Meet the Anarchist Librarians


Chuck Munson, librarian at and the Alternative Media Project, gave a talk on anarchist librarians at the Counterpoise Post Conference: "Beyond ALA" last summer: "So what is an anarchist librarian? How are anarchist librarians different from radical or progressive librarians? Is there an anarchist librarianship beyond library workers who wear the anarchist label? I’d like to discuss, briefly, some ideas about what anarchist librarianship is theoretically." [Transcript]


From Chuck's comments A lot of activist stuff is not very legible.
I am shocked by this fact.

Chuck, there is a split and it's deeply rooted. "Anarchist-Libertarian" and "Anarchist-Communist" with lots of factions in between. The bitterness (especially in Europe) is as deep as anything you'll find in Marxism or Christianity.

I refuse to even think about BlackCat and her shoe collection or the political implications.

Well, I'm from a workingclass background too and I've done a fair share of real workingclass jobs as well. I'll admit I haven't cleaned outhouses, though during a youthful misadventure in a tropical climate I retrieved rotting corpses. I'm sure "BlackCat" can take care of herself, so I'm not going to defend her, but I'm really curious about your enthusiasm for mob violence. Especially against a woman. Though we might be from similar backgrounds, I guess my mother raised me differently. BlackCat may not speak for me, but neither do you, sport.

But I want to talk for all of you! Each and every one! I haven't worked in a packinghouse but my gramps & his brothers did and from what he told me *yuck*! I almost became a vegan! I'm curious about corpse retrieval! What the heck were you doing & where? Thanks for what you said too. but I'm not worried too much about my ass getting kicked. I can run fast ;) and I know how to use a rifle too! *POW*!

but I'm really curious about your enthusiasm for mob violence
How do I support mob violence? Becuase I said that there are working class people that would want to kick your ass if you wanted to take down the flag in front of the library?
First, the people I knew would like to kick your ass but probably wouldn't because they don't support mob violence.
Second, show me something I said where I condoned it. Stating that there are people that would do it and me condoning it is two different things. It is fucking whack to accuse me of supporting mob violence. What a bunch of bullshit.

Maybe there are working class folks who'd like to kick his (Makhno's) ass & maybe some who'd like to kick mine. There just might be some who'd want to kick your's. Ass kicking is the American way! As Pres Bush said *Bring it on!* As for you supporting it just read what you've written! even though you seem kinda like a guy who'd stand at the back of the crowd. I love your vocabulary too! It's the great thing about this country! We can all say *fucking*! though it's not the kind of word I use in public . ;) So do you have much contact with the public? You seem like a behindthescenes guy.

As for you supporting it just read what you've written!
Cut and paste the language of mine that you think supports mob violence. Post it, I want to see what language you are referring to.

So do you have much contact with the public? You seem like a behindthescenes guy.

Why would you make this assumption?

It's not an overt enthusiasm on your part, it seems more like a broad hint. Maybe I'm mistaken. As for me, I never said I wanted to take down the flag in front of the library, so I guess I'm safe for the time being from your buddies. I even fly the flag in front of my house, but it's not a political statement per se. It's to honor deceased friends. So I'll go along with you. You just write you know people who kick ass if they're offended, without condoning it. We all know violent people.

You said had a "working class" background. I was just pointing out that I have a "working class" background also and I know at least as many "working class" people as you do. Getting my card stamped met that I have worked real working class jobs where I have met real working class people. I worked in a cattle slaughterhouse doing twelve hour shiftw. I ahve been a file clerk for minimum wage. I worked as a forest ranger cleaning outhouses and scooping garbage out of fire rings. At all those working class jobs I met working class people and most of them would consider kicking your ass if you said you wanted to take the flag down in front of the library.

Although I speak for myself so do you. Why should you be allowed to say you are "working class" and then just speak for that whole group?

