jewish anarchists

Cindy Milstein On Mending The World As Jewish Anarchists

heal the world, make it a better place...

From The Final Straw Radio

This week, we air a conversation between Scott and anarchist, author and organizer Cindy Milstein. The conversation is framed around the most recent compilation that Milstein has edited and contributed to, “There Is Nothing So Whole As A Broken Heart: Mending The World As Jewish Anarchists” (AK Press, 2021). During the conversation, they speak about walking through the world as queer, non-binary Jewish anarchists, Palestine and Israel, Milstein finding increasing healing and ritual among diasporic Jewish anarchist and other communities, antisemitism from the right and the left, argumentation and Cindy’s relationship with Murray Bookchin and more. [00:10:28 – 01:44:47]

Recording of “Jewish Anarchists” Panel

Edinburgh Anarchist Feminist Bookfair: Recording of “Jewish Anarchists” Panel

From Outside the Circle by Cindy Milstein

Edinburgh Anarchist Feminist Bookfair: Recording of “Jewish Anarchists” Panel

On Sunday, May 30, I was joined by the lovely mensch and brilliant contributors to my latest edited anthology, There Is Nothing So Whole as a Broken Heart: Mending the World as Jewish Anarchists (AK Press, with design by Crisis studio) for a workshop at the, alas, online version of the Edinburgh Anarchist Feminist (yes, feminist!) Bookfair!

Tales of the Jewish Working Class: Anarchism and the Multicultural Joys of New York

Sometime in the middle 1970s I found myself at one of the congenial meetings of the old-time anarchists—they ran a lecture series under the rubric of the Libertarian Book Club, their traditional organization—where the name of Eleanor Roosevelt happened to be mentioned. And I was taken aback to see a room crowded with elderly Jewish ladies who read the Freie Arbeiter Stimme or helped put it out, together with possibly a white-haired Italian ex-terrorist or two, or maybe a grizzled veteran of the St. Petersburg uprisings of 1917, and a number of tough-guy harbor Wobblies and I don’t know who else, burst into spontaneous applause. Eleanor Roosevelt, hooray! Such was the spirit of working-class anarchism in New York, among its hard-bitten surviving militants, in their retirement days. Well, not all of them, but enough to make a resounding applause.

Tales of the Jewish Working Class: Crackup and Transformation of the Jewish Left

There was something sweet tempered about those people, the Jewish labor anarchists of the 1920s and ’30s. You can see it in Pesotta’s autobiography—in her account of her young girl’s life in the Ukraine, and her old-school father and the danger of an arranged marriage (which, as much as czarism and the pogroms, led her to flee to America). That is what Stolberg, the journalist, saw in Morris Sigman, the non-hard-boiled union strongman. But there was no reason why sweetness and ferocity couldn’t go together. I wonder if, in the Jewish labor movement, anybody was tougher than the anarchists. Anyway, in their sweet-tempered way, they racked up some very fine achievements over the next years.

Tales of the Jewish Working Class: The Ancient Dream of the Jewish Left

And the Ideal blossomed, as well, among the anarchists, some of them—blossomed in the writings of Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman—blossomed as an inexpressible yearning that was poetic and political at the same time—blossomed into the belief that a life dedicated to the Ideal could be lived, if only as a continual and aesthetically shaped protest against the world, or perhaps as a morbid self-sacrifice. Those were religious notions, very nearly—notions about how, under the buoyant and not necessarily benign guidance of the ethereal Ideal, you should feel and think and what kinds of things you should do.

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