Theory

20 Theses on the Subversion of the Metropolis

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This provocative text from Europe looks at “the Metropolis”—defining it and engaging with it critically—to discuss new forms of resistance and “forms of life”. It explores sabotage, insurrection, and what the authors describe as “the biopolitical strike” as weapons that can be used in this era. It offers important points for discussion and for developing an understanding of how capitalism and resistance function in the modern era.

Against 'Social Networks' & the False Communities of Capital

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This zine provides a detailed critique of social media/social networks and the role that they play in contemporary capitalism. Rather than just focusing on the particulars of social networking platforms—for example on Facebook’s mining of personal data—this text explores how these networks embody the ideologies of capitalism, democracy, and citizenship. In addition to the more theoretical arguments, the text also examines the impossibilities of using these platforms as a way of bringing down capitalism.

The authors engage a variety of other critical theories, from Marx to contemporary anarchist writing to strengthen their arguments. The text can be quite dense—perhaps due to the translation from the original Spanish—but overall it offers an important analysis.

Against the Romance of Community Policing

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This zine consists of an essay by Stuart Schrader that critiques the concept of community policing. The essay argues that “community” and “policing” are both negative forces and that they rely on each other. There can be no “community” control of the police, as the police need “community” to delineate “trustworthy” groups of people. The text presents a strong criticism of community and argues that the process of dividing people into different groups – or communities – is a process of counter-insurgency. This is a rather dense piece, but a patient reader will be rewarded with many valuable insights.

An Anarchist Response to the Nihilists

An Anarchist Response to the Nihilists Cover

This zine consists of two essays written in the context of the anarchist space in Spain, “Communique for Anarchist Actions in Barcelona and Response to the Nihilist Comrades.” The essays offer a critique of nihilist activities in Spain and elsewhere, arguing that nihilists have a limited vision of what it will take to destroy the state, capital, patriarchy, and other systems of domination. The writings are offered as an act of solidarity and the author(s) are not interested in simply critiquing and/or dismissing nihilism, but rather engaging with it as a theory and practice whose adherents are comrades in struggle.

It’s a thoughtful exploration of the limits of nihilism and its frequent fetishizing of violence. The authors further charge that at the end of the day, nihilism results in a repetition of old leftist ideas under the guise of being something new. It’s definitely a thought provoking piece.

Anarchism: What It Is, What It Ain't

Anarchism: What It Is, What It Ain’t

This zine is a short introduction to the anarchist principles of direct action, voluntary cooperation, and mutual aid. It differentiates anarchism from the political philosophies of “the left” and argues for the separation of anarchist strategies and thought from “the left.”

The original essay was written by Lawrence Jarach and titled “Instead of a Meeting: By Someone Too Irritated to Sit Through Another One”

At Daggers Drawn

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This is a classic text of what is called “insurrectionary anarchism” – still as relevant as when it was written over a decade ago. It’s a poetic and impassioned indictment of the existent and a call to chose life over a passive (and pacified) existence. Alongside scathing critiques of the way things are, the text hints at the way things could be – if we shed our chains and act. Throughout the text the anonymous author presents a critique of the left, classical anarchist practices, and politics, counter-posing the idea of insurrection as an alternative.

Clash of Communities

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This short zine offers a critique of the concept of “community.” Based on the writer(s) experiences at the 2015 occupation of the 4th Precinct police station in Minneapolis, the zine explores the ways in which “community” functions as a nebulous concept that has no real meaning. Instead, they argue that it is a contradictory term that means one thing to one group, another to another group, and still something entirely different to another group. Invoking the idea of “the community” is a hindrance to radicals rather than something that helps them, as it glosses over difference and nuance. Moreover, it is a concept that is routinely invoked by the state and others who seek to control social movements. Ultimately the authors conclude that there is nothing redeemable about the rhetoric of community.

