Manchester Anarchist Bookfair 2011

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The ICC attended this bookfair hoping to be able, like last year, to have a stall from which to sell our publications and to participate in the various meetings and forums. Unfortunately, we were informed that we had been refused a stall on the grounds that we were not an anarchist group. This is in a way understandable: we are indeed a marxist and not an anarchist organisation (although the ICC recognises the internationalist currents within anarchism as part of the proletarian political movement). But the fact that there were at least three stalls left untaken on the day, and that many of the participants holding stalls were not exactly of pure anarchist antecedents, points to the fact that we were refused because we are the ICC or because we are part of the tradition of the communist left. We also want to recall last year’s Manchester book fair, where under the influence of the late and lamented comrade Knightrose of the Anarchist Federation, the ICC was able to have a stall. The protests of elements in the Manchester anarchist milieu notwithstanding, Knightrose pointed out that comrades of the ICC were participating in the Manchester Class Struggle Forum alongside various anarchist organisations and that it was ridiculous to bar us from having a stall. This not only expressed a proletarian solidarity but also the need to have real political criteria beyond a blanket condemnation of ourselves being ‘marxists’. Knightrose also put forward the need to have wider criteria for a book fair that could include revolutionary marxists and anarchists. This was also raised in informal discussion at this event.

We should be clear that this is not sour-grapes on our part. We wanted to participate at this event to the full, to sell our literature, to put forward our positions in the many meetings that take place at these events.

That apart, comrades of the ICC sold in the foyer of the book fair and we were extremely impressed when a member of the IWW offered to take some of our literature and place it on their own stall. This expressed, like last year, a degree of proletarian solidarity which was much appreciated by all the ICC comrades.

Further, when a significant meeting on the agenda at this event – a discussion on the summer riots - was cancelled, the comrade from the IWW and another comrade who was participating as an organiser and ourselves pushed for a meeting to take place on the recession and the austerity attacks. This was an important meeting in which twenty or so people took part. The comrade from the IWW gave the introduction and there was an encouragement for all to speak. This discussion was focused particularly on the current phase of attacks upon our class. In many areas of the introduction and also the following discussion we found we had much in common with the comrades attending this forum. For example, the real need to go beyond TUC processions; to link up with the fight back against the cuts; to relate to the international dimension of the struggle. Here the experiences in North Africa and in Spain and France were crucial reference points. The question of creating assemblies was also a vital component of this discussion. We listened with interest to the IWW militant talking about his involvement with organising precarious workers. Even though we don’t agree with the IWW policy of unionising these workers (through the IWW), and with the concept of dual unionism, we recognise that the resistance of this mercilessly exploited layer of the working class is going to play an increasingly important role in future struggles.  

Melmoth 27/1/12