDA, during the Anarchist Bookfair and on the Friday evening!!
Opening and Launch of the Bookfair weekend
Friday May 27 6-9pm
Come early! There will be PWYC meals; many artists will be present; performances tba; And the Anarchist Film Fest will screen a special program!! This is time to come meet and greet!
There will also be tabling on the first floor hallway of CEDA during this opening — so this is your chance to make sure you can get that book or zine from Kersplebedeb, AK Press, PM Press, or any of the other special tablers at this pre-bookfair event!
Here is a map to show you where CEDA is — remember during the actual bookfair weekend, to also check out CCGV, which is where Kersplebedeb will be tabling:
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/1WWYtu6
*LE SALON DU LIVRE ANARCHISTE DE MONTRÉAL 2016* samedi le 28 mai & dimanche le 29 mai de 10h à 17h les deux jours Notez bien : les tables d’exposition prendront place les deux journées.
Le Salon du livre anarchiste se tiendra dans deux bâtiments situés l’un en face de l’autre autour du Parc Vinet:
*- Au Centre culturel Georges-Vanier (CCGV), 2450 rue Workman- Au Centre d’éducation populaire de la Petite-Bourgogne et de St-Henri (CEDA), 2515 rue Delisle* C’est à une courte distance du métro Lionel-Groulx. CARTE : http://ift.tt/1FLoPm8
*Ni dieu, ni maître; ni patron, ni frontière.GRATUIT. Bienvenue à tous et toutes.Pour les personnes curieuses de l’anarchisme.*
* Les enfants de tous âges sont bienvenus au Salon du livre Anarchiste.
* Les espaces principaux du Salon du livre anarchiste de Montréal sont accessibles en fauteuil roulant; l’expo Art et Anarchie aura lieu au 3e étage du CEDA qui n’a pas d’ascenseur, le site n’est donc malheureusement pas complètement accessible. Une porte du CÉDA est munie d’une rampe d’accès. Elle est située du côté du stationnement, à la gauche du 2520 avenue Lionel-Groulx, entre la rue Vinet et Charlevoix. —–
L’organisation du Salon du livre anarchiste de Montréal est guidée par notre reconnaissance, nos principes, notre énoncé d’accessibilité, notre politique d’espaces plus inclusifs, et cette année, nous avons une nouvelle déclaration concernant l’appropriation culturelle.
*- Reconnaissance :* http://ift.tt/1TCvTIe *- Principes :* http://ift.tt/1G89VKD *- Énoncé d’accessibilité :* http://ift.tt/1FLoPma *- Politique d’espaces plus inclusifs :* http://ift.tt/1YKB8Zq *- Déclaration concernant l’appropriation culturelle: * http://ift.tt/1TCwaeg —–
*À la recherche des bénévoles ! *Nous avons besoin toujours des bénévoles qui peuvent aider avant ou pendant le Salon du livre anarchiste. Nous avons besoin de votre aide pour 1 ou deux heures avec: i) nos tables d’accueil le samedi et dimanche; ii) la distribution de la nourriture le samedi et dimanche; iii) la traduction chuchotée vers l’anglais ou le français durant les ateliers; iv) l’installation de tables vendredi entre 12h et 16h. Svp, contactez-nous à firstname.lastname@example.org si vous pouvez nous aider. —
LES POINT MARQUANTS
*-> Ouverture spéciale du Salon du livre anarchiste (vendredi 27 mai, 18h à 21h)* Le Salon du livre anarchiste ouvrira ce vendredi au CEDA avec le lancement de l’Art et Anarchie, une projection de films par Projections Insurgées, ainsi que un “mini-Salon du livre” avec quelques groupes participants. Pour des détails: http://ift.tt/1TCwvgS
*-> Art et Anarchie (27, 28 et 29 mai)* La mouture 2016 d’Art + Anarchie regroupe le travail de plus d’une cinquantaine d’artistes issu.es de nos communautés. Les thématiques abordés et les médiums utilisés sont multiples. Pour info: http://ift.tt/1XVcnMo ou http://ift.tt/1XVcmYJ
*-> Kiosques (28 et 29 mai)* Les tables seront placées dans les auditoriums principaux des deux bâtiments : au CEDA et au Centre culturel Georges-Vanier. Il y aura des tables d’exposition où se trouvent les tables des libraires, des distributeurs, des journaux indépendants et des groupes politiques de partout à Montréal, du Québec, de l’Amérique du Nord et de l’étranger. Pour une liste des groupes participants, visitez: http://ift.tt/1TCvDJm
*-> Ateliers et Présentations (28 et 29 mai)* Cette année il y aura vingt-neuf (29) ateliers et présentations durant le Salon du livre anarchiste, incluant quatre (4) introductions à l’anarchisme. L’horaire en résumé est ci-dessous. Pour les descriptions détaillées, visitez: http://ift.tt/1XVcs2A
*-> Zone des enfants! (28 et 29 mai)* Les enfants de tous âges sont bienvenus au Salon du livre anarchiste de Montréal. Pour plus de détails concernant la Zone des enfants et d’autres activités, visitez: http://ift.tt/1TCww4q
*-> Espaces tranquilles (28 et 29 mai)* Les espaces tranquilles ont été développé en reconnaissance du fait que le salon peut parfois devenir très intense et chargé pour plusieurs raisons. L’idée, c’est d’offrir un espace à l’écart des activités principales du salon, pour décompresser, sans qu’on se sente forcé.e de quitter le salon pour accéder à un peu de calme. Il y aura deux espaces tranquilles cette année: CCGV (2.140) et CEDA (305).
*-> Salle thématique: Enfants, parents et camarades (28 mai)* En plus de la Zone pour enfants, la présente édition du Salon du livre anarchiste accueillera également la salle thématique “Enfants, parents et camarades”, avec la présence de Mai’a Williams, co-éditrice de Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines (La maternité révolutionnaire: l’amour en première ligne), ainsi que Alana Apfel, auteure de Birth Work as Care Work: Stories from Activist Birth Communities (L’accouchement en tant que travail: témoignages d’activistes du milieu des naissances). Info: http://ift.tt/1XVc6c9
*-> Salle des luttes antiracistes (28 et 29 mai)* La Salle des luttes antiracistes sera un espace (parmi d’autres) au Salon du livre anarchiste de réfléchir sur comment nous combattons le racisme. Il y aura trois présentations publiques : Bâtir une cité sans frontière : La justice en matière de migration et la pratique quotidienne d’entraide et d’action directe (Solidarité sans frontières); Féminisme blanc et produits dérivés (Thérèse Namahoro et Lourdenie Jean); et Violence étatique et vies des personnes noires au Canada: Une perspective féministe et pour l’abolition des prisons (Robyn Maynard). Info: http://ift.tt/1TCvFRl
*-> Salle des médias autonomes (29 mai)* La Salle des média autonomes est consacrée au partage des compétences et des connaissances sur les différents médias tels que déployés par les anarchistes – comme la radio pirate, montage numérique DIY, la communication sécuritaire, et beaucoup plus. Info: http://ift.tt/1XVcHL5
*-> Nourriture (28 et 29 mai)* Cette année, le collectif du Salon du Livre Anarchiste est responsable de la préparation et de la distribution de la nourriture pendant la durée des deux jours du Salon (les 28 et 29 mai). Il y aura une modeste contribution suggérée qui sera demandée, afin de lever des fonds pour couvrir les frais du Salon. Il y aura des choix vegan, végétarien, avec viande et sans gluten. Il y aura aussi un menu spécial pour les enfants, disponible dans la «zone des enfants». La nourriture sera disponible à la cuisine du Café Mozak, dans l’auditorium du CEDA. Si vous pouvez aider avec la distribution de nourriture samedi ou dimanche, svp contactez-nous à email@example.com
*-> Extérieur (28 et 29 mai)* L’utilisation de l’espace extérieur sera beaucoup plus encadrée par le Salon du livre anarchiste. Étant donné qu’une section entière est clôturée, l’espace extérieur dans le parc Vinet est en effet très limité. Lisez plus ici: http://ift.tt/1TCw4Dh —–
*Ateliers et présentations au Salon du livre anarchiste de Montréal*
Durant les deux jours du Salon du livre anarchiste de Montréal vous pourrez assister à des ateliers qui abordent en profondeur des sujets liés à l’anarchisme ainsi que des ateliers d’introduction. À l’affiche cette année: 4 introductions à l’anarchisme (2 en français et 2 en anglais), 2 ateliers dans le cadre de l’Art et Anarchie, la Salle des luttes antiracistes (28 et 29 mai), la Salle thématique Enfants, parents et camarades (samedi le 28 mai), la Salle des médias autonomes (dimanche le 29 mai). Au total, il y aura 29 ateliers et présentations durant le Salon du livre anarchiste de Montréal.
-> Les descriptions plus détaillées d’ateliers seront publiées sous peu; consultez le lien suivant : http://ift.tt/1Z32WsD -> L’horaire en résumé est ci-dessous.
