London Anarchist Bookfair Saturday 18th October 2014

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Mr. Jolly's picture
Mr. Jolly
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Oct 20 2014 14:30

I'm not associating feminists with nazis, I just find it really bizzare that they would pick up on such a thing. Why the constant search for violent signifiers in fashion statements and linguistic affectations? Culture is open ended, the notion of specific cultural ownership/essentialism is a tad retrograde isnt it?

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Serge Forward
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Oct 20 2014 14:39

Agreed. This pub is shit.

While it's daft making nazi comparisons, it's not bad faith sniping to argue that such identitarianism is shite politics.

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Oct 20 2014 14:53

For sale: one Jimmy hat, NEVER used.

Max_Anarchies
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Oct 20 2014 15:07

I have to admit I agree with a lot of the arguments of cultural appropriation. Having been at red brick unis for 5 years now I've met my fair share of well travelled rich white kids who just *get* other cultures.

I just think its worth remembering that we're consumers, we buy stuff we like and do things we like and, whilst we should be self reflective to an extent, we aren't responsible for the commodification of cultures. Capitalism takes things with a blatant disregard for whoever they belong to, repackages and repurposes them and sells it on for a profit. Its the all white fashion houses that have all white dreadlocked models wearing rasta-chic that are guilty of cultural appropriation, not some white kid with dreads, for all we know they're greek and are repping their spartan heritage.

I'm all for quietly explaining why peoples actions arent necessarily ok but embarrassing someone in front of a room full of people they don't know is just shitty and exclusive. Plus, I've seen people who attended sharing cartoons about how dreads are dirty and smelly (but they specify only on white people so not racist), cultural appropriation is one thing, and if someones actions are insensitive then telling them is fine, but calling people disgusting and smelly and dirty because they have a certain hair style just makes you a first class shit head.

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Oct 20 2014 15:15

Did anyone go to the cristicuffs talks - I tried looking them up and can't work out where they come from or anything beyond being a discussion group (no bad thing in itself)?

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Oct 20 2014 16:25
plasmatelly wrote:
Did anyone go to the cristicuffs talks - I tried looking them up and can't work out where they come from or anything beyond being a discussion group (no bad thing in itself)?

Talking to Ums Ganze comrades at the Plan C festival, they said that Critisticuffs group was basically a UK offshoot of Yunge Linke. Whether that's fair or not, I can't say, but one of the main speakers for them is ex-Yunge Linke.

(Now back to talking about hair... *rolls eyes*)

edit: (In fairness, I'm only jealous 'cos I have hardly any left these days.)

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jura
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Oct 20 2014 16:28

Ocelot, Junge Linke is no longer Junge Linke but Gruppen gegen Kapital und Nation. Other than that you're correct.

Battlescarred
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Oct 20 2014 16:46

Can't say I noticed any rudeness, pushing or shoving, on the stairs etc at all. Thought the Fair was well humoured and majority of people were pleasant and well behaved.None of the meetings I attended had any sign at all of rude behaviour either. Was I at the same Bookfair?
S it's OK to attend various Workfare pickets but not a No Poor Doors picket which effects working class people in Tower Hamlets ? I don't get it.
As to the focus of something that might or might not have happened at the Afem conference rather than the achievement of having such a well-attended conference with people from Chile, Germany, France, Italy etc makes me wonder about the motives of those bringing it up in the first place.

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rat
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Oct 20 2014 18:16

Caiman del Barrio,
sorry for being so simplistic in my earlier post.
Which cultures are there that you think are not fractured by lines of class?

Max_Anarchies
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Oct 20 2014 19:55

edit: [Self censorship of pointless rage]

Note to self: Don't post on libcom until at least 24 hours AFTER reading annoying tweets.

I hear that the sex workers open uni talk at the AFem conference went well.

Have at it comrades!

Fleur
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Oct 20 2014 20:13

Perhaps someone who was actually at AFem might be better placed to make comment on what did or didn't actually happen on the day, rather than conjecture.

