Institute for Anarchist Studies Summer 2010 Newsletter!

Institute for Anarchist Studies Summer 2010 Newsletter


Contents:

Announcing Our Grant Awards for Summer 2010
Updates on IAS Grant Projects
Announcing the Second Title in the Anarchist Intervention Book Series
Perspectives on Anarchist Theory: Recent and Next Issues
Renewing the Anarchist Tradition Conference, Rethought for 2010
IAS at the U.S. Social Forum
IAS Meets Twitter
And Finally, If You Love Us, Send Us a Donation!


Announcing Our Grant Awards for Summer 2010

As always, the Institute for Anarchist Studies (IAS) board is pleased to announce our latest grant awards; as always, it was also a tough decision, involving many hours of dialogue and debate to narrow it down to our four grant recipients. The board would like to publicly thank everyone who applied, and of course heartily congratulate Kolya Abramsky, Emma Dixon, James Generic, and the Rosehip Medic Collective on their IAS grant awards. We hope to publish their finished pieces in the online and/or print versions of our journal, Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, in the near future. And now, here’s a glimpse at the four projects, each of which received $500 to assist in the writing process:

“Steps toward Community-Worker-Led Conversion of the Energy-Intensive Industries, Collective Control of Production, Reparations, and De-Growth: Detroit and the World” by Kolya Abramsky

Detroit is an appropriate place to start this discussion, owing to its rich history of struggle against one of the major energy industries (the automobile sector), and the fact that this industry’s future (both in Detroit and elsewhere) is intimately tied to the evolution of the economic-financial crisis as well as the possible ways out of it—ways that could be either emancipatory or authoritarian. The process of building a new energy system, based on greatly expanded uses of renewable energies, has the potential to make an important contribution to a wider process of constructing emancipatory relations of production, exchange, and livelihood in response to the crisis. The kind of massive and rapid reductions in carbon dioxide emissions that is needed will not be possible without far-reaching changes in production and consumption relations at a more general level. Yet this is unlikely unless key means of generating and distributing wealth and subsistence are under some form of common, collective, and participatory decision making and ownership plus are decommodified. The alliances and political perspectives necessary to push such a process do not currently exist. This essay, then, hopes to contribute to bringing together specific social sectors—such as trade union members, self-organized worker organizations, community-oriented reconstruction initiatives in communities affected by the decline of energy-intensive industries, community and worker-oriented renewable energy organizations, and researchers and analysts—to explicitly confront unequal relationships while understanding how an industrial conversion process can be linked to the question of reparations to affected communities and workers.

Kolya has worked for over a decade with a range of grassroots social and environmental organizations, on projects such as educational work, international mobilizations, publications, and translations. For the last seven years he has focused on energy. He recently edited Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution: Social Struggles in the Transition to a Post-Petrol World (AK Press), and was the editor of Restructuring and Resistance: Diverse Voices of Struggle in Western Europe. Kolya is currently coordinating a global process, Toward a Worldwide Energy Revolution, aimed at building long-term alliances for an anticapitalist transition process to a new energy system. He was a visiting fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Science, Technology, and Society, in Graz, Austria, and received a master’s degree in sociology from the State University of New York, Binghamton. In 2006, he was the coordinator for the Danish-based World Wind Energy Institute.

“Women, Love, and Anarchism: British Feminism, c. 1968–1978” by Emma Dixon

This project will principally investigate the influence of anarchist thought on British feminism in the period circa 1968–1978 and the emergence of an anarcha-feminist movement. It will initially examine the origins of the British feminist movement: who were the women involved, and what were their social and political backgrounds? Many were part of socialist, communist, or anarchist organizations before turning to, or being pushed toward, their own feminist groups. This meant that British second-wave feminism was distinctly left wing, with anarchism playing a prominent role. The project will analyze several feminist texts in the forms of newsletters, newspapers, magazines, zines, pamphlets, posters, books, and oral interviews in order to trace the existence of anarchist thought, and will produce an original study of the birth of British anarcha-feminism. It will therefore demonstrate the different ways in which the sexes interpreted anarchist thought within this time period, and show how feminists can use anarchism to assist with their fight for a better place in society.

