|—||Ira Lapidus, "Tribes and State Formation in Islamic History," in Tribes and State formation in the Middle East, ed. Philip S. Khoury and Joseph Kostiner (Berkeley : University of California Press, 1990), 48-73 quotation from 52.|
"l’Enracinement" by Simone Weil -BOOK
when thinking how much christian mysticism influenced european anarchism, I would usually place it from the beginning of the christian era to the first atheist monks like etienne de la boetie, and others in the modern times. how is this exactly relevant to contemporary anarchism I’m not sure, but folks like Weil are just a weird occurence in the history of ideas, a bit like Ivan Illitch. She wasn’t an anarchist though, which you can tell from her use of “anarchy” as chaos in her writings. Although, her deconstruction of nationalism and most forms of systematic oppression make her writings interesting. If you can go beyond the idealisation of the church, the church as they would like it to be instead of how it’s been for sixteen hundred years and counting. Beyond this, this book is deeply interesting as it discusses the need for social interaction and for one’s to be rooted in their environment and their community. She starts by analysing the needs of hum*n beings and expands her thought onto this one, criticizing harshly nationalism and colonialismwhich by creating the culture of transience exemplified by the american culture of her time (this was written during WWII), is the reason the world is going crazy. Against this transience she proposes to create effort to develop our roots, but not in a traditionalist sense. Invoking the system of the “compagnons du devoir”, a network of artisans in france in which apprentice are taking a year, travelling to learn from different masters of their crafts before settling down in a workshop of their own, she thinks this system of learning should be internationalised as people should learn from all over the place, before returning where their community is and use their newly acquired knowledge to resolve their community’s problems. 70 years later, I know many who can relate to this proposal.
"Subito Merdo" by Pichismo -MUSIC (1993)
You know you’re reading a good zine when at everypage, it makes you want to listen to more things, read more things, make stuff happen. Reading in the Gutbucket Research, reviewed later, I read about this band Pichismo from lithuania or ukraine it’s not clear. Starting in 1993 with this hardcore punk / crust cassette album, and going at least till 2011 with some other recordings, from punk to noise they are the band I had been waiting to hear about for ages. If the music isn’t anything exceptional, the lyrics are where it’s at. yes, Pichismo is an esperantist hardcore band. For those of you who don’t know what I’m writing about, esperanto is a made-up language created at the turn of the XXe century in order to resist language imperialism in the context of a growing internationalist movement (or movements). I think the anarco-syndicalist international federation still has it registered as one of their official language. as a teenage anarchist, I was really into it, and tried to get someone who used it to teach me, but it just never happened. I learned english better instead, and gave in on language imperialism. I’m glad these folks didn’t gave up, and you can find out about their extensive discography over almost 20 years of activity. beside the impressive amount of songs in esperanto, they also have a lot of songs in klingon, ido and a concept noise album retelling the bible story of the tower of babel with all of the languages, in 33 different made up languages. and it’s all on archive.org !
"Gutbucket Research" by David Tighe -ZINE
years ago, I got a copy of “how did arthur miles learn to throat sing ?” in the mail, which I took as an half issue of the radical history zine No Quarter. recently, I found out this zine had became a series on it’s own later named the gutbucket research. with five issues in the series so far, I haven’t read all of them yet, the topic keeps up with the exploration of the weird and unusual in north american folk music, and much more, like mentionned earlier with the esperantist hardcore punk band. throat singing, drones, whistling, animal noises or animal immitations, and much more. I’m going to go back reading this year’s issue !
"Plus Que Des Mots #11" by Paulin Dardel -ZINE (2014)
As usual, the new issue of PQDM is packed with a variety of content, mostly original and some translations, but holy shit ! As usual again, this issue visually challenges what you’d expect from a zine : much thicker, square bound, and the content has the same effect. The variety of articles cover many topics not following any theme beside creating interest during the reading, which is the only thing I could come up with so I should say more : a lot of pictures as different articles, on american latin@ cholos culture or museum keepers in moldavia, some interviews including a reprint of studs terkel’ one of the pilot of the enola gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bombs on japan, or the canadian peace punk band submission hold. A third interview with an anthropologist who just published a book of research and interviews of thieves. the reflexions within the reviews of records and zines are also of interest as they don’t stop at commenting the content. At last, there’s a short story by Nicolas Rouillé, who wrote “le Samovar”.
