By AK Press | October 11, 2014
The Kurdish people are the largest nation in the world without a state. And many Kurds, especially in the autonomous region of Rojava (in Syria), aren’t interested in forming one. This fact often gets lost in the mainstream news accounts of the attacks by ISIS fundamentalists on the Kobanê (a canton in Rojava). No surprise there.
Anarchists are, of course, watching these events closely. Some have even joined the struggle from Turkey. In the hopes of helping people become better informed, here’s a list of readings/listenings. The first is a book we distribute, most are available online, and the last is info about a demo happening today in San Francisco to defend the Kobanê resistance. Destroy all borders and the states that impose them!
* Democratic Autonomy in North Kurdistan: The Council Movement, Gender Liberation, and Ecology (http://www.akpress.org/democratic-autonomy-in-north-kurdistan.html)
* The experiment of West Kurdistan (Syrian Kurdistan) has proved that people can make changes (http://www.anarkismo.net/article/27301)
* A ‘Revolution’ under Attack – the Alternative in midst the War in Syria (http://www.movements.manchester.ac.uk/the-alternative-in-syria/)
* Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria? (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/08/why-world-ignoring-revolutionary-kurds-syria-isis)
* Rojava revolution: building autonomy in the Middle East
* VIDEO: Dilar Dirik on Kobane and Kurdish Women’s Movement (http://kurdishquestion.com/kurdistan/video-dilar-dirik-on-kobane-and-kurdish-women-s-movement.html)
* Anarchists join fight against ISIS to defend Kurdish Autonomous Areas (https://libcom.org/news/anarchists-join-fight-against-isis-defend-kurdish-autonomous-areas-03102014)
* Defend the Kobanê Resistance (https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/10/09/18762632.php)
By AK Press | September 26, 2014
Author and housing activist James Tracy will be heading out on tour soon with his brand-new book Dispatches Against Displacement: Field Notes from San Francisco’s Housing Wars. His confirmed events (so far!) are listed below; we’ll keep this list up to date as more events are confirmed and details are updated.
You can learn more about the book (and read an excerpt) HERE.
October 18 from 10am-5pm: Seattle Tenants’ Union Annual Meeting: A Tenant Convergence @ Emerald City Bible Fellowship, 7728 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118
October 18 at 8pm: Left Bank Books, 92 Pike Street, Seattle, WA 98101
October 19 at 6pm: Reading Frenzy Books, 3628 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland, OR 97227
October 20 at 5pm: Floyd’s Old Town, 118 NW Couch Street, Portland, OR 97209
Portland talks co-sponsored by the Institute for Anarchist Studies, the Hella 503 Collective, PDX Solidarity Network, Black Rose Anarchist Federation, PDX Anarchist Black Cross, Oregon Jericho and others!
October 22 at 8pm: Book Release Party at SUB/Mission, 2183 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110
With: Dark Materials, Bankrupt District, Sun Jin Lui, (Ex-Diskarte Namin)
A split benefit gig for the San Francisco Community Land Trust and PODER ($10 cover)
October 26 at 4pm: Green Apple Books on the Park, 1231 9th Ave., San Francisco, CA 94122
October 29 at 7:30pm: Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics, 518 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94110
“San Francisco’s Housing Wars 2014″ with Erin McElroy of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project and Maria Zamudio of Causa Justa.
November 17 at 7pm: La Casa, 3166 Mt. Pleasant St., Washington, D.C. 20010
November 18 at 7:30pm: Red Emma’s, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201
November 19 at 7pm: Wooden Shoe, 704 South St., Philadelphia, PA 19147
November 20 at 6pm: CUNY Tech (Nam 119), 300 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
“Community, Migration, and Displacement”: Joint book reading with Marta Effinger-Crichlow and Benjamin Shepard. Sponsored by the Human Services Club.
November 21 at 7pm: Brooklyn Commons, 388 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11217
In dialogue with Picture the Homeless, Poverty Initiative, and Retail Action Project members.
November 22 at 6pm: Encuentro Cinco, 9A Hamilton Place, Boston, MA 02108-4701
By AK Press | July 17, 2014
[click on the image to go to a book's web page]
And here are some pamphlets from the Kate Sharpley Library, which can always be counted on to find untold stories and underrepresented angles on all aspects of anarchist history:
|Valeriano Orobon Fernandez: Towards the Barricades
Salvador Cano Carrillo
|News of the Spanish Revolution: Anti-authoritarian Perspectives on the Events
|Free Society: A German Exile in Revolutionary Spain
|Anarchism in Galicia: Organisation, Resistance and Women in the Underground
Eliseo Fernández, Antón Briallos, and Carmen Blanco
|Wrong Steps: Errors In The Spanish Revolution
Juan Garcia Oliver
|A Day Mournful And Overcast
An ‘uncontrollable’ from the Iron Column
|Unknown Heroes: Biographies of Anarchist Resistance Fighters
|My Revolutionary Life
Juan Garcia Oliver interviewed by Freddy Gomez
By AK Press | July 3, 2014
The New Significance recently posted this nice interview with author Mark Bray about his contribution to the book The End of the World As We Know It?
