Who is Bob Black?
Bob Black is considered one of the foremost post-left anarchists. He expressed his ideas in his books and essays in his inimitable style described as savagely satirical. He condemned work and called for its abolition. While the leftist sought full-employment, the author felt that society should not revolve around production and consumption. Work, he felt, was forced labor. The reward is either a carrot or a stick and compulsion is involved. Nobody works for the sake of working. Discipline demanded during work is servility. He says that it is possible to abolish work by cutting down the volume of useless work done and replace the useful work with pleasurable pastimes. He called for the abolition of housework done by housewives who, according to him, do the most tedious of tasks, work the longest hours. By achieving full unemployment, we can do away with the sexual division of labor. Yet, the author does not want to be identified with any anarchist group as it would be tantamount to associating himself to a whole lot of associations. He discredited democracy, as it did not guarantee correct decisions. He not only became notorious for his call to abolish work, but he would attack anyone who differed from him.
Childhood & Early Life
According to Bob Black, when he was just eight years old, a psychiatrist diagnosed him as a bright psychoneurotic child with possibly some mild encephalopathy.
The author claims that he was kicked out of school in four different grades, and this actually gave him an edge over others of his age. He developed his own views independently and was not brainwashed.
Bob Black graduated from the University of Michigan and Georgetown Law School. He was disillusioned with the New Left on issues such as reforms on gay rights and abortions in the 1970s.
At the University of Michigan, he could access ‘The Labadie Collection’ considered to be the world’s most updated collection of materials that document the evolution of anarchist thought.
The author holds two post graduate degrees–one in jurisprudence and social policy from the University of California, Berkeley and the second in Criminal justice from University Of New York, Albany.
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In 1977, Bob Black initiated a poster project called ‘The Last International’, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He found the medium ideal as he could express everything he wanted without having to answer an editor.
Black shifted his base to San Francisco in 1978. Here, he became involved with the publishing and cultural activities, and also in writing reviews and critiques of the lesser heard reformists.
He was accused of harassing the ‘Processed World Collective’, the anarchist magazine, in the mid-1980s, with threat to destroy their property and trying to legally evict them from their office in San Francisco.
In 1989, he alleged that a bomb was mailed to him by one of the members of the ‘Church of the SubGenius’ because of his criticism of the Church in his writings, of which he was a former member.
‘Friendly Fire’, published in 1992, was a collection of 35 essays and theoretical papers from his the ‘Last International’ days. It was intended to provoke and motivate readers.
In his book of 1994, ‘Beneath the Underground’, the author examined in depth the cultural phenomenon he named marginals milieu. This book was a collection of little known magazine publications, pamphlets and posters.
In 1996, a visit by the author to a fellow anarchist Jim Hogshire’s apartment in Seattle turned sour with the author accusing Hogshire of manufacturing opium and also attempting to kill him.
‘Nightmare of Reason’ was released in 2010 as an e-book and it denounced Murray Bookchin and his legacy. However, readers found the views expressed totally irrelevant and repetitive.
In 2011, at the ‘Berkeley Anarchist Students of Theory and Research and Development Conference’, he argued that crime could be used as a tool of social control to serve people what the legal system has not served.
‘Defacing the Currency: Selected Writings 1992-2012’, published in 2013, attacks writings of Noam Chomsky who advocated that society should be highly organized and based on democratic control of communities and work places.
His latest book, ‘Chomsky on the Nod’, is a hitherto unpublished criticism of Noam Chomsky’s views on natural law, natural rights and anarchism and his advocacy of popular struggle for greater democracy.
‘The Abolition of Work’ was published in 1985 in which the author argues that work is the root of all misery as it involves an activity enforced by economic and political means.
‘Anarchy After Leftism’ was published in 1997, in response to another anarchist, Murray Bookchin who criticized the post-left anarchist as being lifestyle anarchists. The book failed, however, to invalidate Bookchin’s main points.
This famous anarchist and author called for the abolition of work and famously declared, ‘Workers of the world relax!’