Sunday, August 16, 2009

LeftLiberty 2 - The Gift Economy of Property

The second issue of LeftLiberty, "The Gift Economy of Property," is now available. It's 100 pages of mutualism, new and old, fiction and non-fiction. It feels to me like a considerable step forward from the first issue. I hope others will find it useful, or at least provocative.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I would say "mark your calendars"...

...but some critical details are lacking. The Canadian Magazine, in 1902, included a short item on the origins of anarchism, which included these details: "The professional anarchist is a loafer and an idler, a gambler and a lover of dark living. Once a year a great anarchist gathering is held on Long Island, New York. The leading sport at the latest gathering there was shooting with rifles at targets made to represent the crowned heads of Europe."

Friday, August 07, 2009

Corvine Call #4 - LeftLiberty #2

I spent our week of record heat digging around in various archives, when I would much rather have been concentrating on writing, as well as getting a few things ready for my weekend of tabling. And then I've spent the last week playing catch-up on the writing and attempting to process the lessons of the weekend. In the end, it's made for a very productive few days, as all of that came together. Even after splitting the issue, LeftLiberty #2 will be at least twenty pages longer than the first issue, and it should also be far superior in almost every way. You can check out the contents at the Corvus store, and pre-order a print copy if you so desire. The release date is August 15, and this time I have done all the hard formatting stuff up front, and can spend the next week fine-tuning the text and adding on to the chapter of The Distributive Passions (which has naturally been the hardest thing to produce on demand. The section of "The Anarchist of Approximations" deals in some depth with that notion of "approximation." "Mutualist Musings on Property" draws together some of my blog and forum posts with new framing and connective sections, and sets the scene for the "New Approximation" that begins in issue #4. This issue's "on alliance" is a look back at my early posts on the blog of the same name, as I try to come to productive terms with my recent secession from the ALL. The Distributive Passions chapter is mostly set in the 305th Century, AD, when the world has been perfected, roughly on Fourier's timeline, and it's all downhill from there. Playing Julian West in this Looking Backward-and-then-some is Kali, a damaged and thoroughly disgruntled cyborg soldier, whose suicide attempt 28,000+ years ago seems to have had world-historical consequences. For her, picking up the pieces will require finding out what happened in the interim, which will take us back to 2005, and so on. I hope all of the issue will be as fun to read as it has been to write.

I've added eighteen new pamphlets to the Corvus Editions archive and shop today. After doing a little organizing of my in-progress stuff, I find I have thirty more titles just about ready to go, and I will probably post a list of those here, with the thought that I'll finish them as they are requested (since "just about ready" means, "couldn't be bothered to write back-cover copy" in a number of cases, and the rest are nearly that close.) The new titles include labor fiction, syndicalist and anarchist-communist theory, quite a number of essays reprinted from Benjamin R. Tucker's "Radical Review," including several of those he himself pamphleted. I'm working to reprint a number of key pamphlet "libraries," including those published by Mother Earth, Free Society, and the anarchist-communist Liberty, and raiding Charles H. Kerr's socialist periodicals for the most libertarian material. It's been exciting to work back through material I haven't looked at in years, and digging into some that I've never had a chance to look at.

I've started to add bundles of the free pamphlets for tabling and distribution, in quantities of 50 or more, roughly at cost, starting with a pamplet of Tucker's "Who is the Somebody?" put together by James for the Tulsa ALL. More of that sort of thing soon...

Sunday, August 02, 2009

LeftLiberty - Best-laid plans, hopefully improved

Just a heads-up for those waiting for LeftLiberty 2. With the launch of Corvus, some unexpected breakthroughs in the "new approximation" writing, and the little shifts in my emphases and affiliations, the issue started to balloon well beyond the capacity of my zine stapler, so it has now officially split into two issues: 2 - "The Gift Economy of Property," which will pull together and revise the blog and forum posts that have been the basis for the "new approximation," and 3 - "A Doctrine of Life and Humanity," which can expand a little to address some new material from Leroux that I'm translating now, which puts his triadic socialism in dialogue with De la Boetie's "Contr'un" (Discourse on Voluntary Servitude.) I expect the issues to follow that will be: 4 - "What is Property? A neo-Proudhonian Approximation;" 5 - "The General Idea of Revolution," with material on Proudhon and Bellegarrigue," and 6 - "Simplism and the Composite Order," tackling the Fourierist contribution to both historical mutualism and the "new approximation." And I expect I'll be pretty close to a monthly schedule soon, but translation and new research may throw us new curves. Issue 2 is, however, about 2/3 completed, and will be one of my primary tasks for the next week or so (along with one last chunk of Proudhon for Iain's AK anthology.)

A little practical application

I spent the last three days, reunited with my friends at Laughing Horse Books, tabling the Western States Center's "Community Strategic Training Initiative" conference, an event that brings together broadly "progressive" community organizers from all over the western US for workshops and networking. It's always an odd weekend for me. It takes place at Reed College, site of my first, disastrous year of college (but a really beautiful site for that sort of thing), and the crowd is generally involved in a different set of struggles than I am. But it's a wonderfully diverse, and genuinely nice crowd, with lots of activists in from small cities in Idaho or Wyoming who are really eager to exchange ideas, so there are always great conversations in amid the bookselling. I brought along most of the Corvus catalog, including a dozen or so things that haven't even been added to the website yet, figuring (correctly) that most of the material would be unfamiliar and a little alien to most of the participants, but that I could start to gauge what sorts of materials were needed by that particular crowd.

In the end, I had a chance to introduce some new folks to the resource, and there are a number of educators that I hope to be able to provide with specialized material (on child labor, Chinese exclusion, etc.) for their teaching needs, and I got a couple of invitations to collaborate with groups. But the most fun I had all weekend came in the midst of a long talk between Laughing Horse collective members and Mala from Creative Collaborations, a start-up non-profit attempting to provide shared infrastructure, and some economies of scale, to other non-profits and collectives. We got talking about how to apply radical principles to the institutions we're building, and I was talking a bit about how I was trying to build Corvus on a theoretical basis that took into account the principles in the anarchist literature that's at the center of the catalog, and Mala tossed out a question about how mutualist economic theory would address some pay-scale questions.

As it happened, the question was a very familiar one about how to factor in talent, previous labor in education, the intensity of the labor performed, "affirmative" concerns about countering existing structures of privilege, etc. And I had just put together a pamphlet of Stephen Pearl Andrews' "The Labor Dollar," which, while I certainly didn't answer all the questions, certainly gave some very useful hints on how to elaborate them.

I'll talk more about what we came up with another time, probably both here and in LeftLiberty, where I'm starting to lay out a "new approximation," teasing out the present-day implications of a lot of the "good old stuff." But it seems worth marking the event, where the mad old Pantarch provided the key to opening up a very practical discussion on pay scales and institutional culture. If I didn't think there were lots more of those moments possible, in the relatively near term, I would probably just quit all of the work I do. But I believe that the theories that we have inherited are good for more than just low-intensity flamewars on this or that forum. Still, confirmations of that belief are relatively rare these days, so allow me to bask a bit in this one.