Fifth Estate Collective
Issue Intro

Welcome!

Welcome to another issue of the Fifth Estate Anarchist Review of Books. We haven’t changed our title permanently; just letting readers know what to expect inside this edition. We also haven’t changed our belief that it is direct action in the streets and in the woods, and creating communities of resistance and rebellion that are needed so critically as conditions worsen on almost every level. We read and learn to increase our commitment in our struggles.

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Fifth Estate Collective
Ukraine Another war, another victory for the state

As we write at the end of March, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is at full fury with deaths and destruction increasing daily. By the time you read this, the conflict will hopefully have ended. If not, any number of terrible scenarios may have taken place or are still continuing.

The best outcome will be the thwarting of Vladimir Putin’s plans by Ukrainian resistance, but also by the overthrow of the Russian president by popular forces within Russia. The consequences of a victory for the invaders would be a disaster and only come at a horrendous price.

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Eric Laursen
A Carnival Parade of Political Forms Exploring the possibilities of reinventing ourselves

a review of

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2021

“In one sense,” David Graeber and David Wengrow write, “this book is simply trying to lay down foundations for a new world history” Simply?

As the title indicates, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity is an extremely ambitious, 692-page book. It’s also a bit of an anomaly in contemporary anarchist writing, which tends to shy away from Big History, with its overtones of imperial sweep and Smart White Guys explaining to everyone else How It Went Down.

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Rich Dana (Ricardo Feral)
Impact of New Wave Science Fiction a radical re-evaluation

a review of

Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950–1985 Edited by Andrew Nette and Ian McIntyre. PM Press, 2021

In the last several years, Science Fiction, or SF as it is known among fans of the literary genre, has been the subject of several excellent critiques.

In 2018, Alec Nevalla-Lee’s Astounding: John W Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction presented an in-depth analysis of the cultural impact of pulp magazines and the purveyors of the genre’s myth of “the competent man.”

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Megan Douglass
Drawing New Maps to the Future Parallels exist between the movement of bodies globally in the search for freedom and belonging, and the migratory nature of Black life within the borders of the U.S.

a review of

The Nation on No Map: Black Anarchism and Abolition by William C. Anderson, Saidiya Hartman (Foreword), Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin (Afterword). AK Press 2021

As a Black diasporic female academic and activist, it isn’t so easy to encounter the intersectionality of the struggles I encounter reflected in many academic or anarchist discussions.

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Marieke Bivar
Stories and Stories and Stories of Womanhood Pandora is out of the box

a review of

All of Me: Stories of Love, Anger, and the Female Body Ed. Dani Burlison. PM Press, 2019

In this collection, women’s bodies are discussed as sites of healing, burnout, grief, joy, transformation, and growth. The essays, interviews, and other writing vary immensely in tone and style, and there is a sense that this is a place where women’s anger is being expressed freely, however the contributors choose to do so.

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Sylvie Kashdan
Disability and Creativity Revolt against the categories and stereotypes that kill the spirit

a review of

There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness by M. Leona Godin. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2021

More Than Meets the Eye: What Blindness Brings to Art by Georgina Kleege. Oxford University Press 2018

“I want freedom, the right to self expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things.”

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Michael Desnivic
Work and the Dreamers Against It The Surrealist movement’s view on what came to be known as work in the 20th Century

a review of

Surrealist Sabotage and the War on Work by Abigail Susik. Manchester University Press, 2021

Surrealism emerged from the brutality of the trenches of the first world war that devastated Europe as an attempt to come to terms with the ruins and a rapidly changing world of new technologies and systems.

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Hubert Gendron-Blais
Seeing social struggles through individual characters historical research, well-crafted dramatic intensity and moments of poetry and humour

a review of

3 online plays by Norman Nawrocki, 2020–2022: “EVICTION? Dog’s Blood!!;” “Ukrainians, Pelicans & the Secret of Patterson Lake,” and “Run Nawrocki Run! Escape from Banff Prison”

[caption id=“attachment_24088” align=“alignleft” width=“300”] Norman Nawrocki in “Run Nawrocki Run! Escape from Banff Prison”[/caption]

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Robert Knox
1916: A Fictional War before the War San Francisco labor struggles form the background

a review of

The Blast by Joseph Matthews. PM Press, 2022

The Blast, a new novel by Joseph Matthews, takes place in San Francisco in 1916, just as the United States edges its way into the general European slaughter known as World War I.

We learn that three years before the current moment, labor radicals and anarchists of various denominations agitated mightily for workers’ rights and union recognition in that thriving waterfront shipping town, but failed to make lasting progress.

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Norman Nawrocki
An anarchist operetta set in Taiwan Peter & Emma’s Bookcafe

a review of

Peter & Emma’s Bookcafe (operetta) by Lenny Kwok, 2021

During the worldwide youth revolt in 1968, Lenny Kwok was a 13-year old Hong Kong high school student handing out radical pamphlets with his friends. He got busted, but it didn’t stop him from continuing to agitate for anarchism.

