Europe In Revolt

Catarina Príncipe and Bhaskar Sunkara (eds)

Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, 2016; 203pp; ISBN 9781608465934

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This collection is edited by two people involved with Jacobin (Príncipe is a contributing editor and Sunkara is the magazine's founder). The chapters here basically follow the Jacobinista line of 'building an alternative left political party as means to social revolution', despite numerous examples of the abject failure of that tactic across Europe in recent years. This dubious core assertion aside, the chapters here do actually provide a wealth of information on the particularities of the crises facing European nation-states today, and there are some useful critiques of 'alternative left' parties from some of the contributors.

The chapters cover contexts such as Greece, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, France, and Spain. The most intriguing contributions include: the chapter on Germany by Mark Bergfeld which points out that, despite Germany's vaunted economic success, it is 'now the most unequal society in the EU, with every fifth child growing up in poverty' (p. 118); Fischer and Economou's chapter on Cyprus, which includes a usefully long historical background to the little-known Cypriot context (pp. 31-44); the chapter on Iceland by Vidar Thorsteinsson, which punctures the projected 'fantasies' (p. 77) of horizontalism and anti-capitalism to paint a picture of 'Unmet expectations' (p. 70) and a country that has 'yet to see a surge in left mobilization' (p. 77). Perhaps of most interest locally are the chapters on Ireland (pp. 129-142) and the UK (pp. 143-158), which focus on Sinn Féin and Jeremy Corbyn respectively.

My eyebrow was more than a little raised to see Sinn Féin being discussed in a volume about leftist and socialist political parties, but Daniel Finn's chapter skewers the party's claims to radicalism fairly well. Finn highlights the diverging ('adaptable') tactics employed north and south of the border, especially with regard to welfare reforms, water charges and neo-liberal austerity policies, and points out that Sinn Féin are, and have always been, 'more nationalist than left' (p. 129) with an ever-decreasing 'inclination to pursue a radical course' (p. 137), and a 'record of ideological pragmatism [which] means that any pledge Sinn Féin makes today should be taken lightly' (p. 141). Finn also criticises Sinn Féin's organisational culture, suggesting that party members will find it 'difficult' to oppose any 'move toward the center' by the party leadership (p. 141), quoting Eoin Ó Broin's analysis of a command structure in which 'discipline and loyalty are often more highly valued than critical debate and internal democracy' (pp. 141-142). It is with some prescience that Finn suggests a 'younger and fresher generation' (p. 141) as a potential boost to their disappointing electoral performances of recent years - but it is the departure of Gerry Adams that Finn actually has in mind here, and while Martin McGuinness has shuffled off the scene, Adams lingers on like a bad smell.

Hilary Wainwright's chapter on Jeremy Corbyn, Momentum and the Labour Party strikes a much more optimistic tone, though she remains 'haunted by the fate of Tsipras' (p. 143). Wainwright starts out with a sober assessment of the success of Corbyn as 'more a testament to the hollowing out of the political system than a demonstration of a viable political alternative' (p. 143). However, by the end of the chapter Wainwright is writing about 'a Corbyn win in the 2020 general election' on the back of Momentum, which she argues 'could simultaneously set in motion the dynamics for supportive and transformative postelection alliances (p. 155). Wainwright gleefully recounts a Sky TV journalist remarking 'with extreme perplexity' that '"Corbyn has completely upset our template"' (p. 157), and while we might all delight in upsetting Sky TV journalists it is hard to agree with Wainwright's vision of revolution stemming from electoral success for the Labour Party.

And this is the core issue with this volume; many of the chapters blindly assert that the electoral strategies of their pet parties are somehow distinct from all of the abject failures, betrayals and corruptions that have come before (see especially Príncipe's chapter on the Left Bloc in Portugal pp. 159-174 and, as mentioned, Wainwright's chapter on Corbyn). But many of those authors who are most scathing of the 'left alternative' parties they describe still end up repeating the electoral mantra of building 'a more consistent and radical movement' (Finn, p. 142) or 'a coherent left-wing force' (Thorsteinsson, p. 77) - they refuse to accept the fundamental flaw of electoral strategies towards meaningful social transformation. Some exception must be given here to Alex de Jong's chapter on the Dutch Socialist Party (pp. 107-114) which is unwaveringly critical, and Luke Stobart's analysis of Podemos/Indignados which points to the workplace as an underdeveloped, but key, site of struggle (p. 190).

This is a highly informative volume and many of the critiques contained herein are poignant, even if the suggested electoral remedies remain unconvincing.

Jim Just Books

Goals and Means. Anarchism, Syndicalism, and Internationalism in the Origins of the Federación Anarquista Ibérica

Jason Garner

Edinburgh: AK Press, 2016; 362pp; ISBN 9781849352253

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Jason Garner's recent study 'focuses on the relationship between anarchism and syndicalism in the Spanish trade union organisation the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT)' (p. 1). At the heart of the study is the intersection of 'working-class resistance ... organised and united within the CNT' and 'the labour policy of the anarchist movement' (p. 2). While the author's opening description of anarchism is fair, and local and global factors impacting on the development of anarchist and syndicalist ideas and organising are taken into account, this 'intersection' from the outset establishes a false dichotomy that leads to a book which, though valuable on many levels, ultimately falls down in its analysis of both the CNT and the Federación Anarquista Ibérica (FAI).

Starting out with an examination of the birth of the anarchist movement, Garner moves on to: the formation of the CNT; that organisation's reaction to Bolshevism; the formation of the IWA-AIT; an exploration of the development of anarchist movements in Spain and internationally; increased clashes between 'syndicalists' and 'anarchists'; repression and exile in France; and the re-organisation of the CNT and formation of the FAI.

Placing the birth of anarchism as 'a definite ideological movement' (p. 17) in the debates of the First International (IWMA), one that is internationalist and orientated to the working-class, he explains that it was through the International that 'anarchist ideas penetrated the Iberian peninsula' (p. 18), where anarchism became integral to the formation of unions. Garner provides a fascinating and enlightening account of the First International that counters Marxist distortions of history. The second chapter explains how 'revolutionary syndicalism essentially bridged the anti-authoritarian wing of the IWMA - with the stress on the economic path to emancipation' (p. 48). Garner sets the apolitical syndicalism of Pierre Monatte against the (anti-syndicalist) anarchist position of Errico Malatesta. Taking these two views as a starting point undoubtedly lends itself to an analysis lacking in nuance and, ultimately, fails to acknowledge the development of anarcho-syndicalism as anything more than the tension between the two. The term syndicalism is poorly defined leading to further problems with analysis throughout. For Garner 'it was evident that it [the CNT] represented a very Spanish interpretation of revolutionary syndicalism, in which the influence of anarchism was strongly evident' (p. 63). Rather than being something 'Spanish' the CNT, and later the other sections of the IWA, represented a new libertarian communist workers' movement - the anarcho-syndicalist union.

The CNT's rejection of the one party dictatorship of the Bolshevik Party under the misnomer 'dictatorship of the proletariat' differentiated between ongoing support for the October Revolution and Bolshevism. Rejection of seizure of state power in favour of direct action was central to conflict between the CNT and the Bolshevik trade union international the RTUI. However, Garner confuses the anti-statist position of anarcho-syndicalists with apoliticism. Following the CNT's criticism of the Bolshevik controlled International, Garner gives a historically rich account of the formation of the IWA, established in 1922 as a specifically anarcho-syndicalist international.

Chapter five is promisingly critical of the confusion around internal conflicts within the CNT. Garner writes that 'historical interpretations of the different tendencies within the CNT employed the tactic of talking of "anarchists" (representing the more radical wing of the CNT) and "syndicalists" (the moderates) ' which, while 'helpful in making a complex situation more understandable ... is open to misinterpretation' (p. 140). To tackle this problem Garner moves from two to an equally unsatisfactory three tendencies, adding 'anarcho-Bolsheviks' to the mix. Anarcho-Bolshevik originated as a slur against some of the more combative anarchist affinity groups of the time. It does not represent a 'third' tendency as the use of violence by affinity groups such as Los Solidarios was not out of tune with the CNT, emerging as they did from a period of severe repression, including attacks and assassinations carried out by Pistoleros in the employ of the bosses.

We are teased with the anticipated birth of the FAI several times in the final chapters of the book, only for the moment to be snatched away as Garner recaps or provides additional material that would have been better suited to earlier chapters. He builds throughout the book to a conclusion based on over-simplified differences, tensions, and tendencies at work within the CNT, while refusing to acknowledge the emergence of anarcho-syndicalism as an organisational and political form that combines ideology with class organisation. Despite the solid historical research throughout, Garner provides an ultimately unsatisfying analysis. In his conclusion we are presented with a tick off exercise on the differences and similarities between anarchism and syndicalism while he mistakes the central role given by anarcho-syndicalists to labour organising for 'anarchist dependence on the syndicalist movement' (p. 248). Essentially Garner misinterprets the more confident development of the CNT as an anarcho-syndicalist organisation as an anarchist take-over.

