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8/6 at 6:30pm: Seth Tobocman LEN release @ Judson Memorial Church, NYC

Posted on July 15th, 2016 in Events

As part of the National Lawyer’s Guild’s 2016 “Law for the People” Convention, AK Press will be cosponsoring a special NLG release event for Seth Tobocman’s new book Len.

This event will celebrate the release of the book and honor the legacy of radical attorney Leonard Weinglass, the subject of the book.

Learn more about the book here: https://www.akpress.org/len-a-lawyer-in-history.html

7/27 at 7pm: Seth Tobocman (w/ Ted Rall) @ Wooden Shoe Books, Philadelphia

Posted on July 15th, 2016 in Events

The awesome cartoonists Ted Rall and Seth Tobocman will be in Philadelphia for DNC-related madness and will stop by Wooden Shoe to talk about their new books, radical politics, and cartoons. Don’t miss it!

Ted Rall’s new book, “Trump: A Graphic Biography” tells the life story of the real estate billionaire/ reality TV star/ presidential candidate whose word-vomit has been dominating the news.
http://catalog.sevenstories.com/products/trump

Seth’s new book, “Len: A Lawyer in History” is a graphical biography of radical attorney Leonard Weinglass who represented the Chicago 7, Daniel Ellsberg, the Cuban 5 and many other political defendants. This book examines 60 years of American history through the life and work of one man.
https://www.akpress.org/len-a-lawyer-in-history.html

These new books, as well as many previous titles from both authors, will be available for sale. This event is free and the space is handicap accessible.

RSVP (and invite your friends!) on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/261306834235113/

7/18 at 7:30pm: Seth Tobocman (w/ Ted Rall) @ Mac’s Backs, Cleveland

Posted on July 15th, 2016 in Events

Artist/writers Ted Rall and Seth Tobocman will be at Mac’s to sign books during the RNC on Monday, July 18th at 7:30 p.m.

Ted Rall is the author and illustrator of many graphic novels and books of political criticism and travel writing, including the graphic biographies Bernie (about Bernie Sanders),  Snowden and the forthcoming Trump.

Seth Tobocman is an author, artist, and educator living in New York City. Perhaps most well known as the co-founder and editor of the comic journal World War 3 Illustrated, Tobocman’s bold graphic style has been immortalized in exhibitions, in the pages of the New York Times, and on the sides of buildings around the globe. He wrote Understanding the Crash about the foreclosure crisis, You Don’t Have to Fuck People Over to Survive and the new release Len: A Lawyer in History: A Graphic Biography of Radical Attorney Leonard Weinglass.

 

From Oblivion to Political Responsibility: An Anarchist Sister Reviews DEAR SISTER: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence

Posted on May 18th, 2016 in Reviews of AK Books

Sara Rahnoma-Galindo from the Institute for Anarchist Studies has written an amazing review of  Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence by Lisa Factora-Borchers. It appears in the new issue of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, an issue devoted to the topic of Anarcha-Feminisms and that is jammed with essays, manifestoes, reviews, personal reflections, and more.
You can get Perspectives here.
You can get Dear Sister here.
And you can get Sara’s powerful review below!

——

From Oblivion to Political Responsibility: An Anarchist Sister Reviews
Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence (AK Press, 2014),
by Sara Rahnoma-Galindo

Radicals, including many anarchists, are involved in actively organizing against gender and sexual violence around the world. For example, Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault in Egypt; Las Kallejeras in the shantytowns of Santiago, Chile; the Colectiva de Gafas Violetas in Mexico; and countless other local initiatives all confront perpetrators in workplaces and organizing work. Yet, the task of addressing sexual violence, even in anarchist circles, continues to be singled out as primarily the job of survivors and their most immediate circles, instead of as a collective political responsibility. As an issue that we are socialized to meet with silence and stigmatization, sexual violence is commonly underemphasized or obscured amongst both radicals and society at large. Take for instance, ignorance of the fact that one out of three women in the world will be raped at some point in their lives. Or that, in the US, ninety-one percent of reported rape survivors are women, the most vulnerable being queer and gender nonconforming youth and people with physical disabilities, and fifteen percent of children are survivors of rape and incest. It is critical that our politics be aware of and address this. We need to be more diligent and active in both understanding sexual violence and linking it to radical organizing.