I really don't have any opinions one way or another about dreadlocks but I would have thought that cultural appropriation was a pretty easy concept to grasp. It's taking a specific thing which has significant cultural relevance to one group and using it in an inappropriate or flippant way, often as a fashion item. It is different to cultural exchange, which means enjoying something from a different culture, such as food, to the one you were brought up in. A good example was listed in the safe spaces agreement - Native American war bonnet - which is totally inappropriate for a non-native, or indeed non-plains Native to wear, because of it's high cultural value. Eagle feathers are earned and awarded to people, they're not a fashion item. It's not about identity politics, it's about having enough respect for other people's cultures, especially when people have been asked time and time again not to do this. A simple explanation about this is here -
http://apihtawikosisan.com/hall-of-shame/an-open-letter-to-non-natives-in-headdresses/

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Oct 20 2014 22:17

Don't know about the incident in question but that was a top notch safer spaces policy. I've a friend whose just recently been tasked with writing one, I think I'll forward this on to her.

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Oct 21 2014 01:18
RedEd wrote:
Don't know about the incident in question but that was a top notch safer spaces policy. I've a friend whose just recently been tasked with writing one, I think I'll forward this on to her.

Just talked to someone who was a safer spaces person at the afem conference, and they said that what was missing from this was a plan of what to do about breaches of the policy. I went to a meeting at the bookfair where they made the case for having a safer spaces policy and this seemed to be quite an important component.

gamerunknown
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Oct 21 2014 08:44
fleur wrote:
Eagle feathers are earned and awarded to people, they're not a fashion item.

As the author of the article points out, war bonnets were restricted to men in the Plains nation. In Victorian England, bicycles were restricted items for women. Women chose to disrespect Victorian culture and use bicycles. The same is true in certain cultures in India today. Trousers were restricted items.

Besides, there's a reasonable argument for not wearing any animal products whatsoever.

Caiman del Barrio
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Oct 21 2014 13:20
Battlescarred wrote:
Can't say I noticed any rudeness, pushing or shoving, on the stairs etc at all. Thought the Fair was well humoured and majority of people were pleasant and well behaved.None of the meetings I attended had any sign at all of rude behaviour either. Was I at the same Bookfair?

Maybe we went to different meetings or were on the stairs at different times then? Or maybe you have an interest in protecting the 'public face' of the Bookfair? I dunno, I'll let Libcom posters decide based on their own experiences/personal prejudices and the up/down mechanism.

Quote:
it's OK to attend various Workfare pickets but not a No Poor Doors picket which effects working class people in Tower Hamlets ? I don't get it.

I think there are some valid criticisms to be made of SF's Workfare campaign and I haven't been involved in it for a good couple of years now so your attempt to pin my ex-organisation's failures one me is rather unfair.

Besides, the analogy is a bit stretched to say the least. Where is the link between Workfare and a glorified election hustings outside a door?

Quote:
As to the focus of something that might or might not have happened at the Afem conference rather than the achievement of having such a well-attended conference with people from Chile, Germany, France, Italy etc makes me wonder about the motives of those bringing it up in the first place.

Although the rest of your post was rather hostile, this is spot on. People are clearly uncomfortable with the existence of an Afem conference in and of itself, which is why they whinge online about minutaie like this, with no idea of the context. Unsurprisingly, it's the same ol' people who've always complained - usually in the absence of women - about the feminists. I think they'd prefer a boys' drinking club for an anarchist scene to be honest.

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Oct 21 2014 14:12

Gamerunknown #45

‘In Victorian England, bicycles were restricted items for women. Women chose to disrespect Victorian culture and use bicycles.’

Bicycles were thought improper for women to ride (too stimulating). Some Victorian women challenged this nonsense and many conservatives, men and women, thought this disrespectful of ‘proper’ conduct. Some things are worthy of respect and some demand challenging - each case on its own merits.

Rubbish Anarchist
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Oct 21 2014 14:52

It was my first time at the Bookfair and I certainly enjoyed it. I came back with more books than I had planned!

I had originally intended to go to a few of the meetings, but was scared of making a fool of myself. Maybe next year.

I have been posting the "Grumpy Cat Against Racism" stickers all over the neighbourhood! smile

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Oct 21 2014 15:17
Rubbish Anarchist wrote:
It was my first time at the Bookfair and I certainly enjoyed it. I came back with more books than I had planned!

I had originally intended to go to a few of the meetings, but was scared of making a fool of myself. Maybe next year.

I have been posting the "Grumpy Cat Against Racism" stickers all over the neighbourhood! :-)

At last! The first positive post/email/text/phone call I have come across today! Good for you Rubbish Anarchist (and I'm sure you aren't that rubbish!)