J.B. Just Books

Punk Rock Entrepreneur: Running A Business Without Losing Your Values

Caroline Moore

Portland, OR: Microcosm, 2016; 128pp; ISBN 9781621069515

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A long-time anarchist book and record publisher once derisively commented: 'There's DIY ... and then there's American DIY', and (with sincere apologies to the numerous right-on Americans out there) this book is a painful example of that warped 'American DIY' ethos. The whole mindset behind the book is jarring, starting from the title's use of the phrase 'Punk Rock Entrepreneur' and continuing unabated throughout.

Moore's basic argument is that the DIY principles and get-up-and-go attitude of punk production are a solid foundation for running a successful business - in Moore's case as a wedding/gig photographer. The title suggests some ethical grounding, but there is no real critique of business practices here; no suggestion of establishing workers' co-operatives, collectives, or non-profit organisations, just a good old 'pull yourself up by the bootstraps' how-to guide (complete with flow charts and motivational doodles).

The chapters on networking reveal an underlying conceitedness, and this conceit is at the core of all trendy/cool/hipster businesses. Moore asserts that 'You have a responsibility to your community to consider the impact that employees, your projects, your client choices have. Stand for something' (p. 32), but the main entrepreneurial justification for this is that a 'rising tide lifts all ships' (p. 24) and, at the end of the day, being nice to people will pay dividends and give your business a super-cool reputation (but not if you were conscious of those businessy benefits when you were being nice in the first place, because 'authenticity matters' (p. 84)). Entrepreneurial hipster double-think at its best!

Moore has no qualms with profiting from the exploited labour of employees or precarious working conditions - the key, we're told, is to 'use your whole ass' (p. 96) to rise above the competition. Moore does recognise that her screed is objectionable to most people involved in punk, admitting that 'Money is kind of a taboo subject' (p. 85), but simply writes off the predicted backlash from the 'punk police' as 'boring' (p. 91). Moore quotes someone called Jeff Finley to argue that anyone who fails to grasp this profit-oriented version of DIY has 'a skewed perception on money from listening to too many anarcho, anti-capitalist, hippie punk bands' (p. 94). Well, at least that explains why I found this book so irritating.

Speaking of anarchists and anti-capitalists, Moore has the brass neck to use groups such as the Carbon Defense League (p. 44) and ABC No Rio (p. 72) as examples of DIY punk entrepreneurialism in action. Punk attitudes certainly inform the activism of these groups, but they put their efforts into opposing exploitation and profiteering, which is entirely at odds with the twisted vision of DIY that Moore presents here. Moore wants us to think that this woolly 'considerate capitalism' is something radical; that couldn't be further from the truth. 'We live our lives another way' she tells us (p. 105) - no you don't. The individualist, entrepreneurial, competitive ethos that Moore describes is exactly the ideology that contemporary neo-liberal capitalism wants us to swallow.

As a final insult, Moore quotes someone called Reggie Little from a band called August Ruins describing a benefit gig for a 'fallen officer' (by which I think they mean dead cop) as 'a good cause' (p. 118). In the current political climate in the US, with the continuing litany of high-profile police brutality, this stands out as a particularly out of touch comment - and seems totally ignorant of punk's deeply ingrained opposition to the police (ACAB!).

We all have to make day-to-day compromises with our current capitalist reality, but this whole-hearted embrace of neo-liberal subjectivity is appalling - Moore has gouged the radical heart out of punk and DIY here, and no amount of cutesy doodles will make up for that.

Jim Just Books

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation

Keeana-Yamahtta Taylor

Chicago: Haymarket, 2016; 288pp; ISBN 9781608465620

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"... quite stunningly ignorant; and since they know that they are hated they are always afraid. One cannot possibly arrive at a more surefire formula for cruelty."-James Baldwin, 1966.

Little seems to have changed about the police in the USA since Baldwin's writing in 1966. One of the many disturbing aspects of Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's contemporary work is that the statistics contained therein on the numbers of black Americans who have died as a result of police contact are likely already in need of rewriting.

Deaths in Ferguson, New York, San Diego, Charlotte (and many others), where police have killed with seeming impunity, have led to the eruptions of mass protests on the streets, often under the banner of Black Lives Matter, and would seem to dispel illusions (if any existed) that, in the age of the first black president, the USA is a 'postracial' or 'colourblind' society.

Of course, this situation has not been arrived at ahistorically, and Taylor begins by looking back, arguing that 'race and racism ... have been the glue that holds the United States together' (p. 29), from slavery through Jim Crow to post World War Two, when the discrediting of racism and eugenics and the need for the USA to portray itself internationally as a 'democracy' in contrast to Soviet 'tyranny' changed the dynamic of 'race relations'.

However, McCarthyite anti-communism of the 1950s simultaneously purged radicals from organised labour, reducing its focus on anti-racism. Taylor investigates how the black liberation movements of the 1960s linked racial with economic injustice and how enactment of Civil Rights legislation led to a turn to 'colourblind' politics. This in turn 'allowed portions of the political establishment to separate Black hardship from the material conditions that activists had worked so hard to expose' (p. 53). In the new context of supposed political equality, black poverty could be blamed on 'black culture' or matters of individual moral shortcomings rather than structural factors, what Daniel Patrick Moynihan had described as a 'tangle of pathology'.

One consequence of the Civil Rights era is what Taylor describes (in the title of Chapter 3) as 'Black Faces In High Places' - and indeed, at the time of writing, in the highest place of all. However the reality is illustrated by the response of the black political establishment to protests in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray: 'When a Black mayor, governing a largely Black city, aids in the mobilization of a military unit led by a Black woman to suppress a Black rebellion, we are in a new period of the Black freedom struggle' (p. 80). Indeed the growth of a black middle class, black political elite, and development of black capitalism (as fomented by Nixon) have led, not to liberation, but to 'a stultifying "pragmatism" and "realism" in place of aspirations to change the world' (p. 88) and they 'often do more harm than good while escaping the label "racist"' (p. 79).

Turning then to the specific phenomenon that has sparked a wave of street protests, Taylor addresses 'The Double Standard Of Justice' to examine how black communities are policed. She writes that '[w]hen the police enforce the law inconsistently and become agents of lawlessness and disorder, it serves as a tangible reminder of the incompleteness of formal equality' (p. 108).

She identifies three distinct iterations of post-Civil Rights policing: Reagan's War On Drugs; Clinton's crime regime; and the current War On Terror (all preceded by Nixon's turn to 'Law & Order' in the 1960s which, in tandem with 'colourblind' policies, purportedly removed 'race' from the equation but left structural inequalities untouched).

Taylor writes that '[b]y the end of the Clinton presidency in 2000, Black incarceration rates had tripled' (p. 120-121). It is well known today that the USA accounts for 5% of the overall world population and 25% of the world prison population. Taylor also examines the racist use of Stop-And- Search as a cash cow for cash-strapped municipalities, writing that 'police are increasingly responsible for municipal revenues' (p. 126-127). In the conclusion to this chapter, Taylor arrives at a cogent point, and one crucial to the theme of the book:

The police function primarily as agents of social control in a society that is fundamentally unequal, which means that they operate largely in poor and working-class communities. Because African Americans have historically been overrepresented in these neighborhoods, they are often the targets of policing. (p. 133)

It follows from this that police have also murdered hundreds of latinos and thousands of white people, which 'establishes an objective basis upon which a multiracial movement against police terrorism can be organized' (p. 131).

Of course, we live in the reign of the first black President Of The United States Of America, as dealt with in Taylor's chapter titled: 'The End Of An illusion.' Much of Obama's rhetoric has in fact pandered to black stereotypes and replicated the discourse of individual moral failing as opposed to institutional discrimination. And more damningly, 'the Black political establishment, led by President Barack Obama, had shown over and over again that it was not capable of the most basic task; keeping Black children alive. The young people would have to do it themselves' (p. 152). Indeed Taylor depicts Obama's terms of office as a signal that 'Black inclusion in the political establishment has already come and failed' (p. 219).

Taylor goes on to examine the need for people to 'do it themselves, ' looking at the movements that have arisen from street protests, such as BYP 100, Hands Up United and, of course, #BlackLivesMatter. These have often involved what Taylor calls a 'changing of the guard' to a new generation of activists, citing as an example the negative role and rhetoric of Al Sharpton in Ferguson, who, in the wake of street protests over the death of Mike Brown, 'condemned the young people of Ferguson [and] used stereotypes to do so' (p. 160). Another aspect of the new wave of protests has been the visibility of women at the forefront; this is a direct consequence of the disproportionate incarceration and killing of black males: 'women have stepped into leadership roles because of the absolutely devastating impact of policing and police violence in Black people's lives in general' (p. 166). Black queer and trans people have also been visible in the protest movements.

For all their positives, Taylor offers some critiques: 'this particular method of organization can be difficult to penetrate. In some ways this decentralized organizing can actually narrow opportunities for the democratic involvement of many in favor of the tightly knit workings of those already in the know' (p. 176). She is also critical of the acceptance of philanthropic or state funding, as organisations can 'face problems if their funders develop political critiques of their work' (p. 178). It is worth noting other critiques of #BLM that have emerged, such as from Elaine Brown.

