London Anarchist Bookfair, Saturday 29th October 2016

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jondwhite's picture
jondwhite
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Oct 27 2016 21:17

Probably wrong here, but I thought the clenched fist (on the Save the Freedom building poster) was a socialist symbol?

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Oct 27 2016 21:37

I don't think anyone owns it particularly, though the specific rendition is similar to the Swappie fist:

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Oct 29 2016 23:05

To people that attended, how'd it go? Anyone attend the Mouvement Communiste event?

Also, looks like there was some trouble at the Syria event (disrupted by some PKK/YPG supporters)
https://leilashami.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/london-anarchist-bookfair/

potrokin
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Oct 30 2016 09:43
Craftwork wrote:

Also, looks like there was some trouble at the Syria event (disrupted by some PKK/YPG supporters)
https://leilashami.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/london-anarchist-bookfair/

Man! Had I gone to the bookfair, as I intended, I would probably have been at the Rojava meeting and would have been really pissed at it being disrupted in such a manner- sounds like it was deliberately ruined. Couldn't make it this year unfortunately, which was a shame as, judging by the meetings, it looked like a really interesting one - so much I was interested in. Did anyone, by any chance, attend the meeting about the Bulgarian Anarchist movement? Wondering what that was like, but as I say, so much of interest this year.

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Oct 30 2016 17:43

.

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Steven.
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Oct 30 2016 11:18
jondwhite wrote:
Probably wrong here, but I thought the clenched fist (on the Save the Freedom building poster) was a socialist symbol?

the clenched fist was originally an anti-fascist symbol in Germany. Since then it was adopted by large numbers of socialists, communists, working class radicals, the black power movement and anarchists, so basically it's more a general symbol of the workers' movement.

Please let's not derail a discussion about a single down vote. It's very easy for someone to give down vote by accident. If someone gets five then maybe ask about it.

Yeah I got lots of good stuff at the bookfair, and was nice to see some old faces. Didn't make any meetings and yeah just saw what happened at the Syria meeting, terrible stuff.

There were lots of people there, although it didn't seem as busy as previous years, quite possibly because of the location which was very inconvenient, over 20 minutes walk from the tube station which was also not easy to use because of the Tottenham game.

One thing which seemed really good was the gender balance. Previous bookfairs to me seemed predominantly male, however this one looked at least 50-50, or possibly even with more women than men, which is great.

What did people pick up?

I got the new Aufheben, some pamphlets from KSL, and a bunch of old books from Bob Jones (he always has the best stuff IMO) including wobbly history, the 1842 general strike and an Elizabeth Gurley Flynn autobiography.

jaycee
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Oct 30 2016 17:11

I was with a couple of ICC members at the Syria talk that the PKK/YPG supporters shut down . It was as ridiculous as it was irritating to see the talk disrupted and any chance of having any kind of real dialogue shut down and replaced by a nationalistic shouting match between various groups/individuals there. I and one of the ICC members made a point about this as being a reflection of the nationalistic starting point of the different groups/ideologies both in Syria and those present in the lecture hall.

I didn't mention this at the time but I think I should have said something about the tactics used by this group and a lot of the 'no platforming'/activist tactics being in themselves reminiscent of the Brown Shirts while they call everyone 'fascists' (that isn't to say that there can never be validity to shutting down meetings of class enemies but that is a different matter).

Overall I found it quite a depressing experience in terms of what it says about 'the movement' at this time in history. The book-fair itself was interesting and I picked up a good ICT book on Bordiga and would have picked up a few more if I had more money.

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Oct 30 2016 21:57

My big splashes were on the IWW anthology from PM and one of the big prints of this year's bookfair poster. Plus the Meltzer book and a case-study history of a Victorian workhouse from the Bristol radical history folks.

Not as full as last year I reckon - looked to me like it was drawing a good selection of anarchists but relatively few walk-ins (probably because footfall nearby was lower and it's a bit out of the way compared to the city centre).

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Oct 31 2016 09:42

Here's his comment with inflammatory image
https://www.reddit.com/r/Anarchism/comments/59ts0d/the_main_speaker_tomorrow_sat_at_the_uks_largest/
and another comment
https://pulsemedia.org/2016/10/30/anarchists-in-agrabah-how-faux-revolutionaries-tried-to-silence-actual-revolutionaries-at-the-london-book-fair/
I'm not in favour of shutting down anyone particularly the people billed to speak who the audience have come to see. Couldn't any criticism have waited until the discussion period afterwards whether you were called to speak or not?
It's not clear that is what happened here but it's worth stating I'm also sceptical about anyone using national or ethnic identity to trump anyone else's opinion.

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Oct 31 2016 09:45

Also since when did bitcoin carry any currency at the bookfair?

tigersiskillers
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Oct 31 2016 11:33
jondwhite wrote:
Also since when did bitcoin carry any currency at the bookfair?

I see what you did there.

