Friday, November 20, 2009

Black Flame launches in Mexico!

Black Flame co-author Michael Schmidt held a mini-launch of the book at a colloquium with professors of journalism and international affairs at the Tecnológico de Monterrey in Guadalajara, Mexico, on October 26. Schmidt was invited to Mexico to train Tec students in covering conflict in transitional societies, especially given the drug war currently ravaging Mexican society. Extracts of his talk, "The Journalist as Activist", in which he located activist journalism within the Mexican anarchist tradition, follow: click here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

'Black Flame' event: Guadalajara, Mexico, 26 October 2009

Co-author of Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism, Michael Schmidt, recently spoke on the book in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Addressing a colloquium on "The Journalist as Activist" at the Tecnologico de Monterrey on Monday October 26, his address located the book within Mexico's 's traditions of social activism and linked it to Mexico's own anarchist journalist tradition exemplified by greats like Práxedis Guerrero, Juana Belém Gutiérrez de Mendoza, and Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama.

Black Flame was formally launched in South Africa on Wednesday 7 October 2009, the first in a series of events to promote this popular book.

More reviewers' praise for 'Black Flame'

"... one of its distinctive contributions is its global scope. Further, the book's intellectual exploration goes deep, and, most importantly, the whole project is carried out with remarkable independence of thought ... their book is brilliant and thought-provoking. I think Black Flame is a valuable study for activists, students and academics alike. I am inspired by the independent thinking that Schmidt and van der Walt employed in carrying out this project. This is the proper way to pay homage to the anarchist history and anarchist tradition..." - Mandisi Majavu, Africa Project for Participatory Society, in ZNET.

"... an important contribution to labour radicalism and the potential for building global worker movements bottom up ... a great book!" - Immanuel Ness, coordinating editor, International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest.

'Black Flame' launch, Johannesburg, South Africa, 7 October 2009

Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism, was launched at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, on the 7th October 2009.

The event was held under the auspices of the Amandla! Forum, and was sponsored by the University's department of Sociology

It was a great success, with the venue soon jam-packed. It attracted academics and activists (and academic activists), and around 120 people present.

Click here for the launch poster.

Click here for a report on the event by a participant.

Still fanning the flames: An interview with 'Black Flame's' Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt

AK Press writes:

"Dearest readers: We're absolutely thrilled to bring you this wonderful new interview with Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt, the authors of AK's stunning new book Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism. In recent months, we've posted excerpts from the book, and a roundup of recent reviews, but with today's post, we're able to bring you, for the first time, Michael and Lucien's own thoughts on the book, its genesis, and its usefulness in our current context. Read and enjoy!"

Click here.

Reviewers' praise for 'Black Flame'

What people say:

Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism, has scored good reviews from academics and activists (and academic activists) alike:

* "A book with a deeply impressive quality of research, analysis and writing, this very important and much-needed work is an unexpected delight and an excellent piece of work". - Mark Leier, Simon Fraser University, author of Bakunin: the creative passion

* "... one of its distinctive contributions is its global scope. Further, the book's intellectual exploration goes deep, and, "An enjoyable read, from which I have learnt a great deal - fascinating, revealing and often startling. Thanks to both and each of you". - Alan Lipman, anti-apartheid activist and exile, winner of South African Institute of Architecture's 'Award for Excellence' for the Workers Library and Museum (Johannesburg), author of On the Outside Looking In: colliding with apartheid and other authorities

* "A useful and insightful treatment of one of the most fascinating alternatives to industrial capitalism and the modern nation state. At the heart of their scholarship is an effort to provide clarity to a much maligned and misunderstood movement and also to examine it as a social history of ideas that percolated from below as well as directed from above by intellectual giants. The authors are careful to present their analysis in a jargon-free language. Readers will be introduced to influential historical actors from across the globe. A grand work of synthesis. An excellent starting point". - Greg Hall, Western Illinois University, author of Harvest Wobblies: The Industrial Workers of the World and Agricultural Laborers in the American West, 1905-1930, in WorkingUSA

