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The Nation on No Map

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The Nation on No Map examines state power, abolition, and ideological tensions within the struggle for Black liberation while centering the politics of Black autonomy and self-determination. Amid renewed interest in Black anarchism among the left, Anderson offers a principled rejection of reformism, nation building, and citizenship in the ongoing fight against capitalism a The Nation on No Map examines state power, abolition, and ideological tensions within the struggle for Black liberation while centering the politics of Black autonomy and self-determination. Amid renewed interest in Black anarchism among the left, Anderson offers a principled rejection of reformism, nation building, and citizenship in the ongoing fight against capitalism and white supremacism. As a viable alternative amidst worsening social conditions, he calls for the urgent prioritization of community-based growth, arguing that in order to overcome oppression, people must build capacity beyond the state. It interrogates how history and myth and leadership are used to rehabilitate governance instead of achieving a revolutionary abolition. By complicating our understanding of the predicaments we face, The Nation on No Map hopes to encourage readers to utilize a Black anarchic lens in favor of total transformation, no matter what it’s called. Anderson’s text examines reformism, orthodoxy, and the idea of the nation-state itself as problems that must be transcended and key sites for a liberatory re-envisioning of struggle.


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The Nation on No Map examines state power, abolition, and ideological tensions within the struggle for Black liberation while centering the politics of Black autonomy and self-determination. Amid renewed interest in Black anarchism among the left, Anderson offers a principled rejection of reformism, nation building, and citizenship in the ongoing fight against capitalism a The Nation on No Map examines state power, abolition, and ideological tensions within the struggle for Black liberation while centering the politics of Black autonomy and self-determination. Amid renewed interest in Black anarchism among the left, Anderson offers a principled rejection of reformism, nation building, and citizenship in the ongoing fight against capitalism and white supremacism. As a viable alternative amidst worsening social conditions, he calls for the urgent prioritization of community-based growth, arguing that in order to overcome oppression, people must build capacity beyond the state. It interrogates how history and myth and leadership are used to rehabilitate governance instead of achieving a revolutionary abolition. By complicating our understanding of the predicaments we face, The Nation on No Map hopes to encourage readers to utilize a Black anarchic lens in favor of total transformation, no matter what it’s called. Anderson’s text examines reformism, orthodoxy, and the idea of the nation-state itself as problems that must be transcended and key sites for a liberatory re-envisioning of struggle.

30 review for The Nation on No Map

  1. 4 out of 5

    JRT

    “Black people’s entire lives are shaped by the implicit understanding that we are not a part of this society we’re born into. We are not really citizens, and our history tells us this without much ambiguity.” This quote sets the tone for this extremely insightful book on the revolutionary potential of Black Anarchism. Author William C. Anderson is surgical and unapologetic in his indictment of not just the white supremacist-capitalistic state, but all other state-forms, each of which fail to add “Black people’s entire lives are shaped by the implicit understanding that we are not a part of this society we’re born into. We are not really citizens, and our history tells us this without much ambiguity.” This quote sets the tone for this extremely insightful book on the revolutionary potential of Black Anarchism. Author William C. Anderson is surgical and unapologetic in his indictment of not just the white supremacist-capitalistic state, but all other state-forms, each of which fail to address the problems of unaccountable leadership, anti-democratic and hierarchal organization, and entrenched exploitation and oppression. Anderson challenges romantic notions of Black identity (i.e. “we were once Kings and Queens”) as being rooted in statist and oppressive forms of social organization flowing from the modern capitalist tendency to ascribe value to people based on the wealth they’ve amassed and the state power they’ve wielded. This led to Anderson’s criticism of the concept and attempted practice of “Black capitalism,” along with the notion that Black people are incapable of doing-for-self without an anointed “leader” or “vanguard” party pulling the masses along. Throughout the book, Anderson warns against the perils of deifying individual revolutionaries (including and especially those that led nation-state formations or even radical organizations), as well as creating rigid dogma out of supposedly revolutionary ideologies. Anderson contends that such idealization and dogmatic thinking ultimately supports the continued existence of the state by masking its flaws and entrenching certain “authoritarian” impulses (Anderson cites some of the excesses of the Black Panther Party as an example). In critiquing the Black Power movement and the “Black Left,” Anderson essentially advocates for a type of “communalism” over “nationalism,” positing that collectivist development must be prioritized over statecraft and nationalism, as the latter will only lead to the replication and repackaging of systems of oppression and domination. One of my favorite quotes of the book is “[F]or many Black people, sedition is survival and survival is seditious.” With this short but profound insight, Anderson hammers home one of the most basic points of the philosophy of “Black Anarchism”—that Blackness itself is an Anarchist category, as Black people are fundamentally anti-state because the state is fundamentally (and foundationally) anti-Black. With this insight into both the perpetual non-citizen status of Black people, Anderson sets out to show how this status can in fact unleash the revolutionary potential of the Black masses. In doing so, Anderson repeatedly details his issues with “Black Nationalism,” identifying it as a dead-end political project because nationalism in any form carries with it the possibility (inevitability?) of class oppression, slavery, and fascism. This of course is a controversial and highly contentious point in Black politics. Nevertheless, Anderson makes his position clear in his critiques of the Garvey Movement, the NOI, the Black Panther Party, and the more modern “ADOS” movement. While I would have appreciated some basic definitions of the terms “state” and “nation”—especially as they relate to one another—and I’m still looking for an in-depth analysis of the relationship between Black Anarchism and Pan Africanism, I think Anderson makes clear that the Black Anarchist form of social organization contemplates mass responsibility and coordination, rather than class rule from an elite group people (whether white, Black, or otherwise). In order to carry this out, Black and other colonized peoples must make themselves “ungovernable” by cultivating and developing alternative socioeconomic, political, and cultural institutions, and subsequently preparing themselves for the inevitable conflict with the state. To this point, abolition isn’t just about dismantling systems of domination, it’s fundamentally about building something radically new in its place. Ultimately, this book is an urgent call to action. With the declaration that “[T]he white ethno-state is a fascist dream that cannot be reasoned with,” Anderson makes clear that the abolition of all state forms is a necessary condition for full decolonization, Black liberation, and the ultimately salvation of the planet. This is a must read!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Viola

