The end of Black Flag?

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Anarcho
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Nov 22 2006 20:52
The end of Black Flag?

The end of Black Flag?

Observant attendees of this year's anarchist bookfair may have noticed that Black Flag did not have a stall nor was a new issue out. Some speculation has been made on the libcom.org forums that it is no more. The truth is, perhaps. It depends on what happens next and whether people get involved.

Currently, Black Flag is (effectively) on a year's sabbatical. Two meetings were called earlier this year, to which no one beyond myself attended. One member of the collective has dropped out, due to time constraints (which is fair enough). Another, myself, is busy trying to get "An Anarchist FAQ" (www.anarchistfaq.org) revised for publication as well as doing lots of other things (like writing for Freedom and having a life). Other members have also been busy and were unable to attend the meetings. So there was little point in trying to produce a new issue even if there was material to go into it.

The question is whether this is a sabbatical or whether it is (for now) the end of Black Flag after 35 years of publication. Personally, I would like it to continue. Part of the "problem" (if you can call it that) is the improvement in Freedom. Most of the people involved in Black Flag are now involved with writing for Freedom (something I never would have predicted ten years ago). While this is a positive development, it does mean less time for Black Flag and a question mark raised over its role.

There is no need for a newspaper type Black Flag and a magazine that comes out yearly does seem, well, a little infrequent. Also, there are magazines like "Organise!" and "Direct Action" and so is there really any point in producing another one? So what role is there for Black Flag?

There is, I think, a need for an anarchist publication which allows longer, more in-depth articles to be published and which is independent of any specific organisation. Such a publication would be a natural complement to Freedom which cannot, by its very nature, include longer articles. I did raise the possibility with Freedom about a bi-yearly journal in the same format as "The Raven" called Black Flag but that seems to have become somewhat muddled in communication (for the record, I never suggested that Freedom and Black Flag should merge and the resulting journal be called Black Flag!).

The question now becomes, is this viable? Do people think the anarchist movement would benefit from such a journal? Would people contribute to it? I know there was a thread on libcom.org on the lack of any theoretical anarchist journals just now, so it seems that I am not the only person who sees the need for this. Is there any point in pursuing this idea? I await feedback, either here, to Black Flag's email address (Black_Flag@lycos.co.uk) or by snail mail (Black Flag, BM Hurricane, London, WC1N 3XX).

Will Black Flag see another 35 years? That lies in your hands.

syndicalist
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Nov 23 2006 01:43

If ya fold, we'll miss you. We've been getting BF since the 1970s.

In spite of all the changes, BF was always a good source for international news, solidarity updates and the intersting UK pieces.

Good luck comrades!

mitch

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the button
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Nov 23 2006 09:43

Black Flag was my first anarchist publication, back in the mid-80s when it was a fortnightly newspaper. I sent them £4 wrapped in loo-roll (not having a bank account at the time), and they pretty much gave me a subscription on the basis of that.

At the age of 14-15, not a lot of it made sense, but the little that did, I liked a lot. So you could say that I have a sentimental attachment to Black Flag that clouds my judgement.

This said, I see a role for a magazine that's pitched somewhere between Organise!/Direct Action and Aufheben -- i.e. a theoretical journal that can be read & appreciated by humans. tongue And one that has a concrete link to class struggle anarchism, both in terms of content and contributors.

So -- even though I've just agreed to start writing a regular column for Freedom -- you can count me in.

(post copied to BF e-mail address)

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Rob Ray
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Nov 23 2006 10:04

Remaking Black Flag into a complimentary theoretical and deep investigation mag (ie. analysiing, interviewing and collating issues skimmed by the newspapers/online) is something I’d really like to happen. I’ve got a number of ideas for it, for example a collaboration with Libcom to take one history article each issue on famous figures and print it (alongside an advert) on one page, and using the picture opportunities afforded by indymedia to best effect...

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Steven.
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Nov 23 2006 10:05
Saii wrote:
I’ve got a number of ideas for it, for example a collaboration with Libcom to take one history article each issue on famous figures and print it (alongside an advert) on one page, and using the picture opportunities afforded by indymedia to best effect...

We'd be happy for anything like that to happen btw...

