In episode no. 10 of Agoric Cafe, Roderick Long chats with philosopher Gary Chartier about Robin Hood, left-wing market anarchism, natural law, free speech and employer power, libertarian secularism, Seventh-day Adventism, religious epistemology, long-arc television, urban fantasy, Lawrence Durrell, Iris Murdoch, Whit Stillman, the evils of giving extra credit and taking attendance, and the attractions of being emperor. Watch it here or below.
In episode no. of Agoric Cafe, Roderick Long talks about what he forgot to mention back in Episode 7 (“Ayn Rand as a Writer”), namely how Ayn Rand’s fiction stands in the tradition of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People and Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac. Watch it here or below.
In episode no. 8 of Agoric Cafe, Roderick Long chats with philosopher Eric Mack about walking out on Ayn Rand, clashing with Nazi Sikhs in Seneca Falls, libertarian rights theory, Kantian vs. Aristotelean approaches to fixing Randian ethics, Nozickian polymathy, the unselfishness of Samuel Johnson, the ethics of COVID lockdowns, physical distancing in Durango, the CIA as an argument against anarchism, shoving someone in front of a bus as a form of restitution, and the edibility of matter. Watch it here or below.
In episode no. 7 of Agoric Cafe, Roderick Long asks, “Was Ayn Rand a good writer or a bad one?“. Watch here or below.
Let me start by saying this has been a long time coming. When Will brought up the idea of my taking over as coordinating director at last September’s Please Try This At Home conference, it wasn’t the first time the idea had been raised. I did, however, want to wait until I felt I could dedicate the appropriate time and thought to the project and that I had enough of a team together to make sure other key aspects of the center’s day to day functioning wouldn’t be abandoned.
Now, I’m excited to announce that, with all (or at least most) of the pieces in place, I’ll be taking on the mantle of coordinating director, effective November 1st, 2020.
Those familiar with what goes on behind the scenes at C4SS will know that I’ve been working as an editor and then editing coordinator for the center since the beginning of 2018. At the time, I had written a few pieces for the center and was looking for a way to maintain my connection to anti-authoritarian political thought while working a series of odd jobs.
As one of the many who came to C4SS from the larger US libertarian movement, I found myself at a crossroads when I realized I had moved further left than the leftward reaches of that milieu. I’d become a libertarian in large part through opposition to war and imperialism, and you can read a bit about that intellectual journey in my piece “A Meditation on Violence” (CW: this has descriptions of graphic violence).
But after working for a series of libertarian non-profits, including, finally, Students For Liberty, I became frustrated with a movement that was purportedly all about individual liberty, but seemed a lot more focused on carrying water for conservatives and further confusing the discourse around markets, the state, and capitalism. I left the US briefly after Trump was elected and was gone from SFL shortly after that. When I returned to the states to be with my partner – and live out the principle of doikayt (Yiddish term meaning “hereness”) together – I was looking for a way to re-engage in the fight against authoritarianism without slipping back into the role of stool pigeon for capitalism.
I’d always been aware of C4SS, and had written a few pieces for the site, but it wasn’t until this full break with mainstream libertarianism that I started helping with editing and site upkeep and seeing the center as my intellectual home. While most of my friends and loved ones are social anarchists or anarcho-communists, I’m still staunchly in favor of markets and heavily influenced by the more individualist of my anarchist forerunners. Emma Goldman, Max Stirner, and Voltairine de Cleyre are among my favorite thinkers and I often describe myself as a religious egoist when pressed to go beyond “anarchism” plain and simple. So the center has provided me with a wonderfully radical community that still recognizes some of the economic principles I feel are important to accurate analysis of political questions and solid formulations of a political project. After all, my undergraduate degrees are in Economics and International Relations, with an emphasis on trade norms, deals, and frameworks.
This is one of the things I still appreciate greatly about the work we do here: it is careful and well researched, and it does not shy away from modern advancements in any field of thought. I feel confident that, unlike so many left-wing intellectual movements, we won’t get stuck in some out-dated framework trying to rebuild some new, better version of societies that no longer exist. We are future-oriented, and I intend to continue that trajectory.
Similarly, we are intellectually humble and open to differing points of view. For someone who combines such unlikely threads as Jewish anarchism and stirnerite egoism, that’s important to me personally, but it also sets us up for success. No one person or viewpoint defines us, and so it is easier to admit when we’re wrong, to consider new ideas, and to be part of many different political conversations at once. There are, of course, limits.
C4SS will continue to be an anarchist project and while we may sometimes publish left-libertarian minarchists and anarcho-communists, this will be in the service of debate (as exemplified by our recently concluded symposium on Decentralization and Economic Coordination) or in order to nurture the anarchist tendencies in those who aren’t quite in the camp yet. We remain fiercely committed to progress on issues of social justice, advocating for the rights of LGBT+ folks, the liberation of Black and Indigenous people worldwide, and the empowerment of all people with full agency over their own lives. It should be said, though, that we will also remain committed to individualism and economic freedom (rightly held). This is not a blind commitment. Rather, we recognize that – instead of being at odds with human flourishing – the right to buy and sell, and the technology of prices are key components to a thriving and equitable society.
On the practical side, in addition to editing for the site, I’ve served as producer on our podcast – which will soon have two seasons in the books – and I intend to keep growing our library of audio and video content, beginning with the re-birth of Feed 44 on YouTube. We’ve also discussed continuing to grow the publishing arm of the center, which will involve more and closer relationships with infoshops across the US (and hopefully beyond!). Perhaps most importantly though, we are growing again in terms of writers, editors, coordinators, and everyone else who works hard to keep this venture going.