Moving forward, Taylor examines how these movements might link up with broader struggles and the key importance of solidarity, for example with low-wage workers' movements, especially given the overrepresentation of African Americans in the low-waged working class. On this theme, Taylor unpacks the importance of class, asserting that 'under capitalism, wage slavery is the pivot around which all other inequalities and oppressions turn' (p. 206), and argues that this is not class reductionism, but rather 'locating the dynamic relation between class exploitation and racial oppression in the functioning of American capitalism' (p. 207). Returning to the theme of solidarity, Taylor is critical of the 'blind spot' of class among many activists as it leaves them unable to grasp 'the material foundation for solidarity and unity within the working class' (p. 215), preferring instead the concept of 'allyship,' which Taylor believes 'doesn't quite capture the degree to which Black and white workers are inextricably linked. It's not as if white workers can simply choose not to "ally" with Black workers to no peril of their own' (p. 215). Related to this is a critique of the usefulness of the concept of 'whiteness.' Taylor believes it 'collapses important distinctions between whites into a common white experience that simply does not exist' (p. 211) and also obfuscates the actions of elite black political actors such as Obama or Clarence Thomas who can be 'accused of performing whiteness instead of exercising their class power ... as if [they] are acting in ways they do not wholly intend' (p. 210).

In conclusion, Taylor's book is a recommended read. Not only an analysis of contemporary protest, but an illuminating history of institutional and structural racism in the USA, an incisive critique of 'Black Faces In High Places' and a valuable insight on how struggles against police racism, brutality and murder might be, must be, broadened and linked to others: 'Black life cannot be transformed while the rest of the country burns ... Black liberation is bound up with the project of human liberation and social transformation' (p. 194).

X Moore

Gramsci's Political Thought: An Introduction (third edition)

Roger Simon

London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2015; 125pp; ISBN 9781910448141

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From an anarchist perspective, Gramsci is in many ways the least objectionable thinker in the Marxist canon (though in practical terms, as a member of the Italian Socialist and then Communist parties, he was actually frequently outspoken in his opposition to the anarchist movement). Roger Simon's introduction to Gramsci, first published in 1982 and twice since revised, gives an excellent overview of his key ideas, and Simon's interspersed application of these ideas to the context of contemporary Britain helps to elucidate their significance.

Socialism in Italy was born anarchist, and it is interesting that throughout Gramsci's thinking he rejects many of the central tenets of Marxism in favour of perspectives that compare more closely with anarchist thought. For example, Simon explains Gramsci's concept of 'welding the present to the future' (p. 84), quoting from Selections from Political Writings, 1910-20 (edited by Quintin Hoare) to explain that 'urgent necessities' must be satisfied while 'work[ing] effectively to create and "anticipate" the [future]' (p. 65) - the socialist revolution 'is a process which begins under capitalism' (p. 84) not something which occurs only after a sudden, violent revolutionary moment. Gramsci terms this the 'war of position,' but it clearly equates to an anarchist prefigurative approach and is exactly the sort of argument made by Gramsci's Italian anarchist contemporary, Malatesta.

In the very next section, Simon describes Gramsci's ideas on taking control of the labour process, which argues for empowerment of the workers through 'emancipating themselves' (p. 95) - a classic tenet of anarchist direct action, and in the context of factory councils this closely echoes the strategies of anarcho-syndicalism, which was very prominent at that time (though, again, Gramsci was a critic). As Simon points out, Gramsci also borrowed several key concepts from the French syndicalist Georges Sorel, especially the idea of 'intellectual and moral reform' (p. 97) which emphasises the importance of subjective, personal and interpersonal revolution. Gramsci conceives power as a social relation (p. 75), an approach which has more in common with the ideas of the anarchist Gustav Landauer (1870-1919) than the crude 'economism' of orthodox Marxism.

This also fundamentally impacts the revolutionary strategies advocated by Gramsci - the state-seizing tactics of Lenin and the 'mechanically determinist' waiting tactics of his contemporary (and rival) Bordiga are eschewed in favour of building a counter-hegemonic force (especially in the realms of culture and 'civil society'), while strictly enforced top-down party discipline is scrapped for 'democratic centralism,' described by Gramsci as 'a matching of thrusts from below with orders from above' (p. 106).

But while most of Gramsci's ideas are a clear improvement on other seminal Marxist writers, and some of his thought is comparable with anarchism, he remains vanguardist in an orthodox Marxist sense (p. 18) and happily advocates allying with nationalist movements (p. 20). As Simon points out, ideas drawn from Gramsci's Prison Notebooks are fragmentary and woolly, since the writings were basically preliminary sketches, and terms were often thinly coded to evade Mussolini's state censor. Simon happily concedes a certain degree of interpretation in any discussion of Gramsci, so while the perspective developed in this book marks quite a distinct break from orthodox Marxism in many respects, this could be weighed differently by other commentators.

Whatever the finer points of Gramsci's philosophy, this slender volume serves as an excellent introduction to the key concepts, places them in their historical context, and explains how these ideas might be applied in understanding society today.

Jim Just Books

The Autonomous Life? Paradoxes of hierarchy and authority in the squatters movement in Amsterdam

Nazima Kadir

Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016; 216pp; ISBN 9781784994112

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This book, developed from Kadir's PhD research in the squatter scene in Amsterdam, tackles the issue of unspoken hierarchies within anarchist groups and movements. This is a very worthwhile topic, and some of Kadir's descriptions are very insightful. However, the useful aspects of the book are obscured by Kadir's positioning as a researcher, which generates some troubling undercurrents.

A condensed version of Kadir's research appeared as a chapter in The City Is Ours (van der Steen, Katzeff, van Hoogenhuijze (eds) 2014) which was reviewed in Issue 1 of The Just Books Review. In that review, particular offence was taken to Kadir's typology of squatters and its open disdain for punks. This anti-punk stance is on display again in The Autonomous Life (which perhaps predisposes this reviewer to a less-than- favourable response) - but the book contains other objectionable aspects as well. Even though Kadir spent some three-and- a-half years amongst the Amsterdam squatters, she deliberately maintains an outsider research position and does not share the political ideals of her 'anthropological subjects'. For example, class is a recurrent theme throughout the book, and is one of the core 'paradoxes' identified by Kadir, in that people from non-working class backgrounds are involved in a movement struggling to create and embody a classless society. However, the uncritical regurgitation of liberal sociological distinctions results in a muddy class analysis. For example, terms such as 'upper-middle- class' (p. 142) and 'lower-middle- class' (p. 146) are used without any critique or explanation, and in Kadir's class schema 'bourgeois' and 'upper-class' are used interchangeably (p. 120). The influence of class background in the interpersonal dynamics of the squatters is interesting, and speaks usefully to debates around privilege, but the 'class identities' here are surmised from tenuous evidence (and at best are based merely on the occupations of the squatters' parents). This lack of nuanced critique is symptomatic of Kadir's fundamental lack of engagement with the underlying motivating principles of the squatters, and results in a superficial, disinterested analysis.

Kadir discusses sexual gossip at length, with some insightful description of its deployment, especially in relation to the sexual partners of 'squatter bosses'. But again, Kadir's lack of engagement with the ideas behind the squatting movement results in some jarring comments - such as Kadir's identification of one squatter as 'Jennifer (who is obese) ' (p. 124), with this 'obesity' held up as proof that she is lying about having had sex with a 'squatter boss' (!). The main analytical concept here, 'the homosocial', seems to rest on pseudo-Freudian psychoanalysis and, in contrast to the more grounded descriptions elsewhere in the book, comes across as an academic flight of fancy. By far the most harrowing episode is Kadir's deliberate and calculated 'bullying out' (p. 157) of numerous inhabitants of a squat in which she was living. Kadir is candid about her (frankly appalling) behaviour, but rather than express regret, she concludes that this is proof of 'the necessity for leadership within a squat' (p. 158) - though the logic for this, if it exists, is unexplained.

Kadir's cynical analysis is only fleetingly broken towards the very end of the book, with a brief recognition of the 'unspoken ideal ... [and] practice of quotidian solidarity' (p. 202). She even appreciates that her stay in the Amsterdam squatter scene was enriched with this everyday display of anarchistic solidarity, despite failing to show the same to those she 'bullied out'. The otherwise insensitive representation of the squatters stems from a lack of engagement with their core motivations - there are insightful moments here, but they are hobbled by this fundamental flaw.

Jim Just Books

The Method of Freedom: An Errico Malatesta Reader

Davide Turcato (ed.)

Edinburgh: AK Press, 2014; 530pp; ISBN 9781849351447

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Malatesta is one of the best known activists and writers in the 'canon' of anarchism. Several pamphlets and collections of his material have been published in English over the last several decades, especially by Vernon Richards and Freedom Press, but Turcato's edited volume offers a wider range of Malatesta's writings, improves upon earlier translations (aided by Paul Sharkey), and really gets across a sense of the evolution of Malatesta's ideas. The key aspects of this trajectory are condensed into The Method of Freedom, which precedes the eventual publication of a ten volume Complete Works of Malatesta, also on AK Press (vol. III, the first to be published, is due later in 2016).

