About This Issue – ARB #4

Welcome to the fourth issue of the Anarchist Review of Books produced by a collective based in Atlanta, Chicago, Exarchia, New York, Oakland, and Seattle.

We bring you this issue as nine judges in a dictatorship of the rich, have decided that a document written two centuries ago with feather quills will determine what kind of air people breathe, when they can give birth, and, in the wake of their deeply polarized nation’s 247th mass shooting of the year, that more people may carry hidden guns.
None of those decisions were a surprise. No one watches footage of police waiting outside a third-grade classroom while a man inside kills children with a military weapon; or watches footage of police arresting anguished parents as they attempt to get inside that school; or reads that online fundraising projects are how these people will pay for medical care and funerals, and thinks to themselves that the function of the State is to protect.

The Nation State is a fiction, given the depth of the environmental crisis, given the reality of the ruling classes, their unchecked consumption and boundless rights to land and movement, given the hegemony of capital. That it is a fiction doesn’t mean it will disappear into thin air if we stop believing in it. On the contrary, it is the State’s fictional nature that anchors the beliefs of fascists and tyrants and bolsters their faulty logic through mystification, just like the millennia-old texts used to create the story of man’s dominion over women, animals, land, and language.

We know what’s at stake when these stories are elevated into the canon—seamless justifications for slavery, genocide, and extinction—and we don’t use the expression All Power to the Imagination lightly. Every conqueror who gazed at a shoreline, every shooter who pictured his future glory, every billionaire who schemes an escape from the planet they helped ruin—they all employ that power.

We have become creatures of atomization, of metadata, of systems governed by existential threat, of the profit of few to the detriment of billions, of the calculated and unchecked division of people into ever more polarized categories: sick and healthy, men and women, young and old, gay and straight, cis and trans, legal and illegal; of cooptation and erasure of subcultures, of representation mistaken for equality and of the meaningless pursuit of likes. We come from small towns, housing projects, and suburbs, pushed every year farther from the gentrifying cities, we come from prison cells, and Walmart checkout lines, from active shooter drills, from anxiety, from calls to police while calling for an end to the police, from the fires and floods and destruction of our only world, from all who are made less by the unchecked greed of neoliberalism, all who face the debasement of begging for eleventh hour salvation from corporations who pushed us to the point of eradication and now aim to profit and amass power by selling us a technological solution.

If we are to hold on to our autonomy, our humanity, our smallest sense of community we must get outside the algorithms and communications structures that ensure our isolation and division, and the institutions that support and replicate the hegemony of the ruling elite. The future is also a fiction, an as yet unwritten story, that we can only dream and write together.

In this issue Jessica Lawless talks with Sarah Jaffe about love and labor, Steven Thrasher reveals the reach of the carceral state during COVID, Carrie Laben reviews Kun Li Sun’s Begin the World Over, Cynthia Cruz muses on Genet, crime and resistance. D.G. Gerard reviews C. Russell Price’s incendiary new collection, Glynis Hart writes about the origins of abortion as a property crime, Ranbir Sidhu dreams big in the wake of A. Patwardhan’s films, Anne Elizabeth Moore takes us to Time Zone J and French cultural critics Gilles Dauve and Lola Meiseroff show the next generation how it’s done.

ALL POWER TO THE IMAGINATION

Cara Hoffman, July 2022