Tous les ateliers seront présentés en traduction chuchotée vers le français (FR) ou l’anglais (ANG) CCGV = Centre Culturel Georges-Vanier (2450, rue Workman) CEDA = Centre d’éducation populaire de la Petite-Bourgogne et de St-Henri (2515, rue Delisle) —–
*HORAIRE EN RÉSUMÉSamedi le 28 mai*
– 11h (CEDA, Salle 119): Éducation artistique sur la diversité culturelle et écologique: récits sur la mondialisation, les changements climatique, la colonisation et l’extraction des ressources (Beehive Collective) – ANG – 11h (CEDA, Salle 123): Rencontre des auteur-e-s anarchistes (Bloc des auteur-e-s anarchistes) – BIL – 11h (CEDA, Salle 125): La maternité révolutionnaire: co-créer des communautés radicales en temps de guerre (Mai’a Williams) – ANG
– 13h (CEDA, Salle 119): (Introduction à l’anarchisme) Anarchisme 101: Le quoi et le pourquoi (Christine Renaud) – ANG – 13h (CEDA, Salle 123): Film: Une autre forme d’organisation (Merry Wafwana et Alice Bernard) – BIL – 13h (CEDA, Salle 125): Caucus des parents et des personnes qui soutiennent des parents et des enfants – BIL – 13h (CCGV, Salle 0.100): Vers une réponse anarchiste à la toxicomanie et au rétablissement (Radical Sobriety Montreal) – BIL – 13h (CCGV, Salle 1.100): Une librairie féministe à Montréal: réflexions collectives sur la création d’un espace communautaire (L’Euguélionne, librairie féministe) – FR – 13h (CCGV, Salle 2.100): Bâtir une cité sans frontière : La justice en matière de migration et la pratique quotidienne d’entraide et d’action directe (Solidarité sans frontières) – FR
– 15h (CEDA, Salle 119): (Introduction à l’anarchisme) Une introduction aux idées et pratiques de l’anarchisme (Pascale Brunet) – FR – 15h (CEDA, Salle 123): Réappropriation de l’Identité Autochtone (Clifton Nicholas) – FR – 15h (CEDA, Salle 125): L’accouchement en tant que travail, politiques de libération et de reproduction (Alana Apfel) – ANG – 15h (CCGV, Salle 0.100): Rojava: La révolution pour une société anti-patriarcale (Solidarité Rojava Montreal) – ANG – 15h (CCGV, Salle 1.100): Que pourrait être Indymedia dans l’ère des médias sociaux corporatifs? (Mallory Knodel et Stéphane Couture) – ANG – 15h (CCGV, Salle 2.100): S’organiser ensemble contre le capitalisme et l’État: une discussion pour anarchistes autochtones, noir.es et/ou racisé.es <http://ift.tt/1TCvQMp; (CRAM) – FR
*Dimanche le 29 mai*
– 11h (CEDA, Salle 119): Raw Print (Chris Robertson, La Presse du Chat Perdu) – BIL – 11h (CEDA, Salle 125): Présentation sur Infos.Medias, intégrateur des médias indépendants (Infos.Medias) – FR
– 13h (CEDA, Salle 119): (Introduction à l’anarchisme)«Exiger l’impossible»: La pratique et la pertinence de l’anarchisme (Jaggi Singh) – FR – 13h (CEDA, Salle 123): Le chenil humain: Défendre ses droits en prison (Jeannette Tossounian)– ANG – 13h (CEDA, Salle 125): Atelier de vidéo avec G.A.P.P.A. squad: «Médias militants et pratiques sécuritaires» – FR – 13h (CCGV, Salle 0.100): La santé mentale radicale: les principes de base et comment être un bon.ne allie.e (Collectif Mad Pride) – ANG – 13h (CCGV, Salle 1.100): Anarchisme et Nihilisme (Aragorn!) – ANG – 13h (CCGV, Salle 2.100): Féminisme blanc et produits dérivés (Thérèse Namahoro et Lourdenie Jean) – FR
– 15h (CEDA, Salle 119): (Introduction à l’anarchisme) Anarchie 101 (Dylan) – ANG – 15h (CEDA, Salle 123): (pour les enfants) Conte et murale contre le racisme (Comité éduation populaire de la CLAC) – FR – 15h (CEDA, Salle 125): Table ronde sur les médias autochtones (Lindsay Nixon et Stephen Agluvak Puskas) – ANG – 15h (CCGV, Salle 0.100): Nos droits face à la police (Collectif Opposé à la brutalité policière) – FR – 15h (CCGV, Salle 1.100): L’apostasie, ou comment sortir definitivement du royaume de dieu (Charles Bicari) – FR – 15h (CCGV, Salle 2.100): Violence étatique et vies des personnes noires au Canada: Une perspective féministe et pour l’abolition des prisons (Robyn Maynard) – ANG
-> Les descriptions plus détaillées d’ateliers seront publiées sous peu; consultez le lien suivant : http://ift.tt/1Z32WsD —–
POUR INFORMATION : -> Courriel : firstname.lastname@example.org -> Poste: Salon du livre Anarchiste de Montréal 1500 de Maisonneuve Ouest, Suite 204 Montréal, Québec H3G 1N1
MÉDIAS SOCIAUX : -> facebook: http://ift.tt/1N608q4 -> twitter: @BookfairAnarMTL
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/25o4pRF
*MONTREAL ANARCHIST BOOKFAIR 2016* Saturday, May 28 & Sunday, May 29 10am-5pm on both days Note: Booksellers and vendors will be displaying on both days.
The Anarchist Bookfair takes place in two buildings across from each other in Parc Vinet:
*- Centre Culturel Georges-Vanier (CCGV), 2450 rue Workman- Centre d’éducation populaire de la Petite-Bourgogne et de St-Henri (CEDA), 2515 rue Delisle* A short distance from Lionel-Groulx metro. MAP: http://ift.tt/1FLoP5Q
*No gods, no masters, no bosses, no borders.FREE. Welcome to all!For people curious about anarchism and wanting to learn more.*
* Kids of all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair.
* All main spaces of the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair at both locations are accessible to people using wheelchairs; we regret that Art & Anarchy, on the 3rd floor of the CEDA, is only accessible by stairs. The CEDA entrance for people needing to use the wheelchair ramp is via the rear parking lot to the left of 2520, avenue Lionel-Groulx, before Vinet, but after Charlevoix. —–
The organizing of the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair is guided by an acknowledgment, principles, accessibility policy & commitment, safe(r) spaces policy, and this year we have a new statement on cultural appropriation.
*- Acknowledgment:* http://ift.tt/1XVcGGS *- Principles:* http://ift.tt/1G89XlI *- Accessibility Policy and Commitment:* http://ift.tt/1FLoP5S *- Safe(r) Spaces Policy:* http://ift.tt/1r3ZiDQ – *Statement on Cultural Appropriation:* http://ift.tt/1XVcrf3 —–
*Callout for Volunteers! *We still need volunteers to help for a few hours before and during the Bookfair. We need people who can: i) be at our welcome table at either CCGV or CEDA for 1-2 hour shifts; ii) help to distribute food on Saturday and Sunday for one to two hour shifts; iii) help with whisper translation towards French or English during workshops; iv) help with the installation of tables on Friday anytime from 12pm-4pm. If you have a few hours to spare before and during the Bookfair, get in touch with us via email@example.com —–
*-> Special Bookfair Opening (Friday, May 27, 6-9pm)* The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair will open on Friday, May 27 at CEDA with the launch of Art & Anarchy, a special screening of films by Insurgent Projections, as well as a “mini-Bookfair” of selected participating groups. For details, visit: http://ift.tt/1TCwvgS
*-> Art & Anarchy (May 27-29)* Art + Anarchy 2016 brings together creations by more than 50 artists from our communities. The pieces in the exhibit vary widely in their styles, medium, and subjects. For more details visit http://ift.tt/1XVcnMo or http://ift.tt/1TCvFAY
*-> Over 100 Participating Groups (May 28 & 29)* Tabling will take place in the main auditoriums of both our locations: Centre d’éducation populaire de la Petite-Bourgogne et de St-Henri (CEDA) and the Centre Culturel Georges-Vanier (CCGV). The main auditoriums of the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair will include booksellers, distributors, independent presses and political groups from all over Montreal, Quebec, North America, and abroad. For the confirmed list of participating groups, visit: http://ift.tt/1XVcGqq
*-> Workshops & Presentations (May 28 & 29)* This year there will be twenty-nine (29) workshops and presentations during the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair, including 4 introductions to anarchism. The schedule-in-brief is included below. For detailed descriptions, visit: http://ift.tt/1TCvYvr
*-> Kids Zone! (May 28 & 29)* Children are welcome and encouraged to attend the Anarchist Bookfair. For more details about the Kids Zone and other programming, visit: http://ift.tt/1XVcp6U
*-> Quiet Rooms (May 28 & 29)* The Quiet Rooms are created out of the recognition that the Bookfair can be really overwhelming and intense for a variety of reasons, and that folks might need a place to be apart from the main Bookfair without feeling like they have to leave altogether. There are two Quiet Rooms this year: CCGV (2.140) & CEDA (305).
