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Anarchy in the UK: The Scotland Branch of AK Press

By Zach | February 9, 2009

It’s been almost twenty years since AK Press was organized as a formal workers’ cooperative in Scotland. The cooperative survived those lean(er) early years due to the youthful energy of its founders, especially Ramsey Kanaan, and the support of anarchists throughout the UK, who were eager to see our ideas flourish.

In 1994, Ramsey moved to the Bay Area to start a new US branch. At that time, AK Press had offices in Edinburgh and London. The latter is now officially closed, but a former collective member there still does a lot of support work. Ever since, the US and UK branches have operated their own distribution networks—that aren’t tied financially, or otherwise—and collaborated on publishing projects as one big collective. Every year (missing only a couple in 14 years), we all get together for our Annual General Meeting (AGM) to discuss business, the state of the movement, and, most importantly, upcoming publishing projects, prospects, and wishlists. The original idea was that each year we’d rotate host countries, but that plan was jettisoned (shortly after I joined the collective, boo-hoo) as the US collective grew and the UK offices shrank slightly. We now host AGMs in the Bay Area.

Well, after all these years I finally had a chance to visit Lex and Mike on their home turf. Lorna and I spent a few days at AKUK last week to catch up on collective goings on, drink fine Scottish ale, and tour their luxurious offices. Lex has been a part of AK Press since its formation as a workers’ cooperative and Mike has been on for more than a decade. As you can see from the photos, they have the same dedication to a tidy work environment as their American comrades!

Most recently the UK offices produced Benjamin Franks’s Rebel Alliances and Volume One of An Anarchist FAQ. They are currently working on AFAQ Vol. Two and are in the initial stages of mapping out a new Proudhon reader with Iain McKay.

Lex hard at work.
The tidy workplace!
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