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First Annual Los Angeles Anarchist Bookfair: A Beginning Marker of Resistence

by Rockero Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008 at 3:40 AM
rockero420@yahoo.com

Saturday, December 13, 2008 LOS ANGELES - The organizers of the first annual Los Angeles Anarchist Bookfair sent out a call for "dreamers, fighters, organizers, and rebels to come, meet, strategize, learn from each other, get books, attend workshops, participate, and join the movement." And despite the state's efforts to squelch our efforts, come they did--more than 700 people, mostly from the greater Los Angeles area, although some came from as far as San Diego, the Bay Area, Oregon, New York, and even Canada, to participate in this herstory-making event.

First Annual Los Ang...
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Plans for this bookfair have been in the works for more than a year, but organizing really started heating up in about September, when an open invitation was made to anyone interested in helping to organize the event. One of the plans hatched--for a benefit concert to help defray the costs of travel for invited speakers--was mercilessly raided by an LAPD squadron on the pretense that they were looking for a shoplifter. The cops violently entered the venue without a warrant and demanded that we prove that we had permission to be there. They targeted some of the main organizers for arrest, outrageously holding them for three days on bogus charges of "resisting or delaying a police officer." (See LAIMC articles "LAPD suppresses radical art space" by tu_kuñ(A)'o and "Police Raid of Anarchist Event," attributed to johnaimani, for more detailed reports.)

But this Saturday we were able to transcend the harassment to convoke the community, share ideas, feed each other, challenge one another to grow in our skills, and strategize about how to create a better world, starting right here in Los Angeles.

Vendors began arriving at the Southern California Library before ten to begin setting their tables up around the perimeter of the main room, but the day truly began at about eleven with a ceremony by Danza Cuauhtémoc, who sanctified the space through dance. They reminded us all that the land upon which we were standing was once and always will be indigenous. With this consciousness, people eagerly began lining up to make their five-dollar entrance donation and begin looking at the books, zines, and pamphlets and start attending the talks and workshops.

I went to the workshop on Marxist economics, the financial crisis, and the current anarchist uprisings in Greece and found it to be the perfect way to start the day. We sat on the floor until the room was full, and then crowded around the open door. Although it was a space where the words of older men dominated, many people participated in the discussion. John Imani began with an explanation of the crisis that was meticulously-reasoned and solidly grounded in history and the present, and urged action from all revolutionaries. He enjoined us to "participate in the class struggle, articulate and experiment with models of non-hierarchical institution building so as to replace the hierarchical institutions of capitalism, and study Marx’s economics." The facilitator then asked a man with close ties to Greece to explain the actions of the autonomist youth there and why they receive so much support from mainstream Greek society. Then a member of Modesto Anarcho reported on responses to mass foreclosures in California's Central Valley, squatting, and his organization's efforts to support squatters. We discussed the sit-in at Republic Doors and Windows in Chicago, the current state of the Left, questioned where to go from here, and attempted to answer that question.

Some examples:

"What we need to think of is a society based on the common ownership of all, not some, not the major means, all, the means of wealth production and distribution."

"One of the main things that we need is alternatives, ans this is a good example, the Zapatista movement. They're having these proposals about how to be owners of their own work, so I belong to a collective, it's called Colectivo Tonantzín, and we're passing out that word. Just an example, coffee is just one thing, that we could work with like that, but we can do it with the other products: clothes, corn..."

"We've been dependent on this artificial system we've been stuck in for many many years. We just have to remember who we are as human beings, and communities will be the ones who decide what they need."

"Individuals have to look within themselves and see how much of the debris of the larger culture they're willing to jettison. You can't carry around the weight of the present culture with its privileges, depending on which part of the world you happened to have had the fortune or misfortune of being born in and then talk about wanting to bring about social change unless you're going to be willing to give up something that may be required of you to make that change possible. It has to start with the individual and their commitment to make their own lives reflect the change they avow."

While I was listening to the talk on economics, other people were upstairs at a talk on the militarization of the US-Mexico border with José Palafox and Budge, and yet another group was in the main room discussing local histories, including the history of our hosting facility of the SoCal Library and urban Zapatismo as practiced in LA.

During the next hour, the main room was filled with spectators eager to learn about Latin American movements. Pedro spoke about Brazilian anarchism, quickly giving an overview of the political history of the entire South American continent, and then Sirena went into detail about the lived experiences of Argentinian anarchists. Finally, Sara spoke on Bolivian and Chilean anarchism, especially that of the womens' groups. The panelists entertained questions, including one on anarcho-syndicalism in Argentina ("The anarchists were the ones who, of course, would radicalize the whole movement when it started to get co-opted by the liberal tendency that was interested mostly in going toward the elections,") and the extent to which the administration of Evo Morales has genuinely benefited the Bolivian people, "So to put Evo in power, sure, it can pass a lot of social improvements, but then they started questioning themselves: How much power can we really build, if only people can understand that this can get weaker at the top as we move stronger at the bottom."

During the talk on Latin American movements, some members of the guerrilla chapter of CopWatch-LA screened their documentary "We're Still Here, We Never Left," on the police brutality in MacArthur Park last May Day. They also gave a workshop on how to start a CopWatch, for those wanting to do so in their own areas. By this time people were starting to get pretty hungry, and were overjoyed by the arrival of Food not Bombs, who provided vegan lunch. Unfortunately, attendance was so high that it ran out. Fortunately, a compañero who is a vegan chef donated a hundred tamales and a pot of Oaxacan mole. Those who were still hungry gladly made donations to get their hands on them.

Following the talk on Latin America, the Anarchist/Autonomous/Angry people of color (APOC) met in the reading room, gently asking that their white allies respect the POC-only space. I went upstairs for the open-source software/indymedia workshop, where we talked about the importance of both institutions and shared the skills and software that facilitate the dissemination of media access. Outside in the garden, a compañera was leading a dating game that acknowledged that gender is not a simple dichotomy.

The next hour featured one of the most highly-anticipated panels: ABCs of Anarchism and Anarchist Tendencies. Tendencies represented included autonomism, anarcha-feminism, anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-punk, anarcho-communism, and green anarchism, whose exponent, John Zerzan, had flown in from Oregon to sit on the panel. This panel, too, entertained questions and listened to comments from the audience. One of Zerzan's comments called many of the pro-labor tendencies into question when he asked, in response to excitement about reclamation of factories, "What if, rather than being part of the solution, factories are actually the problem?"

Meanwhile, Harjit Singh Gill spoke on nationalism in India's Punjab, and three other compañeros lead a discussion on "creating anarchist think tanks."