*-> Kids, Caregivers and Comrades Theme Room (May 28)* In addition to Kids Zone, this year the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair will also have a “Kids, Caregivers, and Comrades” theme room on Saturday featuring Mai’a Williams, co-editor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines, and Alana Apfel, author of Birth Work as Care Work: Stories from Activist Birth Communities. For details: http://ift.tt/1TCvSnv
*-> Anti-Racist Struggles Room (May 28 & 29)* he Anti-Racist Struggles room highlights workshops and presentations confronting racism. There will be three presentations open to all: Building a Solidarity City: Migrant justice and the everyday practice of mutual aid and direct action (Solidarity Across Borders); White feminism and its derivatives (Thérèse Namahoro & Lourdenie Jean); and State Violence and Black Lives in Canada: A feminist, prison abolition perspective (Robyn Maynard). For details: http://ift.tt/1XVctDI
*-> Autonomous Media Room (May 29)* The Autonomous Media Room is dedicated to sharing the skills and knowledge of different mediums as deployed by anarchists – such as pirate radio, DIY digital editing, secure communication, and more. For details: http://ift.tt/1TCw6eB
*-> Food (May 28 & 29)* This year, the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair collective is organizing food for participants over the two days of the Bookfair (May 28 & 29). There will be a modest cost for the food, which is a fundraiser to pay for the expenses of the Anarchist Bookfair. There will be choices for vegans, vegetarians, meat-eaters, and for people who are gluten-free. There will also be a special free kids menu available in the Kids Zone. Food will be available at the Café Mozaik kitchen, beside the CEDA auditorium. If you can help with the distribution of food on Saturday & Sunday, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
*-> Outdoors (May 28 & 29)* The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair is being more organized about the use of the outdoor space. Considering that the field area is fenced off for sports, there is actually very limited outdoor space in Parc Vinet. Read more here: http://ift.tt/1XVcEyZ —–
*Workshops & Presentations at the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair* Workshops that explore topics related to anarchism in some depth, as well introduction to anarchism workshops, take place during both days of the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair. The content this year includes four (4) introduction to anarchism workshops (2 each in English and French), two (2) Art & Anarchy workshops, an Anti-Racist Struggles Theme Room (May 28 & 29), a Kids, Caregivers & Comrades Theme Room (Saturday, May 28), and an Autonomous Media Room (Sunday, May 29). In total, there will be 29 workshops and presentations!
-> More detailed descriptions will be posted shortly at the following link: http://ift.tt/1TCvAx3 -> Schedule-in-brief included below.
All workshops will include whisper translation into English (EN) or French (FR). CCGV = Centre Culturel Georges-Vanier (2450 rue Workman) CEDA = Centre d’éducation populaire de la Petite-Bourgogne et de St-Henri (2515 rue Delisle)
*SCHEDULE IN BRIEFSATURDAY, MAY 28*
11am (CEDA, Room #119): Art-based education on cultural and ecological diversity: stories of globalization, climate change, colonization, and resource extraction (Beehive Collective) – EN 11am (CEDA, Room #123): Anarchist Writers Meeting (Montreal Anarchist Writers Bloc) – BIL 11am (CEDA, Room #125): Revolutionary Mothering: Co-creating Radical Communities in Times of War (Mai’a Williams) – EN
1pm (CEDA, Room #119): (Introduction to Anarchism) Anarchism 101: The What and Why (Christine Renaud) – EN 1pm (CEDA, Room #123): Film: A Different Form Of Organization … and a different form of social relationships (Merry Wafwana & Alice Bernard) – BIL 1pm (CEDA, Room #125): Parents and Caregivers Caucus – BIL 1pm (CCGV, Room 0.100): Towards an Anarchist Response to Addiction & Recovery (Radical Sobriety Montreal) – BIL 1pm (CCGV, Room 1.100): A Feminist Bookstore in Montreal: Collective Reflections on the Creation of a Community Space (L’Euguélionne, librairie féministe) – FR 1pm (CCGV, Room 2.100): Building a Solidarity City: Migrant justice and the everyday practice of mutual aid and direct action (Solidarity Across Borders) – FR
3pm (CEDA, Room #119): (Introduction to Anarchism) Getting to the Roots: An Introduction to Anarchist Ideas and Practice (Pascale Brunet) – FR 3pm (CEDA, Room #123): Re-appropriating Indigenous Identity (Clifton Nicholas) – FR 3pm (CEDA, Room #125): Birth Work as Care Work: Birth, Reproduction and Liberation Politics (Alana Apfel) – EN 3pm (CCGV, Room 0.100): Rojava: The Revolution for an Anti-Patriarchal Society (Rojava Solidarity Montreal) – EN 3pm (CCGV, Room 1.100): What could Indymedia be in the Era of Corporate Social Media? (Mallory Knodel & Stéphane Couture) – EN 3pm (CCGV, Room 2.100): Organizing Together Against Capitalism and the State: A discussion for Indigenous, Black and/or people of colour anarchists (CRAM) – FR
*SUNDAY, MAY 29*
11am (CEDA, Room #119): Raw Print (Chris Robertson, La Presse du Chat Perdu) – BIL 11am (CEDA, Room #125): Presentation on Infos.Medias news aggregator (Infos.Medias) – FR
1pm (CEDA, Room #119): (Introduction to Anarchism) “Demanding the Impossible”: The Practice and Relevance of Anarchism (Jaggi Singh) – FR 1pm (CEDA, Room #123): The Human Kennel: Fighting for rights inside jail (Jeannette Tossounian) – EN 1pm (CEDA, Room #125): Video workshop with GAPPA squad: Media, activists and security practices (GAPPA) – FR 1pm (CCGV, Room 0.100): Radical Mental Health: foundations and being a good ally (Mad Pride Collective) – EN 1pm (CCGV, Room 1.100): Anarchist Nihilism (Aragorn!) – EN 1pm (CCGV, Room 2.100): White feminism and its derivatives (Thérèse Namahoro & Lourdenie Jean) – FR
3pm (CEDA, Room #119): (Introduction to Anarchism) Anarchy 101 (Dylan) – EN 3pm (CEDA, Room #123): (For Kids) Story and Mural Against Racism (CLAC Popular Education)– FR 3pm (CEDA, Room #125): Indigenous Media Panel Discussion (Lindsay Nixon & Stephen Agluvak Puskas) – EN 3pm (CCGV, Room 0.100): Our rights in dealing with cops (Collective Opposed to Police Brutality) – FR 3pm (CCGV, Room 1.100): Apostasy, or how to get out of the Kingdom of God definitively (Charles Bicari) – FR 3pm (CCGV, Room 2.100): State Violence and Black Lives in Canada: A feminist, prison abolition perspective (Robyn Maynard) – EN
-> More detailed descriptions will be posted shortly at the following link: http://ift.tt/1TCvAx3
—– CONTACT INFORMATION: -> e-mail: email@example.com -> mail: Salon du livre Anarchiste de Montréal 1500 de Maisonneuve Ouest, Suite 204 Montréal, Québec H3G 1N1
SOCIAL MEDIA: -> facebook: http://ift.tt/1N608q4 -> twitter: @BookfairAnarMTL
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/1Z3bqA5
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
“Culture” is a framework developed by people to describe patterns of social behaviour, expression, consciousness. A given culture will manifest in multiple ways, will have more than one characteristic. and will in the final analysis be defined by the practice of people, albeit refracted through a distorted view that they have of themselves.
Culture can change, but not according to anyone’s rulebook. It is the result of what large numbers of uncontrollable people will do, often without thinking about it. It is the result of not only what “members of” a culture will do, but also of what others not recognized as such will do.
Culture can be imitative. If people’s lives are intertwined, if they grow up together, live together, work together, struggle together … they’ll sometimes adopt habits or forms just because the cultural expression in question begins to resonate with them, not as alien, but as part of their lived experience. Even if it didn’t used to be.
Culture is made by people, and all people are capable of of the same cultural accomplishments, expressions, and innovations. So “different cultures” can end up developing parallel expressions, just as they can develop radically different ones.
Culture is both form and content, reflected back and forth like two mirrors held up to each other. But if you take one of those parts away, it falls to bits.
Cultural forms (or expressions) carry genealogies which can be traced backwards forever. However, to pick up a cultural form, take it on, integrate it, one needs to know nothing of that, i.e. cultural forms are accessible, nobody needs a rulebook or guide. Cultural forms are dynamic much like an object-oriented programming language. But just like an object-oriented language, the meaning of the form in one cultural context need have nothing to do with its meaning in another.
Cultures are generated automatically and continuously by nations, classes, societies, collectivities. Cultures constitute one of several factors that in turn can occasionally contribute to giving partial form to nations, classes, societies, collectivities.
A culture’s self-presentation can’t be trusted. It’s version of it’s own past is invariably off kilter. Its official boundaries inevitably cut off people who in their lived lives are a part of it. Its dos and don’ts are sometimes followed, sometimes not. Like stars in the sky, what you see is not where things are now, but where they were when the light started streaming towards you, maybe years ago, maybe much longer than that.
“Tradition” refers to what some people feel invested in other people believing the past was like. This may be true, or it may not be true. Politics and ethics are excellent guides to what one should or should not do in life. Whether something is culturally sanctioned, or part of “one’s own” tradition, far less so.
The above is not “good” or “bad”, it’s not a map of the terrain, it’s just a description of how the terrain will operate. One can try to intervene to change that, but as culture is just the aggregate of so many individual realities, you are unlikely to succeed. Far better to intervene on the cultural terrain to get done what you want to get done, rather than try to change the nature of the terrain itself.
