Anarchist Bookfair bans anarchist publisher

if you've never been banned before are you really even publishing?

From Yves Engler

Some of those overseeing Montréal’s Anarchist Bookfair have lost the plot. They have banned the city’s only English language anarchist publisher from participating on the grounds they’ve published my recent books.

On Friday Black Rose Books informed me that they have been blocked from tabling at Montréal’s Anarchist Bookfair on Sunday because of their association with me. The reason given for Black Rose’s exclusion is because of my supposed anti-Semitism. I presume there is more to this story — maybe someone running the bookfair doesn’t like Black Rose or myself? — but they have refused to provide any further information to Black Rose, which has been publishing books since before I was born.

The allegations against me are, of course, spurious. I condemn all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. Not only do I verbally condemn it, I have spent my entire adult life as an active participant in anti-racism struggles, as a writer, public commentator and activist.

Unfortunately, because of my support for Palestinians and writing against Israeli racism and the anti-Palestinian lobby in Canada, some have accused me of anti-Semitism. This is a common slur leveled against pro-Palestinian activists.

It is also increasingly a way to divide and undermine the left more generally. Jeremy Corbin’s bid to push the British Labour Party to the left was undone partly because of a campaign of spurious accusations of anti-Semitism. In France leftist presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon has been targeted with similar allegations of anti-Semitism. In Canada left-wing NDP MP Niki Ashton has been attacked in a similar way as has the left within the Green Party. In the Campaign Against Me well-known leftist folk singer David Rovics has written about a campaign to cancel his public presence by some anarchists in Portland and elsewhere labeling him an “anti-Semite”.

It is troubling that a few on ‘the left’ have joined the Israel lobby’s defamation against me. Have I ever not explained myself perfectly? Yes. But to take a sentence or comment out of context from an interview five years ago and make the leap to labelling me an anti-Semite who must be ‘de-platformed’ is not only ridiculous, it is libellous, and ignores my decades of work against all forms of racism. For those not yet convinced I repeat, anti-Semitism is a problem confronting our society and I condemn it.

I will continue my work to expose racism, militarism and imperialism in Canadian foreign policy, which understandably makes me a target for supporters of the existing system who would prefer no voices of dissent. But from those on the left who share my belief that we can make a better world? Please, if you disagree with something I write or say, let’s debate it in the spirit of building a movement of internationalism and solidarity.

In the spirit of dialogue and challenging illegitimate authority, I will be bringing some of my books to the book fair at Parc La Fontaine on September 12 (3819 Calixa-Lavallée Ave). If you are in Montréal drop by my table from 2 to 5 PM, and get a discounted copy of my just released Stand on Guard for Whom? — A People’s History of the Canadian Military (you can also support Black Rose by ordering it online).

There are 22 Comments

I find it interesting that this fake Mtl Bookfair event that took place (?) yesterday wasn't publicized by the Mtl Counter Info... perhaps this means the organizers aren't exactly legit.

As for Yves, out of personal experience I know the guy seems to be for real about being at least anti-imperialist and he did do some activism against the UN's dirty repressive measures in Haiti. I ain't a fan of either side in Israel Vs Palestine (Palestinian nationalism is a can full of worms, but so is the Far Right-dominated Israeli nationalism), but if an activist takes either of these sides it doesn't make him necessarily an antisemite or a zionist?

You need not believe me, a random anon, but the gathering was indeed organized by people involved in the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair Collective, the message was sent out on their listserv, etc.

Maybe they just didn't get around to contacting MTL counter-info for publicity, or didn't think to do so, or maybe they did and MTL counter-info didn't get around to publishing it, or refused to do so (seems unlikely), or any number of things

actually it's pretty funny that Black Rose would be blocked from an anarchist book fair. that outfit has engaged in all kinds of unethical and questionable antics from before this Yves joker was born. they long-standing connections with academic press distribution networks (virtually guaranteeing that non-academic stuff goes to the bottom of their publishing possibilities). their practice of taking paperback books published in the US and slapping a hardcover on them and taking advantage of the stupid publishing laws governing the mutual no-sale zones of the US and the UK/commonwealth means that those titles -- not otherwise available in canaduh -- can be purchased for twice the price (and Black Rose paperbacks that make it to the US are sold for the price of academic hardcovers. for a early indication of their decades-long bullshit, read Lorainne Perlman's biography of Fredy

You're unveiling an enlighting aspect of legal(ist) anarchist & leftist book publishing industry in NA.

