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
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.
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.
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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Beyond Absolutes: Justice for All

by Megan Petrucelli

Anarchism outlines egalitarian ways of relating. We are encouraged to denounce systems of domination and control in favor of structures of interaction that promote liberation, collectivism, acceptance of differences, and meeting the needs of all. In anarchism, there is an emphasis on inclusivity, listening to … Read more

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
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.
(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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