Library News (March 2018)

We had a compliment on the ‘generosity of spirit’ of the last issue, asking ‘have you all dropped acid?’ No, comrade: books are mind-altering too!

The bookfair

The London Anarchist Bookfair in October has always been a landmark in the KSL year. We’re sad to report the Bookfair collective are not organising one in 2018. They say: ‘Our decision reflects an increasingly toxic atmosphere, which we do not want to concede to or facilitate.’ More details on the dispute can be found via

Of all the online comments, I felt closest to this one: ‘It is not that we are opposed to antagonism, it’s that we feel it’s important to pick our tactics and our targets well, and to treat other anarchists – few in number and with many shared experiences, ideas and enemies – with some degree of care and respect. This does not mean we all have to love each other and get along, but that we need to be very careful of the consequences of our actions on individuals who may have to contend with the many hazards of being a thorn in the side of state and capital – from burnout, trauma and state surveillance; to internal conflicts and who knows what personal life struggles.’ (signed by ‘Some anarchists’

This issue

As a consequence, I read a lot of papers and pamphlets, including ones I’d not looked at for years. Some of the most interesting extracts and articles appear in this issue of the bulletin. Louise Michel wants everyone to ‘take part in the banquet of life’– a sentiment Albert Meltzer echoed in 1981. We should think about it: what are the good things in life? That leads on to the subjects of class, tactics, and how we deal with our disagreements.

I disagree with parts of these articles myself: industrial jobs just ‘disappeared’, did they, in the early eighties? Don’t think I’m suggesting our forerunners had all the answers. Don’t think being an anarchist makes anyone mistake-proof, let alone perfect. Reading Lilly Sarnoff’s complaints to Alexander Berkman, I recognised that anger, that stressed ‘why don’t you see it like I do?’

Finally, I couldn’t resist squeezing in Oscar Swede’s tribute to Tom Keell: ‘what good did all the talking do? Well, it kept the torch alive and has handed it on.’ Important job, that.

New articles on the KSL site

Interesting articles that didn’t make this issue:
Anarcho-Syndicalism: History and Action [Review] by Jack McArdle
On the Trail of the Anarchist Movement in East Germany by David Bernardini
Anarchism in East Germany (1945-1955) by Jean Barrué
The Anarchist Press in Germany (1948)
Their Socialism and Ours by Louis Mercier Vega
Averting Sclerosis by Louis Mercier Vega
The First English Anarchist? [Ambrose Cuddon] by Christopher Draper
Forgotten Women [Mujeres Libres video tour 1987]
Join the Professionals: The army of the unemployed

Interesting things elsewhere

Kate Sharpley Library treasures: “Putting up interesting material from the library, one computer mess-up at a time”
The Freedom Press Newspaper Archive