Submitted by sid on Fri, 04/09/2015 - 7:44pm
Anarchism and the City: Revolution and Counter-revolution in Barcelona, 1898-1937, by Chris Ealham, $30.
This is a very exciting and excitable book - the ideas, themes and stories leap from the pages. It's one of the few books in English that looks at Spanish revolutionary development from the street level, from the people in the proletarian quarters, about the lives of ordinary people in their hovels and their daily fights with all levels of authority. It's not what the organisations did or did not do, so much as what the people did, needed, and fought for that then led to their fighting organisations being established and growing.... and after decades of this to revolution. It's not a glossy account, or a simple one, for it has the arguments, the fights, the splits, the reconciliations, within the revolutionary people. And then the disputes between these and the 'struggle for the streets' between ordinary people & revolutionary organisations and the wealthy classes and their desire for a quiet life to enjoy their riches unworried by the miscreants, the poor, the troublemakers and their unwashed ilk. Mostly its a narrative woven throughout with the metahpor of the 'city', its geography, its structures, the way the city was the continuous battleground of daily life, as much as was a strike in a workplace. For example, there is a continuous discussion about how elements of the middle class fought bitterly to destroy the economy of the street traders, many of whom were women who had few other ways to survive, but it was an economy that was independent of the wealthy who wanted to control or eliminate it - the greed of the greedy. It also explores how the rich used the construction and re-construction of the city as weapons to beat down the poor and their organisations. This is a different view and a highly worthwhile one to explore, especially as it raises heaps of questions - not answers - that directly relate to our lives and projects today.
The Dynamite Club: How a Bombing in Fin-de-siecle Paris Ignited the Age of Modern Terror, by John Merriman, $25.
This is an honest book, and not what I expected to find. Merriman is not an anarchist, but has tried to understand what led to the 1890s series of bombings that occurred in Paris by self-described anarchists. He explores the lives and poverty that drove a series of individualists to protest against the system that was destroying them, and in some cases, their families. It's not an approach that I support, nor did many anarchists of their day, but it was very worthwhile reading about what led them to do what they did. I cannot find any such worth in the terror that Imperialism has wrought on the peoples of the Middle East, and those chickens are still coming home to roost, daily, hourly.
The Anarchist Geographer: An Introduction to the Life of Peter Kropotkin, by Brian Morris, $18.
If you haven't read about the extraordinary life of Kropotkin, then this is an excellent place to start. Although it is a bit of a compilation from Morris' other writings, it does a good job at exploring the man's origins, the development of politics from dissident aristocrat (typical of his times) to an revolutionary anarchist. He was born to have had the world at his feet, luxury, servants, and all of the trimmings of the high life, but at a very early age saw through it all and gave it up and went on to survive prison, exile and prison again. And while all this was going, he wrote a lot, laying the foundations of modern anarchism. It's a slim volume, but Morris does a commendable job of presenting the person, his ideas and writings soundly, with empathy and with intelligence. The book also has a good chronology of Kropotkin's life and a very useful bibliography.
Over the last few months, a group of people from the Jura community have organised a series of readings and discussions in an attempt to develop our (pro)feminist politics. We have focussed in particular on readings on practical ways of improving our (particularly men's) behaviours and practices of consent, and on community accountability processes. After these meetings, we decided that our discussion of transformative justice would be enriched by developing our feminist politics more broadly. As an attempt to begin that process, we have chosen to read the book Quiet Rumours: An Anarcha-Feminist Reader. We are starting with the prefaces and the first chapter. If you are a like-minded person and would like to participate in this reading/discussion group, please get in touch via email or personal message. People of all genders and sexualities are welcome and we would like this to be a safe space. (In the interests of honest disclosure, we should mention that the majority of us who have been participating so far identify as hetero cis men, with a smaller number identifying as wom*n). Also, please note that this is not an open public ‘forum’ as such, but rather a smaller group with a commitment to ongoing discussion and development. Participants are all committed to turning up regularly (about monthly) and doing the readings.
Quiet Rumours is available at Jura for $22, or online.
Submitted by Jura Books on Wed, 01/07/2015 - 12:00am
At a meeting on 14th June 2015 at Jura Books, delegates from four anarchist groups agreed to form a provisional Anarchist Federation Australia. The four founding groups were Jura Books, the Melbourne Anarchist Club, the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group and Perth Libertarians. At the meeting a number of individual observers were also present as well as an observer from Black Rose and Black Flag. The provisional Federation is based on this constitution. However the constitution is still being discussed, and changes may be made at the first Congress of the Federation - tentatively scheduled for December 2015 in Melbourne. As well as being geographically diverse, the groups making up the federation have a range of political differences, but we hope to work together cooperatively to spread anarchist ideas in Australia. Other anarchist groups are welcome to join us.
