What is this Cart?
Little Black Cart is a group of anarchists who have known each other for years, a few of us for decades. We share a desire to totally transform society. We want to live without the state, without class, with mutual reciprocity, voluntary cooperation, and the liberation of desire. We call this way of living, anarchy – or as Emma Goldman knew it – the Beautiful Idea.
All of us in LBC have arrived here after a long journey, one that has at times included working for social change, revolution, or community organizing. But these things have not been rewarding.
All too often to be an anarchist involved in real world pursuits is to hide our strongly held convictions for the sake of winning, whether that means winning numbers to our side, or winning specific fights. But those small victories, when they even occur, are often hollow, involving too much compromise and too little substance. They have been a meager gruel, not worth the contortions required to achieve them. And since we don't know what combination of old ideas, new tactics, or strange particles will bring about a more interesting world—an anarchist world—it's impossible to know whether, and easy to doubt that, those contortions have any positive long-term outcome at all.
But this new world is what we want. We are pretty sure getting to it will not look like an evolutionary process (in which traditional liberalism somehow transforms into radicalism and there is a slow dawning of anarchy). We strongly suspect it will not look like a secret cabal or central committee organizing a new world in the shell of the old. But that still leaves a wide array of new ideas and the possibility that experienced people, whom we may disagree with, have things to teach us. Our criticisms haven't stopped us from learning.
We create contexts that encourage critical, imaginative, creative thinking and acting about the problems that face us. We help create these contexts by supplying building blocks in the form (usually) of books and pamphlets, texts to inspire disagreement and passion, ideas for people to argue, collaborate, and conspire with, environments (events and spaces) to do it in.
We are fully aware of the contradictions of our participation in commodity culture, the spectacle, and even plain old petit-bourgeois capitalism. We maintain the resolve that this--publishing, distributing, etc--is worth doing.
Specifically, Little Black Cart is committed to self-criticism regarding its internal organization, and to transparency regarding policies and decisions, while offering products that represent the diversity of anarchist ideas and actions both of our contemporaries and those who have come before us. We want to expose other people to the writings that have inspired us. We want to demonstrate through the diversity and focus of our titles, the variety and expansiveness of what we mean by anarchy, of what can be included in an active pursuit of a better world. We only sell these things that we have a relationship with. That doesn't mean endorse: we do not agree with everything we publish or carry but we broadly support the creators, sometimes for the uncompromising ways in which they make their statements.
Little Black Cart is entirely volunteer-run. We tie together clusters of people scattered across the globe, some known, some visible, and some who choose to be rarely seen or never known. We are a group of people with a peculiar and uncommon set of passions, but all of us are motivated to produce and share anarchist material because we desire the dissemination of these ideas. We challenge each other, ourselves, and the established ways of solving problems. The more complex the problem the more likely we are to be hostile to simplistic solutions. We do not find bureaucracy to be a workable bandaid to address the questions of hierarchy, power, and revolution. Moreover, attempted solutions (like consensus, very long meetings, and activism) have problems of their own.
To the best of our ability, the goal of LBC is to integrate an education in the material with free knowledge (when it is easily available) and an openness about our process. We find that this, along with our transparency, fosters a sense of cohesion between us, as the people who care enough about something to participate in it and give it our time and money. We call this group of people “accomplices" because in this world acts of freedom are crimes and those of us who commit them will be judged together.
We are passionate about reading and discussing ideas, in particular anarchist ideas, and believe that they are important enough to share. Sharing isn't a passive act. It isn't just sitting around waiting for someone to come to you with a question. It is making it clear to any person who passes that you have something to offer.
The idea that we want to share is not one of doctrine or program but one that reflects the breadth of anarchist thought. Anarchy is an idea and a practice too big to fit into a single box. That is a beautiful thing. We find writings that are under-represented by, or unknown to, other anarchist projects and remind or inform about their value. We also reprint classics that gain a new meaning in the context of the particular variety we offer, the context we are creating. We do not believe that anarchism is any one type of anarchist perspective but the constellation of most of them, applied to and engaged with the world. This belief makes our offerings exceptional.
Anarchist Decision Making
Formal consensus decision-making has been the assumption for anarchist groups for long enough for us to understand its weaknesses and the areas in which it does not work well. Voting is an practice that consensus and democracy have in common, indicating a tendency towards majority rule. But also consensus emphasizes that the doing of things requires unanimity. The genealogy of consensus decision-making (Quaker origins, antinuclear pedigree, anti-globalization present) points to its inherent limitations. This isn't the place to go into more detail about the various criticisms of consensus but we have found it more useful to consider problem- solving techniques that acknowledge and respect people's individual levels of interest and skill.
We are actively experimenting with a different model of anarchistic decision-making. We have had enough of focusing on meetings as the main problem-solving tactic, or of forcing everyone to participate in every decision. Instead we encourage a more fluid relationship between LBC and its participants. Everyone chooses their own level of involvement and no one is asked to care about anything that they do not care about. We find this creates an environment where people can find the most fun and inspiration and where flexibility is valued over process, bureaucracy, or compulsion.
What is an Anarchist Project
A social reality exists. It is smothering the planet with commodities and control, imposing a pathetic and miserable existence of enslavement to authority and the market everywhere. Starting from a refusal of this imposed existence, a decision to rise up against it, we are faced with the necessity of creating our lives as our own, of projecting them. We are posing ourselves a most difficult task: the transformation of ourselves, of our relationships and of existence itself.-Wolfi Landstreicher, Against the Logic of Submission
The anarchist project is impossible.
We do this publishing, distributing, conversing, problematizing and problem-solving with the full knowledge that we will never see the realization of our desires. We do not retreat in the face of this impossibility; we do not compromise, we attack. We embrace the impossibility of the goal and hold fast to our capacity to be bigger than we are. For this process, this insistence, is also the anarchist project.
For us, an anarchist project is one of interpersonal transformation done through an explicit activity. LBC is an anarchist project proliferating a specifically anarchist knowledge set as widely as possible, as we grapple with the contradictions inherent in opposition to commodities while dealing in commodities, with the contradictions inherent to our life in the modern world.
An anarchist project is also one in which critical thinking is prized over ideology. Where we strive to elevate the conversations happening around us and to challenge what we know. To reject the static binary of success and failure and speak in terms of achievements: the last one a mere stepping stone to the next. Never resting in the mediocrity of “good enough." An anarchist project is one that is informed by the dynamic spirit of anarchy and treats it as the living, breathing entity it is.
LBC is all these things and more.
Join the ride!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org (bulk order requests go to email@example.com)
Little Black Cart POBox 3920 Berkeley CA 94703