This post just goes to show…even if I give myself a month of leisure for doing this I can still somehow do it later than I said I would…
Introduction – The Invention of this Little thing Called “Notes”
The trip to the NYC (A) Book fair for 2013 happened more than two months and I made sure to take a fairly copious amount of short-handed notes in the form of problems that arose, topics that were discussed and so on. As we go on in this story hopefully it becomes much more coherent than my previous attempt.
To explain why ALL-oNe was tabling it was because Darian and company (AKA NJ-ALL) couldn’t make it this year, or at least not long enough to effectively table. So Darian paid for the table and ALL-oNe de facto took over for him since we planned on attending anyways.
Something to note before I get started is that, financially speaking ALL-oNe was successful (or at least in my opinion we were) because I had my major travel costs completely subsidized through pamphlet and book sales alone. We also made some new friends and got some more recognition in the general NYC scene. I made a few contacts myself that I followed up on and for the most part got returning contact from.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the trip wasn’t bumpy at parts, if you followed the link above you can see right near the top that the book fair had some…difficulties to put it lightly this year. From the organization of the event itself, to inner disputes in the NYC scene, to exterior disruption (both from cops and…well we’ll get to that) and more.
This trip was full of interesting topics, new revelations and perspectives, reaffirming a few beliefs here and there (confirmation bias is a very sweet thing indeed) but before we get into the book fair I want to discuss the tirp to New York and the Bradley Manning event that Jack and I went to before the book fair.
The trip to NY
Jack and I left Massachusetts around 12 PM and before you know it we were talking about all sorts of things. Jack had been reading about WWII and more specifically about the general George Patton and his relation to the war. We also discussed meanings of capitalism and who coined the term “anarcho-capitalism” (turns out it wasn’t Rothbard according to Jack).
We also discussed how we saw fire departments in relation to police departments with the former being much preferable overall due to their reaction chain (i.e. fire departments respond to actual and obvious threats mostly while cops have a nasty habit of creating them or being a byproduct of them).
Scott Crow was also a periodically mentioned in our conversation and that was mostly a discussion of me being excited to meet him, see him talk on mutual aid and that I was finishing his awesome book.
Another person I was excited to talk about was Cody Wilson and mention my ideas on his rhetoric (which I’ve still yet to collect in essay form as I meant to…) and what I thought was so captivating about it and why that was important.
Along the way to NYC we stopped off at Connecticut to meet up with the gracious host who allowed us to stay at his house. His name was John and he seemed to me a very typical good-natured guy with some notions of what Jack calls “gut-libertarianism” while also having some sort of odd sense of spirituality that him and Jack discussed a few times. Either way he was a very kind host and I at once felt pretty welcomed and at ease in his place.
After munching on a few things and having a few conversations and meeting John’s housemate Jack and I took off via the train to make the Bradley Manning event.
Bradley Manning Event With Birgitta Jonsdottir
This was on the Friday before the anarchist book fair, April, 5th and I was unsure what to expect. I knew it’d probably have an anarchist or two but I also knew there’d be many of the “more consistent mainstream leftist” types there. The ones that see at least some of the shit that Obama is doing and saying, “Oh wait a second…that’s the same as Bush!”.
Now, sure that’s no anarchism, but compared to the typical mainstream leftist? That’s gold.
At any rate, Jack and I walked into the event (it was located at the Judson Memorial Church, where many of the last book fairs have happened) and noticed a few booths. One for, of course Bradley Manning and the other had a big anarchist symbol on it and read, “Free Hammond!”, but we’ll get to that later.
The table near the entrance and near the audience was covered with the Wikileaks release of “Collateral Murder” which Birgetta originally helped release. The seats near the screen were near-capacity and if I’m remembering correctly the event was ready to start in a few minutes or so by the time we walked in. So after briefly taking in what was there Jack and I sat down somewhere near the front.
Before the panel started a few documentaries were played. One was called Providence and was only five minutes and another was focused on Iceland and the movement for more transparency in government. I didn’t take any notes on it so I can’t say much past that.