Emma is a PhD student and part-time tutor at Bangor University, and her research focuses on twentieth-century British anarchism and feminism. She started studying anarchism as her special subject during her bachelor’s history degree (completed in June 2008), when she also pursued a dissertation exploring feminism in postwar Britain: “The Low Tide before the Second Wave? British Feminist Activity after the Second World War.” This interest in anarchism and feminism led to the completion of a master’s dissertation in September 2009 exploring Emma Goldman’s time in Wales during the 1920s: “Red Emma and the Red Dragon: Emma Goldman and Wales,” and she also taught a seminar about anarchism to third-year students at Bangor University during this time. Emma is currently researching her PhD thesis, “Women, Love, and Anarchism: British Counterculture in the 1960s and 1970s,” due for completion in September 2012.

“Across Three Decades of Anarchism, v. 2: Lessons Learned from the Wooden Shoe Collective” by James Generic

Five years ago, James wrote a history of the Wooden Shoe Collective, a collectively run infoshop in Philadelphia active since 1976. In this piece, he’ll update that history to include lessons learned since 2004, such as around issues of identity in collectives, utilizing his own personal experiences as well as interviews with current and past Wooden Shoe collective staffers. James will also argue that the idea of having a strong structure in place actually helps a group to remain democratic, increases a project’s ability to take on larger tasks, and prevents strong personalities from dominating a group. Specifically, he’ll contend that establishing a good structure is important to building good chemistry and trust; giving more control to those who put in a lot of work and have been in a group for at least six months; having a good mechanism for someone who wants to get more involved, and learn new skills and abilities; and providing decent ways of dealing with “hard-to-work-with” members. Those groups that do not have such structures in place are doomed, in his view, to start from scratch every few years, experience high turnover and burnout rates, and suffer organizational collapse. He also intends to use this history to show that well-run horizontal, democratic organizations actually function much better than hierarchical ones.

James grew up on a sheep farm in northeastern Pennsylvania until he was fourteen years old, when his family moved to the Philadelphia area, where he’s been ever since. He was politicized at a young age by listening to right-wing talk radio, although he went in the opposite direction. James joined the Wooden Shoe Collective in late 2000 and has been apart of it ever since; he’s also involved in a variety of other groups, including Philadelphia Jobs with Justice. He has participated in most aspects of the Wooden Shoe Collective at one point or another during the last ten years, and today is an active member of the Wooden Shoe’s events committee.

“Alternatives to Emergency Medical Services (EMS)” by the Rosehip Medic Collective

As radical movements seek ways to reduce their reliance on police and other oppressive institutions, they must also critically address corporate- and state-administered health and safety. Corporate health care restricts access, and alienates people from health/wellness knowledge and resources, while promoting a disease-focused and at times dehumanizing as well as nonconsensual notion of care. At the intersection of medical and emergency management (police, fire, and disaster response) systems, EMS are frequently left treating those least served by other medical institutions, while further enforcing gender, race, class, political, and physical/mental ability categories on people experiencing emergencies and chronic illness. Through interviews and research, this project will examine the history of EMS, compare its idealized mission with the lived experiences of patients and providers, and explore a variety of tried, existing, and potential alternatives. Ultimately, this project aims to help (re)imagine and develop true communities of care and mutual aid.

The Rosehip Medics are a collective of volunteer street medics and health care activists in and around the occupied region known to some as Portland, Oregon. The collective provides first aid and emergency care at protests, direct actions, and other sites of resistance and struggle. It also trains other street medics and offers community wellness trainings. Rosehip believes in democratizing health care knowledge and skills, in reducing its community’s dependence on corporate medicine, and that strong networks of support and care are essential to building sustainable, liberatory movements. The collective is working to create one facet of the healthy and diverse infrastructure necessary to building the world we want to see.


Updates on IAS Grant Projects

We’re pleased to share links to the results of three recently funded IAS grant projects.

Daniel Cairns received $500 for his “Anarchist Publications of the May Fourth Era” in winter 2008. His article is now available at http://anarchiststudies.org/node/476.

Sarah Irving received $500 for her “Anarchist Lives in Manchester” project in winter 2009. As part of the Web site titled Manchester’s Radical History: Exploring Greater Manchester’s Grassroots History, Sarah has been contributing a series of interviews with anarchist activists and pieces on anarchist history in that UK city. These essays include, to date, “The Luddites’ War on Industry: A Story of Machine Smashing and Spies,” “The First May Day Marches in Manchester,” “Northerners Doing It Down South! Manchester at J18,” “Free Trade Hall Meeting 13 October 1905: The Beginning of the Militant Campaign for Votes for Women,” “Anarchists on Ardwick Green, 1893,” “Alfred Barton: Nineteenth-Century Anarchism and the Early Twentieth-Century Labour Party,” “Okasional Cafes,” “Riotous Assembly, 1998–2001,” and “Challenge Anarchy.” They are all available at http://radicalmanchester.wordpress.com/category/anarchism.

