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Anarchist book fair allows spread of ideas, chance for discussion

Book fair a ‘starting place’ to share ideas

Community members browse through book selections at the area’s first Anarchist Bookfair held at the Nighlight Club on Saturday.
Community members browse through book selections at the area’s first Anarchist Bookfair held at the Nighlight Club on Saturday.

After operating under the radar for decades, the local anarchist scene is stepping away from its subculture past toward a more mainstream existence.

Local anarchists and their peers gathered in the diffuse glow of the Nightlight Club Saturday for the area’s first anarchist book fair to strengthen local and statewide connections and also offer a starting place for anyone who wanted to learn about the ideals of anarchy.

“You can think of anarchism as an umbrella for a lot of different trajectories, histories and movements that are broadly defined as anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian,” co-organizer Spencer Robertson said.

Robertson, like many anarchists, uses an alias to protect his beliefs from government intervention, known as “security culture.”

“Security culture is a set of behaviors that protects our community from state repression,” said Lydia Powers, co-manager of Internationalist Books and Community Center. “Activists are put behind bars by the courts not for violating laws per se, but for their ideas.

“Many who suffered from the FBI’s program in the ‘60s are still behind bars, so we all try to foster a security culture, even when we are not engaging in any illegal activity.”

Powers said the Carrboro-Chapel Hill area has a viable anarchist scene because the population is generally more open-minded and progressive than most places.

While the book fair targeted an anarchist audience, Powers said people of all beliefs are welcome at anarchist functions, and they might find they share more commonalities than differences.

“For a long time as an organizer and an activist, people who I worked with told me I was an anarchist,” she said. “I was like ‘no’ because of the negative baggage associated with the term.

“When I actually looked up what it meant, I realized they were right.”

Groups supporting imprisoned activists, eco-defense and reproductive health all attended the event to gain support and spread awareness for their causes.

Croatan Earth First!, an area eco-defense group, manned a table at the event to support environmental consciousness.

“We approach eco-defense from an anarchist perspective because it seems like both communism and capitalism have had a really industrialist push,” volunteer Mike Cohen said.

The eco-defense group rallied outside the RBC Centura on Rosemary Street Monday afternoon to protest the company’s investment in practices like tar sand oil extraction that destroys boreal forests. The protest was dispelled by police on a noise complaint.

Cohen said his group, which is anti-government and anti-legislation, acts as the last line of defense for the environment when other more traditional efforts fail.

“If I could get one thing straight to the public about being an anarchist, I would say I’m not a hippie,” he said. “I don’t smoke pot, and I’m not a pacifist.”

Contact the City Editor at citydesk@unc.edu.

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