Cindy Milstein is a board member of the Institute for Anarchist Studies, coorganizer of the Renewing the Anarchist Tradition conference, and author of Anarchism and Its Aspirations (IAS/AK Press, 2010) and the forthcoming collaboration with Erik Ruin Paths toward Utopia: Explorations in Everyday Anarchism (PM Press, spring 2012).
She has actively been engaged in numerous collective projects aimed at creating autonomous spaces of resistance, reconstruction, and education, including most recently, Station 40 in San Francisco, and before that, Black Sheep Books in Montpelier, Vermont. She also taught at the “anarchist summer school” called the Institute for Social Ecology, and has long been involved in community organizing and social/political movements from below, including the Hope from People Not Presidents campaign and the New World from Below convergence at the Social Forum in Detroit.
Her essays appear in several anthologies, including Realizing the Impossible: Art against Authority and Globalize Liberation. When not at home, now in her new home of West Philly, she travels frequently to do public speaking and popular education around topics related to anarchism, direct democracy, anticapitalism, and other political interventions, to encourage critical thought and prefigurative politics. She can be reached at email@example.com, although right now, because she’s joyfully throwing herself into the occupation at Philly and the first living, breathing example of self-governance she’s ever been honored to be a participant in with so many wonderful, diverse people, she’s extra bad about returning emails.
Paths toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism
Authors: Cindy Milstein and Erik Ruin
Introduction: Josh MacPhee
Publisher: PM Press
Published September 2012
Size: 8 by 6
Page count: 120 Pages
Subjects: Art-Graphic, Politics
Consisting of ten collaborative picture-essays that weave Cindy Milstein’s poetic words within Erik Ruin’s intricate yet bold paper-cut and scratch-board images, Paths toward Utopia suggests some of the here-and-now practices that prefigure, however imperfectly, the self-organization that would be commonplace in an egalitarian society. The book mines what we do in our daily lives for the already-existent gems of a freer future—premised on anarchistic ethics like cooperation and direct democracy. Its pages depict everything from seemingly ordinary activities like using parks as our commons to grandiose occupations of public space that construct do-it-ourselves communities, if only temporarily, including pieces such as “The Gift,” “Borrowing from the Library,” “Solidarity Is a Pizza,” and “Waking to Revolution.” The aim is to supply hints of what it routinely would be like to live, every day, in a world created from below, where coercion and hierarchy are largely vestiges of the past.
Paths toward Utopia is not a rosy-eyed stroll, though. The book retains the tensions in present-day attempts to “model” horizontal institutions and relationships of mutual aid under increasingly vertical, exploitative, and alienated conditions. It tries to walk the line between potholes and potential. Yet if anarchist and other autonomist efforts are to serve as a clarion call to action, they must illuminate how people qualitatively, consensually, and ecologically shape their needs as well as desires. They must offer stepping-stones toward emancipation. This can only happen through experimentation, by us all, with diverse forms of self-determination and self-governance, even if riddled with contradictions in this contemporary moment. As the title piece to this book steadfastly asserts, “The precarious passage itself is our road map to a liberatory society.”
"Writing-speaking differently is part of the struggle for the world we want to create and are creating, a world that moves against-and-beyond capitalism. These picture-essay-poems break the existing world both in what they say and how they say it. A fabulous book".
—John Holloway, author of Crack Capitalism
"Paths toward Utopia combines beautiful art, crafted insights, and exemplary stories to plant inspiring seeds of a better future. What more could one ask for?"
—Michael Albert, author of Parecon: Life after Capitalism
For a calendar of speaking events, please click here
- The Art of Remembering, Which Is Also the Art of Seeing This World of Pain and Love
This piece originally appeared on Cindy Milstein's blog, Outside the Circle, where you can find many other writings: cbmilstein.wordpress.com. Cindy is coauthor of the PM Press book Paths toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism (...
- "My Neighbors . . . "
This piece originally appeared on Cindy Milstein's blog at cbmilstein.wordpress.com. She is coauthor, along with Erik Ruin, of Paths toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism (PM Press).
- "It's a War Zone"
This piece originally appeared on Cindy Milstein's blog at cbmilstein.wordpress.com. She is coauthor, with Erik Ruin, of Paths toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism (PM Press).
- Home as Bittersweet War Zone
This piece originally appeared on Cindy Milstein's blog at cbmilstein.wordpress.com. Cindy is coauthor, with Erik Ruin, of Paths toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism (PM Press).
- Sadness, Like Fog, as SFPD Kills Again
This originally appeared on Cindy Milstein's blog at https://cbmilstein.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/sadness-like-fog-as-sfpd-kills-again/. Cindy is coauthor, with Erik Ruin, of Paths toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism (PM Press).
That would it be like to live in a freely-organised society of freely self-determining individuals? Some suggestions - centring on the notion of 'commons', exemplified in the here-and-now by parks and libraries - are presented in Paths Toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism (PM Press, 2012; 120pp; £10.99), the fruits of a collaboration between anarchist Cindy Milstein and print-maker Erik Ruin. Poetic, if sometimes cryptic, this is an optimistic work in the best sense of the term.
- "Outside the Circle", Dispatches from the frontline of Occupy Philadelphia
- "Anarchism in Thought, and in the Streets": Cindy on KPFA's Against the Grain
- "On Radicalism": Cindy on Deep Green Philly