A Breath of Life
The last status update given through Anti-Capital was rather grim as was our general outlook for the project. Mike had left us, and more recently deleted his fantastic wordpress website for reasons unknown (jokes on you Mike, I saved most of the articles anyway), my own real life organizing efforts were going absolutely nowhere, especially with covid-19 alive and well, and Anti-Capital readers were not reaching out to engage with us. Dead-end after dead-end presented itself. But you can’t identify a dead-end before traveling the path, so every path is worth exploring. Operating with this in mind, I came across a post on the socialism101 subreddit suggesting that a leftist book club be formed. This in and of itself is not remarkable, I had seen this sort of post created several times in the past. What was interesting is that the post had a few hundred replies and quite a few upvotes to match. Despite the obvious interest, however, no one had the audacity to actually take steps to create a leftist book club. So I did. I sent private messages to every single person who had expressed interest in joining a book club with a discord link to a server I had just made for the purpose. We quickly discussed both what to read and how to read it. Originally I simply offered to allow the server to act as a space for various book readings and that I would simply lead one of many reading groups, however, it became apparent that I would be the only one leading a reading group. For content we started by reading The German Ideology. Structurally we met, and still meet, once a week on Saturdays at 7 p.m. EST to discuss the assigned reading selection. Amusingly I was actually about 30 minutes late to our first meeting because my alarm failed to go off while I was having a bit of a nap. Originally we had something like 30 total members on the server with about a dozen passively participating and 5-7 actively participating in weekly discussions. We progressed through some other works, The Poverty of Philosophy, Wage Labor & Capital, Value Price & Profit, all the while advertising when we would start a new book on the socialism101 subreddit. We would usually pick up about 5-10 new members who more often than not either passively participated or not at all. Aside from the weekly reading discussions, a social circle was starting to form and more general politics and world events were also being discussed. The server was small and slow, but this was all to change when we started reading Capital. As soon as I advertised that we were going to read Capital, the server exploded to a membership of about 500 within a week. About five people made it through the entirety of Capital out of this original cohort. Most of them had either been with me since the beginning or had at least been through one of the other books with me. The explosion in server population obviously created a lot of new dynamics which sped up the pace of the server. Instead of being able to check the server once a day for a few minutes to answer some questions, it is now not uncharacteristic to spend an hour or two discussing the finer points of the unpublished sixth chapter of Capital on the server. Not to mention the general camaraderie that comes from spending an extended amount of time with the same people while engaged in common work together. Now, I never intended, not even from the start, to simply use the server as a place to read books in academic fashion, but to carefully select books to be read to give us a useful theory as the groundwork to engage in further common work. The readings were both tool to properly form the human material for further struggle, and acted as selection criteria. Those who stuck with Capital for the whole book were invited to meet and discuss weekly with Arty and I about the Anti-Capital project. And, well, this new edition of Anti-Capital is one of the first public fruits of those seeds planted back in March when I started the reading club server. We received two other submissions from participants in the book club a few months ago as well. In addition to simply writing articles for Anti-Capital, we have also discussed putting several Anti-Capital articles in to print, creating a regular podcast, and potentially putting up a webforum in the future. Despite the world steadily increasing in temperature as we all inevitably get either infected with covid-19 or shot in the upcoming civil war in America, or, more likely, both, things are looking up for Anti-Capital. And if you want to join our leftist book club you’re more than welcome to do so by following this link.