Thoughts on the Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair

Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair poster, reads "Second Annual Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair, Nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come. Zines stalls info. Workshops kidspace and more. Free entry. 10am to 6pm Abbottsford Convent, 1 St Heliers St, Melbourne. Saturday 4th of August 2012. A Events Melbourne. www.amelbournebookfair.orgYesterday I had the pleasure of attending the second Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair.

The bookfair featured nearly forty stalls and some twenty one workshops. It drew a diverse range of individuals identifying as Anarchist, and plenty who did not.

I am absolutely thankful to the organising collective for putting on such an excellent event, and I hope to be able to support the future events by the collective.

***

UPDATE: Posted 8-August-2012

NOTE: The original post is the non-italisized text above and below this section.

It is clear in light of the criticism I have recieved from people I respect that I need to revisit, review and reconsider my remarks, in particular those about the ‘Decolonisation’ session.

Broadly speaking, there have been three kinds of response to three aspects of my original post.

The first was to the fact that I had dared write a critical review. The responses were generally ad hominem in their nature, and some appear to have been posted before the poster had even read the post in question. These kinds of remarks focused on my apparent arrogance, the supposedly unhelpful or unproductive nature of my writing, and the apparent disrespect I’ve show the organisers of the bookfair.

I do not consider such responses credible, for the reasons I put forward here on a previous thread.

It is clear that a small group of people reading this blog have taken a personal dislike to my remarks on ideas and groups dear to their heart. Being unable to disentangle political disagreement and personal affront, they respond to my presence with an almost hilarious venom.

I’ve come to expect a response along those lines, hence the joke about “denunciation bingo” and the less than welcoming introduction to the Comments Policy on this website.

However, in hindsight it is clear that my less than welcoming tone served to scare off or alienate people who would otherwise have put forward the comradely criticism that I actively seek. It is Lia’s remark in particular that makes me regret taking such an abrasive approach:

I’m a bit hesitant to comment here because I’m not sure either of us is going to get much out of this, but hey.

The second area of response concerned my remarks about “lifestylist trendies”. I would like to thank those comrades, Leigh M in particular, who pulled me up for my inappropriate remarks about clothing.

I stand by the remark “the real disappointment in these two sessions was that the large number of anti-organisationalists and life-stylists present at the bookfair decided not to participate”. The post-left vision of anarchism that many self described Anarchists embrace is obviously not something I agree with.

And this brings me to the ‘Decolonisation’ session.

I would like to thank Lia for her remarks as one of the organisers of the session.

Clearly, where I stated “I realised there was not going to be any opportunity to raise any kind of objection or contrary thought”, I had misunderstood the purpose and nature of the session.

The fact that I left the Decolonisation session has caused no end of negative comment, one person in particular posted “Kieran Bennett is a racist dickhead” no less than twelve times.

I now regret leaving the session. It is clear that I would be in a better position to explain what I find problematic, where I agree, and what I dispute, if I had stayed in the session and done a better job at listening.

I take the point made by Rebecca, Lia and others, that it is inappropriate of me to somehow expect Robbie Thorpe or any indigenous Australian to discuss the genocide of their people dispassionately.

My remarks about “white crimes” were not meant to indicate that I somehow believe there is no genocide against Australia’s first people, or that this issue should be dismissed. But I can see why some people have read them as such, and I apologise.

I take on board what Rebecca and others have said about the appropriateness of an indigenous speaker denouncing the crimes of colonisation to a predominantly white audience.

And upon reflection, I should know better. It seems my own assumptions and prejudices are not as well examined or dealt with as I sometimes like to think.

To those who offered comradely criticism despite my abrasiveness, thank you.

***

I only managed to attend four workshops, ‘Economic Collapse’, ‘Power and Capitalism’, ‘Introduction to Anarchism’ and ‘Decolonisation’, a comrade accompanying me to the bookfair also attended ‘Life after Capitalism’, ‘War on the Poor and Austerity Capitalism in Europe’ and ‘Indigenous Activism’.

The session ‘Economic Collapse’ was disappointing, even if it was interesting in what it revealed about the economic understandings some groups are advancing.

The host of the session presented a confidence and money supply centred explanation for the business cycle; damn that fractional banking! The talk then diverged into peak oil alarmism and pseudo mathematical explanations for why there was absolutely no hope of preventing the imminent collapse of civilization as we know it. Apparently we all have to sell our houses.

I would have loved the chance to inject some thoughts about the actual nature of the economic crisis, but unfortunately the breathless urgency of our peak oil enthusiast did not relent for the entirety of the session.

