Your impressions of the London Anarchist Bookfair 2011

132 posts / 0 new
Last post
Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Oct 23 2011 09:59
Your impressions of the London Anarchist Bookfair 2011

So, did everyone have a good bookfair?

I haven't been properly in years, but this time we had an actual stall so I pretty much had to go.

It seemed very busy, but not sure it seemed as big as the ones in the Camden Centre (although that may be just because there was not one really big space where you could see everyone at once). Also it didn't seem to smell quite as bad as usual!

I didn't manage to make it to any talks, but did manage to buy:
Aufheben
Kronstadt beer from the AF
Organise!
Rage zine
meant to buy the Iron Column book but forgot.

Libcom got rid of all of our fancy new posters, and about 1500 libcom bookmarks (which actually probably means that there were loads of people there, as you would think only a minority would actually take our bookmarks, and not many people took more than one)

We took about £110 in donations, so thanks to everyone for that.

So, how was your day? What did you buy? How did selling stuff go, how were the talks etc?

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Oct 23 2011 10:40

Libcom tried to cut up some of my most prized books, but other than that it was really good wink

Def more class struggle themes than previous years, although 'anarchism and spirituality' drew as a large a crowd as workplace organising, which is slightly worrying...

I limited myself to Aufheben, Black Flag, the Workmates pamphlet, and the Rage zine.

Drinks afterwards were a lot of fun. As it turned out, the locals in the pub were a bunch of German communists who didn't even know the bookfair was going on.

Malva's picture
Malva
Offline
Joined: 22-03-11
Oct 23 2011 10:51

I had a good time. Picked up a 'general strike' wildcat poster. Also some history books on anarchist illegalism and chatted to Principia Dialectica. I didn't see the libcom stall though! And I asked whether or not there was one at the entrance downstairs but no one seemed to know sad ! Next year then ... Otherwise was good times.

(Also, I second Chilli Sauce's comment about 'anarchism and spirituality'.)

Wellclose Square
Offline
Joined: 9-05-08
Oct 23 2011 11:01

It's been many, many years since I've been - one at the Camden Centre, the rest at the Conway Hall.

Didn't feel comfortable there, not the same vibe as Conway (maybe it's the feng shui, or not being used to crowds/huddles of people any more, or a sense of detachment from it all, exacerbated by recent goings on - on the world stage and within 'the milieu'). I don't think I'll bother going again.

Not all doom and gloom. Nice to pick up some freebies and buy some interesting stuff from the South London Radical History stall (DOWN WITH THE AUSTRIAN BUTCHER!), and I was very taken with Kittens from the Wine and Cheese Appreciation Society (for the title and pics) - a nice departure from blood'n'guts agitational titles or slightly pretentious theoretical titles. I was hoping to pick up this http://nebulabooks.dk/ExpectAnything.pdf, as I've had it on pre-order since June and it hasn't materialised yet - I asked the nice folk at the Housman's stall if they knew anything.

Frankly, it was a relief to get down to the Half Moon (when their power was back on) to enjoy a steak and kidney pie and a couple of pints (Twisted Hop and Pendle Porter - can't go wrong at £2.25)... found out from an information board in there about Charles Coborn that Wilton's Music Hall was off Wellclose Square. Shame the Half Moon's not a theatre any more, though judging from the name it must have been a pub at one time - I'd rather Witherspoon's took on pubs than ex-Gas Board showrooms and banks.

Sorry about the general tone (it's about me), I appreciate the effort that the organisers put into it and I slung a few quid into the bucket going in.

Nice Hereford cider.

Spassmaschine
Offline
Joined: 29-01-07
Oct 23 2011 12:04

What is 'Rage zine'?

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Oct 23 2011 12:31

Rage is the Zine of Bloomsbury Fightback. Haven't checked it out yet, but it came to me highly recommended.

