Book Review of Black Flame: The revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism. Oakland, CA: AK Press. By Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt.
by Deric Shannon
At the outset, after reading Black Flame, it's impossible not to reflect on the massive amount of research that such a work must have entailed. The book is a narrative about anarchism and, with interest in anarchism on the rise worldwide, it could not have come at a better time. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, we need new narratives of the anarchist tradition to understand where we've been. Secondly, Black Flame contains critiques of the ways that "radical" circles contemporarily have too often turned away from the radical class politics that have always defined the socialist movement.
Ironically enough, this is both a major strength of the book, but also, in my opinion, one of its weaknesses. As Schmidt and van der Walt state their case early in the book, "'(c)lass struggle' anarchism, sometimes called revolutionary or communist anarchism, is not a type of anarchism; in our view, it is the only anarchism" (19--emphasis theirs). This essentially leads to the authors deciding throughout the beginning of the book who the "real" anarchists are and who gets defined out.
Again, there are strengths and weaknesses with this approach.
Queer is many things. It’s a critique of identity– critiquing/questioning the boxes and categories we are given to cage ourselves with. Example, we can be gay, straight, or bi. These are the choices we have. But they don’t describe reality and they do more to contain us than to liberate us. (Although, I have to note that people do find empowerment and community within these identities and I don’t mean to downplay that.) It’s a critique of the construction of sexuality– formed by the ideas we have to conceive of it. If who you fuck is what you are (i.e., “gay”) — then that’s a sexual identity. Or we can do sexuality differently– it’s not who we are but what we do– our acts.
by Wayne Price
PART I: How Capitalism has created an Ecological, Energy, and Economic Crisis
The post-WWII boom was based on cheap oil. But oil is nonrenewable, polluting, and causes global warming. It was "cheap" because the capitalists did not pay to prepare for the day when it would be harder to access oil. We have reached that day, which is one aspect of the worldwide crisis of the return to the epoch of capitalist decay.
Building democratic mass movements in our workplaces and communities should be the strategy for combating the capitalist economic crisis and advancing revolutionary struggle. An alternative economic sector does not have the capacity to win short-term reforms or fundamentally transform society.
Wayne Price and Eric Larsen at the New York Anarchist Bookfair, 4/11/2009