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Oct 31 2016 13:35

Seriously, Tottenham is not the back of beyond. Now you've made your way out there you could try returning for Haringey Independent Cinema nights.

Sounds like the Rojava meeting had dodgy speakers who were disrupted by dodgy speakers, what a waste of time.

Glad the bookfair went well, if the trains had been cheaper I would have stopped by.

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Oct 31 2016 14:04

When will stalls cost 0.1 BTC and pamphlets 0.01 BTC?

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Oct 31 2016 14:45
potrokin wrote:
Did anyone, by any chance, attend the meeting about the Bulgarian Anarchist movement? Wondering what that was like, but as I say, so much of interest this year.

Yep. Here's a report.

The meeting started with a few technical hitches, so while a couple of more techie-minded AFers dealt with computers and Skype connections, Rob Blow gave a brief introduction to veteran 97 year old Bulgarian anarchist, Alexander Nakov, and also gave a little background information to the publication of this English translation of Alexander’s memoirs, Dossier of Subject No 1218.

Once connected, the bookfair meeting was linked via Skype to Alexander’s home in Bulgaria, with book translator Mariya Radeva acting as interpreter. Alexander responded to a number of questions that had been collected in advance from an earlier request both on Libcom and with members of the Anarchist Federation in Britain. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to record the meeting so what follows is a precis of Alexander’s responses.

Alexander told the audience that he became an anarchist in 1936, having been initially influenced by the Spanish revolution. He talked about the relative strength of the historic Bulgarian anarchist movement, particularly during the 1930s and 40s, which part of the country it was strongest, the involvement of women in the movement and how it had deep roots among the working population, from the village level to the cities.

Alexander also talked about his imprisonment in both fascist and later Stalinist prisons and concentration camps, making it clear that his and his comrades’ survival there depended on the ongoing solidarity and mutual aid between the anarchists. For example, he told us that any food parcels that got through to any one of them would always be shared out between comrades.

He also mentioned about his health being seriously weakened after spending time in the prison’s punishment block. His weakness meant he could not complete his work quotas. However, failure to meet work quotas would have sent him straight back to the punishment block, which in turn, would have further worsened his already poor state of health and would have soon resulted in his death. In this instance, Alexander mentioned the time, when he had just returned from the punishment block, in very poor health, how other anarchists stood either side of him and propped him up, thus allowing him to pretend to be carrying out his digging work while his comrades covered for him and made up his work quotas.

Aside from time in prison, Alexander mentioned the time he was exiled to a Turkish-speaking part of the country, where anarchism was relatively weak and where he was placed a long away from his anarchist comrades. Although not anarchists, the Turkish-speaking villagers there showed immense solidarity in their own way. So, when the police asked the locals about Alexander, wanting to know the kind of things he had said and done, the local people would only say nice things about him but then straight away, would go and repeat to Alexander exactly what the police had been asking about him.

It was forms of solidarity and mutual aid such as these, as well as a deep commitment to the anarchist cause and its revolutionary ideas that, despite frequent repression and imprisonment, enabled Alexander to keep his morale and convictions high enough to keep up the struggle.

Eventually, all those at the Bookfair meeting bade an emotional farewell to Alexander and Mariya. The meeting then continued with a interesting and detailed talk by Nick Heath on the history of the Bulgarian anarchist movement and the Federation of Anarchist Communists in Bulgaria (now the Federation of Anarchists in Bulgaria - FAB).

On a personal note, I have to say, this was one of the most poignant and emotional meetings I have ever attended in my life. Alexander Nakov is the last of his heroic generation; a legacy of a time when anarcho-communism in Bulgaria was a mass movement, deeply rooted in society, a movement in which countless militants faced massive repression, yet who sacrificed everything for the revolutionary cause.

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Oct 31 2016 20:54

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the disruption didn't take place at the Rojava meeting, it took place at the other, 2-hour long, Syrian revolution meeting, right?

Flint
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Oct 31 2016 21:43
Craftwork wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the disruption didn't take place at the Rojava meeting, it took place at the other, 2-hour long, Syrian revolution meeting, right?

Here are the relevant links if you want to try and make sense of it:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Anarchism/comments/59ts0d/the_main_speaker_tomorrow_sat_at_the_uks_largest/

https://leilashami.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/london-anarchist-bookfair/

https://qunfuz.com/2016/10/31/anarchism/

https://pulsemedia.org/2016/10/30/anarchists-in-agrabah-how-faux-revolutionaries-tried-to-silence-actual-revolutionaries-at-the-london-book-fair/

https://www.reddit.com/r/Anarchism/comments/5abwye/who_the_fuck_is_amir_taaki_and_why_is_his_cult/

http://kurdishquestion.com/article/3562-the-anarchist-bookfair-and-robin-yassin-kassab-039-s-problematic-approach-to-rojava

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Oct 31 2016 22:11
Craftwork wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the disruption didn't take place at the Rojava meeting, it took place at the other, 2-hour long, Syrian revolution meeting, right?

don't know about the duration, but it took place at the Syria meeting, not the Rojava meeting, that's right

syndicalist
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Nov 1 2016 00:59

What was this all about?:
https://pulsemedia.org/2016/10/30/anarchists-in-agrabah-how-faux-revolutionaries-tried-to-silence-actual-revolutionaries-at-the-london-book-fair/

Mark.
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Nov 1 2016 16:30

Robin Yassin-Kassab's response to the last link:
(posted for information, not to endorse anything or give an opinion)

https://qunfuz.com/2016/10/31/anarchism/#comment-49473

potrokin
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Nov 1 2016 23:18

Thankyou Serge. That must have been some meeting.