David Zlutnick and Ian Paul, with the Friendly Fire Collective, received $500 in winter 2010 for their “Stones and Flowers: Confronting the Crisis” proposal. At this past June’s U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, the Friendly Fire Collective distributed a short collection of writings from selected authors on the subject of capitalist crisis and antiauthoritarian response(s). The collection, Cascades: Conversations in Crisis, features original works by Peter Gelderloos, Erik Forman, Isaac Hawkins, and Ian Paul. The journal is part of David and Ian’s ongoing IAS grant project, which will soon produce two larger written works by each of them around this same theme. The articles in the Cascades journal are: “On Crisis” by the Friendly Fire Collective, “Crisis as Pacification” by Peter Gelderloos, “Economies and Ecologies in Crisis” by Isaac Hawkins, “A Flowering of Subjectivities: Rethinking Antagonism in the Desert of Crisis” by Ian Paul, and “The New Workerism: Capitalist Crisis, Proletarianization, and the Future of the Left” by Erik Forman. A downloadable PDF of the journal is available at http://friendlyfirecollective.info.

And finally, just to whet your appetite, two other IAS grantees recently sent us rough drafts of their projects. We’ll be sharing the finished pieces with you soon, but for now the two pieces are: “Man! and the International Group: 1930s’ American Anarchism and State Repression in a Climate of Fear,” by Hillary Lazar; and “Zapatista Spring: Anatomy of a Rebel Water Project,” by Ramor Ryan.


Announcing the Second Title in the Anarchist Intervention Book Series

Following on the heels of the first title in our Anarchist Intervention book series, Anarchism and Its Aspirations by Cindy Milstein, we’re proud to introduce our second offering, Oppose and Propose! Lessons from Movement for a New Society by Andy Cornell, due out this coming winter.

The Movement for a New Society (MNS), a network of feminist radical pacifist collectives in the United States active in the 1970s and 1980s, developed many practices at the heart of anarchist politics today: consensus decision making, mass direct action campaigns, collective living, unlearning oppressive behavior, and more. Participants opposed capitalism and eco-destruction in antinuclear and other movements, while they simultaneously proposed alternatives by creating everything from community-controlled housing and safety programs to antisexist men’s support groups. In this way, the MNS served as a crucial organizational link between the movements of the 1960s and the post-Seattle global justice movement. Yet the group’s political innovations created tensions of their own. Members found their commitments to “live the revolution now” often alienated potential allies and distracted them from confronting their opponents, while their distrust of leadership and rigid commitment to cumbersome group processes made it difficult to keep their analysis and strategy cutting-edge. Andy’s book will include discussions with self-reflective former members, original documents, and a detailed history of the MNS, revealing crucial strategic lessons for activists and organizers seeking to reinvent a holistic radical politics today. Like Cindy’s book, Andy’s features Josh MacPhee’s series design along with artwork by another Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative member, Kristine Virsis. And like all books in the Anarchist Interventions series, each author agrees to donate at least 50 and up to 100 percent of any sales proceeds to the IAS.

In case you’re not yet familiar with our series, here’s the mission statement:

“Radical ideas can open up spaces for radical actions, by illuminating hierarchical power relations and drawing out possibilities for liberatory social transformations. The Anarchist Intervention series—a collaborative project between the IAS and AK Press —strives to contribute to the development of relevant, vital anarchist theory and analysis by intervening in contemporary discussions. Works in this series will look at twenty-first-century social conditions—including social structures and oppression, their historical trajectories, and new forms of domination, to name a few—as well as reveal opportunities for different tomorrows premised on horizontal, egalitarian forms of self-organization.

Given that anarchism has become the dominant tendency within revolutionary milieus and movements today, it is crucial that anarchists explore current phenomena, strategies, and visions in a much more rigorous, serious manner. Each title in this series, then, will feature a present-day anarchist voice, with the aim, over time, of publishing a variety of perspectives. The series’ multifaceted goals are to cultivate anarchist thought so as to better inform anarchist practice, encourage a culture of public intellectuals and constructive debate within anarchism, introduce new generations to anarchism, and offer insights into today’s world and potentialities for a freer society.”

You can order Anarchism and Its Aspirations now for yourself, your friends, and/or your bookstore or infoshop from AK Press (http://www.akpress.org/2010/items/anarchismanditsaspirations), and stay tuned for preorder information for Andy’s book.