The newspaper articles and correspondences selected here present Malatesta in the shifting contexts of revolutionary agitation, from the First International, through several periods of exile in Argentina and London, to the Red Weeks, and eventually the rise of fascism in Italy. The selections also portray Malatesta's ideas as developing in antagonistic exchange with other writers of the time, and as reacting to developments in anarchist thought and praxis. The first of these developmental tensions was within the International Working Men's Association (IWMA) between Bakuninist collectivism and the emergent dominance of anarcho-communist ideas. Malatesta was certainly of the communist persuasion, arguing that 'collectivism is flawed in its moral foundation' and 'is incompatible with anarchy' (p. 47), but typifying his characteristic pragmatism, Malatesta argued early-on that collectivism might be implemented in some areas on a 'transitional basis' (p. 47), to allow time for the collectivists to see the benefits of communist organisation of production. But as the dispute between collectivists and communists became drawn out, Malatesta took what Turcato describes as a 'pluralist stance' (p. 67) and argued for 'union between communists and collectivists' (p. 95) - such ideological bickering was senseless, because in his view (and providing the title for the book) 'Anarchy [is], above all, a method' (p. 141).

Malatesta also reacted to the emergence of anarcho-syndicalism, and though he was initially wary of trades unions and regarded 'an authentic general strike as unachievable' (p. 107), he was tentatively supportive, recognising that '[w]hatever may be the practical results of [economic] struggle ... [t]he revolutionary cause ... must benefit by the fact that workers unite and struggle for their interests' (p. 287). But he maintained a warning that syndicalism risked becoming 'an end in itself' and that it 'contains in itself, by the very nature of its function, all the elements of degeneration which corrupted Labour movements' (p. 339).

Turcato identifies 'an original gradualist view' (p. 267) emerging in Malatesta's thought during his exile in the United States after the 1898 bread riots in Milan. The theme of gradualism recurs throughout the selected writings from then onwards, but is explicated more-and-more clearly towards the end of Malatesta's life. As he put it: 'I believe that one must take all that can be taken, whether much or little: do whatever is possible today, while always fighting to make possible what today seems impossible' (p. 509). Turcato rephrases this nicely on the book's cover: 'our ends should not be disconnected from our action; our ideals should not be so lofty as to make no difference to what we do here and now' (back cover).

Malatesta was assuredly atheist and anti-clerical, but it is striking that his language often borrows from religious terminology, phrases such as 'holy', 'salvation' and 'sacred' crop-up often, and indeed, he presented his anarchist philosophy as one rooted in love (p. 518). He was also unfailingly modest, and, as he became an elder grandee of the anarchist movement, rebuked those who 'inflicted' deference upon him, preferring to remain 'a comrade among comrades' (p. 395). The views of the older Malatesta are among the most interesting here, including recollections of Kropotkin after his death (p. 520) and critical reflections on the First International, sixty years on (p. 527).

There is a firm commitment to historical 'documentary accuracy' (p. 4) in this collection, with all writings being presented in their entirety, and translations corrected for fidelity to the original versions. This inevitably leads to some repetition of ideas across the selections, but the light-touch approach to the editing and framing of Malatesta's writings is surely an advantage. (For a more analytical approach to Malatesta, see David Turcato's Making Sense of Anarchism (AK Press, 2015)). This a beautifully produced tome which makes an important contribution to our understanding of a seminal figure in the history of anarchism.

Jim Just Books

Colin Ward: Life, Times and Thought

by Carl Levy (ed.)

London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2013; 144pp; ISBN 9781907103735

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This book started out as a special issue of Anarchist Studies journal (vol. 19, no. 2, (2011)) in commemoration of the life of Colin Ward, who died in 2010. Despite Ward's long and active involvement in the anarchist movement in the UK and his writings on an extensive array of subjects, his contributions have often been overlooked. This collection of seven articles, with an introduction from editor Carl Levy, provides a useful overview of his work.

Levy's introduction and the first three articles here (by Peter Marshall, Pietro Di Paola and David Goodway) have a strong biographical focus, placing Ward's activism and writing firmly in the context of post-War British anarchism. Marshall's short contribution reads as a particularly generous biographical eulogy - and indeed, none of the contributors here are especially critical. This is no doubt a result of Ward's even-handed approach and his consistent refutation of sectarian bickering within the anarchist movement - no one has any axes to grind with Ward.

Stuart White examines Ward's anti-sectarian attitude with regard to the supposed dichotomy between 'social anarchism' and 'lifestyle anarchism,' arguing that while Ward was evidently a 'social anarchist' (p. 128), his anarchism was a 'hybrid' of the two (p. 119). In so doing, White ends up reinforcing the false dichotomy between 'social' and 'lifestyle' anarchisms, which Ward would certainly reject, but he does usefully highlight Ward's concern with 'anarchy in action': 'the successful squat; the plotland development; the child's creative occupation of wasteground' and the 'intrinsic value' of such manifestations of anarchism in the here-and- now (p. 129). Robert Graham similarly points to Ward's focus on 'the ability and practice of ordinary people in organising their own affairs' (p. 112), rather than a millenarian obsession with Revolution.

Ward's research and writing was tied-up with this concern for 'practical anarchism' - several of the authors here repeat Ward's own description of himself as an 'empirical softie' (Di Paola, p. 36) and Brian Morris notes that Ward 'denied being an anarchist theorist' and 'never engaged himself in questions of epistemology, metaphysics or political theory' (p. 75). However, Ward was certainly no crude materialist. Morris discusses Ward's philosophical indebtedness to Kropotkin (social ecology and mutual aid, pp. 72-87), Carissa Honeywell points to his connections with Proudhon (mutualism and decentralist federalism, pp. 88-105), and Graham adds Bakunin's critique of the state as a further theoretical influence (p. 107). Goodway's chapter attempts to draw out similarities between Ward and the New Left in 1960s Britain, but other than the expected overlaps within a modestly-sized radical milieu, the links are tenuous and are only pertinent in a comparative sense.

As might be expected, there is some degree of repetition between the chapters here, especially in the earlier, more biographically focussed chapters, but the later chapters (Morris, Honeywell, Graham, White) benefit from their particular thematic foci, and each sheds light on a different aspect of Colin Ward's anarchism. However, the definitive text on Ward remains his own Anarchy In Action (first published 1973, most recently by PM Press in 2016, and the 1996 Freedom Press edition is available free HERE). Ward's writing is clear and straightforward, so there is little need for decoding or analytical interpretation, and his preference for extensive quotes makes it easy to trace his influences. That said, Colin Ward: life, times and thought shines a welcome light on an underappreciated figure and the important connection he provides between the newly re-emergent anarchist movement post-World War Two and the contemporary anarchist movement.

Jim Just Books

Lifestyle Politics and Radical Activism

by Laura Portwood-Stacer

New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013; 208pp; ISBN 9781441157430

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Bookchin's best-known polemic may be nineteen years old, but 'lifestylist' endures as a slur in many anarchist circles. Laura Portwood-Stacer's Lifestyle Politics and Radical Activism takes the concept to task, and through theoretical consideration, interview material, and participant observation describes lifestyle's role in current US anarchist movements, unpicking various tensions along the way. Portwood-Stacer's postmodernist/feminist/queer perspective sets her at a remove from the debate, and allows her to critically analyse contemporary anarchist practices as an outsider. Despite an exclusive focus on the US, this book will speak to the experiences of anarchists across the world.

Portwood-Stacer's analysis relies on the concept of 'lifestyle activism.' This conflation of 'lifestyle' and 'activism' is problematic - even among Portwood-Stacer's interviewees 'almost none of them would refer to themselves as lifestylists or appreciate being perceived as such' (p. 134). Expected 'lifestylist' themes such as subcultural affinity and consumption choices are included under this 'activist' rubric, but so too are the more classically anarchist themes of prefiguration, propaganda by the deed, and direct action. Direct action isn't commonly reconciled with 'lifestylism,' but Portwood-Stacer asserts that '[l]ifestyle practices can be understood as direct action because they attempt to materially change one's everyday experience without appealing to a central entity' (p. 20). Material considerations such as this help to challenge the dichotomy between 'lifestylism' and 'workerism,' and an attempt to balance mutual criticisms is a central thread. On one hand those who cursorily dismiss lifestyle politics are admonished for failing to have '[a]n understanding that practices may fulfil different goals to different degrees' (p. 49), but there is also a warning against the temptation to 'fetishise anti-consumption as a tactic, [and] not to conflate its satisfaction of personal fulfilment with its fulfilment of the promise of social change' (p. 50).