I wouldn’t be taking on this position if I didn’t feel I had a solid and growing team to work with. Not to mention this thorough retrospective and explainer Will has put together in anticipation of this transition. So take this as proof positive that many of the pieces missing in the past have fallen into place. And while growth always comes with some amount of pain – we’ve had to re-think our vetting process as more and more people want to be involved – I’m excited to see what we’re capable of with many more hands than we’ve been used to lately.
In order to keep up with this growth, myself and James Tuttle, our financial coordinator, will be heavily focused on fundraising in the coming months. We’ve made it easier than ever to support C4SS by moving ongoing monthly donations to Patreon. You can now support us there for as little as $2 a month. And we’re going to work to improve donor communication as well, so our supporters have a better idea of how we’re using the funding and are aware when we need a bump for special projects or to fill out a gap.
Many, many thanks to those of you who already support us. As I’m sure you know, our light administrative structure and reliance on motivated semi-volunteers make us a very lean operation, regularly punching way above our “weight class” in terms of what we can do with a small stream of donations. And people are starting to notice. Firestorm Collective in NC now regularly carries our stickers, pins, and books. And there are translators working to make just about everything we’ve published available in their native languages.
One big dream I have for the future is a C4SS conference. Whether in-person or virtually, I’m setting a goal to bring together all the left-wing market anarchists, from our various corners of the world, sometime in the next two years.
While the mainstream left seems unable to rid itself of auth-left influence, and the libertarian movement collapses under the weight of the shifting political landscape, our position may be precarious, but I’m convinced it’s the most solid one out there. We are nimble, and principled, passionate, and careful. If anyone can navigate the coming political storms, I am confident we have those people in the center and its orbit. Thank you all for giving me an intellectual home, hope for the future of humanity, and an amazing group of people with which to push onward.
What is C4SS?
Politically, C4SS was founded to help promote the diverse perspectives found in left market anarchist circles. Our target audiences have long run the gamut from complete mainstream normies, to anarchist insurrectionaries, to libertarian academics. We are anarchists because we oppose every form of domination, but we are also rooted in one of the oldest traditions of anarchism in that we believe markets can be valuable for free people, albeit in a more egalitarian form without bosses, poverty, or severe wealth disparity.
Socially, C4SS emerged as a refuge for market anarchists (of many flavors) critical of capitalism who also rejected nationalism, intellectual property, and other creeping reactionary tendencies in corners of the old Alliance of the Libertarian Left. Our staff is split in original backgrounds between the traditional anarchist movement and the libertarian movement.
Operationally, C4SS primarily comprises 1) a listserv of seventy or so loosely associated people that offer feedback on essay submissions and occasionally exercises a loose consensus process on formal group decisions, and 2) some distinct text chats for everyone listed as a coordinator to handle more nuts-and-bolts things and occasionally bring proposals to the list. Formal membership is limited to fellows, chairs, and coordinators (who have small domains of responsibility), but the consensus process can draw in the voices of more loosely connected people, and day-to-day operations are handled more or less autonomously by the coordinators. A small team of editors coordinates editing submissions from both members and the public at large.
Financially, C4SS is pretty much a volunteer project that gets on average a few hundred dollars every month between small individual donations, Patreon contributions, and donations from the C4SS Store (run by James Tuttle). We hold nonprofit status via the graciousness of Roderick Long’s Molinari Institute (this basically just means he volunteers to file our tax paperwork every year). We focus on paying contributing writers and translators, with some technical costs and occasional projects. We offer regulars a percentage of our monthly donations and contractors, first-time writers, or those contributing in response to “bounties” a fixed amount.
Left market anarchism is a contemporary umbrella term that maps commonalities and inclinations dating back to the beginning of the anarchist movement. From Proudhon to the influential three-decade run of the journal Liberty, early mutualist perspectives came to find root among American abolitionists like William Batchelder Greene, Josiah Warren, and Lysander Spooner, and came to more full-throated expression with Benjamin Tucker and Voltairine de Cleyre. Market anarchists played roles across the anarchist movement, from labor organizer Dyer D Lum smuggling Louis Lingg dynamite in prison to Jo Labadie organizing the salvage and preservation of anarchist documents.
In the wake of the second world war, a distinct libertarian tradition emerged in America in the vein of state-critical classical liberals like Frederic Bastiat and Gustave de Molinari. This libertarian movement often identified with anarchism – albeit with weak continuity to the anarchist movement proper – and just as often moved in sharply right-wing directions. However, figures like Karl Hess and Robert Anton Wilson attempted to bridge the gap, taking inspiration and critical analyses from both traditions, and trying to bend the emerging libertarian movement back to the radical left.
Meanwhile, the mainline anarchist movement had not died and neither had its market anarchist current, with projects like Red Lion Press and the Boston Anarchist Drinking Brigade continuing to publish.
In the 90s, with the emergence of the internet, anarchists and libertarians started coming into regular contact and conflict online. In this fighting there were a number of folks that attempted to resolve the contradictions in a productive synthesis, as well as those worried that the polarized conflict threatened to erase the market anarchism of many early mutualists. Individual writers and historians worked in different directions on a number of projects, notably Kevin Carson and Roderick Long, but in general folks were only loosely tied through a number of listservs like Sam Konkin’s Alliance of the Libertarian Left and Movement of the Libertarian Left. These coalitions were more debate salons than organizations, and they dissolved in various conflicts with new forks forming to exclude different reactionaries.