Flash forward 53 years, and Lenny is still at it. He has spent a life-time as a Hong Kong anarchist/artist/musician/singer/author, but now lives in Taiwan following repression from the Chinese government.

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Frank H. Joyce
Another cosmic hoax Perpetrated upon us by Colonialism We live under a social contract

a review of

The Racial Contract by Charles W. Mills. Cornell University Press 1993

No, we don’t. We live under a racial contract. Calling it something else, such as a social contract is part of the racial contract’s system of concealing itself.

The late Charles Mills clarified this matter quite definitively in The Racial Contract, a 133-page book published in 1993.

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Jess Flarity
Space is Not the Place ...and Lea’s fictional spaceship society is, essentially, totalitarian

a review of
Hermetica by Alan Lea. Detritus Books 2021

The journey of a generation ship is a classic of the science fiction genre. One that tells the story of what happens when a bunch of humans decide to leave Earth in a sub-lightspeed rocket that will take generations to reach its destination.

The lack of unlimited resources and tight living conditions enables an author to experiment with alternative organizations of society, what critic Brian Attebery refers to as a science fiction parabola. The parabola is intriguing because it is boundless despite having an origin point, as J.D. Bernal’s long essay, The World, the Flesh, and the Devil, published in 1929, is the progenitor of the generation ship as a concept. In contrast, Alan Lea’s novella Hermetica is the latest data point along the parabola’s edge.

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Steve Izma
Geography, Progress, and Its Discontents Reflections on Turner’s Beyond Geography

a review of
Beyond Geography: The Western Spirit against the Wilderness by Frederick Turner. Viking, 1980

Beyond Geography first came to my attention in the early 1980s when Fredy Perlman began his arguments in Against His-story, Against Leviathan! with an appraisal of Turner’s book. Both of these texts attracted attention from the anarchist milieu around the Fifth Estate at the time, especially for those of us trying to build an historical picture of where human society went wrong.

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Olchar E. Lindsann
Ontological anarchy and punk-inspired zine culture Jason Rodgers’ rich discourse and presentation

a review of

Invisible Generation: Rants, Polemics, and Critical Theory Against the Planetary Work Machine by Jason Rodgers. Autonomedia, 2021

For many years, Jason Rodgers has been a motivating presence in a startlingly large number of anarchist zine projects and communities, including frequently in this magazine. Her work has been published in a great many collective contexts, but always singly and hard to find. In Invisible Generation, her diverse body of critical writing has finally been brought together.

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Christopher Clancy
Step by Step, Ferociously Space is not the place

a review of

Space Forces: A Critical History of Life in Outer Space by Fred Scharmen. Verso, 2021

The late stand-up comedian, Bill Hicks, used to close his routines with an idea. Take all the money allocated to the U.S. military each year, he would say, and instead use it to feed and clothe and educate the poor of the world, not one person left behind, then take whatever’s left over “to explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”

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Sunfrog (Andy “Sunfrog” Smith)
Laughter of the Sinners This anti-novel points a middle finger at any and every preconception regarding reality

a review of

Lives of the Saints by Alan Franklin. Black and Red, Detroit, 2022

Alan Franklin dropped his book, Lives of the Saints, into a world where the final years of the last century seem like a distant dream. Where our then dramatically dire descriptions of accumulated misery were actually more understated prophecies than the mere screeching wheels of an overblown cerebral car-crash on the freeway of our shared consciousness. That is to say, Chicken Little was right, and so were the angry writers at publications like Fifth Estate. As bad as we told you it was then, it is worse now

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Sean Alan Cleary
White racist violence and Black responses Detroit, June 1943

a review of

Run Home if You Don’t Want to be Killed: The Detroit Uprising of 1943 by Rachel Marie-Crane Williams. UNC Press 2021

Rachel Marie-Crane Williams’s new graphic history examines the violence that erupted in Detroit during the summer of 1943 in 230 evocative and beautifully rendered black and white images and text. But erupted might be the wrong word to describe what has been called variously a race riot, a pogrom, or, as Williams says in her title, an uprising.

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William Boyer
Don’t Look Sideways As a comet approaches, the masses make light of their impending demise

a review of

Don’t Look Up, Dir: Adam McKay, 2021

Planet of the Humans Dir: Jeff Gibbs 2019

“You guys. The truth is way more depressing. They are not even smart enough to be as evil as you’re giving them credit for.”

—Kate Dibiasky (fictional astronomer in Don’t Look Up)

So, what to make of an unusual film about a streaking, earth-bound comet colliding with present-day distractions? Does it shake up the entertainment cycle only to disappear like a fairly close asteroid missing our orbital self-importance?

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