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Offline
Joined: 14-01-04
Oct 23 2011 12:37

It was good to see old faces and chat with old friends and comrades. I didn't actually get round many of the stalls and spent a fair bit of time hanging around the AF stall... and I forgot to visit the Libcom people. Sorry embarrassed

Meetings... first off, my ex-wife dragged me into the Anarchist BDSM informal meeting in the cafe area - all nice people there but I had to quickly head off to catch the last bit of the Paris Commune/St Imier meeting (much more my sort of thing these days). It was very good. Later, I went to the class struggle AF-ALARM-IWW meeting, which had a good turnout, and I managed to make a couple of contributions. Chilli Sauce, I appreciate your disappoinment about a meeting on spirituality having the same number as a workplace organising meeting but this is a big improvement. Back in the 1980s, Bookfair meetings on all sorts of weird and wonderful subjects would draw big crowds while anything related to class would only get a handful. The fact that numbers at class struggle type meetings can equal anarcho-swamp meetings will do, for now.

I didn't buy much because I'm skint. I did however buy a bottle of 8.5% Krostadt beer. I can't drink it yet (doctor's orders) but it gives me something to aim for. Unfortunately, some over enthusiastic AFer sold my precious drink while I was in a meeting and they'd all fucking sold out when I returned angry Luckily I managed to grab one of the last bottles of Makhno's Black Army Stout. Mind you, that didn't stop another AFer trying to flog it on to someone else, bastards. I also bought a DVD - can't remember what it is and, as I left it in my mate's bag, I'll have to chase it up and find out later. However, I do have in my possession a very interesting looking pamphlet on the Great Nottingham Cheese Riot of 1766 by Notts 'People's Histreh'. I fucking love cheese (though I can't have any at the minute - doctor's orders again) and can totally understand people rioting over it.

Highlight - meeting up with an old Iraqi friend and comrade who I've not seen for yonks. Lowlight - getting my twatting beer nicked.

Caiman del Barrio
Offline
Joined: 28-09-04
Oct 23 2011 12:44
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Rage is the Zine of Bloomsbury Fightback.

I'm not sure that's entirely true, seems to be a grouping of people, some of whom are involved in BFB.

lzbl's picture
lzbl
Offline
Joined: 19-09-11
Oct 23 2011 12:58

There was an anarchist BDSM meet-up? How did I miss that?

This was my first bookfair and I found it largely frustrating and disappointing, perhaps because I didn't expect to have to get my jumble sale elbows out to actually see anything.

I went to the deaf people and anarchism meeting which was really interesting, both as a starting point for more hearing people to think about deaf struggles and for deaf people to see how committed we are to being equal and accessible for all.

I also went to the meeting about setting up a new students network. Attendees seemed keen to learn from past mistakes and although the meeting itself was about practicalities we agreed to have a national meeting in London on the 19th to agree aims & direction. More info when I have it.

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Oct 23 2011 13:08

Oh, my mistake Caiman, but yeah, I think you're right.

The anarchism and deaf people sounded amazing. I'm even more disappointed than I was before that I missed it cry

Caiman del Barrio
Offline
Joined: 28-09-04
Oct 23 2011 13:24

I enjoyed Darcus Howe's combination of anecdotes, jokes and rant. It was largely pointless but then, most meetings are.

I thought the NLSF-organised Fighting Austerity in Europe meeting was good, especially the contributions from the Italian and Portuguese comrades. The translation and time issues made it a little bit forced and slow at times, and by 6pm, the collective thirst for pub was practically tangible. Still, I think there are lessons that can be applied there, especially WRT to their attitudes towards the Occupy phenomenon. I hope their insights will inform SF's discussions.

The venue was ultimately too small for the number of attendees, and it kinda had the feel of a squat rave at times. I'm surprised noone collapsed or was crushed in some of the upstairs corridors with the selfishness of the backpack crusty brigade, who doubtlessly scorn commuters for similar behaviour.

Finally, the SF merch was all excellent.

JoeMaguire's picture
JoeMaguire
Offline
Joined: 26-09-03
Oct 23 2011 13:49
Serge Forward wrote:
Chilli Sauce, I appreciate your disappoinment about a meeting on spirituality having the same number as a workplace organising meeting but this is a big improvement. Back in the 1980s, Bookfair meetings on all sorts of weird and wonderful subjects would draw big crowds while anything related to class would only get a handful. The fact that numbers at class struggle type meetings can equal anarcho-swamp meetings will do, for now.

This is the reason I believe the bookfair has picked up. I wasn't at the one last year, but in ones years past I remember sitting in talks organised by class struggle anarchists and knowing far too many of the attendees and when the larger proceeding crowd entered for <insert lifestylist topic> just being over-whelmed by the hopelessness of the anarchist movement. So things have definitely come some way. Also there seems to be notably less and less crusties each year.

