None But Ourselves Can Free Our Minds: Chris Crass' "Towards Collective Liberation"

From Truth Out - By Dr Zakk Flash, Truthout | Opinion

Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing,
Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy
by Chris Crass
300 pages, PM Press, $20
April 2013

More than just an anthology of essays, Chris Crass's Towards Collective Liberation is a coming-of-age tale for the modern activist. Crass chronicles his growth as an organizer, illustrating how the rewards and challenges of being a college-age activist with Food Not Bombs has shaped his current endeavors in feminist work with men and anti-racist work with majority white groups. In tracing his own evolution as an activist, Crass examines his involvement in half a dozen activist groups, showing how current sociopolitical issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and US wars abroad are linked to struggles at home.

Crass's book serves two main purposes: as the memoir of an activist fighting racism, sexism, classism and homophobia, and as a self-help book for the beleaguered social justice organizer. Pairing tales of personal development with movement moments, Crass tells the story of his growth in wisdom, and the integration of that wisdom into an intersectional praxis for effective social change. That word, praxis, is one that appears time and time again. Praxis, practice-driven theory, is the engine that drives successful struggle. As Crass tells it, insight isn't enough; moments of sudden inspiration and new understanding can provide momentum, but sustainable change requires analysis, planning, organization, integration and reflection.

Chris Crass's life story provides a lens through which to view his take on the birth and death of popular struggle. In organizing against imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, Crass is organizing against himself. As a white man, raised in capitalist America, the author is granted multiple measures of privilege. In examining the strengths and contradictions inherent in anarchist activism, Crass is dissecting himself, refusing that privilege and questioning its origin. These motivations are what make the book so useful in discussing contemporary activism.

In his long and fairly venerable career as a rabble rouser, Crass has made a lot of friends. He brings them along in Towards Collective Liberation, drawing judiciously from interviews in constructing his narrative. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - historian, writer and professor emerita in Native American studies at California State University - lends academic weight in the foreword; her contribution from a dedicated Marxist revolutionary with extensive radical credentials in feminism and anti-racist work serves to bolster the author's message. Chris Dixon, fellow at the Institute for Anarchist Studies, brings along his own experiences in the book's introduction. Well-known in anti-authoritarian and indigenous solidarity organizing circles, Dixon's recommendation of the book adds to its gravitas.

Emotionally honest, Towards Collective Liberation deals with the stress, disillusionment and everyday difficulties of social change work. The self-replicating social dynamics of hierarchy pop up even in the most dedicated of revolutionary lives; if we're working for radical political, economic and cultural changes, we must remember that this work is called "struggle." And while it seems simple, addressing feelings, communication, conflict and resistance in day-to-day interrelations can make a serious difference. Crass's book illuminates the means by which oppression is reinforced by hierarchies of hegemonic groups. In doing so, he provides opportunities for reflection on how that oppression might be lessened.

Empire is not inevitable. Racism, sexism, nationalism, homophobia are not the natural order of things. In putting this book together, Chris Crass has created a compelling volume with a simple message: Our personal and collective liberation is bound up in the liberation of others.



Fuck off Chris Crass. So full of shit and an enemy to anarchists. I thought he died.

Of course not. None of our enemies are ever held responsible for their crimes.

This is trollbait.

I posted this article on Anarchist News because Chuck Munson has shut down all criticism or debate in this same thread on Infoshop (

What happened on Infoshop? Quite simply, I posted a link to a 2004 article by Chris Crass on Indymedia in which he, posing as an anarchist, encouraged other anarchists to vote for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. That article can be found here:

First, Chuck Munson deleted my comment in that thread, and then he added his own, as follows:

"Personal attacks are a violation of our terms of service. If we say something is a personal attack, it violates our policy and our community standards. Play the ball, not the player."

I responded by asking how, exactly, merely posting a link to another article by Chris Crass constituted a "personal attack". That response was also deleted. Munson then proceeded to disable my Infoshop login account, which I got around by registering under a different e-mail address. At that point, he blocked my IP address so I couldn't get to Infoshop at all. Finally, when I started going to the site through a proxy server, he managed to set things up so that I could log in to the site from any server, but none of my comments would be saved, and that is where things stand now.