The panel itself started after a little bit more of setup and we were quickly introduced to the panelists:
(From right to left)
The speakers were introduced, with Birgitta being the “big star” there, as it were, coming all the way from Iceland to visit the US. Birgitta mostly focused on her collaboration with activist circles in helping Bradley and what we can do here and now to help Bradley in an active sense. Alexa and Peter were more interested in the legalistic side of Bradley’s case with Kevin being mainly interested in the media aspect. Sam Seder was the moderator.
The discussion first hung around the topic of alternative media and the effects it’s had on the campaign to free Bradley and it’s use more generally. Of course the panelists mostly seemed to see this alternative media as a transitional thing that phases out Fox News, MSNBC and so on and thus makes government “more accountable”. They’re not necessarily so interested in building alternative structures for more radical purposes (i.e. replacing state-controlled media in total) but at least they recognized the media’s general corruptness (even the more “liberal” ones).
A point was raised about the Fort Meade march that recently happened by Birgetta which raised the more general topic of understanding the technical points of the case (which was Alexa’s and Peter’s main points) and actually feeling empowered enough to do something for Bradley. Alexa seemed to take the (rather blunt, honestly, but well deserved nonetheless) criticism from Birgetta. Kudos to Birgetta at any rate for bringing up the distinction from being legally informed to informed to the extent that you feel motivated to actually do something.
Now, knowing the legal background can be helpful to some for sure, I don’t doubt that. But sometimes it can often make one feel as if the battle is hopeless or there’s not much that can be done. If you’re fighting all of these huge legalistic jumps and think of all of the machinery involved sometimes it can be more paralyzing than empowering. But if you can turn technical knowledge into more empowering knowledge (which is certainly possible so this dichotomy is by no means a strict one, more of a cautionary one) then that’s fine too.
Further on a question was asked by Seder about whether Bradley Manning represented something much bigger.
The answer for me (and seemingly the rest of the panel) was pretty obvious: Of course.
Manning represents growing government repression against it’s declared enemies, he represents the injustices of the present “justice system” and the many huge faults of the military system and system of command and so much more.
Was Wikileaks simple a media operation or a whistle-blower operation?
This was another question asked, but the answer to me seemed to be both but as I recall the panelists mainly focused on the latter, which is understandable.
How the US press was treating and continued to treat Manning and the general case was examined in particular by Alexa. Who pointed out that in a court hearing she went to about, she was one of the only reporter there and one of the only other ones was asleep in his chair.
A pretty funny quote was given by Kevin (if I’m remembering correctly, though it could’ve been someone else) about the fact that Manning just wanted peace and the Department of State remarking that that was their job. The irony was not lost on the audience and many audible laughs could be heard afterwards.
One specific point that was made by Alexa which was…unnerving is that Manning will almost certainly be found guilty of something (or it might’ve been that because he had already plead guilty to some charges…) and therefore the main task of the campaign was to now minimize the damage to Manning in legal and of course prison/punishment terms.
Towards the end of the panel some final words from Birgetta was a plan to do a bunch of guerrilla marketing for Manning via the internet and in real life any way that people could. While Alexa and Peter focused on educating others and yourself and sharing their sites and getting active and understanding the law.
After the Panel
There was a cool, “I am Bradley Manning!” photo that I participated in (Jack unfortunately had to duck out for a second while it was about to happen) and Jack got to get a picture with Birgetta.
I ended up talking to the guy at the “Free Hammond!” table and he seemed like a nice guy. He said he’d be at the bookfair after explaining the Hammond case to Jack and I. We’ll see him in a bit on the first day of the bookfair and talk more about him then.
I took some more pictures and Jack and I headed back, tired but excited for the following days. On the train ride back Jack and I both wearily involved ourselves in some pamphlets we got from the “Free Hammond!” table. I also happily managed to finish Black Flags and Windmills, making me feel much better about being present at Scott Crow’s upcoming talk.
Upon returning to our host in Connecticut’s house I finally got some internet in and caught up with some of the goings on that I had missed out on.
I soon fell asleep and prepared myself for the first day of the book fair.
