Baba Yaga Burns Paris to the Ground

by Wren Awry

To Begin . . .

“I’m interested in myths,” Angela Carter wrote, “Just because they are extraordinary lies designed to make people unfree.”

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Carter was among the first to imitate fairy tales in her fiction (a little tome called The Bloody Chamber, anyone?), and her work highlighted the patriarchy and violence of the classic stories. While the myths Carter re-tooled came from story books, history is also rife with myths that made the world — myths that are ripe for turning inside out. It is these historical myths, and their connections to fairy tales, that fascinate me. I’m especially intrigued by one of them: that of the pétroleuses, fire-wielding women who supposedly set Paris ablaze during the Commune of 1871.

Furies glide through the rich quarters […] and fling their little vials of petrol, their devil’s matches, their burning rags.

The myth of the pétroleuses was certainly invented to make people unfree (in this case, by the Communardes’ conservative opponents and yellow journalists). [note] But I like pétroleuses because their fire and ferocity hint at interesting predecessors. Born of the collective fear of a power-hungry elite, pétroleuses follow in a long line of mythologized fire-wielding devil-women — women like Baba Yaga, the youngest sister in the Grimms’ “Fitcher’s Bird,” and the women burned during the great witch hunts of early Modern Europe.
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A Mountain River Has Many Bends

The History and Context of the Rojava Revolution

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This text is the introduction to our book A Small Key Can Open A Large Door.
This text is the introduction to our book A Small Key Can Open A Large Door.
In Northern Syria, 2.5 million people are living in a stateless, feminist, religiously tolerant, anti-capitalist society of their own creation. They call their territory Rojava, and they defend it fiercely. They’re at war with the extremist group ISIS, and they’re doing better than anyone in the world expected — least of all the Western powers who seek to treat them as pawns.

It’s a complicated situation, but we in the rest of the world have much to learn from the Rojava revolution. To that end, we offer this long-form introduction to the history and the present struggle of the Kurdish people.

Long live the Rojava revolution!

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Lawful Ain’t Good

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In most editions of the roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons, there are nine “alignments” a character may choose between, roughly aligning to that character’s moral compass. For better or worse, this system has influenced untold thousands of players, at the table and beyond.

Herein we reproduce two essays to further our understanding of this system: “The Nine Alignments” and “Lawful Ain’t Good.”

The first, an anonymous essay from a long-extinct corner of the internet, is arguably the most complete understanding of the nine alignment system. The second, first published by Anarcho-Geek Review, makes the bold claim that there are only eight alignments. Lawful Good, as it argues, is an oxymoron.

In the wider scheme of things, this doesn’t matter at all. But for those of us who grew up imagining ourselves as warriors and witches, slaying dragons and evil kings, the alignment system is one of the cornerstones of our ethical understandings. For us, the incongruity between Law and Good is vital to our understanding of the world.

Grin and Bare It All

Against Liberal Conceptions of Sex Work

grin and bear it all
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Hi, I’m Luna Celeste! I’ve been stripping for about five years, and into all this anarchy stuff for about fifteen. In this zine I’ll be speaking with some authority on my own experiences, and to some degree, on those of my co-workers and friends who perform other kinds of sex work. However, subjective experiences of sex work, and even just stripping, vary depending on one’s location, gender (identity/presentation), particular line of work, working conditions, socialization, class, race, etc. I am no authority on every aspect of the sex industry, but have spent a lot of my free time thinking, reading, and writing about the industry from an anarchist and feminist perspective.

Special thanks to C.B. Daring, Heather, Margaret Killjoy, and Nikita for the edits, and so many more friends who gave me feedback and support in writing this.

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Propaganda of the Dead

Anarchist Lessons for the Zombie Apocalypse

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I was in a med study when the zombie outbreak began. That’s right, a master’s degree in philosophy and the only way I could come up with to pay rent was to sell my still-living body to capitalist science. I know, I know… in retrospect I should have studied something useful, like small engine repair.

Oh, and I wasn’t just in any med study when the zombie outbreak began, I was in the med study where it began. The researchers were testing some kind of acne medication, looking to see if there were any adverse side effects when it was used on healthy adults. There were. Thanks, capitalist society, for pretty much ending the world.

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Life Without Law

An Introduction to Anarchist Politics

Life Without Law

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I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things.
—Emma Goldman, 1931

An anarchist is someone who rejects the domination of one person or class of people over another. Anarchism is a very broad umbrella term for a group of political philosophies that are based on the idea that we can live as anarchists. We anarchists want a world without nations, governments, capitalism, racism, sexism, homophobia… without any of the numerous, intersecting systems of domination the world bears the weight of today.

There is no single perfect expression of anarchism, because anarchism is a network of ideas instead of a single dogmatic philosophy. And we quite prefer it that way.

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