The comrade I was attending with attended the later session on the situation in southern Europe, and found the economic analysis much more rigorous.

The sessions ‘Power and Capitalism’ and ‘Intro to Anarchism’ were very productive.

‘Power and Capitalism’ saw an interesting discussion about what is an anarchist understanding of ‘Power’ and of ‘Capitalism’. Discussion centred around the questions: what is the relationship between the state and capitalism? Does capitalism occur within a state or market, or does it form an overarching world-system? Do states and the ruling class act in a manner determined by the economic system, do they show agency within capitalism? The tentative conclusions of this discussion might confound those who are only accustomed to dealing with a crude caricature of anarchist thought.

‘Intro to Anarchism’ actually drew in a range of people keen to learn more about what it was anarchists proposed! The discussion fell into the expected clichés, as new participants raised the usual objections about human nature, crime and the need for coercive authority to achieve organisation.

In these kinds of sessions, I like to focus more on what anarchists see as wrong about the present situation, and the prospects for changing it, before delving into the specifics of a hypothetical future. But of course the discussion in any brief Q & A has to respond to the questions of curious non-anarchists, and I was pleased to see the discussion go a bit beyond cursory answers to questions.

The real disappointment in these two sessions was that the large number of anti-organisationalists and lifestylists present at the bookfair decided not to participate. The lifestylist trendies with their fashionably ripped clothing, badges and carefully cultured state of unwash, managed to spend the day pretending to be anarchists whilst carefully avoiding any exposure to actual anarchist ideas.

A comrade I met at the bookfair summed it up perfecting, “They’re anarcho-fashionalists!” [Retracted: See Apology at end of post].

And that brings me to the ‘decolonisation’ session.

I was looking forward to participating in this session. It would apparently focus on ‘what would decolonisation in Australia look like’, an idea that I had hoped to challenge. But it was not to be.

I’ve seen Robbie Thorpe present his talk “Australia is a crime scene” before and on youtube. It’s an odd, if interesting stream of different thoughts. Unfortunately Robbie utterly missed the mark in his presentation at the Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair. He decided to berate the audience. Heck, they’re white after all?!

As I saw Robbie get increasingly passionate in his denunciation of white crimes, I realised there was not going to be any opportunity to raise any kind of objection or contrary thought. I left the room. Many followed.

The comrade who accompanied my on this trip went to the later talk on Indigenous Activism. Unfortunately Gary Foley was unwell and unable to present, and Robbie Thorpe presented again. The two talks appear to have been much the same, both in content and tone.

Robbie’s talks seem entirely unplanned, almost stream of consciousness in their quality. I wonder if we simply caught him on a bad day. There is much that he presents that is worth discussing, there are several concepts that he advances that anarchists should challenge, and some things that are factually inaccurate.

Unfortunately the two workshops at which Robbie presented did not provide a safe space for this discussion. [Update: Having reviewed and reflected on these remarks in light of the criticism of comrades I respect, I now consider the above remarks about the Decolonisation session mistaken].

I would be interested in hearing other participants thoughts on these sessions, and on the sessions I was unable to attend!

***

The Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair was representative of where Anarchism in Australia is at the moment. Anarchism is a tiny milieu, with only the most basic level of development and organisation.

The explicitly anarchist groups in Melbourne have memberships in the tens, they constitute a small core that is committed to the anti-capitalist class struggle focus of Anarchism.

Unfortunately most self-described anarchists do not appear to be involved in any type of anarchist organisation, and appear to remain committed to explicitly anti-organisationalist thinking and lifestylist practice.

The bookfair is a very important step in changing this.

For the first time in a number of years, a great many of those who call themselves anarchists in Melbourne are getting together in a largely neutral setting, and having the discussions that I hope lead to more defined politics and a growth in anarchist organisation.

I am already looking forward to next year!

Apology: I should not have generalised about the politics of crusties. To every crusty at MABF who’s political practice extends beyond lifestylism, I apologise.

Other Reviews:

Over Determined Contradiction: A Marxist goes to an Anarchist Bookfair (link broken).

Slackbastard: Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair 2012 (Review)

Melbourne IWW: Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair: Report back from Indigenous Workshop

16 Comments

  1. Let’s play denunciation bingo!

    1. Author is not Anarchist! [Free Square!]
    2. Author is Racist! or Author is White!
    3. Author is Sexist! or Author is Male!
    4. Author Writes too much!
    5. Author lacks depth!
    6. Author is “not constructive”!
    7. Author is attacking hard work of organisers!
    8. Author is actually a Trot infiltrator!
    9. Author is actually an undercover cop!
    10. Author is not from Melbourne!