Day 1 of 2 of the Book fair
After a not so restful sleep (though to be fair, that’s probably the norm for these sorts of things for most of the people there) Jack and I boarded the train from Connecticut back to New York again and ended up getting to the bookfair on time…
But as you can see above something was amiss…the door to the book fair was locked. To be clear, the front door to the cultural center itself was fine (it was locked but there were people inside already who let us in) but this door was bolted shut. Apparently it wasn’t the cultural center like I originally thought but some Facebook group that took issue with the event.
So the book fair was off to an…interesting start, to say the least.
Meanwhile Jack and I got reacquainted with Aragorn! who Jack and I had met at the previous bookfair (look towards the end where I mention someone who reminded me of someone straight out of Lord of the Rings). We had an short chat about C4SS, left-libertarianism and his feelings of tentative solidarity with individuals like Kevin Carson but due to the fuzziness of the borders (I think he thought we were too close to an-caps…) he just couldn’t bring himself to ally with ALL and the like.
I told him that was understandable and we also discussed AltExpo and where we all got our news (I half-ashamedly admitted I mostly got it from my newsfeed on Facebook) and also discussed the weather in the west coast (Aragorn! is from California) versus the east.
After a bit more doddling and assisting other vendors get their stuff through the front door of the cultural center the door was finally unlocked around eleven AM which was an hour later than what it was supposed to be so things got delayed a little. When finding our place in the room the lead guy Chuck asked us if we were the “capitalists” and I just nonchalantly said yes, I wasn’t interested in debating capitalism at the moment and I think he was half-joking anyways.
Jack and I set up the table bit by bit waiting for the Marxist group that was next to us (a “Humanist Marxist” group I guess…) but they ended up being next to some other people. So we eventually started expanding out our pamphlets on the table.
After figuring out my own style of setting up (I set up the format the first day with a bit of advice from Jack here and there with the reverse happening the second day) I quickly headed off to Scott Crow’s talk…finding it was rather empty. Unfortunately due to the late start of the book fair and not having most people know where talks were yet Scott’s talk only ended up getting under ten people but it still turned out to be a great talk.
Scott Crow’s Talk
Unfortunately due to me losing the program for the book fair and the website for the book fair not displaying the official titles of the talk (if there were any) I can’t give you much more than a general title like the one above.
Scott’s presentation was pretty fun to watch. It was a powerpoint presentation with various sections that he pretty much zoomed through (due to time constraints in starting a little late so more people could come in and wanting to field questions) but still managed to deliver in a pretty satisfying way.
Scott started off with his basic position that liberation involved all of us or it involved none of us. And told personal stories of empowerment to guide us through why he thought that. From his early days in activism to meeting some of the important people who he knows today and who he learned a lot from. Scott heavily emphasized the need of collective liberation.
He then got into how the Common Ground Collective formed and what his experiences were like at the time and moving forward. How he felt like Don Quixote with the windmills in his endeavors yet he keeps going on anyways.
Within the context of tactics Scott said stuff like smashing windows shouldn’t be treated like a fix but more as a symbol and I think that’s a somewhat understandable argument. I’ve said some things on that as well in this post while discussing the Black Bloc.
In talking about Katrina and his story there Scott explained the timeline of events. Looking for his friend in New Orleans Scott eventually left after a few days due to a lack of preparedness and supplies but came back soon after. The government response was slow and hard to get a grasp on and pretty irregular and there were white vigilantes, double standards for cops in terms of how the laws applied (there’s something new…) and many more threats from the get go
Moving away from that topic Scott brought up something that he said the ELZN which he called, “leading by question” which I found pretty useful and helpful. The basic idea being to organize and lead associations via questioning and collaborative efforts rather than top-down commands.
Scott talked about what Common Ground provided which was a mixture of medical and sometimes legal aid, mutual aid, armed defense and more. Common Ground also got more than three million dollars in donations in just three years. Keep in mind it was still a fledgling radical organization throughout most of that.
However Scott was quick to point out CG’s problems such as the issues of subtle sexism that took place that sometimes took a backseat to be addressed because of other pressing needs. And there were many others than that such as basic organizational issues as well as how external organizations were sometimes dealt with.