Has anyone else noticed how boring the Infoshop News site has become lately, and how few comments there are? This is a direct result of Munson's authoritarian censorship policies, and I challenge him to defend those policies in an open forum.

I noticed it as well. Chuck Munson is a geeky left anarchist nerd that wants post left anarchists to like him even though he opposes anarchists and defends the left almost every single time. Chuck Munson liked the old "new" anarchism that is activist and college girl centric, doing diy projects that help the left and sometimes anarchists.

He still defends Noam Chomsky from criticism and ridicule. But anyways, this website became the primary English language news site because Chuck Zero is a temper tantrum throwing autocrat. If he got pied for his moderation IRL, it would be just deserts.

"Chuck Munson liked the old "new" anarchism that is activist and college girl centric, doing diy projects that help the left and sometimes anarchists.

He still defends Noam Chomsky"

So basically he is everyone who posts on reddit's anarchism sub or has the entirety of anarchism's online presence (with the exception of a few sites) gone to shit?

Um, this is nothing new. It's been devoid of comments for years now because of the way Chuck0 runs the site.

The only thing more annoying then chuck0 and infoshop are all the internet A's who wine about "censorship" because some site moderator took down their troll post. That's not say that chuck0 aint a total chode 1, but you internet A's are acting like ({}).

Chuck Munson isn't just taking down my posts on Infoshop News, he's taking down ALL the posts. I can understand some site moderation, within limits, but this is ridiculous. He might just as well take out the Comments feature altogether.

just curious (although it's more of a rhetorical question), if Infoshop dot org doesn't publish personal attacks why does it publish bill "not bored" brown texts of him writing about other anarchists and translators, if not other than for the lulz?

on the whole, i definitely enjoyed infoshop dot org a lot more when it had anonymous comments like this site, and less moderation. some of my posts have been deleted as well, but nothing that extreme you mention.

slight edit: perhaps other texts by not bored are not specifically about anarchists, but other translators, etc, and perhaps @friends. my bad.. anyways, rant over. onwards

I can remember my early days on infoshopnews when some early post leftist theory was being posted back in 2003/04(McQuinn, Jarach, Black ect). Chairman Christopher Day was still posting(all his articles were on 'anti imperialism' which should tell you everything). Munson was actually open to the post left thing but he never fully theoretically grasped it's implications. He saw it as an adjunct of anarchist activism which it obviously is not. He wants to recreate the context of N30-99 which is obviously never going to happen.

Tell the truth, do you have a scraggly neckbeard and a "FREE HUGS" t-shirt?

yeah he was calling himself a post-leftist at the same time as calling himself a big tent anarchist. confused young man.

I think you are forgetting an obvious possibility: words have no inherent value, so Chucko actually didnt understand what your messages meant but he didn't understand that he didn't understand so he thought he understood them when he thought they were personal attacks. I think that's right and also I'm not sure what I just typed because words have no objective value.

infoshop deleted my comment too. chuck e cheese.
not updated

isn't chris crass a peace police fuck head?

Yes, he stood between the police and the people on the side of the police in Oakland during the Oscar Grants events. Anyone who tells you different is full of shit. That's what happened and I'm not even including all the terrible details but that's all you really need to know.

"he stood between the police and the people on the side of the police"

wait i don't understand are you saying he protected the police or protected people from the police or what?

He protected the cops' comments from being erased by Chuck0. FIght censorshit!

As long as we're critiquing Chuck Munson and his censorship policy on Infoshop, I would also like to point out his habit of posting anarcho-capitalist articles, usually by Kevin Carson - often the same ones posted on Needless to say, any attempt to call out Carson or Infoshop on that matter is firmly prevented by Munson.

a-news has also posted many anarcho-capitalist articles. maybe not recently but that was one of the annoying set of articles posted good amount in the early days of a-news. it was argued a-news was serious about being "non-sectarian" and therefore couldn't exclude anarcho-capitalist articles. seems like since then they've realized that's ridiculous but they've picked up some other silly habits since then haven't they?

