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Andrej Grubacic

 

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Andrej Grubacic is an anarchist dissident and historian who has written prolifically on anarchism and the history of the Balkans. He is a lecturer at the ZMedia Institute and University of San Francisco.

Following the collapse of Yugoslavia, Grubacic was based in Belgrade, before leaving his position as assistant lecturer of History at the University of Belgrade (due to tensions relating to his political activism) and relocating to the Fernand Braudel Center at SUNY Binghamton in New York, United States where he taught in the Sociology department.

Grubacic is founding member of the Global Balkans network of the Balkan anti-capitalist diaspora, the Yugoslav Initiative for Economic Democracy, Kontrapunkt magazine, and ZBalkans – a Balkan edition of Z Magazine on whose editorial board he also sits. He is or has been active as an anarchist organizer in networks such as Planetary Alternatives Network, the post-Yugoslav coalition of anti-authoritarian collectives DSM!, Peoples Global Action, the World Social Forum, Freedom Fight and, most recently, as a program director for the Global Commons.

His works include books in Balkan languages, chapters and numerous articles related to the history and utopian present of the Balkans.

His affinity towards anarchism arose as a result of his experiences as a member of the Belgrade Libertarian Group that derives from the Yugoslav Praxis experiment.

 

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 Don't Mourn, Balkanize!: Essays After Yugoslavia
By Andrej Grubacic
Foreword by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
ISBN: 978-1-60486-302-4
Published: September 2010
Format: Paperback
Size: 8 by 5
Page count: 272
Subjects: History-Yugoslavia, Politics

$20.00

Don't Mourn, Balkanize! Is the first book written from the radical left perspective on the topic of Yugoslav space after the dismantling of the country. In this collection of essays, commentaries and interviews, written between 2002 and 2010, Andrej Grubacic speaks about the politics of balkanization—about the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, neoliberal structural adjustment, humanitarian intervention, supervised independence of Kosovo, occupation of Bosnia, and other episodes of Power which he situates in the long historical context of colonialism, conquest and intervention.

But he also tells the story of the balkanization of politics, of the Balkans seen from below. A space of bogumils—those medieval heretics who fought against Crusades and churches—and a place of anti-Ottoman resistance; a home to hajduks and klefti, pirates and rebels; a refuge of feminists and socialists, of anti-fascists and partisans; of new social movements of occupied and recovered factories; a place of dreamers of all sorts struggling both against provincial "peninsularity" as well as against occupations, foreign interventions and that process which is now, in a strange inversion of history, often described by that fashionable term, "balkanization."

For Grubacic, political activist and radical sociologist, Yugoslavia was never just a country—it was an idea. Like the Balkans itself, it was a project of inter-ethnic co-existence, a trans-ethnic and pluricultural space of many diverse worlds. Political ideas of inter-ethnic cooperation and mutual aid as we had known them in Yugoslavia were destroyed by the beginning of the 1990s—disappeared in the combined madness of ethno-nationalist hysteria and humanitarian imperialism. This remarkable collection chronicles political experiences of the author who is himself a Yugoslav, a man without a country; but also, as an anarchist, a man without a state. This book is an important reading for those on the Left who are struggling to understand the intertwined legacy of inter-ethnic conflict and inter-ethnic solidarity in contemporary, post-Yugoslav history.

Praise:

"These thoughtful essays offer us a vivid picture of the Balkans experience from the inside, with its richness and complexity, tragedy and hope, and lessons from which we can all draw inspiration and insight."
—Noam Chomsky, MIT

"The history of Yugoslavia is of global relevance, and there's no one better placed to reveal, share, and analyse it than Andrej Grubacic. From the struggle of the Roma to the liberating possibilities of 'federalism from below,' this collection of essays is required and radical reading."
—Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved

"This book of essays shows a deep grasp of Yugoslav history and social theory. It is a groundbreaking book, representing a bold departure from existing ideas, and an imaginative view to how a just society in the Balkans might be constructed."
—Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States