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the button
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Nov 23 2006 10:08
Saii wrote:
Remaking Black Flag into a complimentary theoretical and deep investigation mag

Yeah, the old BF uncovered the Searchlight/state thing before anyone else, as well as all that stuff on "the strategy of tension"/Gladio. Plenty of room for more of that, I'd say. And more appropriate for a magazine than a series of newspaper articles (good though those are, eh, Saii? wink)

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the button
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Nov 23 2006 10:13
I wrote:
(post copied to BF e-mail address)

Having re-read the OP, I see there's no need to do this. Still interested though.

MalFunction
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Nov 23 2006 10:24

I'd be happy to do some more book and pamphlet reviews for Black Flag.

otherwise IM's post just about sums up where i think BF should be going.

is it worth contacting the anarchist studies network to see if there's people there who'd like to contribute - anarchist studies journal is a bit too academic in tone for most readers but some people involved in ASN might like somewhere to publish other material?

Pilgrim
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Nov 23 2006 10:48

I'd be game for writing for Black Flag.

I've had stuff published in Freedom and Direct Action and I'd happily do stuff for Black Flag as well.

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Rob Ray
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Nov 23 2006 12:10
Quote:
And more appropriate for a magazine than a series of newspaper articles (good though those are, eh, Saii? )

I'd say investigative work in different forms can (and should) go in both as a continuous thing.

For example, whenever the next issue of Freedom actually comes out - we're having a nightmare with mailout atm - there's a decent splash on Independent Treatment Centres, which as a news piece is good because you get the sting of it and a sense of immediacy in a relatively small space.

This could then hypothetically be followed up in a Black Flag with an explanatory in-depth feature about what they are, where they are, how much they're costing, why they're a bad thing, what the response could be, what the timeline is for them, even lists of nearby groups people can contact. With the extra time afforded by a magazine format, people can even get hold of said nearby groups for pictures, interviews etc.

The other bonus of this is continuity and repetition - people are more likely to read an in-depth article if they've read a foreshortened newspaper thing first which explained the basics and put them in the know.

MalFunction
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Nov 23 2006 16:15

OK another idea:

"bones of contention" (no not him)

idea would be to pick a topic (perhaps from these very threads) where there are clear differences of opinion. articles would clarify the different approaches to the topic without necessarily providing the "correct" answer.

aim would be stimulate informed discussion with readership.

a related matter - from experience i know that BF has of late had problems managing the admin side (subscriptions etc)

would an office at freedom or similar safe and permanent location be possible? is there anyone who could guarantee to handle that side of things in a proficient and secure manner?

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Rob Ray
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Nov 23 2006 16:27

A site could be provided, managing subs we can't do (sorting out our own is problematic enough)

Mike Harman
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Nov 23 2006 17:53

We might be in a position to take subscription payments online soonish, and a link could go alongside on-line articles etc. That doesn't help much with the nitty gritty though.

I'm not really interested in anything which talks about anarchists (iykwim), but skraeling's thread and one or two others plus saii's post - trying to get something going which does in-depth coverage of struggles, trends etc., I think that'd be really worthwhile, and some kind of three-way traffic between this site, freedom and a revamped Black Flag would be cool.

Time permitting I'd be up for writing articles as well, but no way in hell I can commit to actually doing that for at least the next six months to a year.

Anarcho
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Nov 23 2006 21:12

I have to say this is very positive sounding. It looks like there is enough interest to call a meeting in the new year.

However, I should stress that writers are not enough -- we need people willing to do the mail, get it in bookshops, sell it at demos, edit, layout, maintain a webpage, etc as well.

So any ideas on what to do next? And on the general ways to improve the anarchist media?

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the button
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Nov 24 2006 08:59
Anarcho wrote:
I should stress that writers are not enough -- we need people willing to do the mail, get it in bookshops, sell it at demos, edit, layout, maintain a webpage, etc as well.

Unfortunately, I'm working at the limits of my technical know-how by posting on an internet bulletin board. I am, however, just about capable of stuffing envelopes/putting stamps on them, etc.

Especially if I can do it at home while I'm watching telly. wink

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Rob Ray
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Nov 24 2006 12:26

Ooh really...

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the button
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Nov 24 2006 12:28

Damn.

wink

MalFunction
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Nov 24 2006 15:05

re meetings.

unless you move to wales i'm not available for meetings.

happy to do stuff over internet though.

