Defending ALONGSIDE NIGHT
In the past week or so, I’ve heard a couple of young anarchists offer comments on J. Neil Schulman’s 1980 agorist novel Alongside Night. Neither were disparaging, but both remarked that the book is “just okay,” “coulda been a lot better,” and that a truly great agorist novel is still to be written. I agree with them on the last point. But overall, my gut reaction is to defend Schulman’s book enthusiastically, to come out punching.
You see, when I first read Alongside Night some 28 years ago, it re-radicalized me. I’d been in the libertarian movement since high school, but I’d grown discouraged, first with the watered-down anti-statism of the Libertarian Party and then with the lack of oomph in the movement itself. While seeking philosophical renewal at a libertarian conference, I met Samuel Edward Konkin
Granted, Neil Schulman and I haven’t been working out of the same playbook for more than a decade. But I think Alongside Night still stands as the Atlas Shrugged of agorism, the first and (so far) only novel to detail the revolution SEK3 talked about. It’s radical, it tells a good story, and it’s the perfect little book to pass on to friends when they greet your ideas with creased brows.
I’ve probably read Alongside Night a dozen times since the early ’80s. Each time, it recharges me. If you haven’t yet read it, let me recommend it to you.