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Wobblies and Zapatistas: Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism and Radical History

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  296 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Wobblies and Zapatistas offers the reader an encounter between two generations and two traditions. Andrej Grubacic is an anarchist from the Balkans. Staughton Lynd is a lifelong pacifist, influenced by Marxism. They meet in dialogue in an effort to bring together the anarchist and Marxist traditions, to discuss the writing of history by those who make it, and to remind us ...more
ebook, 261 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by PM Press
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Only Greece
This was a bit of a frustrating read. Lynd has half a century of knowledge and experience as an organizer and a historian and that came through as he weaved together disparate historical movements, pulling lessons and inspiration from them. However, I felt that the book jumped around a lot leaving a lot of thoughts unfinished, complex ideas brushed over and, in the end, the purpose of book in question.

The stated purpose of this conversation was to synthesize the historically separated political
Ernesto Aguilar
May 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the moment Marxists and anarchists parted ways in 1872, the peculiar and occasionally rancorous tension between the divergent schools of socialism has been the subject of many a debate, study group and protest. For anarchists, as Mikhail Bakunin articulated, Marxism's ascension would virtually necessitate it would become as oppressive as the capitalist state. For Marxists, anarchism's impulse to support no one having power meant the well-connected in-crowd, mostly well-heeled and white, wou ...more
Sep 27, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anarcho-n00bz
I wanted to like this book so much, but things were damned from the very first page: there is a paragraph-long blurb by one of the most pretentious brats I have ever had the displeasure of sharing organizing space with. I seethed when I saw it and I wrinkled my nose when I read it. Anyone who has this book and knows me in an organizing context will know which asshole I am talking about...

There were several things that I appreciated about the book. For one, opening my eyes to Liberation Theology
Stevphen Shukaitis
This is a lovely book that does an excellent job weaving together many threads of social movement histories and struggles without constantly hitting you over the head about it being movement history. The discussion format does a great job of teasing out the resonances between the Staughton and Andrej's experiences. This book is also quite well timed in that Staughton's amazing and inspiring life has seemingly been somewhat forgotten today, and this book really draws out the connections between t ...more
I found this book incredibly engaging and provocative, but this was my first time learning much about Lynd and his work; those already familiar with him may find it less so.

I think the conversation between Grubacic and Lynd is very much the type that those involved in social movements need to be having - looking back at past social movements and finding their connections, learning from their tactics, learning from their failures. And I like the manner in which this reflection happens here; built
Aaron Mac gafraidh
Many of the critiques I've read on this book have pointed out the disjointed 'call and response' format between the two authors. To me, it reads like a long and rich conversation, in which both men repeatedly visit the same question. That is, how can we bottle up the successes and learn from the mistakes of past anarchist and Marxist revolutionary actions? I feel my knowledge of radical socialist history has grown reading this book. As well I'm inspired by the experiences of these men as activis ...more
Jun 02, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wobblies and Zapatistas

In this book, there is a disappointing lack of discussion about both Wobblies and Zapatistas. The title seems to be drawn simply from two topics that come up once in a while throughout the “correspondence” between Lynd and Grubacic. While Lynd has an expansive memory, knowledge base, and ability to recall facts, details, events, people, he either lacks or does not articulate here any clear concrete ideas about the best trajectory for the contemporary revolutionary movemen
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good book that not only explores zapatismo and Marxism and where they differ/relate but goes into depth on organizing working class people and the academic analysis that sometimes get in the way. This book reminded me of a Make the Road by Walking style interview with a modern analysis to include modern anti-statist organizing and other forms of anarchist-Marxist fusion.
Mar 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
I got a lot out of this, but by the last few chapters Lynd was getting patronizingly racist (lambasting what he called "whitenesd theory" from black scholars in specific), and then some benevolent sexism where he claims women are naturally less violent by virtue of being women. The world would not be a better placd if women ran everything, Lynd, because it would overwhelmingly be women in privileged positions of societal power enacting and continuing the same oppressive structures. Also don't li ...more
It was a pretty good book. Its basically an extended conversation or series of letters between two people. One an american historian and IWW lawyer (Staughton Lynd), and the other a Yugoslav activist/writer (Andrej Grubačić). It had some things which were kind of bothersome. For example a fairly ahistorical view of the civil war which places centrality upon abolitionism and an ahistorical view of the great depression along standard economically fallacious lines (ie the theory that government spe ...more
Apr 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lefty, organizing
This is a down-to-earth conversation between Staughton Lynd and Adrej Grubacic that should be enjoyable and useful to non-sectarian leftists. The two ground themselves in anarchist and Marxist theory, writing, and history. They reflect on their own personal experiences in the context of broader struggles and social movements. Lynd frequently speaks from a liberation theology and Quaker perspective. Major themes are repeated throughout: direct action, accompaniment, nonviolent civil disobedience, ...more
Matthew Antosh
I remember liking this book more when I first purchased it then I do now. Part of it was the fact that I had just met one of the converstationalists (Andrej Grubacic) and he is a very nice person. The other part is that I've changed when it comes to where I am within life. When I first bought this book, I was a university student, filled with idealistic thoughts that I was some bohemianian intellectual. In that context, the idea that my proper role was 'accompaniment' with workers, the poor and ...more
Seamus Thompson
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

An engaging and interesting attempt to find common ground between Anarchism and Marxism -- or, more truthfully, between the current motley, anti-globalization Left and the traditional, all-too-often doctrinaire American Left. Though, in truth, Lynd has more in common with the original Old LeftStaughton Lynd is a worthy figure to bridge the gap an lend credibility to Marxist ideas that many younger activists are too quick to dismiss (or ignore). A lifelong Civil Rights/Anti-War activist and Worke
J.J. Amaworo
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Staughton Lynd is a legendary American activist-intellectual. Like his near-contemporary (one year separates them) Noam Chomsky, Lynd speaks truth to power. But unlike Chomsky, Lynd abandoned his university position in favor of working with and for the oppressed.

