Perspectives on Anarchist Theory

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Vol. 4 - No. 2
Fall, 2000

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What's Happening: Books & Events 
by Chuck Morse

The Zapatista experience is rich in lessons for anyone working to think through a radical politics for today. John Ross's forthcoming The War Against Oblivion: Zapatista Chronicles 1994-2000 adds another volume to the already abundant literature on the Zapatistas' accomplishments and dilemmas (Common Courage Press, December 2000, 320 pages). This book analyzes the evolution of the Zapatistas and their conflict with the Mexican state from their 1994 uprising to Mexico's recent presidential elections. Some of the theoretical background of Zapatista work can be found in Our Word Is Our Weapon: Selected Writings of Subcumandante Insurgente Marcos (Seven Stories Press, December 2000, 416 pages). This collection is divided into three sections: the first contains Marcos' political essays and shows the evolution of Zapatismo as a whole; the second presents Marcos' philosophical queries, personal reflections, and humorous recollections on his first days as a guerrilla, as well as letters to other writers; and the final section features short stories, folk tales, and mythic pieces for which he has become famous.

Understanding is Half the Battle
Noam Chomsky tackles some of the international contradictions that help produce movements such as the Zapatistas. In his Rogue States: The Rule of Force in World Affairs Chomsky criticizes the world's superpowers for committing indefensible actions in the name of democracy and human rights. The United States and its allies are rebuked for violations of international law, violations that make them the real "rogue states" in the world today. He challenges the legal and humanitarian arguments in favor of NATO's war in the Balkans, turns his attention toward U.S. involvement in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Central America, and reveals the United States' increasingly open dismissal of the United Nations and international law (South End Press, August 2000, 164 pages). Readers may also wish to consult Robert Burbach's Globalization And Postmodern Politics: From Zapatistas To High Tech Robber Barons (Pluto Press, December 2000, 192 pages). This book develops a critical analysis of global capitalism and places contemporary opposition movements, such as the Zapatistas and the protest movements that laid siege to last year's WTO meeting in Seattle in this context.

Luisa Capetillo

Lost Anarchist Struggles
While European anti-authoritarian movements are relatively well documented, much has still to be told. The history of anarchism in Portugal is the subject of Joao Freire's new book: Freedom Fighters: Anarchist Intellectuals, Workers, and Soldiers in Portugal's History (Black Rose Books, 200 pages, September 2000). This book traces the Portuguese anarchist movement from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present, touching on the Spanish Civil War, World War II, the Salazar dictatorship, and the "carnation revolution" in 1974. A still broader picture of European radicalism is possible thanks to several new publications from London's Kate Sharpley Library. Louis Lecoin: An Anarchist Life (33 pages, large format) traces the biography of a French anarchist whose political activity spanned more than a half-century, ending with his death 1971. They have also released a treatment of a more contemporary movement: The Couriers are Revolting: The Despatch Industry Workers Union, 1989-92 (24 pages). Readers will also want to pick up Chris Mosey's Car Wars: Battles on the Road to Nowhere for a look at the anarchist-influenced anti-roads movement in the UK (Vision Paperbacks, 222 pages, March 2000). This book traces the history of opposition to the automobile and the explosion of these sentiments in the UK during the first half of the 1990's. Special attention is paid to the Reclaim the Streets group.

Luisa Capetillo

Latin-American Anarchism
If European radicalism has not been fully documented, then the history of Latin American anarchism has hardly been touched. Norma Valle Ferrer's The Story of Luisa Capetillo: a Pioneer Puerto Rican Feminist will make a contribution to the rectification of this problem (Peter Lang Publishing, December 2000). Luisa Capetillo (1879-1922) was one of the leading figures of Puerto Rico's early labor movement, a movement in which libertarian socialism was an important - if not the most important - tendency. Capetillo, a feminist, anarchist, labor organizer, and novelist, is often remembered as the first woman to wear pants in public in Puerto Rico and many consider her book, Mi Opinion sobre las Libertades, Derechos y Deberes de la Mujer (trans: My Opinion on the Liberties, Riches and Duties of the Woman) the first Puerto Rican feminist work. Valle Ferrer's biography will be a principal source for biographical data on this major political figure.