TNS: Hi Mark, and thanks for taking the time to respond to some questions. Before we begin, can you tell readers a bit about yourself and the various projects you’ve been involved in over the years?
Mark: My pleasure! Well, I’m from New Jersey and I’m a member of the new Black Rose Anarchist Federation, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and a PhD Candidate in Modern European History at Rutgers University. Over the years I’ve been involved in the global justice movement, the anti-war movement, student and immigrants’ rights work, labor organizing, and other campaigns. I was also an organizer with the Press and Direct Action working groups of Occupy Wall Street in New York City. I recently published Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street about the role of anarchism in the movement based on my experiences and 192 interviews with organizers in NYC.
TNS: In your contribution to The End of the World As We Know It? (AK Press, 2014) you talk about the “strategic presentation” of the politics of Occupy Wall Street that you and others tried to mobilize as organizers within the Press Working Group. Can you describe what you mean by that?
Mark: Essentially the article discusses how organizers involved in framing the politics of Occupy attempted to transcend popular disdain for the words and language of radical left ideology (such as ‘anarchism’ or ‘communism’) while maintaining their anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian politics and attempting to target the underlying affinity that many Americans feel for the content of anarchist politics when understood without its often cumbersome ideological baggage. In other words, many working class Americans distrust the federal government, reject the notion that politicians are looking out for the interests of everyday people, understand that the banks and corporations have played a destructive role in the economy over the past years, are very sympathetic to the concepts of local autonomy, participatory democracy, etc. but when they’re initially presented as components of ‘anarchism’ or more broadly anti-capitalist politics the conversation often ends there.
So those of us in the Press Working Group, for example, framed talking points and wrote press releases that presented an anti-authoritarian message that focused on issues and values that people already shared in order to get them involved and expose them to opportunities for further radicalization.
TNS: One of the tropes that you point out that is used to justify austerity, in particular, but also capitalism generally is the idea that we need to “live within our means.” This is a genius talking point for liberals and conservatives, who argue for cutting social spending all the while syphoning wealth upwards (indeed, the top 7% of earners actually got richer during the crisis, while the rest of us were told to tighten our belts). But you and the organizers you worked with repurposed this slogan creatively. Can you describe that for us?
Mark: So in the article I focus on four axiomatic, ‘common sense’ political/ethical perspectives that many Americans hold that OWS organizers had a fair amount of success mobilizing in order to redirect away from their reactionary popular usage toward a much more radical direction including: “Shining City Upon a Hill,” “A Fair Day’s Wage for a Fair Day’s Work,” “You Will Always Have the Poor Among You,” and, as you mentioned, “Living Within Your Means.” The right mobilizes around the concept of “Living Within Your Means” in order to capitalize on the commonly held belief that individuals and families should balance their budgets and apply that adage to the affairs of state thereby glossing over the vast differences that separate the two examples. This rhetoric has the effect of silencing protest because it makes people think that their sacrifices are shared across class and strengthen their character.
But Occupy organizers continually emphasized that the ruling class was not enduring any sacrifices, despite the fact that they were to blame for the crisis, while working people suffered although they ‘played by the rules.’ So, as the well-used Occupy slogan went, “Banks got bailed out/We got sold out.” The financial institutions got rewarded for living beyond their means while working people got punished for living within them.
So the potential strength of these kinds of arguments is that they start with already shared premises to demonstrate how the rich habitually thumb their nose at them.
TNS: It was also interesting that you note that the term “austerity” never really gained traction in the US, particularly in press reporting on the economic situation after the market collapse. This is fascinating for a couple of reasons, not least of which is that the US has definitely seen similar trends as Europe, where “austerity” is a common signifier for a certain set of political priorities (i.e. state-sponsored supply-side economics, where wealthy elites are given massive amounts of tax dollars because their operations are deemed “too big to fail”; funding for those bailouts provided by the evisceration of social spending and the repurposing of those dollars as handouts to the rich; etc.). Why do you think the terminology never took hold in the States?