The workshops scheduled for the four o'clock hour, which by this time had been pushed to 4:45, included "Queer and trans communities of color," led by volunteers from Q-Team. While not a self-identified anarchist group, Q-Team does a lot of positive work for and with youth in the community, especially on decolonization, and makes use of queer theory, which is itself quite revolutionary. However, rather than speaking on specific topics, the facilitators sought to open a space where dialogue could take place and as many people as possible could speak. They began by rearranging the chairs in the main room into a large circle. Topics of discussion included the recent efforts to oppose the homophobic proposition 8, gay marriage, and whether or not the struggle for marriage is or should be a priority among the queer and trans people of color community. One member of Q-Team mentioned that one strategy they have found to be successful was helping people reconnect with their spirituality, which raised the ire of some anti-religion fundamentalists. The issue of religion diverted the discussion from its productive path. Two individuals in particular, both of whom appeared to be white and who did not identify as queer during the discussion, talked about the need to "bring atheism to communities of color," going on to blame those communities for the passage of prop 8. Many people in the circle were offended and felt the need to respond, which led to a debate between the two antagonizers and the rest of the crowd. Before we realized it, the hour was nearly up and we realized we had spent a bit too long giving those two people a platform to voice their beliefs and we had not given very many other people the chance to talk, especially on other things we might have liked to discuss. But we consoled ourselves with the reminder that the conversations in which we were engaging that day were but the beginnings of a larger dialogue among ourselves and with the larger society.

While the Q-Team discussion was going on, Klee Benally, Michael Paul Hill, and Angela Mooney led a conversation on indigenous rights and self-determination. While, like Q-Team, not all the leaders of that discussion identified as anarchists, they were definitely seeking to restore autonomy to their communities, and shared how participants could show solidarity.

Upstairs, Lawrence Reyes from the Puerto Rican Alliance discussed some of the history of the Boricua independence movement, as well as giving an update on the status of five political prisoners/prisoners of war held in US jails.

Outdoors, a graduate of the Center for Non Violent Education and Parenting gave a talk on how to be a parent without being an authoritarian, a topic of keen interest for radical parents.

The next panel in the main room created a very positive buzz among the crowd. Four compañeras gathered at the front. Two of them led a highly-interactive discussion on anarcha-feminism. One member of the audience intoned, "for me, anarcha-feminism is taking up that struggle to address that very first, that very foundational hierarchical relationship between men and women." Liz summed up her thoughts, "Anarcha-feminism, its an inherent part of anarchism. If you're not an anracha-feminist, you're not a fucking anarchist." One of their goals of the anarcha-feminists, which is rooted in a need for community, is the creation of an anarcha-feminist women's group. So far, it has a web presence at anarchala@googlegroups.com. "We're actually trying to start some sort of a critical movement in Los Angeles that has to do with issues that are important to anarcha-feminism." For the next part of the panel, Shannon spoke on the oft-overlooked political aspects of the riot grrl movement, which is often seen only as a 90s-era musical genre. And finally, Pati García spoke about ways for women to reclaim their bodies and their health. As time grew short, the panelists invited those interested in continuing the interaction upstairs, which would provide a more intimate space and adequate time to delve deeper into the topics brought up.

While the women led the panel in the main room, Shahid Buttar spoke on FBI surveillance and intelligence gathering and Ron Gochez from the Unión del Barrio and Frente Contra las Redadas gave a "know your rights" workshop that focussed on the rights of immigrants, particularly the undocumented.

Upstairs, Amitis Motevalli led an art workshop on collage and stencil-making. Satisfied artists carried radical stencils as they exited, armed to fight the revolution through art.

As the main room cleared out to make room for the "Black Panthers and Anarchism" panel, the women's circle regrouped upstairs among the remaining artists. Ashanti Alston, the New York-based former Black Panther and former political prisoner who is now active with the abolitionist Jericho Coalition, was one of the main attractions. Other panelists included Roland Freeman, who stood in for his brother Elder Freeman, and Wayne Pharr, both original members of the Los Angeles chapter of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Members of LA's Black Rider Liberation Party, as well as KPFK host and Pan-Africanist Dedon Kamathi, also sat in on the panel.

The last panel of the day was "Anarchist People of Color in Practice," in which representatives from mostly Los Angeles-based organizations discussed their activities. Omar Ramirez spoke about his research on the history of Chican@ anarchism, which added greatly to the discussion by connecting what we were doing there that day to struggles dating back to the Flores-Magón brothers' pre-Mexican Revolutionary anarcho-syndicalist organizing with the Partido Liberal Mexicano and the Industrial Workers of the World in Los Angeles.

While the APOC in practice panel was going on, Pitzer College professor Dana Ward, who also is the main force behind the Anarchy Archives, gave his talk. "Alchemy in Clarens: Reclus, Kropotkin, and the origins of Anarcho-Communism" began by placing the anarchist movement into historical perspective. "Anarchism arose in Europe in the 19th century in response to the rise of capitalism and the modern state." He went on to characterize Reclus as the "quintessential anarchist" of the key ten-year period between the fall of the Paris Commune and the formal establishment of Anarcho-communism and as the key architect of the movement. He also went into Reclus' ideas, particularly those concerning the necessity of the collectivization not only of production, but also of consumption, an idea that was rooted in Reclus' work as a social geographer.

By the end of the APOC in practice panel and Dana Ward's talk, it was already nine o'clock. Needing some time to clean up and tie up loose ends before the library's closure, we were forced to forgo the popular assembly with which we had hoped to end. People milled about, making last minute purchases, getting phone numbers and e-mail addresses from newfound comrades, and making plans for subsequent gatherings and actions.
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Latin American Movements panel

by Rockero Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008 at 3:40 AM
rockero420@yahoo.com

Latin American Movem...
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Latin American Movements panel

by Rockero Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008 at 3:40 AM
rockero420@yahoo.com

Latin American Movem...
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Latin American Movements panel

by Rockero Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008 at 3:40 AM
rockero420@yahoo.com

Latin American Movem...
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Queer and Trans Youth of Color Panel

by Rockero Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008 at 3:40 AM
rockero420@yahoo.com

Queer and Trans Yout...
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Anarcha-feminism/Riot Grrl/Women\'s Health Panel

by Rockero Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008 at 3:40 AM
rockero420@yahoo.com

Anarcha-feminism/Rio...
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"Panochas Poderosas/Powerful Pussies" -Radical Women's Health

by Rockero Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008 at 3:40 AM
rockero420@yahoo.com

"Panochas Poder...
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Other reports

by Rockero Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008 at 3:46 AM
rockero420@yahoo.com

Check out this other report:

http://www.revolutionbythebook.akpress.org/la-anarchist-bookfair-reportback-with-photos/
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Another take on the anar bookfair

by Gerrard Thursday, Dec. 18, 2008 at 12:19 PM

I agree the bookfair was a great success but there was sometimes a certain orthodoxy present that is reflected in Rockero's post. It was not the orthodoxy of anarchism, but something else a bit harder to pin down. Because I am white (according to the census) and male many would say that my opinion will inevitably reflect this so-called privileged position. If you think this is true you may want to stop reading, because if your understanding of white people is that simplistic I don't think you'll get much from my comments.