But after discussing this Scott wanted to talk about what was next and some basic principles to keep the movement going:
Dream the future – know your history – organize your people – fight to win
Articulate your dream
Make long-term strategies
Don’t just react
Dual power – Think beyond activism
Connect our struggles and reflect on them
Think of the movement as a movement of many movements, like many boats
Respect a division of tactics
Don’t be afraid
Shift culture by:
Building the road by walking revolutions every day
Keeping it sustainable
Remembering that not all jobs are valuable
So yeah, lots of aphorism type stuff but you cold tell Scott honestly felt this way and these weren’t just cool slogans and that, if he had the time, he could talk the day away explaining what he meant.
Especially interesting was that last one about not all jobs are valuable. A friend of mine who came in half-way name Joel brought that up and he and I both really liked this one because it’s certainly something that some anarchists take for granted. The idea that because certain roles in an organization exist that they must be filled. But sometimes they’re not necessary given certain circumstances. For example not enough people or enough money or resources for a certain role to justify existing.
A more broad interpretation of this is to reevaluate jobs more generally and realize that just because someone can have a certain job, doesn’t mean it’s a valuable one to hold. The general position of society is that if (for example) the president gives five-thousand more jobs to people in a given economy that president must be doing something good. But that’s not necessarily the case if the jobs themselves aren’t of much use to the people in the economy itself.
Scott only got a few questions from the small crowd that had gathered and afterwards I talked to Joel a little. We discussed some of the points we liked like the point about jobs and(Joel also brought up liking Scott’s ideas on having a code of ethics instead of morality.
I talked to Scott and a friend of his from Philadelphia named Nick who also liked Voltairine de Cleyre! I didn’t manage to get to ask Scott the questions I wanted to but I’d get my chance later. And just finding out that someone else named Nick who was also an anarchist was a big fan of Voltairine was good enough for me.
After Scott’s Talk
Promptly after discussing Voltairine and Scott telling me he’d talk to me a bit later on Joel and I went back to the book fair. We ended up checking out some of the bookstands near ALL-oNE’s both and talking about some of the books that were around. A book on Joe Hill especially caught Joel’s eyes. We also discussed (albeit very briefly) Franklin Rosemont again and I’m fairly sure I once again gloated that I brought him up to Thaddeus in real life before Joel did online.
By this point I checked out the In Our Hearts which was an anarchist collective that I had a friend in. He was helping us get some pamphlets and did an awesome job of doing so. So my many thanks to him. I’d eventually get quite a few great pamphlets from them.
Also around this time Jack and I had pretty much figured out that we could expand the scope of ALL-oNE to the entire table and started planning and arranging accordingly. We were strongly promoting the C4SS trifolds that gave lots of basic info on the center and what it was about and of course some of what the larger left-libertarian project was about. We ended up passing out almost all of them which was around 100!
Joel and I decided before too long though that we were hungry and would go out and get some food…this turned into an adventure rather quickly. Joel and I couldn’t at first find a place we mutually wanted and as it turned out there were some allergy issues but they were eventually resolved and we went to a pizza place a few blocks away (I know, getting pizza in NYC? Blasphemy!).
While at the pizza place I saw a pretty blatant expression of bossism. An employee had made a mistake that seemed rather minor but one of the customers made a huge deal out of. Now I was already kind of mad at the customer (they struck me as pretty self-righteous and entitled…) but what the boss did was even worse. First the boss gave the employee some discipline in the form of somewhat yelling at him and getting angry and then once the customer was sitting and happy (or relatively anyways) the boss did it again. Even though the situation had been fixed, the customer was happy and the employee was doing their best to fix the issue.
I was tempted, on my way out to give my regrets to the employee that he had to deal with that nonsense but didn’t know how to express it or how it’d be taken. So I somewhat morosely walked out with Joel once he was done with his food.
It was around 3:30 PM when we got back and I had already missed some of the safer spaces talk that I was unsure if I wanted to go to so I decided to just call it a missed opportunity. Besides that Jack had been waiting there for a while so if I remember correctly I took over for him for a little bit. Either way I eventually found Scott Crow again once Jack got back and Scott and I had a nice chat.
