Don LaCoss


Fifth Estate # 384, Spring, 2011

This issue is dated Spring 2011 and follows our Summer 2010 number. It was intended for publication on November 1, but the tragic death of our friend and comrade, Don LaCoss, who was editing the issue, is the reason for our interruption in publishing.

Death’s scythe slices always cruelly, often unexpectedly, sweeping away those we cherish and need without regard for those left in grief. So it was with Don LaCoss, who succumbed on January 31 to complications from a respiratory illness he had been fighting for months.

Don was editing the issue in between bouts of illness, while tending to his family, and his academic pursuits. As sick as he often was, he kept at the tasks of producing the magazine he was determined to finish. On the evening of his death, he sent an email about perhaps being too sick to finish or even dying, but remained hard at work. The loss to Don’s wife, Susan, and their young son, Benjamin, is incalculable, as it is with those of us who worked with him over the last several years.

The geographic distance between the Fifth Estate staff and our process of rotating editorship means that issues are produced all across the country, sometimes by those of us who have never met in person. All of us, though, were acquainted enough with Don, through direct contact, phone, or email, to appreciate his rigorous commitment to anarchist ideals, his scholarship, his wit, his perseverance, and his fairness. There is a terrible hole in the life of all who knew him.

The reason you are holding this magazine in your hands at all, what we call “Don’s issue,” is due to the commitment by Lauri Hoff, who was working with him as the designer of the issue, to finish what Don had started. Our gratitude to her is immense and we hope she remains active with this publication.

Some articles may seem outdated, given that they chronicle events which occurred as long ago as last June. However, we are retaining them since the information is still relevant and like much in the radical press, appear nowhere else.

We want to give special thanks to those who have made donations to keep this publication on a firm financial footing and to those who have renewed their subscriptions. Also, a welcome to new readers who join us at this point in our 46-year history of printing.

The next issue, with its theme of Anarchist Fiction (see the call for submissions in this issue, pg. 9) and the subsequent one on Revolution (appropriate, given what is happening in the world) are already taking shape.

But for now, mourn the loss of Don LaCoss, but celebrate a life of radical commitment, and enjoy Don’s issue.