Now in its seventh year, The Seattle Anarchist Book Fair will be held in the Central District’s historic Washington Hall for the first time, but it feels like a homecoming.
“The Central District has a history of being home to resistance movements,” explained a Fair organizer, who asked to be identified only as Ingrate: “The first Black Panther Community Center in the 1970s, the squatted occupation of what is now the African American Heritage Museum, and more recently the Autonomia Anarchist Space and Wildcat Social Center.”
Calling on the spirits of past Pacific Northwest resistance movements like the Weathermen, the Seattle Group, and the George Jackson Brigade, attendees can expect literature, zines, and representatives of activist groups from all over the West Coast—like No New Animal Labs, who fight the UW expansion of animal-testing facilities, and the No Tolerance 4 Rape Culture group, which seeks to confront issues of sexual assault and abuse in Seattle.
Ingrate says organizers are also holding space for discussions on such hot-button issues as “the state of the Kurdish and wider Syrian revolution against ISIS, the recent re-emergence of fascism and the alt-right, and the upcoming nationwide prison strike that starts on September 9,” honoring the anniversary of the Attica prison uprising. “There will also be an opportunity for people of color to caucus to create community, explore issues specific to their experiences as marginalized people, and challenge patterns of white supremacy, dominance, and exclusivity within the anarchist milieu,” says Ingrate. “Oh, and we will be having a vegan taco-bar lunch.”
If the word anarchist brings up images of youths chucking stones at NikeTown or setting trash cans on fire, such a peaceful gathering might be surprising. “The most widely publicized anarchist activity involves confrontational street actions like black blocs, vandalism, and property destruction,” explains Ingrate. “A book fair is a chance for people to come together with relatively low risk of state repression. Of course, we can never assume zero risk—the state will act against its enemies in whatever means it sees fit. We hope we are considered enemies of the state.”
As for the far-reaching goals of an event like the Fair and the Anarchist movement at large, Ingrate offered this thought: “Alexander Berkman, who was a lifelong companion of Emma Goldman as well as the would-be assassin of industrialist Henry Frick, wrote, ‘Do you mean to destroy? Do you mean to build? These are the questions we have been asked from many quarters, sympathetic and otherwise. Our reply is frank and bold: We mean both to destroy and to build.’ ”
Washington Hall, 153 14th Ave., seattleanarchistbookfair.net. Free. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sat., Aug. 20.