A Chat with Scott Crow
The discussion lasted around ten or fifteen minutes and the first questions involved my interest in what he thought of mutualist and indiivdualist philosophies of anarchism. Scott gave me the impression that he didn’t really care as much about the philosophies so much as what people do. He told me that it really didn’t matter as long as you were striving towards collective liberation, helping your brothers and sisters in a given community and not just out for yourself, etc. A lot of this made sense to me and I was glad that, in general, Scott seemed to be pretty accommodating to many different forms of anarchism.
Don’t get me wrong though, Scott still seemed to know where to draw the lines, for instance citing pretty basic problems with anarcho-capitalists and outright dismissing things like national-anarchists and so on. So I think Scott’s got his head pretty much on right when it comes to these matters. But I can’t say for sure just from this brief conversation of course, that was just the impression I got.
Surprisingly Scott explained that he didn’t think unions (even ones like the IWW) are really necessary for the workers. I think he prefers worker-run cooperatives and collectives and alternative institutions to forming wildcat unions. And I mean…I can’t really blame him for having things against unions, due to the way that a lot of them have gone. I don’t remember really getting a good reason from him why they weren’t necessary anymore (I think they’d be necessary even in a post-state controlled world, let alone the one we’re in but I digress…) but that was his opinion anyways.
He also brought up his issues with egoists and egoism which he said seems to mainly consist of people in it for themselves and not really interested in collective liberation or many things that make anarchism…anarchism.
On a very general level I’d have to agree. Most egoists (or people who like associating with egoists either as comrades or whatever) seem to just be using the philosophy to be excusing being an asshole to other people. I really can’t see how that’s too related to the project of anarchism. But this isn’t to really discredit egoism per se but just to speak to my personal experiences with those who call themselves egoists (for the most part, there’s been a few okay and even good ones of course) and those who associate themselves with those types of people.
Around the end of the conversation we discussed C4SS vs. the Ron Paul supporter types with Scott telling me he had much more respect for the former than the latter and talked about some of the issues he had with the latter. I was rather happy to hear Scott’s sympathies to C4SS and his general kinship he felt for us at the Center.
Before Scott and I parted ways (at least for the moment, we’d talk again the next day) he gave me his email and encouraged me to stay in touch with him. He told me if I ever tried to write a book and get it published in PM Press that he’d help me out and even put in a good word. I left the conversation with a very positive impression of Scott and the sort of guy he was.
After the Chat
During the next period of tabling (from around 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM or something) I had various conversations with various people. I noted a few topics that came up either enough times to be noted or just seemed like important things.
One of the things that frustrated me was (once more) communicating the message of free market anti-capitalism or just left-libertarianism more broadly as well as mutualism more specifically. At one point I re-read an introduction to mutualism by Kevin Carson just to get a better idea of how to explain it. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to explain these ideas per se’, I just wasn’t sure how to do it for the given audience.
By 5:00 PM we had around $40 and had made a significant amount of that from pamphlets and not necessarily from books at all.
Joel also brought up a point a few times that it’d be better to refer to the Center as a media center rather than a “think tank” helpfully noting that, “think tanks…well tank”. In other words it just doesn’t come off well to say we’re a “think tank”. The language isn’t quite right to begin with and it’s generally not how C4SS really carries itself or describes itself either. I’ll try to keep this little communication tip in mind for the future.
An interesting discussion arose between me and a correspondent who thought the anarchist project was unrealistic. He seemed to agree that the current structure of things was wrong in some ways and problematic but that anarchists needed to seize power to change anything involved in the structure itself. I disagreed and said that not only was such a task impractical (especially for anarchists) but completely contradictory to what our means and goals our. It seems unhelpful to suggest that anarchists, for instance take control of the drone strikes or take control of the larger prison industrial complex and that somehow we can shift these things from the inside.
I not only don’t see how such a move is practical but I don’t see why it’s desirable to act as if something like this doesn’t have it’s moral issues. Even if we could somehow seize the power of the state, why would we? Just to maybe see the future a little better through a bit more blood or a bit more control? I don’t feel comfortable going down that road. I feel as though this is comparable to the one rule Batman has: don’t kill. And if he does sooner or later he’s gonna go down the same road that individuals like the Joker have.
