Most British Columbians have long since forgotten about the bombing of the Cheekeye-Dunsmuir Hydro sub-station in 1982 and the prosecution of the Squamish Five. But not Alan Antliff. A UVic art history professor by day and an "anarchivist"; by night, Antliff has compiled a diverse anthology for and about a thin stratum of folks who already know about the Squamish Five, Open Road, Oka, Bulldozer, Who's Emma, Spartacus Books and the Wimmin's Fire Brigade (and their successful Red Hot Video firebombings).

Described as "the first comprehensive overview of anarchist theory and practice in Canada from 1976 to the present," Only A Beginning: An Anarchist Anthology (Arsenal Pulp, $29.95), provides minimal context for its potpourri of excerpts from counter-cultural movements, gatherings and publications, illustrated by pre-computer art and grainy b&w photos. A brief article by Alexander Daughtry pays tribute to Spartacus Books, the Hastings Street bookstore that was destroyed by a fire on April 25, 2004. Opened in the spring of 1973 as an offshoot of the SFU bookstore, the non-profit store was named for the slave who led a revolt against the Roman Empire. Without a hierarchic management structure, it had persevered as a focal point for Viet Nam War evaders, Indigenous resistance and anti-WTO protests.

The majority of Canadians--the 30 million who don't know the international anarchist insignia of an A inside a circle was invented by Italian anarchists in the 1960s--will find Antliff's scrapbook approach problematic, even bewildering, but on the plus side, he has been widely inclusive, incorporating streetcorner zines such as minus tides, bisexuality, anarcha-feminism, prostitution and animal liberation.

Alan Antliff's follow-up to Only A Beginning, An Anarchist Anthology, is his collection of essays about how art has been used to promulgate and augment political change and awareness during the past 140 years, Anarchy and Art: From the Paris Commune to the Fall of the Berlin Wall (Arsenal $26.95). Antliff was the Canada Research Chair in Modern Art at the University of Victoria when the book appeared.


Anarchism Modernism: Art, Politics and the first American Avant Garde (University of Chicago Press).

Only A Beginning: An Anarchist Anthology (Arsenal Pulp, 2005). Editor. 1-55152-167-9.

Anarchy and Art: From the Paris Commune to the Fall of the Berlin Wall (Arsenal Pulp, 2007). Essays & Art. 1-55152-218-7

[BCBW 2007] "Politics" "Art"