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/1YWvG6e
Revolutionary Mothering & Birth Work as Care Work: Montreal Events Featuring Mai’a Williams & Alana Apfel
BOTH Thursday May 26 5pm & Saturday May 28 11am-5pm
Thursday May 26, 5pm
1500 de Maisonneuve W, Unit 404
Join us on Thursday for the presentation of two new books: Revolutionary Mothering and Birth Work as Care Work. We’ll be joined by two guests: co-editor Mai’a Williams and author Alana Apfel. Both books will be on sale on site.
Inspired by the legacy of radical and queer black feminists of the 1970s and ’80s, Revolutionary Mothering places marginalized mothers of color at the center of a world of necessary transformation. The challenges we face as movements working for racial, economic, reproductive, gender, and food justice, as well as anti-violence, anti-imperialist, and queer liberation are the same challenges that many mothers face every day. Oppressed mothers create a generous space for life in the face of life-threatening limits, activate a powerful vision of the future while navigating tangible concerns in the present, move beyond individual narratives of choice toward collective solutions, live for more than ourselves, and remain accountable to a future that we cannot always see. Revolutionary Mothering is a movement-shifting anthology committed to birthing new worlds, full of faith and hope for what we can raise up together.
Birth Work as Care Work presents a vibrant collection of stories and insights from the front lines of birth activist communities. The personal has once more become political, and birth workers, supporters, and doulas now find themselves at the fore of collective struggles for freedom and dignity. Alana Apfel draws connections between birth, reproductive labor, and the struggles of caregiving communities today. Articulating a politics of care work in and through the reproductive process, the book brings diverse voices into conversation to explore multiple possibilities and avenues for change.
For accessibility info for the Thursday event visit: http://ift.tt/1Lcex1n
Childcare at the Thursday event available upon request with 48 hours notice. To request, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 514-937-2110.
Thursday event sponsored by Centre for Gender Advocacy, Kersplebedeb, and PM Press.
SATURDAY, MAY 28, 11am-5pm
Theme Room at the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair: KIDS, CAREGIVERS & COMRADES
Room 125 at the CEDA (2515 rue Delisle)
In addition to Kids Zone, this year the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair will also have a “Kids, Caregivers, and Comrades” theme room on Saturday featuring Mai’a Williams, co-editor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines, and Alana Apfel, author of Birth Work as Care Work: Stories from Activist Birth Communities. The Kids, Caregivers & Comrades Theme Room takes place with the support of QPIRG Concordia, the Center for Gender Advocacy and the Montreal Childcare Collective.
wheelchair accessible / free / whisper translation (English/French)
11am: Revolutionary Mothering: Co-creating Radical Communities in Times of War (EN)
Saturday, May 28 – Room 125, CEDA (2515 rue Delisle)
Inspired by the legacy of radical and queer black feminists of the 1970s and ’80s, Revolutionary Mothering places marginalized mothers of color at the center of a world of necessary transformation. The challenges we face as movements working for racial, economic, reproductive, gender, and food justice, as well as anti-violence, anti-imperialist, and queer liberation are the same challenges that many mothers face every day. Oppressed mothers create a generous space for life in the face of life-threatening limits, activate a powerful vision of the future while navigating tangible concerns in the present, move beyond individual narratives of choice toward collective solutions, live for more than ourselves, and remain accountable to a future that we cannot always see. This Paper Quilt workshop is an interactive space in which a group of people will quilt together a motherful publication in 2 hours or less! The workshop is a great way to make your insights shareable and is part of our mission to expand the idea of what stories about mothering circulate in our society.
Facilitated by Mai’a Williams, a writer and artist who has worked and lived in resistance communities in Palestine, Congo, Jordan, Egypt, Mexico and Ecuador. Mai’a is the co-editor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines (PM Press).
1pm: Parents and Caregivers Caucus (BILINGUAL)
Saturday, May 28 – Room 125, CEDA (2515 rue Delisle)
This caucus is open to all parents and caregivers who would like to discuss issues of concern, share frustrations, tips, and strategies, as well as network with other parents and caregivers. There will be a facilitator present, but the content of the discussion will be determined by those who attend.
3pm: Birth Work as Care Work: Birth, Reproduction and Liberation Politics (EN)
Saturday, May 28 – Room 125, CEDA (2515 rue Delisle)
Birth Justice is about much more than birth, it is above all an autonomy-building activity directed towards co-creating an alternative society founded in autonomy and self-determination beyond the state. Through sharing first hand stories of birth work from Birth Work as Care Work: Stories from Activist Birth Communities (PM Press, 2016) this workshop seeks to unpack intersections of birth work and the political, demonstrating connections between birth work as activist practice, radical and prefigurative politics, intersectionality and post-capitalism.
Facilitated by Alana Apfel. Alana is a radical doula, future student midwife, writer, apprentice herbalist, community gardener and birth justice organiser. Alana is the author of Birth Work as Care Work: Stories from Activist Birth Communities.
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/25eEiJd
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Happy to say that for the first time ever, Kersplebedeb will have a table at the fabled Left Forum shindig happening this May 20th to 22nd at John Jay College in New York City. Unfortunately, I will not be there in person, however there will be a special Kersplebedeb table in the main exhibitors area, looked after by friends from AK Press.
A unique phenomenon in the U.S. and the world, Left Forum convenes the largest annual conference of a broad spectrum of left and progressive intellectuals, activists, academics, organizations and the interested public. Conference participants come together to engage a wide range of critical perspectives on the world, to discuss differences, commonalities, and alternatives to current predicaments, and to share ideas for understanding and transforming the world. The conference is held each year in New York City.
So for those of you who will be attending, if you wanted to pick up any of the recent (or not so recent) Kersplebedeb publications, this is your chance!
You can Register for Left Forum HERE
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/1rUL9cl
Monday, May 09, 2016
Capital comes dripping from head to toe in blood and dirt, and its continued reproduction has proven no less bloody. Its existence relies on systemic forms of degradation and exploitation, both spectacular and quotidian. From the violent suppression of 19th century workers movements and genocidal imperialism – from the Paris Commune to the scramble for Africa – capitalism’s victories and defeats have always played out in the arena of violence.
Today, against a backdrop of permanent war, austerity measures, refugee crisis, and racist police brutality, it has become clear that violence remains the backbone of the capitalist world order. As many Left movements, from the indignados to Occupy to Black Lives Matter, are challenging the violence of capital, it is vital that we conceptualize new strategies of resistance and self-defense.
HMTO 2016 will discuss the depth and extent of capitalism’s violence, in addition to reflecting on the Left’s modes of resistance historically, today, and in years to come. We welcome submissions from a broad range of participants, including activists and non-academic researchers.
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/1rNsaAe
When: Friday May 13th at 8 PM
Where: Imperial Pub (back room) 54 Dundas St. East Toronto
Why, even among radicals, do we find ourselves using the same words—words like “community”, “privilege”, and “occupation” —but meaning different things? How does this dynamic arise and how might it be addressed?
Keywords for Radicals: The Contested Vocabulary of Late-Capitalist Struggle (AK Press 2016) addresses precisely these questions. Join Keywords For Radicals contributors to explore the many antagonisms—but also the possibilities—suggested by the worlds within our words.
Books will be available!
This event is wheelchair accessible.
About Keywords for Radicals
“An extraordinary volume that provides nothing less than a detailed cognitive mapping of the terrain for everyone who wants to engage in radical politics.”—Slavoj Žižek, author of Living in the End Times
“Keywords for Radicals recognizes that language is both a weapon and terrain of struggle, and that all of us committed to changing our social and material reality, to making a world justice-rich and oppression-free, cannot drop words such as ‘democracy,’ ‘occupation,’ ‘colonialism,’ ‘race,’ ‘sovereignty,’ or ‘love’ without a fight. —Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
“A primer for a new era of political protest.” —Jack Halberstam, author of Female Masculinity
“This keywords upgrade puts powerful weapons into revolutionaries’ hands. Unexpected entries expand into new terrain.… Indispensable.” —Jodi Dean, author of The Communist Horizon
In Keywords (1976), Raymond Williams devised a “vocabulary” that reflected the vast social transformations of the post-war period. He revealed how these transformations could be grasped by investigating changes in word usage and meaning. Keywords for Radicals—part homage, part development—asks: What vocabulary might illuminate the social transformations marking our own contested present? How do these words define the imaginary of today’s radical left?
With insights from dozens of scholars and troublemakers, Keywords for Radicals explores the words that shape our political landscape. Each entry highlights a term’s contested variations, traces its evolving usage, and speculates about what its historical mutations can tell us. More than a glossary, this is a crucial study of the power of language and the social contradictions hidden within it.
Kelly Fritsch is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto.
Clare O’Connor is a doctoral student in Communication at the University of Southern California.
A.K. Thompson teaches social theory at Fordham University in New York.
on the main Kersplebedeb website: http://ift.tt/1UOhMDZ
Today is the fortieth anniversary of the death in of Red Army Faction founding member Ulrike Meinhof. On May 9, 1976, Mother’s Day that year, Ulrike was found hanged in her prison cell. An International Commission of Investigation conducted an extensive investigation, presenting its conclusions in 1979. The evidence, some of which is touched upon in this interview, strongly supported the claim that Ulrike had been murdered and then hanged to make it appear to be a suicide. To mark the anniversary, former RAF member Ron Augustin interviewed Ulrike’s sister Wienke. The original German-language interview appeared in the German left-wing daily junge Welt’s May 7-8, 2016 weekend supplement. We publish the English translation here.
