Thanks, everyone.

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Our warmest thanks and congratulations to everyone who participated in this year’s Dorset Radical Bookfair. The stallholders, speakers, performers and musicians, everyone who lent us stuff, helped out beforehand or on the day.

If you supported us in any way, shape or form, donated, bought something, came to a meeting or the gig, even if you just walked in off the street, had a look round and ate some cake, you contributed to our success and we hope you had a good experience.

We really appreciate the staff at Dorchester Corn Exchange, who made a great effort to have everything ready for us, so our skeleton crew could run it smoothly.

As public and social spaces are being lost, venues becoming less affordable, the voluntary, non-commercial sector is contracting. It’s vital we all get involved in these events or they will vanish. We must have time and space to meet face to face, away from the manipulative corporate and social media, to learn from one another, share ideas and experiences, and come up with radical solutions.

We’ve all made new friends this weekend – in real life! People won’t fight together unless they care about each other personally, and that doesn’t happen through a computer screen.

Feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive, especially regarding the venue, we always welcome suggestions for improvements to future events, especially when they come with offers to help implement them!

Love and best wishes,

The DRB Collective.

BOOKFAIR

Today in London riotous history, 1887: police attack demonstrators on ‘Bloody Sunday’

past tense

Public meetings held in the open used to be one of the main venues of propaganda and winning converts in the early socialist movement. Local ‘speakers corners’ were to be found in many working class areas, in London’s inner city areas and later suburbs. But larger demonstrations and rallies obviously targeted more central meeting places, nearer to the centres of power of the state. Of these, Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park were favourite rallying places in the 19th century, as they still are today.

But the government feared and hated large demonstrations of working class people thronging the centre of the capital, and discussing dangerous and subversive ideas…. The police were regularly ordered to prevent demonstrations and meetings. In the 1850s Hyde Park, in particular Speakers Corner, was the centre of a fierce fight for the right to assemble and speak, a right which was eventually won.

But if…

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Save Our Libraries Essex update – 9.11.19

This is from the Save Our Libraries Essex Facebook page

We were back in the Chronicle this morning with this week’s headline letter! It reads:-

In July the imminent threat to close a third of Essex libraries was removed, as Essex County Council (ECC) announced that no library would close ‘for at least five years’. However, ECC has a closure plan by stealth, with an entirely unsustainable idea for so-called ‘community libraries’. In reality this means ECC trying to wash its hands of at least sixty per cent of its libraries, and leaving local community groups to fully run, staff, fund, and house their local library. One county councillor has even suggested moving libraries into pubs. Can parents imagine taking their children into the local pub to browse the bookshelves and to study quietly?

To take on the job of running a library, ECC is offering voluntarily groups just £18,000…

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Review: Whither Anarchism? by Kristian Williams

Anarchist Writers
In 1998 Murray Bookchin wrote a response to the critics of his Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm entitled Wither Anarchism?. Twenty years later appears a pamphlet bearing the same name and in a way covering the same issue – the state of the movement. Only the most blinkered anarchist would disagree that this is a valid question – and one we need to address even if the rest of the revolutionary left is hardly much better and without the benefit of having a viable theory.

By Kristian Williams, who has been active in the American anarchist movement since the early 1990s and the author of Between the Bullet and the Lie: Essays on Orwell, this pamphlet is divided into three sections. The first, on Anarchism, is excellent. It presents a good, short, introduction on why Anarchism is an appealing theory and one which has, and will continue to, attract rebels. The second attempts to understand something many an anarchist has wondered at some stage in their political life – why, if anarchism is so good a theory, is the movement in such a state? The third is an attempt at beginning the discussion on how to bridge that gap.

I will concentrate on the second and the third parts as these are the important aspects of the pamphlet.

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Fellow Worker : Barry Pateman reviews Cole, Struthers, and Zimmer, Wobblies of the World

libcom

Formed in June 1905 at a Chicago conference, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) immediately set out to break up the existing American labour landscape.

