(Being mostly a survey of scholarly research.)
It is obscene and insane that a few ten thousand very rich persons (multi-millionaires and billionaires) can, by placing bets (gambling) in the world’s stock exchanges (casinos), artificially jack up, within months, the price of rice, wheat, corn, and other food staples, thus forcing a billion or more people to the very edge of starvation. Obviously, such an abominable situation should not exist.
So you’d think there would be a great clamor to abolish the stock market. But then, you’d think that there would be a clamor to abolish the CIA also, which is an absolute evil, and the Pentagon, an equally absolute evil, as well as Hollywood. But as big and bad as these outfits are ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Outline, Notes, and Sources for a Workshop Presentation at the ‘We Are Resisting’ conference in Lawrence, Kansas, June 30-July 4, 2004, entitled “Strategy Implications of Various Anarchist Currents in the United States.”
Revised and expanded for a workshop on “Anarchist Revolutionary Strategy,” presented at the New England Anarchist Book Fair in Boston on April 22, 2006.
European Historical Antecedents
Radicals of the German Peasant Revolts of 1525
Radicals of the English Revolution of 1640
Sans-Culottes in the French Revolution of 1793-94
Anarcho-Syndicalism and Anarcho-Communism
The Cooperative Movement
The Paris Commune
Communist goal of a society without states, classes,... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Name
Northeast Network of Anarchist Groups
Points of Unity
(1) We assert that human beings are inter-subjective creatures, and that therefore the words "individual" and "society" misconstrue and inaccurately describe the reality of our situation and lives. This means, among other things, that there is no such thing as an "autonomous individual." Consequently, anarchy cannot be conceived as an aggregate of such individuals. It also means that "freedom" cannot be an attribute of an individual but only of a social order (that is, a pattern of social relations). Freedom (and even individuality) can only be a social achievement.
(2) In general, we picture anarchy as a world full of autonomous communities, in which people control all aspe... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Yesterday I attended a memorial gathering for Bob McKinney. He died November 20, 2006, at the age of 75, from melanoma. His wife Carol had preceded him in death by several years. The meeting was attended by his two daughters, Beth and Christine, and their spouses and children, by his long time work partner Lenore Pereira and her two daughters, Shanakawa and Teefee, and their three children, and by various friends and comrades, many of whom knew Bob either through his work as a plumber or through his work at the Red Book Store, which was housed in the Red Sun Press building on Green Street in Jamaica Plain, Boston from 1983 to 1994. In attendance, in addition to the above, were Kathy Hoffman, Annie Hoffman, Tom Keefer, Kevin Murray, Maggie C... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) June 1999
"Some of the rural workers in Brazil have an interesting slogan. They say their immediate task is 'expanding the floor of the cage.' They understand that they're trapped inside a cage, but realize that protecting it when it's under attack from even worse predators on the outside, and extending the limits of what the cage will allow, are both essential preliminaries to dismantling it. If they attack the cage directly when they're so vulnerable, they'll get murdered."
-- Noam Chomsky, The Common Good (Interviews with David Barsamian), Odonian Press, 1998, p.85
There is a terrible assumption buried here, namely that the cage protects the workers from murder. This is glaringly false. Workers are being murdered by the m... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) [Prefatory note: March 2017. This brief critique needs to be expanded, qualified, and rewritten with more nuance. I still hope to do that. Maybe I will, but if I don’t, here it is as it was read out during my Imagining Anarchy talk at the Wooden Shoe Book Store in Philadelphia on October 15, 2010. That talk is available on YouTube. As I declared firmly immediately after reading it, the critique does not mean that I am against organizing at the workplace. It is just that I think the focus should be on establishing assemblies at the workplace and then networking these assemblies across workplaces, thus bypassing unions. So this separates my critique from Murray Bookchin’s strident rejections of anarcho-syndicalism, which practical... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) [Prefatory Note: The first part of this essay was originally written in December 2009 for the monthly Newsletter of the Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement, #29, January 2010. A substantial postscript, from May 2010, continues the discussion.
For the purposes of this essay I will assume that the science which establishes that the earth is warming up is correct. This is what all participants to the COP15 conference believed, both inside the conference hall and outside in the streets. For a brief note on dissenting views, see Footnote No. 4.]