It's factually incorrect to call Carson an ancap. He does have ideas on money that you can argue are problematic, however he is actually quite conciliatory toward informal non productive economies and has spoken favorably about a post work society. He basically believes in Kropotkinian ecovillages built around human scaled modular automation. There is some room for dialogue with that as far as I'm concerned unless you really are a raving primitivist.

As far as the cypto thing goes, I think that anarchists could make some provisional use of it. See PL Wilson on money.

stopped reading at "activism"

stopped reading at "Towards Collective"

Why is this book so popular with liberals, progressives, leftists, and other non-anarchist people ?

It must be a CONSPIRACY!?!?!

They are fascinated with it because words have no inherent value and they are trying to figure it out still because they are progressives so they think things like "hope" and "it gets better"

because it validates their bullshit claim to anarchism.

I read this book a while back, and it was kind of excruciating. Like, I felt the dude was sincere, but the whole book is like this narrative of how he just kept getting sucked deeper and deeper into reformist identity politics until his whole "activism" was just insular interpersonal policing within and between organizations, and he was doing all this coalition-building or whatever to build a broad Left movement and I was just like, you know these people are probably going to throw militant anarchists under the bus at the first opportunity, and that working with them is going to have a chilling effect on your tactics, and also that you have painted yourself into a corner where you spend so much time doing interior and interpersonal work that you're not actually confronting capitalism or the state in any meaningful way whatsoever. I mean, I have shameful reformist academic tendencies myself (which is how I end up reading books like this), but Crass has just thrown himself headfirst into the morass and seems to think it's a good thing.

"I mean, I have shameful reformist academic tendencies myself (which is how I end up reading books like this), but Crass has just thrown himself headfirst into the morass and seems to think it's a good thing."

That's okay friend, we all need comrades like you to tell us why not to read shitty books like this, especially when considering probably none of us (except you) even read the shitty article above.

who even reads the articles these days

Yeah, what's the point, words have no objective value.

I come for the comments, and end up reading the articles. Large blocks of text are like catnip to me, I just can't help myself.

They can be catnip to you and sewage to me and mermaid nipples to others, because blocks of words have no inherent value.

Can they be both catnip and sewage to me?

Sorry I can't understand what you're saying because WHNIV

I like your acronym. Do you want to go steady?

just as local is not inherently ethical
broader is not iherently better
no beef with the anti-bigot stuff though

just as words are not inherently meaningful
battle a la mode that
nunnery fans cart slip-coat boom ba


So then the more accurate title should be "Towards Collective Abnegation: Anti-Racist Cult Organizing, How to Get Laid by Feminists, and Doormat Building Strategy"?

Towards the Collective Vomatorium: We March, We Shuffled, We Go to Puke and Why We Secretly Sniff

we cant agree on the title because words . . . have . . . . . .... . no. . . . . ..

Here military, there violence, here, meaning, there, concepts... Ahahaha...

So what is this all about, would you say they have inherent meaning or something? Just go back to reddit nigga

No cousin.

Nobody should go back to reddit.

They should stick around here and make fun of them instead.

Unless you're just really into Chomsky, forcing PC politics down people's throats, and LOVE to work... In which case, you belong there.

Kevin Carson refers to himself as a "market anarchist", which means that he believes in private property, the sanctity of contracts, money, the profit motive, and wage labor. Like all other "market anarchists", "agorists", "voluntarists", and "anarcho-capitalists", he fails to understand that a State is necessary in order for such a system to exist.

See the Market Anarchist FAQ on Carson's web site here:

See the section called "Are market anarchists for or against capitalism?" here:

Ah yes, the so-called "gold anarchist"

Where so little affinity is shared that the only thing we're doing together is making anarchism even more confusing to the casual observer.