In rough terms, this more fractious era ended with a consistent set of folks stabilizing around C4SS in our rejection of 1) social reactionaries, 2) intellectual property apologists, 3) nationalists, and 4) non-anarchists more generally.
In its humble roots, C4SS was intended as a media project to inject editorials on various current events into local newspapers around the world. But relatively quickly it became an institution with a broader purpose. Ad hoc translations of current events editorials turned into broader efforts to translate theory into a wide array of languages. Small hosted debates became our flagship Mutual Exchange symposiums, which in turn became books. We started publishing in-depth reviews of books and long academic studies on various topics. Our internal discussion listserv grew to many dozens of people, and our contributing writers would grow to the hundreds.
Gary Chartier and Charles Johnson published Markets Not Capitalism with Autonomedia and AK Press, an attempt to compile the wide array of writings in the wider “left market anarchist” milieu. It was compiled in a period when C4SS still was a relatively minor project and hadn’t really grown into its own. Charles ran the Distro of the Libertarian Left, which in turn had built on top of Invisible Molotov, as well as pulling from the journal ALLiance. Increasingly, however, people assumed that these projects were all synonymous and would contact C4SS as if we controlled them. This had the effect – along with changes in internet media consumption patterns – of centralizing activity into C4SS.
It’s easier to understand C4SS as a magazine that hosts debate rather than as some vanguard cadre or political party issuing collective proclamations. While we do have shared values, broadly classified as “left market anarchism,” we are a motley crew.
The strongest historical parallel to C4SS is the journal Liberty, the influential mutualist paper run out of Boston by Benjamin Tucker, and populated by an unruly assortment of anarchists like Voltairine de Cleyre, Dyer D Lum, Lysander Spooner, et al. But there are, of course, differences. Unlike Liberty, we are not, at the end of the day, the editorial or political vision of a single person like Tucker. We encourage dissent and diversity of opinions, although we maintain some sharp ethical boundaries.
Most of us have at least some disagreements with most things we publish. And we have published submissions from people from across almost every spectrum, from communists to capitalists, nihilists to christians, insurrectionaries to gradualists, utilitarians to deontologists, primitivists to transhumanists. We are, however, at the end of the day, an anarchist project, expecting an underlying opposition to all forms of domination to shine through every perspective we publish. And thus there are a number of both explicit and tacit litmus tests we apply; most notably, we stridently reject intellectual property and nationalism, but we also reject racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism, et al.
We are primarily a platform for critiques of the state and discussions over the ideal shape of a stateless society, so while we encourage wide-ranging debate, that does not extend to platforming authoritarians and statists.
Internally, we are split over a number of different issues, such as philosophy of ethics (our ranks include virtue ethicists, consequentialists, deontologists, and egoists) as well as tactics and language. In ideological terms, some members identify as “mutualists,” some as merely “individualist anarchists,” some as “left rothbardians,” some as “syndicalists,” some as “egoists,” a few even as “radical liberals,” the list goes on, with many more unique individual positions.
While we all critique capitalism and defend markets, the exact critiques and defenses can somewhat differ from person to person. However, there are some baseline commonalities: we critique the hierarchies of private tyranny within workplaces, we critique monopolies and runaway concentrations of wealth, and we critique systemic class disparities. But we also embrace title and networks of exchange. For a selection of some takes, see our Mutual Exchanges on property, on capitalism, and on decentralized economic coordination.
With submissions from hundreds of people spanning well over a decade, there are inevitably examples of ideological drift from contributors. We generally don’t remove previously published content except in some cases of severe abuse or reactionary entryism. This means that a few contributors have since dropped identification with anarchism or otherwise altered their perspective. In the cases where the author explicitly wants and demands from us, we replace names with pseudonyms. It would be impossible to keep track of the ideological or personal trajectories of every person who has ever contributed to us, but we do appreciate heads-up in bad cases.
Probably the best thing that happened to C4SS and allowed it to flourish was the early removal of one Brad Spangler. Brad had been among the core founders but had pretty much abandoned the project by the time he got involved in Occupy, ignoring emails and pilfering funds. He was kicked out by the rest of the group and the fancy role he had granted himself of “Director” was given to James Tuttle, who had been editor of ALLiance. James helped right the boat after Brad’s malign mismanagement and expanded and deepened the Center’s project.
Unfortunately the bad news continued from Brad. He took to transphobic comments on Facebook and hit on women inappropriately, causing most of us active on Facebook to denounce and defriend him. Then, years later, having for a long while heard nothing from him, in 2015 we abruptly learned that Brad had molested a child. Within a day, we’d published a public denouncement and removed his lingering old content from the site. Additionally, I wrote a second sharper personal piece criticizing the libertarian movement and our own circles for both failing to recognize the deeper rot in him, and not having more strenuously run him out of wider social circles for what creepy and transphobic behavior we did see.
Every organization of any size eventually has to deal with monsters, and unfortunately many cover them up or publicly go to bat for them. Thankfully, the internal culture we’ve forged has been following the wishes of survivors and proactively disassociating from abusers. A brief list of the darker moments we had to weather: Stacy Litz, who had risen to lead the coordination of our student groups turned state’s evidence against her friends on drug charges. Doreen de Cleyre had served as an editor with us but was exposed as a rapist. Chris Shaw likewise started to work as an editor but was caught also writing directly for a “national anarchist” (cryptofascist) website.
There are – just by population statistics – possibly still more scumbags lurking undiscovered in an organization so large and with so many folks moving through involvement. What we try to do is create a reputation for respectfully following the requests of survivors so we can get reports of misbehavior early and to create a culture internally where no tolerance is ever expected for such infractions.
