A Review of Maia Ramnath's Decolonizing Anarchism: an Antiauthoritarian History of India’s Liberation Struggle and Haj to Utopia: How the Ghadar Movement Charted Global Radicalism from Anarkismo.
What the Institute for Anarchist Studies’ Maia Ramnath has achieved with these two books whose angles of approach differ yet which form companion volumes in that they intersect on the little-known anarchist movement of South Asia, is a breathtaking, sorely-needed re-envisioning of anarchism’s forgotten organisational strength in the colonial world which points to its great potential to pragmatically combat imperialism today.
Anarchism’s Anti-imperialism Enabled its Global Reach
To paint the backdrop to Ramnath’s work, we need to break with conventional anarchist histories. Lucien van der Walt and Steven Hirsch’s Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Post-Colonial World (2010) states: “The First International provided the womb in which the anarchist movement emerged, but the formal meetings of the International, its press, and its debates were located within the body of a dynamic global working class and peasant network. Anarchism had an organised presence in Argentina, Cuba, Egypt and Mexico from the 1870s, followed by Ireland, South Africa and Ukraine in the 1880s. The first anarchist-led, syndicalist, unions outside of Spain (the Spanish Regional Workers’ Federation, 1870) and the USA (the Central Labor Union, 1884) were Mexico’s General Congress of Mexican Workers (1876) and Cuba’s Workers’ Circle (1887). These were the immediate ancestors of the better known syndicalist unions that emerged globally from the 1890s onwards. To put it another way, anarchism was not a West European doctrine that diffused outwards, perfectly formed, to a passive ‘periphery.’ Rather, the movement emerged simultaneously and transnationally, created by interlinked activists on [four] continents – a pattern of inter-connection, exchange and sharing, rooted in ‘informal internationalism,’ which would persist into the 1940s and beyond.” They concluded that to “speak of discrete ‘Northern’ and ‘Southern’ anarchist and syndicalist movements’” as is common in contemporary anarchist discourse, “would be misleading and inaccurate.”
This title is available from AK Press! Order now!
Imperiled Life theorizes an exit from the potentially terminal consequences of capital-induced climate change. It is a collection of reflections on the phenomenon of catastrophe—climatological, political, social—as well as on the possibilities of overcoming disaster.
The fourth title in our Anarchist Intervention Series, co-published with AK Press! With a Foreword by IAS board member and member of the editorial collective of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory Paul Messersmith-Glavin.
Javier Sethness-Castro presents the grim news from contemporary climatologists while providing a reconstructive vision inspired by anarchist intellectual traditions and promoting critical thought as a means of changing our historical trajectory.
Praise for Imperiled Life:
“Imperiled Life is an angry and urgent dissection of the omnivorous economic system that is mercilessly turning the planet into a death camp.”—Jeffrey St. Clair, author Born Under a Bad Sky
About the author:
Javier Sethness-Castro is a libertarian socialist and an animal rights advocate. Imperiled Life is his first book.
I want to get started off in a way that helps me get rid of the butterflies, and helps get us stirred as well. You know we always say, “Power to the People.” And usually the response back is, “All Power to the People.” If you don’t mind indulging me: “Power to the People!” (audience response) “All Power to the People!”
Second thing, to just take us back, again. There’s a little chant that goes along with a little march, that we used to do. I need your participation with it, if I may. It’s gonna go something like this: I’m gonna say, “Hold Your Head Up High, Panther’s Marching By. We Don’t Take No Jive.” When I say, “Sound Off,” you say, “Free the People!” Then at a certain point I’m gonna say, “Break it on down.” And you’re gonna say, “Free the People, Free the People, Free the People,” and then one loud one, “Free the People!” We got it? “Hold Your Head Up High, Panther’s Marching By. We Don’t Take No Jive, Got a Loaded .45. Sound Off!” (audience) “Free the People!” “Sound off!” “Free the People!” Right on!
Now imagine, in certain cities and certain towns where there were chapters, there were rank and file Panthers marching down the street. And here we are with this chant. It is performance, but it’s performance that’s really important. We are trying to show people that we are a disciplined force that is ready to act. We are trying to show people that there is a new role for us to play. And here we are: we’re the Black Panther Party. And it’s not only about the .45, but not without it.
Global capital has weak spots. I want to hit them.
I do not believe, as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri assert in Empire, that there is no “center” to global capital and that any strike at the beast is equally effective. Nor do I believe, as many anarchists do, that attacking any mode of oppression is equally effective. While I firmly believe that all forms of oppression are evil and must be abolished, I do not believe we can or should try to fight them all simultaneously, or that we even need to. Because global capital has weak spots, and we should hit them first.
Proposing a Counterhegemonic Economic System
by Enric Duran, with contributions from members of the Temps de re-voltes collective. firstname.lastname@example.org
Translated by Scott Pierpont email@example.com
January 2008, Translated September 2010
“If people living in an area cannot trade among themselves without using money issued by outsiders, their local economy will always be at the mercy of external factors. Therefore, the first step for any community aiming to become more self-reliant is to establish its own currency system.” (R. Douthwaite, The Ecology of Money, 1999.)
2. Justifications for the Project
3. How it Will Work
4. How to Begin
The Lexicon pamphlet series, a new project of the Institute for Anarchist Studies (IAS), aims to convert words into politically useful tools—for those already engaged in a politics from below as well as the newly approaching—by offering definitional understandings of commonly used keywords. Each Lexicon is a two-color pamphlet featuring one keyword or phrase, defined in about 2,000 words of text, and all pamphlets are available for free from the IAS, or can be downloaded here for printing and sharing. The first five pamphlets, designed by Josh MacPhee of Justseeds Artists' Cooperative and printed by P&L Printing in Denver, are: "Power" by Todd May, "Colonialism" by Maia Ramnath, "Gender" by Jamie Heckert. "Anarchism" by Cindy Milstein, and "White Supremacy" by Joel Olson. Stay tuned for more titles in this growing series.
You can download any of the first five pamplets from AK Press now!
From Against the Grain
On Wednesday January 11th, IAS board member Chris Dixon appeared on Against the Grain Radio on KPFA. You can download the program here.
It's been the strongest current of radical politics to emerge in North America since the early 1990s. Anarchist organizer and scholar Chris Dixon discusses anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist, and non-sectarian politics, exploring the sources of its strengths and the problems that beset it. He also talks about how anti-authoritarian ideas and practices have shaped the Occupy movement.
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