This summer, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Joint Terrorism Task Force raided a number of activist homes throughout the Pacific Northwest, looking for incriminating artifacts and, as one warrant stated, “anti-government and anarchist literature.” In conjunction with the raids, five activists were served with subpoenas to appear before a grand jury at the beginning of August—some of whom are now facing jail time for refusing to speak. Prosecuting people for possession of literature is counter to a few basic freedoms on which this country was founded. Everyone should be able to collect books without fear of government recrimination.
To that end, we polled a few Seattle activist organizers and booklovers—including the folks at Seattle’s Left Bank Books—and compiled a short list of recommended books for building your own anarchist library.
The ABC of Anarchism by Alexander Berkman
This accessible introduction to anarchism has been a bestselling text since it was first published in the late 1920s. Unlike some of the more theoretical books on our list, The ABC of Anarchism requires no prior knowledge on the subject, while whetting the reader’s appetite to know more.
The Conquest of Bread by Peter Kropotkin
First published in Paris as part of the anarchist journals Le Révolté and La Révolte, then serialized in 1892 in the London journal Freedom, La Conquête du Pain (as it was originally named) is considered an essential part of the anarchist canon. It delves into a serious critique of capitalism, injustice and poverty while also proposing in-depth alternative societal models to the status quo.
Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism by Michael Schmidt and Lucien van der Walt
According to one of our sources, this is “by far, one of the best introductions to anarchism you’ll ever read.” Written in 2009 in South Africa, this book highlights revolutionary anarchism as “the only anarchism,” focusing on the importance of mass movements to create revolution in response to struggle.
Honorable Mentions The CNT in the Spanish Revolution by José Peirats, From Bakunin to Lacan by Saul Newman, Anarchism by Sean Sheehan and Anarchy by Errico Malatesta