Definitive reading list for Black and Anarcha-feminism

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tastybrain
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Oct 12 2011 03:31
Rosa Noir wrote:
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tastybrain wrote:Being "proud" of one's religious affiliation, culture, or ethnicity doesn't necessarily entail reactionary thinking or cross-class alliances. Even a figure like Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin, who retains his Black Nationalism more or less unchanged since his Panther days, makes it explicit that "black faces in high places" will not solve any of the problems of the black proletariat.

Interesting point. I haven't read anything by Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin or Franz Fanon and will put them both on my list.
My feeling is that we have to make some distinctions between having an identity and "identity nationalism".

Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin says a lot of interesting things, although there are things to take issue with. I have only read a little bit of Franz Fanon (a chapter or two of "The Wretched of the Earth for school) he is also interesting but takes some incredibly reactionary positions, I believe.

Rosa Noir wrote:
So as society considers me to be a woman and i experiance sexism including a gendered experience of class exploitation as a woman, i find the identity of woman useful in the fight against oppression and gendered expolitation, and so sometime prioritise (working class) women - for example i have found (non-bourgeouise) womens groups to be useful for working out my ideas about gender and organising against sexist oppression and exploitation. I seek out writing, music and art by women, not because i don't see value in what men say and do, but because male voices tend to be the predominate ones in our culture (and the anarchist movement) and i want to hear the full converation. I'm interested in womens history as well as more generally working class history. The same applys to lesbian / LGBTQ groups, culture, and history.

And some people within the anarchist circles would condemn this by writing it off as "liberal" identity politics...which I think is absolute bullshit.

Rosa Noir wrote:
I don't think I reify or essentialise gender any more than your average straight man does in their daily life though, as identity can be constructed unconciously as well as conciously.

Exactly. I think a lot of the white male anarchists (note: I am a white male anarchist and I am not talking about anyone on this thread!) who would simply write off "identity politics" as being "reformist" just are not examining themselves and their identity/privilege, or how they might be reproducing/enforcing gender/racial/etc categories without realizing it...

Rosa Noir wrote:
I think there are limits how useful identity is in the process of liberation though. Where an identity becomes universalised this presents a problem (for example not recognising that the experiances of woman vary greatly depending on class, culture/religion, disability, race, sexuality, trans status, where you live in the world, etc). Rigid or essentialised conceptions of identity can also be problematic. And identity is only useful if it is open to internal criticism and deconstruction – for example when talking about cultural/racial identity, women from that culture need to be able to criticise sexist aspects of the culture, and not all parts of the culture or history of an identity will inspire liberation. I would characterise “identity nationalism” as having some of these negative aspects.

Yeah, definitely. I was trying to say that some anarchists seem to regard all "identity" issues as being inherently "nationalist" somehow. But also, even some self-proclaimed "nationalist" identity movements (again, Black Power and Red Power in the US spring to mind) should not be automatically opposed by anarchists; these movements have almost nothing in common with post-colonial "national liberation movements" and are often NOT directed towards the conquest of state power or class collaboration.

Rosa Noir wrote:
I think this is a reasonably decent article on identity and class struggle: http://anarchalibrary.blogspot.com/2011/09/identity-politics-and-anti-politics.html

I agree that
Quote:
racism, sexism, and homophobia are deplorable in and of themselves.

I want total liberation (which would mean the destruction of gender and race as well as class), and i think that libertarian communism revolution is a prerequisite to do this, but also that libertarian communism can only occur if sexism and racism are tackled effectively in the mean time. I'm certainly not talking about cross-class alliances here, I'm not interested in how many black CEOs, female judges or queer mps there are, or how the ruling class treat each other.
...
in that i would want people to oppose a female boss because she is a boss not for some sexist reason, for example.

Exactly. Which is why I am not so sure about the whole "racism/sexism/homophobia is bad because it divides the workers" line, because as I said there are situations (like sexist opposition to a boss or anti-immigrant sentiment in majority white communities in the US) when a purely utilitarian solution would be to accept racism or sexism.

Thanks for the link, Rosa. That's an interesting piece. I especially liked

Quote:
It is clear that, because identities shape our experi­ences, we cannot write off identity as unimportant. However, it is equally clear that we cannot afford to maintain the identities imposed upon us. Thus, an apparent contradiction arises between the ne­cessity of recognizing socially constructed identity while simultaneously trying to destroy the class so­ciety that enforces those identities. This contradic­tion proves difficult, with a range of responses from a disregard for the destruction of class society to a disregard for identity, and many other arguments somewhere between these two positions. The prob­lem is that there is no contradiction. Indeed, the former necessitates the latter. In order to destroy class society, an analysis of how it functions is criti­cal. In short, we must know our enemy. However, it is important to avoid the pitfall of essentialism; it must always be understood that these identities are constructed by the larger socio-economic structure.