"Wobblies and Zapatistas" consists of conversations, or to be precise, monologues that come dressed in the garb of conversations: rich in anecdote, informal asides, and shared knowledge. The format is this: anarchist theorist and scholar
Apr 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is the first political book i've picked up in ages. and by ages i mean something like 6 or 7 years. in that time i've mostly just re-read books that have shaped my political development (society of the spectacle, bolo'bolo, whatever odds and ends by emma goldman, etc.). but i grabbed this for a few reasons: 1) i am a long-time fan of the historical wobblies and the current zapatistas, so the title and cover grabbed my attention; 2) for years i have found my politics sitting sometimes (un)co ...more
Jordan McPeek
Not knowing much at all about anarchism or Staughton Lynd, this book sounded like a good introduction. I like the idea of a conversation, anticipating some back and forth that might illustrate the differences for me. But it was more of an interview of Lynd. Still, the guy is fascinating. His own personal experiences combined with his knowledge of history made this wide-ranging book a great read. It didn't fill me in on all the details, but it touched on areas I'd like to explore further, and has ...more
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, justice
Very enjoyable and readable retrospective / conversation with Staughton Lynd, centered around finding a pragmatic synthesis of Marxism and Anarchism, lessons of the 60s to 90s applied to today's post-WTO wandering radicals. Through the lens of Subcommandante Marcos and Liberation theology, and walking with Ohio working class and supermax prisoners and Nicaraguans, Staughton has come to the conclusion that an economic class analysis is still the right frame but that seeking state power is no long ...more
Dec 17, 2008 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Another book I just cracked. The title is a bit misleading. This book isn't really about the IWW and Zapatistas but about the intersections of Marxism and anarchism. The aforementioned groups (as well as other organizations and historic movements) are used to illustrate commonalities between the two (not so)opposed schools of thought.

The book is supposed to read like a conversation between Staughton Lynd (marxist) and Andrej Grubacic (anarchist) and is reminiscent of format of dialogue between
Jul 08, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Horrible. This book can be described as a series of drunken email exchanges that wander from topic to topic, with no real goal or direction in sight. The title is incredibly misleading; it has nothing to do with either group.

Staughton Lynd is a washed up hippy who likes to rant about the good ole' days of SNCC, and Andrej Grubacic asks incredibly open-ended questions, allowing Lynd to wander off topic into the abyss.

I highly recommend nobody bother reading this book. I think almost all of its
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an extended interview rather than a conversation which is a shame because I'd like to have heard more from Andrej Grubačić. As interesting and wide-ranging as Staughton Lynd's contributions are they're also somewhat repetitive and would have benefited from being served up in conjunction with Grubačić's quite different spheres of concern. It was an engrossing read but more for the ways in which it set me off on a tangent rather than for the thing itself. Not a good place to start but ...more
May 28, 2009 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
exploring the meaning and formation of resistance to capitalism in all its forms is a brave undertaking.. mr. lynd shares through his experience in various movements, as an ally, activist, and organizer... the lessons learned and insights into openings and limitations of anarchism and the various manifestations of marxism, starting with the Zapatista indigenous-led and organized movement and uprising, drawing parallels with the Wobblies, immigrant workers who organized for improved living and wo ...more
Jun 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leftism-marxism
A look at unionism, Marxism/anarchism and history. The book is arranged as a "conversation," which is really just a device for setting up the theme for Lynd's essays on various issues. The book does not go into a lot of detail, but it does span an enormous part of history of the Left.

I wasn't blown away with it, and sometimes Lynd's self-congratulatory attitude is a little noisome. In fact, the book is far more an autobiography of himself than it is about the IWW or the Zapatistas.
Marshall Scott
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Something of a montage of a life of organizing and advocating on behalf of the working class. My only problem with the book is that certain ideas could have been explored further, and connections made more explicit. But overall, the book was rather enlightening. It is a good survey of the organizing landscape of the Lynd's experience.
Jun 30, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There are some occasional useful insights here into the stated purpose of the book - that is, a synthesis between the anarchist and Marxist traditions - though too often it falls into a biography (and dare I say, hagiography)of Staughton Lynd. As is often the case with this type of book, the interviewer fails to probe very deeply with his questions.
Oct 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice collection of stories from conversations between a young anarchist and a marx-inspired historian/activist who's been doing work for decades. I found some insight, and a terrific, if brief, introduction to a history of freedom struggles in the U.S. and around the world.
Jessica Walker
Jul 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this. The dialogue was accessible and I felt that I would have gotten a lot out of it whether or not I had any background on these subjects -- there was enough detail to keep reading without getting lost and the flow was natural and engaging.
Curtiss W.
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book could have been better if the conservation had been structured around Staughton Lynd and the his co-author had actually attempted some synthesis involving Marxism and Anarchism. Most of the book involved Lynd discussing his involvement with the workers in the Youngstown, Ohio area.
Karissa Chikita
May 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you like the idea of solidarity, read this.
Abbey Volcano
Oct 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wrote a review-- soon to be published, then I'll post links to it.
Mar 09, 2009 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I am just starting this book and would love to dialogue with anyone else who has read it.
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