OK! So you're just some guy named Bibliofuture and not a vast majority. Unless there's two or more of you. Then it's not really a socioeconomic class but more like one of those multiple personality disorders! By the way (and I sure hope this isn't off topic!): where did you get your card stamped? Did you have to pay for it? If so, how much?

Correctly and fairly (hmmm. Sounds like that "Fair and balanced" jingle that always makes me cringe, but what the heck!). There is a split. It has a history too (I heard a lot of it from my gramps). I prefer the economic liberty (and that's not just my liking for very nice shoes). The collectivists are just socialists who want to be noncomformists! ;) That's just my opinion and you heard it here first! Now I've got to go chase down somebody!

Libraries as enforcers of the system, they reinforce the dominant capitalist system. We’re gonna have a business section, certain content, a certain narrative. You’re gonna fly the flag in front of the library. Think of public libraries as hostile places for working people. Some people see librarians as having elitist, liberal, NPR middle class values.
I think the vast majority of working class people would have an issue with taking the flag down in front of the library. Although many working class people might agree with the comment about NPR.

"My first act as an anarchist librarian would have to be when I got involved in a copyright infringement case in the 1st grade, when I was learning how to draw and do cursive writing in Mrs. Dunklau‘s class at Calvary Lutheran School in Kansas City."

Speak for yourself. But then I'm just a girl from a "working class" background. I remember when my gramps was called a "Red" because he was a union man. That majority might not be a vast as you think.

Libraries as enforcers of the system, they reinforce the dominant capitalist system. We’re gonna have a business section, certain content, a certain narrative.

Is there any way to have books ordered findably on shelves without imposing some kind of "narrative" on them? Surely Mr. Munson does not mean that libraries should impose no arrangement on its materials. Surely the problem is not the mere imposition of a narrative on library materials, but rather that Mr. Munson considers the narrative presently imposed in shelflisting to be harmful, or not in the interest of (his narrative of) The People.

Interesting also that, as far as I can tell, free markets are more anarchic than the economic systems exhibited thus far by socialist economies (excepting the black markets that inevitably accompany socialist economies). Not that we have free markets in any absolute sense in the U.S., just relatively free markets. I suspect that Eric Raymond, himself a kind of anarchist, would not consider it amiss to say that free markets tend to be more bazaar-like, while centrally-planned economies tend to be more cathedral-like.

I like free markets and I'm an anarchist! It's because it's chaotic and I love to shop! And I married a guy with good credit and doesn't mind me spending his money! (This library job doesn't have a salary that could begin to cover my shoe habit. I'm a bad girl. What more can I say?)

I got a "working class" background also so my card is stamped, so I will speak for myself.

Perhaps you can give reason to think otherwise, but I suspect that today's union movement has a good deal less socialism about it than it did in the 20's and 30's, and is therefore a good deal less "red". I would also say that it has become more nationalistic, as opposed to "international" in its outlook (cf. "Buy American!", "Protect American Jobs!"). Which is not surprising, since Soviet-style socialism didn't exactly cover itself with glory, and the Land Of Mao is in the process of denaturing its socialism, at least with respect to economic policy.

You may be right that the majority isn't as vast as Bibliofuture thinks, but based on what I can see, I think he's right.

I'm a bad girl.

Naughty, naughty! ;-)

Seriously, while I'm not an anarchist (more of a libertarian/conservative), I do think that free markets are a better fit with anarchism than mandated collectivism and command economies are.

Perhaps you can help me: there seems to be a split within anarchism (or is that a superfluous remark? :-) between those who are individualists and those who are collectivists. The individualists seem to favor personal economic liberty and free markets over egalitarian and collectivist considerations. You and Eric Raymond would seem to fit into that group. Chuck Munson seems to belong to the collectivist, egalitarian group, which appears also to envision some kind of utopian future where competition among people is not necessary to a functioning economy.

Am I stating this difference correctly and fairly? Doubtless there are other subcultures of anarchism, but this is one division I have noted.

Makno, thank you for the clarification. Although we may not agree on everything I do not condone violence. I think we are both on the same page on this.


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