2016 Anarchist Bookfair Meetings
Below are the meetings that have been finalised so far for this year's bookfair. Nearer the time of the bookfair we will add other meetings and the schedule for the day.
Technology and the Future of Work
What role does technology play in our ideas about a better world? How could it affect the nature of work in the coming decades? With mass automation looming, is anti-work politics the best solution? This discussion will examine these and other questions around technology and communism, attempting to think through what a future society could look like.
The discussion will be started off by Nick Srnicek (author, with Alex Williams, of 'Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work' (2015)) and Gabriel Levy (who blogs at Peoplenature.org).
Syrians in Revolution and War
In 2011, many Syrians took to the streets of Damascus to demand the overthrow of the government of Bashar al-Assad. Today, much of Syria has become a war zone, under attack by the regime, foreign states and militant jihadi groups. Leila and Robin will discuss the current situation in Syria with a focus on grass-roots resistance to all forms of authoritarianism.
Robin Yassin-Kassab is a regular media commentator on Syria and the Middle East and the author of 'The Road from Damascus', contributor to 'Syria Speaks' (Saqi, 2014) and co-author of 'Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War'.
Leila Al Shami has worked with the human rights movement in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. She was a co-founder of Tahrir-ICN, a network aiming to connect anti-authoritarian struggles in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. She is a contributor to 'Khiyana: Daesh, the Left and the Unmaking of the Syrian Revolution' and co-author of 'Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War'.
The Politics of Birth
Like any human act birth and all that goes before and after it, exists only in the social context it takes place in. In this much contested sphere of reproductive labour, birth can be the eye of the storm. We will explore: * The medicalisation of birth and the politics of control of the female body; * Social reproduction and the labour of birth; an act of love or reproducing labour-power?; * Feminism, reproductive justice and what it really means to have ‘choice’; * The movement of women reclaiming knowledge and collective control over our bodies.
Prints in Resistance
The role of graphics in popular struggles of Mexico and Latin America, past and present.
An overview on the history of printmaking and murals in the Mexican revolution and the Zapatista uprising, followed by a lowdown on current graphic projects and autonomous print workshops involved in Mexican struggles,such as land resistance against multi-nationals in Oaxaca, Jalisco and Chiapas. Including an exhibition of original prints from current resistances around Latin America, including Colombia and Chile. Casiopex is a print maker and anarchist from the state of Mexico who, among other projects, is involved in community land struggles in Jalisco and a social centre in Guadalajara.
Rojava. It's complicated...
Two anarchists who have recently returned from several months living and working in Rojava will report on the realities of the situation there. Looking at topics such as gender, religion, economics, healthcare, and defence they will describe people's daily struggles, the organisational structures, the politics behind them, and the relationships between all of those things. The talk will consider how deep the changes really go, what they might mean for anarchists in terms of our support, and what lessons there might be for movements here. After the talk there will be a facilitated question and answer session.
The political climate in Turkey
The PKK transformed from an armed movement to a social one following a long guerilla war. It started negotiating with the Turkish state. It took this movement to the grassroots: building radical local groups; winning local election; forming Libertarian Municipalities through direct democracy. This was a threat to the state. Erdogan (Turkish president) wouldn't accept the June 2015 election results, even though the HDP (People Democratic Party) exceeded the election threshold with 81 seats. Erdogan began to terrorise the Kurds, cancelled the ceasefire, and resumed the war with not only the PKK, but all Kurds, killing and arrested many activists. The war against the Kurds is real. Will the PKK go back to the 80/90's? Will the grassroots follow the PKK into arm struggle or engage in self-organising?
Speaker: Mehmet Aksoy (http://kurdishquestion.com/)
The “movement” in France
The other comrade’s grass is always greener. At least that’s the impression given by accounts of the protests against the new Labour Law in France. We want to debunk some of the myths, criticise the misuse of decent honest words like “strike” (and even “insurrection”), and present a more sober and realistic view of what’s been happening.
Organised by: Mouvement Communiste (www.mouvement-communiste.com)
Anarchist solidarity and anti-war initiatives in the nineties
A recollection from Croatia
There is no objective history. There are only different interpretations of what has happened and a very clear idea that the “ordinary”, “little” people are the victims of all systems, whether these systems are founded on this or that ideology, nationalism, religion… The wars that took place during the nineties in Europe produced only victims. Victims were caused by the media propaganda, nationalism, the states and their leaders, local thugs, different obeyers, the ones who “carried out the orders”… In a situation like that, of mass war psychosis, there were still pockets of resistance to the conflict, to nationalism, against hate and the war itself, although it was all around us and became the integral part of our lives. It became the new normality. This talk will look at anarchist solidarity, different anti-war initiatives and their influence during the nineties.
Organised by: Antipolitika
Antipolitika is a new anarchist bilingual journal (with issues in English and Serbo-Croat) initiated by comrades from Belgrade and Zagreb, but with an idea to involve more people from the Balkans and other places. We came to the conclusion that in the northern Balkans the anarchist/anti-authoritarian perspectives are not very developed and differentiated from the leftist ones. This is an attempt to develop an anarchist/anti-authoritarian perspective, as a reflection of our practice, and in that way to help develop the movement in Balkans. Antipolitika will have topical issues with contributions from individuals and groups from the Balkans and beyond. We will present the English language version of our first issue. The theme of the first issue is anti-militarism.
