Saturday, 11 November 2017

London Bookfair ‘Won’t Happen In 2018’!!!


        To all those who are familiar with the London Anarchist Bookfair will be aware that this year it was different, and seemed to descend into chaos and bitterness, not anarchist objectives. Stories vary of what and when, this and that happened, but what is clear is a lot of it shouldn't have happened in an anarchist environment.

       The London Anarchist Bookfair has run for 34 years, however after this year's outcome, the collective that organises the Bookfair have decided not to do so again. This is sad to say the least, for years it was a wonderful focal point for anarchist ideas, comradeship, renewing contacts and making new ones. We need more of these events, not less. Let's hope that dialogue and anarchist principles will sort this problem out and we will see an even greater Anarchist Bookfair arise from this unfortunate episode, perhaps another city might take up the baton or London will see the re-birth of a greater event.
     This is a short extract form a statement by the collective:
--------We have been accused of “protecting a fascist” and of being transphobic ourselves. All of us in the collective have physically confronted fascists on the streets, at meetings and in print, and we are baffled and upset by these accusations. Accusing a person of being a fascist because you don’t like their views is dishonest and dangerous. We are not going to apologise for protecting someone being mobbed by a group of up to about 30 people, and, along with others, preventing an ugly situation from deteriorating further.
Obviously a lot of people are going to disagree with this, but anyone who seriously thinks that up to about 30 people shouting and threatening one woman, and in the process intimidating disabled comrades and children, was a “beautiful moment of direct action” should consider taking a look at themselves and their politics.
Finally to those who decided to smash and set off the fire alarm, and to anyone who thought it was clever – have you thought about the effect it had on the creche and older kids space, the numerous meetings taking place at the time, or relations with the venue? A number of children having to be led out of the older kids space were crying and talking about Grenfell. They thought it was a real fire and were really scared. This action definitely didn’t make it a safe space for them.
The end
We are unsure how this debate within our movement (and beyond) will work itself out, as there is a wide range of strongly held views. What we are sure of is that next year there are people who would want us to ban those sharing the views of the leafleteers or those who stickered the loos, others who would want us to ban people who were in the group of up to about 30 or those who set off the fire alarm. We are not prepared to ban any of these people, and, while people think the way to resolve their differences is to disrupt and shut down meetings, like the Syria meeting last year, or the whole Bookfair this year, by shouting at and fighting each other, we haven’t the appetite or the energy to organise next year’s Bookfair.
More positively and perhaps unsurprisingly we have had contacts from a range of people who do see the need for debate and discussion on the issues and the events. We don’t think our collective is the right facilitator but are prepared to work with anyone who, like us, would like to look at ways we work these (strongly felt) disagreements within our movement out face to face. If we don’t, the only winners will be capitalism and the state.
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