Consider reading Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence (AK Press, 2014), an anthology containing fifty insightful pieces, written by survivors from all walks of life, as part of this process. The book features an introduction by African-American incest and rape survivor and filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons, and is edited by Philipina-American feminist author and survivor advocate Lisa Factora-Borchers. Known for having extensive involvement with survivors via coalition work, nonprofits, and institutions of higher education before piecing together Dear Sister, Lisa Factora-Borchers was first approached by Black feminist author Alexis Pauline Gumbs who asked her to write a letter of support to a friend who had just been raped. Not knowing the survivor’s situation, her name, or much else about her, Lisa Factora-Borchers nevertheless acknowledge the situation and communicated support. Hence the idea for the book was born.

Lisa Factora-Borchers repeats this act of letter writing in Dear Sister, but this time with the assistance of a wealth of direct experiences from dozens of survivors, sharing experiences that have pushed their survival forward. Taken together, these brave narratives, and in particular those from women of color, queer, physically disabled, and working class perspectives, are valuable in and of themselves because they are not readily available elsewhere. I encourage readers to review the biographies at the back of the book to learn more about these amazing survivors.

The book is thematically organized and presented as a collection of traditionally-styled letters, poetry, essays and interviews with the editor. The first section is entitled “What Every Survivor Needs to Know,” in which the authors remind readers of the importance of self-value while trying to understand the larger scheme of power disparities. Contributor ‘An Ally’ opens up with an affirmation, “yes…maybe the whole world is broken…but there is something that is not broken. You can find it” (29). Shanna Katz speaks about survivor resilience and how “the power to re-enter the world as a strong(er), powerful woman” is the survivor herself (34). Renee Martin assures us that things will change for the best, because change is inevitable and survivors will “put this beside you and not behind you” (41). Lisa Factora-Borchers interviews Zoe Flowers, the author of Dirty Laundry: Women of Color Speak Up About Dating and Domestic Violence, who recalls the legacies of patriarchy and colonialism on survivors of color, reiterating that “we have been ‘free’ for a shorter period of time than we were oppressed” (48). Zoe Flowers’s analysis highlights the ongoing impacts of colonialism and patriarchy, which perpetuate both objectification and violence against poor women of color.

“A Child Re-Members,” is the name of the second section of the anthology. It takes on child rape and incest, gendered double-standards imposed on minors, and domestic violence against the entire household. Though sporadic and maybe too brief, authors give insight into the complexities of the nuclear family, gender norms instilled at birth, and the need to break out of them for everyone’s survival. Juliet November shares that she always understood being a woman meant being prey to someone or something (73), and how heteronormativity designated the female body to a predisposition of abuse and violence (78). Contributor Sarah Cash explains being physically punished and labeled a bad girl, a flawed child, by a relative who “caught her being raped.” Working through this experience, many years down the road, Cash learned to love herself as an outcast and in turn learned to love and struggle among society’s flawed (61). Mary Zelinka consoles readers about not having a defined path forward, but shares her story encouraging all to always remember that, in one’s journey of understanding, the violence incurred during our childhood is the fault of someone who chose to hurt us, and that it’s not the survivor’s fault (63). This section also includes a short essay by Kathleen Ahern that laments the death of her sister to commercial sexual exploitation as a child (70). [Their/her/his] mention of the early formation of coping mechanisms and the continuation of their repercussions into adulthood is a topic I wish had been formally introduced in the book, since it is randomly mentioned but not bundled for focused thinking.

The third section, “Family Ties,” expands the described and reflected upon experiences to include the complexities of the nuclear family in relation to capital, immigration, and incarceration. The stories shared spill outside personal experience to include survivors’ larger communities. Authors speak about class; about how poverty is the main reason battered moms and abused children had to stay at home with their perpetrator fathers despite abuse (81); and how survivors had to lie and intervene against social workers and police to avoid being put in foster care, or their family members being put in prison. Activist Mattilda Berstein Sycamore’s essay reflects on the need to deconstruct masculinity so that the “brothers” don’t fall into patriarchal cycles of violence. She recalls seeing “the way that masculinity created the walls I was trying to escape,” and demands our accountability towards unlearning it (84). In a very thorough and beautifully written piece, organizer Amita Y. Swadhin bridges the connection between her survival of incest and that of other people the system had failed, in her case youth of color (101). She highlights how her organizing efforts helped channel rage into youth power and work that could fight “back against all the forms of injustice that had derailed my own youth” (105).  If you take anything away from this anthology it should be this: many survivors have been effective in connecting their own stories of violence and survival to those of other disadvantaged sectors of society.