"Rubrics in Alaska" by Ryan Santangelo -ZINE (2014)
second zine about traveling in alaska read in the past couple of months (the first was next stop adventure #5). This time, rubrics from greenville, south carolina went on tour in Alaska and describe the tour, the way they planned it and the impression the wilderness and long days left on them. In a way, it reads like a lot of tour reports printed as zines, and most of the interest comes from the scarcity of informations filtering out about the alaskan punk scene, but it also leaves you with more than that due to all of the informations about the set up of the tour in the first place, giving you almost all of the tips to go there and do it yourself.
"the Wretched of the Earth" by Frantz Fanon -BOOK
as a librarian, I sometimes feel sad when I see library throwing out as many books as they do, but as a reader, I sometimes enjoy finding some beat up paperbacks of books I wanted to read already. As for the subject, I only learnt about its existence in english because the subject is still pretty touchy in france. Frantz Fanon’s book is a classic of anticolonialism, written in the context of the algerian independance war. In a way, fanon’s portrait of the decolonisation struggle, and the knowledge of various struggle for self-determination around the world is what makes it interesting at first. Only to realise that it was written before the actual independence of algeria, and that he had already put the many issues this newly independent country would face, especially regarding the many ways in which the local elites have been shaped by the colonial power. The book contains much more, including a part on the psychological issues and need for mental health in post-war and post-colonial lives, although this part is also really hard to read due to the lack of consideration for the women’s experiences in these conflicts. As colonialism still exist, the book will remain relevant though.
"Pom Poko" by Isao Takahata -MOVIE (1994)
As much as I like watership down, I find myself criticizing it the same way I would criticise the temporary autonomous zone theory, because after all they are pretty similar. Facing the danger of the destruction of their lives, the rabbits, mostly young and male, leave the warren and wander away, in an adventure, and settling down somewhere else, while everyone else, who didn’t wanted this adventure is left behind to die. facing the adventure is one appealing, but when used as an allegory, the story is the one of a privileged few. Pom Poko is a similar story in which raccoons are facing the hum*n expansion, their forest of Tama Hills being chosen for a new urban development zone in order to fix the housing crisis of 1960’s tokyo. one can find there the themes of ecology and criticism of hum*n expansion recurrent in the movies from the studio ghibli. Like in japanese fairy tales, the racoons are able to shift form, which they stopped generations ago in order to not be hunted so much by the hum*ns, but are reviving these ancient traditions in order to use them in guerilla warfare against the construction workers levelling the hills and clear cutting the forest. staying and fighting is a better conclusion, especially when there is nowhere else to leave to, but it doesn’t mean one will necesary succeed either…
"Digital Amnesia" by Bregtje van der Haak -MOVIE (2014)
This is what I’m talking about, like, in general. this movie is about both austerity measures and budget cuts in library and archives services around the world (mostly in the netherlands and the united states), as much as the critical mistake of considering that we no longer need printed artifacts as everything is available on the internet. going to library school, I’m familiar with both subjects, and watching a documentary like this made my day. I watched it twice since. It is interesting the way they base the arguments on actual organisations involved in archivism and libraries : the internet archive, the bibliotheca alexandrina (the 21st century library of alexandria, egypt), the problems of archives of NASA, community archivism as done by teenagers and weirdos and the closure of the royal tropical institute of the netherlands and dilapidation of their library collection no one wanted in the netherlands anymore because everything is online anyway. An all too familiar pattern, compensated by some hopeful parts.
"Sriracha : the documentary" by Griffin Hammond -MOVIE (2013)
In a way, this is a 35 minute advertisement for sriracha, and mostly the huy fong one, with the rooster label. it was a bit annoying that an important part of the introduction was to prepare the viewers that its indeed made in california, when for that you just would have to read the label. the cool thing is that this segment goes on to the owner and creator of this brand and its history, and then, finally on to the history of the sauce itself, in the thai city of sri racha. in the end, its almost as much a documentary about the popularity of the sauce than one about the sauce itself and I’m feeling divided about it. The soundtrack already leaves you with the knowledge of how much sriracha is popular considering the many songs written or titled after it, many of them I didn’t knew before. so if you are into hotsauce enough to watch a video about it for 35 minutes, this is interesting enough.
"Lacrymos : qu’est-ce qui fait pleurer les anarchistes ?" by Francis Dupuis-Déri -BOOK (2010)
"have you ever cried for political reasons ?". while doing research on anarchist movements, francis dupuis-déri started to ask this question, and this book compiles many of them, with experiences ranging mostly from the late nineties to the late 2000, from interviews conducted in both france and quebec. Have you cried for political reasons yourself ? this book may trigger some of your own memories.
CCXI. anarcho-pop music, and also a reference to the best sticker I’ve ever seen. someone either send me one or a scan so I can print bootlegs. please ?
