Volume 75, Number 17 | September 14 - 20, 2005

Back to School
A special Villager supplement

From Anarchist to Zapatista: A school for lefties

By Lincoln Anderson

A bit shaky on your Wobblies? Out of synch with Syndicalism? Maybe it’s time for a refresher course at The New SPACE, otherwise known as The New School for Pluralistic Anti-Capitalist Education. Yes, there’s a new New School in town, but it’s not connected to the venerable university of the same name in Greenwich Village.

The New SPACE is the product of a group of leftists who were taking a course at the Brecht Forum at the Westbeth artists’ complex who realized they could do it better.

“It was pretty clear that in New York City, the Brecht Forum’s it,” said Ted Weiss, 32, a member of The New SPACE’s founding collective. “We were all in a class reading ‘Capital, Volume I.’ We went out to dinner after class one night and just decided we should do it.

“‘Capital, Volume I’ is like the philosopher’s stone, the ur text — and they’re only interested in their reading of it,” Weiss said of Brecht Forum. As he spoke last Saturday, he sat in May Day Bookstore off the Theater for the New City’s lobby on First Ave. where he works. On the shelves were books about Joe Hill and the Spanish anarchists, as well as bags of Free Trade Zapatista Co-op coffee and coffee flower honey.

“I hear it packs a kick,” he said of the honey.

They came up with the name New SPACE first and then tried to fill in the words of the acronym. Weiss said New School University has sued The New SPACE for use of “New School” in their full name. They’re not sure how they’re going to respond.

The New SPACE, as its pamphlet states, is dedicated to “developing and advancing ideas for liberatory social change.”

After offering five courses last spring, they’ve scaled back to three this term, feeling they overreached the first time. The classes, in six or 12 sessions, are held at the Clemente Soto Velez cultural center on Suffolk St.

This term’s offerings, starting Oct. 4 and 5, include a reading of philosopher Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Spirit,” an analysis of banking systems and reading John Holloway’s “Change the World Without Power.”

Among four talks being offered are Bill Weinberg on “The Politics of the Anti-War Movement” on Sept. 21 and Eric Laursen on “The People’s Pension: The Anarchist Origins of Social Security and Today’s Battle Over Its Future” on Nov. 16.

Tuition is on a sliding scale from $75 up to $180 for the 12-sesson classes. Suggested donation for the talks is $7-$10.

They had tried to get space at the Time’s Up! storefront headquarters on E. Houston St., but it was a little too funky for them.

“We’re working-class people. We want a space where everyone feels comfortable,” Weiss said, “not just bohemians.”

Since 9/11, it’s been hard being a leftist, Weiss said. They’ve felt marginalized.

Personally more into theory, he admits that most young leftists today ascribe to some form of anarchism.

“The anarchism thing — it’s both extraordinary and filled with contradictions,” he said. “Post-Seattle there was just a spark. Anarchists are really socialists — but don’t want to admit it.”

For information, visit http://new-space.mahost.org or call 1-800-377-6183.

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