* * *
The fifteenth meeting of the Conference of Participants (COP15) in the Kyoto Protocol took place this month in Copenhagen, Denmark from December 7 to 18, 2009. The purpose of the conferenc... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) (Comments on The Nature, Origins, and Role of Money, a conference held on March 31 and April 1, 2004 at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, which was organized by the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability, a nonpartisan, nonprofit policy institute at the University. This is a memorandum addressed to the staff, faculty, and guest speakers at the Center’s conference.)
Thanks first of all to those who organized this conference, for the free lunches, and for the complimentary copy of Wray’s book on Understanding Modern Money. It was all very well done. The conference proved very interesting to me, although not in ways that I had originally expected. Thanks also for the display of some excellent looking books on mone... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) (Two Memos and some Bibliographical References)
[Prefatory note, March 2017: The workshop established at the 6th Regional Assembly of NEAN in 2008 fizzled out after a few email exchanges. I still hope to undertake a thorough study of this issue and come up with some recommendations for both overall meeting procedures and for a modified consensus process. But in case I don't, I'd like to make these notes available to others. Perhaps others will be inspired to take up the needed reevaluation of our meeting and decision-making practices. AK Press published a nice little study which takes a critical approach to some of our practices and deals with some of the issues I raise below. It is useful, and insightful, and represents a good start, but ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) How can we defeat capitalists quickly? Why quickly? Because we have run out of time. Capitalists are on the verge of killing most life on earth, including humans, with global warming. This essay will present some exploratory thoughts on this dire situation we find ourselves in, especially with regard to our anti-capitalist struggles, our hopes for anarchy, and our prospects for cooling the earth. This is only a sketch; it will take a lot of work to flesh it out, probably more than I will be able to do.
We are way past the time when getting off fossil fuels could have alleviated global warming. If a determined, concerted effort had been made forty years ago by the governments of the world when James Hansen first alerted the president and Co... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) How can we defeat capitalists quickly? Why quickly? Because we have run out of time. Capitalists are on the verge of killing most life on earth, including humans, with global warming. This essay presents some exploratory thoughts on the dire situation we find ourselves in, especially with regard to our anti-capitalist struggles, our hopes for anarchy, and our prospects for cooling the earth. This is only a sketch; it will take a lot of work to flesh it out, probably more than I will be able to do.
We are way past the time when getting off fossil fuels could have alleviated global warming. If a determined, concerted effort had been made forty years ago by the governments of the world when James Hansen first alerted the president and Congres... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) This is the text of a talk given on March 8, 2008 for a workshop on Anarchist Revolutionary Strategy at the National Conference on Organized Resistance in Washington, D.C., and again at the Finding Our Roots anarchist conference in Chicago on April 20, 2008.
It should be quite obvious, but apparently it’s not, that we can’t devise an anarchist revolutionary strategy until we have a clear idea of what it is we’re trying to achieve.
Regrettably, there has been a vigorous ban on thinking about the future society we want, a ban that has been more or less effectively imposed for nearly one hundred and fifty years. Marx is largely responsible for this. He refused to discuss in concrete detail what he thought a comm... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) (Prepared for the Kansas Anarchist Caucus, November 9, 2002, Lawrence, Kansas.)
Association not Federation
I have used the term Association instead of the usual term Federation because federation, in its current usage, implies hierarchy. It is based on the election of 'recallable, mandated delegates'. Even though the people setting up these recent federations (Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists, Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives--Great Lakes Region, Northwest Anarchist-Communist Federation, and now the Alliance for Freedom and Direct Democracy) constantly claim to be committed to direct democracy, they immediately give it up by instituting, not direct democracy, but a representative democracy,... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Interview with James Herod, by the Italian Group, Yes Alternative Press, September 2014, about his Participation in the Liberated Guardian.
Published in Yes Yes Yes Alternative Press '66-'77 from Provo to Punk, edited by Emanuele de Donno, and Amedeo Martegani. Published by a+mbookstore, Milano, in collaboration with Colli Publishing Platform, Rome, 2015, 493 pages, 9"x12" in size, 1-1/2" thick.
1. We would like to start by asking some personal information: name, age, place of birth, where are you based right now?
My name is James Herod. I was born in Pryor, Oklahoma, USA on September 28, 1935. I will be 79 years old this month. I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
2. What did it mean to work in the underground press scene and how d... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Is greed all that's wrong with capitalism? No. It is not enough to attack capitalists for being greedy, although this is a common tactic. I hope to explain why in this short essay.