Because we sit at the intersection of a variety of ideological discourses, fascists have long identified us as either particularly abhorrent corruptors or as an opportunity to push and legitimize cryptofascist discourse. Figures like Hans Herman Hoppe and Christopher Cantwell have identified us at points as their number one enemy. Some of the earliest content of The Right Stuff singled us out for hate. Additionally, we’ve faced nearly annual attempts by folks associated with the “pan-secessionist” / “national anarchist” circle to try to infiltrate us or convert people loosely associated with us.
The most noteworthy moment was when the disgusting racist Oliver Janssens attempted to steal control over the Facebook of a student group associated with us in Belgium. When we published a disassociation that included screenshots of his own racist posts, he used his wealth to get a lawyer to issue a DMCA take-down of our webserver because, in the lawyer’s actual words, we had “decided to embarrass Oliver Janssens in the worst and most effective way – by words out of his own mouth.” The incident got international attention and he backtracked, but well after we’d exposed his bullshit, even contacting his teachers. He donated money to us, which we then donated to Belgian anti-racists and antifascists, as well as a number of anarchist projects in the global south.
In a kind of inverse situation, our opposition to intellectual property has also led to situations where reactionary outlets have republished our content, often hoping to muddy the waters or help provide scaffolding for third-positionist projects. Everything we publish is public domain / anti-copyright, we refuse to use the state against even fascists, but our hostility towards such misuses is obvious.
An organization’s formal structure can serve to cloak the implicit informal relationships and activities that underpin it, just as such formalism can get in the way of more human relationships and fluid responses. While C4SS has a broad Working Group, plus the coordinators and the editors, there are obviously numerous side-chats and person-to-person conversations that help coordinate the project. We’re also spread out across communication platforms, with different people more or less easily reachable in different spaces, Discord, Signal, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Each coordinator handles a distinct domain related to their interest. This enables some level of accountability but it primarily gives individuals a sense of investment. So, for example, Cory Massimino handles social media posts while I keep the website and technical infrastructure afloat. We’ve made recurring pushes to try to spread out access to such domains, to avoid any one person becoming a failure point, but in practice there tends to only be one person with sufficient personal interest and investment to keep bottom-lining a given task.
The second issue that creates unfortunate concentrations in practice is trust. As a highly distributed international project, we often have never even met in person the people most interested in contributing to us. Even video meetings are incredibly hard to organize because of different time zones. Beyond learning someone’s temperament or organizing style, there’s the issue of attention and commitment. A project that is maintained for over a decade has a slower pace and thinks in terms of years. Often, someone will reach out to us very interested in helping with a specific task, but their interest is fickle and they get distracted by something else or have personal issues intervene after only a few months. On-boarding is expensive, attention and capacity are limited, so we tend to let people voluntarily contribute and see whether they last. This also gives us the opportunity to build up experience with them personally. We tend to think in terms of years, not months.
One of the more interesting dynamics in recent years has been individuals who, upon getting some submissions accepted for publication or becoming involved in some work or discussions, start presenting themselves as “members of C4SS,” and unilaterally speaking on behalf of us. This is frustrating and has made for hard conversations, but also speaks to our limited capacity to explain everything to everyone or catch up and acculturate folks quickly. (This article is an attempt to create more clarity, in part so we don’t have to repeat everything for every single person writing for us.) Getting involved with a project requires a certain level of humility and attention, it takes time to know individuals, currents, tensions, norms, and culture. While we would like to have more bandwidth, C4SS is a project of love that we work on in spare minutes between work, life, and other academic and activist projects. Navigating those scarcities is a fraught task that makes C4SS fall short of some of our ideals.
On the one hand, it’s important to respect the level of investment and tacit knowledge of those already involved, as well as the traditions or norms built up from experiment and praxis, while navigating inherent issues of trust. On the other hand, it’s important to avoid ossified hierarchies, cliques, or patronage networks. This takes active work and concessions from everyone involved; it ultimately cannot be solved through structure but through intent and culture. A coordinator must be proactively charitable towards tendencies or individuals they do not agree with or like, the group must studiously heed dissent and blocks to consensus, proposals should be work-shopped with preemptive attentiveness to every likely perspective, and concerning behavior should be investigated compassionately and forthrightly. These are not tendencies that can be ordained, they must be attentively built.
What has helped C4SS survive and flourish over the years despite occasional road-bumps has been the ethical sincerity and nerdiness of many attracted to us. It helps that the stakes are so low to those not invested in our values. We are not a titanic institution that promises a path to power or respect in some scene, academic or activist, rather we function as something of a remote monastery or maroon. A refuge for escapees from unproductive ideological wars and team conflicts. Iconoclasts who are not merely trying to climb a different status hierarchy (of edge-lordism), but who are so sincere that they willingly embrace unpopular directions.
While gradients of trust, scarcities of personal attention, and the inherent inside-outside hierarchies remain issues to be navigated, we’ve cultivated an egalitarian culture of peers where one person can wear one hat one day and a different hat the next, or drift out of activity and then return. Whatever proclamations are decided at the abstract collective level of consensus process, the project itself is affirmed and navigated from the bottom-up level of individual relationships.
While there can be some centralization, where for example the past, present, and future “coordinating directors” of James, me, and Alex (and whoever else shows up) have the attention and energy to talk for hours on a call about various plumbing issues, the informal and fluid nature of the project itself provides checks on us. We are constantly trying to preemptively avoid stepping on anyone’s toes, lest we create a combative or conflictual internal dynamic that would undermine the entire project and cause writers and friends to evaporate away. It is only through such efforts that we can build and retain safe spaces for sharp debate and disagreement.