Deserting the Digital Utopia

Deserting the Digital Utopia

Deserting the Digital Utopia is an essay by Crimethinc that explores how the digital (computers, social networks, etc) is shaping our lives. There is a lot covered in this short essay, but topics covered include social media, the enclosure of the commons, domination, hierarchy, digital utopianism, and more. This is a very well written critique of the current era.

For America To Live, Europe Must Die

A speech by Russell Means in which he provides a comprehensive critique of the European colonial mindset and how it differs from indigenous ways of thinking. Means is particularly hostile towards revolutionary Marxism, explaining how Marxism and other ideologies of “the Left” still embody pro-progress views that justify the exploitation of the natural world.

From Politics to Life

In From Politics to Life: Ridding Anarchy of the Leftist Millstone, Wolfi Landstreicher argues against the leftist conception of politics and in favor of an anarchy that is separated from “the left.” In the essay, Landstreicher criticizes the left’s reliance on mass, democracy, and progress—among others. In its place, they call for a rejection of these forms and the pursuit of an anarchy that focuses on insurrection.

Land & Liberty: Against The New City

This zine is an essay by Research & Destroy that attempts to analyze gentrification, rent, economics, and the development of the “new city.” It looks at urban development over the past forty years, trends in suburbanization, urbanization, and gentrification. It’s a very good analysis that is helpful in offering new ways of understanding what is happening across the world.

Leftism 101

Leftism 101

This zine collects two excellent essays by Lawrence Jarach: “Leftism 101” from Back to Basics: The Problem of the Left put out by the Green Anarchy collective and “Anarchists, Don’t let the Left(overs) Ruin your Appetite” from Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed #48.

The first essay looks at the origins of Leftist thought and anarchism’s relationship to it. The second essay provides a brief overview of anarchists’ historical relationship with “the Left,” concluding that there is no point in engaging with it.

Not If, But Why?

This zine—subtitled “A Reader on Autonomous Space, its Shortcomings and its Glorious Potential”—compiles three essays that look critically at the tensions that surround squatted and occupied autonomous spaces. The essays come from Europe and while the context is considerably different than what is encountered in North America, the questions raised about the relationship between autonomous spaces and legality are worth considering. The zine was originally compiled when the HotMess/RCA Compound in Oakland was under threat of eviction, with the editor(s) sharing the zine as a way to “…sharpen our practical analysis, to fuel our conversations at the barricades, to galvanize our spirits with the liberatory potentials” around occupied space.

Resignation is Death

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By way of an engagement with contemporary nihilist writings, “Resignation is Death: Responding to the Negation of Anarchy” offers a critique of nihilist thought and practice (or lack there of) in the North American context. The critique is rooted in their experiences in Vancouver, BC and the growth of queer nihilism. The text intersperses insights gained from their local context with critical readings of various nihilist texts. The author argues that nihilism – especially in its North American manifestation – has become primarily an intellectual movement that holds any attempts by anarchists to actually do something in contempt.

The text has its flaws, but overall, it provides a thoughtful response to the nihilist provocation that has gained visibility in recent years.

Revolutionary Solidarity

This zine contains writings that explore the concept of “solidarity.” “Solidarity” is a term that is often tossed around in anarchist circles, often without regard for what it actually means. Revolutionary Solidarity explores the question of what solidarity means in practice and how solidarity can become revolutionary. For the authors, the answer lies in making solidarity synonymous with action.

Short Circuit

Sub-titled “Towards An Anarchist Approach To Gentrification,” this zine is a thorough examination of the topic of gentrification. It provides an overview of academic writing and theorizing on the topic, summarizing considerable research in an easy-to-understand manner. It does a very good job defining gentrification, looking at the economics behind it, and the realities of gentrification. The final section of the zine explores various anarchist anti-gentrification efforts, offering helpful history and insight while even offering some ideas for future directions.