Fleur
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Oct 21 2014 15:18

Just created another thread to respond to Gamerunknown as I didn't want to further derail this one, especially given that I wasn't at either event.
http://libcom.org/forums/general/cultural-appropriations-bicycles-21102014

Spikymike
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Oct 21 2014 15:20

RA,
Yes next time do go to some of the meetings if you can decide which ones from the huge selection (both good and bad) You don't have to speak up but don't be afraid of risking 'making a fool of yourself ' if you do - no one else does!! Nothing ventured nothing gained.

enraged
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Oct 21 2014 15:23

Utterly embarrassing to call out someone because of their choice of hair style.

This, I would have thought, is negative cultural appropriation:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/30/rename-the-washington-redskins-racism
We're talking about a franchise making profits by using what is a derogatory term to start with.

But dreads..? Shouldn't people focus more on class issues and less on reinforcing constructed cultural identities?

Anyway, here is a long but interesting article about safer spaces policies:
http://anonymousrefused.tumblr.com/post/99047385737/for-your-safety-and-security

I think it's important to think about how the policies are enforced and about the implications associated with such policies of public denunciation and exclusion.

Just including a couple of excerpts but other points are raised in the article:

Radical collectives are premised on the rejection of the liberal conception of politics. We recognise that the liberal concept of ‘reasonableness’ is a mask for the white, bourgeois man, and that those voices dismissed as irrational, as hysterical, are precisely the voices of the oppressed. The perpetual danger of utopian projects, though, is that they replicate what they set out to oppose. The politics of safer spaces has done a lot to challenge oppression, but in the process it has codified a series of prohibitions on opinions or actions which are labelled ‘unsafe’, and a prescription that anyone accused of being unsafe be excluded from the sphere of political engagement. The liberal demand that you go about your dissent in a ‘reasonable’ manner seems worryingly to be mirrored in the demand that you go about your dissent in a way that does not make anyone feel ‘unsafe’. In both cases, some genuine political disagreements are being excluded from political spaces, being transformed into an apparently prior moral issue of whether you are conducting yourself in a permissible manner.

To raise this concern is not to say that no-one, and no opinion, should ever be excluded. Of course we need to distinguish between cops and comrades, and not all those who police our oppression wear a uniform. Equally, the idea that we can simply ‘not act’ is a liberal illusion – so-called ‘non-intervention’ just upholds existing power relations, and does not provide a solution. However, anyone committed to revolutionary change must believe that it is legitimate, and even necessary, to oppose existing wrongs without being able to provide a fully worked-out alternative...

There is no straight and narrow path of righteousness out of this double-bind, only the constant struggle against what we hate, and against becoming what we hate. But recognising that we are in a double-bind seems more promising, as well as more honest, than sticking to the line that we just aren’t ostracising hard enough.

[...]

An example is made of someone who, sure, is far from perfect, but in many cases (not all cases, but many) is not so much worse than anyone else. Through the denunciation of the example, the forcible excision of the unsafe tumour in the communal body, everyone else attempts thereby to purify themselves. This is the definition of scapegoating. The process never ends, though, because it disavows (despite paying constant lip service to) the oppressive tendencies in all of us, rather than honestly confronting them. The communal body, unsurprisingly, remains ill, so yet another tumour must be identified and the accountability surgeon called again...

The result of all this is that people are so scared of becoming the next scapegoat that they cannot confront their own faults openly, or can do so only superficially and with ever-increasing bad faith.

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Mr. Jolly
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Oct 22 2014 09:02

self editing nonsense away

factvalue
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Oct 21 2014 22:29

Previously on Bookfair, in response to Battlescarred's

'it's OK to attend various Workfare pickets but not a No Poor Doors picket which effects working class people in Tower Hamlets ? I don't get it.'

Caiman del Barrio wrote:

'I think there are some valid criticisms to be made of SF's Workfare campaign and I haven't been involved in it for a good couple of years now so your attempt to pin my ex-organisation's failures one me is rather unfair.'

Is there subtext here coms? If there isn't, how does 'scarred's comment amount to a criticism of del Barrio's former org eh?