As might be expected from a postmodern/feminist/queer perspective, identity receives a lot of attention. Discussing the 'ethically correct' behaviours of those 'performing an anarchist identity,' Portwood-Stacer lists 'having a vegan diet, getting around by bicycle, resisting mainstream norms of hygiene and self presentation, and being sexually non- monogamous' (p. 87). (There is a curious fixation on hygiene throughout the book.) The attempt to balance positive and negative critiques is again evident when Portwood-Stacer notes that identity often substitutes for meaningful political engagement, but that there is also potential in anarchism as 'a constructed identity [which] could be a point of possibility for activist communities ... since what anarchism is can grow and change with the conditions and problems at hand' (p. 93). This point resonates with cultural considerations, and Portwood- Stacer's attention to culture elsewhere is useful, for example when she argues that 'culture and collective identification are, in fact, the primary basis upon which an anarchist "movement" coheres at all' (p. 16), and that '[t]he "chasm" only exists in the minds of those who have not come to terms with the reality that social movements are always cultural formations as well' (p. 151).

The opening five chapters are generally overly sympathetic towards 'lifestyle activism,' but this is remedied in the sixth chapter, which casts a more critical eye over the issues raised in previous chapters, expounding some interesting contradictions, and adding useful complications. Complication is this book's best contribution. The central argument throughout Lifestyle Politics and Radical Activism is that 'there is no clear-cut line to be drawn that would separate "real" anarchists from lifestyle anarchists' (p. 133), and that more effort towards thoughtful and nuanced criticism of the supposed lifestylist/workerist chasm can only be of benefit to the anarchist movement as a whole.

Jim Just Books (this review originally appeared in Anarchist Studies 22.1)

Fascism: Theory and Practice

by Dave Renton

London: Pluto Press, 1999; 150pp; ISBN 9780745314709

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Despite being published in 1999, this book, and any analysis of fascism, assumes increased importance in the wake of the xenophobic Brexit debate, and the resulting increase in race-hate attacks - as Renton writes, 'the most important reason to understand fascism is in order to oppose it' (p. 109).

Renton is a former member of the Socialist Workers' Party and their front organisations, the Anti-Nazi League and Unite Against Fascism (though, to his credit, he criticised the SWP during the Comrade Delta rape cover-up scandal). This ideological grounding shapes the book into a doctrinaire overview of Marxist literature on fascism, though Renton's practical experience of anti-fascist organising is of benefit. Unsurprisingly, Renton's core arguments align with Trotsky's 'United Front' approach to combating fascism (p. 14), which essentially means allying with 'sympathetic forces' and moving from a defensive opposition to fascism to an offensive one, 'put[ting] forward positive demands on behalf of the whole of the working class' (p. 112).

Renton criticises 'liberal fascist studies,' accusing it of 'playing down the actual racist and murderous character' of fascism (p. 1), and failing to 'generate a non-fascist understanding of fascism' (p. 25). To develop a critical analysis of fascism, Renton aims to paint '[a] bottom-up picture of the fascist parties' (p. 14), which 'involves looking at what [they] did at least as much at [sic] what [they] said' (p. 4). Chapter 1's snapshot of European fascism in the 1990s is reasonably effective, but the bulk of the book is occupied with the tedious bickering of various Marxist sects. Renton chastises the 'liberal fascist studies' scholars for 'exaggerat[ing] the importance of the fascist intellectuals' (p. 1), but he repeats this error with a near-exclusive focus on Marxist intellectuals, despite advocating a 'bottom-up' approach.

This doctrinaire framework is problematic. For example, Jack London's The Iron Heel, published in 1908, is castigated because London 'had no experience of any actual fascist movement or regime' (p. 52). However, Marx is lauded with the remarkable achievement of developing 'a Marxist theory of fascism even before there was fascism' (p. 47)! As a faithful Trotskyist, Renton repeatedly advocates Trotsky's dialectical analysis of fascism - but later admits that Trotsky's dialectic requires 'modification' (p. 75). Trotsky's dialectic emerges from a contradiction between fascism's 'mass base of support and the reactionary nature of its goals' (p. 73), but in Trotsky's dialectical synthesis, he 'believed that there was no possibility of a durable fascism' (p. 75). As Renton points out, fascism actually had the effect of 'stabilising capitalism' (p. 76), but to modify this crucial aspect is to rob the theory of its dialectical nature entirely. What remains is, actually, a subtle analysis of fascism, highlighting productive tensions, but Renton's ideological preoccupation means he is compelled to toe the Trotskyist line.

Beyond the dirgey Marxist theory and the minutiae of Comintern strategies, Renton actually offers some sound practical reflections. He stresses the necessity of 'bread-and-butter tasks' (p. 111) such as: exposure of fascists hiding behind the 'acceptable' guises of racism and nationalism; education about fascism and the conditions in which it emerges; physical opposition, in large numbers and (mostly) non-violently; and 'no platforming' (p. 113). This material is crow-barred into the final few pages; more focus here would have been interesting. These misgivings aside, Renton is spot on when he concludes that 'capitalism constantly fills the reservoir of reactionary ideas that fascism relies on to grow' (p. 115), and that '[t]he only way to defeat the rats is to destroy the sewer they live in' (p. 116).

Jim Just Books

Brazil's Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, The Olympics, and the Struggle for Democracy (updated Olympics edition)

by Dave Zirin

Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2014; 252pp; ISBN 9781608464333

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David Zirin is a sports journalist specialising in critical coverage of the World Cup and the Olympics, and both events being held in Brazil within a two year period makes a compelling (and appalling) case study of how these mega-events are used as 'incredibly effective tools for reorganizing an economy on neoliberal grounds' (p. 150).

This is a second edition, revised to include information on the 2014 World Cup, but despite being billed as an 'updated Olympics edition,' the additions in this regard are quite limited - the focus is very much on the World Cup. Zirin argues that 'both of these tournaments have started to seem like conjoined twins' (p. 150), but the primary focus on futebol actually makes sense in Brazil. As Zirin writes: 'Soccer ... is inextricable from the country's political, economic, and cultural history' (p. 108), and illustratively, the World Cup's 'new soccer stadiums, some already abandoned, have become symbols of corruption, waste, and stagnation' (p. 108). Discussion of the Olympics feels a bit tacked on, and the publication in advance of the 2016 Olympics leaves a lot of issues unanswered. While the timing makes sense in terms of impact, a post-Olympics edition would be better positioned to tie together loose ends.

Zirin attempts to provide some historical detail in Chapters 2 and 3, 'to help those outside Brazil understand why the spending, security practices, and evictions ... provoke such a strong reaction' (p. 56). He admits that is impossible to 'fully explain every nuance of this country' (p. 17) but nevertheless attempts 'a highly selective tour through [Brazil's] past' (p. 56). These background chapters are informative, but somewhat tangential, and the book only really hits its stride in Chapter 4, with a return of focus to the World Cup. Zirin draws numerous comparisons between the histories of Brazil and the United States, indicative of the book's intended US audience - as is the (slightly grating) use of the term 'soccer.'

The central argument is that the World Cup and Olympics are a form of neo-liberal 'sporting shock doctrine' (p. 152), used to 'shape the economic, political, and personal destinies of masses of people, with zero accountability for the trail of displacement, disruption, and destruction they leave behind' (p. 183). This is recognised by the people of Rio, as Zirin writes: 'The mass actions of the summer of 2013 exposed the neoliberal theft rooted in the planning and execution of the World Cup' (p. 232). One of the interviewees asks Zirin to 'let people know that we're here ... and we don't want to leave' (p. 210), and this is the point of the book: 'it is critical that those of us who watch the Olympics be conscious of the social cost; conscious that the Olympics in Rio are being staged on people's backs' (p. 8), and further, that 'our collective destiny is tied up with every eviction, every surveillance camera, and every cracked skull on the road to the World cup and Olympics' (p. 235). This also explains the publication of a second edition prior to the Olympics; the content may be less complete as a result, but the exposé is made more effective in its provision of a platform for resistance campaigns.

This is an entertaining and informative read, and while the rapacious neo-liberalism behind the World Cup is horrifying, the resistance, and the individuals Zirin meets, are inspiring.

Jim Just Books

Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg

by Kate Evans

London: Verso, 2015; 220pp; ISBN 9781784781019

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I had always imagined that Rosa Luxemburg was born into and lived through a period of tumult and upheaval that I could only possibly try to imagine and will never experience. Recently, I sometimes think otherwise.

Kate Evans' beautifully crafted graphic novel charts the course of Rosa Luxemburg's life, from her birth in Poland around the time of the Paris commune, through her childhood, having to battle physical infirmity, sexism and anti-Semitism, her travel and studies, political awakening and activity (including spells of imprisonment), to her death at a dark time in German history that foreshadowed even darker times to come.

