Still fanning the flames: An interview with Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt

From Revolution by the Book

Dearest readers: We’re absolutely thrilled to bring you this wonderful new interview with Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt, the authors of AK’s stunning new book Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism. In recent months, we’ve posted excerpts from the book, and a roundup of recent reviews, but with today’s post, we’re able to bring you, for the first time, Michael and Lucien’s own thoughts on the book, its genesis, and its usefulness in our current context. Read and enjoy!

Prefiguring Real Universal Health Care, by Alex Bradshaw

People who favor a radically different society do not write much about healthcare. I’m not speaking of liberals or social democrats, but individuals who prefigure a society that empowers communities in which decisions are made directly by people in those communities.

It is understandable why they are reluctant to write about healthcare at great length; for a real, democratic, free health care system based on the needs of the community, in which decisions are decided collectively by health care personnel together with members of the respective community, a complete transformation of extant communities is required. Even when it seems that capitalism is imploding with or without revolution, this is still the epoch dominated by this detrimental economic model. The likelihood that radicals will ever see a society that functions according to the needs of communities through mutual aid, voluntarism, and a dismantling of social hierarchies is highly unlikely. This doesn’t discourage me in the least bit, however, from prefiguring this society, and healthcare’s not an exception.

Driven From Below: A Look at Tenant Organizing and the New Gentrification, by Andrea Gibbons

This essay is the beginning of an attempt to combine theory and practice for radical organizers and activists working to combat gentrification and displacement in cities across the United States. Based on the premise that all real change has to be driven by those most affected by injustice, it takes a detailed look at some of the practical challenges involved in tenant organizing, and the building of long-lived and sustainable structures for horizontal organization and direct democracy. This organizing work is understood to be situated within a framework of neoliberalism and globalization that are the ultimate causes of gentrification and displacement in the inner city.

Protest as Embodied State Practices: An Examination of Hegemonic and Counter-Hegemonic Protest Tactics by Sabrina Alimahomed and Jake Alimahomed-Wilson[1]

Mass mobilization demonstrations have attracted numerous participants to protest a wide array of issues, including capitalist globalization, US militarism, political conventions, and transnational business operations. These recent political convergences in the United States have attracted an endless amount of attention from the state and the media. Numbers of participants have ranged from several hundred to tens of thousands.

In an effort to organize these actions, a specific rational ordering and internalization of state practices has occurred on the part of mainstream protesters. It is our intent to demonstrate the ways in which mass convergences embody particular state practices. We will be examining dominant protest discourses that promote a belief in state sanctioned democracy, techniques of surveillance among protesters, legality of protest tactics, internalization of state authority, and inscriptions of legitimate protest space. Additionally, we will focus on the counter resistance that is present at mass mobilizations in order to further shed light on the relationship between the state and legitimate protest. The counter-hegemonic forms of protest that exist within these larger convergences are often made visible by the scrutiny of other protesters. Specifically, we will analyze the counter-hegemonic forms of resistance that are present by examining the decentralized organizing tactics of the black bloc[2] in the following areas: anonymity, extra-legal spatial formation, and cultural space reclamation. In order to frame the context for such an interrogation of this question, it is important to look at the discourses surrounding these mass convergences.

Are We Addicted to Rioting? by Ryan Harvey - September 24, 2009

Originally posted on

Editor's note: The comments section at the original posting of this article really flesh out this conversation. This shouldn't be read as a critique of the G20 protests specifically, but as prompt to anarchists to ask the right questions as to how we contextualize our actions.

The G20 is upon us, and though BBC world news featured some of "the troubles" in Pittsburgh, on the ground reports hardly match up with the media-inflation, police-inflation, and activist-inflation of the actual thing. As one who was not present in Pittsburgh, I cannot give a first-hand account. Phone calls with friends on the ground and various independent and corporate-media accounts are my window to the events. But as one who has participated in countless similar events, who didn't attend the G20 due to feelings of disconnection/confusion with my own people, I felt strongly enough to write this.

Uri Gordon on Anarchists Against the Wall

Anarchists Against the Wall is an Israeli action group supporting the Palestinian struggle in the West Bank. Join Uri Gordon for a presentation on the achievements and limitations of this joint effort, and for anarchist perspectives on Palestinian national liberation. Gordon is the author of Anarchy Alive! Anti-authoritarian Politics from Practice to Theory.

Filmed by Buddhagem at Bluestocking Books in New York City on Tuesday September 22, 2009

Donate to AAtW

Joel Olson on Fanaticism: Audio Recording

Originally posted on Fires Never Extinguished

The following is the audio from a talk by Joel Olson, put on by the Phoenix Class War Council:

Between Infoshops and Insurrection U.S. Anarchism, Movement Building, and the Racial Order By Joel Olson

This is a slightly revised version of a chapter from the new book Contemporary Anarchist Studies, edited by Randall Amster, Luis Fernandez, etc. (Routledge 2009). Joel Olson teaches political theory at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and has been around anarchist circles in the United States for many years.

Anarchism has always had a hard time dealing with race. In its classical era from the time of Proudhon in the 1840s to Goldman in the 1930s, it sought to inspire the working class to rise up against the church, the state, and capitalism. This focus on “god, government, and gold” was revolutionary, but it didn’t quite know how to confront the racial order in the United States. Most U.S. anarchist organizations and activists opposed racism in principle, but they tended to assume that it was a byproduct of class exploitation. That is, they thought that racism was a tool the bosses used to divide the working class, a tool that would disappear once capitalism was abolished. They appealed for racial unity against the bosses but they never analyzed white supremacy as a relatively autonomous form of power in its own right.

Spoonboy Tour Journal Part 1: Ireland, England

The following is the first segment of my tour journal from a trip I'm on playing acoustic music in Europe. It's less analytical than most of the content we post here, but since I moderate this site I was urged to share it. It's meant to be taken as an anecdotal reflection on my trip, and the anarchist and punk scenes in Europe. Enjoy!

-David Combs a.k.a. Spoonboy

Radical Green Populism: Climate Change, Social Change and the Power of Everyday Practices by E. Colin Ruggero

Over the past decade, climate change has finally established itself as a recognized global problem, drawing attention, discussion and even action from governments, their allies, the media and industry. Further, there is no lack of input from the 'social progressive' perspective, dominated by the Left, Old Left and Corporate-NGO/US Democratic Party. However, there has been comparatively little comment from anti-authoritarian, radical perspectives. This means that even the critical discourse surrounding mainstream climate change solutions has been controlled by a small number of opinions. This is the source of the consumption-heavy, technocratic marketing campaigns that masquerade as solutions; this dominant discourse is little more than a celebration of 'green' consumer goods and, more importantly, large-scale energy systems.

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