For nopantsparty and everyone else who has the same sense of humor I do.
Q: What has eight arms and kills its girlfriend?
A: Squid Vicious
Q: What do you call a sick skinhead from Chicago?
A: An Illin’ Oi!
Q: When a punk and a skinhead are in the backseat of a car, who’s driving?
A: A cop.
"Super anarcho fun pages book" -COMICS (2014)
I stumbled across a couple of copies of random issues of the comics before. They were fun and pretty quick to read through. Then came the daily upload of the strip on tumblr, cheering me up with some “so true” sighs. I got this book from the publisher who put it out because nobody was carrying it at the anarchy mall / bookfair, and it did not went on my pile of books to read because I wanted to go through all of it right away. Collecting all 16 issues, plus some additions of strips related to the earth first convergence, you can tell the stick drawings style is evolving a bit, but it keeps being consistent into its humor take on anarchism. self-criticism through humor, and I’m sure I could open the book to any page and it’ll cheer me up.
"Vï Ar Bäst" by Lukas Moodyson -MOVIE (2013)
Can somebody translate the graphic novel that inspired this ? Ever since the trailer of the english version, I had been wanting to watch this movie. In the end I was not disappointed, and watched it twice in a week, as A. wanted to watch it too. When we talked about it later, criticism were made about the fact that the characters were awful kids, selfish, almost forcing each other to look punk, but to me it felt like this was exactly the good aspect of the movie : how much I could actually relate to it, from the good side of making your own music and being a young punk, blatantly atheist and anti-religious, to the awful fact that most of us come from a privileged part of society. I liked the provocation of the band of 13 years old punk insulting back the crowd calling them names before they even played a chord. But as much as I can relate to this, the punk I can relate to is the one that made things being broadly political beyond mere shouted slogans. I’m glad they didn’t mixed up the two and romanticized punk. but now I want to read the graphic novel, and I don’t read swedish…
"Ne vivons plus comme des esclaves" by Yannis Youlountas -FILM (2013)
Based around a famous slogan from the greek resistance to the european capitalist austerity plans, this documentary document as of the spring of 2013 the situation in greece after years of economical collapse, and the ways communities keep resisting it. I thought it was interesting in the way that the filmmaker made it as to create connections with the context in western europe : “If I had to tell a french friend, I would tell them to not close their eyes”. in discussions revolving around anarchist economics, we often use the example of detroit, and how the lack of interest from capitalism gives opportunities to create in its interstice, although, we should also be aware of what happen when this lack of interest touches entire countries : Intense pauperisation of the population in order to strip down their expectations and make them worth of investment. More than black blocs and cocktail molotov thrown at the police (I like riot porn like the next guy but…), this movie is about the refusal of this austerity plan, and its alternatives. Coops, social centers, autonomous neighborhood councils and the response to fascist attacks, all crammed in 89 minutes. A quick note from the canadian context : if austerity is to resist here too, it seems like canadian corporations, and especially the mining of natural “ressources”, like the example of the blockade resisting mining in the northen peninsula of chalsidiki are a problem too, and demonstrations should be made here against Eldorado Gold in solidarity with greek comrades as much as we would need solidarity from texan comrades against South Western Energy.
"the Death Ship" by B. Traven -BOOK
Nobody knows much about B. Traven, but it’s probably what makes it interesting to read a biography of him. Although, despite the mystery, the books he wrote can kickstart many reflexions. They may not be in your public library, you may not be able to find them in used bookstores, but believe it or not, they were a big deal at some point, and feel still relevant to this day. the Death Ship, subtitled the story of an american sailor, is what it is, a story about a sailor, and in this context would have probably fitted well in a litterature class I took about adventure novels at sea, but we studied poe and verne instead, making connexions along the journey with what really was a coming of age story (and poe’s only novel, which is not as breathtaking as his other works). the Death Ship is less exciting for that the character is already a middle-aged man, and the story takes place in the uncertain times post WWI. Having left his ship to wander around the port, he comes back to the dock only to find the vessel gone, his papers inside, and if the times were uncertain after the great war, they had the certainty that a person without papers might as well not having been born at all. the first book is the story of this american sailor, who isn’t american as he cannot prove it any longer, and is being arrested, jailed, secretly brought to the border of another state by the police who don’t know what to make of him, and starts back all over again in the next country. Not much seems to have changed for the past 90 years, except probably most border securities, protecting the police’s various homelands. Later on, the sailor finally finds work, on a Death Ship, a ship who just as himself may as well not exist, except when it’s purpose is to exist for obscure reasons, and be sunk to scam the insurrance. There, he meets people like himself, unrecognized by any countries. Stanislav, who becomes the main characters of the rest of the novel, as he tells his life story for pages on, is probably the one who the author can be linked to, despite his claiming an american citizenship. Having been born in deutsh poznan, and fought WWI in the german navy, he misses on the opportunity to “decide” his citizenship when poznan is passed on to the independent again poland, and realises once back in Europe that he became an apatride, unfit to work as a sailor anymore as he can no longer show a passport. The subject is complex, but sadly still relevant, going way beyond this story of a punk burning their identity card so that they couldn’t be called by the “Teacher” anymore, for they didn’t had a name. It goes to touch how much bureaucracy makes lives meaningless if the proper paperwork isn’t shown to attest their authenticity, and it shows that it’s nothing new. Years ago, my family, who had been living in france for five generations, and have had its citizenship for four got scared at the announcement that we may have to proove our great grandparents had been citizens. Probably some sort of nationalist hoax, which makes some of my closed ones hold on to identification cards of their relatives, over seventy years after their deaths. and there is probably still death ships sailing on too.
