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(en) IAS Perspectives on Anarchist Theory Vol. 7, No. 2 - What's Happening: Books and Events - by Chuck Morse

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 24 Nov 2003 13:27:17 +0100 (CET)


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It is important to understand that the super-aggressive U.S.
imperialism now transforming the planet is not only a frightening,
“bad” development, but also a shift in elite strategies that will
create new opportunities for resistance at the base. Anarchists should
focus on the contradictory nature of current circumstances by both
denouncing the new terrors and articulating the new possibilities
disclosed by recent changes in world affairs.
The barbarism of the U.S. government's foreign policy is well
documented in several new books. Noam Chomsky's Hegemony or
Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance dissects America's
quest for global supremacy by tracking the U.S. government's pursuit
of policies intended to achieve “full spectrum dominance” at
any cost. He shows how policies such as the militarization of space,
the ballistic-missile defense program, unilateralism, the dismantling of
international agreements, and the response to the Iraqi crisis cohere in
a drive for hegemony that ultimately threatens to turn the world into a
wasteland (Henry Holt and Company, November 2003, 224 pages).

Likewise, in Incoherent Empire , Michael Mann argues that the
“new American imperialism” is actually a new militarism that
will bring disaster to the United Sates and the world (Verso, October
2003, 284 pages). John Feffer's anthology, Power Trip: Unilateralism
and Global Strategy after September 11 , which is the first book-length
critique of the shift in U.S. foreign policy since September 11 th ,
shows how this policy is designed to consolidate and extend U.S.
global control (Seven Stories Press, 2003, 254 pages). Tariq Ali's
Bush in Babylon: Recolonising Iraq book details the longstanding
imperial ambitions of key figures in the Bush administration and
shows how war profiteers close to the President are cashing-in. He
also offers an in-depth analysis of Iraqi resistance to the U.S.
occupation (Verso, November 2003, 230 pages).
Anti-Militarism

The long history of anti-war activism is rich with lessons for
contemporary anarchists. Michael Foley's Confronting the War
Machine: Draft Resistance during the Vietnam War tells the story of
one of the most important anti-militarist campaigns in history. Draft
resisters were the cutting edge of the antiwar movement at the height
of the war's escalation and, unlike so-called draft dodgers who left the
country or manipulated deferments, draft resisters openly defied draft
laws by burning or turning in their draft cards. Focusing on Boston,
one of the movement's most important centers, Foley reveals the
crucial role played by draft resisters in shifting antiwar sentiment from
the margins of society to the center of American politics. Their
actions inspired other draft-age men opposed to the
war—especially college students—to reconsider their privilege
placed in a draft system that offered them protections while sending
disproportionate numbers of working-class and minority men to
Vietnam. This recognition sparked the change of tactics from legal
protest to mass civil disobedience, drawing the Johnson
administration into a confrontation with activists who were largely
suburban, liberal, young, and middle class (the core of Johnson's
Democratic constituency). Examining the day-to-day struggle of
antiwar organizing carried out by ordinary Americans at the local
level, Foley argues for a more complex view of citizenship and
patriotism during a time of war (University of North Carolina Press,
2003, 456 pages).

James Lewes's Protest and Survive: Underground GI Newspapers
during the Vietnam War explores the emergence of an anti-militarist
subculture within the United States armed services. These activists
asserted that individual GIs could best challenge their subordination
by working with like-minded servicemen through GI movement
organizations, whose activities they publicized in underground
newspapers. Drawing from more than 120 newspapers, published
between 1968 and 1970, Lewes focuses on their treatment of power
and authority within the armed forces and how this mirrored wider
relations of power and authority in the United States. He argues that
opposition among servicemen was the primary motivation for the U.S.
withdrawal from Vietnam and sheds light on the utility of alternative
media for social change movements (Praeger Publishers, October
2003, 256 pages).

A study of a more recent anti-militarist campaign can be found in
Pilgrimage Through a Burning World: Spiritual Practice and Nonviolent
Protest at the Nevada Test Site by Ken Butigan (State University of
New York Press, September 2003, 256 pages). For a selection of
anarchist anti-militarist texts, see the new pamphlet from the Kate
Sharpley Library, No War but the Class War! Libertarian
Anti-militarism Then and Now (Kate Sharpley Library, 2003, 22
pages). This pamphlet includes writings by Ricardo Flores Magón,
and Alexander Berkman, among many others.
Anti-Cop

Activists experiencing the inevitable link between war and domestic
repression will be interested in Don Mitchell's The Right to the City:
Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space. This book focuses on
how political dissent gains meaning and momentum—and is
regulated and policed—in the real, physical spaces of the city
(Guilford Publications, 2003, 270 pages).

