A Critique of Ally Politics

critique of ally politics cover

This zine is a reprint of an article that originally appeared in the anarchist magazine “Rolling Thunder” and that was subsequently republished in the anthology “Taking Sides: Revolutionary Solidarity and the Poverty of Liberalism.” It offers a solid and devastating critique of ally politics, relating both personal experiences and examples of the limits of ally politics alongside larger political arguments. It is a very important piece and one that should be read and discussed widely.

Accomplices Not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex

This zine presents a strong critique of the political identity of “ally” and the activists who have built an “ally industrial complex” based on their anti-oppression credentials. Written from the context of indigenous struggles, this zine criticizes and explains several different types of “allies”: those who wish to “save” oppressed people, those who wish to use oppressed people to advance their own interests, academics, self-proclaiming allies, and more. Rather than “allies,” the zine argues instead for “accomplices” who attack colonial structures and ideals and who are realized through mutual consent and trust.

Colonization and Decolonization

Sub-titled “A Manual for Indigenous Liberation in the 21st Century,” this guide book written by Zig Zag and published by Warrior Publications provides a brief overview of the history of colonialism and offers some ideas for beginning a decolonial struggle. The book provides an accessible and approachable introduction to colonialism, providing both historical background and an exploration of the ways in which colonialism continues to function in the present. It offers a broad understanding of colonialism, arguing that it is not something limited to a specific historical period, but rather something that has happened throughout history and the present. For those of us living in what is now known as the Americas, this is essential reading for understanding our present condition and the legacy of genocide and conquest.

The book is presented as a series of lesson plans, making it easy to use for workshops, discussion groups, and even classes. Additionally, there are recommended resources for further reading, which make it an excellent starting point to further exploration.

Dangerous Foundations

This zine—sub-titled “An Argument Against the ‘Identity’ in Identity Politics”—presents a solid critique of “identity politics” and organizing strategies based solely on identity. It isn’t just a simple rejection, but offers a substantive critique of the limits of identity and offers an alternative perspective based on the “politics of affinity” that takes as its starting point our connections and commonalities in terms of goals for the future and types of resistance, rather than maintenance of fixed identities.

Dismantling the Boy's Club

This zine is aimed towards men within the anarchist space to explain how patriarchy works and men’s role in maintaining it, both within the anarchist space and in the larger world. There are essays explaining patriarchy, discussing gender, and sexism in the anarchist space. Along with this, there is a helpful list of terminology and definitions, tips for starting a group for men against sexism, and a detailed questionnaire designed to push men towards exploring how patriarchy manifests itself in their lives. It’s one of the better and more recent zines on the topic.

Don't Be A Dick (Revised Edition)

Don't Be A Dick (revised edition)

This is an updated version of the zine “Don’t Be A Dick” which is described by the author as “a zine for men about rape, consent, and how not to be a dick.” The zine provides an excellent introduction to rape and sexism for cisgender men, with an emphasis on being accessible and engaging. It explores topics such as rape culture, consent, sex, gender, and everything in between. It is one of the more recent zines on these topics and is essential reading for men looking to understand how their socialization shapes their actions, both in their personal and their political lives.

Lines in Sand

With the sub-title “Three essays on identity, oppression, and social war,” Lines in Sand is a collection by Peter Gelderloos that looks critically at identity politics and anti-oppression politics. All of them are very thought provoking and well worth reading. These aren’t knee-jerk criticisms, but rather are thoughtful explorations of the problematic aspects of identity and anti-oppression politics and practice.

On the Road to Healing #1

On The Road To Healing #1 Cover

This is the first issue of a zine sub-titled “a booklet for men against sexism.” It features a number of essays looking at patriarchy and sexism and the role men have in upholding these institutions. The writings are grouped into four topic areas: 1) growing up male: writings on socialization and manhood; 2) changing ways: re-defining manhood; 3) men’s work: the work we can do to end sexism in our lives and communities; 4) getting to know yourself: some questions to aid in the process of self-discovery.

On the Road to Healing #2

On The Road To Healing #2

Sub-titled “a booklet for men against sexism,” this is the second issue of an older zine focused on critical theory and personal reflections on male socialization, sexism, and the concept of manhood. It has writings from several different authors on this broad subject who share their thoughts on manhood, male violence against women, father-son relationships, everyday anti-sexism, and demands from women.