I got there late so maybe I missed all the pushing and shoving but it all seemed fairly humdrum to me, tainted by the occasional plummy accent which never fails to produce a slight build-up of internal pressure in the head and upper body, particularly when it's accompanied by a competitive thrust in the general direction of a ripe book commodity like it was the fucking London Anarchist January Sales. But overall I thought it was quite nice and bland and unthreatening, and at one point it felt like the chapter from Joyce's Ulysses where it seems as though a camera is roaming aimlessly about in passageways amongst strangers, most of whom appeared to have been dressed by shagged-out insects, which was anything but unpleasant, apart from an eerie absence of patchouli.

On the way out I was questioned by three 'drunks' who were sitting on the benches adjacent to the library.
"Oi mate, w-what are those papers you've got there?"
"Instructions for building a nuclear bomb."
"And are you showing the anarchists how to do that?"
"I teach physics and we're doing field theory of the nucleus."
"Quantum mechanics? Is that it?"
"Well quantum field theory but yeah."
"Is that a Belfast accent I hear?"
"Yeah it is but don't hold it against me officers."
Nobody moved so I went on home.

EDIT: I thought Peters Linebaugh and Gelderloos were just a bit shit really, the Tottenham thing seemed pointless and the AFED Intro to AC meandering, formless and vapid, a cautionary tale about the team tyranny of the extroverts' spontaneity, trailing off into incoherent oblivion nudged over the edge by a fatal over-reliance on a non-functioning powerpoint (fuck Anarchist Ofsted!), which was a shame as I'd come along thinking to cherry pick useful ways to introduce the subject. Never mind eh?

Battlescarred
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Oct 22 2014 08:49

"Or maybe you have an interest in protecting the 'public face' of the Bookfair?"
No, I don't. Why are you implying that?
My post wasn't hostile, that is your perception. I was stating my perception of the bookfair which was at odds with yours.
As to the No Poor Doors picket, well there may well be some of that in Class War's agenda, but it is not that of many others who have attended.and that includes people who have been involved in both neighbourhood and workplace activity for years. The Poor Doors policy is being introduced into several areas of London now and it is my perception that the housing crisis, social cleansing and gentrification will be flashpoints for social unrest in the future, if not now.

Burgers
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Oct 22 2014 09:08

I was walking around the bookfair with my eyes closed so I never see anything bad, my only shame is that I didn't get to talk to people more.

Caiman del Barrio
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Oct 22 2014 10:32
factvalue wrote:
Previously on Bookfair, in response to Battlescarred's

'it's OK to attend various Workfare pickets but not a No Poor Doors picket which effects working class people in Tower Hamlets ? I don't get it.'

Caiman del Barrio wrote:

'I think there are some valid criticisms to be made of SF's Workfare campaign and I haven't been involved in it for a good couple of years now so your attempt to pin my ex-organisation's failures one me is rather unfair.'

Is there subtext here coms? If there isn't, how does 'scarred's comment amount to a criticism of del Barrio's former org eh?

I understood it as him equating the Bone electoral campaign outside The Door with SF's Workfare campaign. I was active in that campaign a couple of years ago, but now I'm basically inactive within SF.

Battlescarred claims he wasn't being hostile, but we're both seasoned enough Libcommers to understand the subtext there. TBH, I'm more surprised that he doesn't think the Bookfair is typified by ugly, antisocial behaviour in public spaces. Are people desensitised to this sort of stuff?

Battlescarred
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Oct 22 2014 10:49

But I didn't see it there this year, OK? When I claim not to be hostile , I mean it. Bollox to cod-Freiudian subtexts.
You said "ex-organisation's failures" not me and I didn't imply any. I went on Workfare pickets too, you know.

factvalue
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Oct 22 2014 10:47
Quote:
Are people desensitised to this sort of stuff?

Speaking for myself I think there probably is a bit of that going on yes, in that I didn't perceive there to be anything like the amount of entitled and oblivious 'me first' that you'd get if you attempted to shop in any of London's upper middle class yummy mummy areas, those wanky Maclaren strollers are fucking deadly.

Battlescarred
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Oct 22 2014 10:51

What are you doing shopping there in the first place?smile

factvalue
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Oct 22 2014 10:52
Quote:
Bollox to cod-Freiudian subtexts.

There's got to be T-shirt in there somewhere. I wasn't alluding to pseudology but to unseen historical context.