I only attended the Marxist economics/crisis forum and the presentation by the Black Riders et. al. I think the economics forum was very participatory, given the time constraint. Most people who raised their hands to speak were able to do so. It was not "dominated" by older men, and I believe that only someone actually looking for a chance to criticize this demographic would say so. In any discussion, everyone should of course be conscious about allowing people to speak. Although I was not the facilitator, I made an effort to scan the room looking for people who wanted to speak in order to help the facilitator. I didn't see any conscious or unconscious prejudice on the part of the facilitator. In any case, I would not patronize women or young people by assuming they are too oppressed to raise their hand like everybody else.

The presentation by the Black Riders was interesting and sometimes inspiring and sometimes, from an anarchist point of view, totally fucked up. I'd imagine that most people who read this site and attended the panel would oppose vanguardism and machismo, but I don't know how people feel about nationalism, the "cultural" kind or the "revolutionary" kind for that matter. The original Black Panther Party also disagreed about these questions. But at the risk of seeming un-cool or "a privileged white" or worse, I would like to hear some criticism of some of the things that were said at that panel. I was one of the only two people who were allowed to publicly respond and I feel like my comment was misunderstood and twisted simply because I was a white person that disagreed, and that many in the crowd applauded Dedon Kamathi's response for the same reason. My point was simply that anarchism, contrary to what people said about bomb-throwing Europeans, etc,
is not simply a white ideology. Anarchism is simply trying to put a word on something essentially human: the desire for freedom, justice, autonomy, self-determination, community, enjoyment of life. As a written philosophy it may have come out of Europe, but only as the result of a development that can be traced back to Greek philosophy, which is to say a philosophy that was also developed in Alexandria, IN AFRICA. I though this comment would be helpful, but Kamathi seemed to think that I was somehow dis-respecting African communal culture and its own potential as a liberating philosophy. I guess this is in line with what someone else on the panel said about each culture needing to develop their own ideology of liberation. Well, I don't know about the readers here, but I think such communal cultures have existed EVERYWHERE and that even a European-derived anarchism owes a lot to them. Also, I think there are remarkable similarities among these
cultures that re-affirm humanity and its potential to survive in a non-exploitative way. No one should try to force their way of liberation on to someone else. (Were there really white anarchists out there that were doing this to the people on the panel?) But also, if we don't attempt to find things that we have in common, how the fuck are we ever going to get out of this fucked-up situation? As the other person who asked a question asked, how do we know when its time for all these different groups to come together? And I would add, how will we know how to do this if we don't practice?

I was both sad and angry about the way Kamathi came at me, and at the applause he received for doing so. I am not some privileged white oppressor trying to maintain power over people. (You think its a privilege to be white in this racist world than you must be enjoying this so-called privilege a lot more than I have.) I am an internationalist working class man with European roots, who looks up to revolutionaries of all origins who broke the color line in an attempt to make a better world. And I'm ready to do this myself, with as many black or brown or yellow or red or white brothers and sisters who are down for it.

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Expansive Anarchism

by anonymous Thursday, Dec. 18, 2008 at 5:41 PM


There are a lot of anarchists, myself included, who participate in the movement by avoiding the consumer culture. We are making a big mistake if we think that convincing others to do the same will bring mass social change. If anything, our lifestyle anarchism is a way to exclude ourselves from revolutionary potential.

Any revolution that will happen will be a coalition of organizations, communities, and classes, mobilized to implement the revolution's vision for the future. As anarchists, we must demand that revolution be inclusive, not exclusive, of all people.

If an anarchist litmus test is veganism, then, are non-vegans not part of the revolution? If it is anti-car, pro-bike, then are car drivers not part of the revolution? Continue ad-absurdum, and you'll end up with a revolution of you and a few of your friends.

Meanwhile, other forces can be organizing. We saw the emergence of one potential pole of organizing with Sarah Palin's candidacy, combined with Joe the Plumber's moment of fame. We saw another pole with Barack Obama. What are anarchists about? Never engaging these realities?

Everyone's talking about Klein's Shock Doctrine of capitalism, where crisis is turned into opportunity for capitalism.

It doesn't have to be that way. Past revolutions have formed from crisis, and today's revolutions can form from today's crises.

We need an anarchism that is not so concerned about personal purity, and more focused on dealing with the world as it is -- the world of captialist crisis that's may be dawning. We need to articulate a clear vision of survival, freedom and the future. Put it into practice, and bring all the communities being hurt by capitalism and (de)industrialization into our fold.


------------------------------

Re: Nationalism


The Punjab presentation was a great distillation of many ideas about nationalist support. I hope someone can put the slides up.

Here's another article about anarchism and Zionism in Palestine/Israel:
http://raforum.info/article.php3?id_article=2666


------

I have called myself anarchist for around 15 years, and have always supported nationalist movements to a degree.

The era of nationalism isn't over. Many nations are not "real" nations -- they are the remnants of colonies. These nations often have one ethnic group dominating the others. Nationalism is the tool by which these oppressed people can gain some liberty.

The state they create may not be the ideal one, or even a non-repressive one, but -- consider this. What is the revolutionary potenial of anarchism or communism without nationalism? Are there enough people to foment revolution and keep the oppressor nation at bay?

If the answer is yes - then by all means we can have anarchist revolution.

I say the answer is usually "no". That's just how it is.

What anarchists can do is identify and unite communities that want freedom from nationalist oppression by their own nation, and demand that their participation in the nationalist revolution be predicated on their equal membership in their own nation.

Whatever those anarchists do to support or oppose the revolution is what I will support.

Of course, in a nationalist movement, I don't expect there to be many anarchists -- so I have to look at what typical constituent groups are thinking: feminist women, LGBT, lower caste people, and community members not in the nationalist movement. Are there objections?

In the second linked article, about anarchist support for Palestinian nationalism, there's a good paragraph:

"Of course, [we anarchists are] always in demonstrations with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, nationalists, racist people, and we fight alongside them for the same goals. But there’s always a problem ; how do we uphold anarchism, animal right, women’s rights, and queer rights while working with people who are against them ? It’s hard. We work with Palestinians all the time and we still say we don’t want a Palestinian state. I’m not fighting for a Palestinian state, I’m fighting for the end of the occupation and that’s the main goal. And we’re not alone in fighting for this. There are many Palestinians who are not anarchist, but who are on the left – communists, socialists. There are so many that are fighting for the same goal ; a one-state solution, and this is very close to our goal. I still believe that you need to fight alongside national-liberationists sometimes, because the main thing within that is to liberate themselves from the oppression of the other. Before you liberate yourself from the oppression of your own society, you need to liberate yourself from the oppression of the other society, which is usually much more cruel. This is evident in Palestine. First, we need to end the occupation and give the Palestinians their rights. After that, we can speak about how we want to live here. If the Palestinians chose to have a one-state solution, we will be with them. If they chose to have their own state, we will be with them. We have nothing to say about it. There are Palestinians who are working with us for the same kind of solution."

