I appreciate Kristian Williams’ pamphlet, both the thought put into it and the challenge it represents. I learned a lot from its history, and in particular gained insight into the behavior of anarchists I meet today. Williams traces some practices of contemporary US anarchism back to pacifism, looking at how contemporary anarchists unthinkingly accept much of that philosophy. In my view, that influence led to the movement prioritizing providing comfort to its participants, rather than organizing to change the circumstances that led to the discomfort they feel with society in the first place. This emphasis accepts the inevitability of capitalism and is therefore a strategy to live within its parameters. But I don’t think capitalism will allow us these spaces. Instead, it has to be overthrown and not allowed to come back.
Both of these intriguing new works take critical views of the Russian Revolution, whose centenary has just passed. Anarchist Encounters comprises an edited volume of eyewitness reports written by Spanish and Italian anarcho-syndicalists who visited Russia in the years 1920-1921 that also includes Emma Goldman’s critique of Bolshevik hegemony over the Revolution, based on the two years she spent living there. Eric Lee’s The Experiment examines the relatively unknown Georgian Democratic Republic, a three-year period of Menshevik, social-democratic governance in Russia’s southern neighbor and former colony that was crushed by the Red Army in 1921.
This book is a collection of new translations of articles by Victor Serge (1890-1947). Born of Russian anti-Tsarist exiles in Belgium, Serge is of note for his odyssey from anarchism to Bolshevism, then from Trotskyism to some kind of libertarian Marxism. He is regularly trotted out by Leninists when anarchist influence is on the rise or when Bolshevik tyranny needs to be justified, usually in regard to the crushing of the Kronstadt revolt of 1921. The lesson is clear – Serge came to recognise the limitations of anarchism so follow his lead.
Despite its limitations, Cappelletti’s work, as the introduction so aptly describes, is “groundbreaking,” if for no other reason than its ambitious scope. Anarchism in Latin America is hopefully just the beginning in a series of reflective studies, translations, and “rediscoveries” of anarchist literature and thought from throughout Latin America.
Anyone who wants evidence that anarchist geography is alive and well today need only read this book. The author, Simon Springer, is one of the most active anarchist intellectuals today. In 2016, he authored two books and edited five, mostly on anarchist themes, and he has written numerous articles, some technical, but many deeply immersed in contemporary struggles.
His lively polemic, “Fuck Neoliberalism,” has over 50,000 hits on one website alone.
What we found in this collection of reports put together by Zurbrugg, are testimonies written by anarchists who visited the USSR in the crucial years of 1920-1921, in a period in which still the majority of the anarchist movement supported the Bolsheviks, being oblivious (or in denial) of the suppression of the anarchists which started in 1918 and knowing little or nothing about the Makhnovist movement in the Ukraine. In short, these testimonies constitute a most valuable collection of encounters with the realities of an authoritarian revolution by libertarians.
Pagan Anarchism is a book that shines a light on the commonalities between Anarchism and Paganism by drawing from myth, history, and personal experience of the author. This book serves as a solid introductory for those who may have an interest in paganism/polytheism as well as classical Anarchism (anarcho-communism), and how the two are related, although the critiques within seem to be missing something.