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Reflections on Sydney's first-ever anarchist bookfair

This article was originally written for Anarcho-Syndicalist Review. By Jay Kerr & Sid Parissi.

A collective of anarchists organised a significant political event in March 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Although initiated by the Jura Collective that operates a long running bookshop, events and organising centre, it quickly grew into an autonomous collective of various groups and individuals. Previous bookfairs had been held in Melbourne, a city some 900km to the south, but none had been held elsewhere in the country. This article is an account of the preparation for the event by Jay, one of the organising collective and impressions of the day by Sid, a member of the Jura Collective.

Also, check out the collection of photos from the day.

Marx's economics for anarchists?

A review of Wayne Price, The Value of Radical Theory: an anarchist introduction to Marx's critique of political economy AK Press, 2013.

By Paul Rubnero, guest contributor.

Anarchists have generally been cautious about endorsing any part of Marxism – with good reason, considering the fractious and sometimes bloody history of relations between these two rival political traditions. However, despite deep political differences with Marxism, there are some anarchists who recognise the value of Marx’s critique of political economy and his approach to economic theory. Wayne Price is one of them.

How I became an anarchist - Nic

Like many comrades, my road to anarchism was a long, circuitous one. A commitment to anarchism, or indeed any philosophy is the culmination of many small internal and external events; disappointments, realisations, books read and people met along the way.

My journey began as a teenager, when I became absorbed with certain questions I had about life; such as why it was that people were born free but seemed to become less and less so as they got older? Why were some people less free than others? Why was power and authority invested in those who seemed the least deserving and the most unwilling to create real social change?

What role did the anarchists play in the Spanish Revolution during 1936?

By Oliver, Sydney, guest contributor.

I wrote the following essay for my HSC History Extension Major Work in 2012. The History Extension course in New South Wales allows students to devise their own question, do all their own research and their answer the question in 2500 words. Already identifying as an Anarchist for about a year and reading of its theory from the likes of Kropotkin, Chomsky, Goldman and Berkman, I decided that exploring the practical side to Anarchism would be a good way to approach my Major Work. This essay, a research logbook and annotated bibliography contributed 40% to my overall HSC mark in History Extension, all of which I received full marks for.

Anarchist Christmas comes to Australia

Class War’s Iain Bone once described the London Anarchist Bookfair as the anarchists' Christmas - where people come together, meet up with old friends and enemies, and buy presents for ourselves and others.

It's true that anarchist bookfairs are a peculiar phenomenon, a strange cross of radical, anti-capitalist politics and blatant consumerism, but as an ever-proliferating event they are not easily dismissed.

Anarchist bookfairs have become a firmly established feature of radical diaries across the world. From humble beginnings in London some thirty odd years ago the bookfair idea has spread to cities across the globe, on almost every continent, including Australia, with Sydney holding its first in March 2014 while Melbourne plans its fourth for later in 2014.

The London Anarchist Bookfair now boasts 5,000 visitors, 100 stalls and 50 meetings in a single day, and other cities aren't far behind. The success of the idea is tangible. But why do so many people come to the bookfairs, while so few attend anarchist conferences and meetings?

How I became an anarchist - by Stuart

People ask you sometimes why you are an anarchist. I wonder how anyone can not be an anarchist! Anyone who looks around and really thinks about things will be likely to reach the same conclusion.

The system we currently live under, of capitalism and hierarchical government, so often seems to bring out the worst in people, the ignorance, laziness, fear, hate and violence that we are all capable of. These negative human attributes can be promoted, manipulated and exploited by cynical politicians and others looking to give their careers a boost. The words of a Dead Kennedys song, When Ya Get Drafted, come to mind, '...Fan the fires of racist hatred, war is coming back in style, especially when you build the bombs that blow big cities off the map. Guess who profits when we build 'em back up. Big business gets what big business wants. Call the army, call the navy, stocked with kids from slums. If you can't afford a slick attorney we might make you a spy...' 

How I became an anarchist - by Jay

As a twelve year old wannabe punk who had just discovered The Sex Pistols I asked my father, ‘Dad, what is anarchy?’ after hearing Anarchy in the UK. ‘It means no government’ he replied, ‘but that’s impossible. You can’t have a world without any government, there has to be something’. ‘Oh’, I said, and fell silent, pondering his answer, feeling unconvinced that this could be the case, that what Jonny Rotten was singing about was impossible, there had to be more to it than that.

Simon Hunt, AKA Pauline Pantsdown, on politics and cultural intervention

This guest contribution to the Jura blog comes from Simon Hunt, AKA Pauline Pantsdown, who gave the following short speech at the Sydney launch of How to Make Trouble and Influence People, at Jura Books on 26 September 2013. In it, Simon talks about his politicisation, his cultural intervention as Pauline Pantsdown in 1997-1998, and how to use humour to confront the dark policies of racism and cultural bigotry in Australia. We encourage you to follow Pauline Pantsdown's great organising and amazing exploits at facebook.com/paulinepantsdown666

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