Perspectives on Anarchist Theory: Recent and Next Issues

The current print edition of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory features a cover design by Josh MacPhee, and artwork by artists such as Santiago Armengod and Deborah Harris, among others. It also contains over a half-dozen articles, such as the regular column “What’s Happening” by John Petrovato reviewing recent books on topics of interest to antiauthoritarians, a piece contributing an anarchist perspective on the health care debate, and excerpts from a roundtable discussion on anarchist art inspired by the book Realizing the Impossible: Art against Authority (AK Press, 2007). The feature essay is an examination of the Movement for a New Society, a group that introduced prefigurative politics to the Left in the 1970s, by Andy Cornell, whose more comprehensive book on the subject will be released this winter as the second title in our Anarchist Interventions series, as mentioned above. Finally, the issue offers two pieces on the legacy of Murray Bookchin, a leading twentieth-century antiauthoritarian who died four years ago. Chuck Morse details his close involvement with Bookchin, and assesses the degree to which Bookchin succeeded in what he set out to do; and Chaia Heller tells a personal story of her relationship with Murray, as a kind of fond farewell. Copies of this issue are available through AK Press (http://www.akpress.org/2006/items/perspectivesonanarchisttheorymagazine).

The next print issue of Perspectives, focusing on the climate crisis, will be available this fall. It will feature an essay addressing the climate crisis as an opportunity for fundamentally restructuring society, and one calling for politicizing the discussion around how to solve the crisis. An essay exploring issues of racial justice and the movement against ecological destruction will also be included. This is in addition to the regular “What’s Happening” column, book reviews, and other news.

Perspectives on Anarchist Theory is available both online and in print form. Above and beyond the print edition, which contains select articles that also appear in the online version, additional articles are regularly posted to the IAS Web site, so check in often to see new content (anarchiststudies.org/taxonomy/term/43). You’ll also find information on the IAS Web site about contributing to the journal (http://anarchiststudies.org/perspectives).


Renewing the Anarchist Tradition Conference, Rethought for 2010

The Renewing the Anarchist Tradition (RAT) conference will return this year, over the weekend of November 5-7, 2010, after a one year hiatus. The break gave the IAS board a chance to rest, of course, but also to rethink the conference and its location. Both will be different from in the past.

For one, RAT will moving further south, to Baltimore, thanks to a generous offer by Red Emma’s Bookstore and Coffeehouse organizers to host this year’s conference and, in particular, take care of the on-the-ground logistics. We hope the change of location won’t deter Canadian participants from attending, as we aim to maintain a sense of continuity in terms of past participants along with the mix of anarchists from the places now called “Canada” and the “United States.”

Second, RAT will be structured around four broad themes, and under each of these themes, we’ll be asking six questions, for a total of twenty-four panels. Thus, instead of a call for topics, we’ll form panels based on each of these questions, asking panelists to offer their thoughts and then facilitate a discussion around what we hope are some key concerns and dilemmas that contemporary anarchists/anarchism need to address. We plan to audiotape all twenty-four panels, and then air them weekly after the conference as part of a new in-the-works IAS podcast, so that the close, participatory reflection at RAT is widely available to others. The intention here, as with our new book series, is to reshape RAT as an “anarchist intervention.”

As always, RAT is meant to be a space outside professionalized, commodified sites of learning and education, where longtime anarchists can meet as peers to grapple with ideas together, in as intellectually open and curious, yet politically engaged and grounded, a way as possible. It is not an academic conference; it is a dialogue among politically active anarchists who see theory and analysis as part and parcel of their organizing efforts to transform society. RAT will also continue to be limited to 150 participants. Stay tuned for more information.

For details on the RAT 2007 and 2008 conferences, see the pull-down tabs on this Web site; for details on earlier RAT conferences, see the archives at http://www.homemadejam.org/renew.index.html.


IAS at the U.S. Social Forum

As part of a collective of collectives—including AK Press, City from Below, Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, Manifesta Musicians’ Collective, Midnight Special Law Collective, Red Emma’s Bookstore and Coffeehouse, Solidarity and Defense, Team Colors Collective, and the Trumbullplex—the IAS helped organize what was called “A New World from Below: Anarchists and Antiauthoritarians at the Social Forum” during the U.S. Social Forum (USSF) in Detroit in late June 2010.