I had a good look around and managed to say my hello's to various people. All to clear when it was busy in the evening, the venue was simply too small. Some of the more oddball groups which I remember in the past weren't present. And it appears that SF have grown considerably in the time I last saw them.

Literature wise, Organise and Black Flag were out in time for the bookfair and it seems Freedom Press are reprinting Breaking Free to coincide with the Tintin movie out. Only new book that caught my eye was Crack Capitalism and End Notes 1.

In terms of the talks. Iain Mckay had a session about correcting the imbalances done to anarchism by trotskyists. Arguing the importances to understand Proudhon and Bakunin. This was good and had a few questions from the floor.
The session on the chinese workers was excellent but had a low turnout unfortunately. Pun Ngai talked about Foxconns business model, proletarianisation of the rural poor, their working conditions and some of the workers militancy. This video might help summarise.

The riots talk was good and packed to the rafters. Darcus Howe did ramble slightly but there was some practical proposals about legal monitoring tagged onto the end.
Also lastly attended the SF meeting on Austerity which was nice to hear from comrades from IWA sections in Italy, Portugal and Spain but the session was lacking a bit in discipline and nothing practical came from the session.

Overall better than I imagined and a visible improvement cool

Ellar's picture
Ellar
Offline
Joined: 1-11-09
Oct 23 2011 13:50

I got their much earlier then I usually do, I liked the building that it was in much more than the place it was before right by the front entrance. The entrance seemded larger and less cramped so it was more inviting in my opinion.
Saw loads of people from the student movement that were there for the first time, overall it seemed to be packed throughout the day with huge crowds which is always very encouraging.

I did my talk on UK YOOTH REBELLION which was pretty full (50 people approx) and it went well, only shame was that their wasnt more time for discussion. I met and chatted to some comrades on the AF stall and was also very impressed with Solfeds merchandise. Also spoke to Anarcho about which books provides the best introduction to anarchism.

Bought:
Mutual Aid - Kropotkin
Breaking Free
Violent Anarchist t-shirt

mons
Offline
Joined: 6-01-10
Oct 23 2011 14:43

Like everyone else said, the venue was much too small, which made it a bit stressful and difficult to see anything. But that means there were loads of people there, I've only been once before, two years ago, but there seemed to be lots more people this time.

I went to the workplace organiser training meeting which was quality, obviously... Also the student one, don't have anything to add to what lzbl said about that really. Hopefully good things will come out of the meeting in November.

6 non-anarchist friends came as well, and all enjoyed it (or at least they told me that!) which is a good sign, although did find some of the people and stalls pretty off-putting, as you'd expect. One of them I met by accident, and she only came cos she's at Queen Mary Uni which shows people do turn up who aren't political. It's a little bit scary to think of some of the kind of literature and meetings they might be exposed to, and think all anarchism's that. Stresses the need to me for a specifically libertarian communist equivalent event.

I got the two latest SF pamphlets, the SF violent anarchists t-shirt, Aufheben, The Commune and two beautiful posters - the libcom one, and the prole.info/SF pyramid one. Also got the anarcho-syndicalist mug but my friend broke it on the way home sad

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Oct 23 2011 14:44

I think a two-day event (with one and half hour slots for talks and workshops, followed by a half-hour break) next year is well in order!

nastyned
Offline
Joined: 30-09-03
Oct 23 2011 14:44

It looked like a good turn out to me. Like Serge I also mostly loitered about the AF stall as I wasn't in the mood for meetings.

I got most of the things I was after (the Iron Column book, the Erich Mühsam book and Organise!). Bottled out of buying the Proudhon book though as it was so fat I got a bit intimidated.

I perused the SolFed stall hoping for an English to Anarcho-Syndicalist and Anarcho-Syndicalist to English dictionary so I could clear up any confusion over the use of the word 'union' but sadly couldn't see one so I settled for the Workmates pamphlet.

And I got some 1 in 12 Club chutney as again like Serge I like my cheese and it should go well in my sandwiches.

Arbeiten's picture
Arbeiten
Offline
Joined: 28-01-11
Oct 23 2011 14:49

Steven. if that is your idea of not being smelly, I don't want to be involved in your revolution. Anarchy and body odour is a pertinent theme.

