Published on July 25th, 2013 | by PRESENCE0
Anarchist State – Rebel Press
“Rebel Press is a not-for-profit anarchist publishing collective based in Te Whanganui ? Tara.”
This is an official line from Ali Nissenbaum, one of the minds behind the collective that has been working diligently since 2006 to bring Anarchist and Radical literature of all shapes and sizes to the people of New Zealand. Rebel Press started from humble beginnings, in a place where many a sound, radical outlet for ideas and expression has been fostered for hundreds of years; a university.
“Torrance and I were bored in a sociology lecture, and he randomly said to me ‘wouldn’t it be cool to start an anarchist publishing press?’, says Nissenbaum. ‘I was like, ‘yep sure’ not thinking it would ever actually happen. The next week he showed up to uni with a book he’d made by hand after looking up instructions on YouTube. So it turns out he was damn serious.”
A YouTube instruction guide fits the mould nicely for a press that is predominantly anti-copyright, and encourages readers to download and re-post content at their leisure. Nissenbaum admits that a non-profit mentality can make it difficult to consistently release work, but posits that the Fredy Perlman quote on the wall of the offices sums up the core attitude well; “Underground presses cannot survive within capitalist society… they are created in order to destroy capitalist relations.” While the Press is relatively open to the idea of publishing anything that fits into their general, aforementioned mission statement, Ali is aware that the terms ‘radical’ and ‘anarchist’ are not necessarily synonymous.
“The emphasis is definitely on anarchist. But we like to take a broad view of anarchism – not only opposition to the state, but opposition to all forms of power and domination. That’s why the stuff we publish doesn’t have to be explicitly anarchist – it just needs to be relevant to the anarchist project eg. Indigenous, feminist, queer/trans, anti-imperialist, disabled, labour union perspectives.”
The Press’ all encompassing mentality extends to plenty of topics; from animal welfare to woman’s rights, cultural identity to the Urewera 16, and beyond. But the anarchist/radical world, like any, can be quite divisive even amongst itself, so quality control can often come in the form of an argument.
“We’ve had big disagreements over stuff we’ve published in the past. We try to include a variety of anarchist perspectives, but we’re also quite staunch about not publishing work that perpetuates oppression, even if it’s anarchist in name. Our criteria is that material needs to be useful to the wider anarchist project of challenging all forms of power and domination. On a more personal level, at least one collective member needs to be passionate enough about it to want to work on it…The Urewera raids are a particularly personal topic for us because one of our collective members – Valerie Morse – was raided, arrested and charged (the charges were eventually dropped). Val went on to edit the book The Day the Raids Came, which collects the personal stories of people affected by the raids on October 15th 2007.”
The Day the Raids Came sits nicely amongst a group of texts also including Clean, Green and Cruelty Free? The True Story of Animals in New Zealand, Imminent Rebellion and Against Freedom: The War on Terrorism in Everyday NZ Life, giving an indication of the kind of topics Rebel Press are focussing on. And, it appears, the Press have plenty more on the way.
“One of my favourites is a series of interviews with sex workers’ rights activists in India and Uganda. Another is an interview with the Kurdish Anarchist Federation. We’re also working on a book about the Industrial Workers of the World in New Zealand and their involvement in the great strike of 1913!”
In the next short while, readers can potentially expect a rise in accessibility for Rebel Press work, but nothing too drastic, as world domination would be “counter-revolutionary”. However, you can catch Ali Nissenbaum and his crew of rebels at Auckland Zine Fest, Saturday 27th July from 12-5pm, where he’ll be exhibiting “Charming smiles, killer fashion, witty banter and incendiary literature.”
Written by Max Oldfield