London's anarchist bookfair: the aftermath

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The London anarchist bookfair is the biggest annual event for libertarians in the UK. This year was the first since one of the major organisers and founding member left, so Rob Ray interviewed one of the collective to see how they thought it went...

Submitted by Freedom on November 24, 2006

October 21st saw the London anarchist Bookfair take over Holloway Road for the first time since the resignation of one of its most experienced organisers.

Freedom interviewed Alex, one of the bookfair collective’s new members, who is cautiously optimistic about how it went, with decent turnouts and enough funds raised to cover costs:

“We have some people who are new to the collective and are still finding our way. The collective are quite pleased that it worked. It’s the first year since the main organiser quit. He was very efficient at doing it and we think we have done pretty well.

“There weren’t any problems. The meetings were of a better quality, partly because we decided on a few we wanted and chased up people to do them. People also came to us with some good stuff.”

Comments on the day have been encouraging so far, Alex has found, despite anger over the intrusion of members of ‘anarcho-capitalist’ group the Libertarian Alliance, whose politics significantly clash with the Bookfair’s ethos by promoting the retention of private property and business in an otherwise lawless society.

“It has been pretty good so far most people who have made comments have been very positive, and it was good day, apart from the usual complaints about other groups being allowed in.

“I have no idea how long the Libertarian Alliance were there but they got thrown out at around 1.30pm. The stallholder next door to them said they claimed they’d been here three years running! They took over a stall from someone who didn’t show up, but they were a sideshow really.”

One recurring complaint was overheating in the main anteroom, particularly later in the day when large crowds had gathered.

“We think that number may have been slightly down on last year, two or three thousand, but it followed the usual pattern of getting busy at around 1pm.

“There’s air conditioning, but the problem with that room is that if you have all the doors open it tries to cool the entire building and goes wrong. Unfortunately they only had a couple of fans in the building. It’s something we’ll have to talk about for next time.” Alex explained.

“I think there are problems with the venue and it’s not an ideal position. There’s no communal free space and we are looking at hiring another part of the building to possibly have just open for people – it hasn’t had that the last couple of years.”

However the venue organisers have been very helpful, according to Alex, and there are no plans to move just yet: “They seem quite cool, they aren’t freaked out by us or the fight last year.”