"I cannot think of another work that even tries to accomplish what Andrej Grubacic has artfully undertaken in this volume. Don't Mourn, Balkanize! is the first radical account of Yugoslav history after Yugoslavia, surveying this complex history with imagination and insight. Grubacic's book provides essential information and perspective for all those interested in the recent history of this part of the world."
—Michael Albert, author of Parecon

"Andrej Grubacic is a rare genuine authority on the recent history and politics of the Balkans. I have known him for a decade, have followed and read his work with profit, and corresponded with him on matters which I found difficult in doing my own writing in this field."
—Edward S. Herman Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
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By Staughton Lynd 
Edited with an introduction by Andrej Grubacic
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-215-7
Published: April 2010
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 336
Dimensions: 9 by 6
Subjects: Politics, Activism, History
$22.00

From Here To There collects unpublished talks and hard-to-find essays from legendary activist historian Staughton Lynd. The common theme is the conviction that humankind should reject capitalism and imperialism, and seek a transition to another world.

The first section of the Reader collects reminiscence and analysis of the 1960s. A second section offers a vision of how historians might immerse themselves in popular movements while maintaining their obligation to tell the truth. In a last group of presentations entitled “Possibilities” and a three-piece “Conclusion,” Lynd explores what nonviolence, resistance to empire as a way of life, and working class self-activity might mean in the 21st century.

In a wide-ranging Introduction, anarchist Andrej Grubacic considers how Lynd's persistent concerns relate to traditional anarchism. Grubacic and Lynd advocate a convergence of anarchism and Marxism. Inspired by the Zapatista upheaval in Mexico, the two friends find lessons for radicals elsewhere in Zapatista ideas such as 'mandar  obediciendo,' to lead by obeying. They believe that Zapatista practice helps to make concrete what a movement might look like that sought, not to take state power, but to control the nation state from below.

Reviews

"I met Staughton and Alice Lynd nearly fifty years ago in Atlanta. Staughton's reflective and restless life has never ceased in its exploring. This book is his great gift to the next generations." --Tom Hayden

"Staughton Lynd's work is essential reading for anyone dedicated to implementing social justice. The essays collected in this book provide unique wisdom and insights into United States history and possibilities for change, summed up in two tenets:  Leading from below and Solidarity." --Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz

"This remarkable collection demonstrates the compassion and intelligence of one of America's greatest public intellectuals. To his explorations of everything from Freedom Schools to the Battle of Seattle, Staughton Lynd brings lyricism, rigour, a historian's eye for irony, and an unshakable commitment to social transformation. In this time of economic crisis, when the air is filled with ideas of 'hope' and 'change,' Lynd guides us to understanding what, very concretely, those words might mean and how we might get there. These essays are as vital and relevant now as the day they were written, and a source of inspiration for activists young and old." --Raj Patel

"The Staughton Lynd Reader is a veritable treasure chest. Lynd shows unparalleled respect for rank-and-file movements. If you're interested in broad social change and meaningful democracy, you simply must read Staughton Lynd." --Daniel Gross

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Wobblies

Wobblies & Zapatistas: Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism, and Radical History
by Staughton Lynd & Andrej Grubacic
Published: Sept. 2008
ISBN: 978-1-60486-041-2
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 300
Dimensions: 8 by 5
Subjects: History, Politics

$20.00

 
Wobblies & 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 of the idea that "my country is the world." Encompassing a Left libertarian perspective and an emphatically activist standpoint, these conversations are meant to be read in the clubs and affinity groups of the new Movement.

The authors accompany us on a journey through modern revolutions, direct actions, anti-globalist counter summits, Freedom Schools, Zapatista cooperatives, Haymarket and Petrograd, Hanoi and Belgrade,  'intentional' communities, wildcat strikes, early Protestant communities, Native American democratic practices, the Workers' Solidarity Club of Youngstown, occupied factories, self-organized councils and soviets, the lives of forgotten revolutionaries, Quaker meetings, antiwar movements, and prison rebellions. Neglected and forgotten moments of interracial self-activity are brought to light. The book invites the attention of readers who believe that a better world, on the other side of capitalism and state bureaucracy, may indeed be possible.