The part about social constructions actually being social fact is crucial. I think that too many people on Libcom assume that just because something is socially constructed, that means that it is somehow not important or "real".

wojtek
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Oct 29 2011 17:47

Does anyone know where I can purchase 'Quiet Rumours: an Anarcha-Feminist anthology' from? I've had my order from Waterstones refunded and neither AK Press nor Amazon are selling it. Eek.

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Rosa Noir
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Oct 31 2011 14:41

I think Quiet rumours is out of print. Their might be a copy in the radical library i'm involved with, in which case i'll try to scan it in for the library when i have time.

Some of the texts are elsewhere online or in other books: I've listed the contents below - items in bold are available elsewhere, items in italics seem to only be available in in the (2002 edition of) the book.

Foreword - The Dark Star Collective - 6

Quiet Rumours: An Introduction to this Anthology - Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - 9

1 Anarcha-Feminism: Two Statements - Red Rosa and Black Maria - 11

2 Feminism as Anarchism - Lynne Farrow - 15

3 Anarchism: The Feminist Connection - Peggy Kornegger - 21

4 Voltairine DeCleyre: An Introduction - Marian Leighton - 33

5 The Making of an Anarchist - Voltairine DeCleyre - 37

6 Socialism, Anarchism and Feminism - Carol Ehrlich - 41

7 Untying the Knot — Feminism, Anarchism and Organisation Introduction by CS - 53

8 The Tyranny of Structurelessness - Jo Freeman aka Joreen - 54

9 The Tyranny of Tyranny - Cathy Levine - 63

10 Social Democracy and Anarchism - Charlotte Wilson - 69 In Charlotte Wilson - Anarchist Essays, Feedom Press: 2000, ISBN: 0900384999 / 978-0900384998

11 A Woman Without a Country - Emma Goldman - 81

12 The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation - Emma Goldman 86

13 Make Your Own Tea: Women's Realm and Other Recipes and Patterns - Alice Nutter - 91

12 Rote Zora: An Introduction - 97

13 Interview with Rote Zora - 101

14 - Mujeres Creando: Bolivian Anarcha-Feminist Street Activists - 107

15 - An Interview with Mujeres Creando - 111

16 - The Creative Force of Bolivian Debtors - 114

AK titles - 117

I think (but am not sure) that the Rote Zora interview contained in the zine "This Is Not A Love Story: Armed struggle against the institutions of patriarchy" which also contains some background information about the group.

Mujeres Creando have a website (in Spanish). Articles about them (including information about the debtors struggles in Bolivia in 2001) are here, here, here, and here. There's also various videos by and about them online.

Its a while since i've read the book, but as far as i remember the articles vary greatly in both emphasis and quality. Its an interesting read though.

Hope that helps and i'll try to get stuff transferred to the library soon.

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Oct 31 2011 15:30

Nice list Rosa. lots of interesting stuff there. Esp. the Emma Goldman text!

Tasty, you mentioned you thought Fanon was reactionary? What exactly in Fanon do you find reactionary? (this is not a trick question btw).

wojtek
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Oct 31 2011 16:19

OMG Rosa, thank you so much!

tastybrain
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Oct 31 2011 17:22
Arbeiten wrote:
Nice list Rosa. lots of interesting stuff there. Esp. the Emma Goldman text!

Tasty, you mentioned you thought Fanon was reactionary? What exactly in Fanon do you find reactionary? (this is not a trick question btw).

Well for one thing he supported the NLF in Algeria. I also remember a line from The Wretched of the Earth where he characterizes anti-colonial revolution as quite simply "the replacing of one species of men with another", which to me implies that the "anti-imperialist" states would be a mirror image of the colonial ones, except with "natives" instead of whites in charge, as indeed they were.

I'm sure there's a great deal that is useful in Fanon's work though. Not trying to dismiss him as a thinker.

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Oct 31 2011 17:47

well, yeah he did support the NLF in Algeria, and we can critique him for that of course. The big problem with Fanon is obviously his entrapment within the nation-state paradigm. The second half of your problem is not totally accurate, I felt behind your comments something like this might have been said, that is why I probed a bit more. Read the third chapter 'The Pitfalls of National Consciousness'. Yes of course, it is still anti-colonial nationalism, but there is a banging critique of this sort of capture the state for the african idea. This chapter pretty much foretells the history of African anti-imperialist nationalism and post-imperial state building before it happens. Neo-colonial capitalist relations, the replacement of a white power elite with a black power elite, ethnic in-fighting, a new decedent black bourgeoisie that sell the nation out, the use of old war stories to justify current administrations and quell social unrest (think Gadaffi), party apparatus as a means of social advancement, and the list goes on. Fanon is well aware of all of this. The tragedy of Fanon's political theory in that book is that it leads to a impasse because of its reliance on nationalism. A lack of political imagination if you will.

