Paul J. Comeau
Ursula K. Le Guin: A Brief Biographical Sketch

In a writing career spanning nearly five decades, Ursula K. Le Guin has pushed the boundaries of fiction, transcending genre and style conventions to create a unique and distinctive literary voice. Her groundbreaking novels and stories have questioned gender constructions, challenging our notions about gender and identity, imagined an anarchist utopia, wrestled with ideas of free will and destiny, and subtly made commentary about race and race relations. At various times throughout her career critics have labeled Le Guin and her works feminist, anarchist, Taoist, and other labels, but they are both all of these and none of these things simultaneously. What is clearer than the labels of critics is her ability to think critically and turn that thought into finely wrought literature.

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Paul J. Comeau
Verbal Dance: An Interview with Ursula K. Le Guin

In this interview conducted with Fifth Estate via email, Le Guin discusses influences on her life and work, some of the ideas behind her famous novel The Dispossessed, what needs to be done to cause a shift in the perception of anarchism in the popular imagination, and the inspirations for her most recent novel Lavinia (Harcourt 2008).

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Paul J. Comeau
Anarchist Conference in Connecticut Draws 300 from Around the Country

Anarchist activists and academics from around the country gathered at Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford, CT November 21st and 22nd for the inaugural conference of the North American Anarchist Studies Network. The schedule pamphlet released by the organizing collective described the vision for both the conference and the network: “this network, and the conference, is a space for the development of ‘anarchist studies,’ broadly construed, and is meant as a space both for professional as well as grassroots scholars of anarchism.“The response to the collective’s call for papers was in a word, “overwhelming,” with over thirty individual papers, three workshops, and seven panels, crammed into two days. Three hundred people turned out to take part in the two-day event.

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Paul J. Comeau
Redrawing The Line The Anarchist Writings of Paul Goodman

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a review of

Drawing The Line Once Again: Paul Goodman’s Anarchist Writings, PM Press, 2010, 122 pages, trade paperback, $14.95

While relatively unknown today, Paul Goodman was one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. In books like Growing Up Absurd, published in 1960, Goodman captured the zeitgeist of his era, catapulting himself to the forefront of American intellectual life as one of the leading dissident thinkers inspiring the burgeoning New Left.

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Paul J. Comeau
New Releases from the DIY Bandits Collective

The DIY Bandits collective are many things: a record label, a distro, a booking agency, and a bunch of cool people from many walks of life who are tired of the status quo.

The Bandits do not see themselves as anarchists, as they say on their website, “DIY Bandits do not belong to the anarchist scene, punk scene, underground scene, or mainstream scene. Bandits are not interested in being seen as a scene but rather in dismantling all scenes.”

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Paul J. Comeau
Paul Goodman’s Last Testament

A review of New Reformation: Notes of a Neolithic Conservative by Paul Goodman, PM Press, 194 pages, trade paperback, $20.00

Although Paul Goodman established himself as one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century, by the end of his life the anarchist philosopher felt dissatisfied with the direction of the political movements his writings had inspired.

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Paul J. Comeau
Johnny Spanish “Dissent” Music Review

The past few years have seen an explosion in politically conscious hip-hop, with many artists like Rebel Diaz and Final Outlaw gaining widespread recognition for their affiliation with Occupy Wall Street and other social justice causes.

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Add to this list another up and coming emcee, Johnny Spanish, whose free mix tape Dissent can be found online. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, but currently living in Brooklyn, Spanish says Dissent “[was] heavily influenced by my anarchist beliefs and was my first real foray into explaining my philosophy.”

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Paul J. Comeau
Everything you thought you knew about human history is wrong, and here’s why Book Review

A review of Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber. Melville House Publishing, 534 pages, hardcover, $32.00

It takes a particularly special kind of writer to tackle a subject as nebulous as the history of debt. However, none seems better suited to the task than David Graeber.

Debt, perhaps Graeber’s most powerful and deeply subversive work to date, grapples with one of the oldest economic and moral conundrums in human history, that of money’s unique capacity to “turn morality into a matter of impersonal arithmetic--and by doing so, to justify things that would otherwise seem outrageous or obscene.”

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Paul J. Comeau
William Gibson: unintended prophet of our digital future

a review of

Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York. Hardcover, 259 Pages, $26.95

For over thirty years William Gibson has been the unintended prophet of our digital future. The award-winning author of Neuromancer, Virtual Light, and a string of other best-selling science fiction novels, Gibson’s writings have not only presaged the future in many ways, but also serve as critiques on the present in which they were written.

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Paul J. Comeau
Ursula K. Le Guin 21 October, 1929–22 January, 2018

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Ursula K. La Guin, photo by Eileen Gunn

Reprinted from Fifth Estate #382, Spring, 2010. Issues are available as single copies & in bulk.

Related, in this issue: “Le Guin’s Anarchism & Mine” by Andrew William Smith

In a writing career spanning nearly six decades, Ursula K. Le Guin pushed the boundaries of fiction, transcending genre and style conventions to create a unique and distinctive literary voice.

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