5 Dec 2008

Black Flag: pirates with a purpose.

I have been kindly sent the last three issues of Black Flag to review. Black Flag is a long standing anarchist mag in the UK... worth a read.

I am a bit permissive with political mags, I write for the Green Party's Green World every now and then, I am an associate editor of Socialist Resistance and have done lots of work with Red Pepper (they were once crazy enough to let me edit an issue!) and as well as the USFI SR, I have a column with the Morning Star.

I am not an anarchist, I am in an electoral political party and tend to use the prefix Marxist or 'ecosocialist'.

However where would we be without the anarchists! Green politics is unthinkable without Peter Kropotkin and Murray Bookchin, Herbert Read and Emma Goldman.

In Britain between 1880 and 1905 Peter Gould in his book 'Early Green Politics' has described a period of 15 years where green politics, anarchism and Marxism over lapped.

William Morris, Edward Carpenter, the Greenham women, Reclaim the Streets, Earth First! UK....all pretty anarchic.

The libertarian Marxist tradition, which rejects Lenninist top down leadership and calls for Marx's demand for the withering away of the state, has a long lineage which looks pretty anarchistic too.

Lenin criticised Pankhurst's organisation the Workers Dreadnought, various forms of Council Communism continue to this day and from the Situationists to the autonomists some very powerful strains of 'Marxist anarchism' have not quite been oxymorons.

Hey back to Black Flag, plenty for me to disagree with, but plenty for anarchists to disagree with as well, I guess opinions of Bakunin (I am not at all keen on him! but BF has a poster of) and Chavez are quite diverse out there...

Its a glossy good read, the level of political debate is high, as far as I can see it does not push one dogmatic line...from a green/ecosocialist point of view the Bookchin obit and Bookchin analysis of Marx are worth a read, the criticism of liberal wishy washy pro-capitalist forms of green politics are probably something most readers of this blog are familiar with though..

What stands out for me are a whole series of interesting book reviews (you can go to the AK website and shop) and historical articles, there is a huge loose anarchist counter culture in the UK, the climate camp was an anarchist experience (although very welcoming to non anarchist left hacks like Dr Wall), I guess tens of thousands, may be hundreds of thousands of activists in the UK identify themselves as anarchists....if you want fill in the gaps and find out more about anarchist history and ideas (which surely is important to non anarchists on the left as well), recent issues of Black Flag would be a good place to start.

I could certainly do with finding out more about the anarchist contribution in the Spanish civil war, so nice to see an interesting biography of Durutti flaggged up and reviewed with some care in BL issue 226.

In the same issue 'For Workers Power' an issue of the edited workers of Chris Pallis, who went from the CPGB to what was to become the Socialist Labour League to founding Solidarity the libertarian socialist group, also looks like a must read.

Layout is pretty good. Issue 227 has an excellent analysis of the rise of the BNP and how it can be combatted...I could go on to discribe articles anarcho-feminism, the credit crunch, Manchester, Paul Mattick, etc.

Well yes I would rather curl up with a copy of Theories of Surplus Value than Proudhon but there is a lot to say for stateless societies and attacks on hierarchy, yes the Green Party has had a libertarian edge, the internet and the network approach of the left social movements especially in Latin America show that anarchy works.

Great shame the Green Party fell in to the leader trap, I wonder what is more effective the climate camp or a leader, which has more impact...the Green Party with a leader needs to be compared with the camp, where everybody led!

Criticism of BL...well, I would be on thin ice as a member of the Green Party and some one who likes to post from Fidel and is looking forward to the Morning Star christmas party, sees the USFI as ecosocialist comrades, etc, etc, etc....

I don't really keep up with the internal politics of the anarchists in the UK..

Well, it could do with a letters page, Class War has a bit more humour and elan,

It does not seem to have an up to date web page, which is a bit of a shame as well, needs to be out more than twice year, although I appreciate resources are limited

well last word from 'Anarchism and ecology issues' an article based on a book from AK press in the latest issue 228.

'For anarchists, unless we resolve the underlying contradictions within society, which stem from domination, hierarchy and a capitalist economy, ecological disruption will continue and grow, putting our Earth in increasing danger.
'We need to resist the system and create new values based on quality, not quantity. We must return the human factor to our alienated society before we alienate ourselves completely'.

Can't disagree with that!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks like an interesting magazine.

On another topic, maybe some publisher should reprint Gould's superb book on
"Early Green Politics"? An excellent piece of work,but the book is almost impossible to obtain nowadays
(I have one battered,second-hand copy)-it never seems to turn up on Amazon,Abe.Books, or anywhere else.