Juan Conatz's blog

Zines and underground comics of the 1980s and 1990s

A blogpost about various 'zines, underground comics and alternative publications I was exposed to during the late 1980s and 1990s.

If you've been on the radical left for any amount of time, you've probably heard of ‘zines’. A shortening of the word ‘magazine, zines are described by Wikipedia as “most commonly a small circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images usually reproduced via photocopier”. Usually they are the size of what were once, and are now more frequently called, pamphlets.

Occupy City Council!: Minneapolis and sewer socialism

A mostly finished writing on Ty Moore, Socialist Alternative, Occupy and SEIU in Minneapolis. For the 'sewer socialism' reference in the title, see this Great Moments in Leftism strip.

[i]This was originally written in October 2013, but then I decided not to publish it or even adequately finish it because I thought the immediacy I felt when I wrote it was overblown. Also, putting something out like this before the election would have just made me look like a jerk, which I probably do a good enough job with any way.

Ghosts of Leninist past: a review of The Roots of American Communism

A review and some comments from Juan Conatz on Theodore Draper’s history of the various factions that would become the Communist Party USA.

The Roots of American Communism; Theodore Draper; Elephant Paperbacks, 1989 (First published in 1957)

Contemporary IWW slang & lingo

A glossary of currently used, mostly in the Twin Cities, IWW slang and lingo.

A much mentioned fact about the old IWW is the culture within the organization. Members re-appropriated popular songs and hymns for their own use, stuck up stickers like modern day street artists and...had their own specific jargon and slang for their experiences.

Iowa Radical History blog update + idea for project on Dubuque Packing Company

A repost from another blog I run, with a personal update and an idea for a project about the Dubuque Packing Company, a large meat processing plant that once employed 3,500 people, until its decline and eventual closure, in 2001.

This is a repost from the Iowa Radical History blog I maintain. For a little while, it was a main interest of mind to uncover mostly forgotten strikes, organizations and protests in the state and collect the records and recollections of them onto one place.

Personal issues with 'writer's block' - Juan Conatz

Juan Conatz goes over some reasons for his personal problems with being able to write, exploring underlying reasons behind the 'writer's block'.

It has been about a year since I've written anything. This is not by choice. Sure, part of it is a choice, in the same way that anything you don’t do is somewhat of one, but there’s more to it than that. Discovering the reason has been mystifying. People ask “Do you still write?” and when the response is “Well, I haven’t in awhile.”, they inquire “Why not?”.

IWW liquor store workers in Minneapolis fired for union activity

Some updates on a recent IWW campaign in Minneapolis, in which 5 workers were fired for organizing.

From The Organizer:

IWW non-profit workers enter second week of strike in Minneapolis

An update on an ongoing strike at a nonprofit 'mobile foodshelf' in the Twin Cities.

As I previously blogged, canvassers who work for a local nonprofit 'mobile foodshelf' in Minneapolis affiliated with the IWW and went out on strike on March 1st.

Here is their 2-week update

Developing the IWW’s direct unionism politics

An article by Juan Conatz replying to some of the Direct Unionism discussion paper responses.

Cleaning out my numerous Google Doc drafts, I found this, which continues the direct unionism debate by taking on most of the responses to the original discussion paper. So I decided to finish it, as most of the written discussion has dropped off.

IWW non-profit workers in Minneapolis go on strike after negotiations fail

Information on a just begun strike at a non-profit mobile food shelf and soup kitchen in Minneapolis.

From the Twin Cities IWW blog:

AAUD/AAUD-E reader

A reader I compiled from various texts online of the AAUD/AAUD-E.


The Communist Left in Germany1918-1921 by Gilles Dauvé and Denis Authier

Paul Mattick and Council Communism by Claudio Pozzoli

Council Communism by Mark Shipway

The Councilist Movement in Germany (1914-1935): A History of the AAUD-E Tendency by CICA

Preliminaries on Councils and Councilist Organization by René Riesel

Building branch culture: Mesaba and Red November, Black November

Mesaba Co-Op Park

An article I wrote about two Twin Cities IWW branch events in 2011. Was originally intended for The Organizer, but was never used, so I'm posting it here.

While, for good reason, our branch is focused on workplace activity, education events and having a presence within wider movements, it's important that we know when to take a break as well as support each other.

Fragmented thoughts on political organization

Some rough thoughts on political organization, mostly based on my experience with groups in North America and conversations with some current and former members.

1) Contemporary political organization in the United States in large part came out of the post-Seattle 1999 resurgence of anarchism and the subsequent disagreements with primitivists, post-leftists, counter-institution types, and insurrectionaries.

20 Years Later: the Los Angeles riots, hip-hop, rage and Trayvon Martin

A post about the Los Angeles riots, hip-hop and race in America.

Today is the 20th Anniversary of the Rodney King riots, which happened in a number of cities, but was most intense in the Los Angeles area. Over the last week, the media has been looking back at hip-hop of that era, interviewing people who were affected by the events or seeing what has changed since then (however superficial this assessment is).

Interview with Burnt Bookmobile

An interview with an individual involved in Burnt Bookmobile, a blog out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin run by some people influenced by various anti-authoritarian tendencies, including insurrectionary anarchism, left communism, and nihilism, among others.

[i]Burnt Bookmobile is a blog out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin run by some people influenced by various anti-authoritarian tendencies, including insurrectionary anarchism, left communism, and nihilism, among others.

Some objections to Occupy May 1st

A short list of objections to the May 1st general strike effort within the Occupy movement and some responses to them.

By now you’ve probably heard about how in various cities Occupy has called for a general strike on May 1.

Conversation on general strikes

This is part of a discussion on Facebook that started off some questions on the topic of general strikes. I thought the conversation was interesting, so decided to turn into a blog post.

2011 was the year 'general strike' reentered the vocaboulary of American social movements. Wisconsin planted the seed, Oakland attempted to pull one off and now large segments of the Occupy movement are organizing for a May 1st general strike. But what is a general strike? What have they looked like in American history? What about in other places?

Wanted: non-digital resources of past radical movements

A callout to people with access to hard copies of non-digitized material that documents a number of radical social movements and groups to come forward.

For a couple years now, I've been making an effort at getting previously non-digital resources of past radical movements online. Living (at the time) in Iowa and becoming involved in antiwar and anarchist groups, I tried to look back at other people's efforts and found there was little available information.

Communization or GTFO?: a short piece on how we use propaganda

A short piece exploring some common issues and objections when it comes to agitational material.

As with the last post I wrote, this one is rooted in a Facebook discussion/argument between members of the Recomposition editorial collective.

Is reform possible?

A piece exploring whether the increasingly common claim by various anarchists and communists that reform is impossible is actually true. Inspired by informal conversations with Nate Hawthorne, who replies here.

Recently, I’ve been halfway baiting Nate Hawthorne into a debate/argument about the issue of whether reform is possible in contemporary capitalism during a financial crisis. The conventional wisdom among various anarchist currents and libertarian communists, seemingly rarely challenged, is that it is not. But is this really true?