This post was first published on The Stirrer blog. It wasn’t one I wanted to write, given everything else that’s going on. However, the double standards of elements within the movement exhorting us to ‘be kind’ while vilifying and attacking those who have the temerity to diverge from the prevailing orthodoxy, cannot be allowed to pass. This is a view from the UK but I’m pretty certain similar scenarios have occurred elsewhere.
The Anarchist Bookfair in London took place on Saturday 17.9. It came at the end of a week of activity put on by Antiuniversity Now. We’ve heard a few reports on how the event went from people we know and have read a fair bit more about it on various social media platforms. Having not had a stall since the ill fated London Anarchist Bookfair back in 2017, we’re probably a bit behind the curve in what’s considered to be good practice in putting on a large scale bookfair, particularly when it has to be split across a number of venues. Obviously, after any bookfair, there’s a period of assessing what worked, what didn’t work and then working out what can be improved to make the event better for attendees.
A fair number of people we follow on social media have laid into the Anarchist Bookfair in London because of the steps they took to include people who are neurodivergent. This is a term that some people find contentious because it can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Rather than get involved in the semantics, let alone the science, if we’re honest, we think steps that make people feel they can attend an event they would otherwise have avoided are to be welcomed.
If anarchism is about caring for and looking out for each other, then making people with varying degrees of neurodivergence feel welcome shouldn’t be something to criticise. Having been to bookfairs in the past where the stalls have been packed together too closely, the aisles between the stalls have been narrower than they should be, leading to overcrowding, it can get pretty overwhelming – and that’s from us who haven’t had a diagnosis of neurodivergence. So if measures are taken to reduce that kind of overcrowding and make people feel comfortable, then they are to be applauded.
“Be kind” has got a lot of stick from certain quarters. To be honest, we don’t have a problem with people treating each other decently and where needed, agreeing to disagree. What sticks in our craw is when those telling us to “be kind” are prepared to viciously denigrate and attack anyone who shows the merest sign of deviation from what feels like the prescribed orthodoxy.
As mentioned earlier, the last time we had a stall at an anarchist bookfair was back in 2017. That bookfair was notorious for the tensions between the organisers who wanted to give gender critical women a voice and the trans rights activists who resorted to blatant intimidation to silence that voice and also, chose to intimidate the organisers. Basically, the “be kind” brigade behaved like utter shits that day. Because of their behaviour, we ended up having to swiftly pack up our stall and leave two hours before the event was due to end because we didn’t feel safe.
Understandably, the organisers of the 2017 London Anarchist Bookfair decided it wasn’t worth the grief of putting on another bookfair and stood down. After that there was a bit of a hiatus, a couple of dispersed events, then there was the disruption caused by the Covid lockdowns and restrictions which put a lot of people off organising events. It was only last year and this year that a bookfair in London has re-emerged with Anarchist Bookfair in London teaming up with Antiuniversity Now. It’s pretty well known that many of those behind both of these events have close associations with the trans activists who did their level best to finish off the London Anarchist Bookfair in 2017. Having one of our comrades confronted by a baying mob of trans activists as he was trying to protect one of the organisers they were having a go at was not a good experience and set us on the road to changing our relationship with the ‘movement’. So, when the organisers of the Anarchist Bookfair in London exhort us to “be kind”, we see it as the kind of double standards that stick right in our craw.
Then there’s the Covid ‘policy’. A common sense guideline is that if you feel you’ve caught a bug, stay at home, look after yourself and definitely do not turn up to a bookfair and infect a load of other people. You’d have to be pretty selfish and unthinking to ignore that kind of common sense advice. However, there’s a world of difference between applying a bit of common sense and the ‘advice’ given out above by the bookfair organisers.
With more news about vaccine injuries coming out, people are understandably becoming more reluctant to get the booster jabs that are currently being offered to us. Choosing whether or not to get a vaccine is ultimately a personal decision. Anyone pushing getting a vaccine as a condition of attending an event really needs to give their heads a wobble. Masking is again a personal decision. We’re not criticising anyone who wants to wear a mask, however, when the size of a microbe is way smaller that the holes between the weave in most masks, there are questions that need to be asked about their effectiveness.
As for the event not being open to any ‘misinformation’, well, that seems to be pretty open ended to say the least. We’ve been called ‘conspiracy theorists’ just for pointing out how the Covid crisis was leveraged to accelerate the implementation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution a.k.a. the great reset. When prediction after prediction starts to become reality, the badge of being a ‘conspiracy theorist’ changes to one of ‘that f**ker who was right all along’! We also pointed out the adverse consequences for mental health of the lockdowns that we were subjected to and a fair few members of the “be kind” brigade dismissed our concerns out of hand.
Look, we didn’t want to be writing this post, particularly with all of the other shite that’s going on. However, when we see double standards and blatant hypocrisy in play, we really have no option but to call it out. Writing this will most likely result in us getting blocked and blanked. So be it, that’s a small price to pay for sticking to our guns. As always, we’re open to comradely debate on the points we’ve made in this piece. Abuse will simply be ignored. Any threats will be noted and dealt with…