The thing is Makh there is no monolithic market anarchist position. I don't subscribe to it but I suspect I am at least more honest about the nuances and differences then you are,I at least take theorists on a case by case basis. What you are saying is more true of someone like Roderick Long then Kevin Carson who is much closer to Proudhon and Kropotkin then he is to Rothbard. I know this because I've actually read him. He believes in active use ownership not private property for one thing, he's against profit motives and see's things like contracts and wages as part of a more informal economic process.See this

He's not my favorite anarchist but at least get his positions correct.


don't g kudasai~

When all @'s agree that snitches get stitches, Sir Einzige will be there!
When consensus is reached, stating that baby fucking is just not cool, Sir Einzige will be there!
And when @'s finally take a stand and say "we draw the line, "no capitalist in our cool kid club", Sir Einzige will be there screaming "but wait, let me explain!"

For he is the great defender of the indefensible, the great rationalizer of all that is irrational. Lo and behold the great Sir Einzige, the self fulfilling prophet for why consensus will never fucking work!!

>When consensus is reached, stating that X is just not cool

whoa there chairman meow

>For he is the great defender of the indefensible, the great rationalizer of all that is irrational

u wot m8

My dear anonymous troll, I'd give you a rebuttal but you did all the derp for me.

snitches get stitches unless you're in the united states and then they get a pat on the back and a "support" crew.

I, too, have read Rothbard, Von Mises, Nozick, and, yes, even Ayn Rand. I once, long ago, considered myself an anarcho-capitalist, before I realized how hopelessly muddled and delusional that whole spectrum of thought is.

To see exactly what Kevin Carson's web site says about private property, look here:

Note that this passage is ok with "voluntary transfer", i.e., buying and selling of property, and, hence of property rights. Once again, this philosophy is totally blind to the absolutely fundamental role of the State in maintaining and enforcing such a system.

First off Makhno the quote you pulled is from Gary Chartier not Kevin Carson. And again your being down right silly in conflating his viewpoints with c4ss as if he is part of some hive mind. Some perhaps most on that site go in ancap directions some don't. Carson is considered the more left oriented as far as his political economic views goes. You can certainly attack his association, that would be more on point, however it should be said that late 20th century anarchists has seen fit to completely banish Proudhon from modern anarchism, that might be why people like him(and until recently Shawn Wilbur who is not very Market oriented) make those associations. Every since late 20th century anarchism caught all that Marxist ultra left disease which sees fit to go after ANY thing related to market or exchange. In the classical glory days of anarchist it was not uncommon for people like Emile Armond to have a mutualist streak or two. If you think that mutualism is a form of anarcho capitalism that is certainly a retarded view point to have.

Markets and exchange need not be seen as a system, you have tribal examples of coinage as well as more emergent market structures like Bazaars which may always have a role to play in various peoples lives. These more non western examples certainly are not propped up by states. Market and exchange values are basically a form of human rationality over relationality, I prefer the latter, but the former may always be persistent to some degree as long as friends eventually become strangers.

Fuck me. I agree with Sir Einzige.

Carson was some sort of ancap until he got into a bunch of classical anarchist texts and started denouncing capitalism. This was years ago, and ever since he's been on about some sort of open-source market-socialist neo-Proudonist mutualism. Not necessarily my thing, but it's not the usual ancap-claptrap either - I can see why Chuck posts it. It's handy stuff for explaining things to people who're into "libertarian" economics - even by their own logic, private capital ownership destroys any semblance of a "free market" pretty quickly.

But that's about correct. Carson at his best does believe in abolishing work as much as possible within the paradigm that he believes. Even though he is part of the exchange value branch of the productionist discussion he is actually better then more then a few of the hard left anarcho/libcom types who if they had their way would probably usher in a reality worse then this one which is saying a lot. Prescriptive productionist use value political economy is quite horrendous when you look into the details. Carson's models could in theory at least work and be preferable to what exists today. Certainly a starting-stop gap to even better things.

