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Cash for Anarchy, Anarchy for Cash
by Jaime Balius
Friday Mar 15th, 2013 6:01 PM
After participating in every Book Fair since its inception, we are walking away from it and all it (mis)represents.

After participating in every Book Fair since its inception, we are walking away from it and all it (mis)represents. With others, we have helped set up locations for a practical alternative to the capitalist bullying and centralization of a PM Press troika (the only three people left with the bureaucratic stamina to continue organizing the Book Fair), who have hidden their dominant economic affiliation behind a façade of credibility as members of the Bound Together Bookstore collective. Though the trend began earlier, it's now abundantly transparent that the misnamed Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair is a PM Press event, having little to do with the diversity of anarchist theory and practice -- not least because PM Press is not an anarchist project. The vast majority of the featured speakers at past Book Fairs (and this year is no exception) are not coincidentally in the PM stable, the better to hawk their titles. And the few actual anarchists on the roster tend to offer, shall we say, a rather narrow and often tepid understanding of anarchism. If the speakers aren't anarchists, who is PM's target audience?

There has been a very public outcry (and at least one very public defection) due to this year's location; The Armory is owned by, a business dealing exclusively in sexual exploitation. In response, the PM Press organizers asked critics to understand that there just weren't any other places in San Francisco or the East Bay large enough to lure the expected number of people. The organizers seem not to be particularly interested in the consequences of their unilateral actions inside the community they still pretend to be a part of.

The drive to expel those who can't (or won't) pay for the privilege of setting up material inside the PM Press-controlled premises is now complete; there is no space outside the venue for the people who've drifted into San Francisco to give away, trade, or make a few bucks from filched photocopying and handcrafted trinkets. The flavor of the Book Fair will suffer irreparably in their absence. The PM organizers proudly offer a lower two-day rent for vendors while eliminating a one-day option. Vendors may show up for one day of course, so long as they pay the full fee. The combined message sent by the apparent lack of concern with the provocative location and with what others are forced to invest is that the organizers' profits trump all other considerations. While the self-contained commercial logic is impeccable, it seems just a little hypocritical for an allegedly anarchist event.

Despite the fact that PM Press is not an anarchist publisher, its owners still attempt to dictate the limits of Anglophone anti-capitalist literacy. The PM worker-owners (as distinct from their corvée "volunteers") use their economic power to leverage influence and control over the public face, and terms, of anarchist discourse. They have a commercial circuit of authors and commodities, like the clearly non-anarchist Retort, with whom they are in close collaboration. Retort is, in their own words, a "collective" of around 40 "antinomians" who contend they are against "capital and empire." In actuality, Retort is a Popular Front led by professors from prestigious universities and is mostly comprised of their own graduate students, with a smattering of directors of foundations and non-profits, businessmen, trustafarians, and the co-founder of the Trotskyist ISO. While they also count authentic (former) members of the Situationist International among their ranks, those members long ago parlayed their revolutionary street cred into tenure and pensions. Even without their coziness with Retort's execrable crew, PM is doing its best to keep the last decomposing vestiges of the (New) Left (wing of capitalism) alive, with all the dearth of relevance that entails.

Practicing anti-statists have always known that autonomy defeats centralization and the hierarchies that come along with it. Autonomous events have been organized in the Mission on March 16 as a response to the virtual stranglehold PM Press has on what began as a less commercial and more social event (and we offer no excuses for our previous reluctance to counter it with anything more than grumbling). Unlike the stakeholders of PM, we wish to increase the exposure of diverse anarchist, anti-authoritarian, and anti-capitalist voices and ideas, thereby bolstering a general level of radical engagement. Our target demographic is anyone; not just people with fat wallets, not just middle-class parents of rebellious adolescents, not just academics looking to poach material for their plagiaristic adventures in Radicalistan. We want our ideas to be examined by the curious and the committed, and in ways that are both personal and portable.

Anti-Bureaucratic Bloc
antibloc2012 [at]

Coalescing in the opening stages of Occupy Oakland, the Anti-Bureaucratic Bloc is an ad hoc cluster of anarchist and anti-state communist individuals and affinity groups who have come together in an effort to counter the incipient growth of self-selected cadres of professional activists and others with managerial aspirations.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by miles
Friday Mar 15th, 2013 10:51 PM
PM Press does it again! First they stack the speakers with their own authors, then they move the bookfair to a place that will certainly alienate a bunch of people. I hope this is the last bookfair they have. Let's have more smaller events that people can organize themselves instead of relying on the Barnes and Noble of the Left.
by Konsider
Saturday Mar 16th, 2013 12:24 AM
I would just like to say that despite all the controversy about holding the fair at the Armory, I haven’t heard a single concerned word from anyone about the fact that Berkeley’s Bastard conference is being held at a University that practices vivisection. I bring this up too, because the people behind the Bastard conference, Little Black Cart, a distributor of mostly Anarcho Nihilist literature, is even more sectarian than PM press. Not that the PM press issue is irrelevant: I mostly agree that the PM press monopoly is wrong, and unfortunate. But the supposed alternatives have yet to turn a critical eye on themselves. I find that troubling as well.

I should add that the alternatives are not comprised entirely of Little Black Cart people, but they nevertheless are aligned with them, and to the extent that there is absolutely no issue with this, I ask myself is this really an alternative.

by miles
Saturday Mar 16th, 2013 7:20 PM
It's only sectarianism if you belong to the same tendency.

