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Erik Ruin


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Photograph by Yoni Kroll

Erik Ruin is a printmaker, shadow-puppeteer, and occasional maker/editor of various publications, including the anthology Realizing the Impossible: Art against Authority (coedited with Josh MacPhee, AK Press, 2007). He frequently works collaboratively with other artists or activist campaigns, and has created imagery for urban farming and prison abolition groups. He is a founding member of the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative and resides in Providence.

Check out Cindy Milstein & Erik Ruin present Paths toward Utopia at the Baltimore Radical Bookfair

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Paths toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism
Authors: Cindy Milstein and Erik Ruin
Introduction: Josh MacPhee
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-502-8
Published August 2012
Format: Paperback
Size: 8 by 6
Page count: 120 Pages
Subjects: Art-Graphic, Politics
$14.95

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.”

Praise:

"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


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pathsPaths toward Utopia: A Review
Peace News
January 2013

hat 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.

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More from Erik...

paths Sketching Anarchy
by Philip Eil
The Providence Phoenix
November 14, 2012

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "ANARCHISM" AND "ANARCHY"? The standard line you'll hear from a lot of people who consider themselves anarchists — [and] I do consider myself an anarchist — is that anarchy tends to imply, in most people's minds, chaos or disorder or a lack of order as its primary condition, whereas anarchism tends to be a more systematic approach to the world that resists hierarchy in all of its forms . . . So it's resistant to government, but not necessarily resistant to order.

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