    Reply
  2. Your comment cracked me up. hahahahahaha

    Did anyone have thoughts on offering stalls to trots?

    Your comments about the crusties are spot on.

    In a short 1am comment I lay the blame at SAlt + the 70s/80s for the current state of the extra parliamentary left in this country.

    I leave you with this: https://twitter.com/pictureofafist
    Download a couple of the freesheets for lulz.

    Reply
  3. Although dressed in white overalls, rather than ripped clothng, I seem to be part of the “anti-organisationalist” you roundly denounce. I am an individualist and rarely work in collectives (although I do and have worked in collectives, I prefer not to). I run my own project: The Anarchist Bookstall, which distributes anarchist texts that are not usually unavailable. I am a committed and dedicated anarchist and have identified consciously as such for the past thirty years. I have read most of the old texts and as much new stuff as I can I am NOT ignorant about anarchist politics but YOU certainly seem to have missed out on nearly a century of idelogical development since the Spanish Civil War.
    You seem to stuck in a particular definition of what you think an anarchist should do or think, and it is unfortunate that you seem mired in the last century (or simply in collectivism) of anarchist ideology. Wake up to the diversity of anarchism as it is today rather than the old leftist-collectivist paradigm.
    (:þ)

    Reply
  4. To call this bookfair an ‘anarchist’ bookfair is to engage in the propaganda against anarchism. Very few of the stalls actually identified as anarchist or could be recognisable as anarchist. Prime examples would be the Communist League stall and the Polyester stall but there are others. It dovetails neatly with the unfortunately widespread notion that anarchism is anything anybody wants it to mean and consequently means nothing. The logical follow-on is that if anarchy means nothing then the state means everything.

    Clearly popefred subscribes to the view that being an anarchist means only that you hold a certain set of views and opinions. He is mistaken. It is only in an anarchist group or collective that you can practice anarchism in any meaningful sense. popefred is, at best, an anarchist sympathiser.

    The anarchist bookfair of last weekend was not organised by any recognisable anarchist group, and consequently, accountable to no-one.

    The organisers of the bookfair should show some intellectual honesty and call it something else. How about The Left-Wing is Lovely Bookfair? This would avoid confusing anarchism with Marxist-Leninism and commercial enterprise.

    Reply
    • “It is only in an anarchist group or collective that you can practice anarchism in any meaningful sense…”
      Which anarchist philosopher stated this? It’s rank collectivism at it’s worst. I would say that a “real” anarchist wouldn’t make such a commnet but I don’t believe in telling other anarchists what to do or how to think. I suggest that Lugius reads some more recent anarchist literature and gets to understand that anarchists welcome and desire diversity within the anarchist paradigm. You can start with this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-left_anarchy
      and perhaps move on to such authors as Hakim Bey and Bob Black, of course I am sure that Lugius will simply claim that they too are “not anarchists” a convenient way of not dealing with the changing paradigm of anarchism.
      (:þ)

      Reply
  5. Lugius, I have to disagree.

    There was an open call out. The groups, workshop hosts and stalls drawn to this kind of event will depend on the depth of anarchist thought in the area in which the event is held. This is hardly the fault of the organisers!

    This event serves a worthwhile purpose, it brings together the disparate groups and people calling themselves anarchist, and provides the space for people like you and me to begin arguing for the class struggle nature of anarchist thought.

    I think you and I agree in our assessments of the nature of what calls itself Anarchism in Australia at this point in time. A key step in changing things has to be to make the case for Anarchism to self identified anarchists.

    Yes, the organising group is self appointed and informally organised. But I doubt the cooperation needed to achieve a broad event like this would occur if it was auspiced by any currently organised Anarchist group in Melbourne.

    It was a good event, I’m sorry you missed it. The chance to have conversations about Anarchism and what it means were worthwhile.

    Reply
    • Keiran, you can do all of that without necessarily calling it an ‘anarchist’ bookfair. You could call it ‘anti-capitalist bookfair’ but where would that leave the small business Polyester? You could call it ‘Libertarian and free-thinkers bookfair’ but where would that leave the Communist League? To lump them all together and call an ‘anarchist bookfair’ only contributes to the confusion about what anarchy is and what anarchism is. This level of confusion can only benefit the opponents of anarchism.