This is not to suggest that everything is rosy or that our organizational form is some kind of blueprint. It is rather an intensely problematic concession that has emerged in hands-on grappling with a number of constraints.
And who knows, C4SS in a year or two might be a radically different sort of organization. We might become a publishing house or archive project. We may cease operations! After all, it is one of the most core anarchist responsibilities to know when a project has served its use and not to fetishize or try to extend it as an end in itself.
In episode no. 5 of Agoric Cafe, Roderick Long chats with philosopher Neera K. Badhwar about backyard buffaloes, wild attack monkeys, Ayn Rand, airline deregulation, eudaimonia and virtue, paternalism and suicide, sociopathic grandmothers, child abuse, Aristotelean business ethics, 19th-century robber barons, charitable Objectivists, friendly Manhattanites, charismatic nationalist leaders, and national health care. In more or less that order. Watch here or watch below.
In episode no. 4 of Agoric Cafe, Roderick Long discusses the distinction between markets and capitalism in Bukharin and Preobrazhensky’s ABC of Communism, and in the Marxist tradition generally; or, how Marxism twists itself into a pretzel to avoid endorsing free-market anti-capitalism. Watch it here or below.
In episode no. 3 of Agoric Cafe, Roderick Long discusses the relationship between science fiction and philosophy. Watch it here or below.
C4SS Mutual Exchange Coordinator Cory Massimino was recently featured on the Non-Serviam podcast. The discussion covers a broad range of topics from egalitarianism, radical liberalism, left-libertarianism and more, to immigration and free-market-anti-capitalism.
From the Non-Serviam Episode Description:
Cory began his political journey on the libertarian right. His political philosophy is now more closely associated with what some might call left libertarianism. The libertarian left in America has many tendencies that separates itself from or is sometimes even hostile to thinkers such as Ayn Rand or Murray Rothbard. However my guest today challenges us to not throw out the baby with the bath water, and feels that it’s entirely possible to reject and to criticize the reactionary shortcomings of some of these thinkers, while also highlighting the contributions they made to a kind of libertarianism that may be worth taking inspiration from.
I don’t generally like writing about myself, but here we go: I have long been a part of the southern Ohio and northern Kentucky punk scene(s)—playing in bands like NOPE and Soy. and going to shows of bands like Treason, Lockjaw, and numerous others. And I have always considered my involvement in the punk ‘movement’ (meaning the mass conglomeration of all scenes across the United States and the world) as inseparable from my ideology and activism as an anarchist. This is nothing unique to my own experience. As Crimethinc. write in their piece “Music as a Weapon:”
A large proportion of those who participated in the anarchist movement between 1978 and 2010 were part of the punk counterculture at some point; indeed, many were first exposed to anarchist ideas via punk. This may have been merely circumstantial: perhaps the same traits that made people seek out anarchism also predisposed them to enjoy aggressive, independently produced music. But one could also argue that music that pushes aesthetic and cultural boundaries can open up listeners to a wider spectrum of possibility in other spheres of life as well.
And this connection between punk and anarchism has been a catalyst in pushing Soy.—though not all band members are anarchists—to become a part of the Punks Against Sweatshops campaign and ensuring, in solidarity with nationwide protests against police brutality and repression, that almost all of the recent proceeds made by Soy. have gone to the Cincinnati Bail Fund hosted by Beloved Community Church.
In similar fashion, I’m proud to announce that my most recent project—a powerviolence/grindcore band called Consumerist—is officially collaborating with the Cincinnati chapter of Food Not Bombs so that all our profits from the Consumerist self-titled debut EP (whether made through purchases on Bandcamp or through our label Floorjazz Recordings) will be donated toward their efforts. So, whether you like extreme music or not, please consider buying our EP (or donating directly to Cincy Food Not Bombs)!
It was brought to our attention recently that a one-time contributor to C4SS has been outed as a member of a racist and misogynistic chat group. Toby Fitzsimmons, a student at Durham University in the UK, submitted one article in May 2020, titled “ANTi-Capitalism: The Use of Knowledge in the Nest.” At the time, we were unaware of Toby’s involvement in such communities and published the article after a quick vetting on Twitter.
We were notified on September 26th, 2020 that Toby was revealed to be a member of at least one of these chats, and we removed his piece shortly after. You can read the Durham University newspaper The Tab for more on this collection of group chats and the vile things being discussed there.
In light of the severity of some of the things said: including conversations making light of or even encouraging sexual assault, we’ve also decided to post this disclaimer stating that we won’t be working with Toby in the future nor publishing any more of his work.
We are also discussing ways to improve our vetting process for guest writers and new submissions moving forward. Many thanks to the Durham students who uncovered this activity and took the time to reach out and let us know about this behavior as well.
You might remember the May Day poetry feature last year, centered around remembrance and emotional release. This year, we thought probably everyone (at least those in the US) could do with some election-related self-expression. So we’re doing another poetry feature, this time centered on election day. I’m selfishly naming this one after what I’ve been told is my best podcast roundtable quote: “Rage is a positive emotion.” (Found in this episode of Mutual Exchange Radio.)
You can of course, however, write on whatever you’re feeling. Fear, grief, tenderness, hope. The idea is to get a snapshot of what it feels like to live in this time. It’s part of why anarchists have historically written poetry: to keep an emotional timeline of our history as well as an academic one.
Who’s ready to get angry?
