PLAY: A Call for Submissions for the Next Issue of Perspectives

Are you an organizer or activist currently engaged in movement work? Are you interested in taking time to reflect on the lessons and ideals of this work in order to help advance anarchist praxis? Are you a self-taught thinker with a particular interest or expertise in some aspect of radical history or practice? Are you willing to share your insights to contribute to our collective memory? Do you have ideas, experiences, or questions that you would like to develop and share with a wider audience?

Play
(photo by Abbey Volcano)

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, the Perspectives on Anarchist Theory editorial collective would like to hear from you. We believe it is crucial that those of us with visions of a free society share our work and ideas so that we can create a solid, common foundation on which to build a better world. We value underrepresented voices, accessibility, complexity, and the rigorous investigation of ideas.

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THOUGHTS ON AN ANARCHIST RESPONSE TO HEPATITIS C & HIV, by Alexander McClelland & Zoë Dodd

Editors’ Note:
We regret that, due to an error, an incorrect version of the following piece appears in the print edition of Perspectives, N. 29, on “Anarcha-Feminisms.” Please read and share this version of McClelland and Dodd’s essay, as it demonstrates the language and ideas they intended to represent. We are grateful to the authors for their grace and understanding with this error, and apologize for any confusion this may have created.

“As a woman living with HIV, I am often asked whether there will ever be a cure for AIDS. My answer is that there is already a cure. It lies in the strength of women, families and communities, who support and empower each other to break the silence around HIV/AIDS and take control…” – Beatrice Were, Ugandan AIDS activist ₁

Introduction
In the early days of the HIV epidemic, within a context of massive and systemic state neglect, people who were impacted and affected by HIV came together out of desperation and urgency to help care for and support their own communities, friends, and families. This care and support took many forms. Some helped people die with dignity in non-stigmatizing environments, while others pooled medications in buyers’ clubs and distributed them to one another outside of official healthcare systems of access. Still others established collective community clinics, developed community prevention, support and care organizations, and distributed sterile equipment for injecting drugs, even when it was deemed illegal by the state, or opened supervised consumption sites without official institutional forms of medical or public health approval. Despite these productive examples, which undoubtedly saved many lives, the devastating past of the AIDS crisis is not one to be romanticized. This is not our intention. In looking back at history, we can see that many of these radical actions were inherently anarchist. At the time, people’s intentions may not have been rooted in an anarchist worldview. People did what they needed to do to maintain their own survival despite what higher authorities deemed appropriate. These examples are the active realization of mutual aid, spontaneity, trust, and collaboration—all tenets of anarchism. While anarchism was not central to those organizing in the early days of the AIDS movement, there was an anarchist component to New York City’s AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP), Toronto’s AIDS ACTION NOW! and there have been many smaller anarchist AIDS activist initiatives over the years. We aim to help reconnect the work of these past movements to what is happening today, or what could happen in the future, with liberatory concepts and ideas brought forward through anarchism.

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A War of All Against All: A Review of Taking Sides: Revolutionary Solidarity and the Poverty of Liberalism, Cindy Milstein, ed. (Oakland: AK Press, 2015), by Arun Gupta

In the introduction to the book Taking Sides, the editor extends “an invitation to constructively debate the many thorny questions for which none of us have the answers.” In that spirit, and viewing our publication as a forum for vigorous and open debate, Perspectives presents the following review, and has specifically invited the book’s editor to respond in our pages. We also encourage you to join the discussion. We want to host debate and constructive engagement with the important issues that Taking Sides raises in our comments section. You can participate by leaving a reply at the bottom of the review. – Eds.
It was in a dusty lot in a residential corner of Albuquerque, New Mexico where Amalia’s story came spilling out.1 “This is the earliest memory of my mother,” she said, her eyes locked on a row of greens pushing through sandy soil under an open-faced hoop house. “I was less than two years old. She was picking a row of beets.” The last of ten children of Mexican and indigenous heritage in a family of farmworkers, Amalia says her mother was diagnosed with late-stage cancer while pregnant and given a few years to live.
“We were very poor and my mother felt I wouldn’t survive as a baby. My father worked constantly to feed our family and buy shoes for us once a year. My mother was friends with a white woman in a Jehovah’s Witness church who was married but couldn’t have children.” After her mother died the white couple adopted Amalia when she was still a toddler. “Right away they took me to a doctor because I was malnourished.”
“Then the woman who adopted me, a gracious and wonderful woman, was killed two years later in a car accident. So I lost my mom again.” Her adoptive father, Jack, became her primary caretaker. “He encouraged me as a woman to not let things limit me. He encouraged me to embrace my culture. He made relations with indigenous people in the area so he could take me to ceremonies. He really loved me.”

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From Oblivion to Political Responsibility: An Anarchist Sister Reviews Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence (AK Press, 2014), reviewed by Sara Rahnoma-Galindo