To give some background and context, here is a summary of the current federation process, to the best of our knowledge. It’s based on a few different accounts, leading up to May 2015.
In 2007, some members of the Mutiny Collective called for expressions of interest in holding a conference to discuss the idea of an anarchist federation in Australia and/or NZ. In response to this initiative, the Melbourne Anarchist Club (MAC) organised a conference held during Easter 2008. About 60 people from across Australia attended and a broad range of views were expressed from opposition to enthusiasm. There were no delegates as such and each participant attended as an individual. While there were some differences in attitude to federation there was a significant amount of common ground. Following on from this, MAC decided in March 2013 to hold the Towards Federation Anarchist Conference in June 2013. It was proposed to invite groups (as opposed to individuals, although individuals were encouraged to attend as observers). A proposed constitution was presented for discussion and about 30 people attended including delegates from MAC, Libertarian Workers for a Self-managed Society (LWSS), and Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (MACG). There were also observers from Anarchist Affinity and Jura. In January 2014, a follow up conference was held at Jura at which delegates from MAC, MACG and Jura attended (and an observer from a Canberra anarchist group). The draft constitution was discussed and suggestions for amending it were made. People from Jura agreed to do another re-draft of the proposed constitution.
In May 2015, Jura completed a re-draft of the constitution, which was then circulated. There was also an open discussion about federation as part of one of the workshops at the Sydney Anarchist Bookfair, on Saturday 13th June 2015.
Over the last few years, there has also been a fair bit of online discussion about the federation, for example on Libcom and Facebook.
We also intend for the federation to develop a ‘Statement of Shared Positions’ and a program of activities/projects, in the near future, which will give it more form and substance.
Groups that have been contacted about the federation at some point since March 2013:
- Anarchist Affinity (Melbourne) - Declined to send a delegate but did send an observer to the 2013 conference, a statement was made stating that while Anarchist Affinity supported the idea in principle, they were not ready to proceed and indicated that they would take no further part at this stage.
- BAG (Brisbane) - Agreed to proceed on the basis of the proposed constitution in April 2013. Subsequently re-affirmed in January 2014.
- Black Flag (Western Sydney) - Contacted in person by Jura people in 2015. Current position on the federation unknown.
- Black Rose (Sydney) - Was initially contacted through what came to be discovered a defunct email account. Was contacted again in person by Jura people in 2014. Held a meeting to discuss the federation. Current position on the federation unknown.
- Black Swan (Adelaide) - Has been sent the proposed constitution but no follow-up to date. Current position on the federation unknown.
- Brisbane Solidarity Network - Has been sent the proposed constitution but no follow-up to date. Current position on the federation unknown.
- Byron Bay Anarchists - Requested a copy of proposed constitution in 2014 but no response since. MAC unable to independently confirm the existence of the group.
- Grupo de Melbourne - This is a group of the remaining Spanish exiles. A member came to MAC to express disappointment that they had not been invited to participate. Subsequently sent the January 2014 version of the proposed constitution by MAC. Discussed the proposed constitution over a weekend in May 2014 to develop a submission. Currently awaiting an English translation.
- Jura Books (Sydney) - Had an observer participate in the June 2013 conference and hosted the January 2014 conference at which the proposed constitution was discussed. Discussed, amended and agreed on the May 2015 draft of the constitution. Hosted the meeting on 14th June 2015, at which two Jura delegates attended, and it was agreed that the provisional Anarchist Federation Australia be formed.
- Libertarian Workers for a Self-managed Society (Melbourne) - LWSS sent a submission and a delegate to June 2013 conference. Some of the LWSS submission was incorporated into the current proposed constitution. Since then, there has been no follow-up contact with LWSS. Current position on the federation unknown.
- Melbourne Anarchist Club - Initiators of the current project to found an anarchist federation. Two MAC delegates attended the meeting on 14th June 2015 at Jura, where it was agreed to form the provisional Anarchist Federation Australia.
- Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group - Sent two delegates to June 2013 Conference and January 2014 conference. The MACG have expressed support and a desire to have the principles of 'the platform' incorporated into the constitution. Has participated in two joint meetings with the MAC to discuss the proposed constitution and have proposed some additions and modifications which were incorporated into the proposed constitution that was presented to the January 2014 conference. One MACG delegate attended the meeting on 14th June 2015 at Jura, where it was agreed to form the provisional Anarchist Federation Australia.
- Perth Libertarians - A meeting of of anarchists in Perth was held on 12 September 2014 and a decision was made to form a group with a view to federating in accordance with the proposed constitution (Jan 2014 version). One Perth Libertarians delegate attended the meeting on 14th June 2015 at Jura, where it was agreed to form the provisional Anarchist Federation Australia.