Fall 2020 Poetry Feature
- Two Limericks, David Gross
- Untitled I, Hugh Crane
- Another Lost Comrade, Logan Marie Glitterbomb
- 2020 September 13, Jeff Popovich
- Malison Against Tyrants, Fascists, and Enslavers, Damian Stephens
- No TERFS, No Patriarchy, Prax
- April 28, 2020, Melissa Minkoff
- Forged in Fire, Alex McHugh
- Creatio Ex Nihilo, Can Standke
We at C4SS are excited to announce that we will be attending the 2020 NYC Anarchist Book Fair, which is being held virtually this year due to the pandemic. The NYC Anarchist Book Fair is a yearly event where various anarchist groups and individuals gather to share materials and host workshops, panels, and skillshares on topics related to anarchist politics.
Not only will we at C4SS be attending as a virtual vendor selling books, stickers, zines, and more (page goes live Friday, 9/25), but I, Logan Marie Glitterbomb, will also be hosting my own panel entitled Don’t Call the Pigs: Creating an Anarchist Justice System modeled after my similarly named article on the same topic and the updated zine version which can be found for sale here.
At a time when protesters are taking to the streets to demand the defunding of the police and some of the largest prison strikes in recorded history are happening behind bars, the topic of this panel could not be more relevant. It is not my goal to be prescriptive in discussing what I believe should be our end goal, so much as to highlight the various work those in the anarchist movement are already doing and piece it together to show a vision for how to possibly create a more just justice system in the general direction that those projects are already heading. It is my hope that by putting these projects in perspective and to help to guide others to see the importance of collaboration between these projects and provide a general organizing guide around these issues.
So please join me this Friday from 6-8pm EST on Jitsi for this important discussion. The full schedule of panels can be found at anarchistbookfair.net where links to the live streams will be posted beforehand. And be sure to drop by the virtual C4SS table to check out our amazing selection of merchandise and organizing materials. Can’t wait to see y’all there!
Radical writer and thinker William Anderson has been running a fundraiser in support of former Black Panther Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin and his partner JoNina. They need help with living costs and medical costs, and it’s a great reminder that we shouldn’t forget our heroes as they get older and fall out of the spotlight.
With $10,000 raised so far, they’re only $5,000 short of the goal! Donate here.
Ervin and his partner continue to organize and struggle. Here’s the fundraiser description from William Anderson:
Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin has risked his life consistently while doing revolutionary work over the years. This former Black Panther Party member has been a political prisoner before. He’s also battled surveillance and continued harassment in order to provide people with his groundbreaking writings like “Anarchism and the Black Revolution.” These are just a few of the reasons we need to continue supporting Lorenzo.
The importance of making sure our revolutionary, movement elders have survival funds shouldn’t be lost on us. Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin has paved the way for all sorts of activists, thinkers, and intellectuals. And he’s influenced generations of rebels along the way. Lorenzo and his partner JoNina continue to support, organize, and teach people across the world while in need themselves. In the midst of a pandemic, they’ve fallen ill and been subject to some difficulties as aging activists. This fundraiser is to help them with their material needs like the cost of living, bills, and medical expenses. It’s the least we can do for them considering how much they’ve done for us.
C4SS Mutual Exchange Coordinator Cory Massimino was featured as a guest on Libertarianism.org’s Free Thoughts podcast to present an anarchist analysis of the influential libertarian thinker Murray Rothbard and his work. Their discussion is based on Cory’s contribution to the upcoming Routledge Handbook of Anarchy and Anarchist Thought co-edited by C4SS senior fellow Gary Chartier. Cory provides his conception of Rothbardianism and its value for anarchists and libertarians.
Free Thoughts Episode Description:
Murray Rothbard was, at the very least, one the top three libertarian thinkers in the 20th century. He was a prolific writer as the author of dozens of books, articles, and essays. Cory Massimino joins the show to discuss Rothbard’s brand of anarchism.What does it mean to be paleoconservative? What is the New Left? What do they believe? Who influenced Murray Rothbard?
In episode six of Roderick Long’s new video project, he interviews Kevin Carson in a wide-ranging discussion that covers many issues. Watch it here or below.
C4SS Mutual Exchange Coordinator Cory Massimino was recently featured on Camilo Gómez’s History and Politics podcast. Cory discusses the differing reactions to Trump from left and right libertarians and how American libertarians often ignore anti-authoritarian lessons and struggles from outside the West. Also mentioned in this episode is C4SS senior fellow Roderick Long’s book Rituals of Freedom: Libertarian Themes in Early Confucianism.
History and Politics Episode Description:
Conversation with Cory Massimino a philosophy student and fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society. We talk about the effect of Trumpism in the libertarian movement, how libertarians have been dealing with racism, xenophobia, sexism and homophobia, and what lessons could libertarians learn from Latin America.
Roman incursions into Britain began with Julius Caesar between 55-54 B.C.E. with two separate attempts. The first invasion (55 B.C.E.) was launched on the grounds of supposed support from the Britons towards the Gallic tribes against the Romans during the Gallic Wars (58-50 B.C.E.). This first attempt ended in failure, loosing their cavalry boarded on ships due to bad weather and constant guerrilla attacks by the Britons forced a stalemate. The second invasion (54 B.C.E.) proved more fruitful for the Romans and Caesar as they managed to fight their way to the river Thames as well as establishing a number of treaties and trade partners with local tribes living in the south-eastern parts of the territory.
