I went to the 100th anniversary celebration of the Bread and Roses strike, on labor day in my new home of Lawrence, MA. In the Boston area anarchists tend toward being red anarchists (it seems), while I tend towards what might be called green, insurrectionary, or post-left positions. Nonetheless, I am allergic to dogma and like to look for a variety of avenues of affinity. Continue reading
In advance of a trip to spain earlier this year, I decided to read a up a bit more on the spanish civil war and social revolution of the 30s. I had, over the years, already read some on this period, largely writings by those sympathetic to the anarchist movement, and what I had learned had left me quite skeptical of the methods and intentions of these anarchists, as well as those who wrote so glowingly of them. Their defenders took great pains to excuse their decidedly authoritarian approach to organizing and social relations in general, citing war conditions as a justification for the surrender of basic anarchist principles.
What I found with further reading did nothing to change my outlook. Continue reading
I forgot to say in my last letter that the New York IWW Arts Branch was organized by Mel Most, an old-time anarchist now sadly forgotten, Judith Malina and Hannon Reznikov, and Bob Fass. Mel suddenly died, and that took the wind out of our sails. A movie about Bob Fass was recently released (I missed it but heard it was good). Hannon died young… Judith is still going strong, heading for 90! Thanks for reprinting the article from The Storm, great individualist mag edited by Mark Sullivan, several issues co-edited by
Peter Lamborn Wilson
Since the last issue of this zine, in which I critiqued labor unions, these organizations have been prominently in the news again. The biggest stories have been about the passage of a “right-to-work” law in Michigan and the Hostess bankruptcy, which many have blamed on greedy unions. Labor is clearly under attack from business owners and politicians, and these two events, happening so closely together, have prompted me to once again devote most of the space in the December 2012 issue of anchorage anarchy to a consideration of the labor movement. Continue reading
Seemingly unending coverage in the establishment news media. Flags at half-mast. Crocodile tears from the hypocrite-in-chief. Millions of dollars in charitable donations to the families and friends of the victims. It is as if the killing of a group of children and their keepers in a Connecticut school is a uniquely tragic event—one that not only is presumed to touch us all on a visceral level but also justifies a re-examination of how the government regulates guns. The question for me, however, is: what is it about this massacre that makes it more heinous than so many other instances of the murder of innocents?
The main reason appears to be that these were americans. When a united states soldier murdered 16 non-combatants in afghanistan earlier this year, the president shed no tears and people in this country were largely untroubled, even though nine of those victims were children. Continue reading
Individual anarchy has often been treated as an interesting idea, but one with little bearing on practical group work. However, during the late sixties in San Francisco, an individualist anarchist labor union (or “non-union” as it was later called) was organized with features unique in american labor history.
Initially, we were a small group of social workers who revolted against an AFL union, local 400, after repeated instances in which the AFL failed to act on issues. These issues included firings without pretext with five minutes notice, refusal of the labor council to fund publication of the social services newsletter, DIALOG, and the dismissal of a worker for visiting North Vietnam during personal leave. Continue reading
Good article on unions. I agree—and have been a member of several over the years, including a short-lived IWW Arts Branch in NYC, with members of the Living Theater and WBAI (Pacifica). It’s no accident that Stirner spoke of a union of self-owning ones as the only possible strong (or even militant) organizational form for individualist anarchists. Our Italian Leftwing Stirnerite guru “Brand” Arrigoni used to say the same, as did George Sorel (before he lurched to the Right). See also Bob Black’s excellent article on the IWW in the new magazine Modern Slavery. Unfortunately we now seem to be nearly as far removed from the possibility of a real radical labor union, as from Proudhon’s Mutualism or Landauer’s version of Kropotkin’s anarcho-federalism. As the whole Movement of the Social appears moribund, no other organizational form seems possible for us but the “gang”—or as I once tried to put it more elegantly—the Tong. But how to organize a “secret society” in an age without secrecy (a.k.a. privacy)? Anarchist anthropologists like David Graeber and James C Scott talk about reversion to “earlier” economic forms such as swidden gardening—or even “the Gift”—but I sense no willingness amongst modern anarchists to embrace the luddism which would be required to “leave Civilization behind” to any real extent. Individual revolt alone seems to remain possible—every moment lived outside the Technopathocracy is an act of propaganda by the deed.
Peter Lamborn Wilson
Several times over the last few years I have participated in a Mayday pageant here in Anchorage. This is a staged reading of a script written by a local National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) staff attorney. The narrative traces the development of the american labor movement from the Knights of Labor in the nineteenth century through the 1930s, focusing on two key moments in the history of american labor unions: the Haymarket events in 1886 and the passage of the Wagner Act. It is a fun occasion where participants include labor union members, folks from Occupy Anchorage, and other local troublemakers. It is an opportunity to interact with other union members and movement activists and provides a bit of generally unknown and ignored labor history to those who attend. And to my mind, the positive depiction of anarchists in a performance geared toward regular working folks is more than welcome.
However, despite his largely accurate retelling of the circumstances surrounding Haymarket and sympathetic portrayal of the libertarian workers and organizers involved, I disagree completely with the primary message that the author wishes to convey to the performers and audience—that the National Labor Relations, or Wagner, Act (NLRA) is the logical and appropriate culmination of the efforts of the radical labor movements of the past. Continue reading
I have been an anarchist for an awful long time. I believe that, to paraphrase Proudhon, whoever lays a hand on me to govern me is a usurper and tyrant, and I declare them my enemy. I favor the abolition of the state, completely and at the earliest possible opportunity. This seems to me the basic, essential libertarian idea, founded on the belief that people are capable of living their lives and interacting with others uncoerced, unsupervised, unmanaged, unpoliced, unchaperoned—in other words, ungoverned. Continue reading
Marriage is in the forefront of media coverage right now as same-sex marriage is being legalized in more and more states. In New York, like lambs to the slaughter, many same-sex couples were so eager to publicly surrender their self-sovereignty and independence that they entered a lottery to be among the first to be allowed to marry. While there is a lot of debate about whether expanding the “right” to marry is a good or bad thing, however, no one seems to be asking whether marriage itself, in whatever form it takes, is a good thing or not. Continue reading