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Wobblies and Zapatistas offers the reader an encounter between two generations and two traditions. Andrej Grubacic is an anarchist from the Balkans. Staughton Lynd is a lifelong pacifist, influenced by Marxism. They meet in dialogue in an effort to bring together the anarchist and Marxist traditions, to discuss the writing of history by those who make it, and to remind us Wobblies and Zapatistas offers the reader an encounter between two generations and two traditions. Andrej Grubacic is an anarchist from the Balkans. Staughton Lynd is a lifelong pacifist, influenced by Marxism. They meet in dialogue in an effort to bring together the anarchist and Marxist traditions, to discuss the writing of history by those who make it, and to remind us of the idea that "my country is the world." Encompassing a Left libertarian perspective and an emphatically activist standpoint, these conversations are meant to be read in the clubs and affinity groups of the new Movement. The authors accompany us on a journey through modern revolutions, direct actions, anti-globalist counter summits, Freedom Schools, Zapatista cooperatives, Haymarket and Petrograd, Hanoi and Belgrade,  "intentional" communities, wildcat strikes, early Protestant communities, Native American democratic practices, the Workers' Solidarity Club of Youngstown, occupied factories, self-organized councils and soviets, the lives of forgotten revolutionaries, Quaker meetings, antiwar movements, and prison rebellions. Neglected and forgotten moments of interracial self-activity are brought to light. The book invites the attention of readers who believe that a better world, on the other side of capitalism and state bureaucracy, may indeed be possible.


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Wobblies and Zapatistas offers the reader an encounter between two generations and two traditions. Andrej Grubacic is an anarchist from the Balkans. Staughton Lynd is a lifelong pacifist, influenced by Marxism. They meet in dialogue in an effort to bring together the anarchist and Marxist traditions, to discuss the writing of history by those who make it, and to remind us Wobblies and Zapatistas offers the reader an encounter between two generations and two traditions. Andrej Grubacic is an anarchist from the Balkans. Staughton Lynd is a lifelong pacifist, influenced by Marxism. They meet in dialogue in an effort to bring together the anarchist and Marxist traditions, to discuss the writing of history by those who make it, and to remind us of the idea that "my country is the world." Encompassing a Left libertarian perspective and an emphatically activist standpoint, these conversations are meant to be read in the clubs and affinity groups of the new Movement. The authors accompany us on a journey through modern revolutions, direct actions, anti-globalist counter summits, Freedom Schools, Zapatista cooperatives, Haymarket and Petrograd, Hanoi and Belgrade,  "intentional" communities, wildcat strikes, early Protestant communities, Native American democratic practices, the Workers' Solidarity Club of Youngstown, occupied factories, self-organized councils and soviets, the lives of forgotten revolutionaries, Quaker meetings, antiwar movements, and prison rebellions. Neglected and forgotten moments of interracial self-activity are brought to light. The book invites the attention of readers who believe that a better world, on the other side of capitalism and state bureaucracy, may indeed be possible.

30 review for Wobblies and Zapatistas: Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism and Radical History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ernesto Aguilar

    From the moment Marxists and anarchists parted ways in 1872, the peculiar and occasionally rancorous tension between the divergent schools of socialism has been the subject of many a debate, study group and protest. For anarchists, as Mikhail Bakunin articulated, Marxism's ascension would virtually necessitate it would become as oppressive as the capitalist state. For Marxists, anarchism's impulse to support no one having power meant the well-connected in-crowd, mostly well-heeled and white, wou From the moment Marxists and anarchists parted ways in 1872, the peculiar and occasionally rancorous tension between the divergent schools of socialism has been the subject of many a debate, study group and protest. For anarchists, as Mikhail Bakunin articulated, Marxism's ascension would virtually necessitate it would become as oppressive as the capitalist state. For Marxists, anarchism's impulse to support no one having power meant the well-connected in-crowd, mostly well-heeled and white, would exert their power in other ways and with the tacit support of the core of the people. From these early conflicts came years of characterizations - as often fair as misguided - of a host of Anarchism's motivations and political aspirations, and about organizing and the lack thereof. Still, it would be a sin of omission to avoid saying there was not at least a hint of admiration at times on the part of Marxists for anarchism's flair for harnessing the creative energies of youth, or by anarchists, who secretly desired to have the credibility to organize broadly, with clarity and among communities of color. The admiration is spotty though. Marxism and anarchism have historically had a love-hate relationship as impassioned and tragic as anything Euripides ever penned. Anti-globalization currents, and both tendencies' struggles to turn early protests into a massive anti-capitalist mobilization, have rekindled discussions of the kind found in Wobblies and Zapatistas: Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism and Radical History. Granted, few of these dialogues have involved luminaries of Staughton Lynd's stature, yet they represent a starting place - not only about differences, but also about commonalities, shared values, and hopes for a better world. Wobblies and Zapatistas puts Lynd at the table with Andrej Grubacic, a Northern California anarchist by way of the Balkans, for extensive exchanges about history, political theory and practical reality. Removed from these talks are some of the stranger hues of Marxism and anarchism - extreme sectarianism and "post left" posturing among them - nor is this book intended to blast one idea or the other. Instead, Lynd and Grubacic are aiming squarely for those looking to build bridges between the two camps. Their conversation about the Zapatistas' militancy emerges an intriguing discourse, flowing throughout the book, about how politics over the last generation has fundamentally changed. For this reason, how activists and radical partisans in the struggle see themselves and their orientations must also change, with an eye to rejecting old labels. This is not a new revelation. The New Left has postulated such ideas for some time, and the aforementioned anti-globalization clashes and demonstrations have often eschewed ideological tags. In Lynd and Grubacic's estimation, internationalism is as much of the heart as it is about politics. One could derisively call this misty idealism, although one cannot discount the earnestness of such beliefs. Both are correct in seeing the importance of "big-picture" ideas when it comes to putting forward a political vision. For example, proclaiming that Joe Hill would have seen himself as a Palestinian conjures up effective imagery, and a fertile discussion arises from this point. Lynd seems to acknowledge the amount of work that remains to be done when he argues that the movements of today face difficulties concerning strategy. Compare this with the South's fight over African American disenfranchisement and the North's battle against the war in Vietnam in the 1960s-70s, which galvanized disparate forces. Yet, the bulk of the book suggests a bigger problem is the reliance on old ways of doing thins. What gets a little downplayed here is an assessment of the amount of work involved in moving towards these "big-picture" moments. Lynd's remark that anarchism and Marxism are not mutually exclusive alternatives, but Hegelian moments split by personality clashes with the First International, seem simplistic, and comments in the book too often dismissively reduce significant and substantive splits to mere sleights of hand. At the same time, engaging critiques, such as seeing anti-imperialism not as a rejection of everything American but as embracing the best in American radical traditions, abound. Reexaminations of the Haymarket affair and the Industrial Workers of the World ("the Zapatistas of yesteryear," as Lynd calls them) are sure to make one look upon these memorable revolutionary surges in a new light. Chalk that up to Lynd's take on history, which is richly textured and buoyed by the weight of experience. One cannot address the ideas presented here without appreciating Lynd's remarkable life. From his expulsion from the military to his directorship of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee's Freedom Schools, to his engagement in the Youngstown steel mill struggle in the 1970s and beyond, Lynd has been a critical figure on the left. He has also been a vibrant socialist, albeit one who has embraced socialism's diversity over dogmatism. His genuine love for humanity shines through, and it is doubtful such a that this dialogue could be so arresting without his compassion. Noted German statesman Otto von Bismarck was famously quoted as saying after the First International split that "crowned heads, wealth and privilege may well tremble should ever again the black and red unite." In the pages of Wobblies and Zapatistas, such a possibility seems not so far away.