To repeat:
"Before you liberate yourself from the oppression of your own society, you need to liberate yourself from the oppression of the other society, which is usually much more cruel."
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nationalism American style

by Gerrard Friday, Dec. 19, 2008 at 10:47 AM

I agree with the last post. But in the U.S. nations generally translate as race, and we have an astounding history of race hatred here, and it would be difficult to unite around expelling the "occupier" pigs from our neighborhoods because there is also a pan-racial group that WANTS them there. It's obvious we need to work together, and that the first step is mutual understanding of a common goal. This is what I'm wondering about: among nationalists, who possibly imagine their own state (or equivalent), what is the will to even have a common goal? The poor white person who just lost his house and can barely feed his family, the black youth who are constantly attacked by cops just for being black, the latino who gets below-minimum wage and fears deportation, we all have to understand each other's immediate concerns. And when I'm listening to a potential comrade, I want to hear that they understand these things, even if they put their own immediate community first. I guess that is what I did not hear from the Black Riders and what I usually do not hear from nationalists. One of Ashanti Alston's pamphlets says to white anarchists, "we need you, and you need us - but we will do this shit without you." What does that mean? What "shit"? Without any white people at all? And when some serious shit comes down, how will nationalists react to people who have not already "proved themselves" to them? I have confronted white nationalism enough times to know how hard it is to change consciousness about this shit, but what better place to strategize about it than in an anarchist circle? Outside of a general vibe of "white people respectfully follow the lead of people more oppressed than you" I didn't think this kind of strategizing was really going on at the fair. But people were generally comradely and friendly to each other, so of course I'm hopeful.
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I attended

by attended Friday, Dec. 19, 2008 at 11:39 AM

I wouldn't stress it too much. There are probably lots of black and other nonwhite Anarchists and activists who feel that such language and choice of words does not speak for them. It was just one bookfair. There will be plenty of activities, meetings, and actions in which you'll have a group of people of all races. People who aren't in it just for certain specialized groups, but people who are in it for the general effort.

Maybe the speaker you speak of was using choice words to see who would crack or see who can brush it off and still side with them. Like some sort of widescale hazing ritual. If so, I'd rather not see that sort of thing. Being a part of the Anarchist and general activism community shouldn't feel like joining the military or having to wait for someone's approval. I'd rather gather as many people as possible and just say hey, this isn't an office building hierarchy, this isn't a low paying mcjob where I micromanage you, we're all here together and we do stuff. If racial equality and harmony is a good thing, which it is of course, then it should play out on it's own.

I felt the ABC's of Anarchy panel was a great introduction and feel for the community.
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A Quick Correction

by Jacquie O'Godless Friday, Dec. 19, 2008 at 7:30 PM
jacquie@thedailyprofaner.com

I would like to correct errors in the above article: I am one of the two individuals who at the Queer people of Color workshop that you refer to as " anti-religion fundamentalists". You say I am "not white" and because I did not mention my queerness, you assume I am not Queer. I am actually of mixed race, being part Lebanese, part white and part Mexican. Oh, and I *am* Queer, but since I did not realize that one had to be Queer to care about what happens in the Queer community, I did not realize that in order to speak I must preface it with "I am queer". I thought that as a community we wanted people of all races and orientations involved in the empowerment of Queer people of Color, yet when people you perceive to be straight and/or white voice opinions you disagree with, you discredit them because of their whiteness and straightness. This is wrong, and not an effective way to build allies. Also, another error: We were first to mention spirituality that evening, during the question "what are you doing to improve the Queer community of Color?". I answered that we were working to bring atheism to it. It was after my comment that one of the workshop leaders mentioned using spirituality and prayer, not before.
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by attended Friday, Dec. 19, 2008 at 10:27 PM

I caught some of that panel discussion waiting for the feminists. I was mostly looking at the table of literature behind you folks. You might have seen me take a look. I was kinda shy and felt like Forrest Gump in one of those fake historical footage scenes lol. I wish I did sit for the whole thing to hear what everyone had to say.

Well anyways the issue of religion was discussed. I heard one say to just not impose what you do upon others. One guy had a good point by saying he wants people to come first before things people believe in, such as gods or spirits or whichever words he used which I don't quite recall. Someone responded with "what about culture?" I hope the guy wasn't taken too aback by the reply. I agree with people coming first, but I don't think it's necessary to compromise culture to do that. Just work things out, you know? Culture is a beautiful thing that should be preserved and experienced and human life is so precious and should be protected. And so should animals, plant life, nature, the Earth, obviously.
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by attended Friday, Dec. 19, 2008 at 10:27 PM

I caught some of that panel discussion waiting for the feminists. I was mostly looking at the table of literature behind you folks. You might have seen me take a look. I was kinda shy and felt like Forrest Gump in one of those fake historical footage scenes lol. I wish I did sit for the whole thing to hear what everyone had to say.

Well anyways the issue of religion was discussed. I heard one say to just not impose what you do upon others. One guy had a good point by saying he wants people to come first before things people believe in, such as gods or spirits or whichever words he used which I don't quite recall. Someone responded with "what about culture?" I hope the guy wasn't taken too aback by the reply. I agree with people coming first, but I don't think it's necessary to compromise culture to do that. Just work things out, you know? Culture is a beautiful thing that should be preserved and experienced and human life is so precious and should be protected. And so should animals, plant life, nature, the Earth, obviously.
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CORRECTION: "economics" workshop

by Guy Ford Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008 at 2:21 AM

Since I was the facilitator of the 1st session workshop some errors need to be corrected.

First, the workshop was entitled "Economic Crisis: Working Class Response."

Secondly, Rockero either got there late or didn't pay much attention because his account is flawed.

But yes, John Imani's presentation based on a marxian critique of the current meltdown of capital and the necessity of a working class response was excellent. As planned, John talked for about 12 minutes.

Then I talked for about 8 minutes about historical examples of radical working class responses to crises. Since Rockero's account didn't even mention that I said anything, I'm posting my notes below to show the examples that I did talk about:

<
"Some ten years ago I spent some time with Francis Perkins, then a professor of labor economics at Cornell, but previously Secretary of Labor under FDR and the person most responsible for the New Deal labor policy. Madame Perkins spoke to me along the following lines: Why didn't the working class in America ever attempt to change American society? We all expected that it would in 1933. At the first meeting of the Cabinet after the President took office in 1933, the financier and adviser to Roosevelt, Bernard Baruch, and Baruch's friend General Hugh Johnson, who was to become the head of the National Recovery Administration, came in with a copy of a book by Gentile, the Italian Fascist theoretician, for each member of the Cabinet, and we all read it with great care."