The Buzz:

“There's no doubt that we've lost much of our history. It's also very clear that those in power in this country like it that way. Here's a book that shows us why. It demonstrates not only that another world is possible, but that it already exists, has existed, and shows an endless potential to burst through the artificial walls and divisions that currently imprison us. An exquisite contribution to the literature of human freedom, and coming not a moment too soon.”
--David Graeber, author of Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology and Direct Action: An Ethnography

"In these desperate, often tragic, times, we look backward, forward, even to our dreams to be able to keep imagining a world in which justice may be part of more people's lives. We look to lives lived before ours, to stories and their meanings, to strategies culled from the worlds of politics or ancient wisdoms. We look in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and here in the United States. We are willing to entertain any new idea or revamped strategy. Staughton Lynd's life and work put him in a unique position to seek out someone like Grubacic, ask the pertinent questions, and tell the meaningful stories. Grubacic's experience perfectly compliments Lynd's. Here we have the best of a non-dogmatic Marxism listening to a most creative and humane anarchism. But this book is never weighted down by unforgiving theory. Just the opposite: it is a series of conversations where the reader feels fully present. It provides a marvelous framework for enriching the conversation that's never really stopped: about how we may make this world a better place."
 --Margaret Randall, author of Sandino's Daughters, When I Look Into the Mirror and See You, and Narrative of Power

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What Others Are Saying...

Interviews

   

wobsZnet interviews Andrej Grubacic and Staughton Lynd

1. Can you tell ZNet, please, what Wobblies and Zapatistas is about? What is it trying to communicate?

Staughton: The book is about the need for Marxists and anarchists to lay down their ideological weapons and create a single Left resistance to what capitalism is doing to the world. The hostility between the two traditions is a little like a feud between extended families handed down from generation to generation: Hatfields and McCoys in American history, or the families of Romeo and Juliet. In reality Marxism and anarchism should be like two hands, the one analyzing the structure of things, the other throwing up unending prefigurative initiatives. Neither tradition has been so successful that it can speak of the other with lofty dismissal or contempt. We need each other.

Andrej: Our way of distancing ourselves from this Shakespearean relationship between anarchism and Marxism is by using the notion of direct action and accompaniment. In so doing we arrive at a "Haymarket synthesis," recently revived by the Zapatistas, a synthesis that we see emerging over and over again throughout American history. We start with the Haymarket anarchists and the so called "Chicago idea"; we go on to explore histories of such movements as the Industrial Workers of the World, Zapatistas, as well as individuals, such as Simone Weil or Edward Thompson, who sought a fusion between these two traditions.

By accompaniment we mean a specific form of mutual aid and praxis where the activist and the oppressed person walk side by side, sharing bread, as the phrase goes, sharing specific knowledge and experience. We speak about a relation between direct action and theory. Both Staughton and myself are very weary of recent fashionable "high theory" that speaks in "multitudes," and that tends to be, well, incomprehensible; we advocate instead a "low theory," a theory that arises from practice, as well as what Staughton describes above as a structural analysis of things. We think that the new movement needs to be concerned with strategy and program, that it needs to develop a serious strategy and a serious program, that anarchists need to learn how to swim in the sea of the people, and that we need to do our best to re-create a truly non-sectarian community of struggle that would resemble the experience of mass working class movements such as the one of the Chicago anarchists who "invented a peculiar brand of socialism" of the sort that we advocate in the book...

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dontAndrej Grubacic on Don't Mourn, Balkanize
By Andrej Grubacic
Znet
November 15, 2010

My family was a microcosm of this deeper Balkan reality. My grandparents were socialists, partisans and antifascists— dreamers who believed in self-management and the Yugoslav “path to socialism.” This idea—and especially the Yugoslav and Balkan dream of an interethnic, pluricultural space—was dramatically dismantled in the 1990s. That was the beginning of my struggle to understand my own identity and the problem of Yugoslav socialism.