    Black migration beyond states and borders William C. Anderson. October 7, 2021 #RoarMagazine RACE & RESISTANCE The contradictions of Black citizenship are intricately linked to movement and migration, despite common perceptions that exclude Black people from migrant struggles today. Image A man from Haiti is crossing the Rio Grande natural border between Mexico and the United States. May, 2021. David Peinado Romero / Shutterstock.com Migration is a central part of The Nation on No Map. Spending time o Black migration beyond states and borders William C. Anderson. October 7, 2021 #RoarMagazine RACE & RESISTANCE The contradictions of Black citizenship are intricately linked to movement and migration, despite common perceptions that exclude Black people from migrant struggles today. Image A man from Haiti is crossing the Rio Grande natural border between Mexico and the United States. May, 2021. David Peinado Romero / Shutterstock.com Migration is a central part of The Nation on No Map. Spending time organizing in the immigrant rights movement shaped my thinking around citizenship, Blackness and movement. For years, I observed the fact that Black people were doubly erased within the spaces I frequented. I cannot stress enough that there are two key insights that I hope people will take away from this text. One is that Black people are not regarded as true citizens of the United States, the other is that we are also not recognized as non-citizens (undocumented) in immigrant rights spaces. We experience a unique statelessness that is not restricted to Black people within the confines of US borders. For those like me, who were born in the US and are descended from enslaved Africans, I think it is of the utmost importance that we connect ourselves to global migration struggles. Although we hear about the multiple Great Migrations forced on Black America, this history is treated as disconnected from the current migrations of the larger African diaspora. Recent events at the southern US border and beyond show why it is necessary to challenge this. William C. Anderson’s “The Nation on No Map” is now available for preorder from AK Press. At a time when Black nativist elements and liberal Black patriotism projectsare gaining significant ground, we have seen record deportations and detainment inflicted by the state. The first Black president broke previous records for deportations which happen to disproportionately target Black migrants, immigrants and refugees. So it is not exactly surprising to see images of Haitians being whipped and brutalized by Border Patrol. Deadly violence and racism is their standard. However, those disturbing images, which for many invoked references to slavery and overseers, should help us understand the intricacies of migration throughout the African diaspora. Black people in the Americas have been forced to relocate through slave trading, domestic migrations and now through gentrification and displacement. Black people in the US, despite having been here for generations, still experience statelessness and suffer from the precarity that comes with it. Those of us who experience the limitations of citizenship every day should stand in solidarity with and struggle alongside those who — on paper — fall outside of this category. Black America has never been protected by citizenship or borders. We are a part of a global, endless search for home and safety, which, I believe, calls into question the legitimacy of the nation-state apparatus. There is no easy place to run to and states that are nominally anti-imperialist or state-socialist projects do not guarantee a safe haven. Black history tells us as much, so trying to repeatedly build up new nations and new states to actualize liberation is part of what I am writing against. Nations and states and preoccupation with state authority offer us no guarantees, and the stale leftist dogmas that assume they do are not saving the lives of Black people drowning in the seas, trekking across deserts and knocking on the bordergates. I am not interested in pre-fixed narratives that patriotically romanticize states, fetishize governments and stir up wishful leftisms that keep people invested in old orthodoxies. There is too much death, too much inconsistency and too much contradiction to continue clinging to such limitations. It will take a complete transcendence and break from the way our struggles currently are to see them overturned to what they could be. Black anarchism taught me this. It did not do so by positioning itself as some ultimate ideological authority, but instead, it led me to question more. This type of honesty is no small thing when even supposedly radical spaces and movements marginalize people who dare challenge those in leadership. It is past time to listen to those who have been overlooked, ignored and purged for daring to speak up. People are fighting to have somewhere to rest and lay their head and feed their family. This ongoing disaster tells us that solidarity also means we must think beyond borders, beyond the state and beyond all of the weapons of governance that have brought us to this point. Not only do these violent formations create crises, they are the crisis. THE GREAT RETURN This is an excerpt from The Nation on No Map: Black Anarchism and Abolition by William C. Anderson. Out this November from AK Press. Since the past shapes our perception of the world around us, seeing the continuum helps us as we encounter everything that is wrong now. When we critically examine the narratives we have internalized, we are better equipped for the troubling present day. There are predicaments in front of us related to movement, environment and the state that demand an unflinching, radical honesty in this regard. We cannot deceive ourselves about where we are coming from in order to get where we need to go. And it is the act of going or moving that I hope to address here. The question of Black citizenship is intricately linked to the struggle of migrants, immigrants, refugees, the undocumented and other precarious classifications. In the US, migration is usually associated with people from South and Central America living in the US, particularly those who are not Black. Common perceptions of immigration have excluded Black people for a number of reasons. Among those is the fact that Black people are discriminated against even in immigrant rights movements. We are erased from migrant and immigrant narratives much like we are erased from the citizen category. Black family histories contain many stories of kin fleeing the South to avoid the terror of white violence. The Great Migration, as we know it, the endless movement of Black Americans around the country seeking jobs, safety and other resources, is something