There are some parts of the text which almost seem to err on the edge of post-nationalism, but he never gets there. In the 'Pitfalls..' chapter he says something about nationalism dying on the day of independence. So what is nationalism here? a crude anti-colonial political device for gaining power? Perhaps. Then by the end of the book he is talking about the need to leave Europe and recompose humanity on new universalist humanist lines. Once again, i can't see how his reliance on nationalism* would have ever made this possible. So on Fanon and the nation yes and no. Seems to me like he was one of its biggest supporters and best critiques.

*After he has critiqued nationalism in the chapter Pitfalls, one does wonder what is actually left of his concept of nationalism.

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jura
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Oct 31 2011 17:53

Rosa Noir, thank you VERY MUCH for the list above.

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Nov 4 2011 22:08

I've just come across this thread, it's been very enjoyable to follow the discussion. So thanks to especially to J.K., tastybrain and Rosa Noir (also that link is a good read).

I'm not as knowledgable about identity politics or as articulate as m'learned colleagues but i think these approaches are important to have in some situations:

Joseph Kay wrote:
...i can see the argument they're moments in a process of overcoming those identities (first asserting equality in order to diminish the significance of the distinction).
tastybrain wrote:
Well in countering oppression I think one is more or less forced to confront it on the oppressor's terms....

Once we are in a place where there is genuine equality, these types of distinctions will naturally become less and less important. But we cannot get there unless we accept that racism, sexism, and homophobia are deplorable in and of themselves. The rhetoric of "well yeah its bad cause it divides the class" is not going to reassure "oppressed" workers that a mostly white, mostly male anarchist movement can actually be a vehicle for them to abolish their oppression.

I say this as black person in a predominantly white movement, because racism ("racial oppression", if you will) definitely is one of my concerns because unfortunately at one time or another, at low and high levels I (and people I work and struggle with) have experienced this. it's easy to underestimate the psychological impact (for want of a better term) of these oppressions and how these experiences shape someone's understanding of the structures of exploitation. I understand (i think) the argument against intersectionality but I find it both disheartening and alienating in itself. And without some principled stand against forms of oppression (as stated - defined by the oppressors), albeit with a critique of identity, I do think we risk alienating people who are otherwise receptive to class struggle and class politics.

Forgive me if none of that makes any sense.

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Nov 5 2011 01:50
refused wrote:
I (and people I work and struggle with) have experienced this. it's easy to underestimate the psychological impact (for want of a better term) of these oppressions and how these experiences shape someone's understanding of the structures of exploitation. I understand (i think) the argument against intersectionality but I find it both disheartening and alienating in itself. And without some principled stand against forms of oppression (as stated - defined by the oppressors), albeit with a critique of identity, I do think we risk alienating people who are otherwise receptive to class struggle and class politics.

I hope I haven't come across as dismissive. Maybe another way of approaching this, in both practical and theoretical aspects. Practically, I'm a revolutionary unionist. I think the purpose of a (revolutionary) union is to fight for it's members immediate interests as well as social transformation. Those immediate interests may be economic (wages, rents), 'racial' (discrimination, bullying), gendered (ditto plus sexual harassment/violence), cultural, or so on.

I'd define all of these as class interests, so when I advocate class struggle it is not at the expense of any of the above. Theoretically, I think racism and patriarchy are inherent to state societies (demarations of inclusion/lexclusion and a gendered division of masculine statsmenlike qualities from 'effeminate' ones respectively). So both practically and theoretically I don't think these things can be separated into distinct and interacting 'oppressions', but rather are always already different aspects of the same social formation (the organisation of society into capitalist states).

However all that said I guess there's still a 'presentational' problem. Even if you accept my argument, an advocacy of class struggle can still come across as workerist, economist etc at the expense of racial or gendered discrimination, which are very real experiences for probably the majority of the class to which it's addressed. I need to think a bit more about the implications of this tbh.

yoda's walking stick
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Nov 5 2011 05:03

Having more female CEOs and CEOs of color will undoubtedly lead to more inclusive workplaces, which have less tolerance for sexual harassment and racial bigotry. Obviously we want to socialize the means of production in the long term. But diversifying the capitalist class in the short term is a positive step. To ignore this is to falsely believe that all proletarians are in the same boat. The unemployment rate for blacks, for instance, is double that of whites. Even when you control for factors like education levels, the income differences between whites and blacks is huge. It's so, so, so fucked up. If white radicals want to be taken seriously by people of color, they need to stop conflating race and class.