      I’m objecting to the name not the worthiness of the event. You are conflating the two together.

      popefred, you ask “Which anarchist philosopher stated this? It’s rank collectivism at it’s worst.” I answer me. Applying your logic of the value and importance of individuals, how is Hakim Bey or Bob Black any more knowledgable than me? To be selective would be to invoke the authority of one philosopher over another. Do you not contradict yourself?

      You say “I would say that a “real” anarchist wouldn’t make such a commnet but I don’t believe in telling other anarchists what to do or how to think.” But that is precisely what you suggest by telling what I should understand and what I should read. That you would posit an individual opinion over and above the collective experience of anarchist organisation is far more suggestive of small ‘l’ liberalism in the classical sense of the word – albeit with an anarchist applique.

      Again, this only serves to contribute to the confusion about anarchism. Hakim Bey, who would advocate ‘Temporary Autonomous Zones’ is a prime example. This seeks only to carve out a niche for individual freedom whereas anarchism seeks permanent liberty for all.

      The State is not temporary. There are no half-states any more you can be half pregnant or half dead. Anarchy means the eradication of the State without which Capitalism cannot survive. Socialism will be free or not at all.

      I appreciate you recommending further reading but whatever understanding you derive from such erstwhile philosophers, it is absolutely meaningless without putting it into practice. When Thatcher said “There is no such thing as society (rank collectivism)”, she was wrong.

      Reply
      • If Bey is too hot for you try Emma G’s Minorities vs majorities: http://www.panarchy.org/goldman/majorities.html
        As for my anarchist practice, It is precisely my experience with collectivists that leads me to be sceptical about collectivist anarchism. For eg. there are at least three different groups in Melbourne that are nominally “collectivist/syndicalist” and yet they are unable to work together practically, This points to a flaw in their ideologies, in that although paying lip-service to working together and solidarity, they are just as ego ridden as anybody else. I practice my anarchism on a daily basis through the way I live and interact with others, rather than just reaserving my anarchism for special times and places.
        It would seem that neither of us will convince the other of our respective positions but just as although I may disagree with collectivism I still accept it as a valid current in the stream of anarchism, why don’t you broaden your mind a bit and accept other currents you may not agree with as part of the beautiful diversity of anarchism.
        In solidarity with all who attempt to be anarchists in a heirarchical, capitalistic world, (:þ)

        Reply
    • I don’t think that you should limit who should be “allowed” to have a stall based on a narrow definition of anarchism but I think that Pathfinder Press is definately beyond the pale, since they had books on arch anti-anarchists Che and Trotsky, both who were responsible for the deaths of many anarchists. I was mortified when I saw their stall but did not know what to do about it. I suggest that you do draw some line in sand beyond which stalls/speakers cannot participate in the future…

      Reply
  6. Hi Kieran, I was one of the organisers of the Intro to Decolonisation panel. I’m a bit hesitant to comment here because I’m not sure either of us is going to get much out of this, but hey.

    I agree the panel was a bit disorganised and we could’ve structured and facilitated it better. I have no problem with this criticism. If I were organising it again I would’ve liked to have more time and have given our speakers opportunity to meet and plan a little more before the session.

    You mentioned there was no opportunity for feedback or challenge. I think you might have misunderstood the nature and purpose of the session. We were careful in all our promotion and in the introduction to specify that it was a presentation and not a Q&A.

    There were a few reasons for this: First, we felt it was a better use of the time. Second, it felt safer for us. The organisers are four people of colour and most of us are more accustomed to organising within autonomous people of colour settings (and queer and feminist settings). Personally I’ve been involved around the fringes of anarchist movements for a while but it’s not “my community” so for me I felt more comfortable not having to deal with audience questions. Third, we thought it would be more productive. People had the opportunity to chat with the speakers at the end of the session and a few people took that up. From my experiences in different activist movements, I think this can be more fruitful because then people only ask genuine questions and listen more attentively rather than using question time to make themselves heard or essentially just show off their own knowledge.

    I don’t think every session has to be participatory – sometimes even anarchists can stand to listen. For non-Indigenous people learning about decolonisation, I think we can really do with more listening.

    Our priority was to create a safe space for our speakers. When you say that we didn’t provide “a safe space for discussion” because Robbie got “increasingly passionate in his denunciation of white crimes”, I have to say that we in no way intended or promised to provide a space that was free from denouncing white crimes. That would have been utterly contrary to the purpose of the session. Centering Indigenous voices on decolonisation over white objectors was not a failure, a weakness or an accident – it was rather the point.

