Text of Talk

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The text of a talk that the author has given

What it means to be libertarian

This is a write-up of my talk at the 2017 London Anarchist Bookfair. The programme blurb was as follows:

“2017 marks 160 years since Joseph Déjacque coined the word “libertarian” in an open letter challenging Proudhon's patriarchal and market socialist views. By the dawn of the twentieth century, anarchists across the world had embraced the term. Today, it is now increasingly associated with the far-right. How did this happen? What does it mean to be a libertarian? Can you be a right-wing libertarian? Can we reclaim the word for the twenty-first century? These questions as well as the history of “libertarian” will be explored by Iain McKay, author of An Anarchist FAQ.”

It is based on my article “160 Years of Libertarian” which appeared in Anarcho-Syndicalist Review No. 71. I should note that this journal was originally launched in 1986 under the title Libertarian Labor Review, the change occurring in 1999 due to the forces discussed below. I am sure this write-up makes it sound better than it was. My talk ends with a question – is libertarian worth fighting for, or is it too associated with the right that we should let it be? The answer lies with you.

The Bolshevik Myth Reloaded

This is a write up of the talk I gave at the 2016 London Anarchist bookfair. I covered most of what I planned in my notes although some of it was summarised more than indicated here. It covers the basic myths and realities of the period and concentrates on non-Anarchist sources – academics and Leninists themselves. This is not because the anarchist critique is lacking, no far from it. It is done to show that the anarchist critique has the support of a substantial body of evidence. As indicated in the talk, all quotes are from section H of An Anarchist FAQ.

Myths about anarchism

This is a write-up of my talk at the 2015 London Anarchist Bookfair. It is based on my notes and so will not be exactly the same as at the event but it will be close enough. The meeting summary initially submitted for the programme was:

Kropotkin: Class Warrior

This is a write-up of the notes of a talk made at the 2014 London Anarchist bookfair. I have made a few slight changes/additions. On the day I skipped the section of “small-scale” production (“Kropotkin the Medievalist?) and covered the differences between communist-anarchism and syndicalism in the discussion period. It is based, of course, on the work I did for Direct Struggle Against Capital: A Peter Kropotkin Anthology. A newly translated article by Kropotkin from May 1890 (“The action of the masses and the individual”) is appended.

A Brief History of Anarchism

This is a write-up of a talk I gave at Housemans bookshop for An Anarchist FAQ volume 2 publication event. It is based on my notes and is what I intended to cover. So it may not be exactly what was said on the night. And as one member of the audience rightly noted, it is very much focused around white, male Europeans. This is simply because there is still much work needed to get the ideas and histories of non-European countries into English (sadly, this also applies to much of European anarchism as well!). Still, we need to correctly understand anarchist history in order to develop it to meet the challenges of today. Hopefully this talk contributes to both processes, correctly understanding the history of anarchism and building anarchism today as a theory and movement. Whether I succeeded or not rests with the reader!

Anarchist Economics

This is a write-up of my talk at the 2012 London Anarchist bookfair on Anarchist Economics. I was part of a panel which was inspired by the recent AK Press book The Accumulation of Freedom (to which I provided a chapter on Proudhon). It does not cover everything and the other panellists made points I should have included – as such economics not being separate from society in a free society (nor, for that matter, would the analysis of how goods are produced – although that is, I think, implicit in my talk). Suffice to say, on the day I did not quite manage to cover everything I wanted and so this write up reflects my hopes rather than exactly the reality!

“Direct Struggle Against Capital”, or anarchism and syndicalism

This is a write up of a talk I did at the 2012 London anarchist bookfair. It explores the interwoven nature of revolutionary anarchism and syndicalism, showing how the standard Leninist account of both is false. It shows how syndicalism evolved as a key anarchist tactic within the First International and how revolutionary anarchists like Bakunin and Kropotkin advocated syndicalist ideas and tactics. Suffice to say, this is the talk I hoped to give – the actual one may not have equalled these hopes! The title is a Kropotkin quote, one much repeated in his works

Awakening from the nightmare that is history (fiction)

"Hey, what the hell are you doing awake?"

He was startled. His slow mind was no more expecting to see me awake than to see a temple statue from last month's battlefield come to life. Perhaps he thought I had emerged from the empty bottle of scotch that lay on the floor at his feet.

I shot him cleanly through the head.

The Networked Individual in Why its Kicking Off Everywhere - audio of discussion on Paul Mason's book

Andrew Flood looks at Paul Mason's recently published book 'Why its kicking off everywhere' and in particular what Mason has to say about the internet and the emergance of the 'Networked Individual'.   The recording is of a WSM supporters meeting in Dublin and the 20 minute presentation is followed by 30 minutes of discussion on the ideas outlined, roughly as summarised below.

This talk was part of the preparation for an 18,000 word review and discussion of Why its kicking off Everywhere.'

 

Anarchist Theory – Use it or Lose it

This is a write up of a talk given at the 2011 London Anarchist bookfair. Its blurb was: “Why bother with dead anarchists? For some, while anarchists may do beards well we don’t do theory. This is wrong. We do have theory, as my An Anarchist FAQ and Property is Theft! show. Anarchism is a rich source for analysing and transforming society. Join me in exploring why dead anarchists are worth reading.”

I’ve tried to keep it as close as possible to what I remember of what I said, based on the same notes.

  


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