So I learned about the rad practice of the “Book Bloc” from my lovely school compas yesterday. It quickly became one of my favorite things ever. Popularized in Europe in 2010 at the height of university student movements against austerity/neoliberal educational policies, student activists took to the streets with shields representing literature that inspired them! Holy. Militant. Student. Activism. 🙂
I later went online and looked at pictures of various student movements who have used them. Surprised to find a diversity of books. It made me wonder, what books would I black bloc to? In other words, what literature do I use as a weapon for self defense? How?
Interestingly enough, later that same day I picked up the title, “We Are Everywhere” edited by the Notes From Nowhere which the compa had given me on PDF earlier this year. The jacket sleeve had a blurb that read “This is not a book, it is a brick with which to smash cynicism,” or something very close to that.
It got me thinking, what books would I black bloc to? What are some books that have been formative for my political understanding?
Here is a very short list.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – I read this when I was in the 5th grade. My older brother was 3 years ahead of me in school so he would bring home the best high school books! This was one that changed my life forever. Resitance was not only possible, but it was dormant in all of us. It needed to be suppressed with drugs and rhetoric by the authorities.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix by J.K. Rowling – This is a significant place to start for me and for so many folx of my generation. I’ve found that a lot of people who haven’t read the books think of them as children’s books and thus unsophisticated. Here’s the dish. It’s a metaphor for fascism and resitance. A damn elaborate one as well. The Order of the Pheonix (the 5th in the series) in particular did incredible things for me because of the introduction of “Dumbledore’s Army,” a militant student group that clandestinely teaches one another self defense spells and even dark magic. As part of the Los Angeles walk-out generation, it was so incredible to think of folks my age in the magical wizardly world as comrades. 🙂
Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State by Frederick Engels – I first read this book when I was beginning my readings on communism in high school. I was immediately drawn to it by the title. How many people even in leftists spaces, deconstruct the nuclear family?? Very few. This books shaped a lot of my initial thoughts on the relationship between my experience of being beaten on for being a womyn with the state and capitalism.
To be continued…
In the meantime, what books would you black bloc to?