It’s a good bet a culture is in trouble when its best-known intellectuals start ransacking the cultural inventory of its ancestors and its contemporary inferiors for tips on how to live. The malaise is all the more remarkable when the culture in question is the modern American variant of Enlightenment rationalism and progress, a creed not known for self-doubt or failures of nerve. The deeper the trouble, the more we are seen to have lost our way, the further we must go spatially and temporally to find the cultural models that will help us. In the stronger versions of this quest, there is either a place – a Shangri-la – or a time, a Golden Age, that promises to reset our compass to true north.
So to keep the rhetoric and material in Modern Slavery alive with tales of slave revolts and insurrections, I inadvertently picked this book up while on my way through some airport, somewhere. After looking at the young face of the author, and reading that his alma mater was Harvard, and that he had received a number of prizes during his years there, my worries grew; surely this couldn’t be a book that demonizes slaves for revolt? Harvard is a primitive place – but could it have reverted even deeper into the muck of ruling class snobbery, inbred genetic mutation, and bad nicknames? Finally I relented and bought the damn thing – what the hell, its better than watching the movie on the plane.
Since its publication in 1844, Max Stirner’s book Der Einzige und Sein Eigentum (entitled The Ego and Its (or His) Own in the currently available English editions) has rarely been dealt with on its own terms. When not simply suppressed, it has been misrepresented or used as a foil to promote agendas foreign to it. Alfredo Bonanno described it well in his book Max Stirner when he says, “The first duty toward Stirner: incomprehension.” Certainly, the few books written about Stirner and his ideas in English in the past century have reflect this lack of even a minimal understanding of what Stirner was doing. This is what makes John F. Welsh’s book distinctive.
I tend to resist generational explanations for things, but there does seem to be at least a partial correlation between the moment in which we are first politicized and the sensibility we carry with us ever after. There's lots more to it, and any given moment produces not one sensibility but many, often mutually contradictory.
The Value of Radical Theory is a well-written, non-sectarian introduction to Marxism from an anarchist perspective. It highlights both the key differences between Marxism and anarchism and the potential for mutual learning. It engages with Marxism on the grounds of critical solidarity, which is the most promising start for any fruitful exchange.
The revival of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) – a syndicalist grouping, has seen it remaining on the margins of various labour movements throughout the Anglo world. In the case of Australia, it has extreme “sect” features with its major “organising” accomplishments in Sydney lately being so called “workers picnics” and other social occasions and jamborees, catering mainly for students and the leftist fringe. Whilst its major industrial activity has been typically of late limited to university campuses.
Kropotkin was a great popular scientific journalist and pamphleteer. Dugatkin’s brief introduction to him broadly follows in this tradition. Dugatkin’s booklet/pamphlet isn’t a heavy academic work but written in the style or genre of serious but popular scientific literature with the admirable intention of providing a short, modern and basic introduction to Kropotkin’s evolutionary theories.
The leading anarchist thinkers see the role of literature as an instrument of questioning the status quo, showing alternatives, waking up the hearts and stimulating the minds. Humans have a unique sensitivity to narrative and it's often through story telling that the deepest insights into human condition and the widest exploration of alternative social setups can be achieved.
The Anarchist International (AI) is a complicated thing. A mysterious book that details some of the the past, a bit of the present (mostly Greece), and possible future (America, looking at you) of anarchists throughout the world. The AI, is the magically secretive organization of anarchists throughout time and the book details some of it's more famous members, while attempting to build strategy for the future. The style throughout the book is admittedly different and seems to be composed by more than one author.
Anarchists tend to look embarrassed when the subject of economics comes up. Or we mumble something about Proudhon and then sheepishly borrow ideas from Karl Marx. It has always struck me as ironic that anarchism began largely as an economic theory, think only of Josiah Warren, Proudhon and Tucker, but then abandoned the field to the Marxists.