(reminds me - i need to update my own website!)

posts:

suggestion -

need features editor, reviews editor.
(possibly history / theory?) chase contributors for copy, sub-edit if necessary, try to get books, cds dvds etc for review

admin - secretary reply to post (incl online)
(need to be in office at least once a week/fortnight?)
(if using office at freedom could the hacklab people organise a PC and printer for black flag?)

treasurer / subs - bank cheques, write cheques, maintain subscription database. (need to have easy access to bank, post office etc ) responsible for printing out address labels for subscribers copies.

co-ordinator - someone to check everything happening when it should happen, overall editing mag.

net wrangler - create and maintain website

martinh
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Nov 24 2006 15:33

As someone who has in the past done all bar one of these (guess which one), there are a couple of other things to add, most notably layout and liaising with printers and distribution.

regards,

martin

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Steven.
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Nov 24 2006 15:39
martinh wrote:
(guess which one)

Net!

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Jacques Roux
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Nov 24 2006 15:45
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net wrangler - create and maintain website

I would suggest that's more trouble than its worth and it would be better to integrate with an existing website which is already to set up to deal with things like this.

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Steven.
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Nov 24 2006 15:51
rkn wrote:
Quote:
net wrangler - create and maintain website

I would suggest that's more trouble than its worth and it would be better to integrate with an existing website which is already to set up to deal with things like this.

You mean like aufheben or something? http://libcom.org/aufheben

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Rob Ray
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Nov 24 2006 15:58
Quote:
You mean like aufheben or something? http://libcom.org/aufheben

You going to graphic the poor thing up at some point? I mean surely one of you must have the front covers at least...

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Jacques Roux
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Nov 24 2006 16:13

If someone gives them to us we would love to put them in!

Mike Harman
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Nov 24 2006 17:28
Anarcho wrote:
I have to say this is very positive sounding. It looks like there is enough interest to call a meeting in the new year.

Even though I'm pretty keen on there being a decent mag doing proper analysis, you won't get me to any meetings.

Quote:
maintain a webpage, etc

As others have said we'd be happy to set up something within this like we've done for aufheben (and yeah it could be prettier than that).

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 24 2006 18:39
rkn wrote:
If someone gives them to us we would love to put them in!

i'll see what i can do, it is a bit plain really (though so's the geocities page too)

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JoeMaguire
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Nov 25 2006 17:19

Truth be told Ive only seen a couple of copies of the mag and thats over a period of three years, which speaks volumes about its distrubution, Ive certainly never seen in outside of London....

Skraeling
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Nov 27 2006 01:39
the button wrote:
I see a role for a magazine that's pitched somewhere between Organise!/Direct Action and Aufheben -- i.e. a theoretical journal that can be read & appreciated by humans. tongue And one that has a concrete link to class struggle anarchism, both in terms of content and contributors.

Yup. I also see a need for a magazine or a project whose specific aim is to combine the best of anarchism and the best of Marxism -- a sort of creative fusion of the two. Since the anti-summit movement has come into being, there has been a vague sort of crossover between anarchism and the "ultra-left" that i thinks hasn't been thought through very much at all.

That would require a genuine and open critical investigation into the strengths and weaknesses of anarchist communism, anarcho-syndicalism, left communism, situationism, council communism, autonomist marxism, etc, rather than the normal set-piece rituals and dogmas of anarchists trashing Marxism and Marxists dismissing anarchism.

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Rob Ray
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Nov 27 2006 12:06

Hmm, I've done the first full pages of a dummy issue (just thinking through design and content ideas really), will fill them out a bit in the next couple of days and see if I can convert em to a JPEG to put up here with a few comments on the thinking behind it.

MalFunction
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Nov 28 2006 15:43

I'm willing to do the reviews editor job unless someone else feels like it.

content - does everything need approval by everyone involved / by editor / other options?

pagination / size - what's the optimal page / size / uk postage rate combination?

subscriptions - does anyone have the latest BF subscribers list or do we start from beginning?

what's the state of the finances?

do we need to create a closed group so we discuss such matters?

are we GO on this?

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Rob Ray
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Nov 28 2006 15:56

Well I’ve assumed go in a design sense unless someone tells me otherwise (I can always reuse it I’m sure wink).

I’ve got a basic layout almost done, assuming a pagination of 32 A4 pages (fairly standard fare for a slim mag, ideally it should be twice that but I’m erring on the small side), laying out a basic four-page example spread and maybe a couple of reccuring features (theory, history).

I’ll post up two types, one full colour and one colour cover/B+W inside to give people an idea of the difference, obviously colour is the ideal but depends on funds and price.