Consider a small business family who work longer hours than do their employes, who live frugally, keeping just enough of the income from the business to support their modest lifestyle, paying the rest out in wages to their employes. If greed were all that is wrong with capitalism then these capitalists would be considered exemplary and above criticism, because in no way are they greedy. But they are still in charge! As bosses or managers. And this is the crux of the matter. They still own the properties, the means of production. Their employes don't. They are bu... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Revised March 2007
(#s 22, 23, 24 added)
1. Lifestyle versus Social Anarchists
This is undoubtedly still the biggest divide in the anarchist movement. It is more accurately described as a split between individualist anarchists and social anarchists. So-called lifestyle anarchists have vehemently rejected the label, and have viciously attacked Murray Bookchin for having highlighted the distinction. Individualist anarchists are centered around Primitivism, Crimethinc, Anarchy, Green Anarchy, Fifth Estate, Earth First, and The Match. Individualists often deny that they are individualists, claiming that they are social anarchists too. In these notes I will refer to fanatic anarchist individualists as Egoists, considering that they bel... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Review: Audacious Democracy: Labor, Intellectuals, and the Social Reconstruction of America. Edited by Seven Fraser and Joshua B. Freeman, Houghton Mifflin, 1997, 273 pages.
Not one word about destroying capitalism! That is the most striking thing about this book. Not one word about abolishing wage-slavery. In fact the concept of wage-slavery is completely absent from this book. Instead, the assumption throughout is that working at a job for a wage is all there will ever be, the only issues being the conditions under which this work is done, its rewards, and the extent of state sponsored amelioration. Such is the depth to which the opposition in America has sunk, such is the thoroughness of the defeat of anti-capitalist forces, that radica... (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.) Majority rule is just a voting procedure for resolving disagreements within a deliberative assembly. Sometimes it might be combined with other rules, like those requiring unanimous or two-thirds votes on certain issues. But what voting procedures were used to select the voting procedures? That is, what rule was used for the vote to select majority rule? - majority rule, unanimity, two-thirds, or what? And how was that decision made? We are clearly in an infinite regress here.
In reality, the establishment, for any assembly, of the original procedures for voting usually happens by fiat or by revolution (given the rarity of unanimity). Thus democracy can usually only be established in-between regimes. In the case of the US constitution for e... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Or, Establishing Direct Democracy Across Territories
Also, Clarifying the Distinction between
Networks and Federations
Revised slightly January 2008
And slightly revised again in October 2010
Decision Making among Assemblies
(There are really only two ways that are compatible with direct democracy.)
The key problem in building a horizontal, nonhierarchical social order based on participatory, direct democracy has never been how to do this on the local level in one town meeting, workers council, or village assembly, but how to make decisions across such assemblies. Direct democracy is frequently dismissed precisely because people believe that it cannot work in larger territories. I don't believe this is true, but it is true that it ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) (In English)
Karl Marx versus Max Stirner
Stirner, Max, The Ego and His Own: The Case of the Individual Against Authority . Translated from the German by Steven T. Byington, edited with Annotations and an Introduction, by James J. Martin, Libertarian Book Club, New York, 1963, 366 pages. (Note: For those who are just acquiring this book, it might be best to go with the Cambridge University Press edition of 1995, The Ego and Its Own, edited and introduced by David Leopold, 428 pages, based on a revised version of the Byington translation, with additional annotations, a biographical sketch, and suggested readings.)
Marx, Karl, "Saint Max," Chapter III, pages 122-497, in The German Ideology (with Frederick Engels). Progress Publis... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Text of a talk given at the May Day noon rally in the City Hall Plaza in Boston on Tuesday, May 1, 2012.
Capitalists have always been criminals. They have been willing to exterminate entire peoples in order to keep the profits rolling in. May Day stems from a capitalist crime. In 1886, in Chicago, during a period of intense class struggle, they rounded up eight anarchists and accused them of something they didn't do. Four were hanged a year later after a fake trial. These executions sparked an international furor of protest. May First was thereafter celebrated as a workers day in honor of the Haymarket Martyrs.
So here it is 126 years later and the crimes of capitalists are continuing unabated, except that they have now reached earth kill... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) A History of Money
Davies, Glyn. A History of Money: From Ancient Times to the Present Day . Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2003, third revised edition, 720 pages. This is an esteemed, comprehensive, scholarly, general history.
The Nature of Money
Ingham, Geoffrey. The Nature of Money. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2004, 254 pages.