“From Trauma to Strength,” the fourth section, gathers essays in support of self-definition and suggests paths for moving forward. While there is no uniform method, some pieces throughout the anthology mention the need for accountability and a few bring up transformative justice. As I understand it, transformative justice (TJ) propose respecting the survivor’s agency. TJ also seeks accountability from those who harm, as well as community accountability and transformation of social conditions that perpetuate violence. Mia Mingus, a queer, physically disabled Korean organizer writes a superb essay to explain how the transformative justice framework “could hold the complexities of intimate and state violence, accountability, and healing and systemic and personal transformation” (140). Mingus explains that TJ is about addressing violence in ways that “don’t cause more harm…don’t collude with state (prison, police, the criminal legal system, etc.) or systemic (racism, sexism, etc.) violence…[and seek] individual and collective justice” for all those impacted. It would be naïve to think that survivors seek only individual justice, and Mingus speaks of healing as a far-reaching endeavor (145), similarly to what keysha willias and Leah Kashmi Piepza-Samarasinha say when speaking of this healing being counter-intuitive to the capitalist logic of destruction. They proclaim a halt to the self-destructive tendencies of our communities, as we are all interdependent (150). In their eyes, the opposite of destructiveness would be constructing something else, perhaps not Transformative Justice necessarily, but what that is is yet to be defined.

The fifth section is titled “Radical Companionship,” in which author Alexis Pauline Gumbs contributes an entertaining free verse piece titled “&,” expressing supportive words amidst daily activities, intended not only during high points but also during low ones. Rebecca Wyllie de Echeverria shares the effects of incest and its physical aftershocks that inevitably manifest in survivors’ long-term health. She encourages self-care and the shared [nature/condition] of struggle, emphasizing that “surviving is the process of finding new connections each day” (168).

The final section of Dear Sister is titled  “Choose Your Own Adventure.” It highlights many different activities and various directions survivors have gone in order to process and deal with the violence that did not kill them. The editor of the impactful book, The Revolution Starts at Home, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, gracefully shares her “Healing Mix Tape” music recommendations (188), while sci-fi author and co-editor of Octavia’s Brood (IAS/AK Press, 2015), adrienne maree brown, encourages the overriding of shame or guilt to remember that “everything we do to survive is smart.” (198) She cheerfully points out that counseling and sci-fi writing helped her a great deal. The final essay in this section is an interview the editor held with the Los Angeles poet Sofia Rose Smith. Together they point to the concepts of trauma with respect to the decision of whether or not to forgive perpetrators, referring back to Transformative Justice principle of humanizing those who have harmed us. In conjunction, they discuss the binaries of survivor and perpetrator, along with the cultural norms of imposing the pace and modes of survivor healing. Whereas the beginning of the book apologizes to survivors and readers for showing no defined path to follow, the contributors focus not on one single way towards healing, restoration or reconciliation, but rather take for granted that they have gathered only a handful among myriad potential paths.

To understand sexual violence, it does not suffice to read about patriarchy, capitalism, or colonialism from a solely theoretical standpoint, even if you think you understand the complicated intersections that have rendered Black, brown, female, gender non-conforming, and queer bodies as disposable and subject to inevitable violence. Just as you would appreciate hearing workers’ stories, testimonies about fighting police violence as a young brown person, or about neighbors resisting evictions, you should also be willing to hear survivor narratives like these. Some will say this is way too heavy of a topic for a such a little book, and that it can only be read in little bits at a time. I say the opposite: absorb it all, all at once. Read every single line to become well acquainted with the characteristics of this dominating apparatus. Dear Sister will place your survivor or supporter feet on firmer ground, as we work to build the necessary culture and counter-institutions to walk alongside all survivors.

Sara Rahnoma-Galindo is a survivor of sexual violence, anarchist person of color, office worker, student and board member of the Institute for Anarchist Studies, currently living in Los Angeles.

You can get Perspectives here.
You can get Dear Sister here.

Excerpt from LEFT OF THE LEFT: My Memories of Sam Dolgoff

Posted on May 17th, 2016 in AK Book Excerpts

We’ve sent one of our favorite recent manuscripts off to the printer! Anatole Dolgoff’s memoir of growing up at the center of the twentieth-century anarchist movement. The book centers of Anatole’s dad, Sam Dolgoff, and includes a cast of dozens well known, forgotten and never known. It was a real joy working with Anatole. His humor and critical insight shine through on every page of the book.
You can order a copy here (at 25% off for the next few weeks). In the meantime, here is a sample:

——-

An Interlude: I Take Sam to See Reds

Road to Freedom had a nominal co-editor who seldom showed up, and never worked. His name was Hippolyte Havel. Sam did not know him “at the height of his career as a militant anarchist writer, editor, close friend of Emma Goldman, and well-known member of the Greenwich Village Bohemian community.” When Sam knew him he was pretty much incapable of doing anything, was entirely supported by comrades and what he could cadge from gullible strangers passing through. Sam remembered him as “an ill tempered, abusive alcoholic, a paranoiac who regarded even the slightest difference of opinion as a personal affront. Nor could he carry on a discussion on any subject for more than a few minutes without constant interruptions, abruptly launching into a tirade on totally unrelated matters. It was most painful to witness the deterioration of a once vibrant personality.”