It wouldn’t be until about a hundred years later that Rome would even attempt to set foot in Britain again. When it did return in 43 AD under the Roman emperor Tiberius Claudius Nero Germanicus it would be with much greater success. Rome had wanted access to Britain for some time due to rumors of great material wealth, both in metals and food that were always in need by the large, imperial government of Rome. It would be under these conditions that Boudica of the Iceni tribe would rise to become queen of her people and lead a brutal insurrection against Roman occupation.
The Romans invaded Britain when Boudica was around eighteen years old, having either previously or within recent times married their husband Prasutagus, whom may have been related to the then king of the Iceni, Antedios. Meanwhile their neighbors to the south in the Catuvellauni tribe, in alliance with other tribes, waged a guerrilla campaign against the Roman army. After a successful battle against the Catuvellauni lead rebellion Claudius established a legionary fortress located at Camulodunum, now modern day Colchester in Essex, as well as the submission of eleven British tribes, including the Iceni under Antedios.
In 47 AD Ostorius Scapula replaced the first, previously established Roman governor of Britain. Ostorius arrived to the territory under guerrilla attacks and as such, decided to disarm the British tribes, including the Iceni. This was seen both as a threat and an insult to the Britons Celtic traditions and as such rebelled. However, this rebellion would fail and at some point Antedios would die, leaving Prasutagus and Boudica as king and queen of the Iceni. The Romans seized more land around Camulodunum to establish a colonia of veteran Roman soldiers, resulting in the enslavement and execution of many local tribes in an attempt to expand Roman influence, both materially and culturally in an effort to “Romanize” the territory. In 52 AD the king of the Catuvellauni, whom had been a leading figure in much of the resistance up to this point, was captured by Rome. That same year, Ostorius died, replaced as governor by Didius Gallus.
In 54 AD Emperor Claudius was poisoned, possibly by the mother of his successor, Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus who became emperor of Rome. Later in 58 AD Caius Suetonius Paullinus, replacing Didius Gallus, became governor of Britain and began a vicious military campaign in Wales. After successfully pushing to the north-western borders in 61 AD, Suetonius reached the sacred Celtic groves on the isle of Mona. There, they attacked the isle slaughtering the druids and what resistance was there, cutting down the sacred groves that were located on the isle. This would most likely have been an incredibly painful moment for the Celtic tribes of Britain, and it wouldn’t have been unlikely for Boudica to have heard of this assault against such an important spiritual location.
In conjuncture to the brutality at Mona, Boudica’s husband Prasutagus died. In death, Prasutagus left a will that was meant to split power between Rome and the Iceni, however this had no legal precedence either in Roman law or Celtic tradition and was therefore ignored. Under Roman law the death of a client king meant that either a new one was to replace them or Rome would take control of the territory directly. In this case, it would be the latter. Boudica, now acting as the sole ruler of the Iceni, was confronted by the procurator Decianus Catus, a financial official of Rome. They began to take inventory of Iceni property and lands, now considered property of Rome. When Boudica objected to this, Boudica was beaten and their daughters were raped. This violent act against Boudica and their daughters wouldn’t silence them however. It would spark a fire that would be felt across Britain and would not be forgotten.
After uniting with a number of other tribes resistant to Romes imperialism, Boudica attacked Camulodunum, slaughtering the inhabitants and burning it to the ground. The Roman legion Legio IX under the command of Quintus Petillius Cerialis Caesius Rufus attempted to halt the rebellion, but was ambushed by Boudica’s forces, escaping with their cavalary leaving his remaining infantry to be slaughtered. At this point Suetonius would learn of the rebellion and made their way from Mona to Londinium, Boudica’s next target. However, much like Camulodunum, Londinium had no walls or defenses and so Suetonius ordered the town evacuated. Those whom remained were brutally executed by Boudica’s forces.
Similarly to Camulodunum and Londinium, Verulamium, which had been granted the title of municipium by Rome which allowed for a limited amount of autonomy and participation in Roman government, was raided by Boudica. Suetonius gathered an army of around 10,000 soldiers, made up of the combined forces of Legio’s XIV and XX, as well as a number of auxiliaries gathered from around the local area. Dio wrote that Boudica’s forces number at around 230,000 warriors from various celtic tribes that had allied themselves to Boudica’s cause. Where exactly Suetonius and Boudica’s forces met in battle isn’t exactly known, though some suggest it to be located around Watling Street (A5).
One might initially think that Boudica’s numbers would have played a decisive factor in the battle. However, the training, equipment and strategem of the Roman army would prove itself once again against the might of the Celtic rebels. The Romans chose to position themselves in a defile in which the woods would be at their back, with open country in the front, taking advantage of an essentially natural fortification. Boudica’s forces met Suetonius’s in the field, Boudica reportedly riding in a chariot, commonly used by the Celts in warfare. The Romans opened the battle with their throwing javelins, followed by a charge in wedge formation, supported by cavalry on their wings. The long swords of the Celtic warriors, which required relative space to swing properly, were rendered ineffective on the cluttered battlefield that favored the Romans shield formations, stabbing with their short swords into Celtic lines. The chariots that the Celts favored proved completely useless against an enemy that had effectively fortified their position. The Celtic warriors weren’t even able to effectively retreat as they had brought their wives in wagons, set up behind their lines to witness the battle, effectively barricading themselves against retreat. The result was an overwhelming Roman victory, slaughtering the Celts and pushing Boudica to suicide, most likely in order to avoid capture by the Romans. Tacitus reports around 80,000 causalities for the Celts and 400 for the Romans.
