Report from AWSM First Monthly Book Club

A short summary of the first book club session held by Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement (AWSM).

Submitted by LAMA on January 10, 2022

Note: Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement (AWSM) has decided for 2022 to initiate a project of monthly book readings on subjects of interest to anarchists. It is open to the public.

AWSM Book club #1

Subject: CoronaVirus and riots in the Netherlands by Peter Gelderloos, from Corona virus & Anarchism: pandemic’s anthology Edited and compiled by AGA and ACAA

We all agree that this piece is short and sweet. Helpfully holds a mirror to the ways white people on the left can unintentionally become more concerned with ego and righteousness and may fail to honour the agency of people of colour who they disagree with.

It was mentioned that although Pākehā radicals must support movements for and by people of colour, we shouldn’t rush to insert ourselves where we aren’t wanted or needed.

We see shortcomings in our own organization’s ceding counter-narratives to the right. Certain critiques of power have become infectious and contagious, as if we are worried we will catch “Rightwingitus”.

When it comes to engaging with people that have been lost to the right, the methodology of Street Epistemology was mentioned. Gently probe “Why” they believe what they believe. While that was accepted as a good method of communication with those who have right-wing beliefs, it was agreed that it cannot be the responsibility of marginalised people to be on the front lines of these discussions

Gelderloos’ piece brought up the discussion that AWSM needs to be doing a better job at disseminating specifically Māori peoples absolutely reasonable and necessary mistrust of the colonial-medical system. It was then, very helpfully noted that in the spirit of the article we just read, we cannot try to speak for marginalised voices. We should do the work to find the voices already out there, rather than speak over folks. We all agreed that we should find people to signal-boost in Solidarity and on social media. Tina Ngata was highlighted as an important voice to be amplified.

On the procedural note, it was mentioned that we were potentially being too ambitious by trying to tackle the whole anthology in one session. It was decided that instead of moving on to a new subject next month, we’ll just choose another article from this anthology.

Endnote: if you are interested in participating in future book club events, please get in touch!

Email – [email protected]

Twitter – @_aotearoawsm