“We will counterattack three corporations for their worldwide terrorism in the next six months.” So declares the eco-anarchist group “The East” near the beginning of Zal Batmanglij’s new film of the same name. With this politically tinged suspense and action film, Batmangilij seeks to break the mold of the usual formulaic summer blockbusters. The director of earlier sci-fi inflected dramas, Batmanglij appears to want to surf the frenzy of Occupy Wall Street and the Tar Sands Blockade that grabbed headlines. The film delves into questions around justice, violence, community, commitment, and ultimately asks the viewer, Which side are you on?
Back before many people had discovered the internet a small group of anarchists including this writer began work on the Anarchist FAQ. We were tired of having to provide the same basic explanations over and over as new people joined the news net group, alt.soc.anarchism, so we began the FAQ so newcomers could be referred to it.
I have little patience for Žižek. To some he might be a critical provocateur, but he is really more of a philosophy-themed stand-up comic (whose verborrhea overflows into the writing of too many books). It is to be expected that the mainstream press, when they pick up on him, write silly things. It is also to be expected that more learned readers will respond with subtler interpretations. None of this really matters to most anarchists; it certainly matters very little to me. But, considering a recent piece of his and its repercussions, I was afforded an insight, a new way to say what some of us already know…
In 1830 after destroying a threshing machine at Barham in Kent, the Elham gang shouted out to farmer Sankey to “get up and bring us some Beer for we have been to work damn hard” (p. 175). At Stockbridge, protestors demanded four sovereigns from a Reverend Cutlet as “remuneration for their day’s work”. These actions capture both the ‘audacity’ and claims to legitimacy of those known as Captain Swing, the popular, myth-inspiring name used by bands of agricultural labourers who roamed the English countryside in the 1830s smashing threshing machines and firing ricks of hay. By asserting that “forms of protesting were also ‘work’”, as Carl Griffin notes here, “Swing groups could claim moral legitimacy in their actions”.
Lucy Parsons (c. 1853-1942) is worthy of a great biography. She took an active part in the American anarchist and labour movements from the 1870s to her death and should be better known to today’s radicals. Anyone described by the Chicago Police Department as “more dangerous than a thousand rioters” is worthy of remembrance. So the reprinting of Carolyn Ashbaugh’s Lucy Parsons: American Revolutionary should be welcome news – except that the book is so terrible.
Chris Crass is an anarchist organizer. For those whose perception of anarchism begins and ends with broken windows, this may seem like an oxymoron. The tradition has a tortured relationship with organizing. Anarchism’s fingerprints can be found on many of the important social movements since the late 1980s; ranging from the AIDS activism of ACT-UP to the anti-nuclear and Global Justice Movements. Other currents within the anarchist tradition hold organizing leads to hierarchy, compromise and cooptation. The anti-organizing voice of anarchism is at its most articulate in recent tracts such as “The Coming Insurrection” and a wealth of books and manifestos from the Crimethinc collective.
Stephanie McMillan, an interior and cover designer at PM Press, is probably best known for As the World Burns (also Seven Stories Press), her collaborative graphic novel with Derrick Jensen meant as deep political satire, but which came across as naive Sierra Club-worthy pabulum. The Beginning of the American Fall -- is there a double entendre in there? -- is a combination comic book and political manifesto, which is really nothing much more than an amalgam of feel-good liberalism (hence the 2012 RFK Center for Human Rights Journalism Award) and Stalinist Popular Frontism.
The year 2012 didn’t bring us the end of the world, nor the end of capitalism and Coca-Cola that Evo Morales promised last summer. It still remains to be seen whether or not it will have ushered in the resurgence of indigenous resistance that was proclaimed by the more than 40,000 Zapatistas who marched in Chiapas on December 21st. But whatever new political developments the coming years may or may not bring upon us, it’s clear that we haven’t seen the end of the apocalyptic outlook that 2012 came to represent.
This ideological double bind is no less relevant to party politics as practised in contemporary Canberra as it was to what British Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm termed, in his book of the same name, "the age of extremes".
This book is designed to provoke its readers, to bring our awareness to the egoist side of the anarchist family tree, an insistently forceful elbowing past the Leftist gatekeepers into the festivities. The individualists and egoists featured in this volume are an indisputable part of the actual real anarchist tradition -- whether other anarchists like it or not. As impertinent as an unwanted guest, the authors featured in EoS may be frequently annoying (the constant presence of a rather arrogant and obnoxious S. E. Parker -- who eventually abandoned his adherence to anarchism -- begins to grate even after only three or four entries).
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Infoshop Library: This week we will resume adding content to the Infoshop Library (http://www.infoshop.org/Library), which has been relocated to new software on our site. Content from the old library will be re-added to the library in the next couple of months. We will also be planning ways for more volunteers to get involved with this project.
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