From the opening frame the author/artist's enthusiasm for her subject matter is evident. While the main focus of the book is Luxemburg's political theory and activity, the person is not neglected, giving glimpses of her relationships with partners and family, her love for science and art and even her cat. But of course the book is really about Rosa Luxemburg the revolutionary. Political theory is presented simply in the graphic novel format; basic tenets of Marxist theory are laid out in accessible ways, along with Luxemburg's critiques and responses and her own theory and principles, notably her pre- emption of what we now call 'Globalisation' and 'The Credit Crunch.' The graphic novel/storyboard format necessitates that these ideas are presented in relatively elementary ways, but there are detailed notes and appendices that provide more depth, detail and context in reference to particular frames, as well as suggestions for further reading both about and by Luxemburg. Also illustrated more than once is her principled and unwavering socialist internationalism and consistent opposition to war, while others on the left took more 'pragmatic' positions. Her opposition to World War I led to her imprisonment, and some of the most moving parts of the book are the illustrations of her letters from prison during this time and the excerpts from some of her final letters which are used to accompany the artist's imagining of her murder and its aftermath.

In short, this is easy and compulsive reading whether familiar with the history and subject matter or not, hard to put down, and might bring a hint of a tear to the eye in places (not confessing to anything). And even if it's not for you, definitely a great gift idea for that very special Council Communist in your life.

X Moore

The Last of the Hippies, An Hysterical Romance

by Penny Rimbaud

Oakland: PM Press, 2015; 128pp; ISBN 9781629631035

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In The Last of the Hippies, Penny Rimbaud celebrates the life of Phil 'Wally' Hope, and rails against his murder at the hands of the state in 1975. In so doing, he conveys some of the anarchist/pacifist philosophy which fed into Crass, and subsequently much of the rest of the anarcho-punk sub-genre. This is actually a fourth publication of The Last of the Hippies. It was originally included with Crass's Christ, The Album in 1982, and much of the material was also covered in Rimbaud's autobiography, Shibboleth: My revolting life (AK Press, 1998). Active Distribution produced a paperback version of The Last of the Hippies in 2009, and this 2015 PM Press edition is almost identical to that, but comes with a slick new cover and a considerable price-hike - up from Active Distro's £1 (yes, one pound) to $12! The hurried re-issue may be explained by PM Press's arguably wider reach in the US, but the price disparity is stark, and in fact the Active Distribution edition is still in print (and, incidentally, in stock at

The main body of the text provides a snapshot of Rimbaud, Crass, and the anarcho-punk scene at a particular juncture, immediately after the Falklands War in 1982, with the pacifist emphasis that might be expected therein. However, the 'peace punk' mentality is in sharp contrast to Rimbaud's introduction, written in 2008, which flatly eschews pacifism. Rimbaud writes: 'Crass caught me at a time when pacifism seemed to be the best way forward. Just at the moment, in 2008, I've swung heavily in the opposite direction' (p 9). This may come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Crass's lyrics and slogans, but it is always interesting to be able to trace the trajectory of an individual's political positions, and the 'anarchism' of Crass was always a wee bit half-baked, as Rimbaud freely admits.

Rimbaud also jettisons his erstwhile enthusiasm for rock'n'roll's revolutionary potential, an element of The Last of the Hippies that now 'greatly embarrasses' him (p 12). This change of position has not diminished Rimbaud's cutting wit, however. Bulldozing his way through the revered grandfathers of punk, he writes: 'let's face it, the Pistols were no more than the Spice Girls of their day, glitzy, cheap and, dare I say it, downright crass. The Clash came in at a close second as ABBA with attitude' (p 12). And this is really what Crass, and anarcho-punk in general, were best at - firing punk's critique of the music industry back at punk itself, while committing themselves to build something more meaningful than the hypocrisy of the corporate sell-outs.

Also in the introduction, Rimbaud writes that he 'loathe[s] the fad for retro-punk' (p 4), but within two years of writing this, Crass succumbed to the retro-punk cash cow with the announcement of Crass vocalist Steve Ignorant's farcical 'Last Supper' and 'Feeding of the 5000' tours (to which Rimbaud gave his blessing), and the subsequent re-issuing of Crass's back-catalogue as 'The Crassical Collection.' And in 2012 it was with bitter irony that Crass themselves were touted as sell-outs for their instrumental role (via Southern Records) in crippling the peer-to-peer music sharing website.

Crass's reputation may have been sullied by the controversies of recent years, but The Last of the Hippies stands as a testament to a former integrity, and remains valuable as such.

Jim Just Books

Indonesia: Archipelago of Fear

by Andre Vltchek

London: Pluto Press, 2012; 263pp; ISBN 9780745331997

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Vltchek's Indonesia paints a bleak picture, and an unfortunately accurate one. His grim depiction of Jakarta as 'a poverty-ridden hellhole' (p 66) is one that any visitor there will recognise - even through a tourist's naïve eyes. Against those that still try to claim Indonesia as a beacon of moderate Islam, neo-liberal success, and developing democracy, Vltchek draws on fifteen years of investigative journalism to bring to light the everyday Indonesian experience of poverty, religious violence, sexism, racism, corruption, social decay, and environmental devastation. Following in the vein of Benedict Anderson, Naomi Klein, and Noam Chomsky (who provides the foreword), Vltchek clearly identifies the US-backed Suharto dictatorship (1968-1998) as a fascist regime, and shows that despite the proliferation of 'democratic' political parties during the reformasi years, nothing has changed - 'fascism is surviving and even flourishing' (p 74). Fear is an appropriate theme here, and Vltchek's indignation is palpable and justified as he exposes a catalogue of harrowing atrocities.

Hopelessness is another overriding theme, but it is not one that I so easily recognise. Statements such as, '[a]ll hopes for Jakarta should be abandoned' (p 65), that there is 'no determination to rebuild the collapsing nation' (p 150), or that 'Indonesia has lost its voice; it has become intellectually deaf and mute' (p 203), are understandable when faced with the scale of the Indonesian catastrophe, but Vltchek fails to mention the glimmers of hope that exist all across Indonesia. The state's total media black-out against anti-fascist groups, militant farmers' collectives, and environmental campaigners might explain Vltchek's apparent unfamiliarity with these struggling activists, but Vltchek's own political perspective may also play a role here. Following the 1965 coup and subsequent genocide of up to three million communist sympathisers, there remains a strong anti-communist taboo in Indonesia. This leads Vltchek to focus on the handful of Marxists and genocide survivors willing to speak openly, which is admirable, but does cause him to miss the vibrant strain of contemporary resistance movements stemming from Indonesia's anarchist tradition. In my experience those movements are filled with a real determination to fight to improve the situation, rather than the flaccid hopelessness Vltchek observes.

This oversight aside, Vltchek's book is a valuable piece and does well to expose the reality of life in Indonesia, counter to the false image presented to the rest of the world. 'The story had to be told' (p 229).

Jim Just Books

(this review originally appeared in Political Studies Review vol. 12)

Squatting in Europe. Radical Spaces, Urban Struggles

by Squatting Europe Kollective (eds)

Wivenhoe: Minor Compositions, 2013; 274pp; ISBN 9781570272578

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The City Is Ours. Squatting and autonomous movements in Europe from the 1970s to the present

by Bart van der Steen, Ask Katzeff and Leendert van Hoogenhuijze (eds)

Oakland: PM Press, 2014; 313pp; ISBN 978-1-60486-683-4

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These two edited volumes share a remarkably similar focus on the contemporary squatting movement in Europe, and both profess to examine it from an autonomist-Marxist perspective. Happily, the majority of the contributors across both volumes are, or have been, active in squatting movements, so there is a wealth of nuance and great depth of understanding on display throughout. The Squatting Europe Kollective (SqEK) offer a collection of sociological analyses of squatting in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, and England, while The City Is Ours (TCIO) deals with oft-researched squatting contexts such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, and London alongside less-famous squat locales such as Brighton, Poznań, Athens, and Vienna. The spread of contexts in TCIO is arguably stronger, since in the SqEK volume, aside from some mentions of East Berlin, the Eastern European squatting experience is largely absent. TCIO also benefits from more timely and contemporary contributions, with each chapter offering a history of the subject city's squatting movement, generally starting from the 1960s or 1970s (though the squatting history of the Polish city of Poznań starts as late as 1994, owing to the particular history of Soviet-sphere communism there), but concluding with contemporary perspectives right up to 2012. In Squatting in Europe however, six of the chapters have been previously published elsewhere - only four are actually newly available here, and some of the reprinted articles are very dated as a result. For example Pierpaulo Mudu's chapter was published in 2004 (nine years before this volume!), and in other instances the data being analysed dates back to the late-1990s (the empirical data collected for both Florence Bouillon's and Miguel A. Martinez López's chapters began in 1998). Lynn Owens's and ETC Dee's chapters at least grope their way towards timeliness with information from early 2011, but many of the other case studies are around ten years old. But while The City Is Ours is more contemporary and addresses a wider range of European contexts, the SqEK volume does usefully bring together a body of work that serves to illuminate some of the common challenges faced by squatters across Western Europe, as well as identifying the peculiar contexts of various countries.