An old Radical America journal mentions radical working class responses in the deepest depth of the Great Depression, in 1933 to be exact, when unemployment stood at 24.9% (15,071,000 people) yet in working class neighborhood across the country people were organized into Unemployed Councils and Leagues. According to Roy Rosenzweig in an article entitled "Organizing the Unemployed: The Early Years of the Great Depression, 1929-1933" in Radical America (vol. 10, no.4; July-August 1976):

"The jobless employed a number of spontaneous survival strategies such as informal and formal cooperative movements, family and neighborhood networks for assistance, individual and group looting of supermarkets, coal bootlegging, determined searches for work, and innovative stretching of income. At the same time, radical organizers helped stimulate more formal and political jobless actions such as sit-ins at relief stations, national and state hunger marches, demonstrations at City Hall, and direct resistance to evictions...Not only did these radical organizations [the Communist Party, Socialist Party and the Musteites] of the unemployed stop evictions and raise relief payments, they also helped to intensify the class consciousness of many of their members."

These unemployed groups lost their radical content, becoming liberal proponents of the New Deal, especially after a popular front of all the various factions were joined in 1935 to form the Workers' Alliance. About 1937-1938 what little improvements that the New Deal had made in working class people's lives were being wiped out by the "Second Trough" of the Depression, also called the "Roosevelt Recession," where unemployment was still at 19% in 1938 -- a full 5 years into the New Deal. But the working class did rise up and here's how Rawick, from the same article above, described it:

"With the further downswing of wages and employment in 1937, the workers in autos, then in rubber, and then in other industries occupied the plants, slept there, ate there, refused to leave or produce, protected themselves inside the plants, and organized massive demonstrations outside. Thousands of troops surrounded the factories with tanks and artillery, not firing because of the certainty that it would further radicalize the situation.">>

Then I went on to describe how the recent occupation of the Republic Window & Door factory in Chicago was drawing on the historical example of a successful form of direct action, the sit-down strike/factory occupation, to achieve success themselves and how the suggestion of this today might encourage similar class conscious actions by other working class people facing massive layoffs. I also mentioned how the mass anti-eviction actions of the 1930s are finding resonance today in the widespread squatting in hard hit areas of foreclosures. Then the Modesto Anarcho comrade gave examples of squatting in the Central Valley.

Then the floor was opened for discussion, but since the Greek-American comrade had mentioned that he has cousins in Athens right before the workshop, we turned it over to him to give a report of how widespread the actions in Greece have become and how this didn't only involve youth, but all working class people; as he said: "from age 11 to 40."

But we need to take Rockero to task, because when s/he wrote: "...it was a space where the words of older men dominated...", it is straight up BULLSHIT! Everyone who raised their hand to speak got to speak, regardless of their age or their background. And John, the Modesto Anarcho comrade, and I planned to make it as participatory as possible; at least 2/3 of the discussion was open to everyone after the 3 of us finished our brief presentations. Now it might be true what Rockero said if s/he is 9 years old and EVERYONE is older, but I didn't see anyone that young. And yes, an older woman got to talk twice, but so did Pedro and his Bay Area comrade and they are both young men. At least Rockero was honest when he said: "many people participated in the discussion."

So despite there being an overflowing crowd in that tiny room of at least 50 people, it was a very fruitful discussion of a situation that's affecting everyone in the world right now. So these types of discussion are of the utmost importance. I participated in something similar, but even more participatory, in San Francisco last night. In a little over 2 hours we got into even more practical approaches to the crisis that not only included questions about what to do if people occupy a factory in our towns, but also basic things like finding ways to be more self-sufficient with food, as well as questioning where we'll get water should there be a total meltdown.

As for Gerrard's comments about the "Black Panthers and Anarchism" panel, I agree wholeheartedly. I mean, come on, how can anarchists support nationalism? As a radical who is greatly influenced by anarchist theories, specifically regarding rejection of the state, I find this hypocritical. Nation-states maintain control through a monopoly on violence, through governments administering armed borders, standing armies, prisons, courts, and police -- everything we're against and want to abolish in a revolution. How the fuck can we endorse the same oppressive forms that hold us back from liberation? As the Situationist International wrote: "You can't fight alienation by alienated means." I'd alter that to: You can't liberate yourself from national oppression by oppressive means. There are NO examples in history of a bourgeois national (which they all are or have been, from the Soviet Union to China to Albania to Vietnam to Cuba) revolution leading to liberation from the state. Unless, that is, you're a Leninist, Trotskyite or Stalinist who WANTS to build the so-called "workers' state" as part of your "transitional program." I completely reject those authoritarian dogmas of the state, so in that sense I am an anarchist. Those of you who toe the nationalist line, clearly are not anarchists.

One of the panelists, Dedon Kamathi, not only rejects anarchist ideas, he race-baited and attacked (white) anarchists as using Eurocentric ideas. His Pan-African nationalism has more in common with Leninism and Stalinism that desire building states, not destroying them. At best we should agree to disagree with him; what I found most disturbing and bizarre was how loudly people applauded his race-baiting and anti-anarchist comments. If you support his ideas -- fine, but don't call yourselves anarchists. It's as simply as that.

Right now there are more than 6,000,000,000 people on earth. A tiny, tiny fraction of those are ready to march behind the black flag (or red, or any color flag for that matter) in their fight for liberation. Which doesn't mean that struggles aren't putting into practice the best ideas of anarchism or marxism or other ideas of liberation, it's just that we can't expect everyone to conform to our ideas before we can join together with them and fight.

Right now radicals in Greece are involved in an insurrectionary situation, many of them identify as anarchists; in Chicago last week a couple hundred workers occupied their factory in an extremely spontaneous and radical action, most of whom don't even identify as radicals; in China right now tens of thousands of laid off workers are attacking police stations and Communist Party offices, acting more like revolutionary (small "c") communists that the capital bureaucrats that oppress them. Yet all of them are different manifestations of the same struggle: the fight for freedom from oppression. We must see that overcoming differences based on race, ethnicity, sex, gender-orientation, and all other divisions is necessary for these struggles to consciously link up and be part of an internationalist fight against capital and all its oppressions. Only by unifying and fighting together, can we succeed in a revolution to overthrow the global system of capital. As the Situationist International made clear: Revolution will be international or nothing.


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corrected typo

by Guy Ford Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008 at 2:43 AM

In a sentence near the very end of the last post, I wrote:

<>

What I meant to write was:

...acting more like revolutionary (small "c") communists THAN the CAPITALIST bureaucrats that oppress them.
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Oppression @ The Bookfair

by Jacquie O'Godless Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008 at 6:50 AM
jacquie@thedailyprofaner.com

I have posted a lengthy editorial about my experiences with discrimination and oppression at the bookfair. Hopefully others who felt marginalized or discriminated against will speak up so that next year we can make the bookfair that much more inclusive! You can read my piece here, on my website:

http://thedailyprofaner.com/2008/12/19/anarchy-now-with-150-more-oppression/
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reply to your article

by attended Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008 at 8:46 AM

I read your article. I caught some of the Queer panel but not enough of it to comment. I just stated some of the words I heard. But it seems like any differences among the people, even at a bookfair, may or may not spark an argument. There's no way we can mold everyone to be the same in every aspect of their lives and thinking.

