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Parent Article: Lucy Parsons Center Visited by the Secret Service (english)
Hidden with code "Other"
(not news)
Help The Lucy Parsons Center buy the Farm!
31 Dec 2003

Help The Lucy Parsons Center buy the Farm!

Bob Black
Anarchy #55
Letters Section

The Lucy Parsons Center, a Boston bookstore, solicits the readers of Anarchy for money - a lot of money - so it can buy a building. LPC posted the same appeal in December 2002 on the A-Infos website. Given the anarchist character of both these sites, as well as the flaunting of the name of the famous anarchist Lucy Parsons, anarchist readers probably assumed that the Lucy Parsons Center is an anarchist bookstore. That is what they are supposed to think, but it isn't true.

When, in December, the LPC pitch was posted at A-Infos, someone raised the issue whether LPC was really an anarchist bookstore if it banned the books of heterodox anarchists, specifically, myself. There ensued a tremendous uproar - even before I intervened. LPC apparatchik "MaRK" - remember that name! - was eventually forced to admit that the Lucy Parsons Center was not anarchist. Rather, LPC was a service center for left-liberals and leftists.

The claim to "well-stocked shelves" refers to quantity, not quality. The anarchist content of LPC holdings was admitted to be at best 5%. Now I am not suggesting that an anarchist bookstore carry only explicitly anarchist texts. In the first place, there are not enough in-print anarchist texts in English to stock even a small bookstore. In the second place, there are many texts not ostensibly anarchist but which are effectively anarchist or close enough to be important to anarchists (Fourier, Morris, Wilde, Landauer, the Ranters and the Diggers, the Frankfort School, the Situationists, various Greens, etc.). And my ideal anarchist bookstore would carry plenty of well-chosen volumes of philosophy, anthropology and especially history. Too many anarchists are semi-educated freaks who have read about Kronstadt and Spain but are hazy about what the American Civil War was all about and even when it took place. Anarchists need context to understand their own history.

What they do not need is most of what occupies LPC's not-so-well-stocked shelves. At A-Infos, LPC partisans - who were usually also NEFAC partisans - grudgingly disclosed that their stock mostly consists of books on Third World national liberation movements, trade-union labor movements, black nationalism, feminism (little of which is anarcha-feminism), leftist third-party politics, and lots of Marxism, Leninism and Stalinism/Maoism. You can get Chairman Bob Avakian of the Revolutionary Communist Party at LPC, but no my books; for them you have to go to more pro-anarchist locales like the Boston Public Library, the Harvard library, the MIT library, etc.

An LPC partisan (probably MaRK) boasted that "former Black Panthers" frequented the store - a truly pathetic claim to vicarious, out-of-date street cred. I suggested that these middle-aged brothers, and LPC customers generally, probably never noticed that they were in an anarchist bookstore. It was in this context that the NEFAC/LPC spokesmen (they are always men) asserted that LPC was not an anarchist bookstore, and that they felt no responsibility toward the anarchist movement.

MaRK, LPC's main spokesman at A-Infos (and the likely author of the appeal in Anarchy), also heads up the NEFAC nucleus which controls LPC in the time-honored way vanguards dominate larger organizations. In this, at least, they're not hypocrites, because NEFAC is avoedly "Platformist", i.e., vanguardist. In dramatic contrast to LPC's open-arms approach to the statist and/or reformist left is the insulting, dismissive attitude MaRK expressed toward anarchists in Anarchy. He holds anarchists in such contempt that he must assume we've so soon forgotten what he said about us in Anarchy #55.

Responding, but not concretely, to the critiques of so-called Platformism in Anarchy #55, MaRK explained that the Platformists desire a "necessary rupture in the movement" between advocates of "pro-organizational, class struggle anarcho-communism" and all other anarchists. An "unbridgeable chasm" divides them - and that's a good thing. NEFAC does "not want to waste [its] time trying to orient the entire anarchist 'movement' to our program" - fat chance! - since "the anarchist 'movement', on the whole, is something of a lost cause and not worth the effort. I personally don't want to waste my time arguing theory with primitivists, individualists, or 'post-leftists' in an effort to build some false sense of unity."

Fair enough. But it is precisely a "false sense of unity" which there operators simulate and exploit in their truly insolent and brazen fund-raising appeals to anarchists. If the Lucy Parsons Center wants to be a service center for the Boston left, fine, but in that case, why doesn't the Boston left buy them the building? For nobody else derives any benefit from the Lucy Parsons Center. Anarchists in a generous mood might better donate money to C.A.L. Press, which is always in desperate need of money to publish the largest-circulation anarchist magazine in North America, and also to publish the kind of genuinely radical anarchist books rarely put out by AK press. MaRK has clearly stated - in this very magazine that all anarchists who decline to sign on to his extraordinarily narrow sectarian program shoud fuck off. MaRK is the longest-tenured member of the LPC collective. He takes pride in being the only current collectivist who was involved in banning my books from LPC, a ban which included a subsequently published book, Anarchy after Leftism, from the same publisher as this magazine. I doubt that I am the only banned anarchist at LPC, which really has no more claim on anarchist generosity than Waldenbooks or Barnes & Noble.

Bob Black
POB 3142
Albany, NY 12203