  2. 5 out of 5

    *

    No longer using this website, but I'm leaving up old reviews. Fuck Jeff Bezos. Find me on LibraryThing: https://www.librarything.com/profile/... I wanted to like this book so much, but things were damned from the very first page: there is a paragraph-long blurb by one of the most pretentious brats I have ever had the displeasure of sharing organizing space with. I seethed when I saw it and I wrinkled my nose when I read it. Anyone who has this book and knows me in an organizing context will know No longer using this website, but I'm leaving up old reviews. Fuck Jeff Bezos. Find me on LibraryThing: https://www.librarything.com/profile/... I wanted to like this book so much, but things were damned from the very first page: there is a paragraph-long blurb by one of the most pretentious brats I have ever had the displeasure of sharing organizing space with. I seethed when I saw it and I wrinkled my nose when I read it. Anyone who has this book and knows me in an organizing context will know which asshole I am talking about... There were several things that I appreciated about the book. For one, opening my eyes to Liberation Theology and Oscar Romero. His theory of accompaniment is one that I had, without knowing, started down the road of adopting in my current studies to be a nurse. I could have come across this by merely reading Oscar Romero's letters themselves, and I plan on it. But before reading this book, I never knew to. Which brings me to another plus: Staughton Lynd rattles off books that I am interested in reading. It's great! The book is almost an annotated reading list, many of which sound utterly fascinating, including Staughton Lynd's books. But can I really justify recommending this book? Or should I just be recommending the books that this book recommends? In addition, Lynd's dismisses some ideas without engaging them in a serious way. His understanding of the abolition of whiteness is based on a vulgar definition, one that isn't actually linked to moving white people away from the benefits given to them by white supremacy, and instead is based on crass dismissal of white people. He then burns up the straw man by pointing to scant historical anecdotes (which are quite inspirational) of the white working class working with the black working class together, when it suited their mutual interest. Unfortunately, he doesn't engage how often white working class movements refuse to engage with the black working class because their interests are meted out differently by a capitalist system that wishes to divide and conquer them. White abolition exists to undermine the difference between the working class' divergent interests based on race, not to dismiss white people offhand. Staughton Lynd also extols too hard the virtues of himself working a professional class job as a lawyer that helps the working class navigate through the capitalist system as a basis for accompaniment. Lawyers and laws may be needed as a temporary fix to stave off the worst excesses of capitalism, but as a hero of mine once said, "The Master's tools will never dismantle the Master's house." Or, as another hero more forebodingly said, "Tyrants die from stab wounds, not articles of the legal code." Sure, you can buy your time with these temporary fixes, but the law exists to serve capital, and these temporary fixes will be rolled back at the whim of the class of people who control the means of production. Staughton dismisses Critical Legal Theory for being too cynical, but he doesn't address the criticism of the theory: that people use law and higher concepts only as positioning for their client to win their case. The stories of the two movements mentioned in the title (the Industrial Workers of the World and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation) are stories I've already heard before, and more thoroughly elsewhere. Though I came away with some excitement about books I've never heard of before, I cannot think of a reason to go back to the book, now that I've finished it. I won't be quoting it, I won't be searching through the pages to reread favorite passages. I can't even say that I'd recommend it to many people, except as a sort of broad stroke survey of independent left movements in the US: all the right groups and people are mentioned, but none of this is gone into with any sort of satisfactory depth. Available: http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/44454...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    More useful as a primer on 20th century American leftism than any sort of template for future organizing, though I enjoyed learning about Staughton Lynd. The most useful idea out of all of this is that of accompaniment--develop a skill useful to the poor, show up, and don't be a weirdo. Very solid advice for any young activist! More useful as a primer on 20th century American leftism than any sort of template for future organizing, though I enjoyed learning about Staughton Lynd. The most useful idea out of all of this is that of accompaniment--develop a skill useful to the poor, show up, and don't be a weirdo. Very solid advice for any young activist!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stevphen Shukaitis

