Thursday, 8 November 2012

Authoritarian Anarchists

The Manchester Anarchist bookfair takes place on Saturday Dec 1st at Peoples History Museum and not on Dec 8th as inadvertently posted in my last blog.

Bans, proscriptions, attacks on the freedom of expression have no place within the anarchist and libertarian movement.    Nonetheless a rash of authoritarianism has affected parts of the anarchist movement in Manchester specifically the Anarchist Federation.

The sorry saga of intolerance had its origins at the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair at the Dance House in 2010.    There was an unsuccessful attempt by a leading member of the Anarchist Federation to remove copies of the magazine Northern Voices (NV) which were being sold.   It should be emphasised that issue number 13 which has subsequently been removed from Freedom Bookshop was not printed until 2012.

In 2011 both Northern Voices and the Northern Anarchist Network (NAN) were banned from the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair and this ban has remained in force for the 2012 bookfair.   The NAN is an autonomous network with individuals and groups participating from Manchester, Burnley, Bury, Tameside,Wellington, Leeds, Cumbria and Newcastle.   Northern Voices is not a publication produced by the NAN and has an entirely separate editorial collective.    No explanation whatsoever has ever been offered for these bans.  

These "New Authoritarians" within the Anarchist Federation and others who support the ban reveal a "stalinist mindset" and their actions are deeply corrosive and damaging.  Doctrinaire anarchists and ideologues would be well advised to heed the words of the French philosopher Voltaire.  "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".


Kevin said...

Certain people have made themselves look very foolish to say the least.
The sequence of events had a nasty edge to it that you dont deserve.
Well I hope some good comes out of this issue
I suspect that the issue will rebound on the people who caused the trouble.

Anonymous said...

It is pathetic how anarchism has come to mean association with authoritarian leftism. I live and influence in Finland and here it is something of a fad to be only nominally anarchist while in practise working with the authoritarian left. The few anarchists who at least try to live according to the minimum definition of anarchism are bullied into abject resignation with constant accusations of fundamentalism or even "fascism" simply for refusing to work with various anti-anarchist socialist factions. This is incredibly frustrating and demoralizing, and I think the main reason why many potential anarchists only secretly harbour anarchist resentments towards authority while maintaining a veneer of apolitical neutrality in public.