The Schmooze

New York's Oldest Anarchist Book Club Tries To Get Organized

Here’s an unusual story: anarchists in search of order. Bill Weinberg, a former WBAI radio host, is working to save the Libertarian Book Club, founded by Jewish and Italian anarchists in 1946. A recent ad in The Brooklyn Rail reads: “[I]n dire straits: about to lose our office at the old Peace Pentagon (339 Lafayette) — no money — old comrades getting older — etc.” It continues: “[H]elp us hold aloft the black banner into the 21st century.”

“At the moment, the burden is mostly on my shoulders,” Weinberg said. “I’m hoping it’s going to survive.”

Asked if he was sure that they were the oldest continuous anarchist organization in the city, Weinberg replied, “Name another.”

In the popular imagination, anarchism conjures images of soap-box rhetoric, violent manifestos, and tipsy arguments over the ins and outs of revolution. The Libertarian Book Club, however, is more mundane, hosting forums such as the popular annual “Chaos Day” lecture. In decades past, the organization was known as a distributor of anarchist writings.

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New York's Oldest Anarchist Book Club Tries To Get Organized

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