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The Federal Reserve Bank’s annual “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households” (released in May 2016) reports that 31 percent of Americans say they are “just getting by” or “struggling”; 22 percent have been forced to take a second job; and 46 percent would be thrown into financial crisis by an unexpected expense of just $400 – forced to borrow money (likely from a payday lender, at usurious rates) or sell something. This, the central bankers report, represents improved economic well-being. Fifteen percent of the U.S. population is officially poor, and in their new book, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer report that nearly 1.5 million... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
No country in the world spends as much on health care as the United States, or gets as little for its money. In 1992, fully 14 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (about $2,700 per person per year--though by no means do all people receive health care) was spent on health care, and yet a recent study of seven industrialized countries found the U.S. dead last in basic health indicators. We have fewer doctors per capita, higher infant mortality, and shorter lives. And nearly 100 million people went without any health insurance for part or all of the year. Surveys find that people are quite worried about their access to health care--two-thirds fear they couldn’t afford long-term care, and almost half worry that they couldn’t fina... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The Decline of the American Economy, by Bertrand Bellon and Jorge Niosi. Black Rose Books, 1988. $16.95 Fields, Factories and Workshops Tomorrow, by Peter Kropotkin (edited by Colin Ward). Freedom Press, 1985. “The Wage System” by Peter Kropotkin; in Vernon Richards, ed., Why Work? Arguments for the Leisure Society. Freedom Press, 1983. A casual observer of the anarchist movement, restricted to contemporary writings, could be forgiven for concluding that anarchists have no conception of economics. A serious debate recently was carried out in the pages of the British anarchist monthly, Freedom, arguing that all wealth comes from agriculture – that the working class is merely a burden the peasants and other agricultu... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Iain McKay, An Anarchist FAQ Volume 1 (AK Press, 2008), 555 pages, $25 paper. Volume 2 (AK Press, 2012), 561 pages, $25 paper. This two-volume compilation includes the great bulk of the material assembled online in the Anarchist FAQ by ASR contributor Iain McKay and other comrades over more than a decade. Established to confront misrepresentations of anarchism that have proliferated particularly in the online universe (allegedly anarchist tendencies exist there that have no apparent manifestation in the material world in which the rest of us live), AFAQ quickly evolved into a much broader overview of anarchism, as a social movement and as a set of ideas. It is impossible to do justice to the 1,136 pages in these two volumes. Volume 1 open... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
When I reviewed the English-language literature on the pioneering Russian-born anarchist Mikhail Bakunin in 1992, there was only one decent biography in print, and it focused almost exclusively on his (very productive) final years in Italy. As we conclude the Bakunin bicentenary two new histories have been published – Mark Leier’s excellent Bakunin (reviewed in ASR 47, which while sometimes overly casual is far and away the best comprehensive work in English – I still prefer Ravindranathan’s Bakunin and the Italians for the final years), and John Randolph’s intriguing study of the intellectual life that surrounded Bakunin as he came of age. PM Press will release in March an English translation of Wolfgang Eckha... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
“Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin, the anarchist, was a political thinker; his reputation, based partly on his appetite for action and partly on unsympathetic historiography, obscures this...” Robert Cutler opens the introduction to his anthology of Bakunin’s writings with these words. Another historian, Nunzio Pernicone, deplores the modern fashion of “Bakunin-bashing.” And Arthur Lehning, in a 1978 review of the historical literature, refers to a conspiracy of silence, suggesting that studying Bakunin inevitably raises basic questions confronting working-class movements — dictatorship vs. liberty, centralism vs. federalism, self-organization vs. a domineering political party. When Lehning wrote, only the ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Frank Ackerman & Lisa Heinzerling, Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing. The New Press, 2004, 277 pages, $25.95 hardcover. Everything important can be bought and sold. Advertizers tell us this every day, offering to solve our most intimate problems (or imagined problems) for a fee. Corporations put price tags on everything as they decide what to make, what towns to destroy, how unsafe they want our workplaces to be, and the extent to which they will poison our communities. (Indeed, there is now a thriving, entirely legal market buying and selling the “right” to pollute our air.) Health insurers decide how much our life, and our pain, is worth as they decide which procedures and drugs to cov... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Everywhere you turn, nowadays, you bump into the information “revolution.” Politicians prattle about information “super-highways,” national competitiveness and better jobs. Transnational corporations shift data-entry and computer programming work to Barbados and Ireland, using computers, fiber-optic lines and satellites to move data back and forth. Cable companies promise 150, 300, 500 cable channels – and have scores of Home Shopping Network imitators in development. Computer workstations automatically monitor the number of key strokes per minute in many workplaces, and report that information to the boss. Computer networks make it possible for labor activists and others to keep in almost-instantaneous contact... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Peter Kropotkin devoted a major part of his prolific anarchist writings to two related themes: examining the actual workings of capitalist economies and developing the broad outlines of an anarchist-communist society. Kropotkin was not satisfied to merely assert that’ a free society was possible, he sought to show how such a society could be constructed from the materials at hand-realizing that a revolutionary movement that failed to consider the problems of production and distribution would quickly collapse. This installment outlines Kropotkin’s critique of capitalist political economy; next issue will turn to his positive economic program. This distinction, however, is somewhat arbitrary, as Kropotkin always preferred to illus... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
a review of Thomas J. Miley and Federico Venturini, eds., Your Freedom and Mine: Abdullah Ocalan and the Kurdish Question in Turkey. Black Rose Books, 2018, 424 pp., $26.99 paper. As I write, Turkish forces have invaded Syria at the Trump administration's invitation, forcing the Kurdish YPG and their allies to cut a deal inviting the murderous Syrian regime to take control of much of their territory—hoping to negotiate some sort of subordinated "autonomy" from Assad while preventing the massacre the Turkish regime was planning. It is a difficult moment to criticize a project in which so many placed their hopes (not only Kurds, but millions around the world who looked to Rojava as a model for a new kind of politics). This book is no... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Global warming is big business. Twenty giant oil companies are directly responsible for one-third of all carbon emissions since 1965. The U.S.’s largest banks have financed $1.9 trillion in fossil fuel projects since 2016. Those who run the global economy are not ignoring climate change – they are actively working to make it worse. Why? Because there are quick profits to be made, and the long-term costs will fall to the rest of us. It’s not that nothing is being done. Wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles (the latter hardly harbingers of a green economy) are spreading quickly. But this growth in clean energy isn’t nearly fast enough to limit global warming according to the International Energy Agency&rsq... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The Red Book Store (now the Lucy Parsons Center) began in 1970 in Central Square, Cambridge. It moved a time or two in the first couple of years, before settling into what would be its home until 1983 in a large space on the corner of River and Pleasant streets in Cambridge. In 1983 the project moved to Jamaica Plain, Boston. It stayed there until May 1994, returning to Central Square, where it stayed four years until it was evicted so the building could be demolished. In May 1998 it moved into a temporary space in Davis Square, Somerville. The project incorporated in 1971; in 1992 it re-incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation and changed its name to the Lucy Parsons Center. The Red Book Store was a project of the movements of the si... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Melvyn Dubofsky, in his “standard” history of the IWW, We Shall Be All, writes that the Marine Transport Workers IU510 of the IWW was “the one stable and effective IWW organization outside the Western states.”[1] Yet he gives the MTW only a scattered handful of paragraphs. Other historians of the IWW have done little better, and the Marine Transport Workers—which remained a vital presence in the maritime industry from 1913 through the mid 1940s—is little known. While the MTW signed agreements only on the Philadelphia docks, scores of shipping lines found themselves obliged to hire seamen through MTW halls or to accede to MTW demands—typically delivered by a crew committee as the ship was preparing ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Writing in the most recent Arsenal, a well-produced "magazine of anarchist strategy and culture," Mike Staudenmaier devotes one of the leading articles to a critique of ASR's "extensive and influential writings opposing nationalism and advocating working-class internationalist revolution." (Unfortunately, he cannot be troubled to cite any of them, perhaps recognizing that his muddled argument could not stand up to any anarchist writings on the subject.) According to Staudenmaier, we follow the "people, not nations" analysis he attributes to Rudolf Rocker, "combin[ing] the sort of economic reductionism that is often the hallmark of syndicalism with careful analysis of the harsh experiences of the Cuban revolution." Our colorblind position t... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