Mark: Yeah, definitely. Well I’m not entirely sure, but I think a part of it has to do with a well-orchestrated effort to drain the financial crisis of any historical context and portray the issues it raised as essentially eternal questions of the role of government in the economy. The politicians and talking heads present the issue as a continual tug of war between liberals and conservatives over how much the government should ‘interfere’ with the free market. From their perspective, this struggle sometimes sways one way, sometimes another, but it transcends historical eras. Therefore, this outlook is at odds with the more historical interpretation of the recent crisis having ushered in an era of austerity that, to one extent or another, has affected many different governments around the world especially in the global north.
Therefore, government cuts are portrayed as victories for the right in this morally charged battle rather than concessions to a broader historical ‘mandate’ to cut back on social services. Also ‘austerity’ is just not a well known word in the United States, relative to many other places, so that may have something to do with it also.
TNS: And would you mind telling us a bit about your recent book, Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street? You catalogue some of these issues in the book, correct?
Mark: Yes, Translating Anarchy is a political analysis of the organizers of Occupy Wall Street in New York City based on 192 interviews with organizers and my own experience. Based on the interviews I document the fact that approximately 72% of organizers had explicitly anarchist or implicitly anarchistic politics despite the mainstream media claim that Occupy was a liberal movement whose aspirations were limited to reforms such as campaign finance reform or a millionaire’s tax.
So the book documents this contrast between the anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian organizers that made the movement happen and the larger liberal base of support that generated so much hype for Occupy with a focus on how the radicals at the core of the movement managed to bring people into the movement by orienting their radicalism in accessible language. Ultimately Occupy Wall Street was successful because it brought together this revolutionary core with a liberal support base, and so moving forward those of us serious about transforming society need to put more effort into promoting our ideas outside of left circles. Translating Anarchy reflects on the successes and failures of that project in New York and situates Occupy within a larger historical context of previous social movements and revolutionary struggles.
By AK Press | June 30, 2014
“The story of land in Detroit is the story of people re-imaging productive, compassionate communities. The land, poisoned and abused by industrial capital for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, holds the relics of mass production. As technologies advanced and capital became more mobile, Detroit and its people were abandoned. Yet within this devastation, people began to see the opportunity to create something new. Calling on the deepest resources of memory, spirit, and imagination, abandoned land is being reclaimed as urban gardens; old factories hold the possibilities of aquaponics, art studios, and bicycle production; neighborhoods ravaged by drugs and violence are organizing to create peace zones where people take responsibility for public safety and personal problem solving. Detroit, once the symbol of industrial mass production, holds the possibility of becoming a new kind of self-sufficient, productive, creative, and life-affirming city.” [from "A Detroit Story"]
When you read mainstream media accounts of the “options” available to Detroit, remember those are generally only the options that take capitalism as a given. Matthew Birkhold, Grace Lee Boggs, Rick Feldman, and Shea Howell contributed a great chapter to our new book Grabbing Back…which offers a different take on the historical and present-day options available to Detroit, and the rest of us.
Read their chapter, “A Detroit Story: Ideas whose Time Has Come,” here.
Get the book here.
By AK Press | May 27, 2014
We’ve got eight amazing books scheduled for the upcoming Fall and Winter seasons. We’ll share more detailed news in the future, but for now, here’s the list:
Dispatches against Displacement: Field Notes from San Francisco’s Housing Wars, James Tracey
Drug War Capitalism, Dawn Paley
I Belong Only to Myself: The Life and Writing of Leda Rafanelli, Andrea Pakieser
Militant Anti-Fascism: A Hundred Years of Resistance, M. Testa
Educating for Insurgency: The Roles of Young People in Schools of Poverty, Jay Gillen
Underground Passages: Anarchist Resistance Culture, 1848–2011, Jesse Cohn
Storm in My Heart: Memories from the Widow of Johann Most, Helene Minkin
Complete Works of Malatesta, Vol. 3: A Long and Patient Endeavour—The Anarchist Socialism of L’Agitazione, 1897–1898, edited by Davide Turcato
By Suzanne | May 16, 2014
Dismantle, the new collection we’re distributing from Thread Makes Blanket Press, has been getting some great press these last couple weeks. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, do yourself a favor! Contributors to the book also have a handful of events lined up—maybe in your neck of the woods—and we encourage you to check them out.
Junot Diaz, one of the founders of VONA, explains in his introduction to Dismantle (an abridged form of which was just published by The New Yorker!):
“I became a published writer and one of the first things I did with that privilege was join some comrades to help found a workshop for writers of color. The Voices of Our Nation Workshop. A kind of Cave Canum, but for all genres and all people of color. Something right out of my wildest MFA dreams, where writers of colors could gather to develop our art in a safe supportive environment. Where our ideas, critiques, concerns, our craft and, above all, our experiences would be privileged rather than marginalized; encouraged rather than ignored; discussed intelligently rather than trivialized. Where our contributions were not an adjunct to Literature but its core.