What have the anarchists ever done for us?
All the answers to all the questions you have ever had about the world-wide anarchist movement over the past 150 years. Who are the anarchists anyway, and what do they want? How did Marlon Brando get things so badly wrong? Why do Greek anarchists love sausage? How did the long-running anarchist controversy over facial hair finally get resolved? Where in the world do Edelweiss Pirates come from? All this and more, including the all important: What have the anarchists ever done for us?
Organised by: Kevin Eady
Working Class Anger in West London
AngryWorkers give an update about their workers inquiry from the warehouses and factories in west London. We will share our experiences of proletarian existence in all it's most modern, 'hidden', and exploitative forms. We will be talking about: work regimes; housing; gender divisions; migration; our practical efforts (solidarity meetings and newspaper), as well as how we can collaborate with others.
Organised by: AngryWorkers (www.angryworkersworld.wordpress.com)
Liberatory Technology in Practice
Reflection on creating technology community among refugees in Greece
During summer 2016 I was involved in self-organisation of a technical support group among the residents of three refugee housing squats in Athens. My activity there was a part of my research on practical aspects of liberatory technology, implemented and developed on the ground level. The communities in question had certain anarchist aspects while keeping strong traditional, even tribal character. Trying to develop the liberatory technology culture in such environment brought me head-to-head with essential dialectical problems: meritocracy vs. equal participation; tribal vs. anarchist mentality; internal vs. external social environment – efficiency vs. effectivity.
Speaker: Petros Polonos (https://freelab.libtech.website)
Why bother with rules when non-dominating processes support anarchist organising? We think that rules can help anarchists, to decide why some processes are better than others, to be clear about the way we want to live and how we want to interact with others. We'll be discussing: (i) what principles anarchists do/should advocate; (ii) how, if at all, these principles support the generation of rules; (iii) how, if at all, the idea of anarchy helps give content to rules (what's distinctive about the rules anarchists make?); (iv) what rules anarchists can agree to, to help resolve disputes.
Organised by: Anarchist Studies (https://www.lwbooks.co.uk/anarchist-studies). Speakers: Ruth Kinna, Alex Prichard & Thomas Swann
Anthropology, Ecology and Anarchism: with Brian Morris
Anthropology and ecology are largely untapped veins whose relevance for anarchism and other traditions of social thought have only recently begun to be explored and debated. Brian Morris will explore past connections and suggest ways that broad currents of anarchist thought will have new and ever-emerging relevance for anthropology and many other ways of understanding social relationships.
Organised by: PM Press (www.pmpress.org)
Art and Anarchism
Ad busting, cultural subversion, avant-garde experimentation, DIY ethics and a wealth of movement propaganda – posters, stickers, zines - all point to the central role that visual and performance art occupies in anarchism... but how flexible is the relationship of art to anarchist and what are its limits? Is art an essential part of anarchist practice or a utopian aspiration linked to social transformations? How is art expressed: Does it have a practical purpose, or is function precisely the thing that that anarchist art denies? Are we/can we all be artists or does art exist in a sphere beyond the everyday? Can cultural workers inspire social transformations by their activism and/or refusals and what can workers in other spheres learn from their struggles and experiences? This meeting invites discussion of these themes (and more) with Leah Borromeo, Rebecca Binns, Russell Bestley, and Stevphen Shukaitis.
Organised by: Minor Compositions (http://www.minorcompositions.info)
New Frontlines Against Prisons
Situating prisons at the base of gender, race, and class, this workshop explores recent anti-prison struggles in England, Wales and Scotland. Introducing the UK Government’s new project for US-influenced mass incarceration with nine new mega prisons on the horizon and large workshops to exploit prison labour. Learn about the growing resistance to prisons as a frontline of anti-state struggle.
Organised by: Empty Cages Collective (www.prisonabolition.org)
Lessons from 4 decades of radical anti-authoritarian community action in Haringey
A look at local campaigns and organisations from the late '70s onwards fighting back against capitalism and the State and trying to create a better world. Including strike support, unwaged struggles, anti-poll tax movement, women's struggles, anti-racist action, anti-police campaigns, community/neighbourhood self-organisation, lesbian and gay liberation, libertarian and anarchist activity, housing action groups and campaigns, resistance to property developers, defence of public and community services and facilities, radical community centres and projects... and more. We will also note where local groups and campaigns have linked or federated with similar ones around London and the UK. Followed by general discussion.
Organised by Haringey Solidarity Group (http://www.haringey.org.uk/ ) and the Radical History Network of NE London (http://radicalhistorynetwork.blogspot.co.uk/)
Fighting for Free Public Transport with The Traffic Power Structure
Planka.nu was founded in 2001 by a Swedish based activist network to fight for free public transport. Thanks to creative direct action, witty public interventions, and thought-provoking statements, the network has become a leading voice in Scandinavian debates on traffic
Organised by: PM Press and Planka.nu (http://planka.nu/)
Insurrection! But what about production?
