The stereotype of anarchists through the media are black clad, stone throwing youths who attack the police and/or buildings during demonstrations. As a result the annual London Anarchist Book fair might have been a bit of a daunting prospect for anyone wanting to spend a quiet Saturday afternoon in October. So for those put off by the media image, here is what it was like.
Firstly it’s important to say that the book fair is much more than just a book fair, there are meetings, debates, refreshments, a youth space and other stuff too. There were dozens of stalls and hundreds of people and yes they were wearing black and there wasn’t a stone throw in sight. Although admittedly there were some stalls (a small minority) that had literature celebrating the media image of anarchist violence but many more were distributing pamphlets on a vast range of less energetic pursuits such as identifying edible plants or how to set up a housing co-op.
One major thing to understand about anarchism, as illustrated by the book fair is its diversity. It can (almost) mean anything to anyone but with one golden rule; the belief that society can and should function without a state (meaning no government, no police and no authority).
Having been to the VegFest only a couple of weeks before, I was struck by how many stalls from there reappeared at the Anarchist Book fair; it seems that there is a big overlap between vegan-ism and anarchism.
There was no official ‘theme’ to the event (the concept of there being a theme would not follow in how anarchism sees itself) but something I noticed which was reoccurring throughout the stalls, was feminism. It seems to be undergoing a significant revival at the moment and this was reflected at the event with posters, badges, patches, stickers, and books on the subject.
Finally, I think I should say that I am not an anarchist and never have been, but I spotted one book which summed up the day for me and possibly my view of anarchism in general; it was called ‘Two Cheers for Anarchism’.
Words by Emily May