The WSM is not organising the 12th Dublin Anarchist Bookfair for the spring of 2017 as might be expected. Instead, we are organising an alternative event, the Anarchist Gathering.
The Anarchist Gathering 2017 will take place on Sunday, 23nd April, 10am-5pm in the Teacher’s Club (36, Parnell Square West, Dublin 1). Please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest in attending. We are gathering to discuss how we can better organise and fight for a free society. We would hope that everyone actively interested in building anarchism in Ireland will attend.
The following piece maps out our thinking about the bookfair at the present moment.
WSM Dublin Anarchist Bookfair Committee.
WHY NO BOOKFAIR?
We’ve taken this step because we feel the circumstances we now find ourselves in are very different from those of the first anarchist bookfair in 2006. In significant ways, some circumstances are better. There are now far more people who call themselves anarchists and are involved in ongoing activity. However, this involvement has become much more individual and informal. Clearly, there are some advantages to these new conditions. With the massive growth of online communications, Facebook in particular, the need for organisations to organise and transmit information in printed form is gone. Protests can be organised online with a tiny fraction of the resources once required. On the negative side, we are all aware that the lack of face-to-face meetings has often resulted in an increased difficulty in resolving disputes and increased isolation. The decline of collective organisations raises particular problems for bookfair organising.
At the time of the 2006 bookfair, there were several collective organisations with a solid existence beyond WSM who were either explicitly anarchist (as with RAG, Revolutionary AnarchaFeminist Group) or pretty close to being anarchist in their practice, like Seomra Spraoi. For a few years that number grew. The emergence of Solidarity Books, ABC, Queer Thing, Rossport Solidarity Camp and others meant that while the WSM organised the bookfair we hosted a number of domestic anarchist related groups as well as international anarchist publishers like AK Press. Alongside this we hosted lots of campaigns anarchists were interested in. The Bookfair is an increasingly popular event: attendance last year was at least five times greater than the first one. However, most of the collective anarchist groups mentioned here no longer exist. Last year, the presence of anarchist organisations at the bookfair was minimal.
In the context of the movement as it currently exists then, the Dublin Anarchist Bookfair has become something that is much harder for us to commit to organising. The workload is considerable: a small team working steadily for four months ahead of the date, a larger team putting a couple of hundred hours of work in over the two weeks before hand, the day itself, and then the clearing up and poster removal afterwards. The cost is also significant. In the last few years, we have spent from 3,500 to 5,000 euro on the event. (However, a benefit of the growth of the number of anarchists was that last year for the first time we covered all those costs in the aftermath). Nevertheless, for the last couple of years, we found that the work required to ensure that everything runs smoothly on the day left us with little time or energy to ensure an anarchist presence at our own event. In other words, while we enjoy the Bookfair, its contribution towards building a collectively organised anarchist movement is uncertain.
For these reasons, at the present moment, we think it is better to attempt a gathering of anarchists to discuss how we can better organise collectively and fight for a free society.
TOWARDS THE ANARCHIST GATHERING
The Anarchist Gathering is not a particularly novel idea. In 1998, a couple of the older members of WSM attended an anarchist conference in Bradford that took place following the dissolution of Class War (See http://anarchism.pageabode.com/andrewnflood/report-1998-bradford-mayday-...). The conference didn’t lead to the formation of a new organisation (that was never its goal). However, the shot in the arm it provided played a role in creating the sort of solidarity that allowed the J18 Action against the City of London to take part. The J18 in turn inspired anarchists heading to the WTO in Seattle and - along with other initiatives like the Zapatista encuentros - was a significant part of the reason that an anti-capitalist summit protest movement running from Seattle to Genoa emerged.
We aren’t aiming that high (yet!). But we anarchists of the WSM think that its past time for all those actively involved as anarchists in Ireland to gather together to discuss how we communicate, how we work together and how we can achieve a hell of a lot more in the future.
To work out the detail, a planning and volunteering meeting for the Anarchist Gathering will take place at 7:30pm, Tuesday, 11th April in Jigsaw (10 Belvedere Court, Mountjoy, Dublin 1). Please do send us an email at email@example.com to let us know what you feel and if you are willing to get involved in the organising process.