I don't know for sure, but I would think a typical religious person in the Anarchist movement is not going to want to oppress or discriminate against someone who is queer, gay, etc. If he/she has some disagreeing thought because of a religious upbringing but is politely not saying anything or doing anything discriminatory, just let it be for now and maybe that person will be more tolerant later. If for example a group is working to feed the poor in a neglected part of town, why let these differences ruin the effort? If there are differences, great. But continue with the common effort and it gets done.

The people who would oppose the Anarchist movement would love to see us fall apart. They'll think why divide and conquer when we're already dividing ourselves for them? If there's an issue with blatant discrimination, yes we have an issue. But in terms of thoughts and opinions in the backs of some people's minds, that's always going to be around. If it results in real action against someone, then yeah there's a problem. Otherwise it's impossible to "fix" everyone's thoughts. We can disagree but we should still be respectful.

I'm an atheist but I'm not gonna try to ban religion. There are plenty of religious people who are not trying to talk down upon or oppress those who are gay, queer, etc despite what their bible or whatever says. Why or how they decide on that or in which way they deal with that aspect of their religion(for those religions with that aspect), I'm not sure. It probably varies. Some probably simply disagree with the part about gay being wrong. Whatever the method, just let them. As long as they're not throwing stones at people.

And some people may have some discriminating thoughts and attitudes they're still getting over or trying to. If someone sees something they used to dislike and has to pause for a moment to rethink their reaction, so be it. Let people improve and work things out they way they need to.

One of the things we need is change. Not just in society, but also people. But when it comes to people changing, I for one would like to see it be done voluntarily, not as an order from someone else. If certain changes are good and for the better, it should play out on its own. If someone is being unfairly discriminating, then it's the choice of everyone else to not work with that person until he/she gets the idea and move on.

Anyways, about the Anarcha-feminist panel. I was there and moved from my seat near the front to one a couple rows back. Since I stayed, I heard then explain that it was because they wanted women to speak out. Even with women in the first 3 or 4 rows of seats, there were still a couple pauses of waiting or hesitation before someone else would speak. I even spoke finally, when I really planned on just sitting and listening. The panel actually wants men to be involved in their efforts. I can understand an initial tick of annoyance in reaction to the arrangement of seating. But as someone who has lived in a primarily male dominated society, even being a male myself, this one little happening hardly bothered me.
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by attended Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008 at 9:00 AM

Also my reply before the one above, I accidentally did a double post, sorry 'bout that.

Also, the Anarchist bookfair was the first event or anything I been to in the Anarchist movement. So I didn't mean to try to come off as someone who has been in it for years. Nor would I be like that if that were the case. I've seen and heard people who are experienced and very welcoming to people and I aspire to be like that no matter what it is I'm involved in.

It's just that being at the bookfair, I couldn't help but be drawn into some degree of involvement. That degree being primarily discussion. Even though I just planned to 'check it out.' I already found myself speaking as if I was involved when speaking with the feminists upstairs. And the bicycle panel outside. Despite some controversial incidents here and there, the bookfair was that good of a gathering!

So anyways, just keep that in mind. I'll sign my posts as "attended." I guess see my replies as those from someone new or observing or interested, exciting and enthusiastic even. And I wish everyone well and hope to see many good things happen.
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er

by attended Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008 at 9:02 AM

excited, not necessarily exciting. i can be boring at times lol.
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reply to attended's comment to Jacquie O'Godless

by Chris Altarkation Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008 at 5:41 PM

We’ve been called a wide range of things because of this debate so before I say anything else I will be absolutely clear about what I believe:

I do not advocate forced atheism or any sort of coercive ban of religion – that is a reactionary lie that is spread by people whose religious-spiritual power base and privilege is threatened by secular humanism.

I do not believe in the supernatural – period. This means that if something isn’t around I don’t believe in it. God isn’t around – I don’t believe in god – it’s that simple. I’m not blindly dedicated to some kind of godless catechism. I just ask for proof before I believe – I don’t get it so I don’t believe.

I believe in humanism, this means that the only truly important thing to me is humanity. Humanity regardless of race, culture, gender, sex or class – we’re all human. I categorically reject any system that is going to place its values before human concerns. For this reason I reject the brutal capitalism of our time, I reject the privilege of patriarchy, I reject the cruelty of homophobia and I reject the idea that myths and superstitions of ANY kind are more important than we are. If you feel like you need a god or spirit to give you compassion, to make you strong or to respect another person’s inherit human worth, it doesn’t demonstrate the virtue of your beliefs but the weakness of your character. I care because it is right – I don’t need to be told.

I reject religion as the ultimate privilege and authority. This idea that we have a special place because of a god or spirit is wrong. This applies to the exclusivity of your spiritual beliefs as well. However spirituality originates not everyone shares this experience – if we privilege it then we create a class based upon spiritual belief. I do not want to ban these things; I have no problem with private beliefs that do not contribute to a culture of oppression. What I object to is how they are thrust into our society – interjected into every aspect of our lives. I demand a secular culture. Secular doesn’t mean atheism is taught or enforced – it simply means that we do not privilege or enforce ANY stance on religion and spirituality. If a single person were punished for their spirituality I would be appalled, by the same token I am appalled when spirituality and prayer are forced upon us constantly in every aspect of life.

The Q-Team openly said that prayer and spirituality were part of their program. If that is the case it is a program that is exclusive to people of faith, a program that is privileged by religion and spirituality, it is discriminatory. There is no way around this as long as you create a class around faith – which is exactly what happens when you privilege it. Many other people in the discussion spoke up about how wonderful faith is as a tool to organize. There was no question of how faith-based organizing discriminates, how working with abusive religions such as Christianity propagates their bigoted culture – there was only a general acceptance of the immoral utility of faith as a tool for organization and control. This is not revolution – this is climbing the social ladder. It is taking up the mantle of the oppressor in order to escape your own oppression. If you want real revolution then you must stand against all privilege – especially your own.

This applies to the Anarcha-Feminists as well. It’s pretty simple if you begin your event on the abolishment of sexual privilege with an act of sexual exclusivity then you are frauds. I won’t mince words. You may be well meaning, and my heart is with your goals but that sort of act is wrong – it’s wrong when patriarchs do it and its wrong when you do it. If you are sincere then reject the paradigm of sexual exclusivity rather than using it as a tool.

What we’re talking about is a frightening thing called equality. When we’re equal we can’t feel safe because we don’t have power, and power in this society is stratified and used to oppress many of us. I understand why you want power and privilege; I know why you want to force men into the back rows, why you are threatened by the voices of your straight-white-male-atheist allies. However if you want to destroy power you can’t start by taking your own. If you want to destroy privilege you can’t start by privileging yourself. If you want equality you can’t start by beating other people down. If what you want is safety and power then admit it, go join one of the many, many groups that covet and maximize power. However if you are truly an advocate for equality you must accept that it’s a scary place and you will never be safe your beliefs will always be threatened. That’s equality, raw and dangerous; I hope you have the courage to embrace it.

