We are happy to offer up a new, fourth, issue of Upping the Anti. Unlike last time, we don’t have to apologize for being behind schedule. What’s more, thanks to increased sales and better distribution, we have been able to print this issue without going any furthur into debt. We’ve also been kept afloat by the generous contributions of our subscribers. At a time when radical media projects are needed more than ever, we are reminded by the demise of excellent publications like Clamor and LiP Magazine how important it is to keep nurturing projects like UTA. Now, more than ever, we need to cultivate those precious spaces where we can come together for argument, debate, and alliance building. We’re happy that you, our readers, have recognized Upping the Anti as one such space. We will do our best to hold up our end of the bargain.
There have been some changes to the editorial crew at UTA. Dave Mitchell has stepped down as reviews editor, but will remain a member of the advisory board. Erin Gray, formerly of the editorial collective, will replace Dave, while her spot on the editorial collective has been taken up by AK Thompson. We would like to welcome the new additions and thank those stepping down from different roles for all of their hard work in getting and keeping UTA off the ground.
As in past issues, UTA 4 begins with a letters section. We are pleased that our readers are engaging with the things we publish and are responding to them in a thoughtful and spirited manner. What struck us most upon reading the letters submitted for this issue was how each one seemed to move beyond polemics and venture into the realm of proposition.
So it seems fitting that our editorial this time around deals with the question of organization. Now, we know that might sound played out. Bolshevik. Menshevik. Mass. Anti-mass. Boredom. Confusion. Regret. But you would never believe how many people have organization on the tip of their tongue these days. In Canada, public intellectuals like Judy Rebick and Sam Gindin (each operating with quite different premises) have added to the buzz. Across the pond, Hilary Wainwright has aligned herself firmly with the new generation of “network” builders. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In order to make sense of the current resurgence of interest in the organizational question, we’ve tried to sort through some of the history and current manifestations of the debate and to trace out the implications of various positions. And, since we’re precocious, we’ve advanced a few propositions of our own.
Much of the content in this issue addresses the theme of organization in some way. In the first of our interviews, Dale Altrows joins long-time anarchist activist and person living with AIDS Robin Isaacs as he recounts his experiences of coming out and coming to anarchism in Toronto in the 1980s. With a keen memory of his experiences as a participant in radical organizations and tremendous knack for storytelling, Isaacs encourages us both to draw inspiration and learn from the not-so-distant past. In our second interview, Marina Sitrin discusses the question of movements and organization with John Holloway. Encouraging us to consider the possibilities that exist “against and beyond” the state, Holloway traces out some broad dynamics underlying the radical resurgence in Latin America. In the third interview, Gary Kinsman speaks with trans activist and teacher Dan Irving as he explores the intersection between trans issues and class politics. Arguing that trans politics are shaped by class experience (and vice versa), Irving proposes to make both Marxism and aspects of post-structuralist theory relevant in a context where they are often viewed with suspicion.
In our articles section, Richard Day (author of Gramsci is Dead: Anarchist Currents in the Newest Social Movements) continues with the theme of organization by responding to his book’s critics. Addressing AK Thompson’s polemic published in UTA 3, as well as those penned elsewhere by Ian McKay and William Carroll, Day suggests that if our question is ‘what is to be done?’ the answer must not involve a repetition of our worst failures. Following Day’s rejoinder, Carmelle Wolfson and Lesley Wood recount their experiences at the recent World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya. Their accounts provide a critical assessment of an event that has come to be seen as one of the most significant international forums for networking and strategizing in the struggle for global justice. Moving from the global to the local, we close the articles section with an essay by Tom Keefer which explores the dynamics of non-native solidarity in the struggle at Six Nations. Arguing that the concept of “taking leadership” with which many non-native activists have approached their solidarity work is inadequate, Keefer proposes a provocative alternative. Drawing upon Black Power, the classic SNCC-era text by Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton, Keefer argues that in order to develop real coalitions with indigenous activists fighting for sovereignty, white activists must organize within their own communities to build a meaningful social base.
Our roundtable section in this issue contains two pieces. In the first, Caitlin Hewitt-White has brought together prominent prison abolition activists Peter Collins, Emily Aspinwall, Filis Iverson, Sonia Marino, Julia Sudbury, Kim Pate, and Patricia Monture to talk about the politics of the prison-industrial complex and the difficulties of working both within and against the system. In the second roundtable, Vancouver-based activists Kat Norris, Jill Chettiar, Anna Hunter, and Cecily Nicholson explore the problems and promise of housing activism in the Downtown Eastside in a roundtable put together by Krisztina Kun and Nicole Latham. This discussion makes clear how serious the housing situation in Vancouver is becoming and reveals how divisions on the left are hindering our ability to respond as effectively as possible.
As in previous issues, our book reviews section provides activists with an opportunity to respond to debates and discussions happening in other published works. In the first review, Erica Meiners investigates the prison abolition writings of Angela Davis, Julia Sudbury, and Karlene Faith. Next, Kimiko Inouye reads bell hooks’s Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism. Finally, Scott Clarke responds to Sheila Wilmot’s Taking Responsibility, Taking Direction: White Anti-Racism in Canada.
As always, we invite responses from our readers to the content we publish. Argument is our lifeblood and we look forward to hearing from you. The submissions deadline for Upping the Anti 5 is August 1, 2007 and you can email articles and article ideas to [email protected]
After publishing UTA 3 with funds drawn from meagre life savings, we knew we were in deep. Resolving not to go any further into debt, we vowed to make the money to print this issue upfront or to never publish again.
It paid off, so to speak. We sunk our energy into a subscription drive and promotion campaign. And we learned how to stomach working on the “accounts receivable” side of our ledger. We’re not out of the hole yet. But we didn’t sink any new money into this issue. What’s more, we have more subscribers than ever before. A few of these are coveted lifetime subscribers – people who give us $250 and make us promise to keep producing this thing.
If you are not already a subscriber, we encourage you to become one. If you are already a subscriber but want to make sure that UTA continues to be a feisty little firebrand well into the future, then please consider taking out a lifetime subscription. You can find out more information by contacting us.
And if you’re one of those people who still owes us money for back issues, we need to talk. Capitalists have got the market cornered on contractual obligations and petty forms of coercion, so we won’t resort to them here. Instead, we would like to encourage both those who owe us money and radicals everywhere to begin taking ourselves as seriously as our opponents sometimes do. After all, we have a world to win…
In solidarity and struggle,
Aidan Conway, Tom Keefer, Sharmeen Khan, and AK Thompson
Toronto, April 17, 2007