The Squatting Europe Kollective write that they are interested in how 'academic boundaries [can be] continuously crossed' (SiE, p 274) to 'shed light on [the repression of squatting in European countries] through the analysis of its different sides, contributions and involve[ment in] social conflicts' (SiE, p 273), which takes the form of what they term, 'necessary scientific intervention into current political debates' (SiE, p 273). This emphasis on science is very apparent. Most of the chapters are laden with typologies, configurations, lists, and tables - which is par-for-the-course in many sociological approaches - but this often detracts from the analytical content. In particular, Thomas Aguilera's chapter on Parisian squats includes one diagram (SiE, p 217) which is an utterly unintelligible mangle of boxes, axes, lines, and arrows. Another of his figures (over which Aguilera asserts copyright, by the way) is a pie-chart which is rendered useless by being coloured entirely in one shade of grey. In fairness, this latter problem is probably more attributable to a printing/editing error than to impenetrable diagram-fetishism. The City Is Ours is less affected by scientific-minded sociological approaches, though Nazima Kadir's chapter provides at least one instance of a neat scientific typology being imposed onto the squatting movement in Amsterdam (TCIO, chapter one), which includes the categories 'crusty punks' and 'baby punks.' According to Kadir, crusty punks are 'lazy, disorganised, unreliable, and irresponsible' but are valuable to the movement because of their 'willingness to participate in potentially violent actions [and] their enthusiasm for rioting' (TCIO, p 56), while 'baby punks' are ostensibly similar to crusties, but are younger and apparently choose not to wash out of political commitment, rather than sheer crusty laziness. Kadir contrasts these awful punks with the hippies, who benefit from a 'gentler and kinder demeanour [which] distinguishes them from punks' (TCIO p 57). Any typology which includes such absurdly sweeping generalisations is likely to raise an eyebrow or two, but perhaps this bare-faced bigotry against punks is preferable to the studied ignorance displayed by the likes of Alex Vasudevan's chapter on Berlin (TCIO, chapter four), which mentions punk just once.

Vasudevan also manages to get through twenty-two pages without mentioning anarchism at all. The SqEK volume suffers from a similar lack of engagement with anarchism. While the spectre of anarchism inevitably appears in many of the chapters, the authors tend to skirt around it with vague nods to squatting as 'anarchistic' (SiE, Holm and Kuhn, p 170) or even with unexplained terms such as 'neo-anarchism' (SiE, Martinez López, p 130). Rather, squatting is recast here, for the most part, as a manifestation of autonomist-Marxist politics, while anarchism is heavily downplayed. For example, Martinez López's examination of Spanish squats identifies 'a common magma of libertarian and autonomous principle...[in] promoting an assembly-orientated self-organisation independent of political parties, trade unions and more formalised organisations' (SiE, p 125). This 'magma of principles' might be more obviously read as classic anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist tenets (though perhaps that is what is meant by 'libertarian'). In a more explicit example he argues that during the post-Franco 'transition' and 'post-transition' periods in Spain anarchist trade unions 'adopted' ideas such as libertarian organisation, assemblies, direct democracy, consensus, anti-authoritarianism, and direct action (SiE, p 130). To suggest that the likes of the CNT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo) stumbled upon these basic anarchist underpinnings in the aftermath of the fascist dictatorship is erroneous at best, and wilfully misleading at worst. While it cannot be denied that explicitly autonomist squats do exist (especially in Italy), and that the autonomist perspective on squatting is certainly a useful and interesting one, the lack of a meaningful engagement with European squatting's anarchist tendencies seems like a substantial omission. The editors of The City Is Ours, as mentioned above, also approach squatting from an autonomist-Marxist perspective. But, while autonomist-Marxist analyses and vocabularies are strongly emphasised in the book's preface (by George Katsiaficas), foreword (by Geronimo) and introduction (by the editors: van der Steen, Katzeff, and van Hoogenhuijze), many of the case study chapters actually undermine this framing with a very much looser definition of 'autonomous' or an explicitly anarchist focus. Anyone who has spent any time in European squats will be aware of the preponderance of anarchist imagery, ethics, and practices within their walls.

There is, of course, plenty of scope for overlap between autonomous and anarchist politics (the terms are used interchangeably at some points in TCIO), and the squatting movement is not associated exclusively with one political approach. The diversity of the squatting movement's politics are reflected in Josh MacPhee's cover art for The City Is Ours, with the anarchist circled-A and Marxist hammer-and-sickle alongside symbols for anti-fascism, Crass, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, veganism, a clenched fist, and a raised middle finger. MacPhee is also responsible for the book layout, and the stylish two-page photo spreads and series of smaller images embedded within the text really convey an appreciation of the European squatter aesthetic and the vibrancy of the movement, while providing a useful sense of scale (of the squatted buildings and police repression - both usually massive). The overall presentation of Squatting in Europe is less 'slick' than The City Is Ours, with many of the chapters littered with typographical errors and clunky phrasing. This might be excused since many of the contributors are writing in a second language, but in one instance (SiE, p 70) the description tag from a table on the previous page reappears smack in the middle of a totally unrelated sentence. However, many of the chapters are very well written indeed, and even where blunders are obvious, this need not diminish the value of the content. That said, a thorough proofing might have picked up on these kinds of errors.

Squatting in Europe is a highly enjoyable book, written and edited by people with an obvious passion for the movement. The publisher, Minor Compositions, also deserves high praise for making the whole thing freely available online. It's always refreshing to see an academic publisher putting their money (or lack thereof) where their mouth is. (Visit to access the pdf). The City Is Ours offers a better general overview of European squatting than SqEK's Squatting in Europe, largely because the autonomist-Marxist focus is far less exclusive, but is also because the case studies present a wider range of contexts (Piotrowski's chapter on Poznań is especially enlightening) and are much more contemporary and timely (this is especially apparent in discussion of squats in London and Brighton in the wake of the UK's 2012 anti-squatting legislation). Of course, anyone with an especially keen interest in European squats will likely read both volumes, but for a fuller engagement with the anarchist underpinnings of most squats, a wider range of contexts, and more contemporary material The City Is Ours is recommended, despite not being freely available.

Jim Just Books

(separate reviews of these books previously appeared in Anarchist Studies 23.3 and 24.1)

The Day the Country Died: A History of Anarcho-Punk 1980-1984

by Ian Glasper

Oakland: PM Press, 2014; 496pp; ISBN 978-1604865165

Book Cover

The Day the Country Died is the second in a series of four books by Ian Glasper documenting the DIY hardcore/punk scene in the UK through the 1980s and 1990s. This collection of interviews tackles the anarcho-punk subgenre, with a focus on the 1980s (the 1980-1984 subtitle is misleading, since a large portion of the content extends well beyond that Orwellian endpoint). Glasper also points out, quite rightly, that the 'anarcho-punk' moniker is a problematic one, since using the label 'leech[es] away much of its power, by stuffing it into a neat pigeonhole, where, once classified, it can more easily be controlled' (p 6), which seems to leave the entire subtitle a bit redundant. This was originally published by Cherry Red books in 2006, but the 2014 PM Press re-issue will expose the book to a wider readership, and benefits from much improved cover artwork (John Yates aping the Crass Records aesthetic very effectively).

Another addition to the PM edition is a collection of mug shots of craggily aged 'Punk Survivors' by John Bolloten. It's not clear what the value of this appendix is. Glasper already includes some excellent images in the main body of the text, but it is revealing that Bolloten's sombre portraits replicate Glasper's exclusive focus on bands. A far more representative, and interesting, approach could have included those other voices that contributed so much to the scene without any adulation from the 'fans': zine writers, van drivers, gig organisers, record distributors, social centre volunteers, screen printers and, indeed, the 'fans' themselves. This criticism aside, Glasper provides an oral history of anarchist-inspired 1980s punk which is very valuable against the deluge of 'punk history' record collector guides published to adorn the coffee tables of 'ex-punks.' Glasper fills in the nitty-gritty detail while letting the interview respondents give their own analysis, in their own terms, exposing all the expected tensions and contradictions that make punk such a vital culture.

(Almost) all of the expected luminaries are given plenty of space here, with some interesting interview material from the likes of Crass, Flux of Pink Indians, Conflict, Subhumans, Chumbawamba, Oi Polloi etc., but consideration is also given to many of the lesser known, more ephemeral bands from the period (even Hit Parade!). The most glaring omission is Poison Girls, whose name appears on the front cover, but are only mentioned in passing by other interviewees. In his 'disclaimer' introduction Glasper assures that '[t]his is still the closest you're likely to get to a definitive overview in your lifetime anyway!' (p 6). The disclaimer also includes the curious line: 'let me state once and for all: I am not an anarchist'. This is because, he says, 'I have a wife, two kids, a regular job and, it pains me to say, a hefty mortgage' (p 6). This bizarre statement perhaps reveals some of the ghettoising short-comings of anarcho-punk's reductive interpretation of anarchist politics - but contrary to this many of the interviewees display a subtle and nuanced understanding of, and a lifelong commitment to, anarchism.

The Day the Country Died is a worthwhile read even for those with little or no interest in punk. It explores the ways in which anarchist politics can be successfully implemented both culturally as a 'scene' and materially through DIY production politics. Punk is often written off in 'serious' anarchist circles, but it has been and continues to be the most invigorating force for the anarchist movement of the last 50 years. Anarcho-punk, as the most rhetorically specific expression of anarchist politics in punk deserves to be taken seriously, and Glasper's book provides a sound introduction.