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Nov 5 2011 08:48
yoda's walking stick wrote:
Having more female CEOs and CEOs of color will undoubtedly lead to more inclusive workplaces, which have less tolerance for sexual harassment and racial bigotry. Obviously we want to socialize the means of production in the long term. But diversifying the capitalist class in the short term is a positive step. To ignore this is to falsely believe that all proletarians are in the same boat. The unemployment rate for blacks, for instance, is double that of whites. Even when you control for factors like education levels, the income differences between whites and blacks is huge. It's so, so, so fucked up. If white radicals want to be taken seriously by people of color, they need to stop conflating race and class.

I think there is a fingers in the ears problem in the ears issue between anarchists on both sides of the atlantic. I think lumping everyone non white into POC is a very homogenising position to take, especially when viewed this side of the pond (UK). You cannot lump first/second generation immigrants of Pakistani, Indian, bangladeshi, Afro-caribbian backgrounds as being somehow comparable. It cannot explain why pakistanis and bangladeshis are as poorer than whites, while indians are wealthier, better educated and more likely to be employed than whites, unless you understand the economic and class variables that are at play. They all come from the same continent, have the same 'skin colour' and have had the same colonial relationship with the UK. To be honest I have no direct experience of race in america, but the picture that americans @ists paint, is not the one that ring true over here.

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Nov 5 2011 20:29

I think Mr J just hit the nail on the head and I've personally never liked the term "POC" for that reason. I've only ever seen in used when describing the situation in the US though.

Joseph Kay wrote:
hope I haven't come across as dismissive. Maybe another way of approaching this, in both practical and theoretical aspects. Practically, I'm a revolutionary unionist. I think the purpose of a (revolutionary) union is to fight for it's members immediate interests as well as social transformation. Those immediate interests may be economic (wages, rents), 'racial' (discrimination, bullying), gendered (ditto plus sexual harassment/violence), cultural, or so on.

My problem is that I agree with most of this, and that is what I find depressing. As you say, I it's more of a presentational problem.

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Nov 5 2011 20:38

People of color is a term that was come up with as a better alternative to 'non-white' (defining what one is based on what it isn't) or 'minority' (which in many parts of the U.S., is not accurate, the 'minority' is the majority). I don't think it was ever meant to homogenize the experience of blacks, Latinos, Asians, Natives, etc in the U.S. Obviously there are very different issues among these different groups.

Whether it is a relevant term for the UK or Europe, I don't know. I've never been there and I do not know how race breaks down in everyday life in these societies. I'm quite sure that it isn't like the U.S., but based on the fact that ya'll have near neo-fascist political parties with seats in government and have had recent street based fascist movements, and with the numerous riots emerging from black communities in the UK since the 70s, I find it hard to believe that race is unimportant (not saying anyone is saying that now).

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Nov 6 2011 03:04

Yeah POC isn't really used much here. In the 80s it was common for everyone (even in some cases, nominally 'white' minorities like the Irish) to be called 'black'. Since then a lot of stuff has changed. I personally believe it is a case of navigating the specificity of the problem in hand, who is concerned, then seeing how alliances can be made that recognize 'difference'*** under a common cause of anti-capitalism.

I would agree with Yoda about the conflating race and class thing*, what needs to be looked at is the specificity and the inter-relation between the two. Interestingly POC falls into a similar conceptual conflation trap.

* I don't agree at all about the need for minority CEO's. That sort of affirmative action politics has made it a lot more difficult to look at these issues. However there are people out there that talk quite a lot about it. I read a good leaflet the other day by a group called 'Global Women's Strike' criticizing the 'Hope and Recovery'** campaign exactly for its marketing of 'community leaders' and community friendly 'black capitalism'. Basically they had Lee Jaspers (one time coworker in the london council with Ken Livingstone) and a Tory muslim lord lecturing single mothers on how they haven't bought their kids up right etc, etc.

** HaR (I think thats what it is called, will check tomorrow) is an initiative set up to deal with the aftermath of the "riots"

*** I am putting difference in scare quotes here to hlighlight both the ways in which there is differences between people which, do not in themselves constitute immutable barriers, while difference is often used in divide and rule tactics. Especially on the ideological plane.

wojtek
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Sep 22 2012 12:11

Sorry to change the subject, but for those of us that enjoy this sort of stuff...

Quote:
critical analysis of the TV show 'The Wire'

Slavoj Žižek and Fredric Jameson on The Wire

The Wire resources list

wojtek
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Jan 12 2013 01:28

The new edition of Quiet Rumours from AK Press is out now:

http://www.akpress.org/quietrumoursnewedition.html