Foreign Language Resource
If anarchism has always been international, there is no doubt that it has strong roots in Russia, especially in the life and work of the Russian Anarchist, Mikhail Bakunin. Researchers will no longer have to travel to archives around the world to find his writings thanks to Amsterdam's Institute for Social History. This September the Institute will present Mikhail Bakunin's Oeuvres Completes, a searchable CD-ROM containing all known texts written by Bakunin in Russian and, whenever applicable, French translation. Spanish readers will be able to enjoy an expanded view of the anarchist tradition thanks to the recent translation of Murray Bookchin's Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy. This work is the most comprehensive statement of an anti-authoritarian vision and politics since Kropotkin's Mutual Aid (La Ecología de la Libertad: el Surgimiento y la Disolución de la Jerarquía, translation by Marcelo Gabriel Burello. Nossa y Jara and Colectivo Los Arenalejo, 1999, 509 pages).

Modernist Roots
Anarchism has provided a common framework for some of the most important innovations in art and politics. In Mosaic Modernism: Anarchism, Pragmatism, Culture, David Kadlec examines the anarchist and pragmatist origins of modernism as a literary/cultural phenomenon. Treating a wide range of historical sources and materials, many of them previously unpublished, Kadlec argues that German, French, and British anarchists spurred the formal experiments of leading modernists, thus offering a dramatically new account of modernism's political genesis and the mosaic, improvisational tendencies of modern literature (Johns Hopkins University Press, October 2000, 312 pages). Erich Mühsam, an important anarchist thinker and one of the leading artists in the tradition, will become more familiar to English readers thanks to the translation of his play Thunderation: Folk Play With Song and Dance (Bucknell University Press, September 2000). This is Mühsam's last play, written before he died at the hands of the Nazis in 1934.

Activist Resources
Two new books will help activists develop a strategy for our times. Globalization from Below: The Power of Solidarity by Jeremy Brecher, Tim Costello, and Brendan Smith (South End, October 2000, 128 pages) attempts to advance a strategy for building the movement against globalization. A revised edition of Brian Burch's Resources for Radicals, an annotated bibliography of print resources for those involved in movements for social transformation, is now available. This book contains approximately 800 entries and touches on issues such as meeting facilitation, community gardening, civil disobedience, union organizing, among many other topics (September, 2000, Toronto Action for Social Change, P.O. Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West Toronto, ON M6C 1C0, (416) 651-5800; e-mail:

Welcome Back
After a long hiatus, Kick it Over magazine has begun publishing regularly again. Individual subscriptions to this attractive, high quality "social anarchist anti-authoritarian quarterly" are available for $14.50 (in US funds). Institutional subscriptions are $20. For more information write to Kick It Over, P.O. Box 1836, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1H 7A1 or e-mail

Presenting the Past
Anyone living near or passing through Ann Arbor will want to visit the exhibit "Jo Labadie and His Gift to Michigan: A Legacy for the Masses," which will be on display from September 12th to November 22nd at the Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. This exhibition will examine the life of this Detroit anarchist and influential labor activist.

Luce Fabbri

Luce Fabbri, 1908-2000
Sadly it is necessary to note the death of Luce Fabbri, a life-long anarchist thinker and activist (and daughter of the famed Italian anarchist Luigi Fabbri). Luce died of a heart attack on August 19th in Montevideo, Uruguay at the age of 92. Her latest book was La Libertad entre la Historia y la Utopia: Tres Ensayos y Otros Textos del Siglo XX (trans: Freedom in History and Utopia; Three Essays and Other Texts of the 20th Century (REA, 1998, 145 pages). Her life will be documented in a forthcoming biography by Margareth Rago. She will be greatly missed by her friends and comrades in Uruguay and around the world.

Perspectives on Anarchist Theory - Vol. 4, No. 2 - Fall 2000