    This is a lovely book that does an excellent job weaving together many threads of social movement histories and struggles without constantly hitting you over the head about it being movement history. The discussion format does a great job of teasing out the resonances between the Staughton and Andrej's experiences. This book is also quite well timed in that Staughton's amazing and inspiring life has seemingly been somewhat forgotten today, and this book really draws out the connections between t This is a lovely book that does an excellent job weaving together many threads of social movement histories and struggles without constantly hitting you over the head about it being movement history. The discussion format does a great job of teasing out the resonances between the Staughton and Andrej's experiences. This book is also quite well timed in that Staughton's amazing and inspiring life has seemingly been somewhat forgotten today, and this book really draws out the connections between the struggles he was involved in during the 1960s with those of the IWW, the Zapatistas, and the movement he continues to be involved with (which overlap and converge greatly with where Andre is coming from, even if not in a physical sense of location necessarily). While there are of course things I'd quibble with here and there (the idea that Marxism and anarchism are Hegelian moments in need of a higher form of synthesis, or the quite silly critique of 'whiteness theory' that attributes to it a kind of unchanging and ahistorical essentializing that is exactly what is it aimed at critiquing), nevertheless this is exactly the kind of movement histories and creative approaches to telling those stories and experiences that is really valuable to the continually necessary task of assessing the current political situation and context of movement building while learning from what has come before and necessarily underlies the state of things we find ourselves in.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Only Greece

    This was a bit of a frustrating read. Lynd has half a century of knowledge and experience as an organizer and a historian and that came through as he weaved together disparate historical movements, pulling lessons and inspiration from them. However, I felt that the book jumped around a lot leaving a lot of thoughts unfinished, complex ideas brushed over and, in the end, the purpose of book in question. The stated purpose of this conversation was to synthesize the historically separated political This was a bit of a frustrating read. Lynd has half a century of knowledge and experience as an organizer and a historian and that came through as he weaved together disparate historical movements, pulling lessons and inspiration from them. However, I felt that the book jumped around a lot leaving a lot of thoughts unfinished, complex ideas brushed over and, in the end, the purpose of book in question. The stated purpose of this conversation was to synthesize the historically separated political ideas of Marxism and anarchism. However, I didn't come out of this book with any clearer of a picture of how I could unite Marxism and anarchism in either theory or practice than I did going in to it. Lynd's working definitions of Marxism and anarchism were vague and perhaps a little misleading and this really seemed to compromised the goals of the book. This was labeled as a conversation, but it was functionally an interview. I think that's a shame. Grubacic, from what I've read of him, seems to have a wealth of knowledge and experience himself and I think that this book could have benefited from more of his input. All that said, I finished this book with some ideas that I hadn't come across before, new energy for organizing and a fuller picture of historical movements. It wasn't bad, but I think it had the potential to be so much better.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    I found this book incredibly engaging and provocative, but this was my first time learning much about Lynd and his work; those already familiar with him may find it less so. I think the conversation between Grubacic and Lynd is very much the type that those involved in social movements need to be having - looking back at past social movements and finding their connections, learning from their tactics, learning from their failures. And I like the manner in which this reflection happens here; built I found this book incredibly engaging and provocative, but this was my first time learning much about Lynd and his work; those already familiar with him may find it less so. I think the conversation between Grubacic and Lynd is very much the type that those involved in social movements need to be having - looking back at past social movements and finding their connections, learning from their tactics, learning from their failures. And I like the manner in which this reflection happens here; built out of personal experience woven with broader history, making self and collective introspection take place simultaneously. Also, for a book focusing on anarchism and Marxism, I think it does a commendable job of crediting the influence that Christianity has had on inspiring social change, particularly in the Americas. This is due in no small part to Lynd's beliefs as a Quaker, but it's something often belittled or forgotten in other such texts. Last, I felt the middle section - "Guerilla History" - provided me with a vision for what doing truly useful intellectual work for social change outside of the university system might look like. Definitely helpful, at least for me at the current moment.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Mac gafraidh

    Many of the critiques I've read on this book have pointed out the disjointed 'call and response' format between the two authors. To me, it reads like a long and rich conversation, in which both men repeatedly visit the same question. That is, how can we bottle up the successes and learn from the mistakes of past anarchist and Marxist revolutionary actions? I feel my knowledge of radical socialist history has grown reading this book. As well I'm inspired by the experiences of these men as activis Many of the critiques I've read on this book have pointed out the disjointed 'call and response' format between the two authors. To me, it reads like a long and rich conversation, in which both men repeatedly visit the same question. That is, how can we bottle up the successes and learn from the mistakes of past anarchist and Marxist revolutionary actions? I feel my knowledge of radical socialist history has grown reading this book. As well I'm inspired by the experiences of these men as activists. In the end there is just the right combination of academics and real-world wisdom in this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Harebell