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Reviews

dontDon't Mourn, Balkanize! on CounterPunch
By Paul Buhle
Counterpunch
Weekend Edition November 25-27, 2011

Don’t Mourn, Balkanize!  reflects one or two of his predilections less well-known than his espousal of anarchist organizational notions (mostly in Z-Net) and his running commentaries in various places on the emergence and significance of Occupations. It would be a mistake to see one subject as distant from another. He is looking for a wholesale reconstruction of politics along voluntary, collectivist lines, across all the usual borders; and behind a tough analysis, he is looking for what we now Old New Leftists used to call the beloved community, ways of linking human beings in urgent need of solidarity, making possible the solution of problems faced on the planet.

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dontDon't Mourn, Balkanize! on the New York Journal of Books
New York Journal of Books
by Andrew Rosenbaum

Here is Mr. Grubačić at his best: “The Serbian pharmaceutical factory Jugoremedija, from the town of Zrenjanin, was privatized in 2000, in such a way that 58% of the shares were given to the workers, and the state took 42%. In 2002, the state sold its shares to Jovica Stefanovic, an infamous local capitalist, who made his fortune smuggling cigarettes, and who was wanted by Interpol at the time he bought the shares of Jugoremedija. As with all the other buyers in Serbian privatization, Stefanovic was not even investigated for money laundering, because the Serbian government’s position at that time was (and still is), that it’s better to have dirty money in privatization, than to let workers manage the company, because that would ‘bring us back to the dark days of self-management.’”

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dontDon't Mourn, Balkanize! A Review
Znet
February 07, 2011

When reviewing books, it’s common practice to either recommend that one’s readers examine a given tome or reject it and not waste their time. I wholeheartedly recommend this book. As an American with only a passing knowledge of the history of the Balkans, the essays and interviews provided analyses that taught me important history lessons and tied them to a radical analysis of the political situation there on the ground. This is an important contribution both for the lessons we can take from it historically and because Grubacic's political insights are invaluable.

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dontDon't Mourn, Balkanize! A Review
www.politicsrespun.org
December 7, 2010

Grubačić’s work is both an important chronicle of contemporary anti-colonial struggles in the Balkans and a critical text in shaping an emergent “balkanized” vision for the region and its peoples; an indigenous call to arms from which all stand to learn.

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fromFrom Here To There: A Review
American Communist History Journal
By Wait Howard
January 2011

If truth be told, I say with certainty, Lynd’s life and example as presented by Mirra and Grubačić would resonate with some rebellious, restless and discontented Eastern Kentucky coal miners and their sons and grandsons, as well as a few FSU history Ph.D.s. More than a few coal miners from Appalachia, and their descendants, would appreciate Lynd’s defiance of Cold War authority and his distaste for the limited effectiveness of “corporate liberalism.”


fromFrom Here To There: A Review
The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture Vol. 3, Iss.2, (December 2010): 255-262.
By
Luke Stewart

Andrej Grubacic, a radical historian and anarchist from the Balkans, has compiled a set of valuable, and sometimes obscure, selections of Lynd’s writings over the past four decades. From Here to There offers the reader a glimpse into the possibilities and alternatives to capitalism, war, racism and top-down institutions. The Reader demonstrates Lynd’s commitment to justice for African Americans, workers, prisoners and the victims of American imperialism during his involvement in the civil rights, anti-war, labor, and prisoner rights movements. Grubacic’s edited collection, despite Summers’ claim that Lynd “vanished from intellectual society,”12 demonstrates Lynd’s contribution to the intellectual climate long past “the sixties.” Grubacic’s introduction is autobiographical as he states: “My intention is to describe the process that led myself, an anarchist revolutionary from the Balkans, to discover, and eventually embrace, many of the ideas espoused by an American historian, Quaker, lawyer and pacifist, influenced by Marxism.” Grubacic’s intention is to present to the reader “the relevance of Staughton Lynd’s life and ideas for a new generation of radicals”

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wobsDismantling the Self-Constructed Barrier: A Conversation on Anarchism and Marxism
By Max Ajl
NACLA: North American Congress on Latin America

The World Social Forum, in its near decade of existence, has popularized the slogan “Another World Is Possible.” Although many on the left may agree, and there is broad agreement about the nature of the world we live in and the shape of the one we wish to create, there is less agreement on how to create that new world. Wobblies and Zapatistas, a conversation of sorts between longtime anarchist activist Andrej Grubacic and Staughton Lynd, who for the last 40 years has been one of the iconic figures of the U.S. left, is a contribution to resolving that argument—or at least turning it into a productive discussion.

