Black blocs and contemporary “propaganda of the deed”

by Jeff Shantz  That anarchists should run afoul of the authorities is hardly surprising.  Indeed, anarchism has a long history of direct conflict with State institutions and their defenders.  Some of the most striking images from this history are the caricatures of black trenchcoat wearing “bomb throwers” who owe their fame to activities at the turn of the Twentieth Century.  Novels such as Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent and Frank Harris’ The Bomb have kept the character of the fanatic alive.  In the popular imagination the spectre of anarchy still conjures notions of terror, chaos, destruction and the collapse of civilization … Continue reading Black blocs and contemporary “propaganda of the deed”

Capitalism, anarchism and Black liberation

by Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin The Capitalist bourgeoisie creates inequality as a way to divide and rule over the entire working class, but it is deeper than that. White skin privilege is a form of domination by Capital over White labor as well as oppressed nationality labor, not just providing material incentives to “buy off” White workers and set them against Black and other oppressed workers. This explains the obedience by White labor to Capitalism and the State. The White working class does not see their better off condition as part of the system of exploitation. After centuries of political and social … Continue reading Capitalism, anarchism and Black liberation

Anarchism, protest and utopianism

by Ruth Kinna The recent explosion of popular energy made manifest in the Occupy movement was described by Adbusters as a shift in global revolutionary tactics, for democracy and against corporatocracy, inspired by a desire to fuse ‘Tahrir with the acampadas of Spain’.[1]  Like the movements for social justice that preceded it, it brought defiant protest together with an openly utopian politics but it captured public attention in ways that the earlier, more conventional protests had not. As the former canon chancellor of St. Paul’s Cathedral (the site of the London camp), Giles Fraser was well positioned to monitor the … Continue reading Anarchism, protest and utopianism

Anarchy and autonomy: Contemporary social movements, theory, and practice

By Jeff Shantz In an earlier article (Shantz 1998), written almost three years before the dramatic anarchist interventions during the Seattle WTO meetings of 1999, I suggested that theories of social movements were ill-suited either for understanding or even appreciating the innovative practices and ideas then being undertaken by anarchists in North America.  That article, and a series of follow-up articles, predicted the return of anarchist movements to a place of great importance within anti-capitalist struggles and offered the view that sociological movement analysis would largely be taken by surprise by the development (Shantz, 1999a; 1999b). Unfortunately, in the years … Continue reading Anarchy and autonomy: Contemporary social movements, theory, and practice

Beyond May Day: From ritual to resistance

by Jeff Shantz Perhaps few recurring events show the great disparity that exists between activist subcultures and broader working class and poor communities in North America than the May Day celebrations that happen each year (with a few exceptions). Despite its proud origins in working class movements of resistance, and its resonance in the mass struggles of the 1930s, May Day in Canada and the US has become little more than a historical commemoration among certain subcultures, an opportunity to (once again) unfurl black flags and distribute pamphlets (largely to one another). For the most part May Day events are … Continue reading Beyond May Day: From ritual to resistance

An anarchy of everyday life

by Jeff Shantz Contemporary anarchism offers a mid-range movement organized somewhere between the levels of everyday life, to which it is closest, and insurrection. Rooted in the former they seek to move towards the latter.  Anarchists look to the aspects of people’s daily lives that both suggest life without rule by external authorities and which might provide a foundation for anarchist social relations more broadly.  This commitment forms a strong and persistent current within diverse anarchist theories.  This perspective expresses what might be called a constructive anarchy or an anarchy of everyday life, at once conserving and revolutionary. Colin Ward … Continue reading An anarchy of everyday life

Toward a new social ecology

by Brian Tokar As a rising awareness of the consequences of environmental problems comes to reshape the agendas of critical thinkers and activists around the world, it is more important than ever to fully appreciate the origins of eco-socialist thought. Perhaps foremost among those who brought a coherent left analysis to environmental issues, while first introducing ecology to many on the left, is Murray Bookchin, the founding theorist of social ecology. Bookchin was a pioneer of left ecological thought and action beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, and his voluminous and many-faceted work continues to influence theorists and activists to … Continue reading Toward a new social ecology

Re-thinking revolution: A social anarchist perspective

by Jeff Shantz Superseding archic society requires, in part, a refusal to participate in dominant social relations.  Anarchists call for a refusal to surrender people’s collective power to politicians or bosses.  Instead they seek to re-organize social institutions in such a way as to reclaim social and economic power and exercise it on their own behalves towards their own collective interests.They seek an alternative social infrastructure that is responsive to people’s needs because it is developed and controlled directly by them.This is a social framework in which decisions regarding social and economic relations are made by the people affected by … Continue reading Re-thinking revolution: A social anarchist perspective

Re-envisioning utopian thinking

by Stevphen Shukaitis 2012 preface: this essay was written in 2003 as a response to concerns coming out of the anti-globalization movement. Movement activists were confronted, much in the same way those involved in the Occupy movements are today, with a demand to move on from a protest against something to articulating alternative social arrangements. “Yes, I understand what you’re against, but what are you for? What’s your vision of how things should work?” Most often this demand was used in attempts to argue against the protest movements, either by claiming that they had no alternative vision or that this … Continue reading Re-envisioning utopian thinking