Jim Just Books

(this review originally appeared in Anarchist Studies 22.2)

Militant Anti-Fascism: A Hundred Years of Resistance

by M. Testa

Edinburgh: AK Press, 2015; 320pp; ISBN 978-1-84935-204-8

Book Cover

Crivvens! Jings! And Help Ma Boab! Anti-fascist blogger Malatesta32 has produced a history of militant anti-fascism in Europe, written under the nom de biro 'M. Testa' (perhaps to allay any confusion over the possibility of Italian zombie anarchists penning new works).

This is a popular history without many academic trappings, sprinkled the humorous reportage with which readers of M. Testa's blog will be familiar. Some notable witticisms include: the suggestion that activists throwing eggs and flour at fascists might also have been able to turn-out a nice quiche (p192); the deadpan description of 'the 1980s [as] one of the most violent decades since the 1970s' (p206); and euphemisms for fighting as a 'vigorous encounter' (p271) or a 'short but frank and to the point discussion' (p245). There is also the serious task of demonstrating a continuous thread of militant anti-fascism in Europe, from the turn of the twentieth century until today - necessitated by a fascist threat which 'fade[s] but never really disappears[s]' (p318).

The first half of the book rattles through a breakneck history of pre-World War Two anti-fascism covering Italy, France, Austria, Germany, Spain, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Ireland, Scotland and England (under which Wales is subsumed). Some of these histories are very short - France covers only a handful of pages, Hungary and Romania even fewer, and Poland only twenty lines. Even where the country-by-country overviews are longer, they rely on a very small number of secondary texts with no primary sources at all, in what is effectively a series of disjointed and limited literature reviews. For example, the chapter covering pre-war anti-fascism in Scotland references just four sources, one of which, by the Vice journalist Liam Turbett, is incorrectly identified as a Master's thesis, indicative of a lack of rigour in the referencing generally. It is also frustrating that the book lacks endnotes or a bibliography, obliging readers to trawl back through the footnotes to properly identify sources.

The second half of the book focuses on Britain and Ireland post-World War Two, and benefits from the inclusion of archive material and new interviews with anti-fascist activists. These useful contributions, from around ten anonymous interviewees, help to illuminate the experience of, and justifications for, militant anti-fascism from an on-the-ground perspective. The testimony is largely concerned with 'war stories' of brawling with boneheads - but unapologetically so. The book readily embraces the violence inherent in militant anti-fascism.

Criticisms of militant anti-fascism as 'male, macho and overly violent' (p276) are acknowledged, but not meaningfully tackled, and a sense of machismo lingers around the book. M. Testa criticises the heterosexism of fascist groups, but (hypocritically) ridicules individual fascists for being gay. Discussing Mosley's repudiation of 'homosexualists' in the 1930s, M. Testa slings the term 'deviants' at the fascists, clumsily miring himself in the fascists' own conflation of 'homos' with 'impotents' and 'pederasts' (p126). Accusations of sexism within anti-fascism are dismissed offhandedly, by pointing-out that 'two women' were involved in physically opposing fascists in the East Midlands, in addition to women's special ability to gather intelligence 'by wandering into pubs, dressed up for a night out' (p276). A sexist attitude is also evident when the abhorrence of a fascist assault is apparently magnified by describing the victim as a 'female journalist' (p178). None of M. Testa's interviewees are identified as women, and other than references to ex-football hooligan Caroline Gall, this perspective is notably absent.

The core narrative is that militant anti-fascist violence is effective, as demonstrated by the numerous examples of anti-fascists beating fascists off the streets across Europe over the last century, as well as more recent successes in Britain and Ireland. However, M. Testa's approach is entirely descriptive, with very little in the way of critical analysis. For example, militant anti-fascism is described as incorporating a class analysis, as opposed to liberal anti-fascisms, but this is never adequately explained. There are repeated calls for 'non-partisan' anti-fascist coalitions across the left, but without addressing the inherent tensions between anarchist and authoritarian-Marxist forms of organisation. The cultural emphases of anti-fascism can be inferred from accounts of gigs, festivals, and mentions of numerous punk activists, but the role of culture is not examined in any explicit detail. It is suggested that 'use of physical activity' is ideally combined with 'organisation within the workplace, local communities, and links with other working-class organisations' (p5), but issues around a diversity of tactics are left unexplored.

The book's best contribution is certainly in the more recent material, and its use of archive and interview sources. The historical overviews are quite weak by comparison, and might have been better condensed into a single introductory chapter. While lacking in critical analysis, M. Testa undoubtedly succeeds in tying contemporary anti-fascist struggles with those celebrated struggles of the twentieth century. As such, Militant Anti-Fascism might be of particular interest and value to today's anti-fascist activists, placing their struggle within a historical context of smashing fascism wherever it raises its ugly head. ¡No Pasaran!

Jim Just Books

(this review originally appeared in Anarchist Studies 24.1)

New Forms of Worker Organization: The Syndicalist and Autonomist Restoration of Class-Struggle Unionism

by Immanuel Ness (ed.)

Oakland: PM Press, 2014; 335pp; ISBN 9781604869934

Book Cover

Bureaucratic, class-compromise unions have had their day - they are ineffective at best, totally treacherous at worst, they are no longer trusted to represent the interests of workers, and their memberships are at an all-time low. In their stead alternative unions and workers' assemblies based on democracy, direct action, and prefigurative revolution are popping-up across the globe, informed by anarchist, syndicalist, autonomist, and council-communist traditions. This is the argument that weaves its way through the collected contributions that make-up New Forms of Worker Organization.

There are thirteen case studies here, with a broad range of contexts, styles and approaches. They include historical pieces such as Steven Manicastri's brief history of Operaismo in 1970s Italy, Gabriel Kuhn's overview of the centenarian SAC in Sweden, Burgmann, Jureidini, and Burgmann's case studies of workers' control experiments in 1970s Australia, and Genese Marie Sodikoff's ethnographic work from 1990s Madagascar. Throughout the chapters, comparisons are also frequently made with the early twentieth century, both in terms of socio-economic circumstances and the syndicalist and worker-run unions which emerged at that time. However, one of the key assertions of this volume is that the qualitative step-change from traditional to alternative union organising is eminently current, and as such most of the chapters take a contemporary focus. Editor Ness writes in his introduction that this focus sets the volume apart, as he argues that '[l]'iterature on anarchism and syndicalism is almost entirely historical, drawn from the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries' (p 6). I'm not sure that this assertion is entirely accurate, especially considering the body of literature on contemporary activism that has been produced in recent years, but the up-to-date focus is very welcome all the same. In addition to the historical perspectives on Italy, Sweden, Australia, and Madagascar there are contemporary case studies from across the global north and global south, with chapters on Russia, China, India, South Africa, Colombia, Argentina, the UK, and the US.

The diversity of case study contexts is reflected in the mixed-bag of approaches and analyses. The most engaging chapters are those which make use of interview material and correspondence with struggling workers, or those written by participants in struggles themselves. Aviva Chomsky's chapter on miners' solidarity with indigenous communities in Colombia, Darío Bursztyn's chapter on underground train drivers in Buenos Aires, and Jack Kirkpatrick's account of IWW cleaners in London all benefit from first-hand testimony. Erik Forman's chapter on IWW organising in the Jimmy John sandwich chain in Minnesota is worthy of special mention, making use of a highly engaging narrative style to recount the details of the struggle from a participant's perspective, as well as incorporating a good deal of insightful analysis. Other chapters are somewhat dry and overly descriptive. Bizyukov and Olimpieva's chapter on Russia suffers from this especially with a death-by-data of graphs and tables. While a distaste for this approach is likely to be highly subjective, their data set only extends from 2008 to 2011, and the analysis of a shift in labour relations is quite limited as a result.

Anarcho-syndicalist, autonomist-Marxist, and council-communist analyses all rub-along together in this volume but are united in a shared disdain for 'traditional' unions, and an enthusiasm for the democratic, self-directed, and revolutionary forms of worker organisation that they describe - and as Ness stresses in the introduction, there is no 'ideal type' being proffered here (p 2). It is notable, however, that Shawn Hattingh's is the only chapter to suggest taking over the mainstream unions as a worthwhile aim (p 112), with all the other authors placing their optimism firmly in organically formed workers' assemblies and councils, and in the (re)emerging 'scrappy little DIY unions' (as Kirkpatrick describes the IWW, p 246).

This volume will certainly be of interest to those researching labour struggles in diverse global contexts, but the overarching argument of the book should appeal to workplace activists and a wider audience as well. Against the backdrop of rapacious neo-liberalism, the spread of precarious employment, and a nadir for class-consciousness, the new forms of worker organisation described here really do give hope for a democratic and militant reinvigoration of struggle which extends out from the workplace and into society as a whole.

Jim Just Books

(this review originally appeared in Anarchist Studies 23.2)

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