Black anarchism can diagnose as an important aspect of our struggle. Black people had to shed fears of borders, challenge ideas of place and practice mutual aid to survive unknown landscapes. Zora Neale Hurston offers a relevant portrait of the Black migrant in Their Eyes Were Watching God: Day by day now, the hordes of workers poured in. Some came limping in with their shoes and sore feet from walking. It’s hard trying to follow your shoe instead of your shoe following you. They came in wagons from way up in Georgia and they came in truck loads from east, west, north and south. Permanent transients with no attachments and tired looking men with their families and dogs in flivvers. All night, all day, hurrying in to pick beans. Skillets, beds, patched up spare inner tubes all hanging and dangling from the ancient cars on the outside and hopeful humanity, herded and hovered on the inside, chugging on to the muck. People ugly from ignorance and broken from being poor. All night now the jooks clanged and clamored. Pianos living three lifetimes in one. Blues made and used right on the spot. Dancing, fighting, singing, crying, laughing, winning and losing love every hour. Work all day for money, fight all night for love. The rich black earth clinging to bodies and biting the skin like ants. Black migrants were working to meet the demands of a capitalist country that did not consider them actual citizens. People traveled and fled, like they do now, because they had no choice. Their goals and hopes for themselves required movement. This consistently involuntary movement has rarely been seen as a migration struggle. Black people and our constant relocations are being erased from dominant narratives in the United States, rendering us neither citizen nor noncitizen, highlighting alienation and perpetual displacement under both classifications. Significantly, this is continuing under the violence we know as “gentrification.” Black people are being displaced, upended and expelled from places we have long known as home. Many of us are being forced to find new places that are more affordable and reasonable in order to build safe and happy lives. In this context, it is important that we recall the Black histories of movement and build solidarity with those being forced to move across the diaspora. Forced relocation defines Black existence across the Americas. There is a direct line from Black people being forced onto plantations as property to today’s experiences of being unsettled and repeatedly relocated. Africans being transported for the purposes of slavery entered the US through the Old South before the country began its rapid, violent expansion. A large forced migration of Black people happened between the Old South (Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia) and the New South based on the shifting demands of agriculture, new crops and labor. Black movement to California between 1850 and 1860 established the first English-speaking Black communities out west and marked another significant movement (forced and otherwise) of Black people. Following the Civil War and “emancipation,” Black people trying to make a life in the period of Reconstruction were met with heinous violence. As W. E. B. Du Bois writes in Black Reconstruction, “The result of the war left four million human beings just as valuable for the production of cotton and sugar as they had been before the war.” White supremacy, unbroken by war but perturbed and resentful in the South, exercised vengeance on the lives of Black people trying to survive as best they knew how. It reformed itself through updated imprisoning mechanisms and violent authoritarian surveillance and policing that we still live with today. The trauma brought on by ceaseless white terror was the only inheritance many were promised for their grueling labor. So, many had to flee the South. What is popularly known as the Great Migration took place between the early 20th century and the 1970s. However, we would do well to understand it never truly stopped. This movement of Black migrants hoping to find better lives free from oppression and economic exploitation transformed the country. Documenting her own family history and movement in her book In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, Christina Sharpe explains, that relocation is not exclusive to Black people in the United States nor did it satisfy hopes for freedom: “This, of course, is not wholly, or even largely, a Black US phenomenon. This kind of movement happens all over the Black diaspora from and in the Caribbean and the continent to the metropole, the US great migrations of the early to mid-twentieth century that saw millions of Black people moving from the South to the North, and those people on the move in the contemporary from points all over the African continent to other points on the continent and also to Germany, Greece, Lampedusa. Like many of these Black people on the move, my parents discovered that things were not better in this “new world”: the subjections of constant and overt racism and isolation continued.” That hope for a better life, however marred by the reality of Black existence, has everything to do with what we are experiencing today. Black people’s lives regularly face disruption around the planet, no matter where we’re located. Within the US borders, this means moving around domestically, while Black people from outside the country regularly try to enter; both are seeking safety and stability. As we move around within and between nations, crossing borders, hoping to secure a home, we are bound to exclusion based on our history. Creating our own false narratives has not granted us true inclusion in categories like citizenship or provided any sort of liberation. Tales of being selfless patriots who made America great, just like tales of being descendants of kings and queens, have not overcome this. Nor has any self-aggrandizing revolutionary leftist ideology. Black people are kept outside the categories that other people see as basic rights. Nations and societies declare us unfit, undeserving and unaccepted. The violence historically levied against us extends to forcible displacement from our homes and our roots. Black people in the US and throughout the world experience the extraordinary brutality of being people with no place on the map. And many of the paths people look to for liberation offer us nothing. +++++++ William C. Anderson is a freelance writer whose work has been published by the Guardian, Truthout, MTV and Pitchfork, among others. He’s co-author of As Black as Resistance (AK Press 2018) and author of The Nation on No Map (AK Press, 2021). Source https://roarmag.org/essays/anderson-n...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Corvus