Philly Dudes Collective: Year One

In this zine, the Philly Dudes Collective—an anti-sexist “men’s group” that came out of the radical/anarchist and punk scenes in Philadelphia—gives an overview of their work during the first year of their existence. It includes a sampling of posters they used to promote their events, workshops and discussions they led, panels they participated on, etc. They offer good outlines for hosting conversations on masculinity and patriarchy and men’s roles in it. This is an excellent resource for anyone hoping to have conversations about masculinity, patriarchy, and gender in radical political and social scenes.

Revolutionary Solidarity: A Critical Reader for Accomplices

Revolutionary Solidarity: A Critical Reader for Accomplices

This zine comes out of the post-Ferguson debates about race, ally politics, identity, solidarity, and rioting. The zine presents a number of important readings on the topic including “Accomplices Not Allies,” “Ain’t No PC Gonna Fix It, Baby,” “On Non-profit Certified ‘White Allies’ and Privilege Theory,” “Outside Agitators,” and others. This is an essential zine that compiles many of these previously published pieces into one volume.

Said the Pot to the Kettle: Feminist Theory for Anarchist Men

Said The Pot To The Kettle

Said the Pot to the Kettle provides a basic introduction to feminist theory for anarchist men. This zine was written by a man and is targeted towards other men who sleep with women. It covers a wide-range of topics including patriarchy, gender identification, women-only and safe spaces, language and pronouns, sexual assault, powder dynamics, body image, and more. Obviously, the discussion to each of these points is relatively short, but it’s a very helpful zine. The author has two goals: 1) to help men deconstruct patriarchy within themselves for the sake of women’s liberation 2) to help men deconstruct patriarchy within themselves for the sake of their own liberation.

Social Detox

This zine is a good, basic introduction to patriarchy and sexism and the role of men in perpetuating it. It works well as a means of starting conversations about the role of men in perpetuating and fighting patriarchy. There are definitions and exploration of patriarchy, reflections on men’s anti-sexist discussion groups, reflections and discussion on the concept of masculinity, immediate step men can take to change, and a list of suggested readings.

This zine goes well with “Said the Pot to the Kettle: Feminist Theory for Anarchist Men.”

Social War on Stolen Native Land: Anarchist Contributions

social war on stolen native land cover

In many circles, struggle—especially for those who come from positions of varying degrees of privilege—is often defined as something that must happen in relation to another group. For many radicals (and many anarchists), this is discussed primarily in terms of becoming an “ally” of a specific group and placing oneself at the direction of an “other”.

This zine engages with an alternative perspective that assumes that people have their own valid reason for struggling and that by coming together from a shared position, we can have stronger and more powerful relationships. Writing through the lens of anarchist activity in Canada, this zine explores the ways – both theoretical and practical – in which anarchists have attempted to act in complicity with indigenous resistance. The zine presents essays on insurrectionary theory alongside communiques from numerous actions undertaken across Canada to present an alternative path of struggle.

What to Do When

With the full title “What to do when someone tells you that you violated their boundaries, made them feel uncomfortable, or committed assault,” this tri-fold pamphlet provides a starting point for those who are told that they’ve assaulted/hurt/ violated someone else. “These things can be sexual, but do not have to be.”

Who Is Oakland?

Who Is Oakland?

Sub-titled “Anti-Oppression Activism, the Politics of Safety, and State Co-optation” this zine written by a group of people of color, women, and queers offers an important critique of how privilege theory and cultural essentialism have incapacitated antiracist, feminist, and queer organizing in this country by minimizing and misrepresenting the severity and structural character of the violence faced by marginalized groups. It makes a series of theoretical arguments exploring, identity, race, “allyship”, the non-profit industrial complex, and related topics before moving into a brief exploration of Occupy Oakland as a case study of how anti-oppression politics can limit struggles.

With Allies Like These: Reflections on Privilege Reductionism

This zine explores the origins of anti-oppression politics and their current position within the both the anarchist space and the leftist space. Coming from a highly critical perspective, the authors of the zine (members of the Common Cause anarchist group) explain the origins of anti-oppression activism within the university and the failures of the movements for liberation in the 1960s. The zine critiques the theory and practice of anti-oppression politics while looking at ways in which it often serves to limit struggles by focusing on the individual, sub-cultural “safe spaces,” and limiting militancy. Far from being a simplistic dismissal, this zine is a well-researched and well-considered piece that should help foster important and challenging conversations.

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