Saw Iain MckKay speak, that was great. It was really good to see that being translated into sign language. Saw Ian Bone and Martin Wright's address to the 'movement'. It was funny, but i largely disagreed with most of what Bone said. I'm just not into this Eton campaign....

I agree with Caiman on WRT and Occupation thing. But through gritted teeth.

The anarchism and class struggle meeting was good. Massive turn out. It's a shame it wasn't an hour and a half session because the Q and A was only just starting to get interesting. Meting out the 'what is class' issue is often quite dull, but it has to be done.

Caiman del Barrio
Offline
Joined: 28-09-04
Oct 23 2011 14:50

Oh, totes forgot to mention: this year's Bookfair highlight was rumbling Arbeiten! wink

Cooked's picture
Cooked
Offline
Joined: 6-04-10
Oct 23 2011 15:22

Bought the Iron Column book, last copy I believe. Picked up some SAC material, Brand as well as Organize. I haven't done that much shopping in years... The room with the stalls felt a bit like Topshop on a Saturday but with more black. Not that pleasant.

Saw the media thing, mainly because my partner had read the "Silent State" book. None of the three speakers seemed to have a anarchist/communist agenda which made the whole thing a bit useless. A lot of words from the perspective of established media and academia. Libcom should take a few hints on the issues with twitter, facebook, google though wink Some of the comments were more relevant but not really explored.

Class Struggle talk: was quite impressed with the Alarm guys delivery, despite the cussing he made things seem straightforward and off the cuff. Shows that K.I.S.S works (keep it simple stupid). A few good comments from someone who seemed like an extension of the panel (afed i believe). And yeah the discussion should have been longer.

Saw the AFA talk, which was quite good as I'm not that aware of what's happening at the moment. Had noticed the results of some of the strategies the fascists have employed, good to hear how it came about.

Wanted to see the paperless workers, foxconn and riot talks but overlaps and getting hungry got in the way. Took ages to get some food.

Didn't see the Libcom stall until the end of the day, Solfed sorta swallowed it. Stalls work better if the adjacent owners hate each other.

I thought the space was much worse than last years as there wasn't a large hall.

Went to the Palmtree, had a few words with Steven, was introduced to Jason and spend most of the evening with some people who I didn't ask if they used this site.

lzbl's picture
lzbl
Offline
Joined: 19-09-11
Oct 23 2011 15:36
Chilli Sauce wrote:
I think a two-day event (with one and half hour slots for talks and workshops, followed by a half-hour break) next year is well in order!

Agree - and more space.

gypsy
Offline
Joined: 20-09-09
Oct 23 2011 15:49
Ellar wrote:

I did my talk on UK YOOTH REBELLION which was pretty full (50 people approx) and it went well, only shame was that their wasnt more time for discussion. I met and chatted to some comrades on the AF stall and was also very impressed with Solfeds merchandise. Also spoke to Anarcho about which books provides the best introduction to anarchism.

Didn't know you were doing that talk- would have came along if I had known. I enjoyed the bookfair. I met some old comrades and unlike many people I enjoyed the Christie talk!

gypsy
Offline
Joined: 20-09-09
Oct 23 2011 15:51
mons wrote:
and two beautiful posters - the libcom one

Umm not too sure about that one. smile

Rachel
Offline
Joined: 18-07-09
Oct 23 2011 15:58

Didn't go to any meetings but spent the whole day chatting. I thought it was well organised and was really impressed once again with both the kids spaces.

I bought: Aufheben: a new one and a back issue, a mug, and a copy of the Little Squatter's Handbook.

My husband bought (from the CWO stall on the street outside) 'Platform of the Committee of Intesa 1925'.

Anyone else buy that?

Auto's picture
Auto
Offline
Joined: 12-04-09
Oct 23 2011 16:01

I agree with others about the space, a walk-and-talk meetup with an old college friend from London turned into a slightly comical shuffle-stop-shuffle. Apart from that though, I thought it was Ace.

I went to the Workplace Organiser talk (and ended up contributing to part of it - that's what I get for volunteering to be one half of the National Training Commission...). I thought it went really well; lots of different people there and it was nice hearing from some really positive things from people in attendance who had taken the training.