Thoughts on a 6-month revolutionary transition in the UK and beyond.
The 2010/11 struggles have demonstrated the limitations of the 'era of riots' and the dead-end of an ideology of insurrection. At the same time the classical idea of revolution as 'general strike' seems similarly outdated. On the basis of an analysis of the essential industries and working class structure in the UK we hope to provoke a discussion about proletarian violence, the take-over of the means of production and transformation of the 'domestic sphere' (housework).
Organised by: AngryWorkers (www.workerswildwest.wordpress.com)
Red Rosa: a graphic look at Dr Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg was an economist, lecturer, journalist, poet, painter and uncompromising revolutionary socialist. In a talk illustrated with excepts from the best-selling graphic biography (Verso 2015), cartoonist Kate Evans gives a flavour of Dr Luxemburg’s life and work and explores the contemporary relevance of her legacy. Some gratuitous nudity. Only in cartoon form.
Organised by Kate Evans (www.cartoonkate.co.uk)
The Bonnot Gang
Over a six month period from December 1911 to May 1912, 35 year old mechanic and thief, Jules Bonnot, and his young anarchist associates in crime, caused panic across France with their audacious robberies, and the shooting of 2 police officers. Four were killed in shoot-outs with the police and 3 executed by guillotine, while several others were sent to Devil’s Island (from where they later escaped). Richard Parry will talk about this notorious gang of French and Belgian anarchists to coincide with the launch of the second edition of his book by PM Press.
Talk by Richard Parry (see PM Press for book details: http://www.pmpress.org)
What is Anarchism? + Wildcat Anarchist Comics with Donald Rooum
Wildcat Anarchist Comics collects the drawings of Donald Rooum, mostly (but by no means entirely) from the long-running “Wildcat” cartoon series that has been published in Freedom newspaper since 1980. Donald will be presenting new editions of What is Anarchism? and Wildcat Anarchist Comics.
Organised by: PM Press (www.pmpress.org)
Milan Rai on Anarchism
What’s the best way to introduce anarchist ideas and experiences to a younger generation of activists? A quick canter through history, a personal survey, and some pointed discussion with the author of Chomsky’s Politics (Verso, 1995). Useful if you’re just getting into all this; maybe provocatively interesting if you’re an old hand. Milan Rai, editor of ‘Peace News - for nonviolent revolution’, is compiling an anthology on anarchism for Verso.
Organised by: Peace News (www.peacenews.info)
Noam Chomsky’s principled opposition to the crimes of US foreign policy has made him the world’s most famous left-wing intellectual. This, combined with his work as the founder of modern linguistics, led the New York Times to call him ‘arguably the most important intellectual alive today.’
Ranging from the radical art movements of the Russian Revolution to the influence of military funding on modern science, this talk is an attempt to clarify why Chomsky has been such a powerful influence on modern thought and, in particular, on how we understand the connection between political activism and science.
Organised by: Chris Knight (www.scienceandrevolution.org) and Radical Anthropology Group (radicalanthropologygroup.org)
The Hammer Blow: How 10 Women Disarmed a Warplane
On 29 January 1996, a small group of women broke into a British Aerospace factory in Warton and disarmed a Hawk warplane bound for use in Indonesia's then-ongoing genocide in East Timor. Charged with committing over £2m of damage, they spent six months on remand before being acquitted of all charges by a jury. On 29 January 2016 Peace published The Hammer Blow Andrea Needham's gripping inside account of this seminal direct action that has inspired countless activists across the globe. Come and hear her talk about this action and its lessons for today.
Organised by: Peace News (www.peacenews.info)
Radical politics may not be what you think. This gentle workshop offers space to experience the connections between anarchism and spiritual practices which emphasise living in the present moment. Offered by anarchist scholar and gentle yoga teacher, Vishwam Jamie Heckert, the session will include a little talk on politics and spirituality, a short meditation and space to share our experiences. The meeting is open to all who come with an open mind.
Organised by: Vishwam Jamie Heckert
The Substance of Capital
The Substance of Capital by Robert Kurz is a book compiled from a series of German magazine articles translated into English. Kurz, who died in 2012, was an important figure in Marxist Value Theory (Wertkritik) and in this work he examined the central nature of work to Capitalist society. He also critiques the positions of other key figures in Value Theory including Moishe Postone and Michael Heinrich. Kurz’s belief that Capitalism was reaching its limits makes the book relevant in today’s situation of economic stagnation and ecological collapse with the accompanying calls by reformists for the state to fix it.
After Brexit, Populism, Corbynism, etc.
Political crisis in the capitalist class, way forward for the working class? The global capitalist system has reached an economic impasse. This is reflected in a sense of political uncertainty in ruling class political circles everywhere. Where does this leave the working class and how do we respond to the overlapping crises?
Organised by: Communist Workers Organisation (leftcom.org)