Writer’s Guide

The Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) publishes and distributes commentary items written from a left-wing market anarchist perspective. New writers should register with this site and send email to admin@c4ss.org to request posting permissions.

All of our commentary items are published under the copyleft terms of the CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication. Submission of a commentary item for publication will be considered acceptance of those terms.

Commentary should be suitable for use as a newspaper op-ed.

Please review our editorial policy:

The Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) commissions and distributes media content designed to challenge the state: To undermine the false perception of its legitimacy, demonstrate its irrelevance to truly solving social and economic problems, and encourage its abolition. At no time will any C4SS publication implicitly or explicitly support the state’s continuation or augmentation.

C4SS’s publications will convey a positive vision of voluntary, peaceful cooperation as the basis for flourishing life in society; they will seek to foster not only the free exchange of goods and services but also the many other kinds of voluntary interactions that help to make social existence viable and attractive. Thus, they will urge the abolition of all forms of privilege that impede peaceful cooperation, while unequivocally rejecting the privilege-riddled capitalism so frequently mistaken for a genuinely freed market. And they will help to realize a culture free from authoritarianism, exclusion, submission, and deprivation — whether effected and sustained violently or non-violently — as well as aggressive violence.

C4SS emphasizes education, direct action, and the construction of alternative institutions, rather than electoral politics, as strategies for achieving liberation.

While its basic commitments will be consistently embodied in C4SS’s publications, not every C4SS author will embrace all of them. C4SS’s core values are reflected, in part, by its willingness to publish the work of a broad range of thinkers who oppose the state and who value economic and social freedom.

Additional guidelines:

  • Write for the general public.
  • Focus on a particular issue or event in the news.
  • Length: 500-800 words.
  • Write for print: No links or other markup.
  • Support the abolition of the State.

Resources:
The Elements of Style

Fifteen Words to Eliminate From Your Vocabulary

Kurt Vonnegut on keeping your writing simple and other style tips

Tips:

Structuring a Commentary
  1. Come up with a topic.
  2. Prepare five bullet points, each representing one paragraph for the commentary.
  3. Write the intro paragraph describing the topic (reiterate for the reader what’s going on). Then write your last paragraph, the conclusion, assuming you know what your take on the issue is.
  4. Try to come up with two to three different arguments supporting your position that make up the middle two to three paragraphs.

Random Notes on Style and Grammar:

  1. Pick a subject that is “in the news cycle.” That is, a subject that has been prominent in the public news coverage some time in the last week and/or you expect to see in the public news coverage some time in the next week.
  2. Pick a subject that you have a strongly-held opinion on. If it’s something you don’t really care much about at the moment, that will show in your writing.
  3. Pick one, two or AT MOST three arguments/aspects to address in your piece. There may be 50 reasons why something is good or bad, but if you list them all you’re running long before you even get to argue for those reasons (and there should also be a minimum number of arguments — make one or two arguments well instead of 50 arguments badly).
  4. Write in simple language. We’re shooting for high school or lower reading levels here.
  5. Since we’re the Center for a Stateless Society, every piece should link the problem you’re talking about to the state and explicitly or implicitly let the reader know that the best solution to the problem is abolition of the state.
  6. Write concisely. Trim fat, eliminate redundancies, unnecessary adjectives and adverbs, and flowery prose.

These are intended as suggestions, not hard and fast rules — but I’ll probably do them for you if you don’t do them for yourself.

Style/grammar/punctuation rules vary from paper to paper.

One reason I’m trying to promulgate a uniform set of such rules within C4SS is so that we have uniformity in “the little things” among all our writers. We should shock and outrage our readers with our arguments, not with wild variations of grammar, spelling and punctuation.

A second reason is ease of proofreading. If there’s a single style criterion, I can proof for it the same way every time — go through an article and I’m done. If I try to accommodate a different set of style rules for every writer, I’ll end up jumping back and forth in every article, trying to remember that writer’s rules to achieve internal, rather than universal, consistency.

So:

  • Capitalize the first word after a colon. Right: “Resolved: That Tom nitpicks.” Wrong: “Resolved: that Tom nitpicks.”
  • Put spaces around ellipses. Right: “And then … booga-booga!” Wrong: “And then… booga-booga!”
  • Speaking of ellipses, when quoting someone else: If you’re breaking off in the middle of a sentence and picking up later in that same sentence … do it like this. If you’re breaking off at the end of a sentence and picking up later in another sentence. … do it like this. If you’re breaking off in the middle of a sentence and picking up either at the beginning of, or in the middle of, another sentence …. do it like this.
  • Use the long dash (two strokes of the hyphen key, with spaces on either side) when using a dash to indicate an interjection (as opposed to hyphenation, which should just use one stroke of the hyphen key with no spaces). Right: “And then — just before he said ‘booga-booga!’ — he said ‘duuuude.'” Wrong: “And then – just before he said ‘booga – booga!’–he said ‘duuuude.'”