    I thoroughly enjoyed William C. Anderson's work in As Black as Resistance, with his coauthor Zoé Samudzi, so I was very excited to see a new title coming out with his name on it. ABAR is one of my favorite anarchist texts that I have read and thus, I had high hopes for his new book: The Nation on No Map. He did not disappoint, making this book an excellent edition to the anarchist milieu and required reading for anyone interested in anarchism and/or Black radical politics. What struck me first of I thoroughly enjoyed William C. Anderson's work in As Black as Resistance, with his coauthor Zoé Samudzi, so I was very excited to see a new title coming out with his name on it. ABAR is one of my favorite anarchist texts that I have read and thus, I had high hopes for his new book: The Nation on No Map. He did not disappoint, making this book an excellent edition to the anarchist milieu and required reading for anyone interested in anarchism and/or Black radical politics. What struck me first off in reading this is how humble the author is. He clearly wishes for this book to be presented as a prompt for organization and discussion, rather than a Bible of how to think. This does not mean that Anderson is devoid of passion. On the contrary. He balances the intensity surrounding the topics at hand with the humility of knowing one does not have all of the answers and that times and minds change. Anderson wants to share what he has learned over time rather than indoctrinate the reader into a strict set of views. The book tackles more wide ranging anarchist thought as well as niche specifics that many on the left struggle to parse out such as the celebration of elite and celebrity Black folks, Black nationalism movements, authoritarianism among leftists (even in anti-authoritarian movements,) and the spectre of history revisionism that many people feel drawn to in order to make their voices heard and causes attended to. Anderson shows that the truth is plenty and playing into systems of oppression in order to get ahead will never work in the long run, and usually doesn't in the short either. While I did find the book to be repetitive in some sections, this is far outweighed by Anderson's way with words. He balances style with information in ways that make heavy texts flow more easily for the reader. The foreword and afterword by big names in the anti-authoritarian game also add to the draw of the book with Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin providing an excellent summary to wrap things up. The graphic design of the print version is extraordinary. I don't know who is on AK Press' design team, but I have adored the experience of so many titles on their list both for the text and the visual and tactile elements. Anderson's words are poetic and passionate while simultaneously being grounded in reality. This is a short read with a ton of information that I would most definitely recommend. This was also posted to my blog.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dominique