Many years later, in the 1940s, Sam attended The Iceman Cometh, Eugene O’Neil’s bitter commentary on lost illusions, cowardice, and betrayal. One of the characters spends the entire play sprawled across a table in Harry Hope’s funereal bar, drunk; every now and then he rises to spout something vehemently incomprehensible before collapsing again. “That’s Hippolyte Havel!” Sam exclaimed. There was no doubt!

Hippolyte Havel, flesh and blood human being, morphed into a character in an O’Neil play! That provides me the solution to a problem I have had. How to make accessible to people who were born after Sam died the breadth of his experience and the myriad people he knew so many years ago? Simple chronology—you know, first Sam did this, and then he said that—cannot convey to you the richness of Sam’s lifetime journey in the anarchist movement, which he embarked upon when he joined Road to Freedom. But we do have the movies, and a special one at that.

Reds was the film I dragged Sam to so many years later, in 1982, for he disliked going to the movies. The film was finishing a fairly long run and the only theater showing it was at a Mall in Northern New Jersey. I had to drive him there. He insisted on paying for his own small paper cup of coca-cola in the lobby. “A buck fifty? Why you can’t be serious man! Maybe you should wear a mask and gun?” Sam growled. The young fellow behind the counter, probably a suburban high school kid born into an entirely different world, caught the glint of humor in Sam’s eyes and smiled indulgently. That was the last bit of indulgence he received as he proceeded to wreck the film for the sparse audience scattered throughout the dark cavernous space that mid-week afternoon.

Reds is a three-hour long, romanticized but fundamentally accurate depiction of the life and times of the brilliant American journalist John Reed (Warren Beatty). The man cut quite a figure. He rode with the Mexican bandit/revolutionary Pancho Villa. He was closely associated with the Wobblies and good friends with Big Bill Haywood. He was active in the rich New York radical/ bohemian scene, knew everybody, was in on everything. He witnessed the Russian Revolution first hand; his Ten Days That Shook the World remains a classic account of that momentous event. He became a committed Bolshevik and was instrumental in founding the American Communist Party. He died young of a terrible ill- ness, typhus, in Moscow where his remains were interred in the Kremlin Wall. Numerous old-time radicals and writers—them- selves, not actors—appear throughout Reds and comment on the characters depicted in the film. I thought Sam would enjoy Reds and on the whole he did. (“Who ever thought Hollywood would make such a film?”)

The problem was in the details. Sam was nearly deaf at this stage so I had to trundle him up front, where, with his swollen belly, he sat on the edge of his too small seat, leaning forward on his wooden cane, breathing noisily, trying to catch the dialog. He knew personally or was familiar with nearly every character in Reds. This included many of the aged witnesses, who were, after all, his contemporaries. As the film got going, Sam became involved and growled comments on the proceedings, his gravel baritone blasting into the darkness. There followed from the audience, like a Greek Chorus, a call and response session.

Sam, viewing one of the old-timers on screen, blares: “Henry Miller! The man was a bohemian in Paris. He knows nothing about these things.”

Response: “Shhh!

An aged lady I do not remember appears on screen.
Sam: “Her!”

Response: “Quiet!

The scene shifts to Roger Baldwin, founder of the American Civil Liberties Union:
Sam: “Him I can respect. That’s more like it.”

Response: An intolerant “HISSS!

Big Bill Haywood shows up in little more than a bit part for a line or two.

Sam waves his hand in disgust at the actor. “Nothing like him! The man has no stature. Haywood had stature! Haywood had one eye, but he never wore a patch like this fella!”

Response: Shut the fuck up! Call the manager!…

Then, toward the end, there is the touching if slightly absurd montage of the devoted Diane Keaton, in the attempt to reach the dying Beatty, hiking through the Soviet snow in a blizzard. Apparently, she is not allowed to enter Moscow directly.

Sam: “Now that is ridiculous. Those days anyone could get in! The regime was looking for support. Did you know that Bryant married the American Ambassador after Reed died?”

