Lukashenko's grasp on Belarus is crumbling. Democracy is calling.
Now here we have some distributors of fine literature to impart knowledge and inflame the passions of the revolutionary. Dog Section Press have been at this game for a few years now and have published many interesting works on a variety of topics pertaining to anarchist theory and action. Two noteworthy examples are Make Rojava Green Again (Debbie Bookchin), which outlines social ecology and how this is put into action in said region, and DOPE magazine, a quarterly newspaper that keeps you informed of anarchist currents and perspectives in the UK. Their work is not-for-profit and the proceeds from their sales go to various projects and causes that we all love. They also have a lot of cool posters and stickers. Have a read of what they have to say below:
What part does Dog Section Press hope to play in the building of an anarchist movement?
DSP: We’re pretty much a battalion of the propaganda division. We publish and distribute seditious literature and our aim is to increase awareness of anarchism and involvement in anarchist modes of organisation.
But we also try to be as deeds-not-words as possible (for an organisation primarily concerned with the publishing and distribution of words), which is why we engage in solidaristic forms of publishing. Make Rojava Green Again is published in collaboration with the Internationalist Commune of Rojava, who use the money raised from sales of the book to engage in social ecology projects on the ground. And DOPE Magazine is distributed for free to financially precarious people, who can sell it and keep everything they make – it’s completely unconditional. So far this year we’ve printed and distributed 30,000 copies of DOPE (despite a global pandemic), which is worth around £90,000 to our vendors.
We think of it as a form of propaganda-by-the-deed.
How is Dog Section Press organised?
DSP: It’s basically your classic affinity group – a group of people with shared affinity who have come together for a particular purpose. In our case, that’s the publishing of seditious literature. We’re officially registered as a worker-owned co-operative these days, but we’re still fairly horizontal, and continue to operate on a not-for-profit basis. We remain fairly lean and we try to avoid too many meetings and as much bureaucracy as possible – we do have to show receipts to the man now, though.
We feel like that’s a relatively small price to pay to be part of the international cooperative movement, and we enjoy fulfilling our cooperative principles by working with other cooperatives, like Calverts, No Sweat and Footprints.
What does the editorial and publishing process look like?
DSP: Probably the most boring part of radical publishing – it’s a lot of layout and proofreading. We all have our various specialisms but we try to remain as non-hierarchical as possible – striking a balance between a too-rigid division of labour and total disorganised chaos. We don’t always get that balance right but it’s also a constant process so it’s able to change and evolve over time.
What sets you apart from the typical capitalist publisher?
DSP: It’s not necessarily about content: Penguin publish some very fine books on anarchism. But almost all publishing is based on the ownership of intellectual property, competition, and the exploitation of the publisher’s workers, from the authors to the administrators. This is mostly true of those publishers that exclusively produce radical content, as well.
That’s why we’re a not-for-profit workers’ cooperative. It’s also why we publish under a creative-commons license and make all of our publications available to read for free online, and why we have a solidarity distribution model with DOPE. We’re trying to do things differently, because we want things to be different. It’s more about form, than content – but it is also about content.
How have your interactions been with the local and state government?
DSP: Dog Section Press was actually started by some compensation paid out after a particularly bad interaction with the state. We used compensation money to pay for the printing of our first publication, Options for Dealing With Squatting, and then also the ACAB pamphlet – so you can thank the Met for that.
We recently had some reports of police confiscating DOPE from homeless vendors in Newcastle but we made a complaint and the officers actually went and found the guy and returned the property they’d illegally confiscated from him. It felt like a little win, but it would have been better if the cops weren’t pointlessly hassling homeless people in the first place.
How do you interact with the community?
DSP: It depends what you mean by community. In terms of the anarchist community, we try to be present at as many anarchist bookfairs and events as possible with our stall. We also try to do stalls in places that aren’t normally associated with the movement – we really like doing stalls at gigs.
We have our office at Freedom Books in Whitechapel, and most of our interactions with the community there are based around distributing DOPE Magazine. Before lockdown there was quite a lot of demand for it, and we were distributing around 1000 copies weekly to local homeless people alone.
What advice would you give to those looking to build an organisation like your own?
DSP: Just do it – and then keep on doing it. Printing is probably cheaper than you think, and you can probably pay for it with crowdfunding – almost all of our books are crowdfunded. We’d like for there to be as many radical publishers as possible: the streets should be awash with radical publications. If anyone has any specific questions about specific parts of the publishing process, we’re always happy to help – just get in touch.
Image from Dog Section Press.
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