    I got a lot out of this, but by the last few chapters Lynd was getting patronizingly racist (lambasting what he called "whiteness theory" from black scholars in specific), and then some benevolent sexism where he claims women are naturally less violent by virtue of being women. Also don't like how much he brought up his Christian faith to explain what people should strive towards in activism. Some other critiques I won't go into. It did introduce me to other historical figures and moments, theori I got a lot out of this, but by the last few chapters Lynd was getting patronizingly racist (lambasting what he called "whiteness theory" from black scholars in specific), and then some benevolent sexism where he claims women are naturally less violent by virtue of being women. Also don't like how much he brought up his Christian faith to explain what people should strive towards in activism. Some other critiques I won't go into. It did introduce me to other historical figures and moments, theorists, and writers, and I got something out of earlier chapters, so there's that.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Keegan

    Wobblies and Zapatistas In this book, there is a disappointing lack of discussion about both Wobblies and Zapatistas. The title seems to be drawn simply from two topics that come up once in a while throughout the “correspondence” between Lynd and Grubacic. While Lynd has an expansive memory, knowledge base, and ability to recall facts, details, events, people, he either lacks or does not articulate here any clear concrete ideas about the best trajectory for the contemporary revolutionary movemen Wobblies and Zapatistas In this book, there is a disappointing lack of discussion about both Wobblies and Zapatistas. The title seems to be drawn simply from two topics that come up once in a while throughout the “correspondence” between Lynd and Grubacic. While Lynd has an expansive memory, knowledge base, and ability to recall facts, details, events, people, he either lacks or does not articulate here any clear concrete ideas about the best trajectory for the contemporary revolutionary movement. The premise of the book is to synthesize Marxist and anarchist ideas and actions, and while he points out the strengths and weaknesses of both, he tends to only point out how they are not compatible, or at least have not been in the past, and not point out how they can become compatible or work together. Basically he thinks that anarchism is the superior framework because it does not try to assume state power. He considers Zapatistas exemplary of this because they live in a radical society without trying to gain state power. But he thinks that the majority of anarchist lack a coherent economic theory to oppose capitalism and to essentially continue an ongoing fight. He argues that anarchists move from action to action without a cohesive campaign because of this lack of economic theory, and believes they should adopt Marxist economic theory. But he completely rejects Marxism's obsession with taking over the state. “The revolution to which we aspire need not and should not seek state power. Rather, its project should be to nurture an horizontal network of self-governing institutions down below to which whoever holds state power will learn they have to be obedient and accountable” (50). He hates hierarchy in the movement whether it be socialists, unionized, etc. Personally I think we should resist and fight on all fronts – attempt to take state power, to form alternative's to state power, anything and everything we can do to escape the capitalist system. Lynd holds odd ideas about class and people's roll in the movement. He does not clearly define either the “lower class” who anarchists are supposed to be helping in the their struggles, nor the “upper class” who is oppressing everyone. These lines are blurring as capitalism grows more complex. He does identify a class of “footloose students and intellectuals” that are not “preoccupied with economic survival,” (47) to which I admit I am a part. Though I am not in academia or independently wealthy, I now I have enough personal capital that I can read this book and write this review and not worry that I will be able to make enough money to get by when I put my mind to it. Lynd argues that people like me should cultivate useful skills and put ourselves at the service of the lower classes. He, for example, became a lawyer. His ideas of “useful skills” seem a bit academic, however. In a real anarchist revolution that is not trying to take over the state, is a law degree or the ability to build houses more important? His relationship to academia is also unclear. He does not think professors should be obsessed with being professors. He thinks highly educated people should be on the front lines, fighting for the lower classes, and that is where they will be (and where they have been) to write their best work. I agree with this, especially in terms of writing a Gorilla History. I, for one, do not want the next history of the world – one that will hopefully be about workers struggles to oppose the oppressive force of capitalism until they finally threw it off by adopting indigenous lifestyles and abandoning Western civilization, one that breaks down the meta-narratives of rich, white men progressing the world and doing good for everyone, but putting them in their place as slave holders, rapists, and land thiefs – to be written by an academic in an arm chair, or anyone who was not on the front lines confronting Capitalism. That would be a continuation of the division of labor. The new artists/writer/historian cannot be a passive observer. So I like most of his ideas about writing a gorilla history. His biggest shortcoming in my mind, is not distinguishing, or not stating, the difference between revolutions that come from outside the capitalist system, and those that do not. He seems to think that coal miners, etc (working class within the capitalist system) need academics who can view their situation from the outside, and present it to the dominant culture with law degrees, history degrees, etc, but acknowledges that the Zapatistas did not need any of this. In my mind this is because the Zapatistas are an indigenous people, still in touch with their traditional culture, which is a complete, viable alternative to capitalism. They do not need Marxist philosophy from the educated classes, etc. They invited Marxists and anarchist to come join them to garner international attention and support, and it worked. This is a great example of how anti-capitalist work could move forward in America. Indigenous cultures have viable alternatives to the capitalists system, support them in their struggle to take back their land (1/3 of the land base of the continental United States under treaties that are still on the books), and establish societies to which all are invited. The book ends with a discussion of why he is a pacifist. He condemns three of his categories of violence (toward the state, toward individuals, toward oneself) but then glorifies one man who burnt himself alive in front of the secretary of defense during the Vietnam war, and gives him more credit for ending the war than I have ever heard about. Gorilla history? A couple other interesting points he made in passing: “Violence was therapeutic for the oppressed” (37). I definitely see this in the working class within capitalists societies and indigenous cultures on reservations, in the form of fighting and domestic abuse. Physical violence is almost a necessary outlet for the disenfranchised. But I believe this violence against one another could be replaced, and would be far more healthy, if it were directed against the state, capitalism, corporations etc. And I do think, from my own experiences, that that trade-off works, that attending rallies and resisting the system replaces and extinguishes the urge to be violent with another frustrated, disenfranchised individual. “An optimist is a person who brings his lunch to work” (38). “Trade unions did not prefigure another world, but were institutions that ameliorated capitalist excesses and thus stabilized capitalism” (49). By ameliorate I think he literally means adopt, grow, expand – i.e. they indulged in the excesses of capitalism. And this is a point that all elements of the movement should take to heart. If any action, idea, or individual can be eschewed as only able to exist because of the capitalist system against which it is fighting, it loses all its radical capability. Activist who have the money and leisure time to fly all over the world attending rallies come to mind. Page 209: I love the parable of a tortured radical, who when his revolutionaries gain power, captures the man who tortured him and says, “Now I will have my revenge. Now I will set you free.” I love parables. “After passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, Nothern abolitionists began to advocate and use violence to protect fugitive slaves. Frederick Douglas...split with Garrison and declared that any means necessary to end slavery were justified” (235). This seems like a strong point for the violence Lynd denounces. The Fugitive Slave Act always seemed unconscionable to me. How could people who saw the evil of slavery allow slave owners to lay hands on slaves without fighting for them.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Viral

