anarchist book fairs in the cape

Submitted by ConsciousBabe on Fri, 2011-11-11 11:11

The perfect opportunity to purchase cutting-edge literatureThe perfect opportunity to purchase cutting-edge literature

First Book Fair
This Guy Fawkes marked the first anarchist book fair in Africa, a trend that has taken off all around the world. These events are a great opportunity for existing anarchists to come together and the common public to learn more about anarchism.

Located at Observatory’s quirky café Ganesh, the anarchist book fair on the 5th November had a revolutionary atmosphere, and you could almost feel the genius as it bred in small groups, big ideas swished around by foreigners and locals alike.

‘There were more anarchists at the book fair than we expected,’ says Stef, one of the fair's organisers. ‘I realise now how many are actually living in Cape Town. We sold loads of books and distributed tons of pamplets.

What is Anarchism?
Anarchism developed in the mid 19th century at the same time that socialism and communism emerged, which means they have similar ideals, such as everyone being equal. In fact, ‘Animal Farm’ was written by an anarchist sympathiser. Many early anarchists were pro-feminist, pro-gay liberation and even (shock-horror) vegetarians.

'The Missing Shelf' had plenty books to chose from'The Missing Shelf' had plenty books to chose from

Anarchism is not a religion. In fact it is anti-religion,’ explained Aragorn earlier this week when I met him and his girlfriend, Stef, at Closer, the vegan café in Muizenberg. ‘We are against all forms of hierarchy.’

Anarchists believe in complete equality, freedom of expression and everyone having their basic needs met. They also believe in things like ‘restorative justice’, where criminals are sought to be understood rather than punished. Where Capitalism emphasises Freedom and Communism is about Equality, Anarchism aims to marry the two.

Everyone an Anarchist
Anarchism principles aren’t these crazy, radical things,’ Aragorn explains. ‘Everyone is an anarchist in their own way – when you are enjoying dinner with friends, nobody is in charge, telling the other what to do. Instead a natural structure emerges, and everything gets done voluntarily, everyone having empathy with one another and sharing.’

‘Even the expression ‘circle of friends’ suggests a lack of hierarchy,’ Stef adds.

The most cutting-edge collection of pamphlets I've ever seenThe most cutting-edge collection of pamphlets I've ever seen

Anarchism’s version of ‘leaderlessness’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘chaotic’ and they believe strongly in consensus over dictatorship. Anarchic principles are in fact much like the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ theory (of which Wikipedia is a great example), encouraging everyone to participate meaningfully in their society.

At the moment, the current system of Capitalism rewards those who are greedy, narcissistic and selfish,’ says Aragorn, and his girlfriend Stef tells me of cases in Italy and Argentine where certain anarchist principles have been applied, with successful results.

Veganism, Punks and Feminists
Last year this unusual couple travelled the world filming interviews with anarchists for their documentary on anarchism, the trailer of which should be out soon. They also own a book-selling business called ‘The Missing Shelf’ and are directors at the South African Vegan Society - an organisation that does vegan support and outreach as well as promoting animal rights through events.

Little Ganesh was packedLittle Ganesh was packed

Anarchism not only overlaps with veganism, but also with the punk sub-culture, freeganism and certain squatter groups in UK and the US. The meaning of anarchism has changed over the years to include more contemporary forms of expression and there are even movements now like ‘green-anarchism’ and ‘anarcho-primitism.’

In fact some of the people we interviewed for our documentary are now very involved in the larger Occupy movements around the world,’ says Stef.

Why books?
At last Saturday’s anarchist book fair workshops were held where people could ask questions, left-wing magazines and cutting-edge documentaries were on sale, and of course many books on a whole variety on anarchist topics were available to purchase.

The way people see the world is framed within what they know,’ says Aragorn. ‘At the moment most people’s understanding is limited because they do not have access to information about alternatives.’

Anarchists say that ‘education is the key to be free’ and these book fairs are certainly a good place to start the educating!

The next Anarchist Book Fair in Cape Town will most likely be on May Day, a historical day for the anarchist movement.

Look out for the next Anarchist Book Fair!Look out for the next Anarchist Book Fair!