The San Francisco Anarchist Book Fair has metastasized into the Anarchist Spectacle. Attendees don’t participate, but merely consume (books, t-shirts, and posters), while being passively entertained by lectures from leading anarchist theorists, writers, and the occasional activist pitching the latest convergence. Often the most entertaining feature of the SF book fair is not a planned event but rather some fiasco arising from the hubris of the planning committee: setting the venue for the last book fair inside Northern California’s preeminent porn studio; preempting other longstanding anarchist events by scheduling a second day for the fair; calling for the arrest of those who had the impertinence to throw a pie in the face of the fair’s featured celebrity author (and then attempting to solicit any who had witnessed the event to rat out the perpetrators); etc.
We admire and respect the pioneering efforts the SF book fair to produce one of the first anarchist book fairs in North America. There remains an excitement to the SF book fair, but its focus seems to have narrowed into simply selling books and anarchist paraphernalia. We’re not saying that there are never any real conversations, tensions, or dynamics at the SF Book fair, but lately those interesting conversations happen despite the book fair, not because of it.
These conversations are why we’re wildly enthusiastic about all the anarchist book fairs from Eugene, Oregon to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Like the medieval town fairs, book fairs provide a vibrant link between anarchist communities. They’re also a lot of fun, with music, dancing, dinners and/or camping trips both before and after the fairs.
At the East Bay book fair, we are attempting to provide a formal structure to interactions and conversations between anarchists that occur worldwide. There are no speakers per se, but circles of conversation, and people (mostly local) who will host and facilitate. This book fair is not for an audience, but for participants: people who want to engage anarchist ideas directly, not watch someone else do it.
As a post-modern medieval fair, we’ll be our own entertainment. Bake sales, punk shows, and dinners precede the fair; more parties and a camping trip occur afterwards. The book fair will also be a costume party with prizes. We’ll have karaoke, an art table and childcare. There’ll even be a panel discussion of Anarchist Art featuring William Blake, Thomas Pynchon, and Banksy. For a complete schedule follow us on twitter @eastbayanarchy.
We are East Bay Anarchists. We are not arrogant enough to think we have the answers. We are not stupid enough to blindly accept anyone else’s answers. We also sell books. Come by the Humanist Hall at 790 27th St., Oakland on Oct. 26 between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM and check us out. Be sure to wear your costume!