* "Brilliant, a really wonderful book and an outstanding contribution to anarchist theory and history. What does Black Flame get right? Well, almost everything! It is comprehensive, discussing all important issues, people and movements, and the authors do a great job in discussing the ins and outs of our movement and theory, using history to illuminate the ideas and show how they were applied in practice. Do yourself a favour and buy it now! You won't be disappointed".- Iain McKay, author of The Anarchist FAQ, volume 1

* "This highly worthwhile book represents the fruit of considerable scholarship and deep reflection. The authors have done a remarkable job in drawing together a vast international body of literature, showing convincingly that anarchism and syndicalism were far more significant political forces than historians have generally given them credit for, and providing excellent accounts of the movement's global political reach. Van der Walt and Schmidt also make a powerful and lucidly written case for anarchism as a serious and coherent political philosophy".- Jonathan Hyslop, University of the Witwatersrand, author of The Notorious Syndicalist : JT Bain, a Scottish rebel in colonial South Africa

* "Black Flame is an outstanding contribution to a modern anarchist perspective. Its view is focused on the working class but also supportive of every struggle against oppression. Besides covering the major controversies within historical anarchism in a fair way, it is particularly unique in examining anarchism from a worldwide perspective instead of looking at it only from a west European angle. I learned a good deal from reading it, and think others will also".- Wayne Price, author of The Abolition of the State: anarchist and Marxist perspectives

* "This book fulfils a daunting task. Covering anarchism in all parts of the world and emphatically tying it to class struggle, the authors present a highly original and challenging account of the movement, its actions and ideas. This work is a must for everybody interested in nonauthoritarian social movements".- Bert Altena, Rotterdam University, author of Piet Honig, Herinneringen van een Rotterdamse revolutionair

* "A well-thought out and nuanced study of the intellectual, political, and social history of anarchism".- Steven J. Hirsch, University of Pittsburgh, contributing editor, Handbook of Latin American Studies

* "The first in a two-volume mega-work called Counterpower ... the authors ... use their conceptual rubric to demonstrate conclusively the coherent international character of the Anarchist movement, a welcome antidote to Eurocentric accounts of the movement and its history. We can't wait for volume 2!" - Red Emma's Bookstore Coffee House, Baltimore

Basic description and chapter outline of 'Black Flame'

Publisher:AK Press
Release Date: 2009-02-12

Black Flame is the first of two volumes that re-examine anarchism's democratic class politics, its vision of a decentralized planned economy, and its impact on popular struggles in five continents over the last 150 years. From the ninenteenth century to today's anticapitalist movements, it traces anarchism's insights into questions of race, gender, class, and imperialism, significantly reframing the work of previous historians on the subject, and critiquing Marxist approaches to these same questions.

Here is a list of chapters:
Table of Contents
Preface, by Stuart Christie

Chapter 1 Introduction
Our Project
Beyond Capitalism: History, Neoliberalism, and Globalisation
Rethinking the Broad Anarchist Tradition
Social Base and Global Reach
What Is the Broad Anarchist Tradition?
Insurrectionist Anarchism, Mass Anarchism, and Syndicalism
Organisational Dualism
War, Gender Issues, and Anti-Imperialism
Anarchism and Marxism
Before We Start

Part 1 Theory and Analysis
Chapter 2 Socialism from Below: DefiningAnarchism
The Meaning of Anarchism: Debating the Literature
The Need for a New Approach
Starting Again: Socialism, Bakunin, and the First International
Against Hierarchy
Against Capitalism and Landlordism
Against the State
The Rejection of State Socialism
Elements of the Social Revolution
The Popular Classes
Internationalism, Social Equality, and Anti-imperialism
Counterpower and Counterculture
For a New World
Crime and Social Order
Anarchism Redefined: Socialism, Class, and Democracy
In Conclusion: The Modernity of Anarchism

