Why? Or, How a Peasant Got Into the Land of Anarchy: An Anarchist Fairytale from the Russian Revolution

Regular price $ 15.00

by Abba Gordin and Wolf Gordin, Translated by Jesse S. Cohn and Eugene Kuchinov

AK Press

5/23/2023, paperback

SKU: 9781849355025


A revolutionary fairy tale for adults that makes sharpening your critique of capitalism fun.

Why? follows the travels of a boy named Pochemu -- "Why" in Russian -- as he tries to understand the Tsar's empire, capitalism, state violence, and more. The answers his rapid-fire questions elicit, which make less and less sense the deeper he probes, are just as ridiculous today as they were a century ago, and just as descriptive of a society gone wrong. When Pochemu eventually enters the Land of Anarchy, he is confronted by his own strangeness to its citizens, who study the bizarre customs he brings to their free society. This is a timeless tale of the ludicrousness of power and its deluded defenders.

In this fable, a child's innocent questions meet the lies used to justify a world of cruelty and inequality. The result is quasi-absurdist, political comedy. Abba and Wolf Gordin, Jewish anarchists in the Russian Revolution, wrote proletarian literature to enlighten and entertain. It's a genre that no longer really exists, but given this delightful book, maybe it should.


"A charming and frequently hilarious fairytale about anarchy from the first days after the Russian revolution" -- Molly Crabapple, author of Drawing Blood and, with Marwan Hisham, Brothers of the Gun

About the Contributors:

Abba Gordin (1887-1964) was a witness to the Russian Revolution as a young adult. Persecuted under the Bolsheviks he emigrated to the US in 1927 and became co-editor of the Yiddish anarchist paper Freie Arbeiter Stimme. He is author of numerous works in Russian, Yiddish, and English.

Wolf Gordin (1885-1974) was a prolific writer of literature and essays, with a special interest in youth liberation. He emigrated to the US in 1926 where he continued to contribute to anarchist periodicals.

Jesse S. Cohn is the author of Underground Passages: Anarchist Resistance Culture, 1848-2011 and the translator of Daniel Colson's Little Philosophical Lexicon of Anarchism From Proudhon to Deleuze. A board member of the Institute for Anarchist Studies, he teaches English in Northwest Indiana.

Eugene Kuchinov is a publisher of texts by anarcho-biocosmists, pan-anarchists (and figures of other strange anarchisms), a philosopher and translator. He is a researcher and lecturer at Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University (Kaliningrad, Russia).