    A really fascinating look into the life and political development of Staughton Lynd, a towering figure in the American Marxist historical tradition, discussing with Andrej Grubacic, a lifelong anarchist, about what anarchism and Marxism both have to bring to the table in modern political discourse. It refuses to shy away from conversations about failures from both camps in attempted projects, failures to stop the continued growth of capitalism, and the new avenues of change ahead. It didn't feel A really fascinating look into the life and political development of Staughton Lynd, a towering figure in the American Marxist historical tradition, discussing with Andrej Grubacic, a lifelong anarchist, about what anarchism and Marxism both have to bring to the table in modern political discourse. It refuses to shy away from conversations about failures from both camps in attempted projects, failures to stop the continued growth of capitalism, and the new avenues of change ahead. It didn't feel as much a conversation as it did an interview of Lynd by Grubacic. I still found it incredibly interesting and I plan to return to this text in the future, as it contains many good quotes and sections on the situation before the American left today.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Less of a conversation and more of a short question and long answer format. A super easy read not bogged down in theory but rooted in Lynd's personal experience. The book does not offer any in depth analysis of any specific issue which can get annoying at times but by the end i felt that was done purposefully. This book is not a field guide for activism but more an overview of the personal experiences of 1 man as a lifelong activist. Less of a conversation and more of a short question and long answer format. A super easy read not bogged down in theory but rooted in Lynd's personal experience. The book does not offer any in depth analysis of any specific issue which can get annoying at times but by the end i felt that was done purposefully. This book is not a field guide for activism but more an overview of the personal experiences of 1 man as a lifelong activist.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Very good book that not only explores zapatismo and Marxism and where they differ/relate but goes into depth on organizing working class people and the academic analysis that sometimes get in the way. This book reminded me of a Make the Road by Walking style interview with a modern analysis to include modern anti-statist organizing and other forms of anarchist-Marxist fusion.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Sooley

    Staughton loses me a little bit with his views on Christianity but the main theme of the book kind of requires me to look past that through to what we agree on and it is good