This effort was twofold. It brought some thirty-five talks, panels, and workshops organized by anarchist and antiauthoritarian collectives from across the continent together, all inside the official USSF program, and promoted them via an enormous, beautiful broadsheet with a cover-poster illustration by Erik Ruin (available for an online peek at http://anarchistussf.wordpress.com/; scroll down the home page until you find it). The collectives all contributed funds to print seventy-five hundred copies of these newsprint broadsheets, which received a warm welcome by many thousands of social forum goers, and brought many people outside anarchist circles into the talks, panels, and workshops hosted by anarchists and antiauthoritarians. The broadsheet and talks all also introduced people, again by the thousands, to anarchist ideas and resources, particularly focused on the visionary side of anarchism.

The New World from Below also organized a vibrant and well-used convergence space at the Spirit of Hope Church, about a mile from the social forum’s main location. For four days, the convergence center fed many hundreds, if not thousands, of people delicious dinners, cooked and served by Food Not Bombs/IWW Solidarity Kitchen. It welcomed people into the space for free literature as well as free ice cream, strategic discussions as well as music, a book party as well as informal socializing—in short, for prefigurative anarchism in action! Best of all, because of the broadsheet’s description of the convergence center and its offerings; a fantastic musical benefit for the Student and Farmworker Alliance; and a welcome table outside the church, where anarchist volunteers greeted and shook hands with all who stopped by, the convergence space was diverse, inclusive, friendly, and politically (re)inspiring. And because this convergence center was operating outside the context of a protest, there was plenty of time for informal and relaxed conversations about where anarchism in North America could and should go from here, including plans in their early stage for some sort of anarchist strategizing “forum” next summer (again, with the IAS as an organizer along with other collectives).

If the USSF hadn’t been so utterly overwhelming, the IAS and others might have found time to document anarchism inside and outside the social forum in Detroit, through pictures and recordings. If anyone has any photos, video recordings, or audiotapes—or report backs or analysis—of anarchism at the USSF or convergence center, please send them our way, for posting on the IAS Web site. Fortunately, thanks to the lovely folks at the defenestrator in Philadelphia, we can offer you one audio recording: of the New World from Below Collaborative Book Party, organized by the Team Colors Collective, and featuring a shindig celebrating anarchist authors, editors, and publishers. Take a listen at http://anarchiststudies.org/node/475.


IAS Meets Twitter

We’re a little late to the party, but we’ve finally joined the twitterverse! Twitter’s user parameters were something of a hurdle, but we ultimately settled on @narchiststudies as our handle. Follow us! Retweet us! We’ll be posting up-to-date news about our activities as well as articles and other media relevant to our work.

Additionally, we’re in the process of setting up a podcast, consisting of IAS-related talks given at the RAT conference and other venues. It will be comprised initially of a sort of “greatest hits” from past RAT presentations, but toward the end of this year, we’ll be uploading current talks. Ideally this will happen weekly, but we’re still sorting out the technical details. When we go live with it, we’ll let everyone know via our Web site, our Facebook page, and Twitter.


And Finally, If You Love Us, Send Us a Donation!

Alas, money doesn’t—and shouldn’t—equal love, but if you adore the IAS and its projects, money is part of the equation to ensuring their continued existence (at least until capitalism ends). The IAS is funded by you, anarchists and antiauthoritarians around the world, and the lion’s share of donations are redistributed to other anarchists and antiauthoritarians around the world in the form of IAS grants for writing and translation projects. We always have far too many good proposals and far too little money to give away, so please, give generously, give often, and get your friends, families, and comrades to do the same. Every contribution, large or small, is greatly appreciated; donations are also tax deductible in the United States, if that’s a further incentive to send us a ton of money. Best of all, you can set up a regular monthly contribution, automatically deducted from your credit card.

To donate, head right over—yes, now—to our Web site, and click on the Network for Good link: http://www.anarchiststudies.org/support/donate.

You can also find us on Facebook, not only for announcements on our “Organization” page but also to kick us some funds via our “Cause” page, available at http://www.causes.com/causes/288918?m=0d43bb06.

Of course, there are other ways to contribute financially too. Throw a fund-raiser for us, buy Perspectives or the books in our new Anarchist Interventions series, and/or bring one of our Mutual Aid Speakers List folks to talk. Our Speakers List is available at http://anarchiststudies.org/speakers, and will be updated with new speakers over the next few weeks!

In solidarity,

Cindy Milstein, IAS board member
on behalf of the Institute for Anarchist Studies
P.O. Box 15586, Washington, DC 20003 USA
info@anarchiststudies.org / http://www.anarchiststudies.org

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