Vincano Atlast
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Nov 2 2016 16:40

For what it's worth: Having been inactive for many years (for health reasons) and attending my first Bookfair for about 15 years, I was pleasantly surprised at the numbers of people and the breadth of opinion and activities. Also met some old (longstanding, rather than aged) comrades and friends, so all in all a most enlightening, interesting and happy day for me.

Spikymike
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Nov 2 2016 17:03

A good venue if not so central - hopefully it was left in good order and can be used again if no other more central venue can be found - many thanks to the organisers.
Only managed to attend the CWO, AF (land and ecology) and 'Angry Workers' meetings all worthwhile. Still hoping some of the quality mix of meetings in London might be reproduced at some of the regional bookfairs or other similar cross-cutting political events.

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Nov 2 2016 17:23

I don't know how these things work, but isn't there some student anarchist group or sympathetic student union-types who could secure a venue for AB at one of the London universities, free of charge, or at low cost, some time in the future?

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Nov 2 2016 18:06
Craftwork wrote:
I don't know how these things work, but isn't there some student anarchist group or sympathetic student union-types who could secure a venue for AB at one of the London universities, free of charge, or at low cost, some time in the future?

basically the event is too big for that

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fingers malone
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Nov 2 2016 18:11

It used to be in a university in East London but now they can't have it there, I don't know why.

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Rob Ray
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Nov 2 2016 19:47

I had a chat about it on the day, basically the problem is that there's a massive price jump between the sort of small to mid-range venues the Bookfair's outgrown, and what's actually needed (ie. a proper expo venue). It goes from £7,000 to £20,000 without the in-between bit. The most likely other options have been schools and/or universities, but most are either not suitable, don't want anarchists about or aren't on a high footfall road so don't get the passing trade.

freemind
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Nov 4 2016 20:30

Glad you enjoyed it Vince!
Whilst bemused and confused at the Religious 'Anarchist' presence it was good to see many Community based libertarian groups who are active in a wide range of community,political and sport issues rather than in the past being ephemeral and marginalised.Also great meeting old DAM comrades too.

S Melmoth
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Nov 5 2016 00:06

It's now a week since the bookfair and the disgraceful nationalist antics at the Syria meeting, At this meeting we had a small demonstration of how any attempt at discussion or any opposition to a nationalist vision can be violently repressed. Just a small peek you understand, for a larger picture look at Syria. You would have had to be at the meeting to really experience it's violent and sinister opposition to any other vision other than that of the nationalist clique of supporters of the PKK/YPG or the organisers of the meeting. In reality, it took me back to meetings on Ireland and other 'National Liberation Struggles' where opposition to nationalist perspectives were meet with the same intimidation. - “you cannot speak, and if you do and say anything to oppose us, we will maim you or kill you” Don't you remember those times comrades?. As I looked around at the audience (and these were mostly anarchist comrades I saw intimidation and fear. Indeed, I felt that myself and for my comrade). this is what was implicitly contained in this incident.
As far as I know two comrades from the ICC opposed what went on. Believe me comrades I hope it was more. Some anarchist comrades have posted and opposed what went on on this site, but very few. Don't you care who you allow to have meetings at your Bookfair? What is laughable is that you had the SPGB (I don't share their politics) on a stall outside the meeting who really do oppose nationalism they and the ICC have been refused stalls and meetings at your event, because -”They do not fit the anarchist criteria” In the twee discussion on the venue that's been posted here we can ask a more important question - are we to have the same thing next year?
Melmoth

Mark.
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Nov 5 2016 08:05

Here's a recording of a talk Leila Al Shami and Robin Yassin Kassab gave at SOAS on Wednesday. I expect it's pretty much what they were intending to say at the bookfair.

https://soundcloud.com/hummusforthought/whatisatstakeinaleppo

S Melmoth
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Nov 6 2016 16:14

Still no answer?
Again I ask the question are you anarchists happy with the way that this meeting on (Syria) has unfolded? and the (non) response afterwards. What has happened to your sense of Internationalism? Listened to the talk from Lelia Al Shami and Robin Yassin Kassab. Total nationalist perspectives. Where do you stand Internationalist Anarchists? Are you happy to be involved with such company? Comrades such as Spikymike, the AF and the MDF where do you stand on inviting the nationalists back to the next ABF?
Melmoth