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in response

by Attended Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008 at 7:35 PM

I read every word of your lengthy reply and I appreciate it and I hope others do to. It give me more to think about but I'll reply right now regarding the feminist panel. If I have more to say after some thought, I'll post it here.

Just keep in mind I'm not trying to be confrontational, nor am I implying that you are or are about to say that I am. I find your knowledge and views valuable and if we were in discussing things in person with other people, but in a setting that isn't as hurried as the bookfair, we would surely blow away shows like the View in meaningful content. Maybe one day...

Also I'm not gonna try to discredit or dismiss your view on the feminist panel. You saw what you saw and reacted to it, and so did I. What I thought was that the decision to reserve the first few rows of seats for females was probably one they wanted to try out as an idea. Their effort does seem to be a new one or one they're trying to get rolling. I don't know what their exact thoughts and reasons for the seating decision are. But I'm gonna guess that they didn't have a 3 hour meeting weighing the pros and cons of it. It was something they decided to do and we'll see if they do it again. They did want men involved and they let some, including me, speak. And the discussion upstairs were about half male, half female.

Also having the first few rows provided for females was sort of like putting them up on the panel as well, just like the three speakers were on the panel.

Also when it comes to feminism, there are times when females may need to meet and speak to each other without males. It's not an exclusivity. I haven't been involved in organized feminism until last Saturday but I can imagine this sometimes happening and I'll explain why.

There are times when females need to discuss things amongst themselves. And there are things they would only say or be more comfortable saying without males around. It's not a power thing. It's like the suggestion one of the panel speakers had about forming an affinity, I think they called it. Basically a support group. Done when there are problems they are trying to deal with. For example, sexual harassment at a work place.

Also there may be victims of rape and other violations in a feminist group who need support and if they want to talk to a close knit group of sisters, they should. It's a very sensitive issue and such an occasion is about supporting and helping out such people. It's not the same as an organizational and planning meeting where, yes, you would want to include all who are involved, male and female.

Let's say there is such a female participant who, because of some traumatic experience, is nervous and introverted around males. Even defensive. And later on she gets more comfortable after being assured that the males in the movement are making good efforts for feminism and gender equality. When that happens, I don't wanna say that she used to practice privilege and power but now she's open to equality. That would come off as rather judgmental. Instead it's someone who went through some bad experience who is healing and is on the path to coping and living better with some support and understand. And more personal space if needed.

Infact there's probably a likelihood that a feminist group that forms may double as a support group for victims of rape, harassment, etc. Just like Food Not Bombs feeds hungry people. If they need space, they need space.

And there may be times when males will want to meet and speak with males only to share their feelings and see what they come up with in their discussion.

I think the bookfair panel discussion just the beginning and that one event isn't enough to judge the Anarcha-Feminist movement on, even considering the seating arrangement. So I'm willing to jump in and get involved if scheduling allows me, have some hope that things will be good, and work my way from there.
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...lack of humbleness

by GG Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008 at 8:11 PM

I don’t know if through this message I will be seen as naïve by many of you who will get to read this, but this is my honest opinion and a bit of advise:

It saddens me to read messages that criticize the LA Anarchist Bookfair in very scolding ways, very critical, non-constructive, finger-pointing ways…I wonder if the NYC and San Francisco Bookfairs ever got “scolded” for being “exclusionary,” if men ever complained about how they were asked to sit in the back rows, or if white people ever complained about how people of color had no choice but to listen to white panelists, or if the organizing collectives ever got criticized about how animal liberation, atheism, and other topics were not properly addressed at the bookfair…

And I keep wondering…because from what I understand, those bookfairs have been running on a yearly basis for over 10 years and from personal experience I always see the same stagnant crowd, with the same stagnant “anarchist” characteristics…being predominantly US-born, white, male, young, educated, middle class, heterosexual, living a healthy-style (vegan, vegetarianism, organic food), anti-religious, and very little from the rest of the “subterranean fire,” to quote August Spies…

Stagnant anarchism?...I’ve asked myself several times…
Perhaps…or maybe it is simply that those characteristics take on more visibility (hint: because in certain spaces they’re normalized, simply accepted without question).

The post above this message states, “what we’re talking about is a frightening thing called equality,” and I agree…but how do we build it from a space that claims it but does not practice it? (i.e. excluding men from a mostly men-attended event? Kind of an ironic comparison, eh?). Worse yet, how do we build when there are various layers of power that people (in this case those in anarchist bookfairs) dare not challenge themselves, nor willingly initiate the deconstruction of their own power?
Equality at anarchist bookfairs has been nonexistent…for me. I was born in a mostly-indigenous town, in a Third-World country, was an undocumented immigrant until recently, am a woman of color, queer, poor, raised on cup o’ noodles, from the ghetto, atheist, though I was raised in by a radical (but church-attending) grandmother…wanna talk about exclusion in a fucken anarchist bookfair? Talk to me about what it has been like to stand there and listen to rhetoric that spoke very little about my reality by people who held very little interest in building bridges and more about telling me what “ought” to be done to blah blah blah. I’ve been in several anarchist collectives (of course 85 or 90% of the time being the only woman of color) and beautiful things were attempted, but these always held an arrogant air about “anarchism” being the way to liberation…

These past ten years I’ve questioned the hardening on ideas within the anarchist US-based trends and felt really disappointed, until recently…

I honestly thought this book-fair broke paradigms, boundaries & habits set not just by anarchist bookfairs, but by those involved in the planning and running of this bookfair.

Also, we should analyze how in turn this has upset some of the anarchist attendees…in many ways a good thing, a start point for discussion. Maybe this will have us shake off some of that arrogance and self-centeredness…talking about…if you blah blah blah, then you are not an anarchist…I’d like to see one of you come over and try to convince my grandmother that she is wrong about praying because she is dying of an incurable disease…how atheism is going to prolong her life…

Though some may say their views are not being imposed on others…I’d say…if after re-reading your lines you feel like your thoughts are imposing an arrogant holier-than-thou message…it might just be understood that way…

If you are not from Los Angeles and do not understand the organizing dynamics of the region then discuss your views with the planning collective, they have been cool about receiving comments and constructive criticisms about how to IMPROVE next year’s bookfair…and if it does not tickle your pickle…there is always freedom of association, where you can start your own bookfair wherever you are…

I don’t know what the plan is in the rest of the US, but I know that in run-down inner cities in Los Angeles and other ghettos where I’ve lived, an experimental anarchism is being cooked…one which will include the RECIPROCAL gradual cultural change of non-coersive inter-relational ways of socializing…which will lack power-hungry ways of proving which anarchism is right and which is wrong, which habits are right and which suck, a humble anarchism that maybe people will embrase or make it vanish to create something entirely new…

