The Machine and Its Discontents, a collection of writings by Fredy Perlman (1934-1985) has recently been jointly published in the U.K. by Theory and Practice and Active Distribution (theoryandpractice.org.uk and activedistribution.org). Perlman, a prolific writer of radical texts, was a ten-year participant in the Fifth Estate.
“Anything Can Happen” is the book’s lead article. In this essay and others, Perlman addresses the ongoing challenges of choices between freedom and submission to power. He asserts that nothing is determined, so the possibility of a life-affirming response is always at hand.
The new anthology includes writings on worker-student uprisings and critiques of political economy, leaders, nationalism and notions of progress. Some (“The Reproduction of Daily Life,” “Worker-Student Action Committees”) were published as pamphlets at the Detroit Printing Co-op, a radical DIY project of which Fredy was a co-founder. Other essays (“Progress and Nuclear Power,” “The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism”) first appeared in these pages.
This book will be appreciated by those familiar with Fredy Perlman’s ideas and those newly coming to them in a time when, again, radical uncertainty is on the agenda.
It is distributed in the US by AK Press akpress.org.