Last weekend Fierce Dreams collective attended the Melbourne Anarchist Bookfair. On arrival after travelling to Melbourne specifically for it we found out we had been banned as a collective from the event. Organising the gathering last year we had a disagreement over email with a survivor (that we don’t know and have never met in real life) who we tried to work with to meet their needs but in the end found there approach autocratic and our ideas of anarchy vastly different. Due to this interaction they asked us to be banned from the event and the MAB collective decided to ban us seemingly without question. We did not know that we were banned until we arrived as the communication from the bookfair was completely lacking and unclear.
To say the least I was pissed off. As we all know perpetrators of sexual/domestic assault are often disinvited or banned from events. As a female and someone who is all too familiar with the realities of sexual/domestic assault I find it disgusting that the Melbourne Anarchist bookfair chose to treat us as they would a perpetrator of assault. Besides that, whatever gender or lack of gender our collective members see themselves as none of us have assaulted anyone we just disagreed with someone.
They said we were in violation of their safer spaces policy as this disagreement and experience with this person was, we were told “very upsetting”. Well it was upsetting for us to deal with someone who has obviously been traumatised but is now using this to gain power and manipulate people to do exactly what they say without question. So now a precedent is being set that if you upset anyone or disagree with them you will be banned from an event. There is no strength or resilience in this method. It is just a way of homogenising ideas and re-establishing the same methods of control used by governments and their institutions to keep people subordinate to the status quo.
Fierce Dreams collective has a strong vision of anarchy and how a world without control and domination looks. We love listening to and discussing other ideas of anarchy but we are not going to stand for or listen to authoritarian methods no matter how someone dresses them up.
Our compromise with the bookfair collective in the end was that our members could be there – but not as the collective. So we still had a stall but just no indication that we were FD. It was all a bit absurd.
In the beginning I was excited to attend the book fair as a way of meeting more people interested in green anarchy and anarchoprimitivism in the hope of one day building some sort of kinship with people based around these ideas. It was annoying not to openly be there as Fierce Dreams but in the end it was a fruitful event to make contact with some very wonderful people who I hope to continue talking with down the track. Now that the event is passed I just feel sorry for the Melbourne anarchist bookfair because their behaviour is going to allow dictatorship and fracturing in their “community” (whatever that means) if this behaviour of domination is allowed to flourish. Other anarchist milieu throughout the world have already experienced these same problems and we could all learn from others’ experiences and recognise what is happening here before things go further than this.