Now, unlike Batman, I’m not a pseudo-psychopath who’s gonna just hang people over buildings mercilessly instead or drop them and break their legs or break their spirit through fear and control (I think you may as well kill them at that point and leaving them alive seems to be the more problematic approach here but this is a nerdy discussion for another time…) but hopefully you see my point.
…Sorry for that very nerdy digression.
I have no interest in claiming or seizing power from a system that I oppose in most cases. Would I use the system to my own advantage in form of life-subsidies (like food stamps or whatever)? Absolutely. Taking the government’s money so I can live without working and further my own personal goals and political goals sounds completely reasonable to me.
And if you’re gonna accuse me of doing this because I’m lazy all I’ve gotta say is you’re damn right.
At any rate a few more conversations were had and I thought I had discovered that Red Emma’s was having volunteers for the summer but it turned out I had misheard what was going on. Either way hopefully those that do volunteer will have their notes online and I can learn more about how places like Red Emma’s works.
I also found out that Wooden Shoe Books actually had a piece of Voltairine de Cleyre’s home in Philadelphia that was recovered when it was torn down. They were also selling, The Gates of Freedom: Voltairine de Cleyre and the Revolution of the Mind which was awesome to see too. Maybe the Nick from Philadelphia had to do with this? I later asked him but he said it wasn’t him. So I never really found out who put that on their list but I was happy all the same.
The place was winding down and I decided to walk Joel outside and say our goodbyes. As it turned out we wouldn’t see each other the next day. I had walked out earlier because I thought I had heard about Nazis in the front but didn’t see any people in the street saluting Hitler or whatever so I went back. Going out a bit further I noticed some people in a group, a few holding 9/11 Truth signs and a few others who seemed somewhat out of place. I didn’t really make any sort of connection though.
As it turned out…
A “Discussion” With Some National-Anarchists (Yes, Really)
I went back inside and told Jack about the 9/11 truth people (for full disclosure there was only a few people of the group interested in that specific topic) as I thought he might enjoy that discussion. When he came back he told me that they gave him the poster that they were handing out about National Anarchism.
…Well, something like that anyways. I don’t think I can come up with a reaction face/gif/video that accurately depicts my face when this happened (something like a cross between a light bulb going off over someone’s head like in a cartoon, having your mind blown, being like “wut?” and confused…try fitting that into one thing…) so I’ll just have to settle for that.
I immediately told Jack I’d go out there and talk because I had never met any National Anarchists before in real life and so I more or less stormed out there (minus the goose stepping of course…). I had put it all together (if it isn’t obvious by now) that the National Anarchists out there were the “Nazis” who were outside and that these were the people that were being barred from coming in.
Being the really friendly guy I am I came walking quickly out to them with this, “re-introduction”:
“So you guys are the “fascists”, huh?”
At least…I tried to emphasize the quotations part of that because I actually and genuinely wanted a conversation with them to better understand their ideas in real life. When would I have another chance like this?
So after saying that they of course denied being anything of the sort and the conversation started from there. I asked them what their positions were and the individual from their group who I talked to said they stood for many of the basic principles of anarchism. That they were against the state and that they supported economic freedoms for all and so on. But I was pretty skeptical and wasn’t just gonna end it there and here’s where the conversation got pretty frustrating.
I started asking them questions about cultural authoritarianism: sexism, racism, heterosexism, etc. And they said that none of them were in favor of nor supported any of these things…personally. But they said that if people wanted to set up their own, for example of course, racist communities and be racist amongst themselves then that shouldn’t be a problem. Furthermore they all seemed to pretty much unanimously decry the left’s obsession with cultural policing (as I think they’d term it) and seemed to be claiming that freedom of association is a rather strict absolute notion that even cultural pushbacks may violate.
