Memories of a Luddite, Pt. 1

Deran Ludd, writer and activist, 1959-2018

deran
Ludd riffing on his choroideremia — a degenerative eye disease (Anonymous)

MEMOIR

by George Howland Jr.

A friend called with the sad news: Writer and activist Deran Ludd had committed suicide on September 9, 2018.

I only saw Deran dance once. It was 1977. Deran was frugging and laughing with Leslie Batchelder to the sounds of the B-52s “Rock Lobster.” The two of them were impossibly beautiful.

Deran had the delicate patrician features of the WASP elite. His hair was a little shaggy and he had on earrings that matched his blue eyes. His slim body didn’t hold my attention, it was his gorgeous face that I couldn’t stop looking at. My gaydar went off—but quietly. He seemed like a sweet, hippie boy.

Continue reading “Memories of a Luddite, Pt. 1”

Radical Dreamers

An activist historian writes a terrific survey of 70 years of American anti-authoritarianism

emma goldman
Emma Goldman: key leader of “bohemian anarchism”

BOOKS

Unruly Equality: U.S. Anarchism in the 20th Century

Andrew Cornell (University of California Press, 2016, 416 pages, $24.95)

by George Howland Jr.

By writing an insightful, accessible and thorough history of 20th century anarchism, Andrew Cornell has made an important contribution to understanding the great social movements of that era. “Unruly Equality” can help inform current activists, historians and the general public about the contribution of anti-authoritarians to such movements as the mass labor struggles of the 1910s, the Black Freedom Movement of the 1950s and the New Left of the 1960s.

Anarchism is a political philosophy that emerged out of the great workers’ movement of the 19th century. Early anarchists broke with Karl Marx and his socialist adherents over the issues of hierarchy, power and the state. Anarchists believe that a truly egalitarian society can only be created by equals who eliminate all forms of domination including government.

In his history, Cornell makes important distinctions between the different kinds of anarchist philosophy and tactics that were present in the U.S. from 1900 to 1970. (There is an epilogue that briefly surveys contemporary anarchists including the Occupy movement, but a real history of 1970-2000 is still needed.)

Continue reading “Radical Dreamers”