Next. Ingham (together with a small group of economists clustered mostly at the University of Missouri in Kansas City) has been revolutionizing the study of money. They have proved that money did not originate from barter, but was instead invented by states, as a means of collecting taxes. This casts an entirely new light on the prospects of getting rid of money: if you get rid of states you might b... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) And to Ditch Representative Government at All levels (group, organization, city, state, nation, world)
By ‘Direct Democracy’ I mean decision-making in assemblies through face-to-face discussion, deliberation, and voting, and an association of such assemblies built up through negotiated agreements (pacts, treaties), not through federation (or confederation) using delegates. The term has also been widely used in recent years to refer to referendums and recalls, which is an unfortunate restriction and weakening of the concept, which originally referred to direct participatory democracy, as in a town meeting. I stick to the original meaning of the term.
On the Ground
1. All activists who are in a position to do so (and are inte... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Palestine: The No-State Solution
By James Herod, February 2009
Neither the two-state nor the one-state solution will solve the problem in Palestine. Only the no-state solution will. The no-state solution calls for dismantling the Israeli state and abandoning any attempt to establish a Palestinian state. Rather, the peoples living in the territory of historical Palestine will progress to the advanced decentralized social form of an association of autonomous self-governing communities based on direct democracy. Representative government will be abolished. This historic leap forward should also immediately encompass both Lebanon and Jordan, two artificial states created by Western imperialists upon the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.
... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Peter Gelderloos Visits Boston
A Review of Anarchy Works
James Herod, June 2010
I suspect that over time Anarchy Works will come to be known as one of the finest books ever written about anarchy. Its author, Peter Gelderloos, had been thinking about writing a book about what anarchy would look like, but then, in a slight shift of focus, thought it better to write first about what anarchy has looked like. So he scoured the historical and anthropological literature for examples of lived anarchy. Then he mined these case studies (around ninety altogether he says) for insights about the whole range of theoretical and practical problems facing anarchists, everything from crime to exchange to work. This is a book that is thoroughly grounded in... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Review
Michael A. Lebowitz, The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development
New York: Monthly Review Press, 2010, 191 pages.
It has been a while since I read a book which I disliked as much as this one. More than dislike: disbelief, bafflement, exasperation, anger. The first thing to puzzle out is who on earth could Michael Lebowitz possibly be writing for? How many contemporary anti-capitalist revolutionaries are going to be impressed by favorable quotations from Comrade Lenin? Lenin destroyed one of the greatest peasant and worker revolutions in history. He systematically dismantled the Workers Councils (Soviets) and betrayed and smashed the peasants' drive for autonomy. He established a secret police (Cheka) and suppressed all oppos... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Review: Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power, and the Origins of Our Times. London: Verso, 1994, 2nd edition with an added 15-page Postscript, 2010, 416 pages.
This is a truly remarkable book, the best I've read in years, perhaps ever. If you want to understand capitalism, this is the book to read. But it is mis-titled. The book actually covers the entire history of capitalism from its very beginnings in Italy in the 14th century, not just the long 20th century.
Capitalism expanded not in a smooth linear fashion but in a staggered series of steps or jumps, each of which made it more powerful. There were four such leaps, each made by a different capitalist ruling class, or the four great hegemons of capitalism, center... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) With additions on January 2001 and June 2003
Despite its claims and intentions, this short statement on anarchist strategy is still very much a leninist document, and remains trapped within most of the major concepts of that tradition. I would like to point out some of the inadequacies of the statement and show why it does not suit as a strategy for achieving a free society.
1. Everyone in one organization. On page seven of the pamphlet version the authors state that all anti-capitalist forces "will be united inside the organization." What geographical unit are we talking about here? A neighborhood, small town, city, state, region, nation, continent, the world? The absurdity of the statement is obvious if you take the world as the unit. A... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) (Note: These topics are not in any particular order. There are references and source materials on many of these topics in the bibliography I compiled last month, “A Bibliographical Guide to Anarchism in English”. If not, I sometimes give some references here.)
1. The school voucher phenomenon and the anarchist response.
The right-wing (especially the Christian right) push for school vouchers is part of a more general corporate attack on public education. This has elicited a near unanimous response among progressives to rally to the defense of public education. Yet anarchists have always had rather different views about education. The contemporary ‘deschooling’ movement is largely of anarchist inspiration. Although ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)