Of course, police action against activists is part of a broader
continuum of violence. Kristian Williams' Our Enemies in Blue: A
History of Police Violence in the United States shows that police
misconduct is not just a matter of bad apples but rather a function of
the very nature of policing in the United States. Williams explains how
modern police forces evolved from slave patrols and protection
rackets, critiques community policing, explores racism in law
enforcement, and suggests strategies for combating police violence.
Williams includes a chapter on prison economics, with an emphasis on
how police have cooperated with politicians to increase the number of
prisons, and offers anecdotes from those who have encountered police
brutality while working for social justice (Soft Skull Press, 2003, 200
pages).

A more localized exploration of the issue can be found in Street
Justice: A History of Police Violence in New York City (Beacon
Press, November 2003). This work traces police brutality cases in
New York—the city with the oldest and most comprehensive
records on the issue—and the anti-brutality movements that sought
to eradicate it, from the years after the Civil War through the 1960s.

Of course control is also exercised indirectly: Christian Parenti's The
Soft Cage: Surveillance in America , from Slave Passes to the Patriot
Act explores not just the history but also the politics of everyday
surveillance, and explains why the question of who is watching and
listening is of the utmost importance today (Basic Books, 2003, 288
pages). Parenti details how seemingly benign technologies—such
as E-ZPass, GPS systems in rental cars, and iris scans at
airports—reconfigure the balance of power between the individual
and the state. Parenti argues that corporations and the U.S.
government have, under the aegis of security and convenience,
substantially eroded civil liberties that Americans have long taken for
granted.

Anti-Globalization Movement

The anti-globalization movement opened a new chapter in the long
history of anti-capitalist struggle and partisans and professors
continue to debate its meaning. Tom Mertes's anthology, The
Movement of Movements: A Reader charts the strategic thinking
behind the mosaic of movements currently challenging neo-liberal
globalization. Leading theorists and activists discuss their personal
formation as radicals, the history of their movements, their analyses
of globalization, and the nuts and bolts of mobilizing against a
U.S.-dominated world system. They also explore how the Global South
and the experience of indigenous peoples have provided inspiration,
the roles played by anarchism and direct democracy, the contributions
and limitations of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre as a
coordinating focus, the effects of and responses to the economic
downturn, September 11th, and Washington's “War on Terror”
(Verso, 265 pages, January 2004).

We Are Everywhere: The Irresistible Rise of Global Anti-Capitalism
offers a collage of texts, graphics, and interviews to prompt insights
into the ideas and activities of the movement against capitalism (by
the Notes from Nowhere Collective, Verso, 2003, 320 pages). Last
year's popular anthology The Battle of Seattle: The New Challenge to
Capitalist Globalization , which has been updated and expanded by
fifty percent, will be re-issued as Confronting Capitalism: Dispatches
from a Global Movement (edited by Daniel Burton-Rose, George
Katsiaficas, and Eddie Yuen, Soft Skull Press, November 2003, 420
pages). This book both documents and analyzes the movement (and
the new edition contains an essay by Institute for Anarchist Studies
board member, Cindy Milstein).

Paul Kingsnorth's One No, Many Yeses: A Journey to the Heart of the
Global Resistance Movement uses the author's travels with the
anti-globalization movement as a basis upon which to examine the
movement's novel political culture (Free Press, 2003, 368 pages).
Another broad look at the anti-globalization movement can be found in
Representing Resistance: The Media, Civil Disobedience, and the
Global Justice Movement (edited by Andrew Opel and Donnalyn
Pompper, Praeger Publishers, November 2003).

The social democratic wing of the anti-globalization movement will
have a voice in Insurrection: The Citizen Challenge to Corporate
Power (by Kevin Danaher, et al). This book attempts to rally people to
the movement, document activist victories, and provide strategic
insights (Routledge, September 2003, 288 pages).
Global South

Although the Zapatistas are an inspiration to radicals worldwide, the
literature on their struggle is often more celebratory than substantial.
Fortunately, readers can explore the deeper history of the movement
in Mayan Lives Mayan Utopias: The Indigenous Peoples of Chiapas
and the Zapatista Rebellion , edited by Jan Rus (et al). This volume
explores the different ways that Indians across Chiapas have carved
out autonomous cultural and political spaces in their diverse
communities and regions. It offers a consistent and cohesive vision of
the complex evolution of a region and its many cultures and histories.
(Rowman & Littlefield, October 2003, 336 pages).

