About Us

The Alexander Berkman Social Club is a group of anarchists who want to talk about what anarchism is, how anarchists see things and what anarchy could look like. Named after the editor of San Francisco’s mighty The Blast, we hope to have continual monthly meetings that are open to all. If you come you’ll get a membership card, the chance to win thousands of dollars (alright – the odd book or two) and hopefully something to think about and act on. You failed the audition for “So You Think You Can Dance,” and you just don’t seem with it. Don’t worry. The ABSC will have you. See you there!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Meeting on Thursday: Sheila Rowbotham

British socialist feminist historian Sheila Rowbotham will be our featured speaker this coming Thursday evening, January 22. She will be speaking on the topic of her recently published book, Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love.

Want more information about the book? Check out this recent review published in the Guardian, Tristram Hunt applauds a superb biography of the socialist pioneer pilloried by Orwell and Shaw
This will be her last speaking engagement before her return to the UK. If you are interested in anarchist history, don't miss this event!

As always there will be raffles, food & drink throughout

Admission is $5 ($4 with a membership card)

7pm at the ABSC meeting rooms
522 Valencia St.
San Francisco

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oakland and Athens

[Editor's note: The following statement was sent to us by comrade Devin Hoff, and was originally published at AK's blog Revolution by the book

* * *

On December 6, an Athens cop shot and killed a young unarmed anarchist, Alexis Grigoropoulos. In a matter of hours, Athens exploded in a mass uprising of anarchists, students, migrant workers, and the unemployed. For over two weeks, in their anger and frustration, they attacked not just the police themselves but the oppressive institutions cops are armed to defend: banks, government buildings, multi-national corporate interests. Not since 1968 had Europe seen such militant and targeted mass direct action, and actions around the world echoed the heroic actions of our comrades in Greece. Not far from where I am writing, in San Francisco, solidarity actions were held and moving speeches given decrying police violence and the state capitalist hierarchies such violence is inevitably in service of, and vowing to “bring the fight home.”

Sadly, the fight has, once again, come home. On New Years Day in Oakland, an unarmed butcher and father from Hayward, Oscar Grant, was shot in the back at point blank range by a transit cop after being pinned face-down on the ground. There can be absolutely no justification for this cold-blooded police murder. As was the case in the murder of Alexis, there are several witnesses who have come forward stating the officer was in no danger, some even with video recordings of the atrocity. Predictably, though, the cop who fired the shot, Johannes Mehserle, has not been arrested or even officially interrogated about the incident. This is no surprise; we know how the authorities will respond (or fail to), given their total disregard for the lives and humanity of working and poor people of color.

But how will we respond?

We are loudly indignant when police kill a militant in Athens, and applaud the just and outraged response of his comrades. We are furious when state violence kills oppressed people in Gaza, as is horrifically happening at this moment. But what do we do when a working class black man is murdered in cold blood by the cops in our own community? Do we value the lives and well being of Palestinians and Greeks and Oaxacans and adventurous middle-class white radicals more than those of working people we see every day in our own neighborhoods?

It has been five days and counting since Oscar was killed. What have we—supposed radicals and would-be revolutionaries—actually done?

Perhaps a better question is, how should we combat police violence in our own communities?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sheila Rowbotham in San Francisco Bay Area


By Sheila Rowbotham

Noted socialist feminist historian Shelia Rowbotham will be giving a series of lectures on her recent book on Edward Carpenter throughout January around the Bay Area. Check them out!

Thursday, January 8, 2009, 6-7:30 pm
San Francisco Main Library,
100 Larkin Street in the Latino/Hispanic Room.
The event is co-sponsored by the SF Public Library Hormel Center, the Edward Carpenter Forum and the SF GLBT Historical Society.

In conjunction with Rowbotham's appearance, the Library will mount the exhibit, My Days and Dreams: The Worlds of Edward Carpenter, Early Gay Freedom Pioneer, during the month of January on the 3rd floor of the Main Library.

Sunday, January 11, 2009, 2-4 pm
Bound Together Bookstore
1369 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

Wednesday, January 14, 2009, 7:30 PM
Moe’s Books
2476 Telegraph Avenue
Berkeley CA 94704

Thursday, January 22, 2009 , 7:00 PM
Alexander Berkman Social Club
552 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

The first major biography of late Victorian sexual and political libertarian, Edward Carpenter, by renowned feminist historian, Sheila Rowbotham. A rare document of the alternative lifestyles and radicalism of Carpenter's times by a woman who was on the frontline of the left and feminist movements of the sixties.

Edward Carpenter, libertarian and campaigner for gay love, women's suffrage, nudism and recycling, was a central figure in the cultural and political landscape of late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, this biography situates
Carpenter's life and thought in relation to the social, aesthetic and intellectual movements of his day, and explores his friendship with figures such as Walt Whitman, Robert Graves, Oscar Wilde, E.M. Forster, Isadora Duncan and Emma Goldman.

With a commitment to bringing out the range of interconnections evident in Carpenter's life, through his network, his mix of causes, his interests and his thinking, Rowbotham knits together a great alternative social history of Victorian England and presents a compelling portrait of a man described by his contemporaries as a "weather-vane" for his times.