The key word is handy, start rationally with Proudhon then on to Prince Pete, then over 9000 to relational aboriginal anarchy and orgiastic ecstasy.

rationality not even once

The quote I meant to put in the last post is this:

"2. (artificial) property rights

Putative property rights created by fiat. There are good reasons, on multiple theories of property, for people to control their own bodies and the physical objects they acquire through voluntary transfer from others or which they homestead. The rights they exercise in these cases can be regarded as “natural” (even if there’s an important sense in which someone might see them as rooted to some extent in convention). Natural property rights result from natural scarcity: they flow directly from the actual, material possession of finite, rival goods. Defense of these rights is entailed in the very act of possession. By contrast, artificial property rights are rights established, not by homesteading or transfer, but by actual or threatened violence—by theft (as in the case of the enclosures) or engrossment, for instance, or through the creation of “intellectual property” claims which give one person or group claims on the justly acquired property of others. Artificial property rights require the creation of artificial scarcity, and require the invasion of others’ natural property to enforce."

You're naive it all comes down to force in the end it doesn't matter how peaceful and decent and sharing you are YOU WILL EVENTUALLY BE attacked by some genetically determined aggression or emotionally twisted anomaly and all the voluntary mutual fiats in the most bountiful world WILL NOT STOP THE GREEDY POWER-SEEKING ONES FROM DESTROYING THIS SOCIAL ARRANGEMENT! Anyway, some people are nomadic and itinerant THESE ARE THE MOST DANGEROUS BECAUSE THEY COVET THE SPOILS OF THOSE THAT DO SEDENTARY LABOR! People must be healthy and positive and optimistic about defending themselves AGAINST THE HORDE OF NIHILISTS WAITING IN THE CURTAINS! Some of them gate crashed my daughters Xmas dinner and stole a leg of ham I BROKE ONE OF THEIR FUCKING ARMS AND KICKED THEM INTO THE STREET. Sometimes we have to defend ourselves OR WE WILL HAVE ALL OUR FOOD EATEN OUR WOMEN RAPED AND WE WILL ALL STARVE TO DEATH WHILE THE NIHILISTS RAMPAGE THROUGH THE LAND!!1

darwinism please go

Darwin was a poptard weakling.

whoa, did i got lost on the layers of irony or is dis nigga serious

what the hell man

"There are good reasons..."

The quote on private property and capitalism that I posted earlier is from the so-called "Market Anarchist FAQ", which is on the web site for a group called "Center For A Stateless Society", of which Kevin Carson is listed as the "Senior Fellow and The Karl Hess Scholar in Social Theory":

Regardless of who actually wrote it, this FAQ represents the fundamental ideology of all those "market anarchists" who are affiliated with the C4SS, including Kevin Carson. I challenge anyone to find any direct, attributable quote from anything Carson has ever written that contradicts the ideas in the FAQ relating to private property, market exchange, capitalism, or anything else.

Because regardless of who wrote it the anarchist FAQ also represents the fundamental ideology/position of anarchists.(roll eyes please) I'm not a Carson mark but I know what an ancap is and he ain't it. If you would simply read his current positions this would be obvious to you, but instead you are dragging about this shame for once being an ancap and not properly evaluating the ideas at hand.


The best part is how he holds the DVD when making this advertisement for it.

This video is from the same person who has these awful Black Riders Liberation Party-Anarchist alliance type videos. The Black Riders Liberation Party marched into the 2012 Southern California Anarchist gathering at the Southern California Library Los Angeles. They were wearing this military fatigues and marching in single file led by General Taco and his spicy brigade. The passive audience cheered them on as if we were at a Maoist gathering.

I watched this AND NEARLY PUKED IN MY THROAT this guy is a reformist NO DOUBT ABOUT IT you don't have to be a computer nerd to distinguish between RECUPERATION AND REVOLUTION!

I read everything by Kevin Carson that gets posted on Counterpunch or Infoshop News, and so far, I've seen nothing that contradicts the positions taken in the Market Anarchist FAQ. Instead of just telling me that Kevin Carson is no longer an anarcho-capitalist, why don't you prove it, as I have already challenged you to do? Provide direct quotes from Carson, along with links to the original articles.