“…because my sister and I were very close”
An Interview with Ulrike Meinhof’s Sister Wienke
When Ulrike Meinhof died forty years ago, she was 41 years old, her sister Wienke, 44. The sisters each had their own political histories, from which they shared a lot with each other. After the arrest of her sister in 1972, Wienke became increasingly active in opposing the prison conditions and in support of the prisoners from the RAF and their release. In an interview with Ron Augustin, she speaks about Ulrike’s political development, incarceration and death.
RA: There is a documentary on Patrice Lumumba (the first prime minister of the Congo) which shows that it took forty years to uncover the exact circumstances of his assassination. When you saw the movie, which was produced by Holger Meins’ fellow student Thomas Giefer, you said, maybe it will take forty years before we know what happened in Stammheim. Are there any new developments?
W: No, the findings of the International Commission of Investigation, which were announced at a press conference in Paris in 1979, revealed so many inconsistencies in the official inquiry that virtually the only effort has been to sweep them under the carpet. I don’t want to enumerate them all again, but Ulrike is said to have hanged herself from a window bar which was hidden behind a thick wire-mesh screen. Police images in the files of the official inquiry show her left foot still rested on a chair when she was found. The loop in which she was hanging was so long and so fragile that her head would have slipped out or the strap would have torn if she had jumped. The lack of haemorrhaging in the eyes and other factors seemed to indicate external involvement, and the International Commission concluded that my sister must have been dead before she was hanged.
RA: Who do you suspect?
W: I can only speculate. But there was a fire escape, a completely separate stairwell which led from outside into the seventh floor directly next to her cell. So, anyone could have gained access without being seen.
RA: How did you learn of her death? Were you able to see her?
W: May 9, at 9 in the morning. I heard it on the news, so I immediately drove to Stammheim with her lawyer Axel Azzola. When we arrived, the body had already been removed. Gudrun Ensslin wanted to see her, but the federal prosecutor would not permit it. I had to identify my sister before the autopsy, but couldn’t see her other than that. Azzola managed to get permission for us to talk to Gudrun, and that’s when I saw her for the first time. She was so worn out that she could hardly speak. I don’t remember what exactly we discussed, but she told us about her last talk with Ulrike, the night before, at the window, where they had both been joking. The same day, the lawyers held a press conference in Stuttgart, where I got up and said that when she was still in Cologne-Ossendorf, Ulrike had clearly told me, “If something happens to me in prison, it will be murder, I will not hurt myself.” At that point, she was still in a dead wing, totally isolated.
RA: Public prosecutor Kaul spread rumours in the media that there were tensions between the prisoners that had “driven the RAF’s chief ideologue to her death.” Some extracts from letters were published to prove it. In fact, these extracts had been taken from a discussion which had been difficult, but which at the time had been over and done with for almost a year. Gudrun mentioned a “process of consolidation” amongst them. Because the extracts from the letters had been taken out of context and were partly forged, the prisoners released the entire correspondence through their lawyers. Of course, the media never corrected their lies.
At the end, Ulrike and the others in Stammheim were working on texts for the trial. In the courtroom, on May 4th, 1976, they spoke about Germany’s role within the imperialist state system. At that moment, Ulrike was not in the room, but was in a visitors’ cell under the courtroom, where, with her lawyer Heldmann, she was preparing the next statement for the trial. This petition, on the role of (former German Chancellor) Willy Brandt and the Social Democratic Party in the Vietnam War, was presented at the trial by Andreas Baader. On May 6, she talked with her attorney Michael Oberwinder, with whom she had, in his words, “a sharp discussion, where Frau Meinhof explained the group’s point of view.” And on May 7th, two days before her death, she discussed the possibility of developing something around the political defence of prisoners in Europe, with the Italian lawyer Giovanni Capelli.
Even in 1971, when the search for Ulrike and the others was still going on, the media published rumours about “tensions” within the group in order to discredit her. She represented “the voice of the RAF,” and up to this day there are more than a few people who prefer to suggest that she was simply “seduced” into something, in order to “recuperate her for bourgeois society,” as a German newspaper recently put it. They deliberately forget that she was a committed communist, with a long political history reaching back into the fifties. I think the reason why I haven’t been influenced that much by the official versions is because my sister and I were very close.
RA: When did you see her alive for the last time?
W: The last visit was in March 1976. Afterwards, after her death, I was allowed to visit Jan Raspe, Gudrun and Andreas. With them, a trusting relationship developed on the basis of a kind of working context, for the creation of an International Commission of Investigation. I had one-and-a-half hour visits with each of them: normally one in the morning, one in the afternoon and another one the next morning. In that way, the prisoners could talk among themselves about what we had discussed, so not everything had to be repeated. And normally Gudrun was the last one, so often we said, ok, you discussed everything already, tell me, how are you, and things of the sort. We got along well. That was what was so impressive about all of these encounters. That’s also why I’m so sensitive to the ridiculous distortions in the media. You were dealing with real people behaving concretely in a concrete situation. That’s very helpful.
RA: Let’s talk about the prison conditions. Your first prison visit was a week after Ulrike’s arrest. Did she tell you everything that had been done to her before her lawyer was finally allowed to see her?
W: The visits always took place in the presence of state security officials. Usually Alfred Klaus of the BKA (Germany’s Federal Bureau of Investigation) was there: the “family pig” who had put together the first “psychogrammes” of RAF members. There was a lot we couldn’t say because of the threats to terminate the visit. From her lawyer, I knew that it took four days before they allowed him in, after a series of degrading physical examinations had been performed on her, with the threat of anaesthesia if she resisted. She must also have been beaten, because she had bruises everywhere. Jutta Ditfurth described all that in her biography.
Ulrike was in Cologne-Ossendorf in a dead wing, i.e., in a prison unit which was acoustically isolated, and where there were no other prisoners. Isolation in the form of solitary confinement was known to us from the time of the ban on the Communist Party. From the communists who had been in prison in the fifties, we knew that they knocked on walls and pipes to communicate with each other from cell to cell. Ulrike was alone in the unit, so there was no sense in knocking. I told her about my experience with severely disabled persons, their isolation in this society and the fight against it, because isolation so terribly diminishes people. After she had been in that unit for eight months, and then again thereafter for some weeks, she wrote the text that starts with the sentence, “The feeling, one’s head explodes…,” where she describes what it’s like in there.
The federal prosecution then tried to have her committed to a psychiatric institution for an expert opinion on her mental condition. When that didn’t work, a brain scintigraphy under forced anaesthesia was ordered, under the pretext that Ulrike had a brain tumour which could prove that she was not responsible for her actions, or which would justify a surgical intervention. What the media repeatedly presented as a brain tumour was a harmless strawberry mark which had been found and treated during her pregnancy in 1962. Although the prosecution was perfectly aware of the facts, they used this to question Ulrike’s state of mind. The psychiatric attempts could only be averted by a broad public mobilisation in the country and abroad.
Again and again, Ulrike is presented as someone who had let herself be seduced and exploited by others, particularly Andreas. But think about it, she was the one who had the longest political experience, and she was one of the most outspoken spokespersons of the student movement, more single-minded than many in those days. And she had a damn strong character. Underground and in prison she is identical with herself, writing and fighting alongside the others. The clichés in the media are always the same, punched out 45 years ago by her former husband Röhl and his friend Stefan Aust, in order to extinguish in her “the voice”, i.e., the political identity, of the group.
RA: You were the director of a special school in Hessen province. Did you never have problems at your job or elsewhere due to the publicity around your sister?
W: Oh, yes. The entire period between 1970 and 1972, when Ulrike was wanted, I was under constant police surveillance. Wherever I drove, I was observed by the police, often openly. Alfred Klaus of the BKA came to me twice, demanding that I meet with my sister to convince her to give herself up, because otherwise she would certainly be shot.
Then, the Christian Democratic Party started its election campaign in Hessen by attacking the Social Democrats for their school reform, the worst example of which was Ulrike Meinhof’s sister. I was not in the Social Democratic Party, so who cares, but it was clear that they tried to hold the local (social-democratic) government responsible for the fact that I was able to remain at my school, and that continued over the years. Of course, my political positions were also an issue. I was a leftist, I voiced a fundamental social criticism of the education system for disabled people across the country, and I also expressed solidarity for my sister – I didn’t dissociate myself from her.
During the prisoners’ hunger strike in 1974, I was once arrested as a result of my work with the support committees. Afterwards, this was reported on TV, and half an hour later the chairman of the school’s parents’ council, a railway worker, came to me to see if everything was alright, and then he organised a meeting of the parents, where they said: they can’t treat our director this way. So, there was something, a kind of solidarity, which also annoyed the school authorities intensely, of course. In the end, I applied for early retirement, which was accepted. They were happy to be rid of me.
After the press conference of the International Commission of Investigation in Paris in 1979, I was not allowed to visit any prisoners again until 1992, because I allegedly posed a danger to the “security and order of the institution.”
RA: How did Ulrike and you discuss political developments? Did you have any idea of the decisive steps which led to the formation of the RAF?
W: Ulrike and I each had our own political development, while sharing a lot with one another. For example, she was researching and writing on kids in special schools, so she came to my school. She was a lot of help in getting me the books of all the educationalists of the twenties, because these only existed in pirated editions, which she could get. We both developed politically in the movement against the rearmament of Germany and were both involved in the establishment of the German Peace Union DFU, as an attempt to create a broad left alliance. Ulrike was then a member of the illegal Communist Party for five years. Later, the Socialist German Student Association SDS became more radical, leading to the creation of the APO, the extraparliamentary opposition of the sixties.