"Liberator vol.1 : rage ignition" by Matt Miner & Javier S. Aranda -COMICS (2014)
maybe I’m making a joke out of myself but when this was said to be released after a kickstarter event, I was very stoked. Even more so because it wasn’t worked out of DC or Marvel but some more independent publisher. I have been a sucker for Animal Man ever since I read the issues out on Vertigo years ago, that started to involve criticism of the meat industry. Liberator is one step further. Here, there’s no superpowers, and the masked heroes are dressed in black, wearing skimasks to break into animal exploitation places and liberating them, spraypainting and torching the places so it won’t happen again. It’s a graphic novel about the Animal Liberation Front, vegan straight edge posters on the walls of the rooms and a lot of other things making it interesting to read, and interesting to share as to have an accessible, full-color graphic novel intro to the struggle for animal liberation.
"Wholly Shit #1" -ZINE (2013)
When one of my housemate had shared the blog, I thought the idea was hilarious, read a couple of them, and quickly forgot about it, but while at a show last month, I quickly enough recognized the deal and started reading my copy in between the two bands playing. “a serious punk’s review of churches” sounds exactly like the content you’ll find. punks attending various church services and rating them, according to criteriums as wide as free food & coffee available to the number of time one is threatened by the preacher to go to hell to do such and such. I didn’t read all of it at once though, for the same reason that I don’t go to church myself : it’s more or less always the same thing (ok, that, and because I’m not a believer and have other things to do in the morning). But I’m glad the people behind this zine do their best to keep us punks updated with what wicked things are going on behind the noise bells do to wake us up. After ten reviews, they decided to compile them as a zine, which makes me think I should probably try to follow the blog, as to get my weekly dose of laughter.
"Fire on the mountain" by Terri Bisson
I had this time in my life when I read a lot of cyberpunk, a lot of dystopias, a lot of science fiction analysing social aspects. Bruce Sterling, Ursula Leguin. But never I had read anything like this. Never I had been put in the situation of reading a science fiction book where we would be the dystopia. Part of the reason I stopped is because felt like I was recognizing too much of our reality in what had been written as a terrible future twenty years prior, and didn’t wanted to cope with it anymore, even as a trade for the suspense of the novels. I was watching the news everyday already and it felt like enough. Fire on the Mountain is set in the 1959, in a 1959 as if John Brown’s slave insurrection in 1859 had succeeded, from his raid of the federal arms depot of harper’s ferry, virginia, to the armed liberation of slaves and establishment of New Afrika as a result of an american civil war who did not opposed the slave-owners to the liberals of the north, but rather the slaves and abolitionist allies themselves to the slave owner and the state, and won, with the help of some Haitian troops. As a result, Europe did not colonised Africa who became the rich continent they should be, New Afrika is an affluent place and the United States, after a second civil war in the 1940’s, became the United Socialist States of America. The story goes back and forth in between the celebration of the centennial of the independance of New Afrika, and the war in 1859 as read from letters. At some point, they encounter a Dystopian book, popular amidst white supremacist crowds telling the story as it happened in our reality, with the raid being delayed, it’s failure and John Brown being hung for treason. the way they criticize this book will give you shivers.
