What Do Anarchists Read? Scenes from the Anarchist Book Fair

What Do Anarchists Read? Scenes from the Anarchist Book Fair
Ivan Fernandez

The storm system that battered Los Angeles broke in time to allow hundreds of activists, anarchists and other like-minded, politically-fringe Angelenos to convene in Barnsdall Park for the Second Annual Anarchist Book Fair. Those in attendance were treated to an art gallery of political works, literature from non-profit organizations and independent publishers and various educational workshops. Below is a small sample of contemporary anarchists, their beliefs and influences.

Zed Null, Kill Radio

What Do Anarchists Read? Scenes from the Anarchist Book Fair
Ivan Fernandez

What brings you to the book fair?

This is my first time but I qualify to be here because I was part of the anti-war movement of the 1960s that predates this by a long time. I work for an alternative radio station called killradio.org where we broadcast on the Internet. We have a full station with streaming audio and video as part of a leftist collaborative. Part of our mission statement is that we provide a voice for undocumented and underrepresented groups including the disabled and people with mental illness.

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What did you like most about the fair?

I liked that there was a large representation of groups not just based on anarchist values such as Foods Not Bombs. They provided food for people who didn't have money or who wanted to spend their money on literature instead. If you feed the body, it enriches the mind.

What is one book you recommend?

My friends from Skylight Books are here and they have several books by Thomas Pynchon who represents a zeitgeist of many cultures. They also have books by Noam Chomsky and many other public figures that have spoken out against the government and become the voice of people that feel they are not strong enough to speak out themselves.

Eagle-Rabbit Protect the Sacred Sites Coalition

What Do Anarchists Read? Scenes from the Anarchist Book Fair
Ivan Fernandez

What brings you to the fair?

I've been working with different tribes for ten years and there are different networks that we've built up where we have different events and invite different groups and get them involved.

What is the purpose of the coalition you represent?

The purpose is to inform the community about what is taking place within the native communities and reservations, of the desecration of our culture and our environment and the treatment of the native people throughout the continent. We want to bring a consciousness as to what we're fighting for: the protection of the environment since the arrival of European imperialism. We're here in solidarity with other non-profit organizations and communities standing together to hopefully make a difference in the world.

What is one book you would recommend?

I recommend "Culture of the Corn." Corn goes back thousands of years and it's something that has helped the tribes to survive. It's something that we respect and honor. Corn is very important to the tribes and it's important to note that it's more than sustenance. It is a gift from the Creator to the tribes.

Edgar, Beyond Borders

What Do Anarchists Read? Scenes from the Anarchist Book Fair
Ivan Fernandez

What brings you to the fair?

I know some of the organizers so we came out to support them.

What is the purpose of the group you represent?

There are various groups called Beyond Borders and my group began 20 years ago as a loose group of people. The concept of Beyond Borders is to stand against borders that keep people divided whether it's a physical border or something political.

It started off as an anarchist group but it evolved into something more open. It's not an organization where we want members. Anyone who believes in the concept or the idea of bringing awareness to situations that create political and racial stigmas is invited to join.

What did you like most about the fair?

A lot of people from all over town came out and I said to myself "Man, where are these people normally at?!" Everyone is so spread out in L.A., which is why it's so important to have an event like this. It brings people together and makes you realize that people everywhere are doing the same thing you are.

What is one book you recommend?

I've read a lot of anarchist literature and the issue that really concerns me the most is the prison system. The United States incarcerates more people than any other nation in the world. A lot of organizations here are writing about this issue.

Harold E. French, Jr., author of Anarchist Solidarity

What Do Anarchists Read? Scenes from the Anarchist Book Fair
Ivan Fernandez

What brings you to the fair?

I generally monitor book fairs on the Internet and I saw the event online. I checked the weather and decided to drive down here from Sacramento and pulled an all-nighter. I started my own business in order to publish my one book that I have written. It took me twenty years to write it. It's a philosophy book about the ethics of anarchism.

What groups caught your attention?

Critical Resistance...absolutely amazing people! There's no question that they're on the right side of the prison industrial complex issue. I also particularly enjoyed the Earth First tables. I thought those were very cool.

Rudy, Ground Works Book Collective

What Do Anarchists Read? Scenes from the Anarchist Book Fair
Ivan Fernandez

What brings you to the book fair?

We came to the one last year and we're really interested in this event. We're not that far from here either. We're near UCSD in La Jolla.

What is the purpose of the collective you represent?

Our collective is a non-sectarian, general left bookstore. That includes anything from feminism to Marxism to anarchism, critical theory and different people's histories.

What is one book you recommend?

I really recommend Pacifism as a Pathology. It examines pacifist movements and their effects.

Harrison a.k.a. Nautilus, Poison Oak Collective

What Do Anarchists Read? Scenes from the Anarchist Book Fair
Ivan Fernandez

What brings you to the book fair?

I'm here with Poison Oak Collective and I'm also part of Direct Action Claremont and we do some anti-fascist action against people like The Minutemen in the OC. I grew up in Taiwan, Shanghai, Beijing and I live in Malaysia right now. I go to school here at the Claremont Colleges.

Why does counterculture interest you?

I graduated high school in Shanghai, China and it's ironic because it was American mainstream media that got me thinking about China. I lived comfortably in China as an expatriate but the American media showed me that my position was very tenuous because it's based a lot on my privilege as an American citizen. Now that I'm back here, however, I got to see how fucked up the U.S. mainstream media really is.

I learned about pure technical shit like biology, thermodynamics and physics in high school. It showed me how fucked up our economy is with our energy policy and our shitty urban design. It's just not sustainable. I look at it from a purely environmental perspective and that's how I approach a lot of what I do. Fascists are not sustainable.

What did you like most about the fair?

This is one of the first anarchist book fairs I've been to. I've been to a lot of punk and hardcore shows where you see people with insignias and stuff, but it surprised me how "normal" a lot of people look here. The people at those shows are outliers and I identify with them but you see a lot of people here just chillin' and pursuing knowledge. That was really interesting for me.

What is one book you recommend?

I would recommend reading Hitchiker's Guide to the Universe [the five book series that includes The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy]. Read them all and you'll see how absurd everything is but that doesn't make the universe stop. That's the way it is. I don't know if that book has anything to do with anarchy but I feel it has a lot to do with coping with a lot of shit not going down the way you want it to like Copenhagen, Oscar Grant or Mumia Abu-Jamal. It's absurd, but it's okay because we're going to keep pushing through.

Keith Knight, Gentleman Cartoonist

What Do Anarchists Read? Scenes from the Anarchist Book Fair
Ivan Fernandez

What brings you to the book fair?

I heard some of the organizers like KPFK talking about it. I always went to the one in San Francisco where I'm originally from. I lived right next to Golden Gate Park. I've been doing it for years and wanted to see what this one was like.

How long have you been an artist?

I've been doing it since I was a little kid but, as a career, since the early '90s. It's been my only job since 1999. It's a great gig to have. It doesn't pay well but if you get a few of these books about living the punk and anarchist lifestyle, you can do it!

What is the one book you recommend?

I Left My Arse in San Francisco is the latest book that I self-published which collects my autobiographical weekly strip. My published book is The Complete K Chronicles, published by Dark Horse, which really isn't complete because it only collects the first four books. I Left... is my fifth book. I also do a daily called "The Knight Life" which can be found on my site at www.knightlifecomic.com.


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