Ulrike had interrupted her studies in order to devote herself entirely to her journalistic work, mainly on the editorial board of the student magazine konkret, but also for other publications and radio and TV. She was one of the most important voices of the rebelling student movement. Everyone in the movement eagerly awaited her thoroughly researched background articles. When we sisters met, we would talk about our children, but also about the political situation, the liberation movements, Vietnam. In February 1968, the International Vietnam Congress took place in Berlin. Ulrike had moved to Berlin four days prior to the event. In October, the trial regarding the fire bombs in two Frankfurt department stores started, which is where she got to know Andreas and Gudrun. At the time, she told me how impressed she was with their political ideas. She didn’t have much to do with konkret anymore, as she explained in one of her last articles under the heading “Columnism.” She was still working on the movie Bambule, was working in a neighbourhood group in Berlin’s Märkische Viertel suburb and, most of all, was involved in important international discussions.
I didn’t know that Ulrike was going to participate in the attempt to free Andreas Baader. She had told me, however, that he had been arrested, and that somehow he had to get out of jail. Four weeks before she went underground, she came to me to make sure that I would take care of her kids if anything should happen. When the liberation of Andreas was reported in the news, it was clear to me that she had had something to do with that. She had not been mentioned as yet in the news, but I went home immediately, so that I would be there to take the kids. The whole thing with the kids then ended up unfolding differently, but, in any case, her decision was obvious. She later explained the step she had taken by saying that, for her, “political opposition and organising an underground structure had become identical.”
 Thomas Giefer, Une mort de style colonial (Assassinats politiques), (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2008).
 A reference to the German-language biography: Jutta Ditfurth, Ulrike Meinhof, (2007: Ullstein Verlag, Berlin).
 Ulrike Meinhof, “Columnism,” Everybody Talks About the Weather … We Don’t: The Writings of Ulrike Meinhof, Karin Bauer (ed.), (New York: Seven Stories Press, New 2008), 249-253.
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Wednesday, May 04, 2016
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Since the turn of the millennium, anarchism has experienced a strong upswing. In a widely read 2004 article by David Graeber and Andrej Gruba?i?, it was announced as the “revolutionary movement of the twenty-first century”, and in a recent book on the Occupy Wall Street movement, titledTranslating Anarchy and based on interviews with numerous organizers, author Mark Bray contests that anarchist ideas were the driving ideological force behind it. Meanwhile, anarchist projects (journals, bookfairs, organizing groups) have increased significantly over the past twenty years. This is all great news.
At the same time, neoliberalism rules supreme, the gaps between the rich and the poor grow wider by the day, wars are waging, surveillance has surpassed Orwellian levels, and nothing seems able to stop the ecological destruction of the world as we know it. If the current order is challenged in any significant way, the agents are either religious fundamentalists, neofascists, or, in the best case, left-wing movements revolving around charismatic leaders and populist parties. Even if anarchists like to claim anarchist elements in uprisings, from Cairo’s Tahrir Square to the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, it is questionable whether self-declared anarchists really have played any significant role in these events. In short, despite the mentioned upswing, anarchism appears as marginalized as ever when it comes to the grand scale of things. In light of this, it seems as good a time as any to reflect on anarchism’s role in the overall political arena and to examine its strengths and weaknesses.
The contents of this text are presented in a concise and straightforward manner, which makes generalizations inevitable. They are based on experiences in Western and Northern Europe; readers will have to decide how much these experiences match their own and how relevant they are for the scenes they themselves are active in.
What is anarchism?
In postmodern times, it has become popular to forgo definitions, as they supposedly put our thoughts into cages. This is a cop-out. It is self-evident that definitions are but tools for communication and can’t lay claim on capturing the essence of a given phenomenon. A practical definition is based on certain criteria: the origin of a term and etymological aspects, its usage and change of meaning over time, and terminological coherence within the language system we are using. The following working definition of anarchism ought to be understood in that way.
Anarchism is, first, the attempt to establish an egalitarian society that allows for the freest development of its individual members possible. The egalitarianism is the necessary precondition for this free development being attainable for everyone and not just a chosen few. It is curtailed only by inhibiting the free development of others; clear boundaries can’t be drawn (where does one’s freedom end and another one’s begin?) but this does not mean that they can’t be negotiated.
So far, this definition doesn’t stray far from the Marxist idea of communism. The difference lies in its second part, namely the belief that the establishment of an egalitarian society enabling free individual development is dependent on political actors implementing the essential values of such a society immediately, in their ways of organizing, living, and fighting. Today, this is often called “prefigurative” politics. It implies that no dictatorship of the proletariat, no benevolent leaders, no well-meaning vanguards can pave the way to the society desired; the people have to do this themselves. The people also need to develop the structures necessary to defend and preserve such a society. Self-management, mutual aid, horizontal organization, and the fight against all forms of oppression are key principles of anarchism.
The origin of anarchism as a self-defined political movement dates back to the social question in mid-nineteenth-century Europe. Anarchists were part of the International Workingmen’s Association, better known as the First International, together with the political forces that would later turn into social democrats on the one hand and Leninists on the other. (1) We consider this origin important and see anarchism as part of the left-wing tradition. We are opposed to declaring anarchism a “philosophy”, an “ethic”, a “principle”, or a “way of life” rather than a political movement. An existential attitude is one thing; organizing for political change is another. Without proper organizing, anarchism is easily reduced to a noble idea, reflecting religion or hipsterism more than political ambition. At the same time, anarchism is not just antiauthoritarian class struggle. It is broader and includes activities that range from setting up social centers to deconstructing gender norms to conceiving alternative forms of transportation. Anarchism’s prefigurative dimension has always included questions that didn’t fit narrow definitions of the Left: dietary, sexual, and spiritual concerns as well as matters of personal ethics.
Anarchism and the Left: Social democracy and Leninism
As a political movement that historically belongs to the Left, the relationship between anarchism and social democracy as well as Leninism is of importance. We ought to remember that the ultimate goal – a stateless and classless society guaranteeing the free development of all – was originally the same for all three currents.
Often, the three currents are characterized as left (social democracy), radical left (Leninism), and ultra left (anarchism). We think this is misleading. We should rather think of a triangle where each current is equally far away from the other. While anarchism and Leninism share a revolutionary stance, and Leninism and social democracy Marxist roots, anarchism and social democracy both reject the dictatorship of the proletariat. Anarchism is as close to social democracy as it is to Leninism, and vice versa.
The major criticisms levied at anarchism from Marxist ideologues (social democratic or Leninist) are: a) anarchism is naïve, that is, it has an idealized understanding of human nature and social organization; b) anarchism is reckless, that is, it has no understanding of how to bring about political change and therefore encourages heedless action that, in the worst case, allows reactionary forces to prevail; c) anarchism is petty-bourgeois, that is, it is so much concerned with individual liberty that it disregards social justice.
Some of this criticism is valid, but it only concerns certain tendencies within anarchism. Overall, the anarchist understanding of human nature was, in fact, much more nuanced than that of other left-wing currents (for example, regarding the psychology of power). In terms of bringing about political change, some anarchist actions might have been reckless but most have been well-measured and thought-through. And while there have been individualistic tendencies, they never defined the movement as a whole. Perhaps most importantly, anarchism has, regardless of its true or alleged shortcomings, a number of advantages over its left-wing cousins:
* Anarchism has a stronger critique of the nature of authority. Whatever you want to say about the supposed simplicity of anarchist theory, in God and the State, written in 1871, Mikhail Bakunin summarized the fate of what would later become the Soviet Union in two pages. He predicted that a revolutionary party assuming power would form a new ruling elite, prevent people’s liberation, and effectively prepare its own downfall. Today, prominent Marxists such as John Holloway, Slavoj Žižek, and Alain Badiou speak of the need for a communism without the state and the party as if this was a new invention. Anarchists have been saying this all along.
* Anarchists have always paid strong attention to the cultural aspects of power, while, at the end of the day, Marxism has focused on economic relationships, with the economic base determining the cultural superstructure. While lip service has been paid to this relationship being dynamic and dialectical, it has seldom led Marxists to pay the same attention to cultural struggles as anarchists have.
* Not only cultural aspects of power have been emphasized by anarchists but also the multiplicity of oppression. Only some strains of anarchism have shared the Marxist inclination to delegate supposedly non-working-class struggles to side issues. Anarchists have, for example, formulated stronger critiques of patriarchy and nationalism. In a time when terms such as “multiple oppression” and “intersectionality” are in vogue, anarchism can rightfully claim a pioneering role.
* While – like their Marxist counterparts – most classical anarchists believed in scientific progress as a necessity for moving toward a liberated society, anarchism is characterized neither by a deterministic understanding of history nor by Eurocentric rationalism. Elitist concepts of scientists as a quasi-leading class were criticized early on, while utopian perspectives have been held in high regard rather than being dismissed as distractive pipe dreams. With historical materialism looking shakier than ever, this speaks in anarchism’s favor.
* At least some prominent anarchists, such as Leo Tolstoy and Gustav Landauer, understood the need for a “spiritual revolution”. Not to indulge in hocus-pocus but to emphasize the need of changing the human soul in order to change the world. A spiritual dimension makes radical politics richer, not poorer.
