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(en) US, San Francisco: Media: Authority a four-letter word at this book fair Anarchists find common ground at S.F. get-together

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 29 Mar 2005 20:20:17 +0200 (CEST)


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Thousands of like-minded souls with a taste for state smashing,
patriarchy toppling, government defying, feminism, punk, radical
politics and children's books with titles like "Herb, the Vegetarian
Dragon" came out in force for the 10th Annual Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair.
They snatched up books by Noam Chomsky and Emma Goldman,
greeted old friends, bought "Bomb the mall" T-shirts and DVDs
about "imperial democracy" and happily lay in the sunshine with
their anarchist dogs and wild-plant food pamphlets.
By midafternoon, the San Francisco County Fair Building and the
lawn outside were packed with everyone from bookish brainiacs
leafing through dense texts to green-haired punks with pierced
septums and a distinctive, musky scent.

"This is Christmas," said Eileen Rose, 43, hands full of books. "The
hardest thing about coming here is that there's so much of what I
feel is critical tools to have."

She showed a friend her finds, including "Anarchism and Other
Essays" by Emma Goldman and a "F -- your fascist beauty
standards" patch.

Indeed, the F-word was especially popular at the fair: "You don't
have to f -- people over to survive" and "F -- all boy bands" were
among the slogans on the ubiquitous T-shirts, pins and patches.
Hungry radicals -- who arrived from all over the country -- were
salivating as they wandered among CDs and books, from Woody
Guthrie's "Struggle" and Malcolm X's speeches to "The Enemy Is
Middle Class" and "No Gods No Masters."

The book fair has grown exponentially since a small group of far
lefties and San Francisco's Bound Together Anarchist Collective
Book Store staged the first one in 1995.

This year, 75 vendors from near and far poured into town for the
event. The slate of speakers included graphic artist Eric Drooker,
feminist activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and the star of the day,
Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado professor whose
controversial comments about Sept. 11 have recently sparked
protests and debate about free speech on college campuses.

His book, "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens," was one of the
day's fast-selling items, said Ramsey Kanaan, an event organizer
and a member of the anarchist collective AK Press, an
Oakland-based publisher and distributor responsible for the largest
booth at the fair.

"A Bush election is very good for anarchist consumerism," said
organizer Joey Cain, 50.

On the other hand, anarchists didn't exactly love former President
Bill Clinton, Kanaan pointed out, and anarchism is always in
fashion in San Francisco.

For those who haven't read some of the anarchist classics, such as
Alexander Berkman's "What Is Anarchism?" fairgoers and
organizers were happy to offer their own quickie definitions.

"Anarchy proposes that humans have the ability to join together to
meet our needs without the intervention of church or state," Cain
said.

"It means freedom and responsibility. It means taking into
consideration how your actions affect everyone else on Earth," said
Rene Alvarez, a physician from Berkeley.

"Resistance to authority," said Mike Travers, who was there with
his 5- year-old son, Sam. He came, he said, to check out the state
of anarchist theory.

"I thought of myself as an anarchist 20 years ago," said Travers, 47.
"Anarchism is great as an attitude. I lost faith that you could run the
world according to anarchists' principles."

He sighed: "It's hard being an anarchist parent," he said, "because
as a parent, you have to be the authority figure."

A couple of hours later on his way out, Travers showed off what he
had picked up: a book about the Critical Mass bike protests, a
history of the Industrial Workers of the World and a George W.
Bush coloring book for Sam -- the future of anarchism, Travers
said proudly.

Kent Kruger and Leslie Dinkin had escaped the crowd and were
sitting outside on a bench scanning a crisp copy of "An Anarchist
Cookbook: Recipes for Disaster."

"I can't find a decent Che Guevara T-shirt," Kruger said.

There were some shirts with Chomsky's visage, but that wasn't
good enough.

"Noam's too soft for me," he said.

But T-shirt trauma aside, the event "really makes me feel good,"
Kruger said. "Because most of the time, I'm sitting out there and
it's darn scary.

"This," he said, motioning to the crowd jammed into the hall, "is
refreshing to me."

Rona Marech, San Francisco Chronicle


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