    I hope that explains our intentions. Of course, others are welcome to organise as they see fit and I’d love to see more content in the programme around decolonisation and Indigenous movements.

    Thanks,

    Lia

    Reply
  7. Rebecca WinterAugust 8, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Hey Kieran!

    I thought I’d chime in with a couple of thoughts.

    I don’t think you were fair to Robbie Thorpe. You objected to him berating the audience and passionately denouncing white crimes.

    The question is, though, why shouldn’t he?

    Is it that you prefer an unemotive style of discussion? I can sympathise, but I think it’s not fair to require that when people are talking about oppression like that which Robbie spoke about. The conditions that Aboriginal people face in Australia and our history of genocide and colonial violence are hugely fucked. I’m not sure how Aboriginal people (and others) could be expected to not be passionate in their denunciation of this.

    Or was your objection to Robbie accusing the people at the Anarchist Bookfair of being the beneficiaries of colonialism? I think such accusations are justified. I think we’re obligated to try to confront Australian colonialism and prevent future oppression from occurring. I wouldn’t object to a Palestinian speaker berating Israeli lefties for not doing enough to prevent state violence against Palestinians. Similarly, I think Robbie’s comments are justified. It’s not as if the majority of people at the Anarchist Bookfair are actively seeking to end oppression against Aboriginal Australians in any significant sense.

    On the political points you raised in the facebook thread on this – I see the focus on sovereignty and treaty by Robbie and others as a strategic political stance – not necessarily a position on ownership more abstractly. The argument that there should be a treaty and that sovereignty should be recognised makes sense within existing political and legal frameworks. So I see it as similar in some ways to the demand for an end to mandatory detention – it’s a way of trying to claim some autonomy and self-governance for Aboriginal communities within the current system.

    I think Lia’s comment summed up the justifications for having workshops which focus on hearing what Aboriginal people have to say very well. Left-wing movements have a long history of ignoring what Aboriginal people have to say, even when they’re supposed to be working with them on campaigns about Aboriginal rights, so I’d agree that this is very important. There’s a good essay by Gary Foley on this history here: http://kooriweb.org/foley/essays/essay_9.html

    So yeah, it seems to me that you should be treating these issues with greater consideration and reflection. You seemed to disregard the substantive points that Robbie made because of the style in which he made them and your feelings of discomfort. That’s not a good argument, in my opinion, and I think you can do better than that. What I like about your blog so far has been that you usually engage quite carefully with the topics at hand, but I think you missed an opportunity to do that with this post.

    One final point, I think the whole Bingo thing was not helpful and detracted from the conversation. Having a Bingo number for accusations of sexism and racism suggests that any such accusations are necessarily unwarranted, which I think is quite harmful. Sometimes people do wrongly accuse others of being prejudiced, but implying that such comments are always or usually unjustified undermines the very real instances of sexism and racism that occur.

    Rebecca.

    Reply
  8. Hello popefred!

    Broadening my mind does not require acceptance or agreement. The point I’m trying to make is that defining anarchism is not dependent on what you or I say it is but on what the collective experience of anarchists are. Otherwise what would be the difference between anarchism and liberalism, in the classic sense of the word, which seeks as its highest goal the freedom of the individual. There is no adequate individual response to capitalism. It can only be responded to collectively and to disavow it is to posit some individuals freedom over others.

    You mention three anarchist groups who lack co-operation. Without naming them, it is difficult to evaluate this statement in support of your argument. Suffice to say that the absence of an anarchist federation is in no way an argument for individualism over collectivism but a recognition that an understanding of anarchist organisation is lacking amongst those who fashion themselves anarchists.

    So we may agree to disagree. P.S. thanks for the holy water, it slaked my spiritual thirst.

    Reply
  9. Hello Rebecca!

    You make a number of very good points with which I like to concur.

    An argument should be evaluated on its substance not its style.

    Every non-indigenous person in Australia is a beneficiary of the wholesale theft of land and destruction of indigenous culture. This would include those in attendance at ‘Anarchist’ (cough! splutter!) Bookfair.

    You mention that most of the individuals there are not actively seeking to end oppression of indigenous people in any significant sense and that even when working with indigenous people for indigenous rights (I assume you are referring to the feminist movement in Australia). Too true, but it is hardly in their interests to do so. Afterall, what passes for the Left is overwhelmingly white and midlle-class.