We’re on our fourteenth year now and the workshop has become a lot of things. We’re a thriving community of artists. We’re a space of learning, of personal growth and yes, at times, of healing. For many of our participants we’re a much-needed antidote to the oppressive biases of mainstream workshops.
But the workshop is deeper things too. Silent things we almost never talk about. For me it’s an attempt to do over that lousy MFA I had. To create in the present a fix to a past that can never be altered.”
Dismantle got this praise from an Afropunk reviewer, too:
“It is important that we feel as though our experiences are represented in the things that we read and Dismantle does a great job of sharing the pure, unadulterated art of writers of color and allowing their work to shine.”
Besides Diaz, contributors to the book comprise a great cast of VONA alumni and instructors including Chris Abani, Nikky Finney, Maaza Mengiste, Minal Hajratwala, Justin Torres, Cristina Garcia, Mat Johnson, Laila Lalami, Mitchell Jackson and many more.
Check out the book HERE, and also at one of these upcoming events if you can:
May 15th, NYC, La Casa Azul Bookstore, 6pm
May 17th, Philadelphia, Wooden Shoe Books, 7pm
May 30th, San Francisco, Modern Times, 8pm (Broadcast live on KPFK!)
June 8th, Seattle, Columbia Branch of Seattle Public Library, 2pm
July 26th, NYC, Bluestockings, 7pm
Details of these events (and up to date event info) can be found HERE.
By AK Press | April 29, 2014
Remember when Lula’s election in Brazil offered some pretense of hope to certain folks on the international left? Remember how the liberals and reformists just stopped referring to him as the New Great Hope once his policies became clear? Brazil has since emerged as a powerful new player on the geopolitical stage, with Lula embracing the legacy of the country’s oligarchic past, paying off huge IMF loans years ahead of schedule, and placing Brazil at the center of political and economic power in the region.
Raul Zibechi’s The New Brazil: Regional Imperialism and the New Democracy is on it’s way back from the printer. Get your order in today, get 25% off, and get schooled not only on exactly how Brazil became the poster child for neoliberal capitalism, but also on how unrest is growing in Brazil to a point that questions the very foundations capital and the state.
By AK Press | April 25, 2014
Did you know that some of the folks involved with the Institute for Anarchist Studies (anarchist grant-givers extraordinaires, and also the co-publishers of our Anarchist Interventions series!) put out a journal, too? Well, now you do—and if you’re the journal-reading type, you should really check it out. It’s been looking pretty snazzy as of late, thanks to some new cover designs and illustrations by Josh MacPhee. And it’s not just good looking! It’s got substance, too—including, in their new issue (#27), contributors’ different takes on the idea of “strategy.” You can see more about the issue, and order your copy (or back issues) HERE.
To give you just a taste of what’s included in the new issue, here’s part of an interview by Perspectives editor Lara Messersmith-Glavin:
An Excerpt from “OCTAVIA’S BROOD: SCIENCE FICTION STORIES FROM SOCIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENTS—An Interview with Walidah Imarisha.”
Co-editors adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha are compiling an anthology of science and speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, and magical realist short fiction, all written by activists working for social change. Under the umbrella of what they call ‘visionary fiction,’ the editors seek to draw from the imaginative and creative potential that exists in the realm of literature to inspire and guide the strategies and dreams of the radical movement.
My co-editor adrienne has said that sci fi is the perfect “exploring ground,” that it gives organizers the opportunity to play with different outcomes and strategies before we have to deal with the real world costs. Based on that, adrienne has been doing Octavia Butler Emergent Strategy Sessions across the country, coming out of a Transformative Justice space at the Allied Media Conference a few years ago. In the Transformative Justice Science Fiction Reader a collective of folks put out, they wrote, “We are four power geeks who come to the Allied Media Conference every year, and we have been developing a space for conversation around science fiction as a tool for our organizing and futurizing… Over the past few years we found each other out, as people thinking about TJ, and as sci fi geeks seeing interesting examples of potential futures rooted in TJ approaches in our isolated reading experiences.”
Emergent strategy focuses on the idea of strategizes that arise organically. You collectively have a shared vision and values, but rather than having a five year strategic plan, you recognize that in a constantly changing landscape, your strategies must be fluid and flexible, must react to the surroundings. It also allows you to use the resources around you, to find value in things that previously you may have dismissed as trash. This idea is really encapsulated in Butler’s book Parable of the Sower, which follows the main character Olamina, who is a young Black woman who lives in a slightly more dystopic future in a gated community. She begins studying skills needed to survive outside of the walls, packs a survival kit bag, and begins envisioning other ways the world could be. When the community is attacked and the walls fall, she finds herself on the outside with her bag, her knowledge and her dreams. She finds people along the way who collectively dream with her to imagine what a new community can look like.