Boudica’s revolt resulted in the death of about 70,000 Roman civilians and 7,000 Roman soldiers, if Tacitus’s numbers are to be believed. Boudica’s revolt, while a failure, shocked Roman society with its tenacity and violence. Rome would eventually take control of Britain, but the effects of Boudica’s rebellion are still felt to this day and much can be learned from them and the Celtic warriors that fought by their side. Lessons can be drawn from the successes, failures and context of the insurrection itself.
Which is what Boudica’s revolt must be understood as, an insurrection.
An insurrection is a general uprising against the power structure. It is usually a sustained rebellion over the course of days, weeks, months or even years. It is a type of class war that involves a whole population in an act of armed or semi-armed resistance. Sometimes mistakenly called a rebellion, its character is far more combative and revolutionary. Rebellions are almost totally spontaneous, short-term affairs. An insurrection is also not the revolution, SINCE REVOLUTION IS A SOCIAL PROCESS, RATHER THAN A SINGLE EVENT, but it can be an important part of the revolution, maybe its final phase. An insurrection is a planned violent protest campaign which takes the spontaneous revolt of the masses to a higher level. Revolutionaries intervene to push rebellions to insurrectionary stage, and the insurrection to a social revolution. Source.
Under this definition, Boudica’s revolt meets all the criteria for an insurrection. When we consider the revolts that proceeded Boudica’s from the beginning of the Claudian invasion in 43 AD all the way to their own ending in 61 AD, there exists eighteen years of prolonged insurrectionary activity within Britain. Though not necessarily able to be classified as a revolutionary process, the Celtic tribes of Britain certainly were united in a sustained, multi-year long process of warfare against Roman occupation. Boudica’s revolt was an extension of this campaign, which is especially obvious when we consider the targets that the Celtic insurrectionists chose and the kind of violence and destruction unleashed upon Roman colonists and soldiers. Of note is Boudica’s first target at Camulodunum, due to its establishment as a colonia and especially for the temple to the emperor Claudius that had been constructed there by emperor Nero in their honor. In assaulting Camulodunum, the soldiers and survivors that were able to escape the initial attack took shelter inside the temple itself. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Celts burned Camulodunum to the ground, including the temple. The Celts also, according to Roman reports, slaughtered and mutilated much of the towns inhabitants, though to what extent the Romans could judge with their own use of rape, torture, slavery and gladiatorial blood sports is questionable.
Suffice it to say, the Celtic insurrectionists sought to remove the Romans, and anyone who would ally with them, from Britain entirely. Of the three locations that were assaulted by Boudica’s forces, Camulodunum and Londinium were colonia. Verulamium itself was a Celtic community that had accepted a degree of Romanization and was therefore seen as a threat to Celtic autonomy due to their loyalty to Rome. A clear path of anti-imperialism is present in the insurrectionary campaign of Boudica, for personal as well as social, political, economic and spiritual reasons. This campaign would culminate in the battle against Suetonius.
The Celts made a number of errors in regards to this particular battle. Equipment wise, the Celts were highly under prepared for the type of engagement that they were about to undertake. While the style of weapons and battle dress of the Celts did not necessarily spell defeat for them, it had to be undertaken with their strengths in mind against whatever weaknesses could be exploited against their opponents, namely the Roman military. However the Celts choose to meet the Romans in open battle, something they were incredibly experienced with, in a position that highly favored the Romans. Not only that but the Celts, under their own arrogance, brought their wives in wagons with them, which would later prevent them from escaping Roman slaughter. The Celtic failure at this battle is quite disappointing given resistance up to this point, especially given the strategic knowledge Boudica had employed previously. There is an argument to be made that, had the Celts been successful in this battle it very well may have completely halted Roman incursion into Britain, at least for some time.
Boudica’s insurrection demonstrates that the struggle against domination and oppression is not one that can be accomplished over night. It is an evolutionary social process. Boudica’s insurrection was not the first in Britain but rather a part of an established historical struggle. Without that, Boudica would have had little to no reason to resist with the tenacity that they did, barring their own obvious personal reasons for doing so. This history would have given Boudica an understanding of what and why Roman imperialism needed to be resisted. The colonization, enslavement, murder, torture, rape and destruction of spiritual practices and ritual sites that had taken place before Boudica’s insurrection deeply informed their actions and strategy. It is why for example they chose to burn Camulodunum and the temple built there as they represented, both materially and symbolically, Roman domination over their lands and peoples.
In order to struggle for our freedom against domination, we must understand the history of that struggle for us to understand the context of our current one. Not only that, but we must be united in our struggle, otherwise it may fall apart without direction or understanding of what we are fighting for. Finally, struggling against domination must be understood within the evolutionary social process, that the struggle for freedom itself will contain the potential for a free society within it. These are the lessons that Boudica’s insurrection teach us, ones that I am of the idea must be understood if we are not only to understand the context of rebellions in our own time, but so that we may push them towards their insurrectionary and quite possibly, revolutionary potentialities.
Those who follow the work of C4SS Senior Fellow Roderick Long will be excited to learn he’s got a new project just launched on YouTube. The “Agoric Café” is “…devoted to philosophy, politics, history, literature, and whatever else he feels like sounding off on, as well as video interviews with interesting people.”
Taking its name from the ancient Greek agora, the new channel is devoted to Aristotelean philosophy, anarchist politics, science fiction, and intellectual history. So far there are three episodes available: an introduction, a review of Steve J. Shone’s American Anarchism, and an exploration of philosophical thought experiments and science fiction. Those with eclectic intellectual interests will enjoy the wide range of ideas Roderick covers and his creative approach to key philosophical theories.