"On fire : the battle of Genoa and the Anti-capitalist movement" -BOOK (2001)
It had been a thing around me, even though my parents weren’t radicals, even though I was young. I remember the battle of seattle in the news, pictures of black blocs said to terrorize the local population, and then was genoa, and they, the cops had killed someone. there was the one in germany a couple of years later, and the then-obsolete border checkpoint torched. It was wonderful. and it was resistance. pictures of my then-friends with josé bové, deemed a terrorist on american soil for having trashed a couple of GM fields and mc donalds, it was reading naomi klein and noam chomsky, proudhon and blanqui, and attac. building another globalisation, from below, against both capitalism and conservatives. But this book isn’t about this, isn’t about the altermondialiste movement of the 2000 triggered by seattle. Instead it’s a set of testimonies from anglophone folks who were there in 2001. It sucks that it isn’t including local activists as well, but considering it has been edited in 2001, a couple of months after the events makes it “ok”, as the reflexions weren’t affected by the way life got changed, and became more openly policed from september 11th and on. Read as what it is, a collection of a couple of point of views from that event, it felt interesting, although it lacked so many things who could make a complement book which I’m sure exist in italian, about the aftermath for the folks who had to keep struggling in Genoa, or agaisnt the fascist carabineri. Over a decade later graffitis still cover the banks of the rivier in Pisa asking to free the militants arrested at the G8, and benefit shows are still happening in Roma for their legal funds.
"l’Anarchie expliquée à ma fille" by Pippo Gurrieri -BOOK (2014)
I always had a connexion to fancy children’s books, well printed & bound, and somehow it connected me to look for anarchist children’s books. I’m still looking out for them. More recently, we had to look for introductionary books to anarchism for Montreal’s anarchist library (DIRA) as the ones we had, anthologies of various nineteenth century dead bearded european men were probably not the best way to introduce the contemporary movement we strive to offer documents for and about. As a result, I looked for, and then started reading a couple of newer books introducing anarchist ideas and stumbled upon this translation by l’Atelier de Création Libertaire of an italian one, allegedly a discussion in between an anarcho-syndicalist father and his teenage daughter, seeking answers for questions about her teenage punk male friends and their circle A’s. there are some interesting things, and rather contemporary in the sense of talking about intersection of struggles, or the problems in between lifestyle and social anarchisms, but it still feels like some things are missing, and notably this burnt out feeling who seem over-represented and needed in a proper self-criticism of our movement. I guess including this in an introductionary book about what anarchism addressed to hopeful kids for social change may not be the answer even if it would seem more truthful for us reading over their shoulders. So next month, as to compensate, I’ll try to read Francis Dupuis-Deri’s book “Lacrymos” about what makes anarchists cry. the Illustrations, for the french editions at least were amazing.
"Partisanas : women in the armed resistance to fascism and german occupation (1936-1945)" by Ingrid Strobl -BOOK (2008)
Reading this as the Israeli Defense Forces are still bombing the heck out of the gaza ghetto seemed ironic in a way that made me feel very much incomfortable, as the author was introducing the book and talking about doing interviews of partisans veterans in the headquarter of the parisian jewish defense league, the same people who were starting fights with the protesters in support of gaza in Paris, as to make them being repressed by the police. fuck them. would any strain of nationalism in power be awful ? that debate for the no state solution is for another time. This book, originally published in 1994 is about the women in the resistance movements to fascism, from the spanish civil-war and the early ghettos to the nazi occupation, the resistance who did not made it into the mainstream history books, to foreign and jewish or communists for the european states’ official resistance movements, too internationalists and un-sionist for israel’s official resistance history. It is the story of seventeen years old girls hiding home made grenades underneath their skirts, delivering news and machine guns in parts to various groups, and using them. It is about their resistance to the nazis, the antisemite and anticommunist on either side of the conflict, and the resistance against everymen’s sexism and sexual harassment. It starts with women in the spanish civil war, and goes to the resistance to the nazi occupation of the netherlands and france, focusing mostly on the guerilla group MOI for main d’œuvre immigrée, migrants who had to leave their countries because of fascism, often jews and/or communists, internationalists in contrast with the very nationalist french communist party, allied and downplayed in history by de Gaulle’s resistance from london. They were the one doing the work from the beginning, having already faced exile, and being trapped in France having to fight because they had nowhere else to go. They did not wait the call to resistance from London, or the end of the brest-livotsk treaty to kill german and italian officers, terrorise their places of leisure and steal their weapons, as they did in Nice in december 1943. the ones who weren’t personalities were removed from the official historical canon, and the ones it could not have been written with given french names. Later on, the book goes onto the resistance in Poland, Belarus and Lithuania, giving a broad contextualisation before going on the history of the resistance within the various ghettos of Byalistok, Warsaw, Krakov, Vilna and others.