The Anarchist Library's Visitor Guestbook
If the anarchist library had bookshop cafes all around the world where you could see archivists typing away digitizing old badly scanned books, printing them out, and filling the shelves with newly restored books, what do you think the visitor's guestbook would look like? And what note would you leave? E.g. After a day of reading and sipping sugarcane juice on a balcony looking over the Mekong river.
The anarchist library is pretty well done. Clean, good enough search function, nice palette. Though the tag system could be a little better.
The anarchist library makes me so so happy, few movements are this willing and open to spread knowledge. Recently one of my friends started getting into radfem (I know) and she got on a discussion group at her school, she mentioned they had a very big and complete online library on feminism in general and when I asked her for a link to check it out, she mentioned that they do not share that kind of information to anybody, especially men, and I was astonished with that and made me appreciate anarchy even more.
The Anarchist Library is hard to navigate and has even more ideological diversity— tread carefully and read about the authors in conjunction with their works or you might find yourself nodding along with Uncle Ted 😬. I think the easiest thing to do here is search or browse for topics you’re interested in.
I personally got into my theory through a Marxist pal of mine. Ended up reading quite a bit of Marx and enjoying him a bunch before getting into anarchism and falling in love with Malatestas work. I mainly read stuff from Marxists.org and the Anarchist Library. Both are fantastic resources. I would suggest Malatesta. His work Anarchy is quite good and I really like At the Cafe as well. Rudolf Rocker with Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice is fantastic as well. For Marx I would suggest starting with the manifesto and than taking a detour into Engels with Socialism: Utopian and Scientific before going into Critique of the Gotha Program. Good luck with your journey and hopefully this helped!
I have been reading some anarcho-communist writings and stuff from the anarchist library and the more I read the dumber it gets. Saying all crime is a result of heirarchies and capitalism so crime will not exist under anarchy and repeating for every ill of society is not terribly convincing.
Libcom and the anarchist library are wonderful websites that archive an enormous amount of anarchic political thought and discussion. The Anarchist Library is really robust, has a lot of documents, speeches, pamphlets, plays, transcripts, manifestos, essays.
I have my issues with The Anarchist Library (they continue to maintain ITS communiques despite it driving off the original developer and editor) but you can download their whole 1.6 GB archive as a torrent ...
If you go to an anarchist infoshop you expect to find either exclusively anarchists or a spread of ideas that reflects who's inside and outside the circle of discourse anarchists take as legitimate.
If there's a wall of Maoist texts that's just a Maoist bookstore doing entryism.
If, for instance, you're a certain anarchist bookstore in the 80s and you stock NAMBLA periodicals, that's not mere decontextualized "provision of information," that's a social statement around affinities and norms that is read loud and clear by new anarchists that wander in.
It says "we might disagree with NAMBLA but they are an established part of our discursive circle and subcultural space." Endorsement, normalization, and legitimization is inherent. Texts are not read in isolation, they are presented in contexts that declare and enforce norms.
I've shared a literal stage with people whose politics I've vehemently opposed, but who were validly within the movement.
I've also repeatedly refused to debate tankies on a stage or at an event. And I've repeatedly made fun of Bookchin for having debated nazis on a stage.
When organizers scheduled me to debate a fascist at a transhumanist conference in 2015 I raised hell, got the panel canceled and organized attendees to leave early.
I also checked in with a couple venerable antifascist groups and asked for insight and feedback on strategy.
No Platform absolutely does not mean Don't Read Fascists. Antifascists endlessly beg you to actually read fascists. It's actually really annoying that anti-antifa folks don't know much about what fascists believe and argue!
But there are ethics around how to go about that.
For instance, everyone should know about and read Bronze Age Mindset (by Bronze Age Pervert / Costin Alamariu), as it's one of the most influential and widely read fascist texts today, shared virally among young republicans.
But you shouldn't fucking BUY it and give him money!
Ted K has strong overlap with fascist movements and has been explicitly opposed to anarchism for decades. Yet you should know what he argues and there's a website with a complete archive of his works, but the entire site's framing is clearly hostile to and critical of him.
Framing matters. When you put Ted K in an "anarchist library" you're declaring "Ted K is inside anarchism". If you put a unnoticeable "non-anarchist" tag on it you're declaring "still within the circle of texts we think are anarchist-adjacent, in-group and respectable enough"
There are, after all, infinite "anarchist-adjacent" things. Mao came from anarchism, but if your "anarchist" library contains every maoist text you're normalizing maoism.
There are tons of marxists, libertarians and liberals that anarchists engage with or are influenced by...
If an "anarchist" bookstore puts The Many Headed Hydra or Mumford in the window no one's gonna blink but if they put Mao, that's a fucking maoist bookstore. And if they put Hayek, that's an ancap bookstore. If you put Ted K in the window you're gonna get a lot of fascist vistors.
Antifascists have spent decades working out the ethics and the norms around No Platforming through consideration and worldwide trial and error.
Unfortunately there were some "radicals" who studiously ignored them and then got surprised to encounter those norms in 2016.
The Anarchist Library is a really good resource for learning about anarchy but it has archived lots of weird and terrible books/publications in the past. Sometimes this is corrected, sometimes not. Like there are other pretty terrible publications on there from Leninists, the PKK and fuck knows what else.
In the library chat and between librarians there's regular conversation about what should or shouldn't be on the library. It's mostly an open conversation with precedents based on librarians having curated the space for years. You can join the IRC and follow some of the chats.
It's common for people to submit work and for it to be rejected, for example, because there's a requirement that it's published somewhere else and not just something somebody thought up and posted like the library is their personal blog. But I also know people who have gotten their work on there and who arranged to remove their work from there, for multiple reasons.
Just imagine a small collective of librarians with various anarchist politics doing what they can to maintain and curate the biggest anarchist library in history, usually as just one part of multiple anarchist projects they participate in.
The bitter book burners trying to turn librarians into censors need to stfu. The only criteria should be if the piece is anti-authority or related to anarchist culture / history. So obviously, pieces talking about diddling kids don't belong on there because that's pro-authority af. But if the diddler also wrote other pieces that are actually anti-authority, those pieces don't need to be retroactively removed or have disclaimers placed on them.
The recent case of a diddler who stole some random woman's face, used it to promote kiddy diddling and then faked that woman's death is another story because that harms the real unknowing person who was used in his creepy game. And he also fucked over the librarians by trying to manipulate them into posting a fake obituary and kiddy diddling apologia, so they should absolutely retaliate by wiping his whole archive. That's completely justified when someone uses you as a pawn to promote authoritarian shit like diddling and the demonization of an innocent woman whose image and identity was stolen to sell books. Letting the guy roll over them and muddy their credibility as an anarchist library would be counter to any anarchy I'm familiar with.
There's a reason one of the greatest anarchist sites online is called The Anarchist Library. Libraries are tools of the people. Librarians are keepers of knowledge, and so often, guardians of the weak, innocent, forgotten, and downtrodden.
The Anarchist Library is a great and free archive of tons of socialist texts on all kinds of subjects. My personal recommendations would be An Anarchist Program by Errico Malatesta, Mutual Aid by Pyotr Kropotkin and My Disillusionment In Russia by Emma Goldman.