Spectrum: Autists and Activism: An Interview with Joe Biel

T.H. Vega

Joe Biel (JoeBiel.net) founded Microcosm Publishing in 1996. His neighbours were unionized, working-class Democrats who helped establish his early interest in leftist politics. However, it was not until his teens when he discovered punk rock, and later with the founding of Microcosm Publishing, that he got involved in radical social justice activism. Microcosm has grown since its founding to be one of the largest distributors of independent publishing and zines in North America. After 15 years of involvement in social movements, engaging with issues like police brutality, globalism, public space, bicycle activism, queer and women’s rights, Joe withdrew from neurotypical activism. When he was 32 he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an autistic spectrum condition, which played a large part in conflicts with other organizers and his feelings of isolation. Joe Biel sat down with Thania Vega to speak about his experience as an autistic person within leftist social movements, and what needs to be done to make these movements more inclusive of autistic people and the issues impacting their lives. The interview took place in November, 2016.

This interview will be published online in August 2017. Subscribe now to read it in print!