* Anarchists’ skepticism toward historical materialism has often earned them the Marxist accusation of being “voluntaristic”, that is, of believing that revolutionary processes are dependent on people choosing (having the will – voluntas) to support them. Marxists consider this shallow, insisting on economic realities determining individual consciousness and therefore individuals’ capacity for political action. It is the anarchists who are right. Social change comes from people wanting social change.
* In the work of later twentieth-century anarchists – for example, in that of Murray Bookchin, Paul Feyerabend, and the so-called anarcho-primitivists, with all their problems – the trust in technology has been challenged in ways that Marxist theory has not been able to rival. In times when technology’s role in the social and ecological crises we are facing becomes ever more evident, it is impossible not to give the anarchists credit for this.
* The anarchist is the permanent critic. With a strong skepticism toward both totalitarian ideologies and personality cults, anarchists have always been quick to point out flaws in political movements. While this has problematic connotations – from being a nuisance to, at times, hindering collective organizing – it is also essential for preventing power relations from becoming stale and dogmatic.
* Anarchism’s “prefigurative” politics give it a strong practical edge that allows for changes in everyday life that few other political ideologies have been able to generate.
* Anarchism’s focus on diversity begets rich forms of political intervention. In terms of creativity and innovation, anarchism easily outwits the Marxist Left.
Anarchism and revolution
The single biggest weakness of anarchism is the lack of a viable concept of revolution, meaning a radical redistribution of power and wealth. This is particularly striking when considering anarchism’s revolutionary claims. Distancing oneself from “reformist”, “liberal”, or “moderate” forces is an integral part of the anarchist identity.
No anarchist society of any significant scale has ever been established outside of circumstances of war. None of them lasted for more than a couple of years. Anarchists routinely blame the ruthlessness of the capitalists’ lackeys and the backstabbing nature of the Marxists for this. There is truth in both, but it is not a sufficient explanation for anarchism’s poor revolutionary record. An important factor is anarchists denying themselves – for good and honorable reasons – to occupy a role that most revolutions require. The often-quoted words of Friedrich Engels are true: “Have these gentlemen ever seen a revolution? A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is an act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon, all of which are highly authoritarian means.” Anarchists have no satisfying answer to this dilemma. Attempts have been made, but none of them are compelling. The most significant ones can be summarized as follows:
a) A “dropping-out” approach, which received its strongest theoretical backing in the settlement theories of Gustav Landauer. Landauer suggested building an anarchist society through autonomous rural communities and cooperatives rather than through attacking the state. It is a beautiful idea, but radical communes have come and gone for about 150 years without ever substantially threatening capitalism and state power. As soon as they are bothersome they are destroyed or integrated into the capitalist market; in the past decades, the commercialization of “alternative culture” has been but one striking example of the latter.
b) A “radical reformist” approach, where people speak of a “revolution in stages” or of revolution as a “process” rather than a “rupture”. What hides behind these formula is usually little more than a traditional reformist approach peppered with radical rhetoric. It shouldn’t concern us much.
c) An “insurrectionist” approach that transfers the notion of revolution from structural change to a moment of blissful empowerment. There is nothing wrong with insurrections. They reveal social contradictions, they temporarily turn power relations upside down, they inspire, and more. But they do not change society’s basic power structures; and if they do contribute to the creation of a power vacuum, it might indeed be filled by reactionaries when radical counter-structures aren’t in place. While insurrections can be important elements of a revolution, conflating them with the revolution itself is like confusing a face-off with the game of hockey.
d) A “collapsist” approach, which deems any attempt to correct the current order futile, since only catastrophic events can and will bring its end. In this logic, anarchist activism means getting prepared for the catastrophe in order to replace the vanishing power structures (“civilization”) with small and independent anarchist communities. The main problem with this scenario is the absence of any mechanism other than the rule of force allowing us to deal with the inevitable social conflict it implies. In other words, collapsism easily lapses into Social Darwinism. And even if it doesn’t, assuming a collapse is no basis for sound political action. It is very daring – to say the least – to advocate no longer trying to correct the system because it will soon come down anyway. What if it won’t? Turning defeatism into a virtue won’t help us.
The fact that anarchism has no viable theory of revolution does not discredit it or suggest it to be insignificant. In fact, anarchism’s historical influence far exceeds even the estimations of most anarchists. Anarchism has always been an important engine for social change. The eight-hour work day, free speech, antimilitarism, abortion rights, LGBTQ liberation, antiauthoritarian pedagogy, veganism, etc. – once upon a time, all of these struggles were to a significant degree spearheaded by anarchists. It’s just that none of them proved revolutionary. Instead, they have mostly been integrated into the development of the capitalist nation state.
Anarchists need to be honest. Either they admit to being reformists with a radical edge (nothing wrong with that if made explicit), or they work on actually developing a revolutionary perspective. Radical posturing and dismissing “reformist”/“liberal”/“moderate” politics is embarrassing if your own politics aren’t any more revolutionary than those of NGOs, church groups, or welfare organizations.
Anarchism’s problems today
The problem of revolution has haunted anarchism since its inception. Other problems have come and gone, depending on historical circumstances and the state of the movement. Here are the main ones we’re able to identify today:
* There is an unfortunate sense of moral superiority, which often overshadows political work. The underlying problem seems to be that two motivations overlap when people become active in anarchist circles: one is that you want to change the world; the other is that you want to be better than the average person. The latter easily leads to self-marginalization since any sense of moral superiority relies on belonging to a selected few rather than the masses. When this becomes dominant, your identity takes precedent over your actions and pointing out the personal shortcomings of others over political change. Ironically, the main targets are often people from within our own ranks rather than the enemy, following the sorry logic of, “If you can’t hit the ones you need to hit, you hit those within arm’s reach.” The combination of judging outsiders while competing with insiders for the moral top-dog position is incompatible with any movement claiming revolutionary integrity.
* The anarchist movement is, by and large, a subculture. Subcultures are great. They provide a home to people (sometimes a life-saving one), they help preserve activist knowledge, they allow for experimentation, and so on. But dissent is not revolution. So if the politics are reduced to the subculture, the revolutionary rhetoric becomes empty and alienating. People hate this and fuck that, but to what end?
* The default mode (mood) of many anarchist circles ranges from grumpy to outright rude. At times, our supposed microcosms of a liberated world are among the most uninviting places imaginable: dark, dirty, and populated by folks who confuse unfriendliness with rebellion. Acting like a jerk does not make you more radical, it just makes you a jerk. Sadly, belligerence also characterizes internal debates. The threads on some anarchist online forums are among the safest means to turn people off anarchism for good. A radical approach to conflict is characterized by openness and self-criticism, not anonymous growling.
* Despite the theoretical embrace of individuality and diversity, many anarchist scenes are incredibly uniform. Any average coffee shop on main street brings together a wider variety of people than most anarchist venues. There are historical reasons for this, but essentially, anarchist culture – the language, the appearance, the social codes – is simply very homogenous. How anarchist are environments in which people feel uncomfortable because of what they wear, eat, or listen to?
* There is a crucial divide in anarchist circles between activists who are opposed to injustice and activists who experience injustice. All activists need to work together to effectively change anything, but the different motivations need to be considered. While people who follow a missionary call tend to be rather ideological, people affected by injustice are often more pragmatic. If such a difference is not recognized, people will drift apart. In the worst case, only the ideologues remain, with abstract debates about personal identity or acceptable language assuming the supposed forefront of radical politics while losing any connection with political work on the ground. Radical politics, then, becomes primarily an intellectual exercise that says next to nothing about the quality of its protagonists as dedicated and reliable comrades.
* The concepts of a free space and a safe space, respectively, are often confounded. Safe spaces, that is, spaces where people can count on finding care and support, are needed in the world we live in. But they are spaces that fulfill a certain purpose. They are not the free spaces we seek to establish, that is, spaces in which people speak their mind, engage in debate, and commonly solve the problems that arise in the process. What makes people safe in the long run is the collective ability to negotiate boundaries. Absolute safety is impossible. Vulnerabilities, misunderstandings, and irritations are part of social life and will not disappear even in the most anarchist of societies.
* The idea that everyone should be allowed to do everything is confused with the idea that everyone is able do everything. The introduction of skills or the passing on of knowledge by experienced activists and organizers is scoffed at. This leads to encountering the same pitfalls and reinventing the wheel over and over again.
* There exists an almost complete lack of vision and strategic orientation in the anarchist movement. In addition, organizational structures are in crisis. Spontaneity, the affinity group model, and a romanticized understanding of multiplicity have become hegemonic. All of these notions are riddled with flaws. The only longterm communities they allow consist of a handful of friends, which is an insufficient basis for the organizing required for broad social change. The main answer to this from within the anarchist movement, namely platformism, underestimates the importance of individual responsibility, which leads to a confusion of formality with efficiency (we will return to this in the final chapter).
What needs to be done?