I tried to explain to them the notion of “cultural spillover”, that is, the notion that when you have certain communities and they share certain cultural values in close or even somewhat close proximity to other communities there’s likely gonna be overlap in terms of social interactions between the two. Therefore there’s going to be an overlap of cultural values in each community too, especially if they’re gonna live next or even just near each other. So my concern was with racist communities not exactly being happy with the fact that they were in the stark minority and then trying to (peacefully) encourage others to do the same.
And even if racists weren’t directly encouraging their attitudes or cultural norms to others having that influence on children or having that influence more generally on other communities can often come very much to the detriment of individual liberty. Because these sorts of cultural norms (racism, sexism, etc.) tend to have us as human beings collectivize other people to the extent that having things like charity, respect and so on become at least very difficult to do. For me as a thick libertarian my methods of opposing cultural authoritarian attitudes or things that may encourage such attitudes mostly revolve around peaceful activities unless the people involved are actively planning to use violence against those that they discriminate against (the Golden Dawn may fit here but it’s perhaps debatable in any case…).
Golden Dawn, by the way was mentioned as a result of things that come from things like discrimination, hatred, bigotry, that, while may sometimes act peacefully also specifically targets immigrants for various sorts of harassment and violence.
Eventually though I got too frustrated to carry on the conversation and Jack and another friend of ours was waiting to go out and get food. Earlier, a woman from the Earth Liberation Front had been trying to talk to them alongside me but it seemed for naught. Much of what they said made little sense and it didn’t help that a few of them just continually kept talking over her and not giving her the space she needed to talk about how she felt. On top of that the woman didn’t even seem to really want to talk to them either, she just wanted to let them know she disapproved but they kept denying what she said when she spoke to that effect and kept trying to push for more conversation. Not the nastiest of stuff mind you but still pretty rude and disrespectful.
Late Night Saturday
Me, Jack and our friend ended up at a burger place and did a little discussion of safer space policies and their effect on anarchist circles. They were both pretty hostile to the idea thinking that the ways that feminists operate it doesn’t breed effective results. I tried to continue the conversation but it eventually just dissolved and we left the place we were eating and soon parted ways.
As Jack and I were getting on a train we ran into one of the people who were with the National Anarchists and they claimed (pretty convincingly) that some of them were attacked as they stood to do a picture in front of the bookfair. I’m unsure the veracity of this claim, though like I said she seemed to be pretty sure of it. But either way I don’t advocate violence against National Anarchists since they’re pretty much laughable. According to her around 9:45 PM and someone was punched in the face and in the ear and their flag was stolen. Again, I don’t really know how true this is but either way I wouldn’t support it even though I strongly disagree with National Anarchists.
On the train ride back to Connecticut I read this pamphlet about safer spaces called Safety is an Illusion which was an interesting read. Perhaps at one point I’ll have some reflections on it.
As we got back to our host’s place in Connecticut I quickly fell asleep after maybe a little computer and woke for the final day.
Day 2 of 2 of the Book fair
Getting back to the book fair I wasn’t really sure what to expect, whether any of the stories I heard about with the National Anarchists were true or not and if they were or even if they weren’t what the book fair would be like. Talking to me and Jack’s mutual friend from the night before we learned that everything seemed normal. So we both headed over to our table to find it just fine too. The book fair was seemingly going to continue okay.
I also managed to get to talk to Scott Crow once more and we again touched on the theme of unions although what we specifically mentioned I don’t remember. He said that in terms of left-libertarianism he felt more connected with agorists because he felt things like counter-economics could be a really good strategy. The dichotomy between protests and counter-economics was brought up as well and if I’m remembering correctly Scott showed some preference towards the former, though I could be misremembering. We talked about a few other things but one particular part I remember was Scott commenting on me writing stuff down on my notebook as if I was a federal agent, I got a good laugh out of that.
I want to highlight another moment that day which was one of the organizers of the Boston Anarchist Book fair actually stopping by the ALL-oNE table and saying he was happy to see me and us here. It was a very pleasant and quick exchange and it was something that really brightened and lifted my spirits.