In his opening address to the conference William D. ‘Big Bill’ Haywood of the Western Federation of Miners stated that ‘We are here to confederate the workers of this country into a working class movement that shall have as its purpose the emancipation of the working class from the slave bondage of capitalism’. The Preamble to the IWW made it clear that ‘The working class and the employing class have nothing in common’. As well as taking aim at American capitalism the conference also attacked what delegates saw as the inadequacy of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), the principal American labour organization of the period. As a craft-based organisation, the AFL, by design or default, excluded the majority of American workers from its ranks – women, those who were unskilled, migrant workers, and, of course, recent immigrants. The IWW saw its mission as to go out and recruit those workers into the struggle against capitalism and to avoid all forms of conciliation with their employers. In essence this meant organising in areas that had never been organised and often working with ethnic groups in whom the AFL appeared to have no interest and whose presence in America some of its membership actively opposed.[1]

After a stuttering start the IWW grew into an impressive and, it might be argued, rather prescient organisation. It soon showed itself capable of remarkable creativity in its use of tactics. Banned from speaking at street corners in a city it would create a battle over free speech. Every time an IWW member was arrested for speaking, another would take their place with the aim of flooding jails and jamming the legal system. It employed the use of song and cartoons to rouse members and mock opposition. It practiced sabotage in all its aspects while encouraging and supporting strike action whether organised

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To spread the revolution: anarchist archives and libraries – Jessica Moran

Kate Sharpley Library

For anarchists—those defined in the most general terms as believing in a political and social theory of society without government and through voluntary relationships—the written and published word has been central to their movement. From early on, anarchists in the United States and Europe published and collected their ideas and written work. This published literature was one of the main sources of anarchist propaganda and a means to communicate and spread ideas. Newspapers, pamphlets, and, books were instrumental in sharing and documenting the philosophies and actions of the anarchist movement; anarchist libraries were a natural continuation and followed shortly thereafter.

Many early English language anarchist periodicals produced pamphlet series, often with some sort of anarchist library subtitle. For example, early American journals such as Liberty, Free Society, and Mother Earth had pamphlet series called the “Liberty Library,” “Free Society Library,” and the “Mother Earth Library. The long-running English anarchist paper Freedom also maintained a pamphlet series called the “Freedom Library.” The collecting of anarchist ideas in this format became a regular feature of anarchist periodicals and publishers and developed a body of knowledge—or library—usually not available elsewhere, that anarchists and those curious about anarchist ideas could draw from, discuss, and share.

But anarchists were not only interested in publishing and distributing their ideas in pamphlet and, later, book series; they were also interested in libraries in the more traditional sense. In Philadelphia,

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Wildcat and the Egghead: The life of Donald Rooum

Freedom News

It shouldn’t really be me writing this obituary of Donald Rooum the anarchist and his time with Freedom Press, as I knew him for a mere 17 years, a relative drop in the ocean of his experiences. But the truth is that those of his friends and comrades who would have known him best, the likes of Phillip Sansom, Colin Ward and of course Vernon Richards, all passed away before him.

With Donald passes the only remaining direct link to the anarchist movement of the 1940s, when he began to involve himself just weeks before Sansom, John Hewetson, Richards and Marie Louise Berneri were arrested for their anti-war writing in War Commentary, as Tom Brown and the syndicalists planned a takeover of the stricken publication, where splits that would rock the movement for decades to come began

Born on April 20th, 1928, he was among the last to remember a Britain at war with fascism, although too young to be called up a principled horror of war and bombs would infuse his work ever after.

Though he was known first as a Bradfordian and then for 65 years as a Londoner, Donald Rooum’s first steps as an anarchist were actually taken via a Kent hop-picking project in the autumn of 1944. The son of a left-leaning mother and trade unionist father in a red city which had produced the very first splash headline of the Communist Daily Worker, the 16-year-old already had links to the Communist Party, briefly held, when he was sent to the fields as part of a Ministry of Food placement scheme.

But he was starting to become disillusioned with the Party’s positions, and on his day off he took a trip to Hyde Park, where he came across an anarchist speaker and was immediately impressed, taking out a subscription to their paper War Commentary (which would revert to the name Freedom from August 1945) in short order. Speaking on a long interview with The Final Straw shortly before his death, he recalled:

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