I wrote an article “Science Fiction and Prison Abolition: Lessons To Build Our Futures” for an upcoming issue of The Abolitionist, because I feel that sci fi is actually an ideal place to explore something like prison abolition. Many folks are completely unfamiliar with the idea of community accountability processes that do not depend on the criminal justice system and the prison industrial complex. So this is a great opportunity to have that exploring ground adrienne talked about, to say, without confining us to reality at first, what else is there?
One of our stories in Octavia’s Brood does just that – Kalamu ya Salaam’s story “Manhunter” (an excerpt from a larger piece) focuses on a community of women warriors and leaders who are attempting to keep the human race alive. One of the warriors kills another, and they have a gathering to decide what is to be done with her. It is a powerful scene that shows the complexities of community accountability, and offers solutions rooted in healing rather than retribution.
My partner David Walker, whose story “The Token Superhero” also appears in Octavia’s Brood, wrote, “Life would be easier if people understood that you can be a hero without having a villain.”
Our ability to tell stories shapes how we view our reality around us. If we only hear stories that neatly package good and evil with no understanding of the complexities of situations, how can we begin to see the world through lenses that take into account complexity?
As Black feminist thinker and poet Alexis Pauline Gumbs (also an Octavia’s Brood contributor) said when asked how abolition and science fiction connected to her, “For me prison abolition is a speculative future. It imagines a species with a set of fully developed powers that are right now only fledgling. We are that species.”
Your forthcoming collection owes a great deal of its framework to the thought and writing of Octavia Butler. Ursula LeGuin is often cited as a sci fi writer who explores issues of gender (Left Hand of Darkness) and anarchist social organization (The Dispossessed); Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy grappled with revolution and coalition-building on a planetary scale; Marge Piercy contrasted utopian and dystopian possible futures (Woman on the Edge of Time.) Who are some of the writers that have moved you the most, politically speaking, and what kinds of issues or insights did they address the most successfully? Which issues remain untouched?
Yes, we definitely owe much to Octavia Butler. We call ourselves her brood (a nod to her collection of books Lilith’s Brood) – her children; we do not claim to be Octavia or to do what she would, but we believe we are carrying on that work in countless multitudes of ways, just as she carried on the work handed down to her.
One of our contributors Alexis Pauline Gumbs quotes from an interview Octavia Butler did in the 1980s, where she was asked how it felt to be THE Black female sci fi writer. And she said she never wanted that title. She wanted to be one of many Black female sci fi writers. She wanted to be one of thousands of folks writing themselves into their present and into the future. We believe that is the right that Octavia claimed for each of us – the right to dream as ourselves, individually and collectively. But we also think it is a responsibility she handed down – are we brave enough to imagine beyond the boundaries of “the real,” and then do the hard work of sculpting reality from our dreams?
And we also want to honor many other writers, especially those living at the intersections of multiple identities and oppressions, who have dreamed new worlds and then set about the hard work of making them reality. We know WEB DuBois wrote visionary fiction in 1920, using it as another avenue for discussing the racial landscape of this country, and we want to honor that this lineage of work is long. It is actually ancient. Specifically for adrienne and myself as two Black women, we know that our enslaved ancestors were visionary fiction creators; while in chains, they dreamed of us, their children’s children, free, which was complete science fiction at that time. And then they bent reality to create us. It’s vital for those of us from communities with historic and collective oppression to remember each of us is science fiction. And as such, this is part of that responsibility Octavia laid down for us – we have a responsibility to those who came before, and to those who come after.
To read the rest of the interview—and lots more—check out the new issue!
By AK Press | April 17, 2014
We’re counting the minutes. At some point today, a truck will arrive with newly minted copies of our Malatesta anthology: The Method of Freedom. We’re all big fans of Malatesta’s thought and writing, his tactical insights, his no-nonsense approach, and his uncommon ability to remain generous and comradely even as he debates opponents into smithereens. We like him so much that this anthology will be followed, year by painstaking year, by our ten-volume The Complete Works of Malatesta.
For now, we offer an excerpt as evidence of Malatesta’s continued relevance. It’s his take on the relationship between riots and revolutions (turns out he’s a fan of both), with a few additional paragraphs addressing the question of police infiltration, the nineteenth-century version of snitchjaketing, and how a vital movement should deal with both.
|Click here for the excerpt.|
|Click here to learn more
about the book.
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