I mainly hung around the general area of the SolFed stall when not at the meetings or catching up with old friends. It was great to meet so many new SF people (and discover that I'm fairly notorious as 'that-games-industry-guy'). Couldn't resist picking up a Durruti T-Shirt - I'm a walking Anarcho-Syndicalist cliché, I know.

For me it was a very good event when it came to industrial networking; met a french guy who works in game development and used to be in the CNT-F, met a freelance software developer through a friend, met some great people from Leeds AFed who know some guys studying game development and wanted to have a contact. There's currently an attempt within SF to start a Tech & Digital Network, so these sort of contacts are like gold-dust...

The last meeting I attended was the IWA 'Against Austerity' talk. Some thought-provoking stuff, but as has already been said translation issues and a tight schedule kind of limited discussion. Still, it's personally my first encounter with members from the international sections and it was very nice to meet them.

After that came mingling in the pub, a lot of interesting discussions until finally home-time on the tube. I got the same feeling from this Bookfair as I did from the last one in Bristol - that of a movement that's moving forward, forging links and starting to grow. I look forward to the next one... provided they get a bigger venue!

wojtek
Offline
Joined: 8-01-11
Oct 24 2011 19:14

It was my first bookfair and I really enjoyed it, well the little of it I attended anyway (I ran from Hoxton and only just made the Solfed talk on anarcho-syndicalism across Europe). There were loads of punks floating around, which was a first (experience) for me - and a good one at that.

Quote:
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
I thought the NLSF-organised Fighting Austerity in Europe meeting was good, especially the contributions from the Italian and Portuguese comrades. The translation and time issues made it a little bit forced and slow at times, and by 6pm, the collective thirst for pub was practically tangible. Still, I think there are lessons that can be applied there, especially WRT to their attitudes towards the Occupy phenomenon. I hope their insights will inform SF's discussions.

Yeah, the Portugese speaker was very informative. Apparently Stalinists are dicks regardless of nationality. I remember the story that he told being particularly harrowing; the one about the families who, having had their electricity cut off, resorted to using fires and their homes burnt down as a result with them trapped inside. Also, I was gutted that the Polish speaker wasn't there, where was he/ she? I would love to know more about the situation over there!

I then went to the stalls and besides freebies, I got myself a documentary on the Angry Brigade and Claire "I'M IN CHARGE" Soloman's book on the student movement. I thought the idea of an animal liberation (stall) was funny. In the evening, I convinced my mate to come along to Les Judas's gig in Dalston, which was surprisingly amazing btw. So yeah, I'm definitely going next year and hopefully I'll go to more talks/ meet more people lol!

Harrison
Offline
Joined: 16-11-10
Oct 23 2011 16:22
Mons wrote:
Stresses the need to me for a specifically libertarian communist equivalent event.

Yes please. Although i am glad to hear that it was more class oriented this year.

Anyway last year when i went i was still dressing all in black and ultra situ embarrassed

Arbeiten's picture
Arbeiten
Offline
Joined: 28-01-11
Oct 23 2011 16:36
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Oh, totes forgot to mention: this year's Bookfair highlight was rumbling Arbeiten! ;)

Yeah Bookfair was my coming out party! Not sure about all this 'Arbeiten is a closet goth' business though. angry

I'm not sure about a specifically more libertarian communist bookfair. Seems a bit separatist. We need to convince the milieu that our analysis is the best, as some posters have already said, it seems to be taking this direction more and more. Especially in the current social/political climate.

It seems to me that John Zerzan books are going to loose their appeal when your unemployed, you dole money is shite and workfare is forcing you to work free for Tesco's.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Oct 23 2011 20:18
Arbeiten wrote:
Steven. if that is your idea of not being smelly, I don't want to be involved in your revolution.

I said it didn't smell quite as bad as usual - it still smelled terrible!

Harrison, were you there? I didn't see you!

door stop's picture
door stop
Offline
Joined: 31-05-11
Oct 23 2011 20:24

i am in love

Picket's picture
Picket
Offline
Joined: 20-12-10
Oct 23 2011 20:32

So, any pictures/videos/scratch'n'sniff for those of us who couldn't make it?

From Wednesday to Sunday next week the Edinburgh Independent & Radical Book Fair is on, there's one or two interesting things but no proper anarchy.

snipfool
Offline
Joined: 9-06-11
Oct 23 2011 20:41

Was hoping to come down for it, but was simply unable to get out of bed in time. Next year...