    Symptiomatic of the overwhelming whiteness and middle-class-ness of what passes for the anarchist scene in Australia is denunciation bingo. Denunciation bingo would not resonate if not for the frequency of denunciation in the absence of cogent and/or coherent argument. Denunciations of sexism (most commonly ‘boy’s clubs’, ‘manarchist’, etc.) are most common precisely because of whiteness and middle-class-ness. What else is there to denounce? White people accusing white people of racism, or private school alumni attacking their schoolfriends for being bourgeois doesn’t have the same gravity as women denouncing men for sexism and hence its greater incidence.

    The speed with which this tactic is resorted to is commensurate with the convenience it provides to the accuser. No examination is necessary. Just is.

    The sum total result is to diminish the importance of the issue of sexist and misogynist behaviour. I can think of a number of incidences that have occurred in the past few years which has lacked the requisite response because of this.

    To be taken seriously, serious issues require open and honest debate, not ad hominem denunciations designed to end discussion.

    There is no substitute for thoughtful critique.

    Reply
  10. Since there may be some room for additional criticisms to be voiced here that I don’t think have been broached yet, I’ll add my own. I will leave out my general passionate monologues about the necessity of colonisation/decolonisation workshops being present at all events held on occupied land (because I don’t have the energy at the moment and I’m not sure how much this thread would benefit from my opinions anyway), and I’ll just comment on this one aspect that struck me.

    My biggest criticism for the Decolonisation workshop was the grievous disrespect shown by the attendees to the presenters and to the presentation overall. I was appalled at the lack of basic respect shown to presenters Robbie Thorpe and Johnny Harding during their presentation. I was shocked that people would arrive to the workshop late or that they would have the gall to leave early, whilst an elder is speaking. I have rarely (if ever) seen so much flagrant disregard shown to the basic respects that are owed to elders and to Aboriginal/Indigenous during a speech. Where is the respect? Where is the courtesy? Where is the most elementary level of acting like a mature adult? The majority of folks attending acted merely like children in a preschool class — rambunctious, self-centered, and lacking in all basic manners. Can folks not sit still for 45 minutes? Can folks not sit quietly, hold their thoughts, their questions and their own ego-centric opinions for one single short presentation? Are folks really that restless that they cannot refrain from answering their mobile phones, talking to their friends, and leaving the room (all of that happened) during a presentation about the history of colonisation on the land that we are occupying? Are folks really that disrespectful that they cannot pay attention and hold space to hear elders speak about the fall-out from genocides that we are directly connected to? Do folks really need to arrive late, fidget, talk, and then leave early while the presenters are still talking? Are folks really that disrespectful of their elders? Are folks really that pathetic? Where are the manners? Where are the anarchistic ideals? I would like to see folks attending a Decolonisation workshop or any presentation where elders and Aboriginal/Indigenous are speaking be schooled on the basics of how to show some respect. (Perhaps I should note here that my own schooling in basic respects only began after years of listening to elders and finding my own place as a person with Native/coloniser mixed identity.)

    I felt that the Decolonisation workshop made me sad more than anything. Not because of the heavy and confronting nature of the content (that will always be difficult to stomach because it is a content of genocide), but because the crowd affirmed for me the complete inability of the vast majority of people I’ve experienced in Australia to show even the most basic levels of respect to the traditional owners of this land. To me this is a direct correlation to the lack of understanding that folks have about the history of this country and of the people who occupy it, which is even more reason for these workshops to happen.

    Listen. Learn. Show some respect.

    – Molasses

    (My other criticism would be that the workshop was held in one of the smaller rooms, which are harder to hear because of the rooms being shared with other workshops being held beyond a semi-partition. I would request, as always, that the larger and more adequate spaces be given to people who’s voices are primarily not dominant — such as voices of POC and women. I would request that in the future the bookfair seriously take this into consideration and provide for voices that are often dominated to be given the bigger and better spaces. It’s only sensible.)

    Reply
  11. As a quick response to something that Lia said, I agree that it could have been helpful to the facilitation of the workshop if it was made clearer in the introduction that the presentation was not open for questions but was rather a space to listen to the presenters. I also helped to organise for this workshop, and I regret not making that aspect clearer at the beginning. Perhaps in the future for presentations of this sort that information can be made clear along with some basic guidelines for showing respect, so that folks who do not feel willing or able to attend a workshop of that format can do themselves, the presenters and the other attendees the favour of not being disrespectful and disruptive in the first place. (I’ll give the benefit of the doubt that some folks were simply confused at the format of the workshop, and that others have simply never learned how to show basic respect.)

    I would also like to see more workshops of this sort at these events and for the anarchist community to begin to learn how to do this well.

    Reply

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