As the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Free Trade Agreement talks continue on the fast-track, the labor movement — and in particular its left wing — is mobilizing its efforts in a last-ditch effort to block an agreement they say will devastate the U.S. and Canadian economies. The Canadian Labor Congress estimates that 260,000 jobs have already been lost as a result of the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement (though they clearly didn’t find their way down to the States, as is evidenced by the continuing recession), and the AFL- CIO expects that two and a half million jobs would go to Mexico if the Free Trade Agreement goes through. The government has been relatively open about the rationale for a Free Trade Agreement: “By lowering o... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Let’s face it — revolution and serious social change can only occur with massive popular participation. We can spend our time organizing the organized, individuals who already have a political mindset, or we can widen our scope. According to the mainstream media, anarchists are just a bunch of violence-loving hooligans who roll into town for the big protest and vanish afterwards, making no lasting social change. And we all know “activists” who are just that — going to protests like they were concerts. So where do we go from here? In the meantime, more and more fall into poverty both here and abroad, and corporations continue to grab power with the willing accomplice of governments who are moving further from t... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The 1970 wildcat postal strike quickly threatened to expand to other federal government workers, forcing the federal government to seriously negotiate with public workers for the first time. Public sector workers had been organizing for more than 150 years, fighting poverty wages, unsafe working conditions, shakedowns by party bosses, and abusive treatment more generally. But even where their unions were not outlawed, the right to strike almost always was – and the government proved as vicious in fighting strikes as did any private sector boss. Aside from building trades workers, who carried their unions (and their working conditions) with them when they took public sector jobs, most early public sector labor organizations might be b... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Note: This is the second of a two-part article in our ongoing series on anarchist economics. Jeff Stein’s review of the book Looking Forward in this issue is also part of this series. We welcome articles and letters joining in this discussion. Kropotkin believed that the purpose of anarchist economics, indeed of any viable economic theory, was to satisfy human needs as efficiently as possible-to promote “the economical and social value of the human being.” LLR #11 presented Kropotkin’s argument that capitalism fails miserably on this score; this issue briefly reviews Kropotkin’s conception of the economic framework of a free society. Our comrades began developing the idea of anarchist communism in the 1870s, ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Ron Carey began his five-year term as president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Feb. 1, 1992. Carey and his reform slate — heavily backed by Teamsters for a Democratic Union (most of Carey’s slate, though not Carey himself, were TDU members) — swept the elections, in a three-way race in which barely a fourth of the Teamsters’ 1.5 million members voted — half of them for Carey. The election capped a 17-year struggle to reform the Teamsters, but was made possible only after the government put the union under federal trusteeship (in March 1989) under U.S. racketeering laws. The effort to reform the Teamsters union has been taken as an example by many other union activists who find themselves in corru... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
This article was originally published on the website of US labor magazine ASR on July 13, 2021. The warehouse connected to Zalando, which is run by Ingram Micro, is similar to the Amazon hell holes. More than 100 workers at Europe’s leading online store for fashion and shoes, Zalando, have turned to the SAC, the Central Organization of Workers in Sweden, to battle the “new Swedish model,” which many workers describe as modern slavery. After workers demanded their own union agreement and safety representatives, management announced plans to fire several SAC members. The super-supervised giant warehouse in Upplands-Bro employs a largely immigrant (many refugees) workforce, and has signed agreements with two business unions... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The ongoing struggle to unionize the giant U.S. bookstore chain, Borders Books (operating under the Borders, Brentano’s, Planet Music and Waldenbooks names), illustrates two utterly incompatible ideas of unionism. While the United Food & Commercial Workers holds to the AFL-CIO model of business unionism — seeing the union as a social service agency, relying on a professional staff to ‘service’ workers who buy its services through payroll deductions — the Industrial Workers of the World adheres to a more traditional model of unionism, one which sees the union as a body of workers coming together to gain through their collective action the better conditions they can not hope to win alone. Under this model, wh... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
In the modern school’s heyday, the U.S. labor movement recognized the importance of education. Unions fought against authoritarian school systems designed to funnel workers’ children into endless wage slavery. A wide variety of working-class organizations set up their own educational institutions, ranging from preschool and elementary school programs to labor colleges offering programs in history, economics and literature, as well as practical organizing and union administration skills. The short-lived Chicago Modern School operated a Sunday school for children and evening lectures for adults in 1910. In 1888 German workers launched a network of free-thought Sunday schools for children, alongside libraries and reading rooms for... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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