Monday, 10 December 2012

Alice-in-Wonderland 'Anti-semitism' Charge Against Nephew of Holocaust Victim at Manchester Anarchist Bookfair

'YOU'RE A f**king disgrace!,' yelled Londoner Nick Heath at the local Jewish anarchist Barry Woodling as he was escorted out of the Emergency Exit at the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair on December 1st, only to have to climb down a small fire escape. Mr. Heath is a prominent anarchist intellectual and member of the Anarchist Federation (A.F.) in London. At 3.30pm a week ago last Saturday, the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair decended into a scene from Alice-in-Wonderland, as Barry Woodling, with Jewish origins from Swinton in Salford, and a supporter of the Northern Anarchist Network, was accused of 'anti-Semitism', forced by Mr. Heath and others to leave the Bookfair.

Earlier in the day Barry Woodling had distributed a leaflet outside the bookfair at the Peoples History Museum, complaining about the Bookfair's organisers failure to allow the anarchist body - the Northern Anarchist Network - to have a stall at the Bookfair. This small protest had passed off without incident, and it ended at noon. Mr. Woodling then went in to enjoy the bookfair, and attended a workshop between 1pm and 2pm, dealing with the Mexican town Cherar's attempts to create a free community whose citizen's govern themselves. The rest of the day he spent wandering around the stalls at the Bookfair and talking to friends such as the people on Bob Jones' Northern Herald Bookstall

At around 3.30pm Mr Wooding was confronted by one of the Bookfair's organisers who goes by the pseudonym of 'Veg' (so-called because 'Veg' is believed to be a vegan or maybe because he is a bit of a vegetable?); 'Veg' accused Barry of being an 'anti-Semite' because, it was claimed, that he had distributed a leaflet with an 'anti-Semitic' reference in it, which the organisers had had complaints about during the day. 'Veg' refused to explain either who had complained or what precisely was 'anti-Semite' in the leaflet, but began pushing Barry and threatening to deal with him when he got him outside; 'Veg' is a man of slight build, but he behaved provocatively calling Barry an 'imbecile' and a 'dullard'. At one stage some other customers intervened to try to reason with 'Veg', but he was persistent and was soon joined by others, including Nick Heath from the Anarchist Federation and some of his London friends, and a man from Didsbury who has previously used the pseudonym'Iron Column', and has been close to Sally Hyman, who led the attack of the bookstall of Northern Voices at the London Anarchist Bookfair in October. 

Neither 'Veg' or 'Iron Column' are believed to be members of the Anarchist Federation, but 'Veg' is an AF groupie and attends their meetings; 'Iron Column' is close to Sally Hyman, and both have been involved in previous complaints against Northern Voices and the Northern Anarchist Network. Yet, the latest 'anti-Semite' charge against Barry Woodling now takes us into the realms of Alice-in-Wonderland and crackpot politics that has few rivals in a sane society. Mr.Woodling, besides being a supporter of the Northern Anarchist Network, is well known in left-wing politics in Manchester. His Jewish family connections are perhaps less well known, but his mother is Jewish and her sister, Elsa Greenman, died in Auschwitz; his uncle, Liam Greenman survived Auschwitz, lived into his 90s, and Barry lovingly wrote about him in Northern Voices No.5 in the Autumn of 2005. In the Spring/ Summer [2006] issue, Northern Voices No.6, Barry Woodling wrote a sympathetic review of Dave Chapple's booklet 'Henry Suss & the Jewish working-class in Manchester' published by the Somerset Socialist Library, and in Northern Voices No.9, Mr Suss's daughter, Sali Money from Stroud sent the following letter to Barry [published in Northern Voices No.9]:
'Very many thanks for the article [in Northern Voices No.6] on my father Henry Suss... We all really appreciated your [Barry Woodling's] presence at Dad's memorial do. It is a great comfort to know he's impacted so well on others! It makes it all worthwhile!' 

Seen in this context the 'anti-Semite' charge of 'Veg', the bookfair organisers and by implication, Nick Heath and Anarchist Fed., is daft.  Barry Woodling has been on many anti-racist demonstrations in Manchester, not to mention his presence at James Keogh's Blue Plaque inauguration in Ashton-under-Lyne Library in November 2011 [James Keogh died in the Spanish Civil War fighting Fascism in 1938], and then there is his involvement in the Manchester electrician's campaign against the blacklist in the British building trade, and he was on an electrician's protest at a full Council meeting at Ashton Town Hall only last December, and is currently a supporter of 'Manchester Occupy'.

Mr. Woodling is clearly a distinguished political activist, who has ethnic Jewish ancestors going back donkey's year. Why did the Anarchist Fed. and the bookfair organiser pick on Barry Woodling? Whatever we think about the politics, and most folk in this country rightly don't think very much, this kind of thing is political illiteracy of a very high order. It is a vivid example of what Ludwig Wittgenstein, another man of Jewish origins who studied at Manchester University, called 'aspect blindness'. Now perhaps we are wrong to say that these boneheaded blacklisters of Northern Voices, like the bookfair organisers and AF, who seek to gag and ban people and publications, are 'Nazis by nature'; we may be wrong because though they use the methods of the Nazi they profess to be libertarians. I would argue that it is by their actions and their methods that they should be judged, much more so than by their abstract theories. And yet, what kind of Nazis would have been so dumb as to pick on Barry Woodling of all people, and accuse him of 'anti-Semitism'?


Anonymous said...

This whole saga gets more ludicrous by the day. Not only are the Anarchist Federation (AF)one of the most coy, shy, and secretive political organisations in this country, they must also be one of the most politically incompetent organisations in this country.

If these people with their bans on publications, blacklists, proscriptions, and violent attacks on magazine editors, are the exponents of English anarchism, then God help us! These thugs need to be exposed for what they are.

Anonymous said...

Yeah that's right! The anarchists who write horrible things about a dead comrade are the true leaders of the revolution. I will gladly die for their right to be nasty! You'll have to pry the poison pen from my cold dead hands. Any attempt to hold them accountable for being such utter shits is JUST LIKE FRANCO AND THE NAZIS!!!!!!!!

After all, a TRUE ANARCHIST is one who threatens to take the organisers of an anarchist bookfair to court. A TRUE ANARCHIST fearlessly names their comrades on the internet against their will so that a quick Google search could put them out of a job or worse. That's the sort of freedom I want! The freedom to sue anyone I like!

bammy said...

Dear, dear me! Such anarcho-softies! When I was on't shopfloor, we would say: 'don't elect a shop-steward who's frightened of loosing his job!', because he's going to be a washout! Tomorrow, Steve Acheson will have been on the picket line at Fiddler's for 5-years and he's been fighting the blacklist in the building trade for well over 10-years. He couldn't have done that if he'd had the kind of courage that anonymous is calloing for. GET YOURSELF SOME BALLS! FOR CHRIST SAKE!

barry said...

The antics of the Anarchist Federation and the organisers of the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair have been widely condemned by many anarchists and activists across the country. They must be held accountable for their attacks on the NAN. The NAN declaration issued in Burnley is attracting widespread support.

Anarchists protecting jobs and pensions said...

The sort of freedom that I want 'Anonymous', is the freedom to sell my books and magazines at bookfairs and not be assaulted, have my stall wrecked and publications stolen, by anarcho-shits from the Anarchist Federation. Obviously these AF numpty heads - so-called anarchists, don't believe in freedom of expression for others!

And what sort of anarchist is it, that's constantly in fear of losing there job? I'll tell ya! An anarchist who is likely to be doing fuck all because he's so paralysed with fear.