Back when I first began selling my labor for a wage in the wasteland of suburbia’s strip malls, I can recall the tedium of stocking shelves, summoning up insincere courtesy in the face of entitled customers and obnoxious bosses, comparing the stacks of money counted at the end of the day with the totals on our paychecks, and feigning adherence to whatever motivational façade management cooked up to mask the reality of our exploitation.
Yet I also remember, much more vividly and fondly, the latent and occasionally eruptive defiance among my co-workers. This included the constant collective complaining about the job, taking more and longer-than-approved breaks, working as little as possible, fudging time sheets, stealing, and the intermittent screaming matches with the boss in the middle of the store. Underpinning all these actions was an unspoken but broadly understood code of silence when it came to such transgressions and, when appropriate, expressions of support for them.
At the time, I didn’t think much about this, it was just how things happened and I’ve encountered similar experiences to varying degrees in every workplace since. Our actions weren’t guided by a political framework nor was there any attempt to organize them in a directed manner. It was more a spontaneous, innate reaction to experiencing the coercion of capitalism. I had cause to reflect upon this anew while reading Kevin Van Meter’s new book, Guerrillas of Desire: Notes on Everyday Resistance and Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible, published by AK Press and the Institute for Anarchist Studies.
Following the release of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, edited by Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown, and Walidah Imarisha’s Angels with Dirty Faces, which won the Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction, the Institute for Anarchist Studies is proud to announce the publication of Kevin Van Meter’s Guerrillas of Desire: Notes on Everyday Resistance and Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible, published in conjunction with AK Press. Join Kevin as he reads from and talks about his book on these upcoming dates!
Rapid policy changes, funding shifts and cuts, spikes in hate crimes, inflammatory rhetoric, corrupt democratic processes, and international etiquette blunders characterize the current political situation in the United States. Since the new regime assumed power, the immediate dangers to people of color, immigrants, queer folks, and the poor have escalated. We respond with the urgency of firefighters, racing from hot spot to hot spot, putting out flames where they threaten to consume our communities. We remain on constant high alert to respond to the next hate crime, the next anti-immigrant raid, the next attack on the planet.
(Roger Peet, Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative)
In these moments of urgency, it can feel as if we will never be able to do enough—as if our long-term campaigns are too slow to develop, our reach too short. How do we respond? Does this cycle require us to drop everything in order to react? Must we abandon our own more proactive, visionary agendas, our long-term strategic thinking, our imagining and pre-figuring of alternatives to the existing society? Let us remember that none of this appeared just this year, out of nowhere. Capitalism, war, racism, fascism, xenophobia, misogyny, and other forces of oppression have long been shaping the terrain in which we fight. If we neglect our own aspirations, then we’ve already lost.
Several factors played into our collective decision not to run a print issue of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory for the current year. We sincerely thank all inquiries and submissions sent for what was hoped to be an issue on Play. A call for submissions for a Beyond The Crisis print issue of Perspectives (2018) is here.
This is an article written by two Wobblies in response to our call for Play essays. These organizers bridge the gap between play and the practice of organizing skills via educational skits and fun activities led by the New Junior Wobblies, the young members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
The IWW globe logo holds three stars representing Education, Organization and Emancipation. This article looks at Recreation – a fourth star – from challenging uneven relations of power, to making joy central to organizing against capitalism, regardless of age.
Shortly after a wave of government repression and internal splits nearly destroyed the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) as a functioning labor organization, a group of Wobblies felt the immediate need to find new ways to raise the next generation of revolutionary unionists. As a part of solidarity support for striking IWW coal miners in Colorado, children of union members were invited to join an IWW organization of their own. These Wobbly kids formed “locals” to organize support for their striking parents, and alongside them, develop a rudimentary understanding of the world and how they might soon be a part of organizing to change it. To the IWW tripartite motto, “Education, Organization, Emancipation” they added “Recreation,” and in 1927, the Junior Wobblies Union was born.
(Junior Wobblies in the 1920s)
Powell’s on Hawthorne
August 10th at 7:30pm
3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, Or
The Institute for Anarchist Studies, in conjunction with our comrades at AK Press, have proudly published Guerrillas of Desire: Notes on Everyday Resistance and Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible, by Kevin Van Meter. Join Kevin and friends and comrades as he launches his book at Powell’s Books, on Hawthorne, in Portland, Oregon.
Lara Messersmith-Glavin and Kristian Williams, of the Institute for Anarchist Studies and Perspectives on Anarchist Theory journal collective, and Ayme Ueda, of the Black Rose Anarchist Federation / Federación Anarquista Rosa Negra, recently appeared on X-RAY FM in Portland, Oregon. The show is called Group Therapy, hosted by Natalie Sept. This episode features an hour discussion of topics including what anarchism is, what anarchists want and do, anarchist critiques of the world, and challenges anarchists face. Listen in below!
The Institute for Advanced Troublemaking Anarchist Summer Camp will be held August 11th – 18th, 2017 in Worcester, MA.
Maia Ramnath, Institute for Anarchist Studies (IAS) and Perspectives on Anarchist Theory journal collective member; Cindy Milstein and Todd May, former IAS board members; and Hillary Lazar, IAS writing grant recipient, and author of the essay “Until All Are Free: Black Feminism, Anarchism, and Interlocking Oppression” in the current issue of Perspectives, are among many people presenting at this summer’s Institute for Advanced Troublemaking anarchist summer camp in the Northeast US. The summer camp is a week-long theory and action camp to be held in Worcester, MA August 11th – 18th, 2017.
Hot off the press: Kevin Van Meter’s GUERRILLAS OF DESIRE: NOTES ON EVERYDAY RESISTANCE AND ORGANIZING TO MAKE A REVOLUTION POSSIBLE, published by the Institute for Anarchist Studies, in conjunction with AK Press, has just arrived from the printer! Get your copy now for 25% off list price here!
This May Day in Portland, Oregon about 1,500 people rallied and marched against capitalism, racism, and colonialism, including immigrant families, undocumented folks, people with disabilities, and working families with kids. It was International Workers Day, which commemorates the Haymarket affair, which took place in Chicago, in 1886, and is also known as May Day. May Day commemorates anarchist organizers murdered by the State for agitating for an eight-hour work day on the way to a truly free society, and is an avowal to continue their work.
Portland organizers had a permit for the march. There was a sizable black bloc at the back, also a large contingent of people turned out by the Black Rose Anarchist Federation with red and black flags, members and supporters of the Burgerville Workers’ Union, and a contingent of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). (Mental Health Care Providers Unite! have a nice description of the day available here. )
Silvia Federici says it is “beautifully written” while illustrating “the power of the refusal of work of those capitalism has subjugated.” George Caffentzis believes it is an “important exploration of the revolutionary possibilities of our time.” Kevin Van Meter’s Guerrillas of Desire: Notes on Everyday Resistance and Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible is the latest Institute of Anarchist Studies book to be published in concert with AK Press.