The organizers of the London Anarchist Bookfair released a statement announcing “the current Bookfair Collective will not be organising a Bookfair in 2018,” potentially ending the event’s 34-year run.
The statement was released in response to an open letter titled, “Response to London Anarchist Bookfair 2017” which alleges the event organizers “chose to step in and offer protection and support to people promoting transphobic hate speech” and that the event “allows for transphobia and trans-misogyny to go unchecked.” Of course, the open letter included a list of demands and states, “[m]eeting these demands will be a starting point for re-engagement and the possibility of rebuilding trust with organisers, it is not a guarantee.”
In reply, the Bookfair Collective stated, “We are not going to apologise for protecting someone being mobbed by a group of up to about 30 people, and, along with others, preventing an ugly situation from deteriorating further. Obviously a lot of people are going to disagree with this, but anyone who seriously thinks that up to about 30 people shouting and threatening one woman, and in the process intimidating disabled comrades and children, was a “beautiful moment of direct action” should consider taking a look at themselves and their politics.”
The letter concludes by pointing out that “it’s easy to sign a statement” but “a lot harder to actually talk to people and try to work things out” and that although the signatories to the letter have numerous complaints and demands, “no one has offered to join the Collective and help us make the Bookfair better.”
“To reiterate: We will not be organising the Bookfair in 2018. For all those who think we did such a terrible job, who feel we didn’t get it right for people of colour, trans people, disabled people and probably others as well, show us how to do it properly. The Bookfair in 2018 is yours. We won’t come along and make trouble; we won’t denounce you on social media; we won’t criticise from the sidelines. But we are really interested to see how you solve all the problems you raise in your statement and implement your list of demands.”