The audience response ends here; instead a flashlight skips through the darkness and two young ushers find us up front. “Sir, we must ask you to leave!”

“Why? What did we do?”

“Come on, it is almost over anyway,” I say.

Outside, in the bright sunlight of the parking lot, some of the film’s patrons can barely contain spitting at us; seeing an old man in suspenders with white socks showing beneath the cuffs of his pants made them angrier. Their fury was directed at a character that could have walked directly out of the film.

On the way home, in the car, I search for something about which Sam and I can agree: “How did you like the guy who plays Eugene O’Neill?” It was Jack Nicholson, who has an affair with Bryant in the film. I enjoyed his performance.

“No good!”

“No good? I thought he was very good. Why?”

“Too gloomy.”

“Well, O’Neill must have been a gloomy guy, right? Look at his plays!”

“But he was not gloomy in that way.” Sam insisted, “He was a good fella to have a drink with. He had that Irish wit. He didn’t wear his troubles in public like a hair shirt, going around depressing everybody!”

Their paths had intersected in the radical, artistic, bohemian circles of the time. Early on O’Neill had shipped-out—that is, worked as a merchant seaman—and had been a Wobbly, and hung out with anarchists. He was not yet Eugene O’Neill.

Sam’s off-hand comment surprised me. “You know that? You knew Eugene O’Neill? You drank with him? Why didn’t you tell me?” I felt, while not hurt, put-out.

“Why should I tell you? What earthly difference does it make if I knew Eugene O’Neill?”

I suppose he was right in the scheme of things.

Sam was always pulling surprises like that. He did not think that knowing famous people was important. Sometime later, I mentioned a PBS documentary on Diego Rivera. Sam smiled and said simply, “Diego was a good guy. You couldn’t help but like him.” They had met several times in the early thirties at radical meeting halls on lower Broadway and at a Union Square diner so infested with Communists it was called The Kremlin.

As I’ve mentioned, the purpose of my autobiographical, cinematic diversion is to make accessible the richness of Sam’s life nearly a century ago. He came to know personally virtually everyone who mattered in the radical movement of his day or he came to know of them intimately through their friends and enemies. Not that he thought his life was rich; it was simply his life.

Order LEFT OF THE LEFT: My Memories of Sam Dolgoff: https://www.akpress.org/left-of-the-left.html

5/18–5/19: Octavia’s Brood @ Shoreline Community College (Shoreline, WA)

Posted on May 11th, 2016 in Events

Octavia’s Brood is an anthology of original science fiction from social justice movements written by organizers and activists. Each of the 20 stories reimagines the world we live in, putting forth compelling futures with new questions, new visions to explore.

May 18 at 6:30pm in the theater, co-editors Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown, along with contributing writer Gabriel Teodros will engage in a community conversation around radical science fiction and organizing.

May 19 at 10:30am in PUB 9208: Collective Sci-Fi Writing Workshop! Walidah Imarisha, adrienne maree brown, and Gabriel Teodros will lead participants through a collective story-telling/writing workshop where you create collective and individual stories based on current political issues.

May 19 at 1:30pm in PUB 9208: Sci-Fi & Direct Action Training! Participants will use familiar stories of other worlds (such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Oz, Harry Potter, etc.) to design direct action campaigns that parallel the world we are fighting for in the here and now. By the end of session, regimes will be toppled, evil forces vanquished and solid skills in direct action organizing developed.

5/24: Keywords for Radicals @ Interference Archive (Brooklyn, NY)

Posted on May 11th, 2016 in Events

With insights from dozens of scholars and troublemakers, Keywords for Radicals explores the words that shape our political landscape. Each entry highlights a term’s contested variations, traces its evolving usage, and speculates about what its historical mutations can tell us. More than a glossary, this is a crucial study of the power of language and the social contradictions hidden within it.

Join editors Clare O’Connor and AK Thompson at Interference Archive for a lecture and discussion on the politics of keywords and data visualization.

5/23: Keywords for Radicals NYC Launch @ Brooklyn Commons

Posted on May 11th, 2016 in Events

With insights from dozens of scholars and troublemakers, Keywords for Radicals explores the words that shape our political landscape. Each entry highlights a term’s contested variations, traces its evolving usage, and speculates about what its historical mutations can tell us. More than a glossary, this is a crucial study of the power of language and the social contradictions hidden within it.

Join Keywords for Radicals editors and contributors at Brooklyn Commons for the official NYC book launch event: an engaging discussion about the world within our words!