The anarchist subculture is widespread. It enjoys a solid infrastructure and a steady flow of new recruits (albeit with a high turnover). It is easily able to sustain itself, it provides an identitarian haven for folks rejecting “mainstream”, “bourgeois”, or “straight” culture, and it has all the advantages that subcultures have (see above). Anarchism also produces influential ideas, inspiring forms of social interaction, and a lively culture of protest. All of this makes for an exciting political playground and confirms the relevance of anarchism in everyday life. So, if the lack of a revolutionary perspective doesn’t bother us, there is not much to worry about. The subculture is not threatened by the problems listed above. But if we find that giving up a revolutionary perspective is too much of a sacrifice (and if we don’t want to lose anarchist comrades with strong revolutionary commitments to orthodox Marxism), we need to make the development of such a perspective possible. Here are some suggestions:
1. Anarchists have to be clear about what they want and honest about what they can do.
2. The will to change society must be more important than promoting your identity as a holier-than-thou radical.
3. Anarchists have to speak in ways that people who are not part of an initiated scene are able to understand. Language is always in flux and problematic expressions must be challenged, but anarchist discussions need to be engaging not alienating.
4. We need visions. Contrary to what’s become a mantra for many anarchists, visions are not blueprints trying to dictate people’s behavior. Anarchist visions simply outline concrete ideas about what anarchists want. Without formulating such ideas, no one outside anarchist circles will give a damn about what anarchists have to say. To constantly prefigure is not enough. At some point, it is time to figure.
5. Strategy has been misconstrued as a rigid activist master plan. To develop strategy simply means to have a proposal for how to achieve what you want to achieve. If you give this up, you give up revolutionary work.
6. There is no contradiction between building autonomous structures and intervening in the dominant order. This is a bogus conflict that is unnecessary and hurtful. The same is true for the alleged conflict between personal praxis (“lifestyle”) and collective organizing. One strengthens the other.
7. We need a transformation of values. As long as we want all the stuff that is produced, we will not be able to downsize the political and economic system to a level that is both ecologically and socially sustainable.
8. A critique of technology must be a part of any revolutionary movement. Technology makes people dependent on systems they have no control over and require a complexity of social organization impossible to maintain on a grassroots level. We need to reject nuclear power and other supposed blessings holding the earth and humankind hostage, question progress as an indispensable means of making the world a better place, scrutinize rationalism and science, and focus on small-scale communities.
9. If you ask anarchists why they focus more on certain struggles than on others, the most usual reply is that “all struggles are important”. But that’s no answer to the question. The issue is not whether all struggles are important (of course they are), but why we prioritize some over others. Yes, subjective factors play a role: you focus on the struggles that most concern you or that you feel most competent in. Yet, if we claim to be revolutionaries, we also need to identify the struggles that hold the strongest revolutionary promise. Moral urgency does not necessarily correlate with revolutionary potential. Most struggles are not revolutionary in themselves, they need to be made revolutionary through concrete connections to revolutionary politics.
10. The embrace of diversity has always been one of anarchism’s strengths, but it must not become an excuse for neglecting analysis. Any nonsense can be justified with the “need for diversity”, as if this was a blank check for doing whatever you want. For example, not all tactics are equally useful at any given time; they have to be chosen according to our possibilities and the specific situation at hand. What do we want? Who is involved? What can realistically be done? What are our means? Diversity is good when it stands for openness, flexibility, and a range of options. But if it is celebrated as a virtue in itself, radical politics becomes like neoliberal shopping: you pick whatever tickles your fancy.
11. Open discussion is essential for both a fruitful intellectual environment and processes of liberation. When people say or do things that others consider problematic, they need to be involved in discussion rather than scolded, disciplined, or silenced.
12. Labels are a no-go for many anarchists. “It’s not important what you call yourself, it’s important what you do.” At face value this seems convincing. However, a label is but a word, words are tools for communication, and in communication we are reliant on shorthands. Putting a label on the contents of our politics allows others – friends and foes – to get an idea of what we stand for. This is how we build community and solidarity. There would have never been a “communist threat” had there not been a word for it. It is important for a social movement of like-minded people to have a common name.
13. We need to build organizations that are anarchist in nature – and openly so – but able to play a crucial role in broader social movements and people’s organizations (trade unions, tenant unions, consumer groups, sports associations, etc.). Anarchist organizations need to provide a network for discussion, common action, and mutual support. While this requires a certain degree of formality, formality must not be confused with efficiency. Efficiency always relies on the individual qualities of the organization’s members, that is, responsibility, reliability, and accountability. This is why platformism is no answer to the crisis in anarchist organizing. We need something more adaptable.
14. The importance of individual qualities must be taken seriously. If we reject top-down mechanisms to ensure that things get done, people must be committed to doing them themselves. The anarchist reality is far from this. Many anarchists only do things when they “feel inspired to”; many have all sorts of opinions about what others should do without ever doing anything themselves; many are unreliable and irresponsible, loving to denounce those calling them on their conduct as “authoritarians”; many use meetings for egocentric babble rather than sensible decision-making. If these tendencies prevail, there is no hope for anarchism to ever become a revolutionary movement.
15. There needs to be a new synthesis in anarchism. People with different focuses – the workplace, patriarchy, militarism, and so forth – need to work together, unite around a shared set of principles, and agree on a common strategy in which their different tactics are coordinated in the most beneficial way. Exclusive claims to anarchist representation do everyone harm, the respective group included.
16. Anarchists need to understand the limits of anarchists politics. Depending on the goals of a specific struggle, a social democratic or Leninist approach might be more appropriate. Defending the welfare state is a reformist struggle, and if anarchists deem it worthwhile, they might be most effective as extra-parliamentary support troops to social democratic efforts. Likewise, Indian farmers might consider a protracted people’s war – and therefore Leninism in its Maoist variety – the most promising response to the state repression they are facing; if anarchists want to support these farmers, they’ll have to make ideological concessions. Sectarianism within the Left needs to go, and anarchists have to do their part.
17. Many anarchists associate cadres exclusively with Leninist politics. This is unfortunate. Essentially, a cadre is but a full-time organizer, and there’s a difference between a full-time organizer and a weekend activist. Cadres deserve no privileges but their experiences and dedication need to be recognized – not for their own sake but for the sake of the movement. Cadres also need to prepare for revolutionary situations, the lack of which has been one of anarchism’s biggest historical weaknesses.
18. Stubbornly avoiding discussions about leadership hurts the anarchist movement. There are always leaders in social groups, whether you use the name or not. Only when this is acknowledged can the authoritarian and exploitative aspects of leadership be kept at bay. Otherwise, they will work in non-transparent and unaccountable ways, which is characteristic of many anarchist groups.
19. We must be aware of anarchism’s origins. Anarchism holds no monopoly on antiauthoritarian thought, which, in various shapes and forms, can be found across all cultures and ages. Yet, anarchism as a self-professed political movement is a product of the socio-political conditions of nineteenth-century Europe. This has cultural implications that characterize the movement to this day and prevent it from spreading they way most anarchists would like it to. The answer is not to claim that all antiauthoritarian currents are essentially “anarchist” (which, in the worst case, is a form of colonial co-optation; if people choose not to use the name “anarchism” for their politics, they have a reason). The answer is rather for anarchists to prove that they are worthy collaborators in a global struggle for liberation.
20. So-called ally politics can serve as a guiding principle for anarchists involved in social struggles carried by others, but the concept needs to be understood right. To mindlessly say yes to what someone else demands of you is self-abnegation and has nothing to do with radicalism. Besides, no one individual or group ever represents a community, so we can never surrender our own responsibility to make decisions by referring to someone else’s authority. We need to be accountable for the decisions we make. It can be mandatory to accept others’ leadership in struggle, but we always need to critically engage with them in order to collectively bring the struggle forward.
21. We need serious discussions about the possibilities and impossibilities of armed struggle; not a childish romanticization of rioting or crime, but an investigation into how power is distributed and maintained, and how this can be challenged militantly, which, in most cases of deepened social conflict, will be necessary. Furthermore, if we are really serious about revolution, we cannot make the army and the police the perpetual enemy. Almost all revolutions were reliant on bringing parts of the army and the police into their ranks, and the military options of guerrilla groups are decreasing drastically in times of high-tech warfare. This is a reality we need to deal with, no matter how uncomfortable it is.
22. We need to reconsider economic compensation. DIY culture is formidable in preserving independence, encouraging creativity, and nurturing resourcefulness. However, once the boundary to self-exploitation has been crossed, it is almost exclusively middle-class folks (predominantly male, predominantly white) who remain.
23. Pursuing revolution for revolution’s sake is pointless. The only thing justifying a revolution is that it makes people’s lives better. This must be reflected in everything revolutionaries do.
(1) We meant to sidestep footnotes in this text but found a quick explanation of how we use the terms “social democracy”, “Leninism”, and “Marxism” unavoidable. While anarchism split from Marxist currents within the Left early on (the expulsion of Mikhail Bakunin and James Guillaume from the First International’s 1872 congress in The Hague is often regarded as a pivotal moment), the split between reformist social democrats and revolutionary Leninists only occurred with the Russian Revolution of 1917. At the time, both currents were still considered Marxist and committed to the creation of a socialist society. In the social democratic movement, this ideological orientation quickly faded amidst parliamentary realities and, by the 1930s, it had disappeared from basically all social democratic party constitutions. Today’s self-titled social democratic parties are out of touch with this history and pursue neoliberal politics with a whiff of Keynesianism. We do not refer to these parties when we speak of “social democracy” in this text but to a tradition of earnest Marxist politics within the realm of parliamentarianism. Some, albeit few, leftist parties today continue this tradition.
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