Days of War, Nights of Love
Reviewed by Zack Furness
Saturday, November 24 2001, 8:14 AM
As a person who is sympathetic to anarchist principles, I am frequently disappointed by the oversimplifications, underdeveloped theories, and hypocrisy that often disguises itself as anarchist literature. With this in mind, it should be clearly understood that this book represents everything that is creative and beautiful about anarchism. Days of War, Nights of Love is a collection of discourse and images on a variety of subjects that affect the ways in which we think, act and live. The material is presented in an A to Z format which could be likened to that of a surrealist encyclopedia, with subject headings including Sex, Plagiarism, Gender, Death, Media, History, Hygiene, and Technology--to name just a few. Each section, starting with "A is for Anarchism" consists of writings from various members of the collective that are interspersed with cartoons, photographs and other assorted images that compliment both the writing and the overall aesthetic appeal/function of the work.
Members of the CrimethInc. collective were extremely open and honest in putting this material together, describing the principles inherent to their collective, their reasons for producing the material, and intelligent analyses regarding the problematics inherent to advocating the positions that they do. Unlike many theoretical/political works, the material does not advocate a specific political position or a prescribed code of conduct/activism. Rather, the lack of a rigid agenda both reinforces the collective's devotion to anarchist principles and encourages readers to think for themselves. The material is presented to the reader as a set of tools to help challenge and reevaluate the ethical, religious and political beliefs implicit within our society and our cultural practices. Rather than preaching and pointing fingers at some entity known as "the Man," the book advocates a positive and personal approach to serious issues without falling into the typical pitfalls of anarchist thought, i.e. "we are right, everyone else is wrong."
Each subject is approached with a sincerity that is truly admirable, and further developed through a combination of intelligent political analysis and eloquent writing. The subtitle of the book, "crimethink for beginners" accurately suggest that the material is highly accessible and intended to be a primer for a host of political issues. However, even the most well-read activist, scholar, or punk rocker can fully appreciate the collection. Perhaps one of the most admirable qualities of the book is the authors' attention to Love and Passion--subjects that are frequently overlooked in favor of more "SERIOUS" political issues. The CrimethInc. collective helps to redeem the importance of these ideals as the basis for social activism and daily living. To quote from the text:
"We must fight against these cultural restraints that would cripple and smother our desires. For it is love that gives meaning to life, desire that makes it possible for us to make sense of our existence and find purpose in our lives. Without these, there is no way for us to determine how to live our lives, except to submit to some authority, to some god, master or doctrine that will tell us what to do and how to do it without ever giving us the satisfaction that self-determination does. So fall in love today, with men, with women, with music, with ambition, with yourself...with life!"
Days of War, Nights of Love is an excellent text that resides comfortably within its contradictions and argues passionately for a better tomorrow.
Days of War is available from AK Press