I doubt he's inaccessible, assuming he is lock step with the market anarchist FAQ is like assuming anarchists here are lock step with Ian McKay's conception of anarchism in his FAQ. It's nonsense and you know it. If we are talking about the basics of what it is to be a capitalist(profit motive, private property) a little bit of reading will show you he does not believe in that any more at least. He may associate with those that do and you can go after him for that, but those are not his positions. He has actually said his preferred model is on the Proudhon/Kropotkin communal model of resilient subsistence communities.

The difference between the "Anarchist FAQ" and the "Market Anarchist FAQ" is that the MAQ was specifically designed for the "market anarchist" web site for the Center For A Stateless Society, a web site in which Kevin Carson obviously plays a leading role, since he is listed there as a "Senior Fellow and Karl Hess Scholar For Social Theory"; therefore, it is entirely reasonable to assume that the MAQ accurately represents the fundamentals of Carson's "market anarchist" ideology, unless some evidence to the contrary is provided. I have already given my evidence and reasoning, yet you, Einzige, continue to dodge my challenge to give yours. So I will ask you, yet again, to show me specific quotes from any of Carson's writings that suggest he has deviated in any significant way from the pro-private property, pro-wage labor, pro-capitalist stance of the MAQ.

Makhno it really comes down to what you think Capitalism is. Carson is obviously a proponent of capital as such to some degree, but then again so are many anarchists who believe in some kind of economy based on surplus labor(libcomers come to mind). I suspect that you and I are for the same kind of anarchism that is beyond the world of work and surplus labor, but not all forms of that belief equal capitalism, there is capital and then there is capitalism.

Anyway here you go He is a proponent of wage, but he wants the hierarchical middle man out. Whether that is possible is another question but that's his position.

Thank you, Einzige - now we have something we can work with. So let's compare ideas on wage labor from the following two sources:

(1) The Market Anarchist FAQ, or MAFAQ
(2) Kevin Carson's commentary

So, according to the MAFAQ, " anarchists typically do not have an a priori moral opposition to wage labor...".

According to Kevin Carson, "As libertarians, we don’t want to abridge the freedom to contract wage employment...".

So what's the bottom line here? Whether they call themselves "market anarchists", "anarcho-capitalists", or whatever, they are OK with alienated wage labor, as long as it takes place in a "free" market (i.e., one without any State regulation).

Let me counter with what I believe to be the more realistic, and truly anarchist position: there is not, never has been, and never will be a "free" market, because any type of market economy requires the existence of a State to enforce property rights, contractual obligations, and the regulation of the money supply, among other things. If the State did not already exist, it would be necessary for the anarcho-capitalists to invent it, in order for their "free" market to exist. They might not wish to call it a State, any more than Murray Rothbard would have called his absurd hypothetical system of competing police and judicial systems a State, but it would be one, nevertheless.

Well Makhno keep in mind MA is not my thing, however there are distinctions that should be made between MA and AC. The former believe in a more compatibilistic approach which also includes those that opt out of the wage system, certainly that is Carson's position. He is all about reducing work as much as possible and having no structured hierarchies in his model of wage labor.

Overall the post market/wage position is something that I too see as the correct model, however what I don't care for is seeing something like mutualism or Tuckerite socialism conflated with anarcho capitalism, there are similarities but there are differences as well.

Also Carson at least tries to see his system as much less formal then most ancaps. David Graeber(who does not use 'free market' jargon and is more in line with the traditional anarchist position) also sees markets as potentially having a future in a less formal 'human need' sense, it would be akin to the Middle Eastern Bazaar model which is not as formalized and top down as the Western Model and is based more on what he sees as stemming from 'baseline communism' which include trust honor and other traditional 'human' values. The Bazaar model did seem to operate without much of a state historically.

"The market is simply one manifestation of this more general principle of mutual aid, of the matching of abilities (supply) and needs (demand) - or to translate it into my earlier terms, it is not only founded on, but is itself an extension of the kind of baseline communism on which any society must ultimately rest." DG

Hey kids, can we get back to shitting on Chris Crass now?

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
Enter the code without spaces.
Subscribe to Comments for "None But Ourselves Can Free Our Minds: Chris Crass&#039; &quot;Towards Collective Liberation&quot;"