PM Press is not an anarchist project, so why are only its people involved in organizing an ostensibly anarchist event? They stack the speakers roster with their own authors, most of whom do not identify as anarchists. One of the PM Press/bookfair organizers had their private security people call the cops on Homes Not Jails this afternoon. Not anarchists. Since they are not anarchists and don't behave like anarchists, how is it "sectarian" to bring up questions about their allegiance to anarchist principles and the appropriateness of them being the ones making unilateral decisions about an anarchist event that's supposed to reflect the diversity of the local anarchist community? You're confused as usual.
by Serious Question
Saturday Mar 16th, 2013 10:48 PM
Miles made a very serious accusation . About the most serious except for calling someone a Police agent . The only time i can even think of where calling the cops would be justifiable if someone was being murdered or raped . I'm guessing that nothing no where near that occurred.
So what did happen ?
by Serious Question
Saturday Mar 16th, 2013 10:58 PM
I meant to write SFPD nor SDPD. I do know we're not in San Diego !
Lierre Keith and her PM Press pal Derrick Jensen talk a big game about bringing down the electrical grid and eco-revolution, in their factory-farmed leather coats, but she or someone allied with her called the pigs first thing when she got pied on the stage at the bookfair in 2010. Keith was all too happy to speak to SFPD, as if SFPD would put all pigs on alert looking for vegan anarchist pie bandits. Every indication was that PM Press and the whole bookfair establishment supported bring the pigs into an anarchist event.

If something similar happened today, it wouldn't be surprising.
by miles
Sunday Mar 17th, 2013 10:55 AM
There was a difference of opinion as to the appropriateness of Homes Not Jails setting up an information table outside the Armory. Joey Paxman, of PM Press and Bound Together Bookstore, told the private security guards to call SFPD because HNJ would not leave. The cops suggested that people come to a resolution without involving them because there was no legal basis for demanding HNJ leave. Imagine that: the cops telling an alleged anarchist that armed servants of the state should not be involved in a dispute! The irony is as delicious as Paxman's actions are unacceptable.

Fuck PM Press and their too-easy reliance on the police. Their class interests as business owners (and exploiters of "volunteers") trump any pretense to their supposed radical politics.
by Basta !
Sunday Mar 17th, 2013 11:12 AM
I didn't know about the ''pieing ''incident in 2010. But it shouldn't have happened . And the response shouldn't have been to call the cops . Even in the most non political situations the Police have made things a lot worse. How many times have family members have called the cops to intervene to hopefully defuse a situation with a Mentally troubled relative but instead of calming the guy down, taking them in for Psych treatment etc they have beaten, tased or even shot the person to death !
Back to throwing a pie in someone's face. Why ? A war criminal, a pro-corporate city council member that maybe just voted for some pro -Bank measure or Pro-police measure , If you think the political exposure is worth the risk , go ahead ! But targeting a very popular Public intellectual , however flawed ?
I think that it probably had the opposite effect that whomever did that intended. It probably increased Jensen's popularity and lowered the cred of his radical critics.
And it also comes across as very authoritarian , intolerant of different views.
I learned recently , to my amazement, that some East Bay anarchists not only refuse to defend Julian Assange but consider anyone that does to be ''hostile to women ''. Never mind that practially every radical , free speech advocate , even decent liberals on the planet Male and Female see the very dubious Swedish charges as a CIA attempt to discredit Assange and then have him put on trial literally for his life in the USA. All they seem to see his that two women , at least one of them with a very suspicious political background, have made allegations.
By that logic I wonder what they think of the Historic record of hundreds of Black men who were imprisoned for life, executed or Lynched because a white women accused them of rape .
Anarchists often talk about intolerance, lack of democracy , thuggery etc among Marxists. And Yes there has been all too many examples over the decades of the above sort of behavior .
But maybe Anti-Authoritarians should do some serious Looking in the mirror .
by Zachary RunningWolf
Monday Mar 18th, 2013 11:00 AM
I am a Indigenous elder here in the Bay Area and we need to clean our house for rotten behavior like AIM (American Indian Movement) who do not represent Indigenous values. Remember Anne Mae Aquash (a Mic Mac warrior) who was killed and RAPED by the AIM who thought she was an agent. The American Indian Movement has done nothing but insult elders (Lehman Brightman and myself) in not letting us defend Glenn Cove which they eventually lost. They also control and prohibit others Natives from Bay Native Broken Circle on KKKpfa, listener sponsered kkkorporate controlled. So back to the Anarchists Book Fair which usually has a lot of Free posters and other stickers we can use in a ever economic tightening situation. I attended on Saturday after a disappointing Friday (Anti Capitalist in Oakland) night and there were no posters but plenty to Buy remember Anti capitalists which very few attended. I saw Homes not Jails outside they weren't bothering anybody and I was glad they were out there and someone called the police on them - Assholes and not Anarchist by definition (I read it in a book, HA HA). It seems like the Anarchists are more like Capitalists (ie LongHual, Oakland Occupation money) or more like Fascist (ie.Holdout Banning Indigenoous elders without trial). We need to stop gossiping like hens over FaceBook (CIA tool) and come toigether in the Plaza (OG) and get back to community and smash on the System.