Clearly we are living in critical times. Even from abroad, it’s clear to see that the election of Trump, coming as it does in the epicenter of Imperial power, signifies that we are at a major historical turning point. One might even say that the post-modern era is ending. All the beliefs and practices that we once presumed normal are dissolving and giving way to a social outlook that may previously have been dismissed as irrelevant.
Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist is a classic for good reason: the drama of the story drives it along. Berkman’s mission to assassinate Frick is interspersed with effective flashbacks showing his development to that point. In the prison there’s plenty of conflict which makes you wonder: how can he survive 22 years? Can the prisoners expose their mistreatment and the scams of the management? Will the escape plan work? I loved the cover: a piano with a pick and shovel leaning against it as a nod the outside comrades who dug a tunnel for him, covered by Vella Kinsella ‘tinkling the ivories’. There’s also the odd bit of unintentional comedy, like Berkman’s puzzlement when he first comes across prison slang: ‘I should “keep my lamps lit.” What lamps? There are none in the cell; where am I to get them? And what “screws” must I watch? And the “stools,”—I have only a chair here. Why should I watch it? Perhaps it’s to be used as a weapon.’ [p112]
We only read for the comments edition!
Welcome to volume 3, issue #5 of ATUBES. This month we’re taking a different approach to the medium and only highlighting comments from the site over the last 31 days, along with a brief introduction for context. The website anarchistnews dot org of which these comments come, has been a source of contention for many readers over the years due to the lightly moderated anonymous comments often found there. Here is a look at some of the most readable comments from this past month.
Time seems a self-evident measure of life, to the point of being assigned to the natural order of things. And with algorithms becoming more infused in daily life, its significance as a factor of being tends to increase. But time imposes itself on us as an uncompromising, external force, demonstrating an indifference to individual paths. The irrefutable fact of passing time belies hide outs or erratic behavior. Life measured by time needs to be productive, to show results.
The first issue collects content from the last two years. Future issues will be released every several months, to keep the material timely. For those with free access to colour printers, we’ve included a center-fold of 24 posters that can be attached with an elastic.
From Plain Words
Plain Words is a website and publication that focuses on spreading news and developing analyses of struggles in and around Bloomington, Indiana. As anarchists, we approach these struggles from an anti-state, anti-capitalist perspective. However, we aren’t interested in developing a specific party line – even an anarchist one – and instead value the diverse forms resistance can take. Our anarchism is vibrant, undogmatic, and finds common cause with all others who fight for a world without the state, capital, and all structures of domination.
An annotated edition of Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist has just been published by AK Press. Jessica Moran and Barry Pateman who edited it are both part of the Kate Sharpley Library team, so KSL took the chance to ask them a few questions. This interview and many other articles appear in Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 89:
KSL: Prison Memoirs is a classic, and much reprinted. You’ve annotated the text to help readers understand ‘the radical world that Berkman inhabited’. What else did you hope this edition would do?
For many years, I was torn between understanding myself as an artist and as a revolutionary. As I considered the future through the hyperbolic lens of youth, I felt I would eventually have to make a stark decision: either throw myself into the serious business of fighting oppression, or turn my back on my principles and content myself with making things of beauty to be ignored or consumed by the very society I wanted to destroy.
Eco-extremism is one of the newest schools of thought in our time, but more than a school of thought, it is a plan of action, an attitude of hostility, and a rejection of all that has come before it in techno-industrial society. Born out of various radical ideologies such as animal liberation, insurrectionary anarchism, anarcho-primitivism, and the neo-Luddism of Theodore Kaczynski, it has germinated and sprouted forth into something entirely other: into a love poem to violence and criminality; a radical ecological vision where hope and humanism are overcome by the barrel of a gun, the explosion of the incendiary device, and the knife stalking human prey in the darkness. All of its true adherents are currently unknown. It is not an ideology that was formed in the academy or even in “alternative” political spaces. Its writings can only be found (some would say ironically) on anonymous sites on the Internet. Eco-extremism was formed in the shadows, and will remain there, a clandestine threat until all eco-extremists are captured or killed… that is, until others take their place.
We’ve had almost two months for it to sink in: Donald Trump is the president-elect of the most powerful military power on Earth. As anarchists, we know the cliche that whomever we vote for, the government always wins. But still, for most of us, this election has felt different. Wren Awry has collected this short anthology of anarchist responses to the election that we hope will help us consider what to do in the near future. Some of it is strategic musing, some of it is emotional. Some of it has been published by us or elsewhere already, some of it appears herein for the first time.