Chapter 3 Proudhon, Marx, and Anarchist Social Analysis
Cooperatives, Proudhon, and Peaceful Change
A Critical Appropriation of Marxist Economics
Marxist Economics and Anarchist Communism
History, Progress, and the State
The Vanguard and the State
State Capitalism and Libertarian Socialism
Economic Determinism and the Broad Anarchist Tradition
The Anarchist Understanding of Class
In Conclusion: Toward an Anarchist Social Analysis

Part 2 Strategy and Tactics
Chapter 4 Roads to Revolution: Mass Anarchism versus Insurrectionist Anarchism
Anarchist Communism versus Anarcho-syndicalism?
The Insurrectionist Tradition
Mass Anarchism, Possibilism, and Syndicalism
Syndicalism: Prefiguring the Future in the Present
Against Economism: Direct Action versus “Political Action”
Anarcho-syndicalism, Revolutionary Syndicalism, and
De Leonism
In Conclusion: Building Tomorrow Today

Chapter 5 Anarchism, Syndicalism, the IWW, and Labour
Bakunin, Sorel, and the Origins of Syndicalism
The First International and the First Syndicalists
The First Wave: Syndicalism before the French CGT
The IWW and Syndicalism
De Leon and Connolly
The “Glorious Period” of the mid-1890s to mid-1920s
In Conclusion: Syndicalism and the Broad Anarchist Tradition
Chapter 6 Ideas, Structure, and Armed Action: Unions, Politics, and the Revolution
Union Activism, Anarchist Ideology, and Union Bureaucracy
Mass Anarchism, Radical Counterculture, and Syndicalism
Anarchist Schools and Syndicalist Education
Democracy and Direct Action
An Iron Law of Oligarchy?
Alliances and the Struggle outside the Workplace
Defending the Revolution
The Question of Power and the Spanish Revolution
In Conclusion: Anarchism, Syndicalism, and Counterpower

Chapter 7 Dual Unionism, Reforms, and Other Tactical Debates
The Antimilitarist Tradition and Popular Revolt
Reforms, Laws, and Compromises
Boring from Within and Dual Unionism
Tactics in Context and Organisational Dualism
Syndicalism and Rank-and-file Movements
In Conclusion: Reform and Revolution

Chapter 8 Militant Minority: The Question of Anarchist Political Organisation
Insurrectionist Anarchists, Antiorganisationalism, and Stirner’s
Syndicalism and Anarchism without Adjectives
Bakuninism, the Organisation of Tendency, and the “Platform”
From Bakunin to the “Platform”
Rethinking the “Platform” Debate
Other Responses to the “Platform”
In Conclusion: Militant Minority and Mass Movement

Part 3 Social Themes
Chapter 9 The Class Character and Popular Impact of the Broad Anarchist Tradition
The Case against “Spanish Exceptionalism”
Broader Impacts and Infusions
The Class Character of the Broad Anarchist Tradition
The Broad Anarchist Tradition in the Countryside
Behind the Rise of Peasant Anarchism
In Conclusion: Labour Movements and Peasant Revolts

Chapter 10 Anarchist Internationalism and Race, Imperialism, and Gender
Anarchist Class Politics and Race
An International and Internationalist Movement
Imperialism and National Liberation
Anarchists and Syndicalists in Anti-imperialist Struggles
Anarchism, Syndicalism, and Women’s Emancipation
Women, Class, and Counterculture
Anarchist and Syndicalist Woen’s Activism
In Conclusion: Class Politics and Human Emancipation

Chapter 11 Conclusion to Volume 1 and Prologue to Volume 2


An excerpt from 'Black Flame': 'Our Project'

AK PRESS writes:

'Below we offer a brief snippet from the introduction of Black Flame, in which the authors outline the contours of their important, and exhaustive, project.'

Click here.

'And, following that, you can check out the book’s table of contents.'

Click here.