Like would all these stupid awkward economic constraints exist if published anarchy was more an actual pirate or clandestine thing? Also that would give it a more illegalist appeal that is maybe less confluent to petty bourgie and especially ACADEMIC interests. Not saying the whole zine subculture hasn't been around with the whole punk distros... but I'm afraid the ABF has actively allowed for a more official academic recuperation (read: monetization) of what was originally clandestine tendencies. If it wasn't their product in the first place (duh).

Between these two, who has won, now?

(it looks like I wanna make you feel depressed but I really wanna make your mind expaaaaand and reach out to new realms)

...but by "monetizing" I didn't refer to getting rich out of selling anarchist books. Of course there ain't a lot of money to be made with this. It's a professional monetizing I'm talking of. Like as referential and literary support base to justify academic careers (ergo good paychecks and more comfy positions in colleges and universities. The academic peer networks will usually only recognize legally-published stuff with an ISBN or at least some official, known publishing houses. Clandestine zines got little value in the milieu of university chairs.

Bookfairs work in making this tangential connection between the clandestine and academic, most often to the benefit of the latter, so to recuperate ideas, views and aesthetics that previously emanated from the "streets".

Money is just a tool, if you can get some of it not doing tedious drudgery and manual labour ( by intellectualizing), well so be it, class warfare has nothing to do with good ideas.

lbc was started partly to help tiny/underground distros, by helping with the logistics. still do some of that but they disappear, and it's possible that lbc (et al), as you say, helped create a context where people thought tiny distros weren't worth the effort or something, though of course some people still do them (heyo viscera! etc).

i remember there was a project like 10 years ago, where people brought a book scanner to a few bookfairs and would scan your book, so that you could buy it, scan it, then return it to the bookseller for your money back. obv before the days of widespread use of theanarchistlibrary and pirate sites. fairly hostile project, but also interesting and funny. lugging the set up around wouldn't have been fun though.

play stupid [leftist publishing] games, win stupid [leftist publishing prizes.

David rovics had neonazi Matt heimbach on his podcast, and appeared on Holocaust denier Kevin Barrett’s podcast. So I would be interested to know what the receipts on Engler are, since trying to cover yourself by invoking confirmed antisemite rovics is a BAD look.

Duh, antizionism isn’t inherently antisemitic but you CAN be both and you can use one as a screen for the other. Also just saying you condemn something doesn’t show that you understand it.

Anon 8:27, a thousand times yes! opposition requires more than slogans, and saying someone is your comrade requires more than name dropping

Translation: Some nazis should be treated better than other nazis. Nazi missteps are nuanced. Checkmate, antifa.

if you still characterize that rovics shit as a "misstep", you're not paying attention.

sure, he's relatively harmless in the most literal sense but like, dangerously naive and tone deaf tho?

plus it really seems like he does that ego thing where he panics and doubles down hard instead of reflecting.

I think this may be the first time I've ever agreed with lumpy. Rovics as an individual is indeed harmless, but as a networker and someone pushing for more unity (whatever the fuck that might mean), he's hapless and plain ignorant of how right wingers disguise their discourse. Well said, lumps

I don't know the specifics, but yea this guy really pulled a "I'm not an antisemite, just like the guy who is friends with neonazis and holocaust deniers"

not all stupid, defensive people are nazis. surely there's some other bad people that bad people can be compared to?
failure of imagination, yo.

Rovics is in sustained comradely dialogue with Matthew Heimbach, a nazi. Rovics thinks Gilad Atzmon, an antisemite, has important things to say, including Holocaust denial -- alternating with blaming the Jews for their own extermination, which is a common pro-nazi position.
Failure of knowledge, yo

I would imagine of an entryist, Trotskyist type. I don't know 100%, but I get the impression.

And Black Rose Books, for its part, is like... Bookchinist. So maybe you consider that anarchist or you don't, but they also publish... authoritarian Marxists.

Here is an example of an article of his that a lot of people think is antisemitic, make up your own mind:

that blog post is absurdly funny. yes, the jewish establishment in canaduh (as well as virtually everywhere else in the first world) invokes the term "anti-semitism" every time someone questions the actions of the israeli state, and yes, it's very often used as a cudgel to beat down any expressions of solidarity with palestinians who dare to resist the occupation... BUT, there are lots of people who use anti-zionism as a cloak for their anti-semitism. from the blog post it's not at all clear that this joker dislikes jews-as-jews or if he's just pissed off that his hobbies are labeled anti-semitic by jewish elites because he has a couple of jewish friends

Add new comment