    Well-researched, immediate, and engrossing introduction to Black Anarchist thought. Click here for the full review. Well-researched, immediate, and engrossing introduction to Black Anarchist thought. Click here for the full review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bryce

    This is what's up This is what's up

  6. 5 out of 5

    Camille

    Anderson is by no means a brilliant writer or scholar, but his writing does the crucial work of carrying black anarchist thinking and praxis forward.... if only just a little bit. He has enough supporting material to keep you engaged and he has a clear message for all the false prophets in contemporary black America. I just wish he was more compelling and specific and less rambling and obtuse. I can't really recommend this book or his last one but I'm happy they exist to remind people that we ex Anderson is by no means a brilliant writer or scholar, but his writing does the crucial work of carrying black anarchist thinking and praxis forward.... if only just a little bit. He has enough supporting material to keep you engaged and he has a clear message for all the false prophets in contemporary black America. I just wish he was more compelling and specific and less rambling and obtuse. I can't really recommend this book or his last one but I'm happy they exist to remind people that we exist.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey Huse

    This book definitely expanded my way of thinking about the purpose of nation states and what true liberation looks like. Left me with a lot of questions in a good way.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Janis Yue

    I appreciated this book so much…William Anderson is a candid, undogmatic writer who interweaves his lived experiences, de-mythologized moments of history, and the words of thinkers of past, present, and future in order to cultivate a Black anarchism that is accessible, inviting, and necessary. I learned a lot from his framing of Black migration/statelessness in particular. My only critique is that I felt the book could have presented more thoughts about what Black anarchist praxis looks like on I appreciated this book so much…William Anderson is a candid, undogmatic writer who interweaves his lived experiences, de-mythologized moments of history, and the words of thinkers of past, present, and future in order to cultivate a Black anarchism that is accessible, inviting, and necessary. I learned a lot from his framing of Black migration/statelessness in particular. My only critique is that I felt the book could have presented more thoughts about what Black anarchist praxis looks like on a day-to-day basis and how liberation can be achieved through Black anarchism.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Muffin

    I thought this was great! I’ve read very little about Black anarchism so this was a useful introduction to some important ideas, envisioning a future where people’s human rights and well-being aren’t dependent on petitioning a white supremacist state. It was also very thoughtful about the necessity of a movement being self-critical and not allowing itself to obsess over icons or political ideology. I’ll be thinking about this for some time. Thanks to the No Name Book Club for this month’s read!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    It’s going to take something pretty special to dethrone this as my top read of the year. This book is short and concise, yet gripping in its realism and fluctuations of optimism and pessimism. A great primer for taking the next steps into anarchism as a philosophy and as a solution, this is urgent while at the same time being a phenomenal, digestible read. Highly recommend to anyone wondering about No Gods, No Masters, No Maps, and No Nations!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

    The Nation on No Map serves as a clarion call for black anarchism, challenging black radicals and anarchic activists (and especially both at once) to come to together and attend specifically to the challenges of nationhood and blackness in the twenty-first century.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Daniela

    This is the best book I've read in this year. Very well written about black anarchism. I am very grateful for this brilliant read. This is a must read. Thank you William C. Anderson, AK Press, Goodreads Giveaways for this book! This is the best book I've read in this year. Very well written about black anarchism. I am very grateful for this brilliant read. This is a must read. Thank you William C. Anderson, AK Press, Goodreads Giveaways for this book!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ietrio

    Gypsy, Uyghur, Basque, Kurds, Catalans, the world is full of nations on no maps. And that is today. People with their own language. Their own culture. Their own cuisine. And morons like Anderson still get published. He knows ”The Nation”.

  14. 5 out of 5

    nhu

    2.5

  15. 4 out of 5

    Zaynab

    (It's closer to a 3.5 than a 4) (It's closer to a 3.5 than a 4)

  16. 5 out of 5

    nervousyoungsam

    read for noname’s book club!

  17. 4 out of 5

    lyssxrose

  18. 4 out of 5

    Arianna

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gabby Felder

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa M

  22. 5 out of 5

    Page

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  24. 5 out of 5

    Maddi Jackson

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bradley Haering

  26. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  28. 4 out of 5

    Muñoz

  29. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

  30. 4 out of 5

    Citlalli

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