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    It was a pretty good book. Its basically an extended conversation or series of letters between two people. One an american historian and IWW lawyer (Staughton Lynd), and the other a Yugoslav activist/writer (Andrej Grubačić). It had some things which were kind of bothersome. For example a fairly ahistorical view of the civil war which places centrality upon abolitionism and an ahistorical view of the great depression along standard economically fallacious lines (ie the theory that government spe It was a pretty good book. Its basically an extended conversation or series of letters between two people. One an american historian and IWW lawyer (Staughton Lynd), and the other a Yugoslav activist/writer (Andrej Grubačić). It had some things which were kind of bothersome. For example a fairly ahistorical view of the civil war which places centrality upon abolitionism and an ahistorical view of the great depression along standard economically fallacious lines (ie the theory that government spending helped). There is a lot of bad economics in this thing actually. Like they blame the destruction of the Mexican agricultural industry the influx of Iowa corn while ignoring the role of state subsidies to said corn. Aka, classic cases of blaming the market rather than the government because market actors are the actors most proximate to the bad consequences and therefore more visible. But it also had a lot of good. Its always interesting to see how opposing schools of thought interpret world affairs, history, and what sort of internal disputes they have. This book gives you a peek into the far left anarchist/marxist movement. I say opposing schools of thought even though I consider myself an anarchist because this brand of anarchism is alien to me. This anarchism is extremely extremely influenced by marxism to the point where they are kind of indistinguishable, as the authors point out themselves. These guys are like Chomsky anarchists who want to hugely expand the power of the state in the present within certain areas because the state is a counterbalance to private hierarchies or whatever. Far leftists of this stripe are common both in the industrial west and in the third world, and this book does a great job of showing both perspectives. They also talk about the relationships between radical leftists of different classes and racial/social backgrounds which was really interesting to me, particularly in the context of prisons. Like I said, plenty of valuable insights here even if you arent a lefty anarchist. For example, they discuss how the ‪Zapatista‬s try to defend local communal land ownership norms, among other norms. It also discusses the actual real life stories of multiple strikers, prisoners, and other oppressed groups in their struggles. Again, a lot of this is packed with economic dumbness, but a lot of it is also both really good from an ethically minded anarchist perspective, and from a disinterested historical observer perspective. They also discuss their own personal experiences within the movements, some intra-movement disputes about the role of violence, the role of the state, and anarchism vs marxism. I always like reading about contentious points such as these because it quickly fleshes out what the main values of the opposing ideologies are. This book covers a lot of ground in terms of historical eras and subjects. Revolutionary China, WW1, WW2, American Revolution, Zapatistas, Old school Wobblies, 1960s counterculture, modern Wobblies, WTO strikers, black bloc starbucks torchers, etc etc etc. This was an awfully written and disjointed review, but the book is kind of disjointed so whatever maybe you can eat a worm blah blah blah end.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    This is a down-to-earth conversation between Staughton Lynd and Adrej Grubacic that should be enjoyable and useful to non-sectarian leftists. The two ground themselves in anarchist and Marxist theory, writing, and history. They reflect on their own personal experiences in the context of broader struggles and social movements. Lynd frequently speaks from a liberation theology and Quaker perspective. Major themes are repeated throughout: direct action, accompaniment, nonviolent civil disobedience, This is a down-to-earth conversation between Staughton Lynd and Adrej Grubacic that should be enjoyable and useful to non-sectarian leftists. The two ground themselves in anarchist and Marxist theory, writing, and history. They reflect on their own personal experiences in the context of broader struggles and social movements. Lynd frequently speaks from a liberation theology and Quaker perspective. Major themes are repeated throughout: direct action, accompaniment, nonviolent civil disobedience, and internationalism. 
The title comes from the authors’ wish to weave anarchism and Marxism together. They see what they call the “Haymarket Synthesis” in the early IWW in Chicago and in contemporary Zapatismo, whereby Marxism helps us better understand structures of society and anarchism helps us understand our practices as a prefiguration of a more just society. Like Graeber and Critchley, for Lynd, the value of anarchism lies largely in its ethics for political practice. Generally, he warns against tendencies towards mere activism, and instead advocates working closely with the working class. Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero’s principle of “accompaniment” guides Lynd’s understanding of how one is to walk side-by-side with the oppressed. He laments the “summit-hopping of some activists, whereby anarchists convene at dramatic confrontations with police at transnational gatherings of capital, but do not know how to organize locally when they return home. Interestingly, Lynd argues for a “professional” accompaniment, whereby middle class folks can make services useful to the poor. I liked his simple formula for organizing: the first step is listening, and the second step is to “recognize that it is the person with whom you are talking who will be the organizer that your role is to support and to accompany.” His own experiences in the capacity of a labor attorney assisting workers in struggle makes the point persuasive. Accompaniment is attractive because it locates the agency not in the ally, but the person affected by the issue at hand, and also because it emphasizes that there should be no false deference for the oppressed by exempting them from criticism. In fact, Lynd’s outlook can be summarized as common-sense principles and disciplined humanism. At one point, he states that “organizations of the poor must not become mere front groups for the programs of the left.” This discussion of accompaniment demonstrates what is meant by an anarchist, or ethical political practice.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Antosh

    I remember liking this book more when I first purchased it then I do now. Part of it was the fact that I had just met one of the converstationalists (Andrej Grubacic) and he is a very nice person. The other part is that I've changed when it comes to where I am within life. When I first bought this book, I was a university student, filled with idealistic thoughts that I was some bohemianian intellectual. In that context, the idea that my proper role was 'accompaniment' with workers, the poor and I remember liking this book more when I first purchased it then I do now. Part of it was the fact that I had just met one of the converstationalists (Andrej Grubacic) and he is a very nice person. The other part is that I've changed when it comes to where I am within life. When I first bought this book, I was a university student, filled with idealistic thoughts that I was some bohemianian intellectual. In that context, the idea that my proper role was 'accompaniment' with workers, the poor and oppressed. I am no longer in university; despite getting a B.A. I am a worker, working 46 hours a week. My social reality has changed. With that, it felt like the ideas of this book where not presented for me, rather it was for the middle class 'professional'. It didn't talk to me the way it should. There are also some flaws - the conversation style does not hold a narrative, and often Lynd goes far off track of original line of questioning. There are some editing mistakes (understandable for PM Press was only recent at the time. More importantly, I feel like Lynd and Grubacic see anarchism only as an organizational and moral philosophy, and as such needs the 'hard theory' of marxism to give it weight. This view of anarchism as organizational/moral totally ignores the history of anarchist theorists who tackled the hard theory to explain anarchism (Bakunin, Kropotkin, etc). The failure to discuss this in greater detail is a real drag on the book. this book is a very good collection of anecdotes from a long time member of American social movements. The 'suggested readings' at the back makes it worth it's price, but I don't think that this book is the one that will produce a new, radical and militant left politics is North America.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Seamus Thompson

    An engaging and interesting attempt to find common ground between Anarchism and Marxism -- or, more truthfully, between the current motley, anti-globalization Left and the traditional, all-too-often doctrinaire American Left. Though, in truth, Lynd has more in common with the original Old LeftStaughton Lynd is a worthy figure to bridge the gap an lend credibility to Marxist ideas that many younger activists are too quick to dismiss (or ignore). A lifelong Civil Rights/Anti-War activist and Worke An engaging and interesting attempt to find common ground between Anarchism and Marxism -- or, more truthfully, between the current motley, anti-globalization Left and the traditional, all-too-often doctrinaire American Left. Though, in truth, Lynd has more in common with the original Old LeftStaughton Lynd is a worthy figure to bridge the gap an lend credibility to Marxist ideas that many younger activists are too quick to dismiss (or ignore). A lifelong Civil Rights/Anti-War activist and Worker/Prisoner rights lawyer, Lynd is a pragmatist who is willing to abandon ideas/tactics that don't work. The tone of the book is conversational with Grubacic primarily in the role of questioner. Lynd addresses a number of topics, ranging from the big picture to the small picture: is it better for the left to try seize state control or to create parallel institutions?; what is the role of intellectuals in working-class movements?; how should the Left approach the writing and study of History?; is there a place for violence in the movement? Etc. Lynd has strong convictions but he is open-minded and, at the very least, quick to explain the origins of and reasons for his views. The movement is (and always will be) a work in progress and as we grapple to better our battered world, this book is a great way to continue the conversation without reinventing the wheel.