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wobsAlternative Action
By Stefan Christoff
Hour

Wobblies and Zapatistas recounts a radical history and connects activist political movements and generations

Global capitalism has suffered a major blow in the past year, the largest economic turmoil since the 1930s fuelling political discussions on possible alternatives to the current economic model. For those seeking alternatives to mainstream historical narratives, Wobblies and Zapatistas: Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism and Radical History is an important read. Spanning from the Cold War to the 1990s expansion of market-driven free-trade policies, this engaging book offers critical historical reflections on events that have shaped contemporary politics.

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wobsAnarchism, Marxism, and Zapatismo
By Hans Bennett
Upside Down World
15 July 2009

Wobblies & Zapatistas is highly recommended to both the seasoned fan of books about radical history and theory, and the reader who is just now becoming interested in radical politics. While rooted in the inspirational examples of both the Wobblies and the Zapatistas, this book uses refreshing language and an informal conversational format of Grubacic interviewing Lynd. Their dialogue provides a big picture of global struggles against capitalism, and all forms of oppression. I myself learned for the first time that in the US, both the Haymarket anarchists of the late 1800s, and the anarchist Wobblies of the early 1900s were heavily influenced by Marxism. I also learned that many Marxists, such as Rosa Luxemburg from Germany, were themselves very critical of the anti-democratic and elitist consequences of the vanguard strategy of organizing that has been embraced by so many Marxists.

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wobsWobblies and Zapatistas: Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism, and Radical History
Reviewed by Deric Shannon
University of Connecticut
Political Media Review

Wobblies and Zapatistas is basically a long conversation between Grubacic and Lynd about building bridges between the best traditions within anarchism and Marxism written for modern militants, revolutionaries, and working people. It is a series of provocations, led by Grubacic as he asks Lynd probing questions about radical practice contemporarily and historically.

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wobsBook Review: Wobblies and Zapatistas
By Ernesto Aguilar
Political Affairs Magazine

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, would exert their power in other ways and with the tacit support of the core of the people. From these early conflicts came years of characterizations – as often fair as misguided – of a host of Anarchism's motivations and political aspirations, and about organizing and the lack thereof...

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wobsStaughton Lynd tackles Wobblies and Zapatistas
By Paul Bocking
The Industrial Worker

In an opening chapter of Wobblies and Zapatistas, interviewer Andrej Grubacic refers to Staughton Lynd as "something of a guru of the new IWW." The title is apt. Within the grassroots labour movement of North America and beyond, as a labour lawyer and advocate, Lynd has popularized the concept of Solidarity Unionism–building a union through the daily efforts of rank-and-file workers on the shop floor to come together and 'act like a union'. Lynd is the radical antidote to the many prominent union leaders, intellectuals and academics who claim that to address the contemporary challenges of production moving overseas, massive multinational employers and anti-union governments, unions must become more hierarchical, open to 'partnerships' with employers, and increasingly focused on lobbying politicians...

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wobsCan We Make a New Haymarket Synthesis?
by Billy Wharton

Through a critical weighing of these successes and failures, Grubacic and Lynd are able to propose some loose principles of what a Haymarket synthesis of Anarchism and Marxism might look like in the 21st century. Such a new movement would certainly create spaces for radical experimentation. Lynd calls this the process of “traveling without a map” – unleashing the anarchist impulse to fashion creative, often ad-hoc, responses to social ills. The two prefer the metaphor of activism as “planting seeds” – some of which perish and others that grow into full bloom.


wobsSome Thoughts on Synthesis and Political Identity
By Abbey Volcano
Theory in Action


Other themes visited throughout this conversation between Andrej Grubacic and Staughton Lynd are the notions of accompaniment and the role of radical intellectuals, the role of women in radical movements, class unity that sometimes exists despite white racism, etc. The book is packed with conversations about issues that directly impact modern radicals and visionaries. For this alone, it is well-worth the time investment to read it.

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