This review appears in the new issue of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, N.29, on the theme of anarcha-feminisms.  It is available from AK Press here!
Radicals, including many anarchists, are involved in actively organizing against gender and sexual violence around the world. For example, Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault in Egypt; Las Kallejeras in the shantytowns of Santiago, Chile; the Colectiva de Gafas Violetas in Mexico; and countless other local initiatives all confront perpetrators in workplaces and organizing work. Yet, the task of addressing sexual violence, even in anarchist circles, continues to be singled out as primarily the job of survivors and their most immediate circles, instead of as a collective political responsibility. As an issue that we are socialized to meet with silence and stigmatization, sexual violence is commonly underemphasized or obscured amongst both radicals and society at large. Take for instance, ignorance of the fact that one out of three women in the world will be raped at some point in their lives. Or that, in the US, ninety-one percent of reported rape survivors are women, the most vulnerable being queer and gender nonconforming youth and people with physical disabilities, and fifteen percent of children are survivors of rape and incest. It is critical that our politics be aware of and address this. We need to be more diligent and active in both understanding sexual violence and linking it to radical organizing.
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Consider reading Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence (AK Press, 2014), an anthology containing fifty insightful pieces, written by survivors from all walks of life, as part of this process. The book features an introduction by African-American incest and rape survivor and filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons, and is edited by Philipina-American feminist author and survivor advocate Lisa Factora-Borchers. Known for having extensive involvement with survivors via coalition work, nonprofits, and institutions of higher education before piecing together Dear Sister, Lisa Factora-Borchers was first approached by Black feminist author Alexis Pauline Gumbs who asked her to write a letter of support to a friend who had just been raped. Not knowing the survivor’s situation, her name, or much else about her, Lisa Factora-Borchers nevertheless acknowledge the situation and communicated support. Hence the idea for the book was born.

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Anarchism's Mid-Century Turn: A Review and Response to Unruly Equality: U.S. Anarchism in the Twentieth Century, by Andrew Cornell (University of California Press, 2016) by Kristian Williams

Part One
Transitions
No matter how one feels about it, the current state of anarchism has represented something of a mystery:  What was once a mass movement based mainly in working class immigrant communities is now an archipelago of subcultural scenes inhabited largely by disaffected young people from the white middle class.
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Andrew Cornell’s Unruly Equality: U.S. Anarchism in the Twentieth Century supplies the first convincing account of that transition. Beginning in 1916, just before the Red Scare, and closing in 1972, just as our present movement was taking shape, the book serves as “a prehistory of contemporary anarchism.” Giving particular attention to the middle decades when anarchism seemed to disappear, Cornell uncovers a missing history and finds “a clear line of continuity rather than a defined break.” The line he traces is continuous, but it is not straight. There may not be a gap, but there was most certainly a turn.

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Coming of Age: A Review of Unruly Equality: U.S. Anarchism in the Twentieth Century, by Andrew Cornell (University of California Press, 2016), by Jeremy Louzao

I was 15, living in a suburban middle-class part of Anchorage, Alaska, when the subversive package arrived—my first committed step on the anarchist path.
It was the winter of 1996, and maybe just six months before, some anecdotes from a beloved radical teacher got me curious about a thing called anarchism. Soon enough, I was doodling circle-As in the margins of my notebooks. Then I was trying, through brute force, to make my way through Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky. Then—oh, the most cliché gateway into anarchism for kids of my demographic—I found punk rock. And there, in the insert of one of my first punk albums, I learned about AK Press. Brandishing a 56k modem, a phone, and a few hundred dollars that I got once a year from Alaska’s strange, oil-based dividend checks, I ordered a load of literature and odds and ends: Anarchy by Errico Malatesta. Living My Life by Emma Goldman, The Ecology of Freedom by Murray Bookchin, something about participatory economics by Michael Albert; Situationist pamphlets and grassroots organizing manuals; tiny punkish pins and a slew of garish t-shirts crammed with ironic faux-corporate logos, stenciled fists, and slogans in block letters. I’ll admit that, for a little while, I just basked in my new consumer identity as an anarchist. Then I actually read the stuff and, Wow, I really was an anarchist! From that cacophonous, often inscrutable, mix of texts, I found a personal worldview, ethics, even a spirituality that came to guide the course of my life.

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Re-evaluating B. Traven, by John Z. Komurki

The novelist, short story writer, fantasist, and revolutionary B. Traven has been called “the greatest literary mystery of [the Twentieth] century.”[1] “My life story would not disappoint,” Traven himself says in an essay on his breakthrough novel Das Totenschiff (The Death Ship), published in 1926; nevertheless, the author chose to divulge almost nothing beyond scattered, putatively autobiographical references in his novels.
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Traven is a pseudonym. The writer’s real name, nationality, date and place of birth, as well as many other biographical details, remain disputed. That is, in part, why he is commonly referred to (adapting the title of one of his collections) as “the man nobody knows.” More, perhaps, than his writing, it is this carefully cultivated mystery, this series of increasingly elaborate smokescreens, ruses and double bluffs, for which B. Traven is most famous today.

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Breaking the Chains of Command: Anarchist Veterans of the US Military, by Brad Thomson

This piece appears in the current issue of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, N. 28, on Justice available from AK Press here. Brad received an Institute for Anarchist Studies writing grant to assist in the completion of this piece.
“War is the health of the State” – Randolph Bourne, written during WW I
“Mutiny is the conscience of war” – Common trench graffiti during WW I
Introduction
War and military occupation are among the most overwhelming demonstrations of state power. Rooted in an anti-state analysis, the anarchist position on geopolitical power struggles between nation-states is unequivocal opposition, especially in reference to international interventions by the US military.
The logical conclusion might be that anarchists should categorically oppose the individuals who are part of the institution of the US military: the troops. Similarly, it may follow that those people who make up the military and veterans would be among the most hostile toward anarchist ideals and action.
However, through my involvement in anti-war movements and anarchist circles over the last ten years, I have encountered a surprising number of anarchists opposed to the US military who are themselves US veterans. For many of them, their experience as GIs (“Government Issue,” a nickname commenting on the fact that service members are treated as government property) played a significant role in forming and developing their anti-authoritarian and anarchist analysis. What follows is based on interviews with a number of anarchists and anti-authoritarians who also happen to be military veterans.
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(Chicago, 2012: US military Vets throw their medals back during anti-NATO protests. This is Jacob George, a vet who I had hoped to interview as part of the project, who later took his own life.)

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