There was also a talk on psychology and authority that was pretty interesting. It used some of Freud’s conceptions of ego and super-ego to discuss the lack of equality in conversations that happens a lot of time in society these days. With cops and other people being the super ego and the ego being those under themselves. The problems of hierarchy and psychology were also briefly touched upon and seemed fairly convincing to me at the time even though I roughly knew those problems anyways. Duringt the questions and answers section of the talk discussions about how to empower people to resist authority were brought up. Examples ranged from cooperatives and certain examples to living off the grid which was debated about how practical it was for some as opposed to others.
Jack soon went off to a Pirate Party meeting and during the Q&A raised some questions of efficiency and so on with using electoral politics. Meanwhile I continued interacting with folks who were interested in the ALL-oNE table. Darian Worden of NJ-ALL and C4SS also stopped by and we conversed on my experiences with the National Anarchists and the oddness of the anarchist space being required by the cultural center to have security. Darian also raised concerns of space management in terms of National Anarchists and other potential entryist groups trying to gain ground.
I went around to Aragorn’s table to check out his inventory. He helps organize Little Black Cart, quite possibly one of the most interesting tablers at the event. I say this because they openly carry egoist, nihilist, cynical and all around very odd books that are highly stylized and pretty impressive aesthetically speaking if nothing else.
I talked to him a few times while looking for Scott and sporadically throughout the book fair. I had sent him a friend request (or the other way around, I forget which) on Facebook the night before and he made a funny comment about being friends “forever” now that we knew each other online. I also was thinking about how the left doesn’t “own” anarchism but then I don’t really think anyone does.I believe the tradition of anarchism is, internally consistent in that it is ungovernable. Aragorn and I talked about Bob Black a little bit and we also discussed what he was selling and various other things, I told him to keep up the good work.
Towards the end there was a people of color caucus trying to organize (or something to that effect) outside and then in the main hall and the security wouldn’t let them do either because of “fire hazards” and “blocking the exit” I actually garnered the gusto to ask one of them what was going. And while he was attempting to tell me the other guy told him not to say and then he said he didn’t know anything. Very nice people indeed.
As you can imagine this caused a lot of controversy and a small-scale protest started outside against the exclusion of the group having some sort of access to a meeting. For the record they were in a specific corner in the main hall that hardly would’ve blocked people from getting to exits or escaping a fire. But this didn’t seem to matter to the security guards.
Jack and I started to pack up and we said goodbye to our neighbors and a few other people. I talked to the women who attempted with me to talk to the National Anarchists and I said goodbye to some of the organizers too and wished them better luck for next year. Not that I thought the event was bad (I didn’t) but there were obvious issues with the venue that I hoped would either be corrected by the next time around or else there would be a change of venues altogether.
The ride back home from Connecticut was mostly inconsequential (at least via my notes) Jack and I got into a few discussions about conspiracies, historical revisionism and certain thinkers and stopped off for food once if I’m remembering correctly. Other than that though not much else happened besides saying goodbye to our great hosts as we were leaving Connecticut.
Conclusion – Reflection and Recommendations
I had a lot of fun at the book fair, re-solidifying certain contacts, making new ones and even finally seeing National Anarchists in real life just added to the memorability of the event (if I’m to look at the positive side of that experience). I got to see some people who I’d never see otherwise, didn’t spend too much money, saw a few great events, met Scott Crow and someone else named Nick who really likes Voltairine, it was just a great time for me in general. At least on a personal level.
That said, them having a security team caused many more problems than solutions and while the security guards seemed lax and seemingly pretty reticent at first to do what they were supposed to and rather inconsistent in their application they eventually stiffened up quite a bit. It started with closing down the possibility of the meeting (at least from my experience) and continued with them asking people to move out of the steps, telling people to not be in between the hall and the exit and to choose a side. Petty tyrannies become abound as time went on and it was really unfortunate.
Besides that problem though for me personally at least a lot of the conversations were great and I felt like ALL-oNe had another successful event financially speaking. I’m unsure where the next one will happen but maybe with my new found membership in the Lucy Parsons Center I could start become more aware of the Boston book fair earlier than usual and talk to the organizers.
Stay tuned for a post on Porcfest 2013 and AltExpo #13 “Lucky” which had the Auburn Alabama ALL Distro table in ALL-oNe’s stead!