Some Notes on Insurrectionary Anarchism

This short zine provides a brief introduction to insurrectionary anarchism. In a clear and concise manner it articulates the basic concepts of insurrectionary anarchism including, the necessity of attack, self-activity, uncontrollability, permanent conflictuality, and informal organization. The text originally appeared in 2001 in the now defunct anarchist publication “Killing King Abacus.” Despite its age, it is one of the clearest pieces on insurrectionary anarchy and largely avoids the cumbersome rhetoric and writing style that characterized many of the later attempts at explaining insurrectionary anarchism.

Technological Addiction

While dated, “Technological Addiction” by Chellis Glendinning offers a good starting point for considering the psychological damage wrought by technology and technological addition. Glendinning argues that technology has played a critical role in separating humans from the Earth and that the ensuing trauma has largely blinded us to its effects. This is essential reading!

Ten Blows Against Politics

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This short text originally published by Guerra Sociale is a short argument against politics and participation in the realm of politics. It highlights the way in which politics is an activity of separation, representation, impersonality, and control. It is especially strong in its arguments that political activity and the realm of politics is “spectacle”. This is a helpful text in articulating arguments against participation in the political process, and as such, may be particularly helpful during elections.

The Economy is Suffering, Let it Die!

The Economy is Suffering, Let It Die! explores the abstractions known as “economy” and “society.” These concepts are used to separate us from life and the natural world, focusing our thought on abstractions rather than what is real. Includes essays by David Watson and John Zerzan.

The Insurrectional Project

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This zine collects three pieces by Alfredo Bonanno that when presented together outline the basics of insurrectionary anarchist theory. The essays focus on changes in capitalism and the resulting need to change tactics and approaches, arguing that the classical approach of struggle in the workplace through trade unions is no longer relevant. In its place, Bonanno argues for an approach based on affinity, informality, permanent conflictuality, and attack. The text argues against formal organization, arguing that anarchists should instead began struggling and finding comrades, rather than perfecting analysis and waiting for some far off date in the future. While it was published in the late 1990s, the analysis continues to be relevant.

The Smartphone Society

The Smartphone Society

In this short pamphlet, Nicole Aschoff analyzes the “smartphone society” presenting the argument that just as the automobile defined the twentieth century, the smartphone is defining the twenty-first. The essay provides a good starting point for a critique of smartphones and their place in the world, looking at how they are produced, how they are used, how they shape society, and how they commodify our identities. While it could go deeper at times, it offers many provocative points for discussion and should encourage deeper conversations about smartphones and the digital economy.

Uncivilized

Uncivilized Cover

Subtitled “A Primer on Civilization, Domestication, and Anarchy,” Uncivilized is a good introduction to the anarchist critique of civilization. It covers the major themes: history, agriculture, domestication, the critique of technology, the horror of industrialism, etc. It makes a convincing case that the goal of the anarchist project should be nothing less than the complete destruction of civilization.

What Anarchists Have been Saying for Years, and What Liberals Need to Start Hearing

what anarchists have been saying... zine cover

Written a month after the election of Donald Trump and after a series of clashes with white supremacists that have been growing over the past year, this text – which was originally published on ItsGoingDown.Org – attempts to highlight how the only force able to fight against the growing far-right, ecological devastation, and economic attacks on working people is are the rioters and those willing to disrupt the functioning of power. The text strongly critiques both neoliberalism and the left, arguing that for the majority of people living in the United States, they are dead-ends.

The text – while it might offer some reminders to anarchists who get wrapped up into leftist projects/efforts – is particularly helpful for liberals and others who need help understanding anarchist methods. The text discusses the problems of the state and electoralism, calls for confrontational approaches and self-defense, and argues for revolution.

Where Do We Meet Face To Face?

This short text originally appeared in 2001 in the anarchist publication “Killing King Abacus.” It explores the topic of alienation in contemporary society and its ever increasing pervasiveness. Arguing that “the system” wants people to be atomized and detached from each other and that atomization will continue as long as society exists, the author argues that anarchists can resist alienation by “…creating projects for ourselves which promote real interactions outside of the roles and relationships that social reproduction demands.” In doing this, anarchists will find new affinities and new prospects for destroying the existing order.

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