  18. 4 out of 5

    J.J. Amaworo

    Staughton Lynd is a legendary American activist-intellectual. Like his near-contemporary (one year separates them) Noam Chomsky, Lynd speaks truth to power. But unlike Chomsky, Lynd abandoned his university position in favor of working with and for the oppressed. "Wobblies and Zapatistas" consists of conversations, or to be precise, monologues that come dressed in the garb of conversations: rich in anecdote, informal asides, and shared knowledge. The format is this: anarchist theorist and scholar Staughton Lynd is a legendary American activist-intellectual. Like his near-contemporary (one year separates them) Noam Chomsky, Lynd speaks truth to power. But unlike Chomsky, Lynd abandoned his university position in favor of working with and for the oppressed. "Wobblies and Zapatistas" consists of conversations, or to be precise, monologues that come dressed in the garb of conversations: rich in anecdote, informal asides, and shared knowledge. The format is this: anarchist theorist and scholar Andrej Grubačić kicks things off with a brief introduction to a topic and then poses a question for Lynd to tackle. The subjects are numerous: working class movements, guerilla history, and Lynd’s work with prisoners, among many others. The conversations are always enlightening, and all the better for the ghosts of the great activist-thinkers that haunt these pages: Rosa Luxemburg, Norman Morrison (who self-immolated to protest the Vietnam War), Archbishop Oscar Romero, and numerous worker-friends who died fighting the good fight. A great read for anyone interested in issues of social justice from a leftist perspective. This review is a shortened version of that found on https://jjawilson.wordpress.com/.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    this is the first political book i've picked up in ages. and by ages i mean something like 6 or 7 years. in that time i've mostly just re-read books that have shaped my political development (society of the spectacle, bolo'bolo, whatever odds and ends by emma goldman, etc.). but i grabbed this for a few reasons: 1) i am a long-time fan of the historical wobblies and the current zapatistas, so the title and cover grabbed my attention; 2) for years i have found my politics sitting sometimes (un)co this is the first political book i've picked up in ages. and by ages i mean something like 6 or 7 years. in that time i've mostly just re-read books that have shaped my political development (society of the spectacle, bolo'bolo, whatever odds and ends by emma goldman, etc.). but i grabbed this for a few reasons: 1) i am a long-time fan of the historical wobblies and the current zapatistas, so the title and cover grabbed my attention; 2) for years i have found my politics sitting sometimes (un)comfortably between anarchism and (autonomist) marxism; 3) it seems to emphasize a healthy balance of (what they call) "low theory" and action as opposed to the either theory heavy or big-action tendencies of current radical politics; and 4) i was raised to be a history nerd (thanks mom!). i'm only about forty pages in at the moment. but so far, so freaking good! more soon.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jordan McPeek

    Not knowing much at all about anarchism or Staughton Lynd, this book sounded like a good introduction. I like the idea of a conversation, anticipating some back and forth that might illustrate the differences for me. But it was more of an interview of Lynd. Still, the guy is fascinating. His own personal experiences combined with his knowledge of history made this wide-ranging book a great read. It didn't fill me in on all the details, but it touched on areas I'd like to explore further, and has Not knowing much at all about anarchism or Staughton Lynd, this book sounded like a good introduction. I like the idea of a conversation, anticipating some back and forth that might illustrate the differences for me. But it was more of an interview of Lynd. Still, the guy is fascinating. His own personal experiences combined with his knowledge of history made this wide-ranging book a great read. It didn't fill me in on all the details, but it touched on areas I'd like to explore further, and has a great suggested reading section at the end to help do just that. The thoughts on history and accompaniment were intriguing and new to me. A very hopeful book, Lynd sees value in all the small victories and many setbacks that characterize movements for change. They're all part of building the path to a better world. I'll enjoy reading this one again.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    Another book I just cracked. The title is a bit misleading. This book isn't really about the IWW and Zapatistas but about the intersections of Marxism and anarchism. The aforementioned groups (as well as other organizations and historic movements) are used to illustrate commonalities between the two (not so)opposed schools of thought. The book is supposed to read like a conversation between Staughton Lynd (marxist) and Andrej Grubacic (anarchist) and is reminiscent of format of dialogue between Another book I just cracked. The title is a bit misleading. This book isn't really about the IWW and Zapatistas but about the intersections of Marxism and anarchism. The aforementioned groups (as well as other organizations and historic movements) are used to illustrate commonalities between the two (not so)opposed schools of thought. The book is supposed to read like a conversation between Staughton Lynd (marxist) and Andrej Grubacic (anarchist) and is reminiscent of format of dialogue between Myles Horton and Paulo Friere in "We Make the Road by Walking." Thus far the conversation is pretty one-sided with Staughton doing most of the talking and Grubacic occasionally prompting. I'm digging this more than Solidarity's Secret.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Luke

