Friday, 13 April 2018

Liverpool Anarchists say: 'Have a happy bookfair!'

by Brian Bamford
ARRIVING at the Black-E at 11,45am for last Saturday's Liverpool Anarchist Bookfair, I was greeted by the organiser 'Maria' of the 'News From Nowhere' Radical & Community Bookshop.  She set about scolding me saying severely:  'We sent you an e-mail and you can't attend!'  

Then up pops Pablito from Salamanca, who works in 'hospitality', who asks me 'Are you going to leave!'

I comply but only after noting down their utterances and swallowing a blood pressure pill.

As I picked up the bookfair program I observe on the front page the cheerful words 'Have a happy bookfair!'

Not so happy!

One of the local activists who came to address the talk on blacklisting at 3 o'clock, ended up saying that he would never attend an event 'like this again'.  

The spokesman from the Merseyside Trades Union Council, who came in a personal capacity to speak on blacklisting told me that he was 'disappointed at (the) lack of comradeship' at the event, and that regarding 'The individual concerned from the Blacklist Support Group' it was time to 'move on and make progress'.

The blacklist talk had been broken-up after a man was asked to leave because he supported Helen Steel in her dispute with the trans community.  At this point Pablito from Salamanca, as part of the squad for the defence of safer spaces, ended up with a kick in his backside flank. 

Others at the blacklist meeting complained that the bloke had been chucked out without proper consultation about the leaflet he had been distributing, and to which some people had objected.  The justification for excluding the individual was presumably rooted in the 'Safer spaces policy' of the 'Liverpool Anarchist Book Fair' which naively claims 'aims to be a welcoming, inclusive and safe space'.

What presents itself as a 'Safer spaces policy' is a charming catechism  which innocently enunciates a programme worthy of Big Brother and his thought policemen with beautiful elegance.  What is demanded in the text of this scheme is a censorship of language and thought such as Orwell's 'Newspeak' predicted in the 1940s.  

To survive the trauma of such linguistic cesspit one would have to bleach all natural thought processes of any original ideas to sink into the realm of stunted dialogue thus squeezing out all human passions and originality, for fear of making an odd unorthodox remark or stuttering some unintended outburst.  

Conversational Analysis of 'Safer Space' & 'Thought Crime'

A conversational analyst would be delighted with the text offered by the Liverpool Anarchist Book Fair 'Safer Spaces Policy'.  The text is rich in the straight-jacket of thought control.  

The 'Safer spaces policy' states 'Abusive, violent, threatening or harassing behaviour will not be tollerated'.

It then gives some examples:  'Oppressive language, literature or attitudes that insult, express prejudices or reinforce preconceptions about a group of people that are marginalised, disadvantaged or oppressed by mainstream society are not welcome.'

Then the organisers typically offer us a list of taboo topics:  'racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and classism' .

The dogma of what can only be defined as a totalitarian epistle to the glories of  'thought crime' is delightfully documented  in the final paragraph where it says:  'Don't make assumptions (based on, for example, race, pronouns, class, sexual orientation etc.)  

One would be tempted to say all this is characteristic of medieval thinking that one might find in the Catholic Church before Martin Luther to having wayward and sinful thoughts, but it is more totalitarian than that in that it seeks to extend its bans and gags in a style of Soviet proportions in which the required terminology may change from overnight if not sooner.

The Safer spaces document says 'we refuse to normalise prejudice, reinforce oppression or recreate hierarchies' but instead on the ground yesterday Pablito and Maria engineering an good impression of a Fred Karno's Circus or the Keystone Cops* with the thought-policemen / women / transgender / creatures or whatever wading-in to exclude folk without any fair trial or due process.  Where is the justice in that comrade Pablito (the hospitality worker) or Compañera Maria (from News from Nowhere bookshop)?  

Of course, justice is not what is going on here.  

What's going on?  Anarcho-Bossism!
What's going on here is 'Malas linguas' (bad mouthing); false accusations; victimsation and yes, if you like blacklisting.  We could call this anarcho-Bossism and Blacklisting.

At one point as I stood outside looking like a drowned rat in the Liverpool rain, Compañera Maria suggested I go a cafe to warm-up.  I told her that in Manchester we were used to standing in the rain on picket lines with Steve Acheson to combat blacklisting at sites like MRI (Manchester Royal Imfirmary) or Fiddler's Ferry.  She said this is not the same kind of blacklisting!  

I asked her to please explain how this differs from the blacklisting by the bosses?

Compañera Maria didn't reply but looked very uncomfortable.

Later Maria told Milan Rai, the editor of Peace News, that the Liverpool Anarchist Collective had decided to ban me because of an obituary I wrote in 2012 about the former AF member, the teacher Bob Miller in 2011, and something about putting Simon Saunders from the Morning Star / Freedom  in a neck-lock on the 22nd, June 2016, following having been dragged out of the Freedom Bookshop by him and Andy Meinke and then being pinned to the wall in Angel Alley by Compañero Saunders and ten other comrades. 

The trouble with this argument is that the original application to do a talk on blacklisting came from me as Secretary of Tameside TUC, and by banning me they Liverpool Anarchist Bookfair is blissfully unaware that it is blocking the participation of a North West trade union body.  In short, the Liverpoll Anarchist Bookfair Collective failed to cover itself with glory yesterday.

The Keystone Cops (often spelled "Keystone Kops") were fictional, humorously incompetent policemen, featured in several silent film slapstick comedies produced by Mack Sennett for his Keystone Film Company between 1912 and 1917.



carlos figueroa said...

Great work,dear Brian,this politically correct world is creating monsters like Trump...

Maria (Liverpool Anarchist Bookfait said...

On Friday, 27 April 2018, 13:54, Liverpool Anarchist Bookfair wrote:

Dear Steve

Thank you for your email. We emailed Brian in advance of the bookfair,
after he informed us of his intention to attend, as follows:

Dear Brian,

We appreciate that blacklisting is an important issue to you, and we wish you all the best in your own campaigning efforts against it.

However, unfortunately we have to ask you to not attend the Liverpool Anarchist Bookfair. It has come to our attention that that there is a history of disruption and conflict associated with yourself at bookfairs and other occasions elsewhere, so we have decided that in the interests of all concerned - including yourself - and the smooth and peaceful running of our event, it is best that you do not attend.

Thank you in advance for respecting this. Our decision is final.

Therefore when he arrived at the bookfair we peacefully but firmly
insisted that he leave.

We have no political quarrel with Brian. We wish him and the groups he
works with well in their endeavours. We simply ask that Brian does not
attend our event here in Liverpool.

Liverpool Anarchist Bookfair is organised by an independent and
autonomous collective of volunteers. Our decision was not at the behest
of any other organisation or outside individual, and we do not want to
be drawn into the ins and outs of the past histories of conflicts
between Brian and others.

Our sole concern is the smooth and peaceable running of our event.

best wishes

Liverpool Anarchist Bookfair collective