A study of radical movements at the other end of the Americas can be
found in Raul Zibechi's Spanish language Genealogía de la Revuelta:
Argentina, Una Sociedad en Movimiento ( Genealogy of the Revolt:
Argentina, a Society in Movement , Nordan/Comunidad, 244 pages,
2003). This book analyzes the new social movements that have
appeared in Argentina over the last ten years.

Anarchism

Although there are countless summary treatments of anarchism, the
definition and redefinition of the tradition continues. Spanish readers
will want to check out John Barchfield's Estatismo y Revolución
Anarquista ( Statism and Anarchist Revolution ). This book presents
a synthesis of anarchist thought via a treatment of its most notable
theorists' confrontations with central problems faced by the movement
in its struggle against capitalist exploitation, particularly the problem
of the state and the nature of the anarchist revolution (Fundación de
Estudios Libertarios Anselmo Lorenzo, 2003, 140 pages). French
readers will find a general history of anarchism in Les Anarchistes by
Pierre Miquel (Albin Michel, 2003. 328 pages).

Also of interest is a new statement of the left-communist tradition:
taking the first centenary of Lenin's, What is to be Done? as its point
of departure, Leninism, Anti-Leninist Marxism and the Question of
Revolution Today (edited by Werner Bonefeld and Sergio Tischler)
offers a timely restatement of the left-communist critique of Leninism
and shows its contemporary relevance (Ashgate, 2002, 222 pages).
Education

For an anarchist approach to the politics of education, see Matt
Hern's Field Day: Getting Society out of School . With an overview of
the historical and contemporary relationship between democratic
theory, education, pedagogy and culture, Hern investigates the
rationales and repercussions of a schooled society and examines
alternative, healthier ways for children to learn, live with adults, and
grow (New Star, 2003, 256 pages).
Spain

The anarchist role in the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939 is an
inexhaustible source of interest for historians and activists alike. The
most expansive history of the Friends of Durruti—the controversial
Spanish anarchist group—has recently been published (in Spanish)
in Miquel Amorós's La Revolución Traicionada: La verdadera
historia de Balius y Los Amigos de Durruti ( The Revolution Betrayed:
The True History of Balius and the Friends of Durruti, Virus Editorial,
2003, 444 pages).

Also of interest is Antonina Rodrigo's new Spanish language
biography of Amparo Poch y Gascón, an anarchist doctor and
co-founder of the Mujeres Libres: Una Mujer Libre: Amparo Poch y
Gascón: Médica Anarquista (A Free Woman-Amparo Poch y
Gascón : Anarchist Doctor , Flor del Viento Ediciones, 2002, 300
pages).

IWW

The legacy of the Industrial Workers of the World testifies to the
possibility of a genuinely revolutionary, anti-authoritarian labor
movement. Travis Wilkerson's film, An Injury to One, focuses on the
mysterious 1917 murder of Wobbly organizer Frank Little in Butte,
Montana to tell a broader story about the IWW, the American left, the
rise of McCarthyism, and the destruction of the environment (2003, 53
minutes). A biography of Joe Hill and a treatment of the IWW's
cultural dimension can be found in Franklin Rosemont's Joe Hill: The
IWW and the Making of a Revolutionary Working Class
Counterculture (Charles H Kerr, 2003).
Punx Not Dead

Anarchism and culture have a contemporary link in punk rock. An
exploration of this connection can be found in Between Resistance &
Community. This documentary film tells the story of the Long Island
Do It Yourself punk scene, focusing on the efforts of young people to
create a radical anti-corporate youth culture as well as some of the
problems they encounter in doing so. It tells the story through
interviews with those involved in the scene as well as live
performances by its bands (by Joe Carroll, Ben Holtzman, and Jimmy
Choi, 2002, 45-minutes). For another take on the connection between
anarchism and punk rock, check out Footnote , the new memoir by
Chumbawumba guitarist Boff Whalley (Pomona Press, 2003, 222
pages).

Anarchist Bookfairs

Bookfairs provide a great opportunity to pick up good books, hang out
with friends, and participate in important discussions. The
Mid-Atlantic Anarchist Bookfair will take place on October 11 th at
Levering Hall at the Johns Hopkins University Homewood Campus in
Baltimore, Maryland. The second annual Toronto Anarchist Bookfair
will be held on October 25 th , with workshops also the following day,
at the 519 Church Street Community Centre, in downtown Toronto.
The 22 nd London Anarchist Bookfair will be held on October 25 th at
ULU, Malet Street, London.


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