That is the beauty of anarchisms…that they belongs to all…
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Responding to Responces

by Jacquie Sunday, Dec. 21, 2008 at 12:24 AM
jacquie@thedailyprofaner.com

@ Attended I think you have some excellent points, and the last thing I would want is someone who is new to Anarcha-Feminism to be scared off by my yelling "You're doing it wrong". We are all constantly evolving and changing our philosophies and understanding of these complex ideas (look at how far feminism has come through history!). Just because I disagree with how one panel was set up does not mean I no longer call myself an Anarcha-Feminist. These critiques are done lovingly, with the idea of discussion and improvement behind them; If i didn't care about the event or future events I wouldn't bother with the work of writing these, or with the all the flack I take for voicing my opinions. I hope everyone continues to voice their opinions (including the people that disagree with me); it is the only way for there to be a discussion. @GG No one is telling your grandmother not to pray, so that is a non-issue. No one is telling people they cannot be religious, either. Also, we have all had our own hardships, I don't understand why that makes what any of us are saying more right or wrong. Just because their is oppression in other places - where it needs urgent attention - does not mean we cannot discuss oppression at the fair, or that discussing oppression at the fair somehow cheapens oppression everywhere else.
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Another good report

by Rockero Monday, Dec. 22, 2008 at 5:33 PM
rockero420@yahoo.com

If you don't like my reports, write your own, like Jacquie, Chris, and Julio did:

http://laeastside.com/2008/12/a-view-of-the-1st-la-anarchist-bookfair/

If you don't have a printing press or a blog, post them here at Indymedia. Having a diversity of voices telling their unique stories democratizes the media, and takes away from the hegemony created by the mono-narrative.
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The provincialism of people of color

by anonymous Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008 at 2:42 AM

The old school black/brown/yellow nationalisms that seem to be a replay of the 1960s are caught up in a kind of provincialism. On the one hand, that's a shame. On the other hand, it's reality: it costs money to expand your horizons. Nationalism is a struggle against oppression, exploitation, and poverty.

The concept of broadening your horizons is, in this country, often presented a form of "shopping", where a wider understanding of the world is framed as consumption of other cultures -- through travel, reading, eating, etc. Often, it's the culture of people of color who are being "consumed," either in the imperialist, colonialist style (sex tour to Thailand), or the liberal "multicultural" style (eco tour to Thailand).

In fact, the "white" understanding of anti-racism is generally consonant with the latter -- the idea that one is not racist if one can consume the culture of people of color. (i.e. listening to hip hop, speaking spanish, eating sushi, etc.)

That's a bad dynamic, where someone is simultaneously discouraged from travel/exploration, and objectified.

Working class people suffer to different degrees from the former -- including white people. When they do it, it's called being provincial. All people of color suffer from the latter.

The root of nationalist feeling is the desire to escape the latter: to stop being objects of the colonist. Then, to demand the full rights of human beings -- to have respect *and* resources.

The hope is that the nationalist feeling can also become the basis for a desire for broader horizons.

These are not mutually exclusive, and I tend to think the desire for broader horizons is often predicated on the nationalist feeling. You have to feel proud of being who you are, within your own place, to really travel freely in the world at large.

----

Personally, before reading about and being influenced by anarchism, I was very much a universalist liberal, and pretty anti-nationalist. So I started out there, but over time, have become far more sympathetic to the nationalistic position.

Maybe it's just that I've gotten older, and haven't seen racism erode as quickly as I have hoped.

(You can guess - I would have been okay with the gendered seating arrangements.)
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Gerrad's peculiar choice of words...

by GOTCHA !!! Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008 at 5:26 PM

in his first post Gerrard stated

>>>I'd imagine that most people who read this site and attended the panel would oppose vanguardism and machismo,...>>>
he COULD have used the word "SEXISM", which is pretty much universal characteristic, yet instead he uses a term which implies that sexism is the exclusive domain of Brown men.
Very Interesting...
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What about the Village People?

by 3-Dollar Bill Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008 at 10:05 PM

Come on, I hate to come off as celebrating homoeroticism, when I mean to point out hypocrisy, but how far do you have your head up your ass?

Machismo is from the Latin root masculus, which means "belonging to the male sex," from O.Fr. masculin "of the male sex," from L. masculinus "male, of masculine gender," from masculus, dim. of mas (gen. maris) "male person, male," of unknown origin. Grammatical sense first recorded c.1380. Meaning "having the appropriate qualities of the male sex, manly, virile, powerful" is first attested 1629.

Now I'm still hot -- and deeply saddened -- from having just seen the new movie "Milk," which brings up a question: The Village People, the 1970s disco singing group (who were HOT HOT HOT!!!). Since one of their hits was the song "Macho Man" does that, according to your moral PC illogic, mean that all of them are sexist, or only Felipe Rose the American Indian chief (who's half Red and half Brown)? Or is his domain only 1/2 sexist? How about Victor Willis, the African-American cop, is he sexist too because being Black is still being a person of color? And do the rest -- the cowboy, the construction worker, and the leather biker -- get a free ride because by looking white, that kind of sexism can't be their domain?

Please clarify because I'm extremely confused. I always thought queer men could have machismo without being sexist. Hurry, hurry please and ask your professor to consult their French Critical Theory or Cultural Studies books because mind is spinning with confusion. I naïvely thought words can have both positive and negative connotations. Silly me, I've never read all your fancy high-faluten Postmodern books and I still don't get what you mean by "the prison house of language." Is there some kind of online translator I can use so that I don't use language from the wrong "exclusive domain"?

Thanks
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for example, négritude

by Welles Canby Thursday, Dec. 25, 2008 at 2:35 PM

Aimé Césaire's search for a new and poetic humanism, for a way, as he put it, "to complete Marx" with an active recognition of racial/colonial oppression, is ongoing. If nègritude is, as Irele calls it, a "counter-acculturation," then the richest form of such an opposition must also find new models of culture and civilization that aspire to the universal while maintaining roots in the particular rebellions that spawn them. Aimé Césaire and others within his theoretical genealogy lend hope to the possibility of a universalist movement against domination and exploitation that does not ignore cultural differences; of deriving energy from our cultures in a way that does not ignore class. As Césaire once explained: "I'm not going to confine myself to some narrow particularism. But I don't intend either to become lost in a disembodied universalism.... I have a different idea of a universal. It is a universal rich with all that is particular, rich with all the particulars there are, the deepening of each particular, the coexistence of them all." (quoted in Kelley, p25-26)

Irele, Abiola. 1965. Negritude or Black Cultural Nationalism. The
Journal of Modern African Studies. Vol. 3, No. 3, pp.321-348

Kelley, Robin D.G. 2000. A Poetics of Anticolonialism. In Aimé
Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism. New York: Monthly Review
Press

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@welles

by anonymous Friday, Dec. 26, 2008 at 3:08 PM

Exactly.

We're always within a confluence of changes.

Among them, are the demands of decolonization. Among them are the demands of a universal humanism. Among them are the hope for an economy that does not harm people. Among them are the wish for peace.

These must coexist, because they are all part of our struggle for freedom.
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