    Very enjoyable and readable retrospective / conversation with Staughton Lynd, centered around finding a pragmatic synthesis of Marxism and Anarchism, lessons of the 60s to 90s applied to today's post-WTO wandering radicals. Through the lens of Subcommandante Marcos and Liberation theology, and walking with Ohio working class and supermax prisoners and Nicaraguans, Staughton has come to the conclusion that an economic class analysis is still the right frame but that seeking state power is no long Very enjoyable and readable retrospective / conversation with Staughton Lynd, centered around finding a pragmatic synthesis of Marxism and Anarchism, lessons of the 60s to 90s applied to today's post-WTO wandering radicals. Through the lens of Subcommandante Marcos and Liberation theology, and walking with Ohio working class and supermax prisoners and Nicaraguans, Staughton has come to the conclusion that an economic class analysis is still the right frame but that seeking state power is no longer the path to Internationalism: accompaniment and representation with the poor can produce parallel institutions able to make real change without bothering with the ego-seeking of explicit revolution.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Horrible. This book can be described as a series of drunken email exchanges that wander from topic to topic, with no real goal or direction in sight. The title is incredibly misleading; it has nothing to do with either group. Staughton Lynd is a washed up hippy who likes to rant about the good ole' days of SNCC, and Andrej Grubacic asks incredibly open-ended questions, allowing Lynd to wander off topic into the abyss. I highly recommend nobody bother reading this book. I think almost all of its Horrible. This book can be described as a series of drunken email exchanges that wander from topic to topic, with no real goal or direction in sight. The title is incredibly misleading; it has nothing to do with either group. Staughton Lynd is a washed up hippy who likes to rant about the good ole' days of SNCC, and Andrej Grubacic asks incredibly open-ended questions, allowing Lynd to wander off topic into the abyss. I highly recommend nobody bother reading this book. I think almost all of its knowledge can be gained by participating in anarchist and Marxist organizations for only a year.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    exploring the meaning and formation of resistance to capitalism in all its forms is a brave undertaking.. mr. lynd shares through his experience in various movements, as an ally, activist, and organizer... the lessons learned and insights into openings and limitations of anarchism and the various manifestations of marxism, starting with the Zapatista indigenous-led and organized movement and uprising, drawing parallels with the Wobblies, immigrant workers who organized for improved living and wo exploring the meaning and formation of resistance to capitalism in all its forms is a brave undertaking.. mr. lynd shares through his experience in various movements, as an ally, activist, and organizer... the lessons learned and insights into openings and limitations of anarchism and the various manifestations of marxism, starting with the Zapatista indigenous-led and organized movement and uprising, drawing parallels with the Wobblies, immigrant workers who organized for improved living and working conditions in the US.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sem

    This book is an extended interview rather than a conversation which is a shame because I'd like to have heard more from Andrej Grubačić. As interesting and wide-ranging as Staughton Lynd's contributions are they're also somewhat repetitive and would have benefited from being served up in conjunction with Grubačić's quite different spheres of concern. It was an engrossing read but more for the ways in which it set me off on a tangent rather than for the thing itself. Not a good place to start but This book is an extended interview rather than a conversation which is a shame because I'd like to have heard more from Andrej Grubačić. As interesting and wide-ranging as Staughton Lynd's contributions are they're also somewhat repetitive and would have benefited from being served up in conjunction with Grubačić's quite different spheres of concern. It was an engrossing read but more for the ways in which it set me off on a tangent rather than for the thing itself. Not a good place to start but a useful tool on the road to further avenues of research.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    A look at unionism, Marxism/anarchism and history. The book is arranged as a "conversation," which is really just a device for setting up the theme for Lynd's essays on various issues. The book does not go into a lot of detail, but it does span an enormous part of history of the Left. I wasn't blown away with it, and sometimes Lynd's self-congratulatory attitude is a little noisome. In fact, the book is far more an autobiography of himself than it is about the IWW or the Zapatistas. A look at unionism, Marxism/anarchism and history. The book is arranged as a "conversation," which is really just a device for setting up the theme for Lynd's essays on various issues. The book does not go into a lot of detail, but it does span an enormous part of history of the Left. I wasn't blown away with it, and sometimes Lynd's self-congratulatory attitude is a little noisome. In fact, the book is far more an autobiography of himself than it is about the IWW or the Zapatistas.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    There are some occasional useful insights here into the stated purpose of the book - that is, a synthesis between the anarchist and Marxist traditions - though too often it falls into a biography (and dare I say, hagiography)of Staughton Lynd. As is often the case with this type of book, the interviewer fails to probe very deeply with his questions.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marshall Scott

    Something of a montage of a life of organizing and advocating on behalf of the working class. My only problem with the book is that certain ideas could have been explored further, and connections made more explicit. But overall, the book was rather enlightening. It is a good survey of the organizing landscape of the Lynd's experience. Something of a montage of a life of organizing and advocating on behalf of the working class. My only problem with the book is that certain ideas could have been explored further, and connections made more explicit. But overall, the book was rather enlightening. It is a good survey of the organizing landscape of the Lynd's experience.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    A nice collection of stories from conversations between a young anarchist and a marx-inspired historian/activist who's been doing work for decades. I found some insight, and a terrific, if brief, introduction to a history of freedom struggles in the U.S. and around the world. A nice collection of stories from conversations between a young anarchist and a marx-inspired historian/activist who's been doing work for decades. I found some insight, and a terrific, if brief, introduction to a history of freedom struggles in the U.S. and around the world.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Walker

    I really enjoyed reading this. The dialogue was accessible and